ECS trims the fat off and presents two new mini-ITX boards

Subject: Motherboards, Systems | March 29, 2012 - 11:59 AM |
Tagged: ECS, elitegroup, mini ITX, CDC-TI Thin, H61H2-TI Thin, SFF

The CDC-TI Thin Mini-ITX may not interest many readers as it is designed for an Atom processor which have never been terribly popular here at PC Perspective, even for HTPC builds.  The CDC-TI Thin Mini-ITX is a totally different story as it can handle LGA1155 chips and has an HDMI out, making it a beautiful choice for an HTPC or even a SFF portable gaming machine although you might be disappointed by the orientation of the full and half length PCIe slots.  Consider it a challenge and see if you can get a decent half height GPU in there!

Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS), the world’s leading motherboard, graphics card, barebone system, notebook and mobile device manufacturer announces a variety of options of Thin Mini-ITX for users to meet their different demands with AIO (All-In-One) and motherboards. To target different segments, ECS Thin Mini-ITX motherboards are not only compatible with AIO but also with small form factor PCs, offering a wide range of solutions including H61H2-TI, H61H2-G11 and CDC-TI. With the growth in popularity of AIO, acceptance of the Thin Mini-ITX platform proves to be leading standard of this new trend, allowing for future-proof upgradeability.


The brand new CDC-TI Thin Mini-ITX motherboard supports Intel® Atom™ D2700/D2550/D2500 Dual-core processors. The CPU and Memory are supported 100% by Solid Capacitors in order to provide better conductivity and longevity. CDC-TI features 2 x DDR3 SO-DIMM socket supporting up to 4GB, 2 x SATA 3Gb/s, 2 x USB 2.0, 2 Mini-PCIe (1 Full/ 1 Half), VGA, HDMI and LVDS support. It is distinguished by its fan-less design because of the lowest CPU power consumption of <10W TDP. ECS CDC-TI not only works well for Thin Mini-ITX AIOs but also for other form factors that can take advantage of a low-profile board.


The other H61H2-TI Thin Mini-ITX motherboard can support socket LGA1155 Intel® 2nd and 3rd Generation Core processors. It features Intel® H61 Express chipset with SATA 3Gb/s, 2 x DDR3 SO-DIMM socket up to 16GB, 2 x USB 3.0, 2 Mini-PCIe (1 Full/ 1 Half), 1 x mSATA, and HDMI input/output that deliver you an excellent performance and amazing experience. ECS H61H2-TI provides you a multi-functional solution within a limited space. Small but versatile.

MAINGEAR unleashes the Titan-17s on the world.

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | March 28, 2012 - 04:26 AM |
Tagged: maingear, titan-17, GeForce 675M

MAINGEAR announces an update to their 17” desktop replacement laptop, the Titan 17, with a GeForce GTX 675M and optional NVIDIA 3D Vision 2.

There exists a smaller but very real segment of the market who wishes to have the power of their desktop computer in a smaller and slightly more portable package. Perhaps they desire to have the coolest single-object computing device at their LAN party? Whatever their reasons, they are served by companies like MAINGEAR who regularly provide new and better models for their choosing.


Mobile GPUs in SLi -- not common, not unheard of, but probably a good idea for 3D. 

On their product page, they have yet to update the technical specifications as of this posting. The updated ones from their press release are as follows:
  • Video Card: up to NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 675M SLI with 2GB GDDR5
  • Display: 17.3" Full HD  1920 x 1080 - (1080p) Widescreen (16:9 Aspect Ratio) LED Backlit with Super Clear Glare Type Screen / with optional built in 3D emitter and 120Hz panel.
  • Processor: Up to Intel® Core™ i7-3960X Processor Extreme Edition
  • Memory: Up to 32GB Quad Channel DDR3 – 1333/1600Mhz
  • Optical Drive: Up to 2X Blu-ray reader/8x Multi Combo (BD-R, DVD+-RW, CD-RW)
  • Hard Drive: Up to 3x 512GB Solid State Drive or 750GB 5400RPM SATA 2.5
  • Network Adapter: Killer™ Wireless-N 1102 supports 802.11a/b/g/n
  • Audio: Built-in High-Definition Audio, S/PDIF Digital output, 1 Built-in Microphone, 5 Built-in Speakers, 1 Built-in Sub Woofer, THX® TruStudio Pro™
  • Media Card Reader: Built in 9-in-1 Media Card Reader (MMC/RSMMC/MS/MS Pro/MS Duo/SD/Mini-SD/SDHC/SDXC), 1 Express Card 54/34 Slot
  • Operating System: Genuine Windows® 7 Home, Professional or Ultimate 64-Bit
  • Battery: Removable Polymer Smart Lithium-Ion battery pack (8 cell)
  • I/O Ports: 1 HDMI out, 1 DVI-I out,1 Display Port 1.1,  2 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0 Ports,1 eSATA Port, 1 IEEE-1394b Fire Wire, 1 S/PDIF out, 1 RJ-45 LAN, 1 Headphone Jack, 1 Microphone Jack, 1 Line-in Jack, 1 S/PDIF output Jack
  • Dimensions: (W)16.25" x (H)1.75" x (D)10.75"
  • Price:  Starts at $2,599 with limited time FREE shipping offer
Do you have a use for a desktop replacement? If so, what would you use them for? If not, do you prefer a full desktop or a smaller laptop?

Dual graphics on the desktop with a Llano A8-3870K

Subject: Systems | March 27, 2012 - 02:49 PM |
Tagged: amd, llano, dual graphics, a8-3870K

Dual Llano graphics has become one of PC Perspective's most recommended ways of getting yourself a laptop capable of decent gaming performance without spending a lot of money.  It is not as well known as a desktop solution, which X-Bit Labs intends to explore in their latest review.  They've taken the high end A8-3870K, overclocked it and paired it with an HD 6670 and then compared it to two similar systems, one using a Intel Pentium G850 and one with a Core i3-2120.  The results of their testing just might surprise you.


"Today we are going to compare the performance of Socket FM1 and LGA 1155 systems. Will a hybrid Llano processor be able to beat the entry-level Intel CPU paired with an entry-level graphics accelerator? How efficient AMD Dual Graphics technology is? Does overclocking make Socket FM1 systems more attractive?"

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:



Source: X-Bit Labs

Digital Storm Shows Off Custom Water Cooled Aventum PC

Subject: Systems | March 26, 2012 - 04:06 PM |
Tagged: water cooling, nvidia, Ivy Bridge, gtx 680, Digital Storm

Digital Storm, a custom PC Manufacturer founded in 2002 today revealed their latest system lineup. The new Aventum computers employ the company’s Cryo-TEC sub-zero cooling solution and the latest in PC hardware in a custom full tower chassis. The custom Aventum systems come in several tiers, including three systems with Intel Sandy Bridge-E processors, NVIDIA GTX 680 graphics cards, solid state drives, and at least 16 GB of RAM. Digital Storm further does not skimp on the power supplies. The Aventum computers are powered by either Corsair or Silverstone PSUs.


The hardware inside the chassis is impressive from a performance standpoint, and Digital Storm is including high end hardware as part of several tiers. The lowest tier is an Intel Sandy Bridge Core i7 2700K and a single EVGA NVIDIA GTX 680 graphics card on an Asus P8Z68-V Pro motherboard. On the other hand, the top tier system moves up to a dual socket EVGA SR-X motherboard, two Intel Xeon E5-2630 processors and three EVGA NVIDIA GTX 680 GPUs in a triple SLI configuration. The other hardware differences are less pronounced - like the upgrade to faster or more RAM and a bit more SSD capacity and PSU wattage. At launch, there will be four system configuration levels which you can see in the chart below.

  Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Processor Intel Core i7 2700K Intel Core i7 3930K Intel Core i7 3960X 2x Dual Intel Xeon E5-2630 Six-Core
Memory 16 GB DDR3 1600 MHz 16 GB DDR3 1600 MHz 16 GB DDR3 2133 MHz Corsair GT 32 GB DDR3 ECC REG 1333 MHz
Graphics Card(s) 1x EVGA GTX 680 2x  Dual SLI GTX 680 3x Triple SLI GTX 680 3x Triple SLI GTX 680
Storage 120 GB SSD & 1 TB HDD 120 GB SSD & 1 TB HDD 120 GB SSD & 1 TB HDD 180 GB SSD & 1 TB HDD
Motherboard ASUS P8Z68-V
ASUS Sabertooth
ASUS Rampage
IV Extreme X79
EVGA Classified
Power Supply Corsair 1050W Pro Silver Corsair 1200W Pro Gold Silverstone 1500W SST-ST1500 Silverstone 1500W SST-ST1500
Optical Drive Slot Loading DVD Writer Slot Loading DVD Writer Slot Loading DVD Writer Slot Loading DVD Writer
OS Windows 7 HP x64 Windows 7 HP x64 Windows 7 HP x64 Windows 7 Pro x64
Price $3,859 $4,985 $6,687 $7,850


The hardware is nice, but it is not the only interesting aspect of the new Aventum PCs. Rather, it is the custom chassis that holds the Digital Storm hardware. The metal full tower ATX case is divided up into sections and supports three 420mm (3x140mm) radiators, and 13 case fans to keep the Cryo-TEC thermo-electric cooler from overheating. The cooler is placed directly on the CPU and then is itself cooled by a water cooling loop. There are two 420mm radiators in the bottom of the chassis along with the computer’s power supply.


The Digital Storm Cryo-TEC cooler installed in a system.

Digital Storm has designed it such that three 140mm fans draw cool air in from outside of the case, through the radiator, and then channels the heated air out of the back of the case via vent under the power supply. The 13 case fans provide cooling for five cooling “zones” and are monitored and controlled by temperature probes using Aventum software in Windows. System and temperature information is also displayed on a built in LCD on the right side of the case.


Another interesting aspect of the Aventum chassis is that the hardware is installed “backwards” in the case such that it can be viewed through a window on the right side of the case (instead of the left in the majority of cases). It also features a removable drive cage with four 3.5” drive bays. There is also support for two internal 2.5” drives and a slot loading DVD writer optical drive accessed on the top of the case. Power and reset buttons are located just under the DVD drive while four USB ports and two audio jacks (1 mic, 1 headphone) are located on the right side of the case near the DVD drive.


The case also features plenty of mesh patterned ventilation holes and cut out Digital Storm logos. Also, there is a Digital Storm logo on the front of the case that is back-lit by a customizable LED color. Digital Storm’s Director of Product Development Rajeev Kuruppu noted that their research department has worked for months with thermal imaging cameras to ensure that the high end components are cooled as efficiently as possible. ”Every integral component and every zone is constantly being monitored so our customers can ensure their dream machine is always delivering optimal performance.”


The Aventum systems are available now and range in price from $3,859 to $7,856 depending on the particular configuration. More information will be posted on the Digital Storm website later today.

So you want to build an octocore mATX beast?

Subject: Systems | March 15, 2012 - 06:50 PM |
Tagged: ASUS ROG Rampage IV GENE X79, SFF, mATX, hd7970, Intel Xeon E5-2690

The mATX ASUS ROG Rampage IV GENE X79 motherboard can hold more power than you might assume from its size, as you can see at VR-Zone.  Even though the board looks tiny compared to the heatsink needed to cool the Xeon E5-2690 and the triple slot HD7970 seems to barely fit beside the OZC Revodrive 3 X2 480GB, the components do work at full speed making this beast a real power house.  As Yoda said, "Size matters not."


"What if I have about US$5000 to spend - Could I have a true 8-core/16-thread CPU in a small form factor setup without compromising on storage, thermals or online gaming prowess?" Well, we show that we can!"

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:



Source: VR-Zone

Patriot's new ARM powered HTPC

Subject: Systems | March 15, 2012 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: htpc, patriot, patriot PBO Alpine, arm

The new Patriot PBO Alpine is an ARM powered, Android 2.2 device which promises to deliver 1080p video and Dolby Surround sound from a box measuring 4.5" x 4.5" x 1".  It sports HDMI and S/PDIF audio out, an ethernet port as well as two USB ports which is a good thing as you will want to use a mouse and keyboard as opposed to the bundled remote which was [H]ard|OCP's least favourite thing about this media streamer.  Apart from that one disappointment, the PBO Alpine walked away with a Gold Award thanks to great video quality and some extras that Patriot tossed in to make this HTPC stand out in the crowd.


"On the heels of its Box Office success, Patriot Memory has a brand new HD media player coming to market that is powered by an ARM926 processor and running Android 2.2. Could the PBO Alpine the next edition to your HD home entertainment experience? With a tremendous feature set inside a tiny footprint, we think it is worthy."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:



Source: [H]ard|OCP

The new MAINGEAR Solo all-in-one PC series

Subject: Systems | March 13, 2012 - 12:26 PM |
Tagged: solo, maingear, all-in-one, solo 21


Kenilworth, New Jersey – March 13th, 2012 – MAINGEAR, an award-winning custom PC builder known for custom built desktops, laptops and workstations is now adding all-in-one PC solutions to their product offerings. The MAINGEAR Solo 21 All-in-one builds upon MAINGEAR’s pedigree of performance, upgradeability, no bloatware, and excellent service and support that they are known for.

With more consumers looking for a full-size desktop computer without the hassle of wires and other connections, the MAINGEAR Solo 21 All-in-One provides the freedom of space while still offering the latest technology. Following their trend of fully customizable products, the MAINGEAR Solo 21 is the first fully upgradeable all-in-one today, including the ability to upgrade the motherboard to accommodate future technology advances. This powerful all-in-one PC features an optional vibrant LED backlit 10-point touchscreen, a built in webcam, and supports a wide range of 32nm and 22nm Intel Core Processor to fit your needs and budget, and comes with a 32GB SSD caching drive for faster system response, standard.

Sleek, Elegant Design:
With clean lines and attractive silhouette, the MAINGEAR Solo 21 can fit in any room in the house. It can be on the living room wall as a media hub or use it in the kitchen for. With a VESA mount, you can hang it in your bedroom and use Windows Media Center to pull in content from your main PC or even plug in a digital cable tuner and use it as a stand-alone entertainment system.

solo hero angle.JPG

In world of firsts, the MAINGEAR Solo 21 All-in-One will also offer a wide range of hand-painted automotive quality colors so ahead and choose your favorite color.

Advanced Technology:
Since the MAINGEAR Solo 21 is completely upgradable, it features support for a wide range of processor and also supports 22nm next generation processors. In addition, it conforms to Intel Thin Mini-ITX standards, meaning even the motherboard is upgradeable, a first in the PC industry. The MAINGEAR Solo 21 All-in-One offers up to 16GB of DDR3 memory and supports full size hard drives up to 2TB of storage and eSATA for fast external storage. The MAINGEAR Solo 21 is equipped with two USB 3.0 ports and two additional high current, fast-charging USB 2.0 ports to keep your mobile devices ready to go.

The MAINGEAR Solo 21 also features a gorgeous LED backlit 1080p screen with optional 10-point multi-touch technology, allowing for even greater interactivity with your PC.

The MAINGEAR Solo 21 is the first all-in-one to come equipped with SSD caching to accelerate the performance of your hard drive by up to 5-8X* thanks to the robust Dataplex software by NVELO and a fully upgradeable mSATA slot. This unique feature gives you the performance of an SSD, without the cost or complexity of a dual-drive configuration.

“We are happy to work with Maingear to enable this very unique All-in-One product,” said Kevin Silver, VP of Business Development for NVELO. “ They set out to deliver a flexible computing platform with reduced cost and complexity, but did not want to compromise on performance. By configuring the SOLO to include our Dataplex cache software with an mSATA cache SSD, Maingear can now offer its customers the benefit of SSD level performance, with full HDD capacity, at a minimal incremental cost.”

"The new MAINGEAR Solo 21 is the perfect PC to meet the increased market demand of having an all-in-one PC that is more versatile for business or entertainment use. MAINGEAR continues to be an innovation leader with the release of this unique all-new all-in-one, which offers premium features, stylish design and upgradability that no one else offers," said Wallace Santos, CEO and Founder of MAINGEAR.


MAINGEAR Solo 21: (Default specs)

  • Intel Core i3 2125 3.3GHz, upgradeable to Intel Core i7 2600S
  • Intel DH61AG motherboard supporting USB 3.0, SATA 6G, 32nm and 22nm processors
  • 4GB DDR3-1333, upgradeable to 16GB DDR3-1333 memory
  • 32GB SSD caching drive standard, featuring NVELO Dataplex software
  • 500 GB HDD, up to 2TB 7200 RPM SATA HDD
  • DVD burner
  • Intel 802.11n, Bluetooth wireless adapter
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Starting at $999

Raspberry Pi Linux Computers Delayed By Manufacturing Hiccup

Subject: Systems | March 10, 2012 - 10:30 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, computers, arm

It seems that not all is sweets (pie, of course) and celebration for the folks over at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, as the initial batch of their ARM powered Linux computers have experienced what the charity has dubbed a “hiccup” at the manufacturing stage. It seems that while they specified magnetic jacks in the design materials, the wrong RJ45 network jacks for the boards were soldered on accidentally by the Chinese factory. According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the dud jacks in question were the result of the manufacturer using non magnetic jacks instead of RJ45 connectors with integrated magnetic connections. They further stated that they had been aware of the problem for four days prior to the announcement, but needed to “do some further tests to make sure nothing else was affected.”

RJ45 Network Jack_Raspberry Pi Hiccup.jpg

They are currently sourcing the proper network jacks, and are receiving help from their manufacturing and distribution partners RS Components and Premier Farnell. It is not all bad news; however, as it seems they caught the issue quickly enough to maintain the release schedule for the initial batch of Raspberry Pi boards. The issue is a relatively minor one that is easily rectified by desoldering the dud jacks and soldering on the new ones with integrated magnetics. The manufacturing factory is nearly finished with the replacement on the initial batch and they expect the boards to get out to consumers on time. The less than ideal news is that, there may be a slight delay for those waiting on pre-orders of boards outside of the initial batch as they are still trying to source enough networking jacks as mentioned above.

'We are very, very sorry.” they stated in the blog post. In the end, they believe it to be a mere small bump in the road and have promised to keep users updated on the manufacturing status of the eagerly awaited Raspberry Pi computers. More information along with X-rays of the dud networking jacks can be found on their blog.

Source: Raspberry Pi

Zotac Launches Three New ZBOX Mini PCs At CeBIT 2012

Subject: Systems | March 10, 2012 - 02:15 AM |
Tagged: zotac, zbox, SFF, PC, hardware

In a recent press release, Zotac unveiled three new ZBox small form factor computers, including one PC that features a blu-ray optical drive. Specifically, the new models include the ZBOX ID82, ZBOX Nano ID61, and the ZBOX Blu-ray AD05. In addition, the company offers "plus" versions of the three ZBOX computers that add 2GB of RAM and a 320 GB hard drive to the hardware package. Carsten Berger, marketing director for ZOTAC stated that the company is constantly pushing the small form factor envelope and the latest Intel Core i3 Sandy Bridge processors "enables us to give demanding users the performance edge they need."

ZBOX ID61.jpg

The ZBOX Nano ID61

The ZBOX ID61 is the smallest of the three PCs and is the latest in their Nano form factor. It is powered by a dual core Intel Celeron 867 processor, a single DDR3 SO-DIMM slots, and an integrated multimedia card reader. Connections include HDMI, Displayport, 2 USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, 1 eSATA port, Bluetooth 3.0, and a built in IR receiver. The ID61 plus further features 2 GB of DDR3 1333 MHz laptop RAM and a 320 GB SATA III (6Gbps) hard drive.

ZBOX ID82.jpg


The ID82 represents the latest ZBOX PC, and while it is a big bulkier than the Nano series, it packs a lot more punch with an Intel Sandy Bridge Core i3-2330. The new Intel CPU is a dual core 2.2 GHz processor which further includes Hyper-Threading tech for a total of four virtual cores. Further, the PC has two DDR3 SO-DIMM slots, two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, DVI-I, and Bluetooth 3.0. The ZBOX ID82 Plus includes 2 GB of DDR3 RAM and a 320 GB laptop hard drive.


The ZBOX Blu-ray AD05

Finally, the ZBOX Blu-ray AD05 is a small form factor PC that moves to AMD for their processor and GPU with the AMD E-450 APU with integrated Radeon 6320 GPU. The extra hardware horsepower provides the "oomph" needed to support smooth blu-ray playback. The mini PC holds a 4x Blu-ray reader that doubles as a 8x DVD +/- writer. It includes support for two DDR3 SO-DIMM slots and an 2.5" SATA II hard drive. Connections include HDMI, DVI, two USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, and one combo USB 2.0/eSATA port. The ZBOX Blu-ray AD05 Plus version further includes 2 GB of memory and a 320 GB hard drive.

All three of the mini ZOTAC ZBOX PCs (wow, that's a lot of caps) also feature Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and a bundled Media Center remote and USB IR receiver. No matter the model, the user is still responsible for providing an OS as one does not come bundled. Unfortunately, there is no word on pricing or availability.

Source: Zotac

Raspberry Pi: An Operating System Slice For Everyone

Subject: Systems | March 10, 2012 - 12:52 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, OS, linux

 The Raspberry Pi Foundation has quite the success on their hands with the small ARM powered Linux computer they have dubbed the Raspberry Pi. With pre-orders that sold out within hours, a great deal of press coverage, and overwhelming support from the community to support the Raspberry Pi with software and download mirrors, they have announced not only the promised Fedora 14 Remix Linux distribution, but OpenELEC XBMC support and an Arch Linux distro for power users.


So far, the charity has released the Fedora 14 Remix, Debian Squeeze, and Arch Linux distributions. All three are now available for download via their downloads page using either Torrent files or HTTP downloads through the community mirrors.


The Fedora Remix Distro

The Debian Squeeze OS is the Raspberry Pi's reference file system and is aimed at software developers while the Fedora Remix is aimed at those wanting a casual OS that is capable of playing back multimedia content. Finally, the Arch Linux distro is aimed at power users and Linux enthusiasts that want to totally customize their Linux operating system and the software including with it. These distros are meant to be installed on an SD card and then inserted into the Raspberry Pi.

Head on over to their downloads page to get your hands on the distros!