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View Full Version : Mini PC - mini ATX, does anyone own one?



ade234uk
February 5th, 2007, 02:41 PM
I really like these Mini PC you can buy.

Does anyone own one?
If so what is general performance like?

I am thinking of building one myself.

mips
February 5th, 2007, 03:28 PM
Essentially they are not to different to their atx cousins.

The motherboard is smaller as it has way less expansion slots etc in order to reduce the size of the actual board.

If the chipset used between a mini-atx and a normal atx is the same then I see no difference in performance. When I say chipset i mean the north/south bridge, gpu, cpu etc.

gjtoth
February 5th, 2007, 03:38 PM
Having had one for a while, I can tell you that unless you're cooling system is top-notch, you're going to have heat problems. The concept is great and if your manufacturer has the foresight to ventilate the case adequately and provide fans that do the task.

I learned the hard way after my CPU overheated and died.

Brunellus
February 5th, 2007, 03:49 PM
I built a passively-cooled mini-ITX box for my mother. It was pretty well-suited to the task, but you have to give up a lot of power to make passive cooling both cheap and effective. She now has a faster, more powerful notebook, and my brother has inherited the mini-ITX.

My brother, age 12, loves it, since his computer use is very light--a bit of word processing, some light web browsing, and IM/email.

Like any piece of gear, it pays to think about how it will be used eventually. I wouldn't recommend such a setup for someone who MUST play the newest twitch games, for instance, but for someone who needs a modest frontend (or even a thin client), I'd have them consider mini-ITX as an option.

For small-mobo fetishists, VIA also produce nano-ITX boards which are even smaller, and will be rolling out pico-ITX boards soon that are smaller still. I don't hate the foo, I PITX the foo.

mips
February 5th, 2007, 03:58 PM
Oops i forgot to mention the heat issue, smaller, less space, less ventilation. Newer core due cpus etc should generate less heat though.

doobit
February 5th, 2007, 03:59 PM
I use them and like them, but you can't use them for gaming. The performance is good with Xubuntu, but drags a little with Gnome or KDE because the video memory is shared DDR RAM, not video RAM. They are great for power savings though, because they use about 10% of the energy of a full-sized desktop. The Morex case designs allow for adequate cooling with only a small fan. I recommend the new C7 series CPU chips. The small footprint is also great for efficiency apartments.
Take a look at my website.

Brunellus
February 5th, 2007, 03:59 PM
Oops i forgot to mention the heat issue, smaller, less space, less ventilation. Newer core due cpus etc should generate less heat though.
. . . for big bucks.

It's worth mentioning that in this form factor, you're probably paying a price premium.

mips
February 5th, 2007, 07:39 PM
. . . for big bucks.

It's worth mentioning that in this form factor, you're probably paying a price premium.

That as well.

doobit
February 5th, 2007, 10:24 PM
. . . for big bucks.

It's worth mentioning that in this form factor, you're probably paying a price premium.

You will pay more for performance, but if you don't need speed, then it's not that much more and you might make it up with the cost savings of the energy you don't use.

Jussi Kukkonen
February 5th, 2007, 11:35 PM
I really like these Mini PC you can buy.

Does anyone own one?
If so what is general performance like?

I am thinking of building one myself.

I'm not exactly sure what is a mini pc, but I've been quite happy with my eBOX 3850 -- it's about the size of a book ( 17x12x6 cm), is almost totally silent (no fan needed) and can cope with normal web/email/office tasks easily. I measured the power intake and in normal usage it takes a minimal 13 watts! Installing has to be done using netboot or some other hack though, since there's no cd-rom.

My model uses a laptop hard disk, but there's also a sister model with just a flash disk (this is pretty cool since the machine has absolutely no moving parts).

jeffc313
February 6th, 2007, 02:14 AM
I'm not exactly sure what is a mini pc, but I've been quite happy with my eBOX 3850 -- it's about the size of a book ( 17x12x6 cm), is almost totally silent (no fan needed) and can cope with normal web/email/office tasks easily. I measured the power intake and in normal usage it takes a minimal 13 watts! Installing has to be done using netboot or some other hack though, since there's no cd-rom.

My model uses a laptop hard disk, but there's also a sister model with just a flash disk (this is pretty cool since the machine has absolutely no moving parts).
flash disks die quickly when written to with system logs. If I were you I would not get a flash disk version.

Jussi Kukkonen
February 6th, 2007, 09:56 AM
"Quickly" is an overstatement if you ask me. True, it is a disadvantage and it's not even the only one -- I/O speed and maximum disk size are also problems -- that's why I didn't get one myself. But the damn thing is still impressive...

doobit
February 6th, 2007, 02:57 PM
If you use DamnSmall Linux, or Puppy, or dyne:bolic then the system logs don't get written to the flash drive until you shut down, or log out, and even then you can limit what gets written.
Those dustros also don't require much drive space to begin with and they use compressed apps that decompress on the fly. Try a live CD, you will be impressed.

BTW take a look at my mod project here: http://www.louddata.com/minihog.html

philba
February 7th, 2007, 08:11 PM
miniPC is made by AOpen. I got the 945VXR and installed 6.10 on it just fine. start here http://minipc.aopen.com/Global/product.htm

some thoughts:
- get a USB hub - the two on the box get sucked up by mouse/kbd
- get a mobile processor for the heat issue as discussed above
- be very carefull if you open the case up - it's way tight and the DVD drive/hard disk are in the top, mobo in the base. It took me an hour to figure out how to reassemble it correctly.
- documentation? what documentation???

some questions:
- I've still not gotten dvd playback to work. I can see the disc but mplayer et al choke on it. ...haven't put much effort into it yet, though. anyone see this problem?
- IR remote interface. I've tromped all over the internet looking for documentation on this. nada. anyone?
- motherboard manual doesn't seem to exist. its an i945MXt, I believe.
- anyone know how to turn off the stupid internal speaker?? Plugging in external speakers does not disconnect the internal speaker. I suspect I'll have to open the case up again (oh boy!) and take off a wire.

Phil