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indexphinger

Building a portable PC based around mini-itx...

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I want to put a complete desktop computer into a little box, with (slimline) DVD Drive and (3.5") hard disk...

I'm thinking of Mini-ITX, but I'm unsure what else I'm need because I'm into ATX/BTX spec computer building :P so I know the basics...

I'd like to know what would be the best bang for my buck, Cause its going to be a multimedia/gaming/tinkering PC. I want it to have a low footprint, like a gamecube. I'm wanting to use Xbox 360 controllers and an HDMI or S-Video equipped TV on it.

n_n I'd also like it to run XP home or vista basic and possibly have a PENTIUM 4 Socket 478 @800mhz fsb COMPATIBLE motherboard, if possible :P

Edited by IndexPhinger
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[ ] Little and lightweight.

[ ] Gaming/multimedia PC.

Choose one.

You can't build a multimedia PC to be little, lightweight, and have a small footprint for the same reason you can't build a Monster Truck that burns one gallon per a hundred miles and drives well on highways.

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[ ] Little and lightweight.

[ ] Gaming/multimedia PC.

Choose one.

You can't build a multimedia PC to be little, lightweight, and have a small footprint for the same reason you can't build a Monster Truck that burns one gallon per a hundred miles and drives well on highways.

Ok, for clarification. I'd like to play emulators and games like halo C.E, openarena, warcraft/starcraft/diablo, older games like doom legacy... and to watch DVDs, videos, and to go on the internet.

Basically....an XBOX 360 without the fail and with more openness.

Edited by IndexPhinger
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33-2.jpg

I like this Morex Cubid 2688R, its a pretty decent looking box, looks somewhat sattelite-box ish

Edited by IndexPhinger
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I have several Mini-ITX boards, and have put together several ITX machines for people. They're great little boxes, especially with the new Intel Atom based boards. I only really have experience with the low-power-consumption models -- the VIA C3 and C7 based boards, and the Atom boards, but Intel is also producing boards that accept Socket 775 Core 2 Solo/Duo/Quad processors in the Mini-ITX form factor. The Core 2 series runs with low enough heat output to be packed into such a small box.

The biggest thing to watch out for is your choice of case. Many use a DC-DC converter board with a 12 V laptop brick style power supply, which is fine for the VIA or Intel Atom boards. However, if you're going to be using one of the Intel Core 2 boards, make sure it has a proper power supply, which furnishes the necessary voltages for your board (i.e. supplies the 4/6 pin P4 12 V connector, and a 24-pin ATX connector if you need it). Also, if you're going to be doing any gaming, even old games, you might want to make sure the case you get supports at least one PCI card slot, and that your motherboard has either a PCI or PCIe slot available. I have a Morex 3688 case currently, which I use with a VIA C7-based board as a sandbox system in my dorm room, and it provides just the DC-DC converter and no card slots. It also only accepts a 2.5" hard disk -- which may not be a problem, since 2.5" disks come in both SATA and moderately high capacities nowadays.

You should be able to put something together that'll satisfy your fairly-modest requirements, especially for watching videos. Even my C7-based machine, running Debian with only 512 MB RAM can play DVDs and 720p XviD movies.

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I have several Mini-ITX boards, and have put together several ITX machines for people. They're great little boxes, especially with the new Intel Atom based boards. I only really have experience with the low-power-consumption models -- the VIA C3 and C7 based boards, and the Atom boards, but Intel is also producing boards that accept Socket 775 Core 2 Solo/Duo/Quad processors in the Mini-ITX form factor. The Core 2 series runs with low enough heat output to be packed into such a small box.

The biggest thing to watch out for is your choice of case. Many use a DC-DC converter board with a 12 V laptop brick style power supply, which is fine for the VIA or Intel Atom boards. However, if you're going to be using one of the Intel Core 2 boards, make sure it has a proper power supply, which furnishes the necessary voltages for your board (i.e. supplies the 4/6 pin P4 12 V connector, and a 24-pin ATX connector if you need it). Also, if you're going to be doing any gaming, even old games, you might want to make sure the case you get supports at least one PCI card slot, and that your motherboard has either a PCI or PCIe slot available. I have a Morex 3688 case currently, which I use with a VIA C7-based board as a sandbox system in my dorm room, and it provides just the DC-DC converter and no card slots. It also only accepts a 2.5" hard disk -- which may not be a problem, since 2.5" disks come in both SATA and moderately high capacities nowadays.

You should be able to put something together that'll satisfy your fairly-modest requirements, especially for watching videos. Even my C7-based machine, running Debian with only 512 MB RAM can play DVDs and 720p XviD movies.

the box I picked should in theory house the PDB150R 150w power supply. It has the 12v power plug on it.

64-1.JPG

Edited by IndexPhinger
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Sure, if your supply gives you enough wattage to draw the extra 12 V from the drive bus. The big thing to watch for is the 24-pin ATX connector. And of course, depending on the board you get, you may not even need it. I know it's possible to run without it in the desktop world, if you're not using any PCIe devices, but I'd imagine the northbridge of the Intel Core 2 boards is probably PCIe, so that may cause trouble.

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Sure, if your supply gives you enough wattage to draw the extra 12 V from the drive bus. The big thing to watch for is the 24-pin ATX connector. And of course, depending on the board you get, you may not even need it. I know it's possible to run without it in the desktop world, if you're not using any PCIe devices, but I'd imagine the northbridge of the Intel Core 2 boards is probably PCIe, so that may cause trouble.

I decided to pick the higher range powersupply that has a dedicated rail as seen in edited post.

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iBase MB870

mb870_780pixel.jpg

B870 SPECIFICATIONS

CPU Socket

Socket 478

CPU Supported

Intel® Pentium 4 / Celeron, 2.0GHz~3.2GHz+

Hyper-Threading supported

CPU Voltage

0.8375V~1.6V (VRD10)

Chipset

ATI RS300M Chipset

North Bridge: Mobility IGP9180 868-pin, BGA

South Bridge: IXP150 457-pin, BGA

Processor Operating Frequency

400/533/800MHz*

(800MHz FSB Northwood processor is supported)

L2 Cache

128K/256K/512K, CPU integrated

Power Management

APM 1.2

BIOS

Award BIOS, ACPI supported

System Memory

One DDR slot

Supports up to 1GB PC266/333/400 DDR SDRAM

(ECC function not supported)

VGA

Mobility IGP9180 embedded, AGP 4X, CRT, TV-out, LVDS

VGA CRT and TV-out connectors on board

Supports dual independent view (LVDS with CRT or TV-out))

LAN

Realtek 8100BL LAN Controller (10/100Mb)

Audio

IXP150 built-in sound controller with AC97 codec

ALC650 AC3 5.1 CH. (Line-out, Line-in, Mic)

LPC I/O

Winbond 83627HF supports IrDA x 1, Parallel x 1,

COM1, COM2 (RS232), FDC up to 2.88MB

(3 Mode support), hardware monitoring

Secondary I/O

Fintek F81216D supports COM3, COM4 (RS232)

Keyboard Controller

Built in Winbond 83627HF

IDE Interface

Built in IXP150, supports Ultra DMA 33/66/100

IDE1: 40 pin pitch 2.54mm

IDE2: 44 pin pitch 2.0mm

FEATURES

- Mini ITX (170mm X 170mm)

- Intel® Pentium® 4, 2.0GHz~3.2GHz

- ATI RS300M Chipset, up to 800MHz FSB

- Built-in VGA, AGP 4X, support CRT, TV-out & LVDS

- Realtek 8100BL 10/100Mb LAN controller

- One DDR socket supports up to 1GB Memory

- Digital I/O, Serial ATA, one PCI slot, AC97

- Four USB ports, four COM ports

FDD Interface

Supports one 3.5" floppy disk drive

Serial ATA

SiI3512 , supports 2 ports

Digital I/O

4 in / 4 out

Parallel Port

One parallel port supports SPP/EPP/ECP

Serial Ports

Four RS-232 ports

Watchdog Timer

Generates system reset; 256 levels

Hardware Monitoring

Built in Winbond W83627HF; monitors system/

CPU temperature and voltage status

USB

USB 2.0 compliant

Supports 4 USB ports

IrDA

Pin header

Keyboard and Mouse Connector

PS/2 type keyboard and mouse connectors

Expansion Slots

1 PCI, support 2 bus master

Power Connector

ATX 12V power connector

System Voltages

+5V, +12V, -12V, 5VSB, 3.3V

Form Factor

Mini ITX motherboard

Dimensions

170mm x 170mm

Power Consumption

Pentium 4 2.4GHz (512KB) with 256MB DDR memory

+5V: 3.29A; +12V: 4.83A

Pentium 4 3.06GHz (512KB) with 512MB DDR memory

+5V: 3.17A; +12V: 7.14A

Operating Temperature

0°C~60°C (32°F~140°F)

Storage Temperature

-20°C~80°C (-68°F~176°F)

Relative Humidity

10%~90% (non-condensing)

Pretty nice specs, about the same as my dell.

:) I was concidering the 850, but that had the same video chipset as my dell and from my experience is shit, so I'd rather go 1up and get this one.

Edited by IndexPhinger
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You should build your own case, make it portable, tough, small and waterproof. I think milling out a block of aluminum would be perfect, as the aluminum casing surrounding it could also serve as the cpu heatsink, then you would need no vents for cooling and could make it waterproof. Draw up some simple Cad designs and bring it to a metal workshop somewhere near you.

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Seriously? You're seriously suggesting he make his own case out of a solid block of aluminum? I thought only Steve Jobs had crazy thoughts like that.

Why does it have to be waterproof? It doesn't matter how on-piece the case is, it's just not going to be waterproof. Who wants to go swimming with their PC anyway? But seriously, what use is a waterproof PC?

Aluminum is also expensive. A block of aluminum large enough to make a case out of? I don't even want to know how much that will be, especially considering 90% of it will be waste. Most people also don't have the tools to machine aluminum (I'll look in the basement, but I'm pretty sure I don't), so they will indeed have to bring it to someone. Someone who will charge a good chunk of change to do that.

Out of all the bad ideas thrown around here, this is one of the worst I've ever heard.

Just buy a small case. If you don't want to do ITX, there are some small form factor ATX cases that will fit a micro-atx board and might be small enough to fit your definition of "small." A barebones machine from Shuttle might not be a bad idea. They even have some cases that look like they belong next to your DVD player as well and they're all pretty small.

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Looks like the right board for the job. Another thing you can do to improve your performance is to use a 1U rack enclosure blower and heatsink for your processor: they're more expensive, but they do an excellent job. The ones I buy are polished solid copper, with a sideways-facing squirrel cage blower.

It doesn't look like you'll have PS problems with that board...it's just 20 pin ATX and the 4 pin 12 V connector. I'd seriously consider switching to a 2.5" hard disk though, if you're going to be using a P4 board with a 150 W power supply. Also, see if your board will support Pentium 4 Mobile processors -- less power draw, but around the same performance as a Pentium 4.

And yeah, milling aluminum? I actually have a small milling machine, and I wouldn't attempt that for a personal project, at all. Especially not from a solid block of metal. You /might/ convince me to cut tongue-and-groove joints in bar stock to make a case, but even then, that's a lot of work. One of the guys on the mini-itx.com site submitted a case he designed himself, from aluminum stock and plexiglass, which is about as far as I'd think anyone would want to go with milling things for your own case:

The Borg Appliance

As far as machine shop costs, it's $20/hole to have cylinder bores trued and honed in an aluminum block around here, and that's at a machine shop with all manual tools in a coal mining and railroad town. I'd imagine someone with a CNC machine charges a /lot/ more.

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Looks like the right board for the job. Another thing you can do to improve your performance is to use a 1U rack enclosure blower and heatsink for your processor: they're more expensive, but they do an excellent job. The ones I buy are polished solid copper, with a sideways-facing squirrel cage blower.

It doesn't look like you'll have PS problems with that board...it's just 20 pin ATX and the 4 pin 12 V connector. I'd seriously consider switching to a 2.5" hard disk though, if you're going to be using a P4 board with a 150 W power supply. Also, see if your board will support Pentium 4 Mobile processors -- less power draw, but around the same performance as a Pentium 4.

And yeah, milling aluminum? I actually have a small milling machine, and I wouldn't attempt that for a personal project, at all. Especially not from a solid block of metal. You /might/ convince me to cut tongue-and-groove joints in bar stock to make a case, but even then, that's a lot of work. One of the guys on the mini-itx.com site submitted a case he designed himself, from aluminum stock and plexiglass, which is about as far as I'd think anyone would want to go with milling things for your own case:

The Borg Appliance

As far as machine shop costs, it's $20/hole to have cylinder bores trued and honed in an aluminum block around here, and that's at a machine shop with all manual tools in a coal mining and railroad town. I'd imagine someone with a CNC machine charges a /lot/ more.

I have a 3.2ghz northwood 478 I nabbed from a desktop replacement laptop in my box at this time. its a full desktop CPU So I think I'll be fine.

Concidering this computer is currently running a 150W PSU and is doing just fine running a DVD-RW, a CD-RW and a 80GB hard drive, the mobo and associated stuff and a northbridge fan, I think that case and power kit will be ok for what I'm doing with it.

Edited by IndexPhinger
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