Introducing Our 2012 Case Testbeds and Revised Methodologyby Dustin Sklavos on March 29, 2012 3:00 PM EST
Testing Hardware (Mini-ITX), Revised
As I mentioned before, we're also changing the way we split the test platforms. As Micro-ATX systems can be competitive with full ATX systems in terms of performance, it makes more sense to lump those two together than to lump Micro-ATX enclosures with Mini-ITX enclosures as we've done in the past. The result is a Mini-ITX testbed that's a little bit more geared towards what one would expect to find in a Mini-ITX system proper.
|Mini-ITX Test Configuration|
Intel Core i3-2120
Intel HD 2000 IGP
Zotac GeForce GTS 450 Eco (dedicated)
|Memory||2x2GB Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer DDR3-1600|
Kingston SSDNow V+ 100 64GB SSD
Samsung 5.25" BD-ROM/DVDRW Drive
|CPU Cooler||SilverStone NT07-1156 with Cooler Master ThermalFusion 400|
|Power Supply||SilverStone Strider Plus 750W 80 Plus Silver|
The impetus behind the changes for the Mini-ITX testbed can seem a bit more nebulous compared to the ATX, but let's discuss our thoughts.
On the motherboard/CPU/HSF front, we wanted a motherboard that had a native USB 3.0 header, something still rarefied in the Mini-ITX market. Of all the Mini-ITX boards on the market, Zotac's was the one best equipped for our purposes and realistically is probably one of the most feature rich Mini-ITX boards available in general. The CPU is also fairly representative of how much power someone might try to cram into an enclosure, as Sandy Bridge continues to strike an excellent balance between performance and thermals. Finally, our old heatsink/fan just didn't really spin up or down in testing; this is a limitation of not only Zalman's implementation but also the old motherboard's fan control. Either way, the low profile heatsink from SilverStone should resolve the problem just fine.
Where graphics are concerned, the GeForce GTX 580 in our old testbed was simply too much card for a Mini-ITX review. Oftentimes it was too big for the enclosures we wanted to test in, and even if it could fit there are very few Mini-ITX users likely to use such a powerful and power hungry card. While a single-slot AMD Radeon HD 7750 would probably have been ideal for our revision, it was more difficult to obtain in the wild. Zotac offers a model of GeForce GTS 450 that does the trick, though: the 450 Eco uses DDR3 instead of GDDR5 and has reduced clocks, but it also employs a single-slot cooler, is a short card in general, and requires no external power lead.
The remainder of our testbed carries over from the previous page.
Update: We originally included an i5-2300 in the Mini-ITX testbed. However, before testing with it we opted to swap to an i3-2120 to allow for testing cases with dedicated power supplies that wouldn't be able to handle a 95W CPU but could handle a 65W CPU.
Before continuing on, we'd like to thank the following vendors for furnishing us with the hardware to revise our testbeds.
- Thank you to Puget Systems for providing us with the Intel Core i7-2700K and i3-2120.
- Thank you to Gigabyte for providing us with the GA-Z68MX-UD2H-B3 motherboard.
- Thank you to Zotac for providing us with the Z68ITX-A-E motherboard and GeForce GTS 450 Eco.
- Thank you to Crucial for providing us with the Ballistix Smart Tracer memory.
- Thank you to Corsair for providing us with the Corsair Link kit.
- Thank you to Cooler Master for providing us with the Hyper 212 Evo heatsink and fan unit.
- Thank you to Kingston for providing us with the SSDNow V+ 100 SSD.
- Thank you to CyberPower for providing us with the Samsung BD-ROM/DVD+/-RW drive.
- And thank you to SilverStone for providing us with the power supply and NT07-1156 heatsink/fan combo.