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Thread: Best configuration for a simple small factor

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    Question Best configuration for a simple small factor

    Hi guys,

    I have to admit I’m fairly new to the small factor PCs scene. I’ve been building my own rigs for a while, but never dwelved into the SFFs. I guess this forum is a good place to start, since I see a lot of helpful posts. Here’s my question:
    I’d like to build a very small pc that:
    - could run a windows 7 or XP (in the future I might switch it to Linux, but for now I have some stuff that requires win)
    - can accomodate 2 internal 3.5 hard drives (I’m fine with only one if that’s the case)
    - has a simple look (as little buttons as possible, maybe a display on the front)
    - has Gigabit LAN
    - is among the smallest possible minding the configuration above
    - can run very quietly
    - does NOT need to play any video or games or anything for that matter, mainly, I plan to use it as NAS for starters and some simple non CPU-intensive apps.

    These are the major criteria for me. I would really appreciate some suggestions, not necessary exact configurations, but more same product ranges and I wll do the work from there. As I said, I am new to this and what I am looking for is some guidance.
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but what I’m probably looking for is: a case, a motherboard and some memory.

    Thanks a lot!
    Kat

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    Re: Best configuration for a simple small factor

    A Sugo SG05 or SG06 may fit the bill for the case:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Silve...00W-80plus-PSU


    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Silve...00W-80plus-PSU

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Silve...00W-80plus-PSU

    Also you will need to get a mini-ITX motherboard and there are numerous AMD and Intel based ones available from this retailer:

    http://linitx.com/viewcategory.php?catid=137&pp=137

    You can go for a low end Intel dual core with the following motherboard:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Zotac...Board-Graphics

    It has a PCI-E 16x slot and Wifi built in.

    If you want something cheap the following have one PCI-E 1x slot:

    http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=12409

    http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=12397

    If you want to go with AMD the following motherboard has Wifi built in but no PCI or PCI-E slot:

    http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=12419

    These two have a PCI slot though:

    http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=12081

    http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=12207

    The last one does have headers for the wireless module:

    http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=12254

    This motherboard has a PCI-E 4x slot and has the fastest IGP for AMD processors in the mini ITX form factor:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/JandW...X-HDMI-DVI-VGA

    http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=12457

    If you do need too much processing power an Atom based motherboard such as the following will do the trick and has low power consumption:


    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Asus-...X-Atom-330-CPU

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Gigabyte-GA-GC330UD-MOBO

    http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=12294

    http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=12231

    http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=12344

    http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=12514

    They all have very weak Intel based IGPs but the ones which have Nvidia based ones are very expensive currently.


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    Re: Best configuration for a simple small factor

    CAT-THE-FIFTH thanks for your extensive reply. It really helped me sort out a few things that I was not sure on.
    For starters, I decided to go for an Atom 330 motherboard that supports Gigabit. Having said that, wifi is not a necessity.
    My choices so far are:

    - Intel D945GCLF2 Dual Core 1.6Ghz ATOM Mainboard
    - Jetway JNC91-330-LF 1.6GHz Dual Core ATOM Mainboard
    - ASRock Atom A330GC mini-ITX Mainboard

    Can you give me some pros/cons on these motherboards?

    Also, I started looking for a very small case that could accomodate one of the above and two regular internal hard drives. No need for optical drive.

    What are the usual ways to install an OS w/o an optical drive? If I am correct, Windows 7 can be installed from a thumb drive but the question is, do the above motherboards support booting from an usb drive?

    Expansion slots are not needed as long as there is a low performance integrated video card.
    From your experience, what expansion cards might I need in the future? (Common ones)

    Thanks
    Kat
    Last edited by kataleen; 16-08-2009 at 11:50 PM.

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    • CAT-THE-FIFTH's system
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      • Storage:
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    Re: Best configuration for a simple small factor

    Quote Originally Posted by kataleen View Post
    CAT-THE-FIFTH thanks for your extensive reply. It really helped me sort out a few things that I was not sure on.
    For starters, I decided to go for an Atom 330 motherboard that supports Gigabit. Having said that, wifi is not a necessity.
    My choices so far are:

    - Intel D945GCLF2 Dual Core 1.6Ghz ATOM Mainboard
    - Jetway JNC91-330-LF 1.6GHz Dual Core ATOM Mainboard
    - ASRock Atom A330GC mini-ITX Mainboard
    - Jetway JNC91-330-LF 1.6GHz Dual Core ATOM Mainboard

    Can you give me some pros/cons on these motherboards?

    Also, I started looking for a very small case that could accomodate one of the above and two regular internal hard drives. No need for optical drive.

    What are the usual ways to install an OS w/o an optical drive? If I am correct, Windows 7 can be installed from a thumb drive but the question is, do the above motherboards support booting from an usb drive?

    Expansion slots are not needed as long as there is a low performance integrated video card.
    From your experience, what expansion cards might I need in the future? (Common ones)

    Thanks
    Kat
    For an NAS the only sort of card I would think you would need is perhaps a RAID card in the PCI slot but TBH you could do software RAID anyway. I believe freeNAS can do RAID 0,1 and 5.

    The two motherboards I would look at would be the Gigabyte GA-GC330UD as it has heatsinks on all the main chips and has all solid capacitors which are better and the ASRock Atom A330GC as it has two RAM slots.

    Ebuyer do the Gigabyte motherboard slightly cheaper as you will only get free postage from Scan with 20+ posts:

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/167781

    Edit!!

    I have found some cases too:

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/164555

    http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=12433

    http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=12435

    http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=12434

    http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=10542

    http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=10543

    I am not sure how good the PSUs are though!!
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 17-08-2009 at 12:05 AM.


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    • CAT-THE-FIFTH's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Less E-PEEN
      • CPU:
      • Massive E-PEEN
      • Memory:
      • RGB E-PEEN
      • Storage:
      • Not in any order
      • Graphics card(s):
      • EVEN BIGGER E-PEEN
      • PSU:
      • OVERSIZED
      • Case:
      • UNDERSIZED
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    Re: Best configuration for a simple small factor

    Have you considered getting a Shuttle though??

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/143112

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Shutt...s-On-Board-VGA

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Shutt...Black-Barebone

    The Shuttles I have seem to use server PSUs.

    You could plonk in one of these Celeron dual core processors in and 2gb of RAM:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Intel...MHz-65W-Retail

    I would get a decent 92mm fan to cool the whole shebang too!!


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    Re: Best configuration for a simple small factor

    Ironically, I believe the Gigabyte does not have Gigabit

    Thinking about RAID....I will make separate backups so I can live without RAID.

    I'm looking through the cases now.

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    • CAT-THE-FIFTH's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Less E-PEEN
      • CPU:
      • Massive E-PEEN
      • Memory:
      • RGB E-PEEN
      • Storage:
      • Not in any order
      • Graphics card(s):
      • EVEN BIGGER E-PEEN
      • PSU:
      • OVERSIZED
      • Case:
      • UNDERSIZED
      • Operating System:
      • DOS 6.22
      • Monitor(s):
      • NOT USUALLY ON....WHEN I POST
      • Internet:
      • FUNCTIONAL

    Re: Best configuration for a simple small factor

    Here are some internal picture of the CFI case:

    http://www.techenclave.com/pc-periph...es-131517.html

    The Gigabyte motherboard does not seem to have Gigabit!! The Asrock looks the better choice then.


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    Re: Best configuration for a simple small factor

    This one looks great. Pretty much what I was looking for, except the price
    In terms of configuration, I would replace the optical drive with an internal hard drive and I also wouldn't need the included drive.
    Other than that, I have to admit that I like better this case than the cubes. It's quite stylish.

    us.shuttle.com/X2700.aspx

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    • CAT-THE-FIFTH's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Less E-PEEN
      • CPU:
      • Massive E-PEEN
      • Memory:
      • RGB E-PEEN
      • Storage:
      • Not in any order
      • Graphics card(s):
      • EVEN BIGGER E-PEEN
      • PSU:
      • OVERSIZED
      • Case:
      • UNDERSIZED
      • Operating System:
      • DOS 6.22
      • Monitor(s):
      • NOT USUALLY ON....WHEN I POST
      • Internet:
      • FUNCTIONAL

    Re: Best configuration for a simple small factor

    Quote Originally Posted by kataleen View Post
    This one looks great. Pretty much what I was looking for, except the price
    In terms of configuration, I would replace the optical drive with an internal hard drive and I also wouldn't need the included drive.
    Other than that, I have to admit that I like better this case than the cubes. It's quite stylish.

    us.shuttle.com/X2700.aspx
    Your limited to 2.5" drives with the X2700. Check out the K45 as it is not that big either and cooling will be better too:

    http://eu.shuttle.com/fi/Portaldata/...les_kit_en.pdf

    If you can get hold of a Celeron 430 it should do the job:

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Intel-Celeron-...d=p3286.c0.m14


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    • CAT-THE-FIFTH's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Less E-PEEN
      • CPU:
      • Massive E-PEEN
      • Memory:
      • RGB E-PEEN
      • Storage:
      • Not in any order
      • Graphics card(s):
      • EVEN BIGGER E-PEEN
      • PSU:
      • OVERSIZED
      • Case:
      • UNDERSIZED
      • Operating System:
      • DOS 6.22
      • Monitor(s):
      • NOT USUALLY ON....WHEN I POST
      • Internet:
      • FUNCTIONAL

    Re: Best configuration for a simple small factor

    This new Atom based motherboard looks interesting:

    http://www.techpowerup.com/101787/AS...therboard.html

    http://uk.insight.com/apps/productpr...=base&src=FRO1

    Hopefully some of the bigger retailers will get it soon.


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    Re: Best configuration for a simple small factor

    the k45 is not so quiet. and its the PSU, and the PSU fan is soldered in rather than plugged, got one as a home server with a celeron e1200
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    Re: Best configuration for a simple small factor

    I finally decided to buy an Intel D945GCLF2D MINI-ITX Atom 330. Looks just right for what I need.
    Now for the case, what do you guys think about this one?
    (link in the following post, this being the 5th post)

    Are there adapters to transform a slin 5.25 bay into a regular 3.5 hard drive bay?

    Also, what do you think a normal power consumption would be for ... say...2 x 1TB hard drives + processor? Would 80W be enough?

    Thanks

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    Re: Best configuration for a simple small factor


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    • CAT-THE-FIFTH's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Less E-PEEN
      • CPU:
      • Massive E-PEEN
      • Memory:
      • RGB E-PEEN
      • Storage:
      • Not in any order
      • Graphics card(s):
      • EVEN BIGGER E-PEEN
      • PSU:
      • OVERSIZED
      • Case:
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      • Operating System:
      • DOS 6.22
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      • Internet:
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    Re: Best configuration for a simple small factor

    80w maybe enough with an Atom but I cannot be certain!


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    Re: Best configuration for a simple small factor

    Hey guys,

    I just bought the Intel D945GCLF2 Dual Core 1.6Ghz ATOM Mainboard and borrowed a mini itx case from one of my pals.
    Installed windows 7. It runs like a breeze. Maybe a little too much hdd activity when I'm working with it, but overall very satisfied.
    I will probably change the case soon, since I don't like cube cases very much and this one in particular is not very well thought.

    Thanks for all your help!
    Kat

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    • Crossie's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Intel D945GCLF2
      • CPU:
      • Atom 330
      • Memory:
      • 2GB
      • Storage:
      • 2x1TB SATA
      • Graphics card(s):
      • Built in MOBO
      • PSU:
      • picoPSU 150W
      • Case:
      • Silverstone SG05 Black
      • Operating System:
      • Ubuntu 8.04 Server
      • Monitor(s):
      • Humax TV when needed
      • Internet:
      • 50MB Cable Service

    Re: Best configuration for a simple small factor

    Quote Originally Posted by kataleen View Post
    Hey guys,

    I just bought the Intel D945GCLF2 Dual Core 1.6Ghz ATOM Mainboard and borrowed a mini itx case from one of my pals.
    Installed windows 7. It runs like a breeze. Maybe a little too much hdd activity when I'm working with it, but overall very satisfied.
    I will probably change the case soon, since I don't like cube cases very much and this one in particular is not very well thought.

    Thanks for all your help!
    Kat
    I wish I had found this earlier....

    It seems like you have done broadly what I am currently doing.

    I have purchased the same MOBO + 2GByte RAM + 2 x 1TByte HDDs for RAID mirror.

    I intend to run Ubuntu server) as this is chiefly going to be an audio media server with the hope of mail server and some web apps later.

    Currently struggling with case and PSU though. I want the server to be quiet and hence had been thinking PicoPSU ~ 100-120W which makes all the SFF cases seem way too large.

    What box are you looking at Kat?

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