Recommendations Needed - HTPC - Micro/Mini ATX - Low Profile Case/Mobo/PSU Combo

Darklyte

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May 11, 2017
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Hey Everyone,

I have recently traveled down the rabbit hole of upgrading my HTPC with various parts I have available around the house.

I am trying to find a Motherboard PSU and Case combo that has a low enough profile to fit into an entertainment unit or below my tv on a shelf but can support 2-3 PCIE slots, while still having a good audio codec.

This HTPC has a dual purpose. I want to use it for Kodi (ect) and use it as a second PC to encode video for my Twitch stream. Hopefully this will take the strain off my main PC. I am the only user of both devices and they would not be running at the same time.

I was really gunning for the Node 202 due to its low profile but after searching for a week I am unable to find a Mini ITX mobo that supports more than 1 PCIE slot. I am now considering a Mico ATX board but I would really like to keep the profile slim enough to be kept on a shelf.

I plan on adding an HD60 Pro into the second PCIE slot to handle the 2 PC streaming set up.

Current Hardware - https://ca.pcpartpicker.com/list/FjLXBP

CPU - i5-4690K (LGA1150)
GPU - GTX 560 Ti
RAM - Vengeance Pro 8GB (2 x 4GB)
HDD - OCZ - Agility 2 80GB SSD

If i missed anything I will be happy to provide additional information.

Any help/ideas would be appreciated!
 

whateverer

[H]ard|Gawd
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Nov 2, 2016
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I'm sorry dude, all the low-profile cases that move the PCIe slot around only support a single card. Your needs are incredibly rare, so you'll have to deal.

Why do you need the video card? It's not like the GTX 560 Ti supports more media encoding prowess than Intel QuickSync, and it doesn't support NVENC either. Or are you using it to play games, and just didn't bother to mention that?

The 560 Ti sucks down a ton of power, and would be the first thing I would chuck if I was building a low-profile HTPC. If you insist on gaming, the GTX 1050 is a much faster card with less than half the power, and gives you access to NVENC if you desire, and 4k whenever you decide to upgrade to it.

Or you can just ditch the video card, and go with your Node 202. You'll have some trouble finding a Haswell MiniITX motherboard new, but used should be relatively painless.

If you're not picky about any advanced features, you can find this one new:

https://www.amazon.com/MSI-Mini-ITX...coding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=VT98HM2Z391CQMP9H17F

And yeah, it's lpw-end, but still comes with 2 native SATA6 and 2 native USB 3.0. Sounds like plenty of high-speed I/O for an HTPC. You have some limited worry that it won't support your haswell refresh processor, but I can't imagine that boards shipping today still have that problem.
 
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Darklyte

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The 560 ti is mainly bc i have it laying around. I'm not attached to it.

I wont be gaming on this machine, but will be using it to encode the Twitch stream i am broadcasting from my gaming PC through the HD60 Pro.

That is the only reason i require 2 PCIE slots!
 

whateverer

[H]ard|Gawd
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Then you don't require two pcie slots. Use the Intel onboard video and save yourself the trouble.

That motherboard I linked has two digital outputs, and that should be plenty. The DVI can be converted to HDMI with a passive cable.
 

FnordMan

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The 560 ti is mainly bc i have it laying around. I'm not attached to it.

I wont be gaming on this machine, but will be using it to encode the Twitch stream i am broadcasting from my gaming PC through the HD60 Pro.

That is the only reason i require 2 PCIE slots!

ITX boards only come with one PCIe slot, period. Size restrictions and all of that.

Then you don't require two pcie slots. Use the Intel onboard video and save yourself the trouble.

That motherboard I linked has two digital outputs, and that should be plenty.

Agreed, with no games being played then onboard will be plenty. Heck, it'll also expose QuickSync to the OS wherein running any kind of video card shuts that off. (quicksync is on the onboard gpu, takes trickery to get that re-enabled when one is running a video card)
 

Darklyte

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Interesting. I will look into this further!

Do Micro ITX boards usually have Dual PCIE? If so, is anyone familiar with a console type case similar to the Node 202 for Micro ITX? I see lots of Cube Cases available but few console type cases.

Or would i run into the same problem as a Mini ITX board. I have been digging around, but most of my research went into Mini ITX before i realized dual PCIE isn't really available on that smaller board.
 

whateverer

[H]ard|Gawd
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MicroATX cases will all universally be larger.

The problem you're fighting is the physical layout of these motherboards. The cards are always mounted perpendicular to the motherboard, so for a MiniITX board this is the slot populated:



Motherboard is on bottom, Asus video card is on the left side.

So you see, you naturally end-up with a box-shaped-space for the motherboard and video card. Because the video card is mounted 90 degrees relative to the motherboard. This becomes especially obvious if you have motherboards with more than one slot.

But a case like the Node 202 cheats. It uses a bus extender to move the slot AWAY from the motherboard, and gives itself room to rotate that slot 90 degrees, back into the same plane as the motherboard!

YOU CAN SEE THE EXTENDER RIGHT IN THE CENTER OF THE PICTURE BELOW:




So why stop at just at just MiniITX? Why not go MicroATX, which increases the slot count to four?

You'd increase that video card stack to MORE THAN DOUBLE IN SIZE, because you'd have to add active cooling. And the routing of those slots using an adapter becomes infinitely more complex, as opposed to a single standard slot on MiniITX.

You might as well just let the cards mount vertically. You wouldn't save space going horizontally at that point.

See the problem here, with a MicroATX motherboard loaded with SLI?



Once you add enough slots, the "flip the slots 90 degrees" trick doesn't buy you anything.
 
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Darklyte

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Thank you for the well thought out reply.

Good thing i am not going SLI! I just need that second PCIE slot for a small internal capture card (HD60 Pro)

The available space in the cabinet for the case that I need to find is;

6.5 in - Height
22.5 in - Width
16 in - Depth

I was looking around and saw the ML03 and ML04 from SilverStone as well as the Node 605 that support Micro ATX boards and fit the dimensions in the cabinet.

Does anyone have experience with these 3 cases? I think the SilverStone cases wont work with the full 228 mm long 560 ti, but the Node 605 might just fit into the cabinet but it will be extremely tight (case is 6.4 in height while the cabinet is 6.5). Now i'm worried about airflow around the unit.

Or are there some other similar cases that are better that are around these dimensions?
 

Darklyte

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May 11, 2017
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Hello Hardforum

I have returned humbly asking for advice on a good Micro ATX Motherboard that fits the LGA1150 socket for an HTPC build.

I understand that there are certain Audio Codecs that are better for HTPC builds. As well I understand certain boards allow the PC to enter a sleep state and shut off the LED light on the case.

I understand that due to the older CPU i'm using, my options may be more limited but i would like to attempt to get the best board i can!
 

whateverer

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I was poking around my MSI z97 PC MATE BIOS the other night, and thought I saw an option for the sleep LED. I'll let you know if you can turn it off, because that would probably mean all future MSI boards have that option.
 

Darklyte

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May 11, 2017
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Thank you!

There was a really good thread on this forum where people were talking about HTPC's and the different Audio codecs and options to look out for on the mobo. It is what actually led me to post here!

I can't for the life of me find it any longer, and i think it was directed at Mini ITX boards. I hope other members of the community also pitch in with their knowledge.

I thank you for your help!
 

whateverer

[H]ard|Gawd
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Well, if you're running an HTPC, you're probably going to hook up to the 560's HDMI port. The GTX 560s have an onboard audio controller, so you won't have to worry about the motherboard unless you were planning on using analog or TOSLINK.

And if you're going MicroATX, you'll have enough slots to upgrade your audio, if you so desire.
 

whateverer

[H]ard|Gawd
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also, the dual-color BIOS option actually turned my light off when the PC is asleep.
 

The Realyst

Limp Gawd
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The sentry is going to be the smallest ITX case to date that still accepts a 2 slot GPU. It's not out yet though and it's going to cost over $200.
 
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