Saturday, March 31, 2012

HT80 and Titan DC-155A915Z/RPW 95mm "Z-AXIS" CPU Cooler

I rebuilt my reference SFF HTPC using the HT80 and a new low-profile CPU cooler, the Titan DC-155A915Z/RPW 95mm "Z-AXIS" CPU Cooler.

The Titan is 7mm shorter than the Silverstone NT07-1156 coming in at  only 30mm. To me the noise characteristics are pretty much the same as the stock Intel heatsink but not as quiet as the NT07-1156. Still, you have to be within 3 feet to hear it.

In the HT80, the G620/H61 with picoPSU, 64GB SSD, 250GB 2.5" HDD running with Prime95, climbed to around 130F. The Titan did a good job of keeping everything cool.

I was also happy to discover the picoPSU jack works fine with the jack hole in the HT80. As you see the Titan's just a little bit shorter than I/O shield -- perfect for a SFF HTPC.

Friday, March 23, 2012

HT80 mini ITX HTPC build. Good things come in small packages!

Yesterday I received my carton of sample mini-ITX HTPC cases from China. These are the HT80 I mentioned in a previous post. The pictures I saw did not do them justice. They are very nice looking, all brushed black aluminum with nice feet on the bottom like you'd find on A/V equipment. Inside, there is a 120W DC power supply board that takes a 12V AC adapter with a 2.5mm barrel plug, a 40mm fan and a tray for a slot load ODD with a place to mount a 2.5" HDD or SSD underneath. There are vents on the top, sides and underneath.

Things are definitely tight inside as you would expect from a case this small. It is only 9.4"W x 8"D x 3.1"H. With the Silverstone NT07-1156 cooler on a H55 mini-itx motherboard, it's a perfect fit. With these components, there would be no way to mount a 2.5" HDD/SSD under the ODD tray. However, there is room on the side next to the power board for an SSD although nothing to mount it to. That's not a real issue for an SSD but it would not be ideal for a HDD.

Building with this case is very quick. Once it's flipped over there are four small screws to undo to take the one piece top/sides off. Inside, four screws need to be loosened to slide out the ODD tray. Nothing else needs to be removed to fit in the motherboard. The front has USB, audio, HDD LED, power LED and power switch connections to be made. The power supply has a 20+4 pin connection so it'll fit either a 20-pin or 24-pin board. It also has a P4 connector if the CPU needs its own power. There's one SATA, one molex and one Berg connector. Since this case can only hold one ODD and one SSD/HDD I'd rather see no Berg connector. Who has a floppy and where would you put it anyway? The SATA goes to the SSD/HDD and the molex can be used for a slim SATA data/power adapter for the ODD.

Despite the size, there really is room to move all the connector wires out of the way. Having a single 4GB stick of RAM helps with routing the 24-pin power connector or having low profile RAM. With higher profile RAM it's not clear the power cable would have a place to fit once the ODD tray was put back in place. With the top back on and everything running, temperatures aren't bad despite the majority of the HSF being covered by the ODD tray. With an ambient room temperature around 72F, idles temps hovered around 100F and temps under Prime95 got as high as 136F (58C). For such a small case that's not bad at all especially since the installed processor is a 73W TDP i3-540.

I am thoroughly impressed by this little case. It's ideal for a small media PC where all that is needed is an ODD (or even not as long as you don't mind an empty slot) and a SSD. To have an ODD and 2.5" HDD, you'd really need something even lower profile than the NT07-1156 or maybe a board with an HSF like an AMD Fusion or one of the new Cedar Trail Atom boards. I'll be trying the new Intel D2700DC board next so I will add another blog entry once I build that out and test the clearances.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

EMC-800BL / ASRock E350 build

This is the smallest build yet. This PC case is only 8" x 9" x 3". It comes with a 120W DC power supply and a 60W AC adapter. I installed an ASRock E-350 motherboard and a 2.5" SSD to start. The system ran pretty hot and the E-350 turned out to be defective. I replaced it with my bedroom HTPC which is a ASUS P8H61-I, SandyBridge G620, 64GB SSD, 250GB 2.5" hard drive and a 120W picoPSU. This configuration runs much cooler. This is only temporary as a test however. For the final build, a nettop/surfing machine, I have a slim DVD, a 60mm case fan and I am waiting on the new motherboard which will be one of the new Intel Cedar Trail motherboards, the D2700DC (2.13Ghz dual-core and GMA3650 GPU). It'll be putting my bedroom HTPC parts into one of the HT80 cases I ordered from China.

I am sold on this form factor case.

Friday, March 16, 2012

HT80 mini ITX HTPC case

Introducing the HT80 mini ITX HTPC desktop case. The HT80 is 9.4" x 8.0" x 3.1" with a 120W DC power board and 84W AC adapter. It's made of brushed aluminum. It can fit a mini-itx motherboard, notebook slot-load ODD, 2.5" or 3.5" HDD and has a blue LED.  The front features USB/audio and an IR receiver window. These should arrive any time now and when I do the first build with one I will post a review and pictures!