Dec 21 2015

News - GIGABYTE GA-Z170N-WIFI reviewed @ aph networks

With m.2, 2x Intel NIC the GIGABYTE GA-Z170N-WIFI looks like a really solid foundation for a HTPC or mini server, it is a bit disappointing that DisplayPort didn't make the cut...

Nov 18 2015

News - TweakTown Reviews ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Impact Mini-ITX Motherboard

What is wrong with motherboard names these days!? Sometimes I feel like a frumpy old man reading these reviews Smile. Nomenclature asside, Skylake has me a bit excited, and with the recent outpouring of product, and reviews around the ecosystem it looks to have taken the OEMs and PC sites along as well.

After Intel left the motherboard market, I've more often than not ended up with ASUS powering my builds. So I was intrigued to see what their high-end ITX board had on offer. Overall looks solid, but the lack of DisplayPort and M.2 (OK, U.2 is there) kills it for me.

Oct 01 2012

News - Cooler Master Elite 120 Reviewed

There was a veritable flood of intriguing Mini-ITX cases released this summer, including the Cooler Master Elite 120. Cooler Master took a somewhat conservative apporach with the Elite 120, offering up a fairly conventional shoebox-style case that didn't rock the boat by eliminating the 5.25" bay or limiting internal bays to 2.5" drives. The result is a largish, jack-of-all-trades Mini-ITX case. It may not scream HTPC, but part of the beauty of Cooler Master's approach is that the Elite 120 will fit into any role. Use it in your home theater stack this year and then pass it off to the kid's room next year. The Cooler Master Elite 120 might not quite offer the cooling capacity that Cooler Master was hoping for, but with a flexible design and some aggressive pricing, the Elite 120 might just fit the bill for the right setup. 

Coolermaster Elite 120

The Elite 120 Advanced is about as far from the Cosmos II as you can get and still be considered a "computer case". Since it's designed to use a standard ATX power supply and has a full-sized 5.25" bay, some might argue that it's on the large end of the mini-ITX case spectrum, and while they'd be right, it's still pretty tiny in absolute terms.

Benchmark Reviews

Sep 18 2012

News - Lian LI PC-Q16 Mini-ITX Case Reviews

Lian Li PC-Q16

Lian Li has built a reputation for quality and design with their aluminum cases over the years and the company has consistently been one of the biggest supporters of the Mini-ITX format. The Lian Li PC-Q16 is one of their cube-style Mini-ITX cases. To help trim a bit off the case's girth, the PC-Q16 forgoes an ODD slot of any sort, but still manages to leave room for a 3.5" HDD and three 2.5" HDDs. The Q16 is definitely intended to be a looker with its brushed alumimnum and clean front face, Some folks will probably be dissappointed that there is no option for adding a flash reader and the lack of internal Blu-Ray options, but there are USB 3.0 ports to help make up for it. The PC-Q16 is definitely a tighter squeeze internally than some of the other Mini-ITX cases grabbing headlines over the last few months, but it looks like there might be a fair trade of function for form in this particualr case.

Companies have been making computers and cases that will blend in with other home theatre items such as a reciever or DVD player. Lian Li is no exception and have put out quite a few great looking HTPC cases for MATX and ITX sized motherboards. They were kind enough to send the PC-Q16 case for us to review.

Funky Kit

Sep 15 2012

News - BitFenix Prodigy Reviewed

The BitFenix Prodigy Mini-ITX case has been out for a few months already, and though that might be a lifetime in tech time, the reviews keep coming. This time it's the white version on the table, and although there is no fuctional difference between the white and black versions, it's still refreshing to get such a thorough visual tour of the surprising sharp-looking white variant. White would be a bit too conspicuous for my tastes, but if you like that old-school Mac look, I suspect the white Prodigy won't disappoint. Plus, the black version seems to have become as rare as hen's teeth online lately. Hopefully this is a sign that BitFenix has struck a chord with consumers, and not just reviewers and custom builders on Ebay.

BitFenix Prodigy White

With the Prodigy, BitFenix has a compact, mini ITX compatible case in their portfolio, which is perfectly suitable to build a small but yet powerful system. Furhtermore this nice looking little case should also offer plenty of space in the interior.


Sep 06 2012

News - Antec ISK 110 VESA Case Reviewed

Antec ISK 110 VESAIf your only requirement of an HTPC is that it be as small as possible, then it might be time to take a look at the Antec ISK 110 VESA case. The ISK 110 VESA takes the Mini-ITX platform about as small as it can go and still remain a complete enclosure. There is room for a Mini-ITX motherboard and a couple of 2.5" hard drives, and heaven help you if your CPU cooler is taller than the motherboard backplate once mounted. The result is a case that not only has a small footprint, but as the name implies, can be mounted to the back of a TV or monitor using the supplied VESA mounting brackets. Selecting components for a case this small does mean paying close attention to the thermal characteristics of the components. There is little to no room for active cooling and heat issues can quickly become exacerbated if mounted behind a TV that generates a fair amount of heat.

This case is about as small as it gets, and includes the necessary hardware to actually mount it to the back of a monitor. Antec has trimmed about as much fat as you could conceivably hope to trim; there's enough room for a Mini-ITX board, two 2.5" drives, and that's it. It includes an external 90-watt power supply and just enough internal power circuitry to drive low-to-moderate power hardware. 


Sep 03 2012

News - Fractal Design Array R2 Mini-ITX NAS Case Reviewed

 Fractal Design Array R2

The first time I heard of Fractal Design I was still heavily invovled in the Windows Home Server community. The Fractal Design Array Mini-ITX NAS case was shaping up to be the ultimate choice for the DIYer looking to build a compact appliance-style WHS box. The original Array was popular, but not without its flaws, and so Fractal Design released the Array R2. For the Array R2, Fractal Design tweaked the design to improve airflow and cooling without giving up the phenomenal storage capacity that one would want in a case targeting the home server and NAS market. We took a look at the Fractal Design Array R2 just about a year ago, and liked what we saw. Our friends at Techgage recently took the Array R2 for a spin and it sounds like they came to similar conclusions. It's hard not to like a Mini-ITX case that can hold up to 6 3.5" hard drives without losing its cool.

Designed and marketed as a home NAS or server chassis, the Array R2 was built to house mini-ITX motherboards. Built entirely out of aluminum and rivaling Lian Li for quality and style, the Array R2 can house an astounding 7 hard drives (6x 3.5" drives and 1x 2.5" HDD or SSD) and ships with a Fractal Design-branded 300W SFX power supply. 


Sep 03 2012

News - ASRock Z77E-ITX Mini-ITX Motherboard Reviewed

The Mini-ITX hits just keep on coming. With the diminutive platform becoming increasingly popular with the DIY crowd,  we are seeing more manufacturers offering a greater variety of motherboards and more sites running reviews of those offerings. In this case, the ASRock Z77E-ITX is on the review table. As the name implies, the Z77E-ITX is a Mini-ITX board based on the Intel Z77 chipset, which means it comes packing a PCI Express 3.0 slot, onboard USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps ports, and support for not only Ivy Bridge, but also support for K-series unlocked processors. ASRock also throws in extra USB 3.0 ports on the rear panel, full-size DIMM slots, and a WLAN card in the mini-PCI Express slot with antenna connectors on the rear panel. The Z77 chipset is aimed at the enthusiast segment of the market and most HTPC builders are probably fine settling for a board based on the H77, but it is still refreshing to see so many manufacturers opting to use the Z77 given the chilly reception that the Z67 chipset received for Mini-ITX. 


Small form factor PC's seem to be growing in popularity since you can run all of the latest gear. Today we are going to look at our first Intel Z77 mini-ITX motherboard to come across my bench. The ASRock Z77E-ITX is, as the name suggests an Intel Z77 motherboard which supports the latest Intel 22nm 'Ivy Bridge' processors in the LGA1155 package. The key feature to the ASRock Z77E-ITX is clearly the mini-ITX small form factor. 

Legit Reviews

Aug 29 2012

News - MSI and Gigabyte Unveil New Mini-ITX Motherboards

We are currently about halfway through the release cycle of the most recent Intel processor family. Ivy Bridge has now been with us for several months and we are still several months from the release of Haswell, Ivy Bridge's successor. For processor afficionados, these might be the doldrums, but for anyone looking to go Mini-ITX for a new HTPC or home server build, MSI and Gigabyte might have what you need to spark a bit of excitement. MSI has announced the Z77IA-E53, a new high-end Mini-ITX board based on the Intel Z77 chipset. The Z77IA-E53 is overclocking-friendly for those so inclined and packs the usual accoutrements such as a PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot and 4 SATA ports, but it also comes with a mini-PCI-Express slot and a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth dongle.

The rest of the features include single PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot, one mini PCI-Express slot, two DDR3 DIMM slots with support for up to 16GB of DDR3-1600 (2600 OC) memory, two SATA 6Gbps and two SATA 3Gbps ports, eSATA port, four USB 3.0 ports (two via header), six USB 2.0 ports, integrated 7.1-channel audio, HDMI and D-Sub outputs, Gigabit Ethernet, integrated (via dongle) 802.11bgn WiFi and Bluetooth 3.0.


Gigabyte H77N-WiFi

Gigabyte is also showing the Z77 chipset some Mini-ITX love with the Z77N-WiFi. Gigabyte's take of the Z77 looks to be fairly similr to MSI's, except that rather than provide Wi-Fi and Bluetooth via dongle, Gigabyte has chose to provider an adapter that fits into the board's mini-PCI Express slot with antenna outs on the back panel. HTPC builders will probably be drawn more to the H77N-WiFi, with should provide just about all of the same functionality with its H77 chipset as the Z77N-WiFi, but at lower price and with an S/PDIF output to boot.

With the exception of the name silk-screened on the board, the H77N-WiFi looks all but identical to the Z77N. Although the platform hub hiding under the heatsink is different, you don't lose much with the H77. The lack of support for dual-x8 multi-GPU configurations is moot given the board's single PCIe x16 slot. The H77 offers only limited multiplier control for overclockers, but the cramped nature of Mini-ITX enclosures is far from ideal for pushing clock speeds.


Aug 24 2012

News - Silverstone Sugo SG05 Mini-ITX Case Reviewed

Silverstone SG05

This summer proved exciting for fans of the Mini-ITX form factor with a number of intriguing new cases including the BitFenix Prodigy and the Fractal Design Node 304 grabbing some time in the spotlight. I was also a bit taken with the new Cooler Master Elite 120 as it reminded me of a smaller version of my once-beloved Antec Aria. However, in the midst of these exciting new releases, it can be easy for one to overlook the classics that have withstood the test of time, so it is fantastic to see a site like Anandtech choose to run a review of a Mini-ITX chassis standby like the Silverstone Sugo SG05. The Sugo SG05 has been around for a couple of years, but as they are wont to do, Silverstone has continued to refine the case with new revisions to keep it up-to-date. The SG05 was the first Silverstone case to catch my eye and, along with SG06, remains one of my favorite cube-style designs and it sounds like it Silverstone got a lot more than the look right with the SG05.

Meanwhile, in the background, SilverStone has been campaigning for us to take a look at one of its older cases, the Sugo SG05. They're of the opinion that the SG05 is capable of producing stellar performance while being smaller in volume than the competition. This case has been around for a little while, but was it ahead of its time?


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