Small Form Factors, Big Power! (Video)



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I guess it comes down to whether a case is considered small form factor based on its footprint on the floor, or the volume of the case. Which is more limiting and therefore more difficult to cram extreme hardware into? I'd have to go with the volume rather than footprint. Only the first two are small form factor then, in my opinion. They're all very nice PCs though.



Not too long ago I decided I wanted to build a shuttle PC. I came accross two architectures which are considered SFF. One of them is Micro-ATX, the other Mini-ITX. From what I understand, Mini-ITX is smaller than Mini-ITX. The mounting hole patterns on the main board are the same. From what I could gather the specs vary only slightly. Any one know the history of these two SFF architectures? Are there any real advantages or disadvantages of choosing one over the other?

As a side note, I ended up going with the Mini-ITX architecture. I came accross a really interesting article and decided to upgrade some of the parts. You can see the build here:




I built a i7 750 HTPC box using a Shuttle SFF. If I'm not mistaken Shuttle was the very first SFF in the market place though it's offerings have since been surpassed by other cases. I'd all most consider it to be the original standard for what a SFF is.

Though Gord feels the Silverstone is a SFF, I'd say no. It is a very well designed Small Foot Print case or SFP if you may (you can use that Gord if you want) As for the the last one I'd say it's a simple mini PC case.

I'd suggest that SFF is not simply about total volume, but about the perceived inconspicuous nature of a SFF.

I see it like this:

A normal PC case is just that, a box taller and longer then it is wide. The exception of course is the old 286 type desktop case which was more like a modern HTPC case, just much uglier. That's why the last case isn't a SFF in my opinon, just a really small PC case.

A HTPC case is a case designed to fit in with other home entertainment equipment. Nuff said on that.

A SFF as I earlier stated

And the last are cases that really are one of a kind. Ones that try to shatter our preconceived notion of what a PC case is. Examples such as Antec's failed Skeleton, which by Gord's definition might be considered a SFF. Or the one that was simply boxes on a wall (forget who made it). And the Silverstone case featured. I mean it's a great case, I just don't think it's inconspicuous enough to be a SFF case is all.



 you spoke of the SFF's being inconspicuous, I wonder if the net top "HTPCs that they can be advertised as count as that? I mean quite a few can be mounted via the Vesa mount to the back of monitors or flatscreen TVs and thus out of sight yet still offer decent if sluggish power for things aside from media streaming.  Good examples are the Acer Aspire Revo R3610 and Zotac ZBox ID-11 (Zotac's being a barebone kit). I like your evaluation of the form factors and I feel you're right on the nose with it.


Brock Kane

Those are cool, if you like small form factor machines. I like my big beast cases, I can get inside and move things around. Have room to play. Not to mention, more ventilation.

But, nice machines with some power, pretty cool. Afterall Dynamite comes in small packages right?



I agree, but I think these are more for ease of transportation. Probably helps a lot if you go to a lot of LAN parties, or just move your computer around a lot.