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31 Comments

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  • DanNeely - Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - link

    Every time I look at the ultra-crowded layout of an mITX board I'm reminded of how dated the main 24 ATX power plug is and how much it would benefit from being replaced. While they were king in the p1 era with the CPU and PCI busses running on 3.3v directly and most other chips on the board designed for 5V; 3.3 and 5V are barely used at all any more but have 3 and 5 wires in the 24pin cable; while -5V has been removed entirely from modern versions of the spec. Dropping to a single 3.3/5v wire and removing the -5v one would free 7 pins directly; and with only 4 power pins left in the legacy connector (3.3, 5, 2 x 12) there's no need for 8 ground pins either. Probably we could drop 5 of them.

    This would allow for a successor cable that's only half as large; freeing space on crowded boards and replacing the 24wire cable with a 12 wire one that would be much less of a pain to route in a crowded case. I'm inclined to keep the CPUs 12V separate just to avoid trading one overly fat wire bundle for another and because AIUI the other half of why the CPUs 12V comes in separately is to get it as close to the socket as possible without crowding the area with everything else.
    Reply
  • EnzoFX - Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - link

    Yes, I've been saying this since ITX was taking hold. It is absurd how held back we are by entrenched standards. It's not in their business to reinvent. Reply
  • Jambe - Thursday, August 22, 2013 - link

    I enjoyed this astute observation-comment.

    Right on.

    That is all.
    Reply
  • cjs150 - Friday, August 23, 2013 - link

    Totally agree on the ATX cable.

    While we are at why do motherboards virtually never come with the ATX connector being at right angles rather than straight up - we get that for SATA connectors and it seriously improves cable management
    Reply
  • flemeister - Friday, August 23, 2013 - link

    Not such a good idea for mITX boards, when you might expect to install them in small cases such as the Antec ISK110 or Minibox M350. Right-angled ATX power or sata ports would be blocked off.

    How about RAM though? Why not use SO-DIMMs that are about 60% the size of regular DIMMs? They're readily available, and are priced the same or very close to the price of regular size RAM. Assuming two sticks of RAM, that would save even more room on the motherboard than a redesign of the 24-pin connector. Just look at the Asus P8H67-I Deluxe for an example. :)
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 23, 2013 - link

    It's not just mITX boards that would have a problem with right angled ATX power sockets. Unless the PSU also included a right angle 24pin cable it would be problematic in any case that uses cable management holes to route the cables behind the mobo tray. Trying to make a 90* bend in that cramped a space would put a lot of torque on the socket; a big ugly loop sticking up allows for a much looser and less stressful bend. Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 23, 2013 - link

    For dimm sizes I think it's mostly a capacity issue. For more modest builds it probably doesn't matter; but higher capacities tend to come out a year or two sooner in full size dimms because you can jam more chips onto them if need be. Currently DDR3 dimms and sodimms both max out at 8GB for desktops; but if you're willing to pay the price premium server ram is available in up to 32GB dimms. Reply
  • flemeister - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    True, but how about SO-DIMMs on a budget Intel H81/B85 or AMD A55/A75 board? Or one of the low-power Intel Atom or AMD Brazos ITX boards? Or even a budget Z87 ITX board, to avoid the need for a vertically mounted VRM daughterboard (unless that's actually cheaper to do)? More space for surface mounted components, and probably cheaper to make the board? Could also mean less PCB layers? Reply
  • DanNeely - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    You're only saving 36 pins/dimm (204 vs 240); so there's no where near enough savings to drop a PCB layer. Beyond that I'd guess that since they do offer some models with SoDIMM slots that they just don't sell as well. If I had to guesses why it'd be that people are more likely to have spare DIMMs laying around than spare SoDIMMs; meaning that the total build cost is lower since the ram is free and/or the cost savings from larger DIMMs are enough to drive shoppers.

    The one configuration I could see driving some enthusiast/gamer consumption of SoDIMM based mITX boards would be 4 slots instead of only 2 for 32GB max instead of 16; is conspicuous by its absence.
    Reply
  • Hyoyeon - Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - link

    You mention DisplayPort several times, but this board does not have a DP connector. Where did this come from? Reply
  • IanCutress - Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - link

    The motherboard manufacturer has options when deciding which digital display outputs are put on the motherboard itself. Typically we see HDMI, DP and DVI-D, though as I mention in comparison to other motherboards, some manufacturers can switch up the DP to a HDMI like this motherboard here. Other manufacturers will only use two digital displays (HDMI/DVI-D or DP/HDMI) and take the VGA from the chipset. I've never used a DP monitor in my personal life (I used DP for the 4K article), so I guess I would prefer multiple HDMI ports to rig up a couple of 1080p monitors. Manufacturers have an option of a DVI-I (combined DVI-D and VGA), although few actually do so.

    I happen to be working with a mini-ITX motherboard that goes along all three digital displays (HDMI/DP) with the combination DVI-I right now :)

    Ian
    Reply
  • geok1ng - Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - link

    Please clarify me this point: you mean this mobo can run 3 monitors using cheap HDMI>DVI adapters at the same time, for example, in stock market/online poker? Reply
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - link

    AFAIK AMD hasn't made any GPUs (discrete or integrated) that have 3 legacy (VGA/DVi/HDMI) clock generators; as a result you'd need an active adapter. Intel's the same; with only some of nVidia's higher end cards supporting 3 non-DP displays. Reply
  • thatbox - Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - link

    My Radeon 5770 does that, if that counts as AMD. Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 23, 2013 - link

    AFAIK all of those cards just put the active displayport to HDMI/etc converter on the card instead of requiring you to buy a dongle. The CPU chip itself is still limited to two legacy outputs. Reply
  • thatbox - Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - link

    Had to check to see how everything was plugged in. None of my monitors has DP (the most recent one was made in 2006). One CRT (1920x1440x75Hz) using the DVI output with a VGA adapter, one LCD (1280x1024x60Hz) using the DP output with a DVI adapter, and one LCD (1920x1200x60Hz) using the HDMI output with a DVI adapter. I guess maybe the DP>DVI adapter could be active, if it can be active without being powered, but two a year and a half ago it was like twenty bucks as opposed to the sixty or seventy or more most others were and everything works fine. It was not a big a deal as the scary research I'd done suggested it would be. Reply
  • paperwastage - Thursday, August 22, 2013 - link

    only the active DP->dual-link DVI is expensive(>$60) and typically needs a power source (via USB)

    the active DP->single-link DVI has been around $20-$30 for the past few years now, don't need power source. I remember getting mine for $30 in 2010
    Reply
  • paperwastage - Thursday, August 22, 2013 - link

    AMD itself hasn't made any reference design for 3 legacy clock, but it's partners have (though the demand is weak)

    eg: Sapphire Flex - see only 2 "in-stock" versions on newegg

    http://www.sapphiretech.com/Flex/FleX_Eng_apply.ht...
    Reply
  • GonzaloMin - Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - link

    Love my job, since I've been bringing in $82h… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online. (Home more information)
    http://goo.gl/UDMcRU
    Reply
  • meacupla - Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - link

    dual HDMI is probably for HDMI TV and HDMI receiver.

    not that DVI or DP can't be converted to HDMI, at extra hassle for the end user, so DP would be nice.
    Reply
  • ShieTar - Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - link

    "The main failure of AMD counterparts in our testing scenario is with Civilization V, which loves single threaded performance."

    The word "failure" seems a bit harsh when the CPU allows you to play at close to 60 FPS on 1440p in a game that does not even require fast responses.
    Reply
  • Alan G - Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - link

    Nice review. I've done three builds now with the Intel equivalent of this board and it's really a nice board (one office PC and two HTPCs). The WiFi is exceptional and there have been no dropouts at all. Fortunately on the Intel board the 4 pin power connector is in a more manageable space. Reply
  • Joel Kleppinger - Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - link

    I think this missed the biggest reason to do this review... comparing against other mini-ITX systems in cases that don't support graphics cards. That's where this setup is truly interesting. It felt more like a CPU review with a motherboard review tacked onto it and missed the uniqueness this combo could offer. Reply
  • arthur449 - Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - link

    For the boot time tests, is Windows 7 being installed with the UEFI boot option? Reply
  • arthur449 - Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - link

    I ask because, in my experience with UEFI BIOSes, going with a UEFI installation and disabling the Legacy boot options speeds up POST times considerably. Reply
  • torp - Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - link

    Why no power consumption tests with no video card? Reply
  • porto32 - Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - link

    How long does GIGABYTE usually take to stop providing BIOS updates? Looking at some of their older boards on their site shows the latest BIOS is a beta BIOS and was only less than a year from the initial BIOS date. Providing a beta BIOS as the latest version doesn't very good either. Reply
  • lichoblack - Thursday, August 22, 2013 - link

    The Motherboard specs in Newegg list it as also supporting Bluetooth from the same miniPCIe. Is that info incorrect? Reply
  • davegraham - Friday, August 23, 2013 - link

    does this support Registered/ECC memory? Reply
  • Lazzerman - Friday, August 30, 2013 - link

    I just built a HTPC with this board. Works like a charm! One thing to think about though, I bought the "Streacom FC8S EVO Silver", fanless HTPC case. The case uses 4 heatpipes connected to the CPU, but due to the placing of the ATX connector on this MB, I could only connect 3 heatpipes. No big deal, but had I known before I might had choosen another board. Reply
  • Reckie - Thursday, September 05, 2013 - link

    Would be nice if FM2+ boards were released before the new CPU's so people who buy a CPU now wouldnt have to buy a new motherboard once Kaveri turns up. Reply

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