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Looking to make/purchase a compact PC, need advice

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loonytoony

New Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2009
Hello.

I want to make a compact PC, but I'm not sure whether I should buy the preconfigured vendor PCs or make a custom one. As I understand it, making custom PCs is cheaper, but the setup I have in mind is to make a PC that is small in size (perhaps similar in size to the Mac mini). Does that mean I have to buy specialized PC components that are more expensive to their regular-sized counterparts? If that is so, from a convenience standpoint, are the vendor configured PCs made by HP a viable option?
 

MARCI

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2008
Location
Folding for T32 in Lawrenceville, Ga
Look at Newegg. you can get mini and micro ATX boards and cases there. not really priced too diferently than full sized items.

You could even start playing around with some of the miniITX form factor stuff.

Small Form Factor just takes planning. since you still need air movement through the case.

I guess it depends on what you want it to do.
 
OP
L

loonytoony

New Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2009
Thanks for the suggestion. It seems that the Micro sized casing is a good choice for the system I have in mind. This is the one I am looking at:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811154094

I don't suppose I could simply take out components from my current system (such as hard disk, motherboard etc.) and outfit the new casing with it?

Since you mention it, does special consideration need to be given to air flow in these systems? I don't intend to make a gaming rig out of the system, infact my purpose of making a compact system is to design a system that is primarily used for work, emulation and multimedia - none of which should need expensive components AFAIK.
 

jmdixon85

Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2008
Location
Cumbria (UK)
We will need to know what kind of mainboard you have to see if it will fit the mATX case. The case you are looking at will take your current hard disk and DVD drive. As for cooling, the case already seems to have a 90mm exhaust fan and space for a 120mm intake fan that you would need to buy seperately. Apart from that just take care with cable management to get the best cooling. Can be a bit of a pain in such a small case but you should still be able to get good results.
 

MARCI

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2008
Location
Folding for T32 in Lawrenceville, Ga
Aye, you can use the same cpu, hard drive, ram, dvd drive. The Mobo would need to fit the case. mATX case needs a mATX or smaller mobo.

Add on graphics cards can be tricky, depending on the height, and length of the card.

I'd recommend a Modular PSU for ease of installation.
 

Diggrr

Underwater Senior Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2001
I've grown to love my little Intel mITX board (in my signature).
Plenty of power running the E8400 Dual Core, and I understand BIOS updates have brought it up to 8Gig of ram capacity (64 bit OS needed, I now run Win7 Pro X64 without issue). It can run the 64 watt quads too.
Video does nicely, playing vids from online, hard drive/jump drive/DVD's without a hitch. It's also got dual head video, having both DVI-I and DVI-D outputs.
Sound is fantastic, which is unexpected in an office targeted machine too.

I now have it outfitted with a Sata Sony Optiarc DL laptop DVD burner and two Seagate Sata II 320Gig 2.5" drives (no raid, though it does come with it).

I went with Intel because I was tired of fussing around with drivers and support, Intel had Win 7 drivers up when the first Beta's of Win7 released. Windows Update even pulled a video driver that Intel hadn't posted yet!

I have not been able to get a response from ATI/AMD/Diamond about my TV tuner card not working, but I totally forgot who owned ATI these days...duh, my bad. Hauppauge is my next try, because saving a dime did not come out in my favor.

The case I use now is the In-Win CS-BM639.AD120SL. Not bad, though I'm thinking of replacing the PSU it came with with my Pico PSU 150 watter...it totally kills the room in the case, and makes cables hard to run.
Bring only half-height cards to play in whatever slot you end up with, because that's all it will take.
I have a Scythe drive bracket set that allows me to use the single 3.5 drive bay for my two 2.5 drives.


Not trying to be a salesman or anything, but there's a bit of comfort to offer in a tested system that's been running for 7+ months.
*And please pardon my manners...:welcome: to the forums!
 
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Theocnoob

Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2007
Location
Near Toronto Canada
I've grown to love my little Intel mITX board (in my signature).
Plenty of power running the E8400 Dual Core, and I understand BIOS updates have brought it up to 8Gig of ram capacity (64 bit OS needed, I now run Win7 Pro X64 without issue). It can run the 64 watt quads too.
Video does nicely, playing vids from online, hard drive/jump drive/DVD's without a hitch. It's also got dual head video, having both DVI-I and DVI-D outputs.
Sound is fantastic, which is unexpected in an office targeted machine too.

I now have it outfitted with a Sata Sony Optiarc DL laptop DVD burner and two Seagate Sata II 320Gig 2.5" drives (no raid, though it does come with it).

I went with Intel because I was tired of fussing around with drivers and support, Intel had Win 7 drivers up when the first Beta's of Win7 released.

I have not been able to get a response from ATI/AMD/Diamond about my TV tuner card not working, but I totally forgot who owned ATI these days...duh, my bad. Hauppauge is my next try, because saving a dime did not come out in my favor.

The case I use now is the In-Win CS-BM639.AD120SL. Not bad, though I'm thinking of replacing the PSU it came with with my Pico PSU 150 watter...it totally kills the room in the case, and makes cables hard to run.
Bring only half-height cards to play in whatever slot you end up with, because that's all it will take.
I have a Scythe drive bracket set that allows me to use the single 3.5 drive bay for my two 2.5 drives.


Not trying to be a salesman or anything, but there's a bit of comfort to offer in a tested system that's been running for 7+ months.

OP don't know your knowledge level but ^ system would obliterate the one I suggested (think Star Wars (the first one) where Darth Vader's ship is chasing the little beat up junker with princess Leia)

It'll just cost you a lot more-- but it'll fit into the same footprint.

You can actually make a really powerful system and fit it in something with dimensions smaller than a PS3 slim

It's just a matter of- do you want 'good enough for what I want to do' or do you want the possibility of this system growing, gaming, etc..

If not the Atom 330 build is really really really really power efficient and it's cheap and you get a relatively good CPU and GPU on a relatively good board. None of it's great- by any means. It's just 'good enough'.
But it's good enough for BLU-RAY play back, very light gaming- like WoW on lower settings, stuff like that.

In being integrated, it also offers the advantage of being a much quicker power free build-- you just screw the mobo in, connect the drives and power supply cables and turn it on.

Not trying to knock the above build-- its what I'd aim for if I made a tiny PC like this-- I want more power always-- but I am not who this unit is for.
 

Diggrr

Underwater Senior Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2001
Very true, I still love my Jetway system that's also in my sig. It ran all my 32 bit software too!
The 120 watt PSU was actually overkill because I ran full sized drives when I first put it together...no worries leaving it on all day either, because it used so little power.

It has an advantage over the bigger system, in that the low profile of the tiny heatsink made it capable of a 1U case with low-height ram.
 
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WiZiD

New Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2009
Location
NH
I built a shuttle that’s almost as fast as my full size gamming rig.
Shuttle case:
http://www.cyberguys.com/product-details/?productid=26718
This case will hold a full size video card and even comes with an extender so you can put a large power supply in…..you can google any of the parts Specs:
Corsair HX 1,000 watt,
Phenom II x4 940 3ghz,
ASROCK A780BMX/128M
8gig Kingston HyperX KHX8500D2T
Freezer 64 Pro cooler,
Sapphire 4890 2GB GDDR5
320 gig sata drive
ROGUE NZXT Shuttle Case,
Dell SP2309w 23” wide screen 80,000 to 1 contrast ratio 2048x1152
Vista 64bit ultimate….
 

Diggrr

Underwater Senior Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2001
you got a pic of that little jetway rig?

Not at the moment, it's torn down right now to put into the case I took this one out of. I'll search around and see if the old thread hasn't gone to the archives as yet, I started a thread with a custom case build.

*sorry, the forum monster got the thread. Strange how the case I built before it can still be found....
 
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OP
L

loonytoony

New Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2009
Thanks for all your suggestions. I have a much clearer idea of what I want now. This is the case I have in mind for the new system:

mini ITX case

and the Zotac Ion 330 motherboard.

I hope that the small size of the mini ITX won't prove too prohibitive. I may plan to upgrade to a high-quality sound card and another hard drive down the road - will this casing provide enough space for that? Also, since the mini ITX uses smaller hard disks, how can I transfer data over from my 3.5" hard disk which I currently use?

Thankyou for all your assistance.
 

WiZiD

New Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2009
Location
NH
loonytoony,,,
You can always take all the files that you want to save and put them in a separate directory in the same drive before removing it. Then put it in your new system as a slave drive and retrieve the info from it and just take it out when done. The reason I say to take the files you need to save and place them in a different directory is that sometimes when you take a drive out of a pc and place it in another, the files that are saved in the documents and settings folder/user name/ my documents are not accessible anymore. These files can be made accessible with a little bit of know how but, its a lot less frustrating just to place them in their own directory before removing the drive! Also I dont think your gonna have enough room with that case! but thats your call....cheers
 

Diggrr

Underwater Senior Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2001
ITX can use the full sized drives too, the interface on the board is the same as it's full sized counterparts.
That particular case has room for a laptop CD/DVD drive (slim, make sure you get the correct type of cable for it, board end is the same, but the drive end may be different like "slim sata").
It also takes a full sized 3.5" hard drive, so no worries about transferring data.

It says in the specs that it has an expansion slot, but the pictures do not show one...you may have a problem adding a sound card with that case unless the pics are of an older model.
 

jmdixon85

Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2008
Location
Cumbria (UK)
I too look foward to it. When ITX first came out I was going to convert an old DVD player into a full PC. Never got round to it though :(
 

necrokiller

Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2008
Location
Toronto, Canada
Guys, loonytoony is my younger brother. So I'll be putting up this rig for him now.

What do you guys think about this combo: http://ncix.com/products/?sku=42120&vpn=ION-D-E-ANTEC-ITX&manufacture=Bundle Deals

I particularly like the motherboard since it also has wi-fi on-board. Hows the casing to work with with regards to cable management and holding atleast one 3.25" HDD? Seems a little too expensive. Are there any better mini-ITX motherboards which support LGA 775 in the same price range? Or has an expansion slot to take the D-link DWA-552 ?

I can use some DDR2-667 RAMs and HDD from the current rig...(and maybe the ATX PSU if the casing supports it (I saw a Lian-Li PC-Q07 casing which does). Budget is about $400. Purpose of the rig is to just do the basic tasks, browsing, word processing, emulation and HD movies playback. According to some reviews I read, even the single core variants of the Atom cpu on the Zotac motherboards can handle 1080p movie playback.

The Gateway SX2800 seemed very appealing to me as well. Its a little over the budget but we get a bigger hard-disk, more RAM, faster CPU and a monitor +mouse +keyboard as well all in a very compact design. So which do you guys think is the best option?