Author Topic: More ITX goodness  (Read 1291 times)

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Offline Hardman

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More ITX goodness
« on: February 28, 2014, 09:46:17 AM »
:)

Finished this build last week for a long term customer. He had reached EOL on the last tower he bought from me and with space getting a bit short on his desk liked the idea of a smaller case.



Turned out a sweet machine, the case as in the image was another Coolermaster, but for his needs went with an Asus board this time, the Z87iPro, this was one of the reviews that decided me it suited:

http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/motherboards/2013/08/29/asus-z87i-pro-review/1

The full build aside from board and case was a 600W Silverstone PSU, ideal for ITX, an ATX spec but shallower so more room to work, Intel i7 CPU, 3.4GHz stock, 8GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR3 RAM, Samsung 500GB EVO SSD and a Pioneer Blu-Ray burner.

Being he only really uses a PC for Office and MYOB plus recreation that's an ample spec but if need be the cpu will overclock stable to around 4GHz and the board supports up to 16GB of RAM. In four years with the old machine he'd only managed to use a couple of hundred GB of disk and that was including a lot of junk so 500GB will go a long way. His old drive was still fine so put it into an external USB3 case for him anyway.

It's amazing what Asus have crammed into the board, 6 USB3 ports, 4 USB2, plus two more with a header card if required, HDMI, up to 6 SATA drives, good onboard audio, 2.4 and 5GHZ 802.11a/b/n wi-fi and all in that tiny form factor.

The Coolermaster makes for great cable management but once assembled you really can't see much so didn't bother with taking any pics, I do have others of the external if anyone is interested.

The customer had all good quality peripherals so no need to supply any of those, just install Win7 Home Premium, Office (7, he doesn't like 10 or 13) and all the usual freebies, Avast, MWB, TeamViewer, IrfanView, Adobe etc and clean it up.

Great BIOS on the board, and a neat way to flash if required via USB and a single button on the rear, being able to use a mouse in BIOS is luxury :)

The actual assembly had just one glitch. The Silverstone is a modular PSU so the board power is a 20 + 4 and 2 x 4 for the CPU power. The board has 24 pin of course and an 8 pin CPU.

Plug it all in, no boot. The board manual seemed to suggest 4 pins powered for the cpu was ok - unplug one, boots, go figure :)

Everything else was plain sailing ending with a very fast machine sitting at 46C on a 35C day under benchmark load, 41C at idle. Can't argue with that, the case has two fans standard did not add any and used the stock HSF so plenty of potential there as well. As it is though cool and quiet.

Had one software glitch. The customer had decided to upgrade his MYOB as well and when installed could not locate his company file to upgrade it.

I don't know anything much about MYOB but Eagle works for an accountancy firm that uses MYOB all the time so rather than messing around asked him to Teamviewer in. A few minutes of messing around and all sorted.

So, happy customer and thanks to Eagle for jumping in :)

Referring back to my last ITX build I guess one question remains, was the Asus audio as good as the Gigabyte?

Nope. It was close, very close, but the Gigabyte had an immediacy about it that had my wife running to see what the test CD was playing on :)

The customer is totally happy with the sound however, so would I be if I'd not heard the Gigabyte :)

Because I had the machine for a day or so to burn in I had a look at that though. The audio out is just line level of course into amplified speakers. I keep a couple of Sound Impact T class portable amps around for my own use so I plugged into one of those and into my pretty efficient home brew speakers.

Wow!!!

That sound was right up there with my reference system, those little Sound Impact amps bat WAY above their price :)

T class does not get the attention it deserves.

The customer doesn't care though, VERY happy with what he now has and I've his old machine to strip for parts :)

Cheers

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Offline Richo

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Re: More ITX goodness
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2014, 01:50:51 PM »
Veeery schmick !!


T class is very clever.
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Offline Hardman

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Re: More ITX goodness
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2014, 04:29:01 PM »
:)

Surprising what you don't notice until you take a pic, my setup keyboard sure needs a clean :)

T is great, and cheap, has an almost valve-like sound just they do need efficient speakers but mine are, very efficient, get thumping on less than 10 watts with ease. The amps I have are basically the ones on the top right in this page:

http://www.decibelhifi.com.au/t-amps-1/

but cost even less than that.

My original plan had been with the two I have to mono them and get 30 watts per channel but two things happened. They sounded so good that I was a bit loathe to risk the mod and then my Yamaha receiver dropped a channel. It had always sounded pretty good but in replacing the blown Mosfet, except I was going to replace both, I suddenly realised that it might be interesting to instead replace with TA2020s.

The substitution turned out to be pretty trivial and whilst I had the amp apart I upgraded a bunch of other components and put in some bypasses. The nett result was that I pretty much halved its output from 85W to around 40W per channel, again by mono'ing but it actually sounds louder and much, much better in every respect. I was building the speakers at the time so went for efficiency and ended up with one sweet system. Since then I've upgraded the pre-amp stage as well and it just keeps getting better.

Not bad for an originally sub $500 receiver that had maybe an additional $250 put into, if you put labour value at zero :) It's now about 10 years old, must replace the batteries in the remote :)

Which possibly explains why I was not averse to letting my beloved Audiolab/ModSquad/Lambert/Marantz system go on permanent loan to younger daughter :)

T Class is really an evolution of D Class of course but the switching is different - so smooth that it is very similar in sound to a single-ended valve design. Without all the "idiosyncrasies" of valves :)

I'd recommend T class to anyone and as you can see from that link whilst they are still a niche in audio there are quite a few to choose from at very good prices. That particular company used to be friendly competitors in Adelaide, their high end amp range is Krell, pretty hard to beat if you have a big bank balance and need lots of grunt but for every Krell they sell they sell dozens of the Ts :)

They turn up lots of places with little fanfare these days, Sony use them in car audio, Apple in some of their products, pity the original developers wound up in Chapter 11, but they did sell out for a good price to Cirrus.

Some indication of how much T is overlooked would be the scanty Wikipedia page on it, what I just posted is close to all the page has to say :)

Cheers



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Offline AccessDenied

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Re: More ITX goodness
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2014, 08:00:19 AM »
Yeah.  iTX have surprising bang for buck.

Our media PC is ITX.  It outperforms the main PC in every aspect.  It's only 1 year newer (so yeah.  Some better components).

Cost $800.  Has a PCI-e gfx card, 8gig ram, 2TB HDD heaps of USB3 and 2 ports.  Wifi and onboard LAN.  All the good stuff.  I don't need to add anymore to it.

And it fits in a wooden birdcage (yup.  That's the case.   A wooden bird cage.  One of those ornamental ones.  About 30cm wide, 40cm tall and 25cm deep.  When wife chooses, you damn well let her choose.

AD

Offline Hardman

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Re: More ITX goodness
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2014, 08:56:36 AM »
:)

I'm getting a lot of interest in it as a sensible SOHO form factor in preference to laptops that never move.

I guess I'm far from alone, the most telling thing is the number of new cases that keep appearing, this week Cubix released a neat one with cable management under the mobo. As a small piece of my business though don't think I"ll be building in bird cages :)

Cheers
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Offline AccessDenied

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Re: More ITX goodness
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2014, 09:40:42 AM »
hehehe.  Yeah.

I don't know if you can get them, but if an iTX was released with SLI support (2xpci-e) they'd sell like hotcakes.

Great little boards.

AD

Offline Hardman

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Re: More ITX goodness
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2014, 11:24:33 AM »
:)

Not that I know of, board real estate is squeezy as it is.

But did I mention that board I specified can support up to three screens native? Quite a few board can do that now but in ITX that's just one more tick in favour :)

Cheers
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Offline LordDread

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Re: More ITX goodness
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2014, 01:03:52 PM »
itx sli ... thats what you would call a hotbox with a cpl decent gfx cards in it ...

Offline Hardman

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Re: More ITX goodness
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2014, 05:43:38 PM »
:)

I'd forgotten about "Hotbox :)"

It would be indeed, but remarkably easy to keep cool, that Coolermaster is mostly sort of mesh, small volume, easy to vent the heat :)

Cheers
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Offline LordDread

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Re: More ITX goodness
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2014, 08:38:35 AM »
if your not gaming with sli, then it aint worth it, so good luck keepen it cool, unless you pop it open :p

Offline Hardman

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Re: More ITX goodness
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2014, 08:53:06 AM »
:)

It's a bit of a fallacy that an open case is cooler mate, but there's so much pierced metal in that case it's pretty much running open. It could have another four fans without too much trouble, at which point it would be a wind tunnel inside :)

Take your point though, I don't mess with high end graphics cards much but they sure run hot.

Cheers

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Offline AccessDenied

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Re: More ITX goodness
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2014, 06:21:26 PM »
Will point out that a smaller case is easier to refresh the air on (provided you don't clog the system up with cables of course).

An 80mm fan can as a percentage, move more air in a smaller case than a big case.  1 x 80mm fan could evacuate the air in a standard itx case in less than 1 second at full speed.  Would take 2 - 3 seconds in a standard ATX case.

Small cases are easier to cool IF you have airflow.  If you don't have airflow, large case = easier.

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Offline Hardman

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Re: More ITX goodness
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2014, 07:08:55 PM »
:)

In that case I'd put a 120mm on the temp controlled header with the fan exhausting on the currently passive side and keep it cool and quiet if needed AD. Doesn't need it at the moment, definitely would with Sli, which would be fine, that's the PCie side, if there were two slots :)

It would be a mix of pulled air and fan input air from the front fan, should balance up fine.

They really are very easy cases to keep cool, towers require much more thought and experimentation :)

The cable management is so easy in them as well, the big PSU cables tuck away above the PSU in the main, plenty of airflow, plus being a modular PSU no un-needed cable to tuck away :)

Cheers

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