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Mini ITX build advice needed

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beyondinfinity

Registered
Joined
Nov 19, 2015
Hi I'm converting to a mini itx system, and starting from scratch with a new case and everything

Several questions about these expansion slots on the cases.

Are they for graphics cards only or what?
For example one case I was looking at was the Antec ISK 310, but it has a half size expansion slot on the back - what is this? What can you place here?

Also do expansion slots have anything to do with these new PCIe SSD cards? What about M 2 SSD? How do I know if the case will support these? Or is this a feature of the motherboard only? I doubt I will get that now since I already have a 2.5" SSD, however for future proofing, will I still be able to utilize those faster SSD?

Other cases I looked at was the Cooler Master Elite 110 which seems to offer more room, even space for full ATX power supply and full graphics cards.
Or even smaller the Silverstone Sugo Series SG13.
 
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trents

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2008
A half height expansion slot will not accept a full size video card. The PCB of the card is shorter as is the bracket on the end where the video connector port is. Like this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/ATI-2GB-204...135251?hash=item27f2bc0e53:g:NQ0AAOSw7ThUh8Vk instead of this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-Dell-Pr...911694?hash=item360d644f4e:g:4I0AAOSwEzxYNcRy

Half height cards are used in shallow, small form factor cases.

Most mini ITX motherboards have one PCI-e slot for a video card and it is usually located on the left edge of the motherboard which would place the video card close to the side of the case. This raises two other concerns in choosing a video card. Namely, the case size will often prohibit video cards that are on the long side or that take up two expansion slots because of their width.

Expansion slots have nothing to do with installing an M2 SSD. M2 SSD mount on the motherboard itself. The motherboard must have the hardware built in in order to mount an m2 SSD.

I have recently done a build with the Coolermaster Elite 110 and I like that case. But it has no room for a DVD burner. If you want to use DVDs you would need to purchase a USB external DVD drive. With the Elite 110 you would not have to worry about half-height video cards. It will accept full height cards but not those that take up two expansion slots.

Here is an example of a video card that takes up two expansion slots and would not work in most mini-itx cases: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814487265

Here is a single wide/single slot card: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150788

The CM Elite 110 has plenty of room for a double slot card and also a vent on that side which would give some fresh air to the card.
 

satrow

Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2015
Location
Cymru
The Elite 110 certainly looks like it supports a 2 slot GPU, maybe even a 2.5 slot card, see the larger top down photo, with a dual slot card fitted, on the CM site.

EDIT: Ah, I see there are two different statements regarding slot width in the 110 elite:

<SNIP>

With the Elite 110 you would not have to worry about half-height video cards. It will accept full height cards but not those that take up two expansion slots.

<SNIP>

The CM Elite 110 has plenty of room for a double slot card and also a vent on that side which would give some fresh air to the card.

I guess I skimmed past the second one (but *something* nagged me to revisit) :)
 
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trents

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2008
Thanks for catching that. The second statement is the correct one. I went back and checked the clearance to side panel on my Elite 110 and indeed it does have plenty of room for a two slot card. I think most of the cube mini itx cases will.
 
OP
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beyondinfinity

Registered
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Nov 19, 2015
What about the SSD? I see now that some motherboards support the M.2 SSD, but I also see that stores are carrying SSD that are PCIe. Does that mean you have to decide between a video card, or SSD if you only have one expansion slot available? Those PCIe SSD fit in the expansion slot, right?
 

trents

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2008
No, the Nvme SSDs use the PCI-e bus which is much faster than SATA but they do not mount in the PCI-e expansion slot like a video card does. Some of the earlier PCI-e SSDs (like the "Revo" drive) did use a PCI-e expansion slot like video cards but most of the newer stuff mounts on the motherboard just like an m.2 SATA SSD does. Physically, the m.2 SATA and PCI-e (Nvme) look pretty much the same. Just a little PCB card with chips. But the Nvme is considerably faster since the PCI-e bus is much wider electronically and does not bottleneck data transfers like the SATA bus can.
 
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trents

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2008
Found this:

I think you have been confusing the PCI-e physical socket with the PCI-e electronic bus.

m.2 NVme can take the form of a PCI-e expansion slot card (like a video card does:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820249081&cm_re=NVME-_-20-249-081-_-Product ) or a little PCB board with chips (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA9DC48D4625&cm_re=NVME-_-0D9-0009-000T0-_-Product) that mounts to the motherboard via a special socket that resembles an m.2 SATA socket.
 
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OP
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beyondinfinity

Registered
Joined
Nov 19, 2015
I would purchase a motherboard with PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 Connector for m.2 Nvme SSD.


For example does this one have it? GIGABYTE GA-Z170N-WIFI

Expansion Slots

1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16
(The PCIEX16 slot conforms to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)
1 x M.2 Socket 1 connector for the wireless communication module (M2_WIFI)

Storage Interfaces

1 x M.2 Socket 3 connector on the back of the motherboard (Socket 3, M key, type 2260/2280 SATA & PCIe x4/x2/x1 SSD support)
2 x SATA Express connectors
6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
 

trents

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2008
For example does this one have it? GIGABYTE GA-Z170N-WIFI

Expansion Slots

1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16
(The PCIEX16 slot conforms to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)
1 x M.2 Socket 1 connector for the wireless communication module (M2_WIFI)

Storage Interfaces

1 x M.2 Socket 3 connector on the back of the motherboard (Socket 3, M key, type 2260/2280 SATA & PCIe x4/x2/x1 SSD support)
2 x SATA Express connectors
6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10

It appears to me that it does.