What's up with Mini ITX?......
I'll share my experiences with the Mini-ITX based PC. First thing I should do is list the components I'm using and see how they all work together. The mobo is 17 cm by 17 cm or 6.6" X 6.6" square board.
I've been very interested in this form factor ever since I started using the Cobalt Qube 3 server appliance. Now the question is, can I do something as cool?
1) The Motherboard - or in the case of the Mini-ITX.....the everything board. I chose the VIA series of EPIA motherboards largely because they were all-in-one designs. They have a decent reputation and there is a possibility of running them in a silent or near silent mode. Specifically I picked the VIA EPIA M9000. Tweaknews did a review in Dec 2002.
|2) The next
tough choice was the case. With all the REALLY cool cases
out there for this mobo, I decided to go with a little
bigger one. Mainly because I want to try to build a
"server" with this. And I thought the larger case might
allow for 2 HDs and thus RAID 0 or 1. We'll see how this
theory works out. But I picked a Casetronic Checker Cube
1215 in black from
CaseOutlet. 3/28/2003 update - Casetronic's engineering
group verified that the M9000 board does not work with this
case. They are modifying the
powersupply to work with the board in their next version of
this case called the 2215, pictured on the right. I'm also
looking at building a workstation-class machine with the
Cubid 2699R case with an external power supply from the same
2.5) Case Update, 3/3/03 - CaseTronic has deleted the 1215 from production. So I will be using the 2215 instead. The major difference is the width & depth of the case. The new one will allow for 2 PCI slots. The 2215 Dimensions are 8.9" X 7.9" X 13" (WXHXD). So that works out to 1" wider, and 1.5" deeper.
4) I think I've got the rest of the parts at home: Keyboard, mouse, 60G HD, 256M RAM strip, 15" LCD, and home network......yeah right...think again :-) (3/3/03)
5) Totally changed my mind on the prototype unit. Decided to go with dual 120G drives on a HighPoint RAID 1 controller and 512M RAM. So I had to find somewhere to mount the 2nd drive. Decided to use a Digital Doc unit for the 2nd 5.25" bay. This unit will report the temp on 8 sensors and RPM of 8 fans, and it will control the fans based on temp. And it has room for a HD in it. What a cool combo. So the unit will be controlling the 2nd 50mm fan on the back of the case, and an added 60mm fan at the bottom of the case and activate them individually when the case gets warm.
I've been doing a LOT of shopping on Pricewatch for these items and found the prices listed to be competitive in small quantities.
I'm waiting for VIA's new CPU to come out. Looks pretty interesting for a workstation configuration. They will be basing it on a Nehamiah core and starting at 1G and going to 1.5G by the end of the year.
I've recently fallen into the idea of a LCD display on the case. What a range of options are available! I'm going to doc my findings with pointers to other folks' work. But this seemed to be a nice starting place at Matrix Orbital. And, these 2 programs seems to be the best for Linux LCD4Linux and LCDProc.
If you are interested in building the workstation sized/looking PC using the Cubid 2699R case.....the most frustrating thing to find was the IDE adapter for the slim floppy and slim CD/DVD. I found them in a couple of places: 1) CaseOutlet page for the 2699 case (but it's only a CD/DVD adapter), 2) vendor on eBay with combo adapter (look for g-wilcox).
Another thing I think I'm going to try is to put rubber washers/bushings on all of the screws that hold parts together. I'm curious to see if this will make the machine quieter.
The VIA Mini-ITX home page
The VIA Mini-ITX White Paper
Mini-ITX.com home page, a UK based pundits group.
Shuttle does a really nice Mini-ITX too.....I've got one of their PIII machines running at 1.2G.
Some quick links on hardware things