Introducing BTX

Intel released news of their Pentium 4 570J just yesterday when they lifted the NDA (non-disclosure agreement) on it.  Check out our benchmarks here. Today, a day after they released their 3.8GHz Prescott, Intel lifts their NDA on the longed for details of their new BTX form factor.

At Computex this past summer the technology on the minds of the attendees was the new reengineered PC form factor that was said to change the way we look at desktop systems and the way they are to be cooled. As we mentioned in our June sneak peak of this new "Balanced Technology" there are many who are thinking twice about the performance benefits of the successor to ATX and how the public will gain from changing over to it. We also mentioned that there are some who believe this new design is just a way to help deal with the thermal problem with Intel's CPU's and that since Intel is the only name backing the technology the thermal issue is the main reason they really want to continue the push for BTX. At Computex the only BTX board on the floor was from Intel, which was not a surprise to us, but there were quite a few BTX cases from various companies including Enlight and AOpen.

Today, as Intel releases information on the BTX form factor with special evaluation kits, case manufacturers can begin designing cases to compliment Intel's motherboards, but does the industry want to follow?  Passions are running high against BTX; the thought of the big chip maker forcing yet another design change upon the industry has several people extremely upset.  We received a press kit from Intel with a microBTX motherboard and AOpen's newest desktop BTX case. 

We plan to take a middle of the pack Intel 915G microATX motherboard/chassis combination and compare it to the new Intel 915G microBTX motherboard/combination we received today.  We will test the microATX motherboard in a full ATX desktop case and a microATX tower.  Thermals, noise and size will dictate the majority of our conclusions in the analysis.

Examining ATX
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  • stephenbrooks - Monday, November 15, 2004 - link

    Do you think if you connect the power to the fans the other way around you can get air to flow in from the front and come out of the back instead?
  • SolarWind - Monday, November 15, 2004 - link

    Actually, I like how they moved the processor towards the front of the case. This way the processor isn't in the path of hot air rising from the video card.

    Also, having the video card flipped over means that high performance heat sinks on the video card won't block a PCI/PCI Express slot.
  • DeeTees - Monday, November 15, 2004 - link

    Your right, I would have sworn that I saw that mess inside of a Packard-Bell. At least they have not yet started using custom fasteners that you need a special tool to replace or upgrade components. (?)
  • quanta - Monday, November 15, 2004 - link

    BTX may deliver overall cooler temperature per volume of space, but what about all the hot air that was used to cool the CPU? Wouldn't the hot exhaust cook the video card and bridge controller, limiting overclocking potentials? Temperature aside, having air intake in front of the case reduces usable drive spaces that would be used for fan controllers. If I were designing BTX, I would put CPU on top corner, and a curved 'casing' that would route exhaust to top blowhole.
  • PuravSanghani - Monday, November 15, 2004 - link

    #42: Actually it us just these micrBTX cases that do not have rear far. We may see case manufacturers employing case fans as soon as BTX becomes a mainstream form factor.

    At Computex this past year, we did see some companies like Enlight ( show off some mid tower cases which did have room to add extra case fans. We still have a lot to look forward to concerning the new form factor.
  • skunkbuster - Monday, November 15, 2004 - link

    it would have been nice to have a rear exhaust...
  • bob661 - Monday, November 15, 2004 - link

    Man those P4's sure do run hot. 63C WITH the BTX case. My A64 runs at 36C inside the ancient ATX case. I'm still running the OEM CPU cooler and oh about 6 case fans. :-)
  • Cygni - Monday, November 15, 2004 - link

    Looks like BTX is going to work out for Dell and HP... but I dont think its going to have much effect for the enthusiast and self built markets. Seems to me that its going to be at its best in mBTX situations, but full BTX seems ho-hum. I guess its just more crap i gotta buy next time i upgrade. BTX mobo, BTX case, DDR2, SATA HD, PCI-Ex video card, new CPU... they really havent left anything for me to KEEP during a P4 to P4 upgrade. Me no likey.
  • vedin - Monday, November 15, 2004 - link

    Where am I supposed to put a window and neon light in that case? Hmm?
  • Spinne - Monday, November 15, 2004 - link

    I don't see what the problem is with BTX cases. The design layout, atleast for Intel processors makes a lot of sense as far as thermal regulation goes. Channeled airflow on ATX cases is a niche market, and the fact that there are no standards means that you can't be assured of compatibilty across motherboard solutions. You really don't want to have spent money on a new mobo and case only to find that a lousy capacitor prevents you from using channeled airflow. Also, there's no reason why a manufacturer can't place additional fans in a BTX case to cool the case further. Remember, cases are not upgraded as regularly as the actual hardware, so one always has the option of moving to BTX at one's lesuire. I dunno about you guys, but I live in a college dorm, and the smaller my case footprint is, the happier I am, especially if it's a full form-factor case.

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