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 Post subject: Intel DG45FC: Loaded LGA775 Mini-ITX Board
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:02 pm 
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Intel DG45FC: Loaded LGA775 Mini-ITX Board

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 11:54 pm 
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recommendations for a ITX case?

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:50 am 
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To me, it looks like your Benq monitor applies some default overscan with HDMI input signals. I would try another monitor.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 4:34 am 
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Interesting review thanks, any chance of a picture with the CPU cooler installed to give a sense of scale?

I saw no mention of speedstep in the review (I could have missed it). When you say "The stock settings were used as the board is incapable of underclocking or undervolting" does this mean that speedstep is unsupported or just refer to bios adjustments?

It would be interesting to see video decoding performance and power consumption with a 1.6ghz E2140 (or similar), I am sure many people would consider pairing such a processor with this board.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 7:01 am 
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Ender17 wrote:
recommendations for a ITX case?


I'm about to try with a Morex Venus 669 which hopefully should arrive over the weekend. Possibly not the best solution out of the box, and I haven't heard too much in the way of customisation.

I'll be running two optical drives and a 2.5" hard drive in this one with the Xeon equivalent of the 8400 processor (can't remember it's name - 3110?). I imagine I'll disconnect the two small case fans. I'd hope to eventually run this with a picoPSU, but don't know if it'll be sufficient, and then replace the PSU with a 120mm case fan, much like many people (myself included) did with the Antec Aria/1300 case.

I've bought this a bit blind so don't know what the internal space is like for a cpu fansink. Initially I'll be using an old Zalman flower cooler, but would hope to move to a Thermalright or Scythe Ninja - space permitting.

I'll let people know my first impressions when the goodies arrive


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 8:57 am 
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Quote:
Interesting review thanks, any chance of a picture with the CPU cooler installed to give a sense of scale?


Maybe later in the week if I have time.

Quote:
I saw no mention of speedstep in the review (I could have missed it). When you say "The stock settings were used as the board is incapable of underclocking or undervolting" does this mean that speedstep is unsupported or just refer to bios adjustments?


SpeedStep works of course. If it didn't, you would read our complaints on the last page and it would show in the Pro/Con table.[/quote]

Quote:
It would be interesting to see video decoding performance and power consumption with a 1.6ghz E2140 (or similar), I am sure many people would consider pairing such a processor with this board.


If we had one, we would've tried it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 9:06 am 
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Great review, very useful information esp regarding power consumption.

I like that they chose exactly the right set of connections for a modern board. If only there were a good and reasonably priced mini itx case we'd have the perfect combination: small size, high performance, low power consumption, and full set of features. Hopefully speedfan will rescue the fan control issue soon.

One major problem that some have found is that there is a high-pitched noise from some DG45FC and DG45ID boards. It's good that that wasn't the case with your review. Although this is an outstanding board, you take a risk that you will get this issue and have to RMA it.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 9:23 am 
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Very interesting review, as always.

Two things come to mind about this board. Why no s-video or RGB component output? I know it's all HDTV these days, but some of us still have standard def TVs... Even with just VGA, you can make an adapter.

The other thing is the price of the board and a CPU. The AMD system beats it for idle power consumption, which is going to be the most common state in a media centre/NAS/desktop. Even if you do need to run it load all the time, the extra cost compared to a cheap AM2 system would mean you had to do that for years before the power savings covered the extra initial layout. All the VIA boards have exactly the same problem.

I think AMD is still king of lower power, because unlike Intel their cheapest stuff is also the lowest power stuff. You don't have to pay extra for power "saving", meaning that it is a real saving and not just a feel-good factor.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 9:32 am 
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MoJo wrote:

I think AMD is still king of lower power, because unlike Intel their cheapest stuff is also the lowest power stuff. You don't have to pay extra for power "saving", meaning that it is a real saving and not just a feel-good factor.


I don't see that aspect unless you're saying intel's E7200 and E5200 are more power hungry. The E5200 is only $84 and I bet it's one of the most power efficient in the line. Personally i'll take intel's combination of power and performance any day unless amd comes up with a nice miracle.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 9:37 am 
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MoJo wrote:
Two things come to mind about this board. Why no s-video or RGB component output? I know it's all HDTV these days, but some of us still have standard def TVs... Even with just VGA, you can make an adapter.

A fancy new HTPC for a standard def cathode ray tube TV will be an unusual combination. But the DVI connector is DVI-I so you can adapt it to VGA if you really want.
Quote:
The other thing is the price of the board and a CPU. The AMD system beats it for idle power consumption, which is going to be the most common state in a media centre/NAS/desktop.

I think AMD is still king of lower power, because unlike Intel their cheapest stuff is also the lowest power stuff. You don't have to pay extra for power "saving", meaning that it is a real saving and not just a feel-good factor.

Maybe you are looking at the wrong table. The first table used an old 65nm processor. The second used an E7200 processor and idle power was pretty much the same as the low power AMD. The low end desktop intel processor (celerons aside) is now the E5200: low power, cheap, comparable to the higher end of AMD dual cores.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 10:03 am 
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Now if they'd only put a X16 slot on it...

Currently there are only two mini-ITX boards I know of that can run desktop Core 2s and have a x16 slot. One from Commel that costs somewhere around $400 if you can find it, and some other board that was so forgetable I really have forgotten it's name.

Contrary to what most manufacturers seem to think, not all gamers want Quad Extremes with 8GB of DDR3 and GTX280 SLI, all overclocked to the bleeding edge. A discreet little mini-ITX box that could play modern games would be great.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 10:43 am 
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merlin wrote:
I don't see that aspect unless you're saying intel's E7200 and E5200 are more power hungry. The E5200 is only $84 and I bet it's one of the most power efficient in the line. Personally i'll take intel's combination of power and performance any day unless amd comes up with a nice miracle.


I think you are missing the point. The extra money you spend on an Intel set-up (don't forget the board is a lot more expensive too - £75-80 compared to £30 for an AM2 board assuming you don't care about mini-ITX) would take years to recoup with a 10W load power saving. Most systems are idle 90% of the time anyway, so you would probably never recoup the extra cost.

Performance wise as long as you can play all high-def stuff then AMD chips are fine for media centre, NAS and desktop use.

The situation is different if you need mini-ITX, but I really can't see the point of this form factor unless you have money to burn. You can get really nice media centre style micro-ATX cases/PSUs with better/quieter cooling for a lot less than ITX cases/PSUs. For NAS or desktop, micro-ATX gives you much more room for HDDs too.

That's why I say AMD is still king. Unless you desparately need a very small form factor and are willing to spend a lot of money to keep it cool and quiet, a super cheap AM2 micro-ATX system is always the best option from a price/performance/cost of ownership point of view.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:13 pm 
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You can get 780g mini-itx, more expensive than micro-atx, and micro-atx G45 boards too, a little less expensive than mini-itx. So the questions of amd/intel and micro-atx/mini-itx are fairly separate.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:40 pm 
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Why are all the capacitors marked with a black marker?? Also, great board - I love the layout! And incredible low power consumption with the E7200 CPU. Makes me wanna upgrade my current system. :)

Only let down was the missing D-sub VGA connector and I think I'd like to have a IEEE 1394 (FireWire) port on the back or a onboard header or something. On one hand, of course you can't have all in an ITX board, but on the other hand, when they can fit 37 clowns in a Volkswagon, I don't see why not to put it there.

And am I the only one who hasn't ever noticed the "Consumer IR receiver and emitter" standard?? Certainly this proves that the board is here for the HTPC market.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 9:39 pm 
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MoJo wrote:
merlin wrote:
I don't see that aspect unless you're saying intel's E7200 and E5200 are more power hungry. The E5200 is only $84 and I bet it's one of the most power efficient in the line. Personally i'll take intel's combination of power and performance any day unless amd comes up with a nice miracle.


I think you are missing the point. The extra money you spend on an Intel set-up (don't forget the board is a lot more expensive too - £75-80 compared to £30 for an AM2 board assuming you don't care about mini-ITX) would take years to recoup with a 10W load power saving. Most systems are idle 90% of the time anyway, so you would probably never recoup the extra cost.

Performance wise as long as you can play all high-def stuff then AMD chips are fine for media centre, NAS and desktop use.

The situation is different if you need mini-ITX, but I really can't see the point of this form factor unless you have money to burn. You can get really nice media centre style micro-ATX cases/PSUs with better/quieter cooling for a lot less than ITX cases/PSUs. For NAS or desktop, micro-ATX gives you much more room for HDDs too.

That's why I say AMD is still king. Unless you desparately need a very small form factor and are willing to spend a lot of money to keep it cool and quiet, a super cheap AM2 micro-ATX system is always the best option from a price/performance/cost of ownership point of view.


I'm not missing the point at all. Intel is not much more expensive and much better on the performance side. Also around here, I can get a cpu + motherboard for the cost of just a cpu pretty regularly. Not the best motherboard, but neither is a bargain basement amd board. Also at least in my case...cost doesn't really matter. Quality matters. I could easily spend $2000 without caring, but I won't because I'm cheap and we can get great stuff for bargain prices. :) And I happen to like my $500 intel microatx system just fine and it's quite a bit better than the AM2.

Anyways the whole point here is about mini-itx. An intel setup is not much more expensive and a decent amount more powerful. Also the power usage is pretty even. I'm not seeing any amd advantage unless you're too poor for a $50-100 difference.

I hope someone else like asus or gigabyte makes a mini-itx board. I'd love to have undervolting adjustments to make the power usage on an E7300 even lower.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 1:43 am 
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Is there any way to run this thing totally fanless ? (maybe with a 5200.. ?) Then give it a SSD and it's a perfect stealth living room solution.


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 Post subject: Potential PSU
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 1:57 am 
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Anybody got any thoughts on this EF14 PSU, as a beefier alternative to the 120W PicoPSU?
http://www.mcubed-store.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=3&products_id=245

I see it as potentially being able to drive this board with E8400 and 2 optical drives and a laptop hard drive. However, I'm a bit worried by the specs on the ac-dc i.e 84W max power and only 80% efficiency. Is the normal 120W Pico with 102W brick more likely to power this combo?


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 4:07 am 
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merlin wrote:
I'm not missing the point at all. Intel is not much more expensive and much better on the performance side. Also around here, I can get a cpu + motherboard for the cost of just a cpu pretty regularly. Not the best motherboard, but neither is a bargain basement amd board. Also at least in my case...cost doesn't really matter. Quality matters. I could easily spend $2000 without caring, but I won't because I'm cheap and we can get great stuff for bargain prices. :) And I happen to like my $500 intel microatx system just fine and it's quite a bit better than the AM2.


Not everyone can. Most people, in fact, couldn't or shouldn't.

merlin wrote:
Anyways the whole point here is about mini-itx. An intel setup is not much more expensive and a decent amount more powerful. Also the power usage is pretty even. I'm not seeing any amd advantage unless you're too poor for a $50-100 difference.


Plenty of people either are, or don't want to spend it for no benefit, to them. Most people use computers for office-style work and web browsing. Are you going to tell me an Intel solution is appreciably better for than than an AMD because of its performance?


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 Post subject: Re: Potential PSU
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 4:45 am 
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Quote:
I see it as potentially being able to drive this board with E8400 and 2 optical drives and a laptop hard drive. However, I'm a bit worried by the specs on the ac-dc i.e 84W max power and only 80% efficiency. Is the normal 120W Pico with 102W brick more likely to power this combo?


I have this board with an E8400 and four (4x) 1TB WD Green Power and one 1TB Famsung F1, but no optical drives, running on a PICO PSU 120 without any problems at all. The PICO PSU is powered by a modded DELL 150W Brick, but ran fine with a 110W brick as well.

Either the "Kill-A-Watt"-type measuring device is too slow too handle the disk spin-up transient, or the estimated disk spin-up power (for the WD's as well as the Samsung) are exaggerated, since I measure about 80W from the wall during boot when the disks start to spin.

With the WD disks in sleep mode, the system idles at about 40W.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:37 am 
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Since we're discussing power usage, this is what I got for mine (posted in the dg45fc discussion thread):


E7200
120GB Laptop drive (Seagate 5400)
picopsu 90W with the 60W brick
1GB DDR2-800 OCZ memory (manually clocked to 5-5-5-15)

Idle: 30W
Playing 720p video: 36W with CPU at 40%
Playing 1080p video: 42W with CPU at 70%
Prime 95 Stress Test: 51W

I wasn't able to get xvda to work on my system, but considering the above stats, It's not exactly required.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 7:01 am 
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It's great that a picoPSU with 60W brick (and others) can power all the systems with various CPUs people have mentioned. I would advise caution, however, with running any of these AC/DC transformers close to their rated power. As gammelgam mentioned, spinup power draw of HDDs and optical drives is not accurately measured by devices like the KillaWatt, which is best for relatively static loads. Over the long term, letting a low power AC/DC adapter regularly handle peaks to maximum rated power could result in failure, and PSU failures can take out many other components along the way. Give yourself a ~30% headroom over the maximum steady-state power draw. I know this is hard to do without actually having the PSU to measure, but you can make reasonable guesstimates on your system's DC power demand based on power data from our review.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 9:07 am 
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Scrooge wrote:

Plenty of people either are, or don't want to spend it for no benefit, to them. Most people use computers for office-style work and web browsing. Are you going to tell me an Intel solution is appreciably better for than than an AMD because of its performance?


Actually for mini-itx, plenty of reasons. Quad sata ports. Stable chipset. Raid-5. Gigabite Ethernet. Hdmi/Dvi, Esata... Basically the board and the chips are both better. What is there to complain? The nice irony is I was a huge amd supporter until a couple years ago.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 9:22 am 
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merlin wrote:
Not the best motherboard, but neither is a bargain basement amd board.


Actually, SPCR's current low power record holding mobo, the GA-MA74GM-S2, is also one of the cheapest available. It spec is excellent two - six SATA ports, gigabit ethernet, 16x PCI-e slot etc.

That was my point - unless you really need really high performance for high end gaming etc then AMD is the clear winner. This board is clearly not aimed at that market anyway.

Quote:
Also at least in my case...cost doesn't really matter. Quality matters. I could easily spend $2000 without caring, but I won't because I'm cheap and we can get great stuff for bargain prices. :) And I happen to like my $500 intel microatx system just fine and it's quite a bit better than the AM2.


But what do you use it for? That's the key question. My point is that for most uses and most users, you can get a quality rock solid AM2 system for less with performance that is for most intents and purposes equal to an Intel system, which which is quite a bit cheaper.

Quote:
Anyways the whole point here is about mini-itx. An intel setup is not much more expensive and a decent amount more powerful. Also the power usage is pretty even. I'm not seeing any amd advantage unless you're too poor for a $50-100 difference.


I guess I'm too poor not to care about it then :(

Seriously, £50 is significant to me. If I can save it with no loss of performance in any app I care about, I'll do it. Actually, I'm pretty much sold on that Gigabyte board and probably an X2 4200+.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:26 am 
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Quote:
Surprisingly, despite the fact the E7200 and E6400 have the same 65W TDP rating, using the E7200 caused the power draw to drop by 14W at idle, 16-22W during video playback and 33W on full load.


I'm not sure what's so surprising. All of Intel's non-Extreme dual-core processors are rated for a 65 W TDP, but testing bears out a wide variation in actual power consumption, even at load (especially given the supralinear relation between clock rate and power consumption—higher-clocked models in the same line can be expected to consume more power than lower-clocked ones).

It's generally a mistake to equate TDP with actual power consumption; it's just a guideline to system builders to design their cooling solutions around that number, and it allows common cooling solutions to be used for an entire line of processors.

There's a big difference between the Conroe/Allendale 65 nm processors and the Wolfdale 45 nm processors in terms of power consumption.

Quote:
A good alternative may be the recently released $85 Pentium Dual-Core E5200. It is also a Wolfdale processor but is clocked slightly slower at 2.5Ghz and is hampered further with less L2 cache and a slower front side bus; it's likely to perform similarly.


Unlike the E7200 it lacks SSE4, which means that codecs that can use SSE4 for decoding will be affected significantly in comparison.

The integrated graphics (GMA X4500HD) do support hardware decode of H.264 and VC-1 via Clear Video Technology, but only in conjunction with PowerDVD or WinDVD. I imagine you might have trouble utilizing it for computer formats (as opposed to, say, Blu-Ray discs) as well, so I expect that the CPU will be taxed for playback of high-definition high-compression (H.264/VC-1) video, where SSE4 may turn out to be value.

Quote:
The current version of SpeedFan did not seem to support this board at all. Most of the readings were blank and no amount of tweaking allowed us to initiate manual fan control. Furthermore, Intel does not provide any officially supported monitoring programs.


Intel uses its own new specification (well, new as in it's been around for longer than the past two years and used primarily on Intel motherboards only) called Quiet System Technology, or QST. They have not released the specs for this mechanism, which depends on the embedded Management Engine, which is itself barely documented. This means that SpeedFan is unlikely to support it any time soon.

You can, however, use Intel's own Desktop Utilities to monitor temperatures and control fan speeds.


Last edited by silentbobbo on Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:38 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:30 am 
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Mr. Perfect wrote:
Now if they'd only put a X16 slot on it...

Contrary to what most manufacturers seem to think, not all gamers want Quad Extremes with 8GB of DDR3 and GTX280 SLI, all overclocked to the bleeding edge. A discreet little mini-ITX box that could play modern games would be great.


QFT

I agree COMPLETELY! Give me a small Mini-ITX board that supports a low power Core 2 Duo, some DDR2 800 ram and a PCI-e 16x slot and i'd be one happy camper. Oh and dont forget the standard CPU Heatsink mounting holes on the motherboard for a good aftermarket heatsink.

Perfect Gamming Board for me:

Mini-ITX

Internal:
Socket 775
4x SATA II
2x DDR2 800 slots
1x PCI-e 16x slot
1x 1394
2x USB 2.0

Backplane:
1x eSATA
1x HDMI
1x DVI
1x Coax S/PDIF
1x 1394
1x Gigabit Ethernet
6x USB 2.0


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:48 am 
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Aris wrote:
Mr. Perfect wrote:
I agree COMPLETELY! Give me a small Mini-ITX board that supports a low power Core 2 Duo, some DDR2 800 ram and a PCI-e 16x slot and i'd be one happy camper. Oh and dont forget the standard CPU Heatsink mounting holes on the motherboard for a good aftermarket heatsink.


Does it have to be mini-ITX, because there are loads of micro-ATX boards that fit that description and loads of nice micro-ATX cases to go with them. Considering you want to use a "good aftermarket cooler" that pretty much rules out ITX cases since hardly any (none?) have the clearance for anything SPCR considers good.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 11:28 am 
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The thing that is weird to me about wanting a 16x slot on a mini-itx, generally mini-itx is extremely small and does not have the space or cooling for large gaming video cards. Why wouldn't you buy a microatx board instead then? I don't actually see any mini-itx cases that can even handle large pci-e cards? It seems a little counterproductive. And there are a few options for small video cards in pci-e 1x form. I'd personally expect to use integrated for something this tiny.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 11:32 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2005 6:48 am
Posts: 717
Location: San Francisco, CA
MoJo wrote:

But what do you use it for? That's the key question. My point is that for most uses and most users, you can get a quality rock solid AM2 system for less with performance that is for most intents and purposes equal to an Intel system, which which is quite a bit cheaper.



We are going in circles. I can notice performance differences. You cannot. That's why you don't care about the difference :)

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 12:23 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 11:51 am
Posts: 183
Location: Seattle, WA
MikeC wrote:
It's great that a picoPSU with 60W brick (and others) can power all the systems with various CPUs people have mentioned. I would advise caution, however, with running any of these AC/DC transformers close to their rated power. As gammelgam mentioned, spinup power draw of HDDs and optical drives is not accurately measured by devices like the KillaWatt, which is best for relatively static loads. Over the long term, letting a low power AC/DC adapter regularly handle peaks to maximum rated power could result in failure, and PSU failures can take out many other components along the way. Give yourself a ~30% headroom over the maximum steady-state power draw. I know this is hard to do without actually having the PSU to measure, but you can make reasonable guesstimates on your system's DC power demand based on power data from our review.



That's actually an issue I was aware of, I was aiming to only hit 60% capacity, but when I ordered the kit it didn't occur to me that I would be getting a 60W power brick with it, I'm going to be upgrading the brick pretty soon, since I'll be adding on a dvd drive to the whole thing.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 12:34 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2003 10:29 am
Posts: 2299
Location: Bellevue, Nebraska
MoJo wrote:
Does it have to be mini-ITX, because there are loads of micro-ATX boards that fit that description and loads of nice micro-ATX cases to go with them.


Which is why i didnt ask for a micro-ATX board like that, because they already exist. I ask for what does not exist.

There are mini-itx cases that can support aftermarket video cards:

Morex 3777
Morex Venus 668
Casetronic C158
Nexus Psile
HFX Micro


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