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 Post subject: Mini-ITX- Thermaltake SD101? Alternatives?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:38 am 
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I'm looking to do a FM2 pseudo-HTPC build using the upcoming AMD A10-6700 (65W TDP, basically a tweaked version of this). Most of the time the system will be used for more mundane tasks, but what movie watching, gaming, etc we do will be on it as well.

I'm thinking to go Mini-ITX. The just-released $110 Thermaltake SD101 hits most of the checkboxes I had in mind- small (what's the point of getting mini-itx if it's in an ATX sized case like the Bitfenix Prodigy?), front usb 3.0 ports, space for full size optical and for half-height expansion cards, built in PSU with reasonable wattage (180) and efficiency (80 Plus Bronze). Only feature I miss is the built-in SD reader that is standard with nettops these days. (Why can't SFF case manufacturers take the hint?)

(Some rationale for the above: I haven't had good luck with slim optical drives. Rear access will be clumsy where we're putting it, so USB3 front ports will be important. Many of the less-expensive mini-itx boxes have pretty terrible PSUs, and good small-form-factor PSUs with more than PicoPSU wattage but less than 350W are hard to find. Since the most stringent part of the 80 Plus standard only has to be met at 50% of full load, 80 Plus Bronze is more meaningful on a low-wattage PSU.)

I'm worried, though, that it might be slightly too small for good airflow and acoustics. If anybody's had any experience with this case, or knows of a review that talks about acoustics, I'd love to hear about it.

Anybody have any alternative recommendations?

(I might be able to be convinced to go with a smallish MicroATX build instead of Mini-ITX if I find a sufficiently fantastic MicroATX case.)


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX- Thermaltake SD101? Alternatives?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2013 3:51 pm 
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Nobody with any comments or alternative recommendations?

They're using an unusual airflow pattern. Anybody have a comment on how well you think that'll work esp. acoustics-wise?

Thermaltake says not to use >45mm tall CPU coolers; I don't know if that means it has exactly 45mm of clearance with everything installed or whether they're building any airflow space into that. I just got word the stock HSF for the A10-5700 is ~41mm; seems pretty safe to say the corresponding Richland HSF will be the same size. 3rd-party coolers would be limited to stuff like the Noctua NH-L9a etc; don't know that it's worth going for one.

The Lian Li PC-Q07B is on sale at Newegg right now for $50. It's 41% larger than the Thermaltake by volume- is it likely to be noticeably quieter? Seen some mixed reviews.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX- Thermaltake SD101? Alternatives?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:48 pm 
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Stay away from proprietary PSU form factors, unless you're going to use a PicoPSU. Just look at the pictures, if the case is 119 mm wide, how big can the PSU fan be? 50 mm?? I'm pretty sure it will be really noisy.

If you're going to do the liter/gallon/volume race, be prepared for some sacrificing and modding.
Ask yourself if that tiny bit smaller case makes your everyday life better, or if it's preferable to pick a case that's known to be quiet. The Prodigy is just a joke here.

Isn't a PicoPSU enough for you? Because the choice of PSU is the limiting factor here. Also share all the other specs.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX- Thermaltake SD101? Alternatives?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 7:53 pm 
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Hm. When I was looking at the pictures I was thinking about CPU/case cooling and didn't notice what they were doing with the PSU. It's kind of hard to be sure what's going on there from their pictures. They're apparently saying the front bezel allows airflow directly into the PSU; no sign of intake fan. The outflow must be towards the right/top- it doesn't meet the edge of the case- and a ~50mm fan there really would be likely to be trouble.

I'm not chasing the absolute minimum volume here. I just want something a reasonable mini-itx size with the USB3 front ports, space for low-profile expansion, space for optical (ideally full-size 5.25"), and, in a perfect world, an integrated SD reader. If I'd felt confident that the extra volume of the Lian Li would pay off in acoustics I would have grabbed it. Unfortunately I still don't have that figured out and its Newegg price went back up by $30 at midnight PST. The Thermaltake is $10 cheaper than it was before though.

So much of the PSU market is in full-ATX 750W behemoths, and smaller PSUs are split across such a huge number of different form factors. It's hard to find both a good smaller-form-factor power supply and a case built with that form factor in mind unless it comes built in. A halfway-decent built-in PSU would both take care of that and help with my relatively low budget.

A higher-wattage PicoPSU may be fine, and I'd considered that before, but I've been leaning away from that. Even though power consumption might hardly ever go above 80W, I worry that it looks like I might need as much as a 150W supply to be safe- and then there are worries about how much juice is available on each rail and the question of what expansion cards I might use in the future. That means I'm looking at at least $70 for a PicoPSU+brick, and high-wattage external power bricks often don't have very impressive specs w.r.t. efficiency (collection of hot power bricks on carpet next to AV shelf is a concern), ripple (PicoPSUs just pass along whatever 12V ripple they get), etc. Mounting the PicoPSU input on the case, finding some way to deal with a big gaping PSU port hole, and dealing with the PicoPSU's paucity of cabling add further complications.

As far as sharing all the other specs: 65W TDP AMD APU, leaning towards the MSI FM2-A75IA-E53 mobo, 2x4GB low-voltage DDR3-1866, blu-ray burner, Samsung 840 128GB SSD.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX- Thermaltake SD101? Alternatives?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 4:02 am 
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you might want to check out one of the following:

Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced

Cooltek Coolcube

Or one of the many Lian-Li cases.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX- Thermaltake SD101? Alternatives?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 6:30 am 
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So often the issue is not whether a system can be made quiet -- almost any system can be made quiet -- but how much effort and expense it takes. IMO, it will be harder to get the Thermaltake there than say the Lian Li PC-Q07B you mentioned. The proprietary PSU with its small fan is likely going to be a PITA to silence, and the lack of space for the CPU cooler isn't good. The Lian Li will need a PSU which will boost the price -- a Seasonic G360 will work nicely; ditto the Noctua small 9 series heatsink/fan. And even though you say you're not looking for silence, a small PC on the desktop is much closer to your ears than a typical tower placed on the floor -- this is probably the equivalent of a 3-to-6 dB difference in perception. This is enough reason to put more effort into reducing noise in a small system.

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX- Thermaltake SD101? Alternatives?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:13 am 
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Another vote for the LL. I am very pleased with the build quality of my Q07.

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX- Thermaltake SD101? Alternatives?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 2:35 pm 
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MikeC, when I said I wasn't chasing the absolute minimum volume I'm talking liters not dBA :)

Pappnaas, the Cooler Master inexplicably takes a USB3 header and wastes it by only providing one rather than two ports, it's larger than the Lian Li and the Thermaltake put together, and Anandtech wasn't impressed with its acoustics and thermals, so I'd counted it out. But since it's cheap and the extra size is primarily depth maybe it should be on the list to consider anyways.

The coolcube has no space for an optical drive. Instant disqualifier for this system.

Lian Li certainly has quite an array of mini-itx cases, but the list of those which are small, inexpensive, have the components I'm looking for, and for which I've found reviews saying the acoustics are good is smaller by far. I guess if I'd had the feedback I've had now back when the Q07b was on sale I would have grabbed it. Maybe I'll still do something like that.

After double-checking the test system setup on some of the reviews I've seen and then looking more closely at the actual power requirements of the optical drives, it seems a 120W PicoPSU (or other DC-DC PSU) may be OK. What do other people think? If it'd work, putting the AC-DC step outside of the case certainly does have its advantages.

I'm seeing a few cases from obscure manufacturers- Habey, Morex, Realan (see also ecosmartpc)- that have DC-DC PSUs built in. Ecosmartpc also sells fan+picopsu plug mounting plates to cover the gaping ATX psu hole for using the picopsu in normal cases.

In the absence of cases with built-in SD readers, I guess I could forego USB 3.0 front ports for a case that had a front 3.5" drive bay and purchase one of the USB3 card readers that gives you a USB3 front port as well. Or I could do that plus slim optical in a full size 5.25" bay with one of those adapters.

(Apex mi-008 + $25 5.25 ->slim optical & 3.5 bay adapter + $40 card reader with usb3 front port+ $70 picopsu bundle + $20 mounting plate for the picopsu lead = probably workable end result after spending $155 to overcome the inadequacies of a $45 case+poor psu)

I'm just frustrated. For two years now it's been possible to purchase small quiet nettops with built-in card readers, usb 3.0 front ports, and (of a necessity) efficient, quiet DC-DC converter+external power brick PSUs, getting the entire computer for <$200. But heaven help you if you want to get a more powerful processor and/or an optical drive, because DIY cases and PSUs seem to be stuck in the previous decade.

I was thinking of doing a similar build two years ago and ended up deciding "hey, it's a luxury and my current PC hasn't keeled over yet, I can wait until cases catch up and better APUs come out." But now my old build really is keeling over and I don't know that things on the case side have improved much in all that time.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX- Thermaltake SD101? Alternatives?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:57 am 
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Maybe use an alternative motherboard. Ever thought of using Thin Mini-ITX? Makes for less wires inside the case. The problem with most HTPC setups is where you are going to put the case and the overall width and length and height requirements. It kind of dictates the limited space for an after-market cooler as well as space for drives. I am using an Antec 300 430. However, it wont fit in a cabinet. It does look nice because it comes in basic black and has only the Rear and Top exhaust fans. It is really bulky and hard to move around if you want to be mobile. The main reason I went ATX was everything was cheaper.

The case was on sale at the time with the power supply for a low introductory price. I am using an Intel 2500k processor with retail CPU Cooler. No video card just the integrated video on the CPU. It is hooked up to my hdtv.

I was just thinking maybe the computer should be split up into components like a sereo. Put the player and the processor and the RAM and a SSD in one case and make another unit up like an external drive or server attached with ESATA with just hard drives or as a server without a DVD that is networked. Technically the server could be anywhere that a network cable could reach. One way to think of an HTPC is just as a component of the server designed to play video and serve up Internet Video.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX- Thermaltake SD101? Alternatives?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 9:33 am 
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ceh4702 wrote:
I was just thinking maybe the computer should be split up into components like a sereo. Put the player and the processor and the RAM and a SSD in one case and make another unit up like an external drive or server attached with ESATA with just hard drives or as a server without a DVD that is networked. Technically the server could be anywhere that a network cable could reach. One way to think of an HTPC is just as a component of the server designed to play video and serve up Internet Video.


a few years back i built a m350 with no drive(s) in side, just mobo, ram and pico psu. under it i have an old optical external enclosure that is the exact same size as the m350. it holds a 2.5 storage hdd, a 2.5 boot ssd and a dvd burner. all connected via sata to the m350 case above it. granted if there was a double height m350 with room for opti and hdd(s), i would have gotten that, but this was my solution for making the smallest mitx PC on a budget i could come up with... the whole unit is 8.5"deep x7.5" wide and 5" tall. course you could also put them next to one another and then be 15" wide and only 2.5" tall. or...the whole m350 case could be hidden behind the tv/monitor, and then you'd only need shelf space for the external opti drive. (prolly want to add a usb hub and system power button in the opti enclosure tho.)

theres a member here on SPCR that build something similar (and much cooler) out of wood.,, but im not finding the thread right now.

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX- Thermaltake SD101? Alternatives?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 2:29 pm 
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I ended up ordering the A6-5400K on sale- some dying hardware made building this box more urgent, and I'll figure on an upgrade to Richland or Kabini sometime down the road. Still haven't figured out what case to grab.

Someone was reselling their stock cooler and they were able to tell me that it's under 42mm high. There wouldn't be clearance problems in any of the cases, though airflow is still a concern.

ceh4702, thin mini-itx is not an option since it's Intel-only. Also, I've already bought normal 1866 dimms not sodimms. As far as "modularizing" the computer, as I've already said, the only hard drive in this will be a 2.5" SSD (pictures, videos, documents, &c go on my NAS, not on this machine's hard drive). This really does need an optical drive, however, and in this particular situation using an external drive would be an awkward kluge.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX- Thermaltake SD101? Alternatives?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:55 pm 
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After some sleuthing I found the SD101's frame appears to be much the same as a couple of In-Win cases e.g. BM639 or 648, with a fancier exterior, USB3, and the PSU In-Win calls the IP-AD180-2 rather than the 160W one. The 160W PSU was reviewed as being very surprisingly efficient and quiet for what it is- the 40mm fan runs @1200 RPM for the wattage I'd be pulling under light usage- and the 180W PSU is supposedly substantially improved. But a tiny fan that starts out quiet often doesn't stay quiet esp. if it ends up dealing with dust, and if the proprietary sub-TFX PSU ever needed to be replaced I'd probably have to get a PicoPSU anyway.

Summary:

Thermaltake SD101, 10.4" x 4.7" x 10.3" : small efficient PSU with sufficient wattage- but 40mm fan could become a terrible noisemaker, replacing the PSU in case of trouble would be difficult, airflow worries.

Lian-Li PC-Q07, 8.19" x 7.60" x 11.02" on sale, well built- but WHY NO FRONT AUDIO PORTS? also, only one expansion slot, full ATX psu is unnecessarily big and cramps the space

Lian-Li PC-Q11B 10.24" x 7.87" x 12.40" fixes the Q07's problems- but costs twice as much and is bigger, and people have said its airflow design is problematic

Apex MI-110 8.7"x 5.1"x 13.5" looks decent- but the built in PSU is likely the same tremendously horribly inefficient model as the MI-008's

Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced 9.4" x 8.2" x 15.8" - large, inexplicably wastes a USB3 header by only providing one port


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX- Thermaltake SD101? Alternatives?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 8:57 am 
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why let the PSU form factor get you down, when it doesn't need to?

http://www.mini-box.com/s.nl/sc.8/category.13/.f

I also have a LL Q-07 case. I use a pico PSU in that too, so I can fit a 140mm fan and a 120mm cpu tower in it. but beware, if you put a longish GPU card in it, the front usb port/cables can really get in the way- i had to remove them, and it still only left 5mm clearance to the front of the case. plus it takes some pretty tricky contortionism, to get a tower cpu cooler, 140mm fan and a passive GPU in it.

if you used a low profile HS instead of a tower and a flexible pcie cable, you could add a second card where the ATX PSU would normaly go

the Q-07 isnt perfect, but overall im very happy with it, especially at that price.. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX- Thermaltake SD101? Alternatives?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:22 am 
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this cases looks great, 2 slot half height "graphics card" space ... meaning the zotac half height gtx 650 or gt640/630 will fit (yes the fan will have to be modded on that card... with a resistor or zalman 'fan-mate' to make it quiet)

i mention this because i am using MYTHbuntu (mythtv) for recording OTA HDTV, and the NVIDIA cards are needed for the decent VDPAU 2x deinterlacing of 1080i broadcasts.

now the PSU is noisy, because it is a flex ATX or 1U server PSU. but i am certain that you could swap out the stock psu with the seasonic ss-300m1u... (gold level Efficiency too!) seasonics web site for the 300m1u states "Super low noise fan control" which is probably similiar to the ss-300tfx (which i am using... silent below 150)... and because of the gold level Efficiency, and you only use less than 150 watts, you could mod this PSU's fan (300m1u) to be silent.

the ss-300m1u is available on newegg.ca or .com. 63 dollars though...

TL;DR... replace the stock psu in the sd101 with the seasonic ss-300m1u, and get better Efficiency and (most possibly) a silent PSU.

edit: i don't know if the cord is detachable from the stock psu, so using the ss-300m1u may Involve a minor amount of hassle/modding getting power to it.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX- Thermaltake SD101? Alternatives?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:26 am 
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Location: Vienna - Austria
Sorry for reviving old topic.
Jensend, if you are still around, which case did you finally pick?

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