Since the dawn of computers, one goal has always been to stuff more power into a smaller space. The mini-ITX form factor, and the Mvix Minix 890GX specifically, allow you to run a standard desktop processor on a motherboard not much larger than a grown man’s hand. Even more impressive is that almost every feature of a full sized ATX motherboard has been crammed into the miniature footprint of the Minix 890GX…and it can overclock, too.
Historically, mini-itx boards were reserved for industrial applications but have become more mainstream due to modders placing them in non-standard-like toasters. These systems are great for firewalls, routers, and file servers or combining all three into one server for your local LAN. Now, with manufacturers like Mvix using the powerful AMD 890GX, HTPC builders can create tiny systems that can still handle heavy loads, like playing 1080p video, flawlessly.
Features and Specifications
The features that stick out to me start with the 890GX northbridge. I’ve seen several submissions to HWBot with motherboards based on this chipset. I was extremely excited that this tiny motherboard was using it to test it’s on-board video. Next, I was impressed that Bluetooth and Wireless-N were included with the dual Gigabit LAN, giving excellent connectivity possibilities. I immediately dreamed of replacing my current Linksys WRT54G and using this bad-boy as my firewall and router. After that, everything is standard in my eyes as to what a motherboard should have these days, including the USB3 and SATA6 ports. The only thing missing is a header to connect a front panel 1394a Firewire port. I don’t miss it myself, but I’m sure there is someone out there that has a use for one.
In The Box
The retail box includes a manual, driver cd, I/O cover, two SATA power adapters, and two SATA data cables. What is unique to this motherboard are the two wireless antennas and extensions wires. These are for the Wireless-N and Bluetooth radios.
I won’t bore you with the standard options but it is important to note that there are overclocking settings available on the “JUSTw00t!” tab. Regretfully, Mvix decided to remove the CPU/HT Reference Clock setting so only processors with an unlocked multiplier (Black Edition) can overclock on it right now. Their reasoning is they wanted the board to be stable for server applications. What I find odd about this is the “JUSTw00t!” tab is still present and every other overclocking option you’d expect to find is available. Maybe it’s just me, but who cares if the end-user wants to overclock their system? I’m used to voiding my warranties already. I guess there is still hope that some one will take the chance to mod the BIOS and unlock the hidden settings but that may be a long shot.
As you can see, there are options available to change the GFX clock speed, CPU core voltage, NB voltage, CPU/NB voltage, NB Frequency, HT Link speed, DRAM voltage, and DRAM timings. There is a Core Unlock option, too, and it’s noteworthy that I was not able to successfully unlock the two hidden cores on the 560 BE like I could on the Biostar TA890FXE. Luckily this processor is a Black Edition, so I was able to increase the multiplier to overclock it. I reached a maximum of 4200 MHz. After that, I was able to run all of the benchmarks at a respectable 4000 MHz.
Another interesting tidbit is that the motherboard is equipped with 3 video out ports (VGA, DVI, and HDMI) but only one digital may be used at a time. So, you can either use HDMI+VGA or DVI+VGA for dual monitor connections. Also, the digital ports do not carry any analog signal so no DVI-to-VGA adapters can be used. If you want to connect two analog VGA monitors you are out of luck.
Here at Overclockers.com, we like to focus on the benchmarks that matter: those which will get you points on HWBot. We run a few others, like Everest, to round things out but 3DMark, Aquamark, SuperPi, Wprime, and PiFast are our staples.
- Motherboard: Mvix Minix 890GX-USB3
- Processor: AMD Phenom II 560 BE
- Heatsink: CoolerMaster Vortex Plus
- Memory: ADATA Supreme 2x2GB DDR3-1333
- Power Supply: Silverstone NightJar ST40NF
|Minix stock||Minix overclocked|
|Everest CPU AES||11852||14467|
|Everest CPU Photoworxx||18150||21847|
|Everest CPU Queen||12124||14719|
|Everest CPU zlib||43664||53721|
|Everest FPU Julia||4787||5828|
|Everest FPU Mandel||2862||3474|
|Everest FPU SinJulia||1434||1743|
|Cinebench 10 – 1 CPU||3777||4611|
|Cinebench 10 – 2 CPU||7279||8895|
Phoronix Test Suite
Since this board is mainly aimed at HTPC builders and I personally love running Linux on my HTPCs, I thought I’d give the Phoronix Test Suite (PTS) a go to run some benchmarks. I ran the tests both at stock and overclocked, and I ran them on my current HTPC for reference. My current HTPC isn’t exactly modern, it’s a socket 775 based Intel mATX, but it certainly gives some perspective on how performance has changed in the past few years.
|Mvix Minix stock||Mvix Minix overclocked||Biostar G31D-M7|
|Processor||AMD Phenom II X2 560 @ 3.30GHz (Total Cores: 2)||AMD Phenom II X2 560 @ 4.00GHz (Total Cores: 2)||Intel Xeon CPU 3050 @ 2.12GHz (Total Cores: 2)|
|Motherboard||MINIX 890GX-USB3||MINIX 890GX-USB3||BIOSTAR Group G31D-M7|
|Chipset||AMD RS780 Alternate||AMD RS780 Alternate||Intel 82G33/G31/P35/P31 + ICH7|
|Memory||3710MB ADATA DDR3-1333||3710MB ADATA DDR3-1333||1999MB GeIL DDR2-800|
|Disk||1500GB Seagate ST31500341AS||1500GB Seagate ST31500341AS||1500GB Seagate ST31500341AS|
|Graphics||ATI Radeon HD 4290 384MB||ATI Radeon HD 4290 384MB||Intel 82G33/G31 Express IGP 256MB|
|Audio||Realtek ALC892||Realtek ALC892||Realtek ALC662|
|OS||Ubuntu 10.10||Ubuntu 10.10||Ubuntu 10.10|
|Kernel||2.6.35-22-generic (x86_64)||2.6.35-22-generic (x86_64)||2.6.35-22-generic (x86_64)|
|Desktop||GNOME 2.32.0||GNOME 2.32.0||GNOME 2.32.0|
|Display Server||X.Org Server 1.9.0||X.Org Server 1.9.0||X.Org Server 1.9.0|
|Display Driver||fglrx 8.78.30||fglrx 8.78.30||intel 2.12.0, OpenGL: 1.4 Mesa 7.9-devel|
|Compiler||GCC 4.4.5||GCC 4.4.5||GCC 4.4.5|
|Test Notes||Disk Scheduler: CFQ. Compiz was running on this system.||Disk Scheduler: CFQ. Compiz was running on this system.||Disk Scheduler: CFQ. Compiz was running on this system.|
|Mvix Minix stock||Mvix Minix overclocked||Biostar G31D-M7|
|World of Padman||107.07||114.4||5.43|
|Loopback TCP Performance||23.32||18.97||(error)|
|TTSIOD 3D Renderer||35.94||43.56||28.63|
|Unpacking the Linux Kernel||12.79||10.75||21.43|
(hover for test description)
To see full results and individual graphs of each test, check out the Phoronix Global page. If you want to compare your system directly with these results, simply type phoronix-test-suite benchmark overclockers-21181-4702-28538 in a terminal window (after installing phoronix-test-suite, of course). To see other tests we’ve run that you can also compare to, check out our Phoronix Global User Page. Remember that the running environment can influence test results, so try to match things like the kernel version and compiler version exactly for best results.
Relative Performance Graph
Not surprisingly, the Minix with the 560 BE overclocked wins just about every test. What is surprising is that it loses in the pgbench test. Unfortunately, I’m not familiar enough with the benchmark to begin to speculate on what is going on, but it is certainly odd. Also, it is interesting to see just how much the Socket 775 Core2Duo based computer lags behind the newer AMD Phenom II platform.
The Mvix Minix 890GX-USB3 can certainly play with the big dogs. It holds it’s own at stock speeds for HTPC, server, and general computing tasks. With the ability to overclock, this little board makes a fun toy. I wouldn’t look to it for gaming with the on-board graphics but the PCI-e 16x slot will let you add-on any graphics card you want. It can also handle most processors in the AMD line-up, including the 1055T (stay below 95W). So, this is the little board that can, it packs a hefty punch in a small package, and is Overclockers Approved.