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Old 29th January 2011, 2:28 PM   #1
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Default Pico-ITX motherboard battle

I'm currently working on a very custom build with huge space limitations and have figured Pico-ITX to be the optimum form factor. I've never dealt with Pico before and so I began a search for the best pico board I can find. So far I've only been able to find the VIA EPIA-P830 as far as decent pico solutions go. Does anyonee know of a better board out there?
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Old 29th January 2011, 5:24 PM   #2
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What's it for?

The Via board has the advantage of hardware-assisted video decoding for some formats. If you're after more CPU performance, something like the Commell LP-170 might do better. I ended up buying the LP-170A; there's now a slightly faster LP-170C (dual-core 1.8GHz Atom).
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Old 29th January 2011, 6:26 PM   #3
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You haven't said anything about how you're going to use this Pico-ITX solution?
=> Video playback? Kiosk? Car-PC?
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Old 29th January 2011, 7:03 PM   #4
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Sorry about being vague, it's main use will be general web browsing, word processing blah blah blah. If possible HD playback would be nice. The reason it must be Pico is because it's going to be a whole basic desktop PC within a wooden cigar box.
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Old 29th January 2011, 7:37 PM   #5
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Does it have to be x86?

A Pandaboard gives you a reasonably quick dual-core CPU and hardware video decoding. Obviously it won't run Windows XP/Vista/7, but it'll happily run desktop Linux distributions and possibly Windows CE.

Alternatively, would a 3.5" formfactor board fit? This would let you run a Core i7 in there, along with hardware-accelerated video decoding.

If all else fails, you could go for the LP-170 and this. That combination should offer decent speed and HD video decoding.
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Old 29th January 2011, 7:52 PM   #6
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It definately needs to atleast handle XP as I may very well sell it on to a customer who wants a super small basic PC.

I'm not sure, the external measurements of the box are 4"x6"x4" (hasn't arrived yet to measure) and I still need to slap a PSU in it.
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Old 29th January 2011, 8:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unframed View Post
I'm not sure, the external measurements of the box are 4"x6"x4" (hasn't arrived yet to measure) and I still need to slap a PSU in it.
Does the PSU have to be internal? The board I linked can run fine from an external laptop-style power supply.

It doesn't sound like the 3.5" board will fit, so I'd go for the LP-170 + CrystalHD card.
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Old 29th January 2011, 9:11 PM   #8
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A laptop style is fine, I just didn't want a typical PSU hanging out the ass.
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Old 29th January 2011, 11:20 PM   #9
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An Atom is probably the way to go anyway. Any CPU that can handle HD video decoding by itself is going to require a large heatsink and fan.

For my LP-170A I just got a cheap 12V 10A PSU from Ebay. It's far more powerful than I need, but I figure that a safety margin is always a good thing with cheap power supplies.
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Old 30th January 2011, 1:39 AM   #10
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Quote:
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An Atom is probably the way to go anyway. Any CPU that can handle HD video decoding by itself is going to require a large heatsink and fan.
probly not, fit-pc is launching a new AMD version based on bobcat

http://www.gizmag.com/compulab-annou...ocessor/17704/

should get you somewhere, and probly more pico bobcat solutions coming out in the year

wish the nvidia pico sample of the ION is available for sale
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Old 30th January 2011, 1:54 AM   #11
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The fit-PC3 itself won't work; it's substantially too big for the box he's trying to use.

From what I've read, it's unlikely that manufacturers will do pico-ITX boards based on AMD chips. The pico-ITX stuff tends to be for embedded systems, and AMD just doesn't offer the long support life that manufacturers need there. As an example of Intel's support life, you can still buy 80186, 80386, 80486, Pentium I, Pentium II, Celeron (Pentium II version), and Pentium 4 CPUs brand new from Digikey. AMD can't match that.

We'll certainly see mini-ITX boards based on the AMD chips, but I doubt that the market for consumer-level pico-ITX boards is big enough to justify designing and building them.

I also wish that the Nvidia ION sample was available for sale, but it doesn't look like that'll ever happen.
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Last edited by SLATYE; 30th January 2011 at 2:04 AM.
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Old 30th January 2011, 10:19 AM   #12
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Well I've asked the Aus distro for the LP-170 about prices and such. If that goes well that may be my solution.
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Old 30th January 2011, 6:11 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SLATYE View Post
The fit-PC3 itself won't work; it's substantially too big for the box he's trying to use.

From what I've read, it's unlikely that manufacturers will do pico-ITX boards based on AMD chips. The pico-ITX stuff tends to be for embedded systems, and AMD just doesn't offer the long support life that manufacturers need there. As an example of Intel's support life, you can still buy 80186, 80386, 80486, Pentium I, Pentium II, Celeron (Pentium II version), and Pentium 4 CPUs brand new from Digikey. AMD can't match that.

We'll certainly see mini-ITX boards based on the AMD chips, but I doubt that the market for consumer-level pico-ITX boards is big enough to justify designing and building them.

I also wish that the Nvidia ION sample was available for sale, but it doesn't look like that'll ever happen.
There are some RS780E based Mini-ITX boards from embedded manufacturers. AMD isn't totally lost but whether or not any manufacturers actually release a product based on the Bobcat remains to be seen. Its the perfect successor to this product though.

Theres also the Intel E6xx series Atoms, while they may be single core, it does have a decent HD video decoding engine via the PowerVR SGX535 video function integrated on-die. There hasn't been a Pico-ITX board with E6xx processor released as yet though, the embedded manufacturers tend to be a slower than consumer oriented manufacturers.
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Old 31st January 2011, 12:39 AM   #14
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have you thought about a atom itx motherboard and a pico itx psu?
would be a little bit bigger ( still like 1L lol or 1.7L ( antec isk 150-64 or 150-300 ) but yeah would be cheaper. little bigger. and more powerful :]

with a pico itx psu. say 80w? could run a 40w if ur just running 1hhd and the atom itx board easy.

but yeah would have like a laptop style power brick.

:] or theirs the antec isk 150- ( 64 or 300.. i know they make a 300 not sure 64 is right lol ) have a inbuilt psu. and pretty dam small

EDIT: how big is the box his trying to use? and my bad didnt read 3rd last pst b4 psting this :P but still how small does it have to be :/
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Old 31st January 2011, 9:29 AM   #15
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Pico is pretty much the biggest it can be. The box hasn't arrived so I don't have internal measurements yet just external.
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