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December 5, 2006 by Devon
| Silverstone Lascala LC-12
Mini ITX, Small Form Factor Case
| AOpen i945GTt-VFA
Mini ITX motherboard for Core Duo / Core 2 Duo
MoDT is a term coined by AOpen (and later adopted by Intel) soon after they
began making desktop motherboards for Pentium M processors. It stands for Mobile
on Desktop: Building "desktop" computers out of mobile parts. Today,
AOpen claims to be the number one MoDT and Small Form Factor company in the
world. The rest of the world doesn't seem to pay the term as much attention
as AOpen would like, however.
To a certain extent, MoDT is a holdover from the days when Intel's mobile Pentium
M was out-performing its mainstream Pentium 4 processors, which gave enthusiasts
considerable incentive to build high end systems from mobile parts (or at least
mobile processors). With Core 2 Duo replacing the overheated P4 and its multi-core
descendents, that reason for MoDT is now obsolete, but there are other
advantages offered by mobile parts that are still relevant, namely their low
power requirements and low heat output. Both of these are very important for
reducing noise, which explains Silent PC Review's continuing interest in MoDT
long after the mainstream sites appear to have forgotten about it.
There are several successful MoDT system on the market. All
of Apple's iMacs use mobile parts, and many small form factor systems, such
as Shuttle's XPC X100, achieve
their small size and high level of integration by building what are essentially
laptops into immobile "desktop" enclosures. Then there is the tiny
Mac Mini and the series of similar-looking Mini PCs developed
by AOpen. There is also a crop of MoDT motherboards, which range from the
high-end, CrossFire-supporting i975Xa-YDG to the
numerous Socket 754 boards that "unofficially" support AMD's Turion
processor, (at least the ones that come in 754 casings, now destined to extinction)
and a handful of micro-ATX socket 479 boards from major motherboard brands for
Pentium M, Core Duo and even Core 2 Duo mobile processors.
The MoDT acronym is prominently displayed on the box.
AOpen's i945GTt-VFA is arguably more MoDT than any of the motherboards
listed above, since it is smaller, more integrated, and supports more mobile
parts than just the processor. It uses mobile SO-DIMMs for RAM, sports a single
mini-PCI slot, and fits into the tiny 17 x 17 cm mini-ITX (aka Flex-ATX) form
factor. It even gets its power laptop-style; instead of accepting an ATX power
header, it comes with a 19V, 90W power brick. In fact, the only "desktop"
elements left are the PCI Express 1x slot, full size ATA and SATA headers, and
the desktop-sized backplate.
SilverStone's Mini-ITX LC-12 case is just the thing for an MoDT system.
To go with the i945GTt-VFA, Silverstone's Mini-ITX LC-12 case is about
the closest thing to a "mobile" enclosure we're likely to see. It's
roughly the height and width of a pair of optical drives stacked on top of each
other and a little under twice as long, or about half the size of the
already tiny Shuttle Zen SFF system.
Because the majority of Mini-ITX boards use VIA's low power EPIA processors,
the LC-12 is designed with low power in mind. There are no stock fans, and no
place to mount them even if there were. A small, fanless DC-DC converter powered
by a 12V, 60W power brick supplies power to the internal components, and, while
Silverstone does offer a 120W brick for those who need it, the lack of a system
fan is likely to make such a power-hungry system unviable.
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