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  • 96redformula - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    Not sure how you couldn't include Silverstone SG-09 as a case. Yeah, I know, the style is hit or miss, but hard to argue vs all the capabilities and features of it.

    I have a full blown gaming system in mine and the advantages are huge; the option of going crossfire/SLI, full sized CPU tower, water cooling capable, and smaller than the Bitfenix Prodigy case.
  • bim27142 - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    it's more expensive i think that's why... Reply
  • JohnMD1022 - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    Requires a slot load optical drive... $70. Waiting for mine to arrive.

    Needs the special ODD cable ($9).

    For all intents and purposes, requires a Silverstone full modular power supply ($80 and up) plus the short cable set ($25).

    We're over $100 already, plus the $100 for the case.

  • lmcd - Sunday, January 13, 2013 - link

    Brief correction: slot-load dvd is $30 Reply
  • JohnMD1022 - Saturday, February 09, 2013 - link



    Half height tray loads are $30.

    Slot loads are 70+

  • Cygni - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    These tiny ITX systems also have another use not really mentioned: as a full blown media center PC (often with CableCard tuners). It's a combo of features that's hard to nail right now in the market place... quiet, small, presentable in the middle of a living room, optical audio out, half height PCie bracket you dont have to bend to get to work, etc.

    I currently have a G530, BIOSTAR TH61ITX, and Antec ISK 310-150, with a Ceton 4 tuner card. Looking pretty hard at going to a 35w Ivy Bridge Celly/Pentium when they become available, because even the dainty G530 is enough to spin up the fans with 3 channels recording.
  • pdffs - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    I was thinking this too, but...

    Optical audio should pretty much be phased out now that HDMI is so prevalent (HDMI audio is vastly superior, and carried by all equipment for the past few years).

    And it'd be hard to recommend a capture card for such a build, since there are so many standards in different regions.

    I'm looking at replacing my aging ION box with some Ivy Bridge (though I wish Intel would fix the 24p frame-rate issue).
  • Rick83 - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    I disagree: The stereo amplifier I bought two years ago features optical in, but no HDMI.

    Optical also means less conducitivity, so more resilience against interference.
    Optical cables are much thinner. I run one under a door, where it is all but invisible, an HDMI cable would be a huge eye-sore - and would not fit.

    HDMI audio may be somewhat superior, if you have sources that get you "HD" codecs, but those are only on BDs anyway, so no point for most of us, who can't be bothered with BDs due to the DRM breaking free players - and just use a stand alone device.

    Music, games and everything else wil mostly be fine with optical. While multichannel PCM is nice to have, you'll need support on both ends, to gain anything over DTS/DD encoded audio.

    Plus, you don't always want to logically bind display and audio together.
    And then there's display port, which I'd prefer over HDMI.
  • erple2 - Thursday, December 06, 2012 - link

    <quote>less conducitivity, so more resilience against interference.</quote>

    What? HDMI is a digital signal, which means it either works or doesn't, much like how an HDMI video signal is NOT affected by the 'quality' of the cables. Unless you're talking about something else.
  • Bender316 - Thursday, December 06, 2012 - link

    HDMI IS copper cable, and the signal is just voltage on that cable - whether Analogue or Digital, neither are totally immune to interference. So there are limitations and are potential interference issues.

    If you want a very long distance (cabling through doorways is mentioned) - I believe the Low-Voltage Differential Signal standard it uses recommends max 15m? I'd have to check. At the same time the LVDS signalling is very robust, and should be fairly good at dealing with interference.

    Optical on the other hand is light in a glass tube. Electromagnetic interference should not be an issue. Distance obviously impacted by the driver, but I seem to recall max distances are a lot higher than HDMI.
  • Avendit - Thursday, December 06, 2012 - link

    Its not so much signal issues I've had as earthing problems. Using a copper co-ax for digital out on my media PC gave a loud pop every time the audio fired up and dts sync'd. Switch to optical and the problem goes away. I could see the same thing being possible with HDMI.

    It might be something unique to systems a size down from these - I'm talking systems with laptop style power bricks, hence the earthing problem I think. But its also passive and does just enough for a media PC, albeit with most content stored over the network.

  • ender8282 - Thursday, December 06, 2012 - link

    I took the comment to refer to better isolation of the audio system. I believe that the fear is that a a copper cable running from the computer to the audio system could introduce a ground loop and cause issues. Reply
  • Guspaz - Thursday, December 06, 2012 - link

    HDMI is prone to interference, digital or otherwise. If you've ever suffered from interference on an HDMI cable, you'd see it as coloured snow on the image. It's hard to describe, it's like, imagine you have a large number of stuck pixels, except their location changes every frame.

    I get this from my PS3 to my U2711 when using deep colour. It requires more bandwidth, so the signal is less robust (generally, the higher bandwidth your HDMI signal, the more prone to interference). I'm using a rather thin cable (28AWG), so even though the total length of the cable run isn't very long (~15 feet total), there's some interference problems due to the high bandwidths involved.

    I have no such problems from my PS3 to my projector, despite using a much longer cable (PS3 -> HDMI switch -> U2711 or projector), because the cable going from my switch to my TV is a MUCH thicker cable.
  • Midwayman - Thursday, December 06, 2012 - link

    Even two years ago you had to work hard not to buy a unit without HDMI. No reason to eliminate choices, but if you have to pick one or the other, HDMI is the future. Granted HDMI is a pretty crappy standard in many ways, but its what consumer gear uses for better or worse. Reply
  • Guspaz - Thursday, December 06, 2012 - link

    HDMI cables using RedMere chips have similar thicknesses to good optical TOSLINK cables at up to 15 chips. They do cost a lot more, but they're still available at MonoPrice, so at least you know the premium isn't ripping you off.

    Normally, a typical HDMI cable uses 28AWG conductors for up to 15 feet, RedMere can use 36AWG conductors for up to the same distance. That's a pretty enormous reduction in size, and it should be more resistant to interference to boot.

    Over 15 feet, though... At 30 feet, regular HDMI is going to be something like 24AWG, while RedMere bumps it up to 28AWG.
  • HisDivineOrder - Monday, December 10, 2012 - link

    HDMI audio may be somewhat superior, if you have sources that get you "HD" codecs, but those are only on BDs anyway, so no point for most of us, who can't be bothered with BDs due to the DRM breaking free players - and just use a stand alone device.

    Pssst. AnyDVD HD+XBMC 12 Frodo.

    You're welcome.
  • lmcd - Thursday, December 06, 2012 - link

    I'm pretty sure even an AMD A4 can do the off-frame rates more accurately than Intel's IGPs, so I'd consider an AMD build in that case. Reply
  • Metaluna - Thursday, December 06, 2012 - link

    Personally, for HTPC I prefer a slim desktop-style microATX case, like the Antec NSK2480 or equivalent Silverstone. Plenty of room inside for a large GPU and/or tuner card, and several drives. Much easier to work in, and, unlike these wierd shoebox cases, they actually stack nicely with other HT components like receivers or BD players. Reply
  • drewpsu - Friday, December 07, 2012 - link

    Thanks to network tuners from an HDHomeRun, my HTPC is mini-ITX without having to worry about internal tuner cards. Reply
  • cyrusfox - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    When it comes to budget itx builds(media center or file server), I really think the new Celeron Mobile 847(SB) boards Rock. I got one coming to my place tomorrow to be my tv box.
    Check'er out

    Sandybridge mobile performance for $80(superbiiz), Sure it is only 1.1 GHz - 2 cores, but should be able to handle 1080p hulu or netflix streams and the TDP at 17W, tiny, perfect for those insane small ITX cases like a Wesena itx2 case or heatsink streacom case(silent media box). Goodbye brazos, its been a good 23 months.
  • Taft12 - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    A 40mm fan? No, no, no, no and no. Reply
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    It's a 17W mobile part. A slow 40mm fan is more than sufficient when combined with the improved airflow of even a SFF case when compared to a laptop chassis. The similar sized fan on my 18W E-350 file server has never gotten gotten loud enough to be heard. Reply
  • dananski - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    He's probably concerned about the pitch of the sound. I've avoided anything smaller than a 120mm fan in all my builds as even quiet high pitched noise is a nuissance. Your file server probably has a low CPU load compared to the video playback cyrusfox intends to do, so I'd expect it to stay nice and cool with the fan barely on. He might not be so lucky.

    As for the board & integrated CPU, seems pretty good value for money, though I'd like to see some more powerful mobile chips in this sort of design. Will probably become more common with Haswell.
  • cyrusfox - Thursday, December 06, 2012 - link

    Board came today, I am load testing it currently. Bios is nice, fan is fully customizable(so much so that you can set it low enough to not turn on) and cpu and gpu power can be altered(step down, you can also underclock the cpu or diable a core-won't be doing that). Trying to see how low it can go and be stable. So far it is silent and not even in its case yet(cardboard build, waiting for the last parts to arrive).

    You don't need much air flow for a tiny 17watt chip. The fan is removable, so you could just add some heat pipes and make a passive build out of it, CPU good to 100°C. It really is a low profile board, highest part is the audio connector on IO. Whenever Temash gets out, I'll probably replace it, but this should be more than good enough to emulate, stream, and surf on the couch.
  • ricardoduarte - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    Why are you suggesting 1TB hd, and no SSD in the gaming systems.
    I would one of these would be better:
    -2TB hd, and 256gb ssd would be a better choice.
    - 3TB hd and 64gb ssd for cache
  • Norseman4 - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    True it's double the price of the OS, but it looks like Win8's Storage Spaces revives and possibly improves the best part of the original WHS ... Drive Extender.

    It's be nice to see an investigation into SS and it's direct comparison to DE, though. (I've only seen pages on how to set up a SS, so how it functions is still unknown to me)
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    I looked at W8 + Storage Spaces recently; but benches put it significantly slower than rival fakeraid options. Hopefully MS will be able to patch it up to more competitive levels in an upcoming service pack (Blue?) or W9. Reply
  • bigfire - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    I've had my AMD Athlon 64 X2 for about 6 years and it still works well. I've never had any troubles with this guy. Reply
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    What mobo chipset did you use? Both of mine have been dead for over a year after nForce4 boards 4 and 5 followed my first 3 into the grave. Reply
  • amdwilliam1985 - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    Same here, I have x2 2.5ghz with stock fan, it's probably been 5 years now.
    It's still running as a champ for my workload. The only upgrade I'm made in the past 2 years is the $99 5770 :) great investments.
  • jackstar7 - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    I still build the occasional Shuttle and going Open Box from Newegg makes them often an excellent deal. Given that power needs have dropped significantly over the years, a Shuttle can stay cool and quiet these days and deliver a very solid experience.

    While folks might want to have their hands in all of the parts of a build, there's still value in what Shuttle brings to the desk. My most recent build included a 3770S and serves its owner very well so far. I also have a very minimalist Shuttle running with a 2400S for my HTPC and it runs more quietly than my PS3.
  • marvdmartian - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    Hopefully their power supply problems have been solved by now? Last time I bought a Shuttle SFF system (~5 years ago), it ran fine for the first 2 years, then fried a power supply, which eventually led to a fried motherboard (lasted ~2 weeks, then died). Being a micro-BTX system, it was easier (and cheaper) to simply replace it with a standard micro-ATX case & motherboard. Reply
  • jackstar7 - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    They started using rated 80+ PSUs that have shown me no trouble at all. Even the ones from a few years back rarely gave me any trouble at all and I was packing the things with high-power GPUs and OC-ing my CPU.

    I use a full tower for myself these days, but I still keep an eye on Shuttle because there are times when it's just a plain good deal.
  • roland12321 - Thursday, December 06, 2012 - link

    I can't believe he's hammering at Shuttle there... I bought a Shuttle back in 2004 and only stopped working last year, because I accidentally damaged the motherboard because I had to replace its bios battery. Even that system was an AMD (single core, though), also using an 80mm fan and it worked fine. The only things I replaced over the years was a hard disk and a video card. Mind you, the power supply of the old Shuttle was only 250W. Maybe people were overloading their power supply without realising it, causing it to pop.

    As a matter of fact, because it ran so well, earlier this year I bought a new Shuttle SH67H3 and it still runs like a dream! I can't overclock my CPU (which is logical) but I have zero complaints. My next PC will also definitely be a Shuttle! It's powering the i5-2500 with a HD 7850 without any issues at all.

    Also, Shuttle make their own motherboards, and are WAAYYYY ahead of any other competitor on the small form factor field. Have a look at their website, all their products are quite impressive. And I agree with jackstar7, Shuttle PCs don't make any noise. I accidentally turned it off once because I didn't hear it being on. Maybe the reviewer was running his fans at 100%?

    Imo Shuttle deserves more respect...
  • max347 - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    I think page 2 should read 4TB instead of 4GB (last paragraph) Reply
  • sligett - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    "the plural of anecdote is not data."

    Well said.
  • Mumrik - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    Best sentence in the entire article. Reply
  • tjcinnamon - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    I have a Synology NAS and one thing I like is that it sleeps until it's hit with a request for data. Can a fileserver be set to sleep after a set amount of activity but then awake on data request (not WOL because it's a data request).

    JOe K.
  • bobbozzo - Friday, December 07, 2012 - link

    Probably not, but you can tell the OS to put the disks to sleep after a inactivity timeout. Reply
  • Guspaz - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    In my Shuttle SZ77R5, I've got an i7-3770k, a GeForce GTX 670, 16GB of RAM, two SSDs (with room for a third in mSATA format), and a BluRay burner. There is also room for an mPCIe wifi adapter if I should feel so inclined. Alternatively, I could have gone with one mSATA SSD and two 3.5" HDDs for bulk storage, but I have a big file server and so don't need bulk storage in my desktop.

    It's hard to imagine what else you might need in a typical gaming PC. I guess there could be people who have need of more than one optical drive, or more than three hard disks, or some monster dual GPU graphics card, but those people would be few and far between.

    There is one critical flaw in the system, though. The BIOS (even the latest update claiming to fix the problem) can't read the temperature properly from IvyBridge CPUs, and as such, will let the thing fry before spinning up the CPU fan. Your options are either to permanently run it on jet-engine-loud mode, or to do what I did and use something like SpeedFan to do a custom fan profile.

    Having to use SpeedFan isn't a problem for me, but someone less technically inclined may not be able to solve the problem like this, and would consider it a fatal flaw.
  • pirspilane - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    Does anyone know if you can store an Outlook profile on this file server so you could use the same profile with any computer that is connected? Reply
  • vectorm12 - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    In theory yes. You could hardlink the directory to the directory on the server using a NTFS hard link. Although I haven't tried anything like that before(other than the mobile archive feature of Exchange Server which works in a similar matter) it should again in theory work as any outlook related services will launch well after the network stack and thus prevent the risk of invalidating the hard link. Reply
  • beisat - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    Building a relatively small and quiet system today is much easier than a few years ago, and I perfectly see the evolution on all the parts you mentioned. As well I see much quieter and more efficient PSU these days - but will there be a point in time where their size decreases as well? So far ATX PSU still seem the norm in the online shops of my country, and at that all are 350W+, pointsless for one CPU without a dedicated GPU and an SSD. Reply
  • bobbozzo - Friday, December 07, 2012 - link

    There are smaller power supplies, and some cases require them, but the current problem is there is no standard form factor for them; every case manufacturer has a different size or mount. Reply
  • Cyleo - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    I really like the file server systems. Maybe a real guide (install, WHS etc) is an idea? I for one would be excited to read about it. Reply
  • SeanFL - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    I've built this case 5 or 6 times for a really tiny build. In Win did a nice job with it. Initially put in an i3 2120t, but their new design also allows for the i3-2120 or any i3 or i5 you would want to put in. The samsung 830 really made it fly.
  • jhoff80 - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    It's probably just me, but I would absolutely love to see a super-slim mini-ITX case, designed for gaming, that has zero drive bays (why bother, when many boards have mSATA), a full-sized ATX PSU, and a PCIE x16 riser board and then two slots out the back of the case in order to use a gaming GPU.

    Most of these gaming cases have like 4 drive bays and a full sized 5.25" too, but that's really overkill these days, as far as I'm concerned.
  • Ananke - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    Lian Li Q-series. Check them, They have several of the type you look for. Reply
  • jhoff80 - Thursday, December 06, 2012 - link

    Really? All of the Lian Li Q models that I've seen have a bunch of drive bays (too large) or have 0 or 1 expansion slots, and/or a SFX 300W PSU, making them not conducive to gaming.

    Maybe I missed one though.
  • bobbozzo - Friday, December 07, 2012 - link

    How slim can it be with a full ATX PSU? Reply
  • shurik_1 - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    As I wrote in comments to ASRock Vision HT 321B review there is at least one ASRock product that has issue with silent data corruption that it refuses to fix and does not inform users that their data is in jeopardy. How can you recommend the MB from the company with such track record? Reply
  • just4U - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    "Though the K-series chip is easy to overclock and doesn't produce much additional heat (vs. stock)"


    THIS is somewhat misleading.. and readers need to be very aware of the fluxuations in temperatures on the new Intel cpu's regardless of what casing and cooling solutions they use..

    Personally I am quite upset with intel. I'd thought they'd finally moved away from the heatscore solution which in my opinion hurts the longevity of a computer. If I can get them I still default to a sandybridge cpu over these newer proccessors.
  • Piano Man - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    I don't get all of the adulation Prodigy gets, especially for gaming. Look at it's dimensions and weight. Over 17lbs and 9.84" x 15.91" x 14.13" . And its mini-ITX.

    Temjin TJ08-e is around 12 lbs and 15.16" x 8.27" x 14.72". And its Micro ATX and can hold 2 GPUs and a Heatsink like the Noctua D14. Not to mention it has a massive 180mm intake.

    The Prodigy would be better if it got rid of those stupid handles that waste space. Hard to recommend a mini-ITX that is bigger than a uATX case.
  • just4U - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    I quite like the case your refering to.. (my 2700K build here..)

    Your right to you can fit a whole helluva lot into it and it still seems quite roomy. It's not the easiest case to work with though..
  • abrogan - Friday, December 07, 2012 - link

    I just finished two high-end builds, with the first computer using the Temjin and the second the Prodigy.

    The Prodigy is surprisingly large but easy to build (especially with a stubby screw driver). Lots of room to put extra cables along the sides. Be careful to buy a 140mm psu, as the first PSU I purchased didn't fit. I liked all the colour options (-:

    The Temjin fit all standard supplies 160mm or shorter so it gets the nod from me for wide compatibility. Perfect for the professionals. My friends all liked the look of the Temjin better but the Prodigy is for the oddballs out there who like high quality soft touch plastic looking Mac Pros.

    The Prodigy was just fun because of its unique nature however I would ask Bitfenix to make the plastic fins an optional feature as well. There are no rubber feet to provide access to the PSU on the bottom without the fins installed and there are gaps on top without the top fin. If you could remove the plastic fins I'd say it would be pretty awesome and 30 dollars cheaper than the Temjin!

    Both are pretty nice!
  • Wrathgar11 - Saturday, December 08, 2012 - link

    You are so right.

    I thought seriously about the Prodigy case before I bought my Node 304. No regrets, IMHO the Node beats it hands down and fits under my TV too.

    An under-rated case is the Core 1000, which Fractal sell as a mini ITX/micro ATX case. In reality the internal dimension are too small for an mATX board, but as an enclosure for a mini ITX desktop system (my current setup) it is brilliant.

    Core 1000 is no good as a gaming case, but for this application it rocks.

    Great price too, I got it from Enta around £25.
  • pvdw - Monday, December 10, 2012 - link

    Love the TJ08-E! It's almost completely inaudible with a Seasonic S12II-430 and the front fan slowed ever so slightly.

    Plus, how are gamers supposed to do a dual-GPU config in mini-ITX? Easy in the TJ08-E.
  • pvdw - Monday, December 10, 2012 - link

    BTW, forgot to mention that it also gets an Editor's Choice from SPCR. Reply
  • xismo - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    I've been interested in a small form factor build for a while but for a different reason. I travel around and live in different places usually for extended periods of time (1+ year). So the possibility of putting my pc in a carry on and only having to buy a $200 display after I get where I need to go while still getting double the power of a laptop was always very intriguing. But I never pulled the trigger mostly because I should eventually settle down and so want to build a full build.

    Can you guys recommend the smallest possible case that can accommodate either mini-ITX or preferrably micro-ATX (would like to have 4x ram slots) while also having enough room for a GPU (nothing too powerful something like 630 or 640). Do you think it's even possible to cool the specs mentioned above appropriately with a quad core i5 in a small case that can fit in a carry on?
  • KAlmquist - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    I'm guessing that the power supply in the budget build is an Apex AL-8250SFX from Allied Leader International, manufactured by Deer Electronics/Solytech. Deer/Solytech is a name you probably recognize only if you read <a href=" of cheap power supplies</a> for their <a href=" value</a>.

    As far as I can determine, a decent power supply cannot be built for less than about $40. Back in July, Anandtech published <a href=" Roundup: 11 Cheap PSUs</a>." Martin Kaffei's conclusion about the $28 unit: <a href=" PSUs have no right to exist."</a>

    Based on price and pedigree, I'd wager that the power supply in the budget build is crap. If I'm wrong, that's a "man bites dog" story and Anandtech should do a full review of this PSU.
  • KAlmquist - Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - link

    Sorry about the last post--the Anandtech comment system doesn't like HTML in comments. Here is a fixed version:

    I'm guessing that the power supply in the budget build is an Apex AL-8250SFX from Allied Leader International, manufactured by Deer Electronics/Solytech. Deer/Solytech is a name you probably recognize only if you read reviews[1] of cheap power supplies for their entertainment value[2].

    As far as I can determine, a decent power supply cannot be built for less than about $40. Back in July, Anandtech published "350-450W Roundup: 11 Cheap PSUs." Martin Kaffei's conclusion about the $28 unit: "Some PSUs have no right to exist."[4]

    Based on price and pedigree, I'd wager that the power supply in the budget build is crap. If I'm wrong, that's a "man bites dog" story and Anandtech should do a full review of this PSU.





  • pvdw - Monday, December 10, 2012 - link

    My first thought was that the power supply was junk, but SPCR reviewed this case and recommended it. Not that I would buy it, but I'm usually a step above budget builds. Reply
  • Dug - Thursday, December 06, 2012 - link

    Try some Wesena cases that look really nice.
  • Don-Roland - Thursday, December 06, 2012 - link

    >AMD gaming system
    >AMD gaming
  • hasseb64 - Thursday, December 06, 2012 - link

    Come on Zach!
    A 500W PSU with bronze as a fileserver PSU?

    First: A PSU in that application is an investment, smaller and higher efficency is a must!
    2: You would NEVER EVER need more than 300W, I would gladly recommend even lower if more were on hand on this broken PSU market.
  • KAlmquist - Sunday, December 09, 2012 - link

    Good catch. I was so surprised to see Zach recommend a no-name power supply in the budget build that I missed this one. He says he chose it because it "is one of the smallest ATX power supplies available." The ST50F-P is 150mm by 86mm by 140mm, which is the standard size for an ATX12V power supply. For the same price or less you could get a high quality Gold rated power supply with the same dimensions and a wattage rating more than adequate for the system. For example, the SeaSonic SSR-360GP (360W) is about $66. That said, if you insist on modular connectors then the ST50F-P might be the best you can do. Reply
  • StardogChampion - Thursday, December 06, 2012 - link

    Realan (the folks who bring you the Habey EMC-800/600) also have a nice line of mini-ITX HTPC cases with built-in power supplies. Check these out:
  • Foeketijn - Friday, December 07, 2012 - link

    In my experience, the parts that break the most are the powersupply , and then a tie between the mobo, HDD and videocard. I can't remember ever having to replace something else and not having coffee involved. Years ago I quit selling the budget builds, because one out of five systems going bad in lets say three years was just to much troubles for my likings. In most cases you trow in e extra 50 euro (same story probably goes for dollars) and have much happier customers in the long run. Since these days you can really buy a lot of processing power in the budget area I am tempted going for a m-ITX build for the silent tiny office boxes. Only which PSU to select.
    I am not really confident in selling a system with an ST50F-P when an in-depth analysis from Anandtech (one of the most trustworthy sources) says:
    "Most capacitors are made by CapXon and OST; these are very cheap capacitors compared to other brands and may not hold up as well long-term."

    Especially in a fileserver, I don't get skimping on the power supply.
    Ideally I would take an low power, silent part designed for workstations/servers. Only they are as far as I can find not in ATX size.
    Is there a good alternative when the bar for endurance is a bit higher?
  • Wrathgar11 - Saturday, December 08, 2012 - link

    Great write-up. SFF has been a central feature of computing to me for some time.

    My fileserver is a Mini ITX Supermicro X7SPA based system in a Fractal Core 3000 case (used with various larger boards beforehand), my media PC is another atom based system in a Node 304 case and my desktop is a DH61DL based i3 unit in a Core 1000 case.

    All are mini-itx boards, two fanless and silent and all very reliable (the HTPC and desktop have no moving parts, are SSD equipped and also run silent Pico PSU's).

    My gaming system is a PS3. That uses more power than the 3 PC's combined.
  • philipma1957 - Sunday, December 09, 2012 - link

    FIRST off the asrock z77e-itx is a great board but it should have a crucial msata 256gb ssd.

    it has sold as low as 169. that adds 100 bucks to the price. no need for the 1 tb hdd in a gamer.

    second the cooler master case fits a hd7970 so just do it.

    that adds 200 to the price.

    third the cooler master elite needs 1 mod a 4 inch circle saw cuts a hole right where the cooler master logo is put in a cheap grill

    and temps drop 5-10c. this saves you 20 over the bitFenix case.

    fourth a full size psu drops in cost of 75 to 90

    so price is about 1200

    but top of the line cpu

    top of the line graphics card and a full sized psu. if you want to cut costs get the hd7950 save a hundred 1100 gives you a full

    powered gamer. I like this cooler master build so much I have 3 of them under my belt.
  • batguiide - Sunday, December 09, 2012 - link

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    Believe you will love it.
    laptop battery,CPU fan,AC power adapters.DC power adapters and laptop keyboard.
    I bought two. Cheap, good quality, you can
    go and ship with there.
  • yhselp - Monday, December 10, 2012 - link

    It’s great that you do an SFF guide, but this one feels somehow … toned down. You say “There's also an aesthetic appeal to minimalists like me who like the efficiency of having no more computer than necessary to accomplish computing purposes.”, and then proceed to recommend rather conservative builds. I’m not saying we should be on the extreme thermal edge, but none of the configurations you suggest are optimized and focused (except for the file server on the condition one needs all the HDD bays).

    For the budget build you could use an M350 enclosure, sure, it’s more expensive but it’s also much more compact. At $100 (including a picoPSU and a power brick) I think it’s a great deal for what you’re getting. You have to use a 2.5” HDD for it, but then again you can find those (1TB) for as little as $70 now. What you end up is an impossibly small toy-a-of-box which you can slap on the back of your monitor if you wanted to.

    For the gaming build you could use a Silverstone SG06-450 – you can fit any (single GPU) video card in there and the PSU would take it. It also has two drive bays (3.5” and 2.5”). It’s well-ventilated, trust me – I used to run an i5-750 and a GTX 470 in that thing. I even installed a closed-loop liquid CPU cooler in one of those. Heck, for the BitFenix Prodigy’s size you could build a full-fledged system. I mean that, two GTX 690s, or one 690s and a dedicated PhsyX video card, or anything that fits in 4 slots, a number of HDD bays, ODD, ATX PSU, liquid CPU cooling – the works. There are at least 4 enclosures from Silverstone alone that can pull this off.

    I respect what you’re doing, I’m an SFF proponent myself, but I’d really like to know the motivation behind your conservative choices. Anandtech is a very reputable source (if not THE source) and many people read what’s on the site as ‘law’, that’s the reason why I’m being so thorough – I think more SFF options should be voiced.
  • pvdw - Monday, December 10, 2012 - link

    Zach, if you want your buyer's guides to be taken seriously you need to do more research.

    I'm certainly no expert, but as I mentioned in a previous review of small server builds, part selection is completely different from gaming machines. A 500W PSU for a server build??? You really need to check out the Seasonic S12II-380 and 330. They have no problem handling 6 drive home server builds, are practically silent, and much more efficient. You could go with the modular if you need space.

    Also, an alternative to the Node 304 is the Lian Li PC-Q08, which may well be a better choice noise-wise. There's no way to tell from the Node 304 review since Anandtech simply doesn't have the equipment to compare quiet builds.

    BTW, I love most reviews and articles on this site, but some like this are just annoying.
  • war59312 - Monday, December 10, 2012 - link


    Small typo on page 3:

    "hopefully a 4GB model will be available soon."

    That should of course be 4TB, not GB. :)

    Take Care,


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