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Mini-ITX experiences and resources?

A little hardware question to spice things up a bit today:

Has anyone built a small quiet system using the Mini-ITX form factor motherboards from VIA?  I'm looking to build one for Linux and one for XP, and I'm curious (1) how quiet they really are, and (2) do they have enough horsepower to run XP or KDE or Linux?

mini-itx.com appears to be a great all around resource and purchase point, but they are located in the UK.  Can anyone recommend a similar comprehensive sales resource located in the USA?

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Monday, May 03, 2004

I built a MythTV box using a EPIA 1000 Nehemiah.  It runs pretty nicely and with a bit of modification is pretty much silent.  I used a Gentoo stage 1 install on mine, so everything has been built completely optimised for the C3 CPU but KDE is perfectly usable on it, even when simultaneously recording and playing back video (although my TV card does most of the encoding work).  I'm not sure how well XP would run if you wanted to do anything taxing though.  I'm in the UK and bought my stuff from both mini-itx.com and linitx.com, so I can't comment on USA suppliers.

r1ch
Monday, May 03, 2004

I have two VIA epia C3 800 boxes. In cupid-cases.

They are stable for both linux and win2k. Zero problems with the hardware.

The fan that came with the motherboards are noisy. Probably because they are small. What I did was to remove the original fan and mount a 4'' fan on case, blowing directly down on the cpu. The fan can then be run at 5v, which is virtually inaudiable . HDs make way more sound, but get one of those rubbery seagate disks, they are quiet enough.

I can send you a pic of the case mod if you like to see it.

Eric Debois
Monday, May 03, 2004

Forgot to add my email addy... in case you want some pics.

Eric Debois
Monday, May 03, 2004

I built one to run as an x-server, it worked great!  But a full Mandrake install ran slowwww.  Only had 128MB.  Very quiet though.

Scot
Monday, May 03, 2004

Hey guys with the Glen Garry leads,

I built my wife a Shuttle SS40-G based PC last year. Operation has been flawless. The Shuttle uses a heat pipe attached to the CPU that conducts heat away to the main case fan. So operation is VERY quiet, and temperature of the CPU is quite low, around 43 c. consistently.

The only operational quirk is that the power supply in this thing is extremely sensitive to power surges. It tends to 'die' by going into a mode in which it won't power up unless you disconnect all power and wait a few moments. I think this may be some sort of power supply safety feature. Once I mistook it for the entire system dying and tore it apart only to discover that it powered up as always. This quirk has been solved by putting the box on a proper UPS.

I am very happy with it. Expandibility is the only issue.

Bored Bystander
Monday, May 03, 2004

I have considered using the mini-ITX or getting a complete Hush Technologies box, but have not done so yet.  A US supplier for both is http://www.logicsupply.com

Hush now has a fanless ATX board P4 system out now, in addition to their mini-ITX.  They look a bit pricy, but might be a good way to go for a silent system.

I don't have any experience with these systems yet.  This is just a pointer to a supplier.

mackinac
Monday, May 03, 2004

Ok, I feel stupid. The Shuttle contains a Flex-ATX motherboard, not a Mini-ITX. Open mouth, insert foot.

Bored Bystander
Monday, May 03, 2004

Can those boards decode XViD in realtime? (And please, can someone who actually *knows* answer this -- I've had enough guesses by now.) I recently tried a Transmeta 1GHz and they couldn't do this. This would limit its use severly.

Jonas B.
Tuesday, May 04, 2004

"those boards" is to vague. Which board?

My C3 800 boards can decode divX in realtime.. should be about the same load. The built in soundchip is kind of crappy though.

Eric Debois
Tuesday, May 04, 2004

I have one of Hush PC's silent mini-ITX boxes and am extremely pleased with it.  I upgraded the basic spec to 384MB of RAM and a DVD/CD-writer combo, and the only noise to be heard is the slight rattle from the Hard Disk.

One thing to be aware of is that the Hush PCs are fanless - everything is enclosed in a (surprisingly heavy) finned aluminium case, and the entire case is used as a heatsink.  Obviously this is unlikely to be the case (pun intended) if you build yourself a homebrew system.  If you do so, you would be well advised to get a better fan, as I understand the standard ones are cheap and noisy.

A silent low-power machine means that I have no problems leaving it turned on permanently, and  I can listen to music without having to turn the speakers up to drown out the PC.

My box is running Debian "unstable" as sweet as anything.  3D Hardware support isn't available until around v4.39 of XFree86 although you can download Linux drivers from VIA's site.  I haven't bothered myself, as pretty much the only games I use it for are GnuGo with CGoBan, Backgammon and Gtans (tangrams).

I'm afraid I can't comment on what it might run like with Windows, but it certainly runs smoothly with Debian.

David B. Wildgoose
Tuesday, May 04, 2004

ATX vs. ITX.
What are the advantages && disadvantages of each?

curious
Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Mini-ITX is a mini-version of ATX with slightly different power supply sizes and whatnot.

So you can take a Mini-ITX motherboard and put it in an ATX case, no prob.

The order of motherboard sizes that fit in the ATX case are, from smallest to largest:
Mini-ITX, Flex-ATX, Mini-ATX, ATX

Motherboards smaller than ATX generally means that you have fewer slots and often times, fewer bells and whistles.  Mini-ITX motherboards especially so.  Most of the Mini-ITX motherboards have 600-1000 MHz C3 processors, which tend to run cooler and use up less power.  They have room for a single PCI slot and most of the peripherals are integrated.

I've been coveting a Mini-ITX machine for a while, especially if I can make it mostly or entirely fanless, but haven't felt like spending the money on one quite yet.

Flamebait Sr.
Tuesday, May 04, 2004

I would dearly love to hear recommendations on Mini Flax ATX form factor boards. They seem to be almost impossible to find. Has anyone seen one that is Socket A?

NetBloke
Thursday, May 13, 2004

ummm i have the via epia v5000 mobo it has a C3-533 CPU. running win2k and it can decode divx, xvid in realtime no problems!

migs
Sunday, May 16, 2004

Anyone have pointers on getting EPIA/Hush systems (1gh/PVR350) running mythtv? I have loaded up the knoppMyth distro on it, and it sorta works but framerate is horrible: 3-4 frames/sec. I can't help but wonder if I have misconfigured something obvious!

John Schettino
Monday, May 17, 2004

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