Computex 2016 Mini-STX Roundup

iFreilicht

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Feb 28, 2015
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Oh this is interesting! I thought mSTX didn't have a specification for I/O shields, but either that was added or the manufacturers chose to take it into their own hands. And every one of them is doing it that way, not like the cases we saw a few months ago.

What I also find interesting is that Gigabyte presented a somwhat thin mITX Q170 board, that looks quite swell:


They disregard the standard here and there but it seems like that can only help. Looks very server-y with all the jumpers at the top.

Funny that there's more to report about mSTX than about ITX this year.
 

FCase

SFF Lingo Aficionado
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Dec 20, 2015
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Too bad they could not squeeze an x8 on the bottom instead of the x4. Close but no cigar. The good thing is they at least tried and showed expansion IS possible on 5x5 real estate. And with one of these (expensive I know) splitters you can overcome the shortcoming.

Mal
 
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BirdofPrey

Standards Guru
Sep 3, 2015
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Oh this is interesting! I thought mSTX didn't have a specification for I/O shields, but either that was added or the manufacturers chose to take it into their own hands. And every one of them is doing it that way, not like the cases we saw a few months ago.
I was under the impression mSTX was going to have a fixed I/o at the back (something like an HDMI/DP, couple USB and a LAN) that would remove the neat for that sort of thing. Guess manufacturers didn't like being limited like that.

What I also find interesting is that Gigabyte presented a somwhat thin mITX Q170 board, that looks quite swell:
They disregard the standard here and there but it seems like that can only help. Looks very server-y with all the jumpers at the top.
Where do they disregard the standard?

Too bad they could not squeeze an x8 on the bottom instead of the x4. Close but no cigar.
Yeah that's one of the problems with Thin mITX, they designed it for a low profile blower connected to the CPU through heatpies off either the front or side of the board, and the latter restricts the length of the PCIe slot to 4x. Not that the chassis (primarilly AIOs) it was designed for tend to be designed for the high heat and power desktop GPUs put out (especially when it was designed, before Nvidia and AMD started chasing lower wattages and better thermals). I have seen a couple boards with an MXM slot on the front and a couple cases that support such a configuration, but they seem to be strictly OEM (not that any Thin mITX stuff is easy to obtain)

Edit:
Hey, speaking of ITX and small stuffs, what ever happened to the boards like this from last year? https://smallformfactor.net/forum/threads/asus-b85m-view-paker.82/
 

Necere

Shrink Way Wielder
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Feb 22, 2015
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Too bad they could not squeeze an x8 on the bottom instead of the x4. Close but no cigar. The good thing is they at least tried and showed expansion IS possible on 5x5 real estate.
Just to clarify, that's a thin mini-ITX board iFreilicht posted, not Mini-STX.
 

BirdofPrey

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Sep 3, 2015
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Where mSTX is concerned, I am disappointed it similarly lacks expansion options for graphics.
 

Necere

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Feb 22, 2015
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The Techpowerup article says that Mini-STX is compatible with mini-ITX (and by extension ATX/mATX) cases, but I don't see how that's possible considering the mounting holes on mini-ITX are already out at the corners of the board and Mini-STX is a couple of inches smaller. There are no standoff locations in the ATX spec for anything smaller than mini-ITX.
 

Aibohphobia

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Feb 22, 2015
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It's probably a misunderstanding on their part. I've noticed their news posts are sometimes inaccurate with details like that.
 

iFreilicht

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Feb 28, 2015
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Where do they disregard the standard?
The two first things I noticed were the internal power connector, which has four pins instead of two and the non-standard LVDS connector. I think the Front-Panel connector at the front of the board isn't allowed either, it should be at the top edge. Not sure about that one, though.
 

veryrarium

Cable-Tie Ninja
Jun 6, 2015
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It's probably a misunderstanding on their part. I've noticed their news posts are sometimes inaccurate with details like that.
You gave a link to [email protected]'s article entitled "ECS Shows off the No-frills H110S-2P" and he doesn't bother to mention H110H4-S that's shown in the single photo that he decided to post in the article, or clarify the reason he's calling it by its previously revealed name. And it seems no one reading the article gave a damn.
 

veryrarium

Cable-Tie Ninja
Jun 6, 2015
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Right, the Tom's Hardware article you just mentioned and some other news sites that I can find by googling that show a picture of an ECS mSTX board with "H110S-2P" printed on it all date back a week prior to Computex, so it's probably a press release or something where ECS inadvertently included a photo of an earlier sample before name change. Either that, or ECS prepared two different names for exactly the same board, on used for a standalone product and the other for what will be inside the new generation of Liva Pro, for whatever purpose this serves. That's what I'm guessing.
Half a year ago ECS revealed H110SU-02, which has less number of soldered front I/O ports than all the mSTX boards that were shown at Computex 2016 (four soldered ports, all boards having them in the same order at the same locations as far as I can tell from photos) so I think there was some kind of settlement/agreement among the vendors on the soldered front I/O ports within the last several months to make a stricter standard. I think all mSTX board vendors will also conform to the same rectangle size/location for the rear I/O port shield. Tom's Hardware wrote they don't, but I don't think the writer bothered to look at the back side of the case prototypes that Silverstone made: four variations of VT01 (for ASRock, ASUS, ECS, and Gigabyte boards) as well as VT02 (common for all vendors) and VT03 (ditto). I believe they all share the same rectangular cutout on the back as well as the four cutouts for each of the soldered front IO ports, size and location wise. As far as I can tell from photos, the only difference other than aesthetics among the four VT01 variants is the cutout for the extra USB2.0 port that is mounted via cables to motherboard pin headers, which are of course optional.
 

Dyson Poindexter

If there's empty space, it's too big!
Jun 25, 2015
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I'm not really seeing where we would need a STX board. The NUC boards are a quasi-standard now, have very similar connectivity, and are much smaller. There just aren't many applications that need the marginal compute power improvements that a 65W LGA CPU offers over the soldered laptop processors, while at the same time being unable to support a discrete GPU. Maybe I'm just not seeing it.


Personally, I'd love a home server build with a NUC/5x5 board, but the lack of an expansion slot (for a proper raid controller) makes it a non-starter.


Here's a neat slide I found that lays out what Intel thinks the SFF form factors are:

 

BirdofPrey

Standards Guru
Sep 3, 2015
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HEY, a Wild Dyson appears.
===
I tend to agree with that sentiment, I don't think it has much to offer. It seems to exist nominally to standardize the mini-PC market, but with other form factors existing so close in size, the only real advantage is the ability to upgrade the processor. The problem with that, is it mainly benefits the manufacturer simplifying logistics, since most of the people who would upgrade their CPU probably have additional requirements. We've also seen that the move also means standard coolers, so the mSTX cases aren't even as small.

The PC market has been contracting for a while now since most people no longer need a PC with tablets and smartphones around, and the desktop market has been shrinking longer than that with the presence of cheap laptops not chained to a single spot. Desktop PCs stick around because they offer more power and expandability, so you can make a gaming PC, a workstation, a storage server, etc. Even an ITX can accommodate those, but mSTX only gets you a decent CPU.
 

Phuncz

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May 9, 2015
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Indeed, the platform seems most interesting for APU, since you'd be able to upgrade the (faster) iGPU too. Maybe Intel threw AMD a bone (LOL) or they are planning Broadwell-like iGPU-heavy APUs for the future.
 

BirdofPrey

Standards Guru
Sep 3, 2015
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In lieu of actually being able use discrete graphics, that probably IS what mSTX needs.
Something to let you view HD content and play some casual games.