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 Post subject: Mini-ITX file server / workstation with Ivy Bridge
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 2:23 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:03 am
Posts: 9
Location: Finland
Now that the first Ivy Bridge CPUs are out I've been considering upgrading my current desktop computer. Most of the time I'm using my laptop so the role of the desktop PC would be to act as a file / music server and photo processing workstation. The OS would be Ubuntu with XP in a VirtualBox image.

I have a cunning plan (as Baldrick would say), which consists of the following parts:

  • Antec ISK110 mini-ITX
  • Intel DH61AG mini-ITX
  • Intel i7-3770T/3770S or i5-3475S
  • mSATA SSD
  • 2 x 2.5" HD

The case does not need to be small but I would certainly like an ITX box that I could hide behind the monitor. It seems that the ISK110 comes with a 90W power brick -- does anyone know if it is compatible with the DH61AG? I've read the SPCR article on ISK100 but there does not seem to be much talk about the ISK110 here.

Similarly it is not absolutely necessary for the CPU to support virtualisation or to have the better GPU. The 3770T is the only Ivy Bridge CPU (that I know of), which has both and a 45W TDP, so I would prefer that to the 65W alternatives. I wonder, though, if I could just pick for example a regular 3770 and undervolt it. Or do you think that any quad-core Ivy Bridge would provide too much heat in an ISK110?


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX file server / workstation with Ivy Bridge
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 8:30 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:27 am
Posts: 1690
Location: Switzerland
I haven't tried an Ivy Bridge nor the ISK110 but I built a Sandy Bridge without case fans. And I'm skeptical about your build plan.

Other bricks supplied with low-power cases are compatible with other Intel boards. They rarely bundle the best bricks though.
Ask the vendors about compatibility if you can't find or understand the technical specifications.

The official TDP values are useless (see the old tests with Sandy Bridge CPUs).
If you can make use of the extra power of the i7 models, they're going to run hotter.
All CPUs support virtualization. Are you talking about VT-d? Do you know what it does?

What heatsink are you proposing to use? I doubt the stock heatsink is going to be much good if it was going to fit the ISK110.

Unless the ISK110 has better airflow than it looks, even without 2.5'' drives your heatsink fan would have to need to work pretty hard to get the heat out of this small case. Your board is going to run hot and you'll get means noise at load.
Maybe if you can fit a pretty good heatsink low-profile with room to breathe like a Kozuti or something it wouldn't be too loud.

There are bigger cases you can fit behind a monitor.

If you're not going to put much load on this, you want a dual-core Sandy Bridge build.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX file server / workstation with Ivy Bridge
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 4:37 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:10 pm
Posts: 1802
Location: Northern New Jersey
For something like this, I would go for the ISK-150 instead. It comes with a very good standard 150W power supply, more than you need, but it will be completely sufficient.

It will also have a very quiet 80mm fan that will assist the CPU fan very well. I've put together a nice Atom powered HTPC in the ISK-150, complete with a blu-ray drive, and it's a very nice, quiet, and simple machine. I had access to quite the assortment of parts (SATA cables from an HP, other small things) that kept the system very clean, and something I would suggest if you can do it.

The ISK110 is smaller, but I think the problem with it is the lack of good airflow around the drives, and from the looks of it, the case is plastic and not metal, so, poor heat transfer at best.

I would go for the Core i5 3570T, but even being 45W, I don't think you'll save much over the normal versions.

If you're looking to do a fanless build, the Core i* series might not cut it. Maybe the Pentium G630T, integrated graphics, VT-d support (if that's really necessary), and a max TDP of 35W. Very cool running, and honestly, when you say "photo processing" is that Adobe Lightroom, will this thing be working with serious RAW files, or just storing jpegs, tweaking the basic exposure, etc? I'm hard pressed to say the G630T would have a hard time with that. Should work fine with Virtual Box.

I'm going to say you're better off with the ISK-150, it will give you more flexibility with installing hard drives, a CD drive if necessary, and a standard PSU that is very efficient, and quiet. Sounds weird, but I think that's what you're looking to have.

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX file server / workstation with Ivy Bridge
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 2:07 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:03 am
Posts: 9
Location: Finland
HFat wrote:
All CPUs support virtualization. Are you talking about VT-d? Do you know what it does?


Actually, I need VT-x so that the guest OS can see all the cores of the CPU. I thought that the K series models support neither VT-x nor VT-d but apparently I was wrong about that. That's good to know, even though I still prefer the 3770T to e.g. 3570K (if I hang on to the plan to get the better GPU).

HFat wrote:
Unless the ISK110 has better airflow than it looks, even without 2.5'' drives your heatsink fan would have to need to work pretty hard to get the heat out of this small case. Your board is going to run hot and you'll get means noise at load.
Maybe if you can fit a pretty good heatsink low-profile with room to breathe like a Kozuti or something it wouldn't be too loud.


This is not what I wanted to hear but also exactly the reason why I asked here first. Thanks :)

bonestonne wrote:
For something like this, I would go for the ISK-150 instead. It comes with a very good standard 150W power supply, more than you need, but it will be completely sufficient.

Did you mean ISK300/310-150? That's certainly something I will consider.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX file server / workstation with Ivy Bridge
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 5:49 am 
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Joined: Thu May 10, 2012 5:24 am
Posts: 1
The ISK 110 should run Ivy Bridge T/S processors w/o issue. I'm running an Asrock H67-ITX/HT and an i5-2405s with 1x Crucial M4 SSD 256GB and 2x Samsung M8 1TB. At full load, it draws under 65w, 17-18w idle. The powersupply is supposedly 90w. The cooling is fine for the processor - I am using a copper-base intel stock cooler from a 2600k. Idles mid 30 avg in 32C ambient. Hits high 50s on load. My crucial M4 is taped to the cover so is hindering some of the airflow - you won't have that issue. The two spindle drives in the designated drive bays may have slight heat issues. On a hot day it can get mid-high 40s., but in normal days or with the AC on, it runs high 30s to low 40s.

This case is much easier to work with than the ISK3xx. You sacrifice PCIe slot usage and optical drive though. I would be interested in some stats/pics if you try fanless with the T processor but you'd be relying 100% on convection cooling, there is no case fan. If noise is a concern, any spindle drive will be louder than the stock cooler. I wouldn't recommend fanless with 65w processors.


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