Small system?

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I've built a few systems now and I enjoy it and I'm happy with it. However,
a friend has asked me to build a system for her and her main concern is with
size and space. She has very little desk/cupboard/tabletop space and so I'm
looking for a "smaller than standard" case.

Everything I've built up to now has used a full-size ATX mobo and a case to
match that - I've got no experience at all with anything smaller so if
anyone could give me a starting point to do some research or even recommend
something to me, I'd really appreciate it.


Jelly Belly.

Re: Small system?

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Have a look at this article
( ) for the
small form-factor components, and then compare it with this one
( ) for more recent
recommendations for performance components. Should give you a place to



Re: Small system?

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Thanks a lot CK, will do.


Re: Small system?

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It is important to collect all your customer's wishes, and first
help temper their wishes with reality. For example, when someone
asks for the fastest gaming system on earth, and it is to fit
in a shoe box, you have to explain the limitations of technology
to them.

Depending on what she wants to do with the computer, this
page is a good kickoff to some pretty small stuff. There is
a limited number of mini-itx sized motherboards that use
regular processors. Go through the news archive link at the
bottom of the page, to find more examples.

To keep the power requirements down, you may end up using laptop
hard drives or laptop CD/DVD drives. In fact, a laptop is
a pretty compact solution.

There have been some barebones solutions, that are the size of
a laptop, but have no keyboard. You use a standard PC keyboard
that plugs into the base unit. The display can be integrated or
a separate monitor.

There are also the Shuttle boxes, which is another particular
form factor.

To select one of these, you have to know the performance
requirement, what kind of cooling is available, what form
factor is appropriate (sitting on desk, bolted to underside
of cupboards etc).

There are plenty of solutions out there, some easier to work
with than others. The level of support and spare parts you
can expect to find are another aspect to your project.
I know some people buy barebones PCs, only to find a year
or two from now, that the power supply has blown out, and
they cannot find a replacement that fits in the small space.
So "maintainability" should be discusses with your customer
as well, as in "if it breaks, do you mind throwing it away" ?

And if you need inspiration, look at this. Notice how they
use a low power processor and integrated graphics. Those
are ingredients to a lower power solution. The power adapter
on this thing, is some kind of wall wart. / /


Re: Small system?

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Thanks very much Paul, lots of food for thought there.



Re: Small system?

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Re: Small system?


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Yeah those HTPC cases are SMALL. I got in an argument with one poster
who argued they are every bit as good as any standard PC nowadays.
The problem with them is they can be more expensive than the cheapest
standard components and many of the average HTPC systems have ONE SLOT
!  Some use special small PSes and other limitations. Sure not all do
nowadays but there can be higher costs and less choices in building a
system in that small size.

Usually most people keep a system for a while so when you get system
that small as a main system and not a home theater system ---- you can
have severe limitations for upgrading later on far less flexiblity.
And if you get one with MORE flexibitlity it can be in the higher end
costwise for a HTPC which is already higher vs a standard budget PC.

Ive seen some that had far more options though like more than 1 PCI
slot which could use a std size PS etc. but they cost more when I

A laptop may be a reasonable choice too. Ive been generally down on
them unless you really need the portability for school etc but in the
US there have been weekly 399-499 deals and to me ---- since I havent
been into laptops for a while, I was really impressed how good they
were. A neighbor bought one and asked me to install some things and I
really liked it though people bash them for being too low end I
thought it was amazing what you got that little amount.

I was also amazed recently when I looked into a bit higher laptop --
what you got for your money. There were HP and DELL deals for 700-900
where you got widescreen 15 screens, 9 cell batteries, 80 gig HDs, 1
gig mem , CD burner/DVDROM, wireless etc decent CPU and even a X1300
video .  You push up to 1300 and there was an option for a 17 inch
screen and 7900GS card and even a 7200 HD. Thats like a gamers laptop
for way less than 2000. I thought it would be around 2500 or so. A lot
of people bash widescreens for laptops for non-gamers though.

Re: Small system?

Just tell here to get a laptop.


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Re: Small system?

Jelly Belly wrote:
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Micro desktops can be handy for small spaces, you can stack a monitor
on top of one.

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