The Computex trade show in Taiwan never disappoints – major manufacturers show up in full force for the event, dragging hot new gear and gargantuan announcements behind them. For Asus, the PadFone garnered the most attention, but they were also showing off other pieces of cool new tech – like the F1A75-I Deluxe motherboard. Even though Computex was months ago, the F1A75-1 only became official yesterday, as Asus issued a press release announcing the F1A75 line, including the F1A75-I Deluxe, the itty-bitty motherboard with big-time connection options.
In past months, we’ve shown you how to build rigs for less than $1,000, and we even built a surprisingly speedy $667 PC Value Meal. But what do you do when your budget is half that? Let’s face it, not everyone has half a grand or more to spend on a new computer, and not every build has to be a tricked-out gaming rig. Sometimes you just need a second computer for the family, or an HTPC that doesn’t break the bank. Heck, sometimes you just need a cheap first computer. That doesn’t mean you have to head to big-boxville and pick a prebuilt off the rack. Indeed, we’re betting that with a little elbow grease we can put together a machine for less than $350 that’ll perform basic tasks, if not with a surplus of power, at least without smoking and dying.
Without giving anything away, we can say you won't find VIA's EPIA-M900 mini-ITX motherboard in this year's Dream Machine. Where it will end up is in small form factor (SFF) embedded devices like ATMs and home automation systems, to give just two examples. The main draw here, and one VIA is highly touting, is that the EPIA-M900 is the world's first motherboard to sport a 64-bit Nano X2 E-Series dual-core processor (clocked at 1.6GHz).
At this year's CES, Max PC senior editor Gordon Ung got a chance to take a look at the first mini-ITX board to support Sandy Bridge's H67 socket. The board, from Zotac has nearly all the features of a full-size board (minus some PCI-e slots, of course) and will be available at the end of the month. Check out the video for more details.
Say this for the Pitstop PC-T1: It turns heads. Lian Li is known for its clean, all-aluminum chassis, which range from the budget to the exorbitant—mostly the latter. This time, it has spawned an all-aluminum Mini-ITX case that just happens to look like a spider. Practical? No. Ridiculous? Yes. Usable? Eh.
The Pitstop T1 comes flat-packed, like an Ikea desk. It has four two-piece legs, a main body piece, a motherboard tray, and two PSU brackets that hang from the rear and accommodate one standard ATX PSU. Given the three-segment body (spiders only have two) and four legs (spiders have eight), it’s not anatomically correct. Then again, most spiders aren’t Mini-ITX rigs, either.
Foxconn has quietly slipped a pair of new mini-ITX Atom motherboards into its lineup, but unlike most Atom boards already in the wild, these new parts come equipped with 1.8Ghz chips instead of the slower 1.6Ghz Atom parts.
The D52S sports a dual-core D525 Atom processor nestled into Intel's NM10 chipset. Despite the tight confines, users can install up to 4GB of DDR2-800/667 memory (2 DIMM slots) and also have access to Intel's integrated GMA 3150 graphics, a single PCI slot, two SATA II slots, 5.1 channel audio, Gigabit LAN, and a bunch of ports (four USB 2.0, VGA, Parallel, Serial, audio jacks, etc).
The D42S sports a similar feature-set, but trades the dual-core D525 part for a single-core D425 processor, which is also clocked at 1.8GHz.
Both boards are listed as "coming soon" with the D52S expected to sell for around $95 and the D42S for around $80.
VIA has made a living by cramming big features onto small packages, and that's certainly the case with the company's new EITX-3001. Built around the Em-ITX form factor, VIA's fanless next-gen device measures just 17cm (W) x 12cm (L) and sports a trumped up feature set.
"With the VIA EITX-3001 we're offering a full-featured board that is the ideal starting point for much slimmer, fanless and rugged devices," said Daniel Wu, Vice President, VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. "The VIA EITX-3001 combines versatility with ruthless stability at extreme temperatures in a form factor that is ideal for space constrained industrial and commercial environments."
The tiny board sports the latest VIA Nano E-Series processor clocked at 1.3GHz and pairs it with the company's VX855 media system processor. Between the two, the EITX-3001 is able to handle 1080p HD video. It also comes with integrated Chrome9 HCM graphics, five USB 2.0 host ports, Gigabit networking, support for 5-wire/4-wire resistive touch interface connectors, and HDMI.
One of the many products Asus is showing off at the Computex convention is a mini-ITX motherboard with a pretty hefty list of features. Built around AMD's AM3 platform, we could see the M4A88T-I Deluxe, as it's been dubbed, being used in an HTPC build with a bit of gaming pep.
The board is based on AMD's 880G Northbridge, which has been paired up with the SB701 Southbridge. It measures just 17cm x 17cm, but includes integrated Radeon HD 4290 graphics, two DDR3 memory slots, eSATA, three SATA ports, two USB 3.0 ports, integrated 5.1 audio, Gigabit LAN, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, DVI and HDMI outputs, and of particular interest to gamers looking to pack a punch in a small space, it also comes equipped with a full PCI-Express x16 slot.
From what we gather, the board also supports Asus' Core Unlocker feature, which allows you to unlock additional cores on select AMD Phenom II X2 and X3 processors.
Lian Li has been known to take chances in case design, like the PC-777 snail shell chassis. But never have we seen anything like the Pitstop PC-T1 Mini-ITX Spider Test Bench.
This four-legged arachnid sports an angle-adjustable motherboard tray that sits out in the open for easy access, but only accommodates mini-ITX boards. There's a place for a single 5.25-inch slim optical drive, one standard 3.5-inch HDD or SSD, and an ATX power supply.
"Lian Li's PC-T1 is most ideal for hardware enthusiasts looking to display an impressive computer system for the next LAN party or to challenge family and friends with a unique looking HTPC," Lian Li explains.
Zotac has put an interesting spin on Nvidia's ION graphics by being the first company to offer a user-upgradeable solution. In doing so, Zotac's ION Upgrade Kits consist of a small form factor motherboard and ION graphics card.
"Zotac believes performance and compatibility should never be sacrificed for value. With the Zotac ION Upgrade Kits, you can have a premium computing experience complete with high-definition video playback, image editing, and video processing in a value package," said Carsten Berger, marketing director, Zotac International.
Available in mini-ITX and mini-DTX flavors, the Upgrade Kits' graphics cards slip into a PCI-E x1 slot, serving up 16 unified shaders and 512MB of DDR3 memory. The graphics card boasts support for Cuda, PureVidoe HD technologies, DirectX 10.1, DirectCompute, OpenGL, and OpenCL. Other specs include a 589MHz engine clock, 790MHz memory clockspeed, 1402MHz shader clock, and a 64-bit memory interface.