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Thread: X99 has come to miniITX -- yes, you read that correctly

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    Will YOU be ready when the zombies rise? x88x's Avatar
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    Default X99 has come to miniITX -- yes, you read that correctly

    So, it's been a couple weeks since they announced these, but it occurred to me at the right time and I figured in case anyone around here hadn't seen these yet you all might be interested. I know I was!

    ASRock has done what many had deemed impossible and come out with not one, but two, miniITX motherboards with the X99 chipset. That's right, LGA2011-3 and DDR4 have come to miniITX.

    What they have is a desktop oriented board, the X99E-ITX/ac, with lots of bells and whistles (of which I am mainly interested in the PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot) that you would expect of a high end desktop mobo. Unfortunately, this model only has two DIMM slots, but that is nothing new for those of us used to the miniITX form factor.

    http://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/X99E-ITXac/

    The other fun new toy ASRock (or should I say, ASRock Rack) is bringing to the game is the eloquently named EPC612D4I. This is a slim-profile miniITX board featuring a 2011-3 socket and four DDR4 SODIMM slots.

    http://www.asrockrack.com/general/pr...Specifications


    What's the point, you might ask? Well, let's just say that now you can finally build a compact workstation that could give the Mac Pro a run for its money (unless you need two GPUs...). The server board is of particular interest to me for a project that has been bouncing around my head for a while now, for something to target the same market as the Dell VRTX. Maybe one day I'll finally have the time and money to get it rolling... Long story short, this board lets me knock ~40% off the chassis size by abandoning uATX.

    Now we just need DDR4 SODIMMs to come out...and those 128GB DDR4 ECC RDIMMs Hynix keeps teasing us with...couple of those and an E5-2699v3 in an NCASE M1... ...now if I could just explain to my bank account why that would be a good idea...
    That we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously.
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    Yuk it up Monkey Boy! Airbozo's Avatar
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    Default Re: X99 has come to miniITX -- yes, you read that correctly

    Nice!

    I must check these out thanks.

    Interestingly enough, I was just approached by one of our current customers to design a set top box style system in a miniITX format. This may be a little overkill for them, but worth a look.
    "...Dumb all over, A little ugly on the side... "...Frank Zappa...

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    Undead Pirate d_stilgar's Avatar
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    Default Re: X99 has come to miniITX -- yes, you read that correctly

    I wish I had lots of money. I really should convince my wife to let me take a job at this company . . . across the country . . . that pays way more than where I am now.

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    Yuk it up Monkey Boy! Airbozo's Avatar
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    Default Re: X99 has come to miniITX -- yes, you read that correctly

    Quote Originally Posted by d_stilgar View Post
    I wish I had lots of money. I really should convince my wife to let me take a job at this company . . . across the country . . . that pays way more than where I am now.
    Where is the other job?

    Here in the Bay Area, the pay is pretty high, but so are the housing and transportation costs. Depends on the job and where you come from, it could end up balancing out or even put you in the hole... Hottest job market in the country though...
    "...Dumb all over, A little ugly on the side... "...Frank Zappa...

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    Will YOU be ready when the zombies rise? x88x's Avatar
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    Default Re: X99 has come to miniITX -- yes, you read that correctly

    Quote Originally Posted by Airbozo View Post
    Interestingly enough, I was just approached by one of our current customers to design a set top box style system in a miniITX format. This may be a little overkill for them, but worth a look.
    If they don't need the heft of 2011-3 CPUs, there are a ton of great miniITX LGA1150 boards. I'm personally partial to the Asus ROG Impact line (have the Impact VI in my current build), but several manufacturers make very fully featured premium LGA1150 boards in the miniITX form factor.

    Quote Originally Posted by d_stilgar View Post
    I wish I had lots of money.
    Yeah...this is one of those times when I wish I had $10k to blow on building a completely absurd little powerhouse...
    That we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously.
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    Yuk it up Monkey Boy! Airbozo's Avatar
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    Default Re: X99 has come to miniITX -- yes, you read that correctly

    We are going to test a solution using an i3 with integrated graphics (the add in card requires the graphics, but we won't actually use it). This unit will be used for analyzing the HDMI signal at a users site with this card:

    https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/pro...intensitypro4k

    That is the reason I need a case with adequate cooling. Amazing that this card used to cost almost $900 and was much bigger.

    Only need a really small storage device as well so I was thinking a small M.2 card or SSD...

    I will look at the ROG boards. How is the reliability?



    Quote Originally Posted by x88x View Post
    If they don't need the heft of 2011-3 CPUs, there are a ton of great miniITX LGA1150 boards. I'm personally partial to the Asus ROG Impact line (have the Impact VI in my current build), but several manufacturers make very fully featured premium LGA1150 boards in the miniITX form factor.


    Yeah...this is one of those times when I wish I had $10k to blow on building a completely absurd little powerhouse...
    "...Dumb all over, A little ugly on the side... "...Frank Zappa...

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    Will YOU be ready when the zombies rise? x88x's Avatar
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    Default Re: X99 has come to miniITX -- yes, you read that correctly

    Quote Originally Posted by Airbozo View Post
    We are going to test a solution using an i3 with integrated graphics (the add in card requires the graphics, but we won't actually use it). This unit will be used for analyzing the HDMI signal at a users site with this card:

    https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/pro...intensitypro4k

    That is the reason I need a case with adequate cooling. Amazing that this card used to cost almost $900 and was much bigger.

    Only need a really small storage device as well so I was thinking a small M.2 card or SSD...

    I will look at the ROG boards. How is the reliability?
    I've been running my Maximus V Impact (misremembered line numbers) since March last year and have never had any issues. I run an i7-4771 and a GTX770 in an NCASE M1.

    The new Maximus VI Impact has a PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot built in, so that might be a good fit for you. There are a ton of other good miniITX boards available with the 1150 socket, though, if you don't need M.2. The Impact is a premium board and has a lot more bells and whistles (and thus is more expensive) than it sounds like you need.

    For the case, it doesn't sound like you need anything particularly special in terms of cooling; there's a wide variety of nice miniITX cases available now, that can get you quite small indeed. I use the NCASE M1[1], which is still the smallest miniITX case you can get that will take a full size GPU, but it looks like your only requirement is a single full-height expansion bay. Lots of good choices there.

    I've always had a thing for tiny computers, so I've been really happy that the miniITX platform has been thriving as much as it has in the last couple years. It started out as a low-power form factor, but about a year and a half ago mobo companies started actually making premium miniITX boards (the Maximus V Impact was one of, if not the, first). Looking at the current market of boards available, it looks like a lot of other people had similar desires to mine. With the new offerings by ASRock that started this thread, I think there is a very bright future in the miniITX space. The vast majority of people don't actually need the functionality offered by larger boards, and if you can get everything you need in a package less than half the size (my move from Zeus was actually more like 1/4 the size), then why have anything bigger?

    [1] https://www.ncases.com
    That we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously.
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    Yuk it up Monkey Boy! Airbozo's Avatar
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    Default Re: X99 has come to miniITX -- yes, you read that correctly

    I love the tiny computers as well. At home I have built several small systems for the HTPC space and last year picked up one of the Intel NUC's which I am experimenting with for a work project. It would be running Linux with DRBL and Clonezilla. Send it to a customers site, they boot it, attach the system to be cloned, answer a few basic questions then boot the clone machine, the NUC captures the image, then they send it back to me and I have the target image for their system. More reliable and usually quicker than sending the files due to the size and format (matched to my imaging machine). This year at the Intel Solutions Summit, they gave away the Intel Computer Stick to all the attendee's. Have not taken it out of the box yet but it looks pretty cool. Runs Windows 8.1 and is supposed to run Windows 10 when it releases.

    http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/...ute-stick.html

    Thanks for the info on the miniITX systems. I am working now to put a few options together.

    BTW: What is a good resource for Mini ITX chassis? I need a really small one with a full height slot and that makes my choices limited. We may also have to fab up an IO plate that blocks most of the ports.
    Last edited by Airbozo; 05-15-2015 at 11:55 AM.
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    Default Re: X99 has come to miniITX -- yes, you read that correctly

    I have an Asus X99 RVE. ROG mobos have overengineered electrical features galore, and are packed with tons of fine-control overclocking tweaks. But they're sort of "made-for-every-enthusiast" products - offering "one-button overclocking" features for complete noobs, and obscure tertiary offset timing/voltage controls for crazy LN2 record breakers, and everything in between. I enjoy the confidence which comes from solid signalling and power delivery on every component, so many stupid little issues are so easily avoided. The bundled ROG software includes some suboptimal (even troublesome) garbage but also a few awesome gems.

    But ROG boards aren't perfection. Plenty of people have plenty of problems with them, just as with any other mobo product. The EUFI/BIOS is so overloaded with sophisticated options that it's very easy to break things. Asus support is very hit-or-miss, and their RMA process is sometimes unpleasant. I am very annoyed that Asus deliberately avoids documenting certain features, providing only cryptic and uninformative details about, for example, what certain DDR4 Voltage Offset/Skew settings in the BIOS do (or should do) - and they handwave it off by saying that they've invested so much R&D into optimum presets for these controls that they don't want to explain it online and give the competition an edge. lulz, I could point out a dozen specific examples at the ROG Forums. It just bugs me that they bother to include advanced features (which, in truth, I might never use) but obstinately refuse to explain what these things do. And ROG costs more than any other mobo brand.

    MSI's X99 mobos are fantastic. A lot more emphasis on media/audio/video hardware than just dropping in another rebranded Realtek ALC1150. If you do gaming, media, and streaming types of stuff then why not have mobo-integrated hardware accelerate it all for you?

    Gigabytes latest X99 Champion mobos are impressive. I think better in a lot of ways than the R5E, though just not as good overall.

    And DDR4 is still and has a lot of problematic quirks which the consumer base does not really understand. The on-die iMCs in current Haswell-E procs are weak and introduce a lot of problems when populated with lots of high-capacity/high-speed DIMMs.

    To be honest, I think Z97/DDR3 is still a bit better for most purposes. X99/DDR4 is a nonlinear "upgrade" which offers too many tradeoffs and compromises for gains in things which most people (and most software) can't properly use. To me, the major selling point of X99 is mega multithreading madness. But the heaviest thing most people do on their computers is heavy games, where raw processor speed matters most and 4-6 cores is already overkill - most people (even most gamers) would do far better with a gutsy little i3 than the wimpiest of the mighty Haswell-E procs. The only other advantage in X99 is the number of PCIe 3.0 lanes, allowing x16/x16/x8 or x8/x8/x8/x8 multi-GPU setups ... an advantage which is lost in single-slot uATX form factors.
    My mind says Technic, but my body says Duplo.

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    Will YOU be ready when the zombies rise? x88x's Avatar
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    Default Re: X99 has come to miniITX -- yes, you read that correctly

    Quote Originally Posted by Airbozo View Post
    What is a good resource for Mini ITX chassis? I need a really small one with a full height slot and that makes my choices limited. We may also have to fab up an IO plate that blocks most of the ports.
    TBH, most of my interaction with different options has been the occasional article that pops up on some tech news site I follow or through browsing Newegg. For my personal use, once I discovered the M1 it has turned into a continuous cycle of "Hmm, that one can take a full size GPU and some basic LC equipment and is...still bigger than the M1." But then, the M1 caters to the enthusiast market, which is not what it sounds like you need. There are smaller/cheaper cases available if you don't need the capabilities of the M1.

    Quote Originally Posted by Konrad View Post
    I am very annoyed that Asus deliberately avoids documenting certain features, providing only cryptic and uninformative details about, for example, what certain DDR4 Voltage Offset/Skew settings in the BIOS do (or should do) - and they handwave it off by saying that they've invested so much R&D into optimum presets for these controls that they don't want to explain it online and give the competition an edge. lulz, I could point out a dozen specific examples at the ROG Forums. It just bugs me that they bother to include advanced features (which, in truth, I might never use) but obstinately refuse to explain what these things do. And ROG costs more than any other mobo brand.
    TBH, that sounds to me like customer support speak for "I don't know and I can't be bothered to/can't ask the engineers who do know, but they obviously know more than you do, peasant". As a wise many once said, "Never attribute to malice or ill intent that which can equally well be attributed to ignorance and stupidity".

    Quote Originally Posted by Konrad View Post
    X99/DDR4 is a nonlinear "upgrade" which offers too many tradeoffs and compromises for gains in things which most people (and most software) can't properly use.
    This is absolutely true, and the reason why my next gaming build will stick with the 1150 platform (eyeing the i7-4790K, unless the desktop fifth gen i7's drop before I build). As you say, for most of what most people do, 4 faster cores are much better than 18 slower cores.

    That being said, there is definitely a market for the many, slower, cores as well. I see the desktop-oriented X99 board mentioned in the OP as being targeted towards those who want a powerful workstation in a very small form factor. The Mac Pro is still a denser solution, but is not going to meet all needs (what if I need a more powerful CPU than they will put in it? or if I need DDR4? or several TB of local SSD storage? etc). The server-oriented X99 board in the OP, I see as being targeted towards a combination of isolated installations where density is of high importance, or for high density, low-cost rack installations (you could squeeze 6-8 of these boards in a standard 1U system at a much lower cost than a 6 or 8 socket system).
    That we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously.
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