Custom 19v/12v Flex PSU for thin ITX

TheGooseIsHere

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As said before, I think the market is too small for a big company to make a PSU just for this small use case, especially since motherboard specs are changing every year. Who knows what kind of motherboard we might have in 2 more years...
 
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iFreilicht

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especially since motherboard specs are changing every year. Who knows what kind of motherboard we might have in 2 more years...

To be fair, thin mITX spec is backed by Intel and while boards are sparse, they are being released. And additionally, a PSU like this could be used to power any brick-powered board. NUC and mSTX come to mind, both of which can be expected to persist for quite a while now.
 

Phuncz

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To be fair, thin mITX spec is backed by Intel and while boards are sparse, they are being released.

Very true, at the moment I'm seeing these (almost) available with the 100-series chipset for my region:
  • ASRock H110TM-ITX
  • Asus H110T
  • Asus Q170T
  • Gigabyte GA-H110TN
  • Gigabyte GA-H110TN-E
  • Gigabyte GA-H110TN-M
  • Gigabyte GA-H110TN-Z
  • Gigabyte GA-Q170TN
A minor issue I'm seeing with these is that none have both a PCIe x4 slot and a PCIe M.2. Most are still on mSATA or plain ol' SATA connectors and also not all have a PCIe connector (like the Asus boards).
I'm also seeing some with 2-pin power connectors and some with 4-pin power connectors. Ofcourse these aren't deal-breakers, it's not like SATA is suddely obsolete.
 

EdZ

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If going the fully-custom route, one feature I'd like to see would be a thermal design that results in all the heatsinks (if there is more than one) having at least one common plane, facing the outside of the PSU. This would greatly ease replacing the internal fan with an external cooling solution, for example a unitary heatsink for combined air cooling ('tunnel' design) with the motherboard/CPU/GPU, or a combined waterblock for a compact 'sandwich' design and a shared radiator. This may not be possible if the design assumes some internal airflow for non-heatsinked components.
 

jtd871

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Very true, at the moment I'm seeing these (almost) available with the 100-series chipset for my region:
  • ASRock H110TM-ITX
  • Asus H110T
  • Asus Q170T
  • Gigabyte GA-H110TN
  • Gigabyte GA-H110TN-E
  • Gigabyte GA-H110TN-M
  • Gigabyte GA-H110TN-Z
  • Gigabyte GA-Q170TN
A minor issue I'm seeing with these is that none have both a PCIe x4 slot and a PCIe M.2. Most are still on mSATA or plain ol' SATA connectors and also not all have a PCIe connector (like the Asus boards).
I'm also seeing some with 2-pin power connectors and some with 4-pin power connectors. Ofcourse these aren't deal-breakers, it's not like SATA is suddely obsolete.

I would hope that the board manufacturers will take advantage of more available PCIe lanes under Kaby Lake to enable more I/O.
 

Phuncz

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Skylake already has plenty PCIe lanes that they aren't using. The reason they don't want to use a PCIe x16 slot seems to be power-related (needs 12V @ 6.25A for 75W) and I guess the reason most don't have M.2 PCIe is mainly because for thin mITX (usually integrated solutions) it's too new.
 

Phuncz

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It shouldn't from the lines on for instance this board:

 

QinX

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I think it's a similar issue to the STX format, in that Intel has made a reference board and 99% is copied.
And with the target of Thin-ITX being DIY AIO I can see why they stick to it.
One of the layout's for Intel cooling design guidelines is to blow air over the CPU VRM. If you want a 16x slot you will have to move the VRM, the question then becomes, how to cool the VRM when it's no longer located where you expect it to be.
 
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Necere

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Yeah, the CPU socket and keep-in zones for the cooler are actually baked into the spec, and they preclude an x16 slot:





As I said earlier, PCIe x16 3.0 vs. PCIe x4 3.0 makes no difference in practice (provided the differing power needs are accounted for). And at least for me, the fact that the socket and cooler are standardized is pretty useful, because it gives me something concrete to plan the case design and airflow around.

I actually see Thin Mini-ITX as still better in some regards than Mini-STX. For example, the front ports integrated into the front edge of the board on Mini-STX are basically useless if the case is deeper than the board, which it needs to be to support a GPU. And while the board is smaller, it's basically just as "fat" as regular mini-ITX. Depending how you go about things, Thin ITX can lend itself better to use of space and/or airflow.
 

dondan

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Thin-ITX is great, because it is currently the best solution to make systems with discrete dual-slot GPU and external PSU between 3-4 liter. But the big problem is that it was not designed to be used in gaming setups. Thin-ITX is for AIO setups and nothing more. A case with a custom DCDC board and powered riser will work, but it will be too bulky for the normal user. So from the business point of view it will be not worth. Necere to come back to you initial question, I think it will be not a good idea to develop such a PSU.


Here are my four K.O criterions for a thin-ITX gaming case:

1) PCIe 4x Gen3 --> it will be a real fight to let everybody know that it is enough
2) with external PSU --> there are no real strong PSU on the end-user market. If the unit will fail in 2-3 years the customers will have no replacements. Furthermore you have to ship your product with the PSU this will be a real fun with CE fulfillment.
3) thin-ITX is dead on the end-user market no options for enthusiast


To make thin-ITX interesting there are two things to do:
1) switch from PCIe 4x to 16x
2) 24pin power socket or a good DCDC board integrated in the thin-ITX board with a 8pin output socket (like MSI Trident )

At the end you will not directly design a case with thin-ITX you will design a barebone system.

 

Necere

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1) PCIe 4x Gen3 --> it will be a real fight to let everybody know that it is enough
This is just a problem of educating the user, and only really applies to a subset of users. Uninformed users -> won't know, won't care. Informed users -> will understand and accept that the benchmarks show no significant difference in practice. Marginally informed users (arguably the majority) are the challenge, but they can be informed as well. Remember, it wasn't that long ago that we had to convince people that 450W would be "enough" (when that was the max for SFX) to power their high-end CPU+GPU.

2) with external PSU --> there are no real strong PSU on the end-user market.
Which is one reason I prefer an internal PSU.

3) thin-ITX is dead on the end-user market no options for enthusiast
What does "enthusiast" really mean in this context? It's not as if you'll be overclocking in a 4-6L case, anyway - there's just no room for the cooling required. So the fact that you're limited to 65W CPUs is a non-issue. If you can get an i7 6700 and GTX 1070 in a 6L case, what more would you really need, or expect?
 
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Necere

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I think PCIe M.2 is the main missing feature. Which may change at CES.
True, but I guess I see this as just being slow to propagate to a non-mainstream form factor like Thin ITX. M.2 is basically a new standard, that we'll likely see across the board(s, pun intended) in time. Still, I guess it could be argued having the new stuff ASAP is "enthusiast," and if that's what you want, you pretty much have to stick with the mainstream form factors (ATX, mATX, and thankfully now mini-ITX).
 

dondan

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What does "enthusiast" really mean in this context? It's not as if you'll be overclocking in a 4-6L case, anyway - there's just no room for the cooling required. So the fact that you're limited to 65W CPUs is a non-issue. If you can get an i7 6700 and GTX 1070 in a 6L case, what more would you really need, or expect?

Ok maybe enthusiast was here the wrong word. What we have on the thin-ITX board market looks like oem stuff. Not very special and every board looks nearly the same. For myself it isn't a problem, but many users buy hardware also because of the look. E.g. the Special OC, Extreme or Maximum edition of the boards.
 

Kmpkt

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Looking at the trend in availability of Thin ITX boards, I think they're likely going to be supplanted by Mini STX in the next generation or two of chipset. Searching through major resellers in North America, the only readily available thin ITX boards in the current generation seem to be ASUS' Q170 and H110 boards. The biggest failing of these units is that neither of them even have an x4 slot on them. While there seem to be a few options listed through AsRock, Gigabyte and ASUS that have x4 slots and a 1XX chipset, I have been unable to find any through a retail channel. While I've considered designing for a Thin ITX case in the past, I just don't think the form factor is going to be there in a year or two.
 

CC Ricers

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The bigger issue is that it's only provisioned for 25W to the slot on thin ITX (vs. 75W for x16), which means an independently-powered riser is practically mandatory.

That's precisely what I was getting at. An internal AC power supply that can provide the full 75W of power to a separate riser in order to avoid the approach of using multiple power outlets. Sorry I didn't make myself clear enough in my original post.
 

Necere

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Looking at the trend in availability of Thin ITX boards, I think they're likely going to be supplanted by Mini STX in the next generation or two of chipset. Searching through major resellers in North America, the only readily available thin ITX boards in the current generation seem to be ASUS' Q170 and H110 boards. The biggest failing of these units is that neither of them even have an x4 slot on them. While there seem to be a few options listed through AsRock, Gigabyte and ASUS that have x4 slots and a 1XX chipset, I have been unable to find any through a retail channel. While I've considered designing for a Thin ITX case in the past, I just don't think the form factor is going to be there in a year or two.
You may be right, though there's no guarantee Mini-STX will take off, either. Plus I still think Thin ITX is better suited to AIOs due to its inherent... thinness.

Huh, you're right. There's really not many Socket 1151 Thin ITX boards available. I did find this gem though with a side mounted PCIe x4:


http://www.jetwaycomputer.com/NF592.html
That's a hell of an odd board. The PCIe slot is pretty useless as-is though... it's in the wrong place and backwards. It's meant for some proprietary expansion modules Jetway sells, I guess.