We need a completely new open form factor (Actually, just a small change)

jjsyht

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In this sub-forum we are all about itx. It was a great miniaturization from ATX, but it's already become limiting. I came from a standard ATX, then a shuttle, currently a SG05 and soon Dan's A4.
The A4's size is being challenged by a couple of other projects (there are a few smaller console-type cases, but I don't see them as portable as the thin 'cube'/tower form factor) but these are struggling with the standards we currently have.

I think we can do better.
The GPU belongs behind the motherboard. So we need a new type of connector. And since it is at the back of the motherboard, why not make it the same dimension as the motherboard? No need for these long A__ cards.

A smaller common PSU form factor. FlexATX is a good one, but maybe try to accommodate a larger fan, And gfx connectors ffs!

A smaller motherboard? Why are we still using those large Dimms... They have been around for more than a decade now. There's nano-itx which has soldered cpu, we don't want soldered cpu, so maybe this is a bit of a challenge.

There's a Tupperware on my table, it's 16x22x10, it would be great if it was a gaming PC. One which is as flexible as itx boards, not like those 'Powerful' NUC or Brix or whatever.
 

SaperPL

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As both game developer and case developer I can say:

1) Form factor references won't change just because you want them to. It's all about what intel wants and intel gives no shit about what hardware manufacturers would want to make. Check out recent events - everyone introduced a prototype motherboard with angular pci-e slot to support console like cases and then intel introduces mini-STX without pci-e slot to promote its IGP inside small form factor and then everyone looses their mind and makes it happen since intel introduced it.

2) It's not about logic on what's best for client but it's about logic what's best for business, investors, stock etc. To change things either standard holder (i.e. intel) has to have it's backside on fire(which won't happen soon) or there's got to be a significant persona with enough money or fame(i.e. Elon Musk) and have a vision, push it and show that it's possible to do things better. Unless that happens, corporations will hold to status quo and constant improvements through mathematical models based on existing knowledge rather than invest in unknown, new and innovative models.

3) Smaller cards, smaller psu's mean less performance. Even if we can halt performance increase and keep dropping the power consumption - we just won't. As game developers we want to constantly bring newer and better titles and one of features supporting this model is graphics getting more detailed.

4) As much as I'd like, the gpu's won't start targeting lower temps as their target temps - 80 degrees Celsius it is now. Unless we drop it significantly and start supporting "Steam machine/HTPC" modes for the silent operation, we're bound figure out how to support anything that fits in our small form factor PC rather than wishing that magic happens with heat emitted by the gpu.

5) Size of the socket and it's designated cooler takes huge part in how big the motherboard is. If you want a powerful cpu on the motherboard than it's socket and cpu cooler will take quite a lot of space on it.
 

Hahutzy

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Saper pretty much hit the nail on the head. Whenever a new product comes out, it has to make sense for the company first.

That is why Intel made the mSTX without PCIE, to promote SFF builds using their processors' integrated graphics.

Case makers/modders are at the mercy of what is currently available, unless they themselves become the manufacturer of the technology/parts. That of course comes with astronomical costs.

So unless the "perfect form factor" that we're dreaming of somehow aligns with Intel or AMD's vision of the "next big thing", it will most likely never happen.
 

Necere

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I actually had a conversation with someone at Intel after he contacted us, in which I showed him an idea I had for a GPU-like motherboard concept that would (seemingly) work well for very compact systems incorporating full-size GPUs:



It didn't sound like something they were that interested in, unfortunately.
 

CknSalad

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Hahutzy's project I feel is a good balance of power and size at just <4L. The most powerful GPU you would want to put into a case that size would be around 150W TDP such as the GTX 1070. If Hahutzy's project sells well, it is a tossup whether or not there will be greater consumer Flex-ATX support. TFX psus are pretty much dead in the market. There already is a decent amount of support for mini-GPUs from Nvidia and AMD. 3-4L PC cases are the smallest I would be comfortable with heat, noise, and performance wise.
 
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KarateOC

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Taking hints from the Dan A4-SFX, the Hutzy XS and the NFC S4 Mini, I thought an interesting idea for a 3L-ish case would be to make a short version of the Dan A4-SFX, extending length-wise only as far as the mini-ITX motherboard and ITX GPU. You could then move the GPU up about 1cm or so and put a HDPLEX 250 under the GPU (which should power a gtx 1070 and 6700 non-K, altough I remeber someone in the sff .net forums mentioning the possibility of a upcoming 300w version). A gpu with vertical fins would blow air onto the PSU to allow for cooling, although there may be space on one end of the PSU to mount a 4x4cm fan.

On the motherboard side, the width would extend only as high as the motherboard I/O, similar to the Hutzy XS. At first glance it would appear to only fit M.2 drives, but with low profile ram and a low profile CPU cooler (such as the Coolchip 1U Kinetic cooler starting to show up @ only 27mm tall), you could put a SSD bracket above to motherboard to house 2xSSDs as seen in the NFC S4 Mini.

If you could get this down to something like L=175, H=180mm, W=95mm then this would be about 3L.
 
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Hahutzy

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I thought an interesting idea for a 3L-ish case [...] and put a HDPLEX 250 under the GPU [...] On the motherboard side, the width would extend only as high as the motherboard I/O

I tried this layout briefly when I was fiddling with TFX and HDPLEX sizes. You can get close to 3L, but to get under it seemed unfeasible.
 

chx

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If you look at a CPU cooler vs a GPU cooler and compare it to the current CPU TDP (65W tops for practically all Skylake) and GPU TDP (150-180W) it becomes crystal clear we have it completely backwards: in an ideal case the CPU is cooled by a front intake fan passing through a gigantic tower heatsink helped by a 12-14 cm fan and then the hot air is exhausted with the help of another fan. Three huge fans, airflow straight like an arrow.

Video cards, on the other hand, well, there's not a lot to talk about. There's no way to pass air straight, at best three 92mm fans will try to draw heat off the heatsinks drawing in air from wherever they can dumping it in the case in hope it will go somewhere.

The obvious (?) solution is to make the video card lay down and make the heatsink as easily mountable as the AMD/Intel CPUs today. The change to standards is fairly minimal, you could use a case like the Node 202 or the Sentry PL and just make it much thicker to accomodate a tower cooler. It doesn't even require convincing Intel, using a plain ITX and a riser is fine. The badly needed change is on the video card cooling.
 

Necere

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Video cards, on the other hand, well, there's not a lot to talk about. There's no way to pass air straight, at best three 92mm fans will try to draw heat off the heatsinks drawing in air from wherever they can dumping it in the case in hope it will go somewhere.

The obvious (?) solution is to make the video card lay down and make the heatsink as easily mountable as the AMD/Intel CPUs today. The change to standards is fairly minimal, you could use a case like the Node 202 or the Sentry PL and just make it much thicker to accomodate a tower cooler. It doesn't even require convincing Intel, using a plain ITX and a riser is fine. The badly needed change is on the video card cooling.
You could do something like this without even having to change the specs - just extend the GPU to four or five slots thick:



This is a five-slot GPU with a 92mm fan at the front. Full-length version on a mATX board on top, mini-ITX version on the bottom.
 

chx

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Yeah -- but where do you get the heatsink from and how do you mount it?

Current heatsinks are really not made for this kind of air direction as the fins are perpendicular to a front-to-rear airflow:
morpheus-2-1280x1024.jpg
 

Necere

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Yeah -- but where do you get the heatsink from and how do you mount it?
I assumed we're talking about factory OEM designs, not aftermarket. I suppose if you wanted to do something like this yourself, you'd have to fabricate your own brackets to use with an appropriately-sized CPU heatsink.
 

KarateOC

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I tried this layout briefly when I was fiddling with TFX and HDPLEX sizes. You can get close to 3L, but to get under it seemed unfeasible.
Maybe an idea for the Hutzy XXS? I double checked the size of the motherboard I/O shield and realised the width I described was probably too short, making it seem more difficult to get down to exactly 3L.

I think an HDPLEX could power the hardware you are looking at for your case, although your current layout makes more sense in the fact that it can be built with off-the-shelf components, as opposed to specialized hardware produced by only one company.
 

N4CR

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You mean a laptop motherboard...?

There are your smaller DIMMs...
 
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Findecanor

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Current [GPU] heatsinks are really not made for this kind of air direction as the fins are perpendicular to a front-to-rear airflow:
ITX-sized GPUs tend to have the fins lengthwise. There are also some larger GPU heatsinks that are lengthwise.

But this discussion is missing one thing: Air should also flow over the MB and GPU boards, not just through a heat sink for the hottest component. There is VRM, memory, chipset etc. that could overheat if not properly cooled.
Having the fan directed towards the board surface accomplishes this.

Another thing to considerate is fan filters. That is a must for larger high-end cases these days. That requires strong fans, not the flimsy fans used on most GPU's and SFX PSUs these days.
We also want to avoid using small fans, that have to be loud to move a lot of air.

What I would like to see is a simplified take on the MSI Vortex design: one central fan, but with a separate heat-sink for each component. It supports two graphics cards in MXM form factor.
However, the Vortex uses five cards to replace a single motherboard, and having two GPUs in SLI/Crossfire shouldn't be necessary.
That is why I am eagerly awaiting more details of the Gigabyte BRIX Gaming UHD. It is supposed to have a MXM GPU, all cooled with a single 92 mm fan (or 100mm ?) although with a laptop-class CPU.
 
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DarkStar01

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That is why I am eagerly awaiting more details of the Gigabyte BRIX Gaming UHD. It is supposed to have a MXM GPU, all cooled with a single 92 mm fan (or 100mm ?) although with a laptop-class CPU.

It's running a gtx950, if I remember correctly. That shouldn't be all that hard to cool, all things considered.
 
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I tried this layout briefly when I was fiddling with TFX and HDPLEX sizes. You can get close to 3L, but to get under it seemed unfeasible.

What prompted you to abandon the design? I imagine you wouldn't have had support for 2.5" drives with that config.

By the way, I think with HBM2 we can expect the highest end cards to start coming in short form. Especially if there's enough pressure from the SFF community. If ASRock could fit an X99 platform on an ITX board (mad props), then this is definitely possible.
 

dondan

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What I remember in the past there are some technical requirements to establish a new smaller formfactor.

It was not Shuttle that makes mITX popular and bring it to market. It was DFI, Zotac and Silverstone. DFI and Zotac developed the first high-end mITX Boards for gaming systems with oc possebilities that are available on the end user market.

Silverstone brings the suitable psu solution in compare to the size to the end user market.

But the real break through comes with ASRock and Asus ITX boards and SFX-L. Because they bring the technology to the same Level as other form factors.

So the same performance level as bigger form factors, gaming possibility, free brand choice and silent powerful psu's are required...
 

Hahutzy

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Maybe an idea for the Hutzy XXS

It's a possibility, but I want to focus on making the XS a reality first. :)

What prompted you to abandon the design? I imagine you wouldn't have had support for 2.5" drives with that config.

I didn't really abandon it as much as it was never my main focus. I had a period of time where I wanted to try TFX and compare it to Flex ATX.

Someone (I think CknSalad?) asked me whether it was possible to get to 3L with a power brick. So I just drew it out of curiosity.

But yes, it was impossible to use a 2.5" drive in that layout.
 

KarateOC

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Someone (I think CknSalad?) asked me whether it was possible to get to 3L with a power brick. So I just drew it out of curiosity.

But yes, it was impossible to use a 2.5" drive in that layout.
Couldnt you put a 2.5" directly under a radeon nano sized gpu if you moved the gpu to the very top of the case? This would push the height slightly over 180mm though... You could have two mounting points for the pci-e extender cable, 1 for people with a nano sized card, and a 2nd point lower down for ppl with a taller gpu who do not require a SSD.

Also, as i mentioned before the 27mm Kinetic cooler may allow to place a 2.5" above the motherboard, but this could cause cooling concerns depending on the location of the CPU socket. But as this cooler is so short it may be possible to mount both a 80mm slim fan and a 2.5" above the motherboard. This option would leave space under the gpu for a HDPLEX.

This may work in theory, but as I mentioned before, I like your current idea as it allows for off-the-shelf components.
 

jjsyht

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Shuttle brought the idea that you could get a small gaming PC, but yeah, I remember the zotac as the first well known itx gaming motherboard. Asus made it popular with their ROG. Silverstone had a hand in very compact itx case.

All of them were using existing standards (except sfx-L?). To get a new standard is the stuff of dreams:(

Oh, and shuttle said F u all and went with their customs components
 
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Findecanor

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It's running a gtx950, if I remember correctly. That shouldn't be all that hard to cool, all things considered.
GPU is GTX 960. More details today from a press event: The CPU will be i7-6700HQ or i5-6300HQ - both quad-core. Release has been pushed forward to August.
I'm really interested in seeing how it looks inside. It is supposed to have a square base with the main logic board on the diagonal.
 

chameleoneel

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Yeah -- but where do you get the heatsink from and how do you mount it?

Current heatsinks are really not made for this kind of air direction as the fins are perpendicular to a front-to-rear airflow:
morpheus-2-1280x1024.jpg
grab a heatsink from a GPU which has a turbine/blower exhaust style setup. Such as the new RX480 reference design. Or my HIS Radeon 7870 GHZ edition, pictured below:
WCUb.jpg


It used to look like this:
0163_02_1600.800x500.jpg


but the turbine fan didn't push enough air. It would hit 80c in the AMD "Leo" tech demo. and it was loud. So I took the shroud and turbine off and strapped a couple of 80mm fans on top (I took one off, for this pic. So that you could see the heatsink a little better.) Temps are waaay better. Much quieter. Near silent, with fan control. I've done this with two or three other blower/exhaust cards, in the past.

I'm sure you could get a heatsink from ebay or just ask in the [H] forum. As I'm sure people will be taking off heatsinks to replace with water blocks and whatnot.
 
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As mobile processors get much more powerful for their power consumption, the need for desktop motherboards and cases may become obsolete.

I predict the NUC form factor becoming more widely used in a few years, hopefully one day there will be a version with replaceable CPU - or price will get lower enough to not need it.

Connectors like Thunderbolt 3 will make connecting NUC's to an external GPU very easy, making the need for bulky cases and power supplies obsolete.
 

Shockwave818

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While we're dreaming - I hate the full size 24pin atx power connector. Takes up a ton of room and has a lot of redundant/legacy cabling.
 

Wizzard

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I'd love to see 1/2 length PICMIG 1.3 platform take off for SFF units. It's cheap, and modular AF!
This is a carrier board with (essentially) PCIe slots as a riser, with the "motherboard" as a single board, and the riser supporting a number of PCIe slots. Could also interface with m.2 / mPCIe / SATA on riser (or CPU board).

Advantech-IPC-3012-Compact-Embedded-Chassis.jpg
 
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jjsyht

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While we're dreaming - I hate the full size 24pin atx power connector. Takes up a ton of room and has a lot of redundant/legacy cabling.
Yes please!

While I agree with Mongoose about mobile processor/gfx, I believe that desktop class component will still be here in the future for enthusiasts like us.
 

DarkStar01

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GPU is GTX 960. More details today from a press event: The CPU will be i7-6700HQ or i5-6300HQ - both quad-core. Release has been pushed forward to August.
I'm really interested in seeing how it looks inside. It is supposed to have a square base with the main logic board on the diagonal.
Now that's interesting!

Edit: Upon further investigation, they're (Gigabyte) still listing it as a desktop GTX 950 with the added caveat that it is downclocked to remain within their definition of reasonable thermals. They reference complaints made about previous generation Brix and Brix Gaming units running too hot as justification. All this starting at the low, low price of $1300 US. Well, I don't know about you, but my hopes this would turn out an interesting product are certainly dashed.
 
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Kaos_Drem

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I actually had a conversation with someone at Intel after he contacted us, in which I showed him an idea I had for a GPU-like motherboard concept that would (seemingly) work well for very compact systems incorporating full-size GPUs:



It didn't sound like something they were that interested in, unfortunately.

Hey Necere,

What team did you talk with out of curiosity? This seems like something that the NUC team might be more interested in than intel at large.
 

Necere

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Hey Necere,

What team did you talk with out of curiosity? This seems like something that the NUC team might be more interested in than intel at large.
It was a guy that works on their standards-based AIOs and thin Mini-ITX. This was back in 2013 after the end of the production crowdfunding campaign that he contacted us.
 

veryrarium

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ITX-sized GPUs tend to have the fins lengthwise. There are also some larger GPU heatsinks that are lengthwise.

But this discussion is missing one thing: Air should also flow over the MB and GPU boards, not just through a heat sink for the hottest component. There is VRM, memory, chipset etc. that could overheat if not properly cooled.
Having the fan directed towards the board surface accomplishes this.
chx's idea did'nt ignore peripheral cooling. Just look at the tower cooler setup people do for their CPU cooling. Beefy CPU tower cooler with 120/140 mm fan(s) blowing air from front to back through the tower heatsink, and along the way it provides sufficient airflow for the VRM heatsink behind the CPU socket already provided by the motherboard vendor, and the RAM modules are also cooled similarly since they are in the same airflow path. The point is peripheral component cooling doesn't require the cooler for the main heat source to be of the down-draft type, it only requires the airflow provided by the cooler for the main heat source to cover the peripheral components. When people replace the stock GPU cooler with an aftermarket ones like Arctic Accelero or whatever, GPU VRM and VRAM have mediocre cooling as many reviews have shown, and that's because you can't fit large enough heatsinks for VRM and VRAM under these low-profile ("large but flat") down-draft type heatsinks. A tower cooler for the GPU core solves this problem as well.

The biggest issue with chx's suggestion that has to be resolved is the GPU card not being able to sustain the weight of a massive tower heatsink which has its center of gravity farther away from the card compared to a low profile down-draft heatsink, and for this I think all GPU vendors and case manufacturers have to agree to make a standard mounting screw hole pattern so that a GPU card is mounted to a case not just by its rear bracket but firmly on various points over the entire card. And since this will never happen, one can only achieve chx's idea by finding a different way to make a GPU card not prone to vibration due to a massive tower heatsink.
 
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D4rkn3ss

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six years of itx love here, i surely would like to see something new, but video cards are still big so there isnt much to do about it.
 

jjsyht

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At the very least, one of the motherboard manufacturers could release a board with the pci-e at the other end.

With so many projects using long risers, the demand for these board is not insignificant IMHO.
They could become the de facto brand for these niche cases
 

206er

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At the very least, one of the motherboard manufacturers could release a board with the pci-e at the other end.

With so many projects using long risers, the demand for these board is not insignificant IMHO.
They could become the de facto brand for these niche cases

They have that kind of motherboards but sadly only available in China, and usually in DTX form factor.

Here's an example: ASRock > Z170M-PIO2
 

Boil

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Ma, I would really love to see an ITX that has the PCIe like the ASRock above…

Would help a few issues in the CPU | GPU chambers style chassis; just need a PCB bridge for the GPU, rather than a long cable; and since no cable over the top of the MB, maybe a bit more airflow for the backside mounted M.2…?
 

KazeoHin

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I would love to see a new STX standard launch with a modified M.2 slot that allows a few more amps though the socket as well as introduces flexible M.2 ribbons for mounting M.2 compatible video AIBs. The new video AIBs standard would be the same dimensions as an STX board, allowing to fit directly underneath or on top of the mainboard in a sandwich configuration. By powering this new mainboard/video card form-factor via a 12v external supply (not too different to laptop chargers), you could move the PSU to outside the case. This would allow Something as small as a NUC but with the ability to upgrade the video device as well as upgrade the CPU, RAM, HDD..
 
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