Motherboard Mini-STX - here to stay for Ryzen?

mantide

Trash Compacter
Sep 17, 2016
42
23
Mini-STX is just a weird concept to me. The only thing I can think if is how Intel loves to overrate their onboard graphics. Sadly they are still not up to snuff for anything but light gaming. STX boards would do well for HTPC use, but the NUCs already have that under control.

Micro-STX is an improvement, but the dearth of decent MXM boards will hurt it. Still, I think the ability to use a unified heatsink for both CPU and GPU will help things greatly on the small-small end. That has been the catch with ITX for a while now, the GPU always ends up facing away from the CPU and thus two discrete heatsinks and fans are normally used.
It's my favorite form factor. Graphics will always be handled externally.
 

mantide

Trash Compacter
Sep 17, 2016
42
23
I was really excited when the mini-STX form factor was announced because it would mean that people who don't need GPUs would have a smaller and proper socketed option instead of Mini-ITX or NUCs. Now with Ryzen APUs planned to launch somewhere around H2 2017 and said to have big graphical improvements over even the new "silently-released" Bristol Ridge chips, I was wondering about the potential an AM4 mini-STX board could have. We're talking about a powerful computer that would be absolutely tiny and fit the average consumer's needs for a relatively low price and with graphical capabilities that just a few years ago were unthinkable for integrated graphics. Not to mention it would be totally upgradeable, with AM4 set to become the norm for years to come.

But then micro-STX was announced and it seems like the market is bigger for these types of boards, as they're still small but feature the possibility of adding a discrete graphic's card. And suddenly I was thinking "What if everyone ignores mini-STX now in favour of micro-STX?"

And then I thought about the likelihood of manufacturers ever investing in an AM4 mini-STX consumer board anyway, which is probably very low despite looking like a gold mine to me. And let's not forget who first introduced the form factor was...Intel.

So, do you think Mini-STX is here to stay? Or will it die as suddenly as it appeared? Will there ever be any AM4 mini-STX boards? Should I keep praying?
The problem is, I think the footprint of AMD heatsink takes too much real estate
 

Phryq

Cable-Tie Ninja
Nov 13, 2016
217
71
www.AlbertMcKay.com
I think the ideal would be a MiniSTX with Thunderbolt for an option external GPU (or whatever else external you want).

That way the CPU and GPU are also able to not heat each other up. Since STX means the power supply is also external, you can keep all hot-things separated, and cooling is much more efficient. (Where are all the audio people who want silent and powerful?)

If this is possible with Ryzen, great (as long as Ryzen isn't hotter than a 7700k), otherwise Intel would be ideal.

What I love about ASRock's Micro STX are the 3x 2280 ports. However, I don't want to pay a lot for graphics cards... maybe on-board will even do me for occasional video editing.
 
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Mar 6, 2017
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There has to be demand though. There's much more hype for Mini-DTX in the SFF community than a PIO-type board with a horizontal PCIe slot and the motherboard manufactures all dismissed the idea when we proposed it to them at CES. And that's a form factor that's backwards compatible with existing cases.


Something like this might be compatible with existing cases, but it loses a bit of IO space.

 

Kmpkt

Innovation through Miniaturization
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Feb 1, 2016
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What I love about ASRock's Micro STX are the 3x 2280 ports. However, I don't want to pay a lot for graphics cards... maybe on-board will even do me for occasional video editing.

I'm in the process of ordering a Micro STX board and I can tell you that given the amount of technology in it, the pricing is actually quite reasonable (comparable to a higher end Z270 board) as is the FSP 270W brick they are using. I also anticipate this price will come down for production as I am ordering an evaluation board. I am also waiting on a quote for GPUs from the OEM and will be able to tell you more about the overall package cost once I have heard back.
 

Kmpkt

Innovation through Miniaturization
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Feb 1, 2016
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So I got prices for MXM cards today:

GTX 1060 - 780 USD
GTX 1070 - 880 USD
GTX 1080 - 1150 USD

Obviously AsRock will be bulk buying and get a very substantial discount over this price (and hopefully pass some of that along in the final barebones unit price), but man I have a hard time with the idea of paying 2-3x the retail price of a normal GPU.
 

EdZ

Virtual Realist
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May 11, 2015
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Sadly that's the case with MXM at the moment. Volumes are low, and it's a seller's market, so prices can be set astronomically high and cads will still sell. Even laptops built with MXM modules are often not designed to be (or actively designed against, as with Alienware's lines) user replacement of the MXM card. If ASRock can create a market for MXM cards by selling a kit that actively supports upgrading, and better yet resells MXM modules to kickstart demand, that should start to push prices down closer towards PCIe form factor cards.
 
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Kmpkt

Innovation through Miniaturization
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Feb 1, 2016
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Well it's essentially a monopoly, as I believe Aetina is the only manufacturer for the MXM format. Correct me if I'm wrong (as I would like to contact their competition about getting a better price).
 
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EdZ

Virtual Realist
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May 11, 2015
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I'm not sure who the OEMs are, but even for the 1070 alone in addition to Aetina's board there are at least two other versions (that show up in MSI and Clevo/Eurocom laptops respectively). Alienware do their own semi-proprietary (i.e. mostly MXM electrically, but not interoperable with other MXM boards or other MXM hosts) MXM boards too. The tricky part is these OEMs clearly have no interest in direct sales to the handful of consumers with MXM laptops, and all available boards are either unbranded or customer branded making finding the OEM hard for anyone who is not a volume laptop manufacturer.
 
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Phryq

Cable-Tie Ninja
Nov 13, 2016
217
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www.AlbertMcKay.com
I'm in the process of ordering a Micro STX board and I can tell you that given the amount of technology in it, the pricing is actually quite reasonable (comparable to a higher end Z270 board) as is the FSP 270W brick they are using. I also anticipate this price will come down for production as I am ordering an evaluation board. I am also waiting on a quote for GPUs from the OEM and will be able to tell you more about the overall package cost once I have heard back.

So I guess you aren't at liberty to tell what the price was? I'm thinking just the motherboard (although if they're making prebuilt systems for cheap, it could be convenient). I could just get the old MiniSTX, however I want the 3 2280 ports (for sampling).

I'm curious what you're building with your sample. If you want to tap into the audio production market, I can tell you exactly what they need :p No one is building the perfect audio PC, which is very possible here.
 

Kmpkt

Innovation through Miniaturization
KMPKT
Feb 1, 2016
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Yeah I don't want to put a price out here that will later make AsRock look bad if they have to go higher to bring it to market. The Aetina prices are standard which is why I don't have issue with sharing it here.
 

Fireside

Caliper Novice
Mar 25, 2017
30
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I honestly don't think STX is going to take off, especially for Ryzen. With the hesitation at even an itx board for Ryzen and one of the biggest sellers of mxm cards not wanting to let those cards go to consumers it looks unlikely.

Also I died a little inside reading that thread SenorDonut.
 
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Kmpkt

Innovation through Miniaturization
KMPKT
Feb 1, 2016
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I agree that Mini STX is probably going to struggle in the same way that Thin Mini ITX did. There are very few applications that I can think of where a Mini STX is better in leaps and bounds than a NuC and provides a significant enough size reduction over ITX to be the clear choice. I do think that there is a future for Micro STX though and hopefully it will better fill the space between ITX and NUC since you have little compromise on GPU power, no compromise on CPU power and a vastly smaller combined footprint than ITX + dGPU.
 
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Fireside

Caliper Novice
Mar 25, 2017
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Honestly I'd love to see laptops using some of the new smaller boards with riser systems to implement full desktop gpus, thus being upgradeable. That's actually a project I have planned for an old hp of mine, from around 2012 or so.
 
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goatman

Minimal Tinkerer
Jun 29, 2017
4
3
Just looking forward to micro STX with Raven Ridge, see how it performs :),

On another note, still can't even purchase an ITX am4 board anywhere, if theyre sold out then they should up the production!

Might be some time before AM4 micro STX gets released let alone mini STX... :(
 
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