Pico-ITX motherboard battle

Discussion in 'Portable & Small Form Factor' started by Unframed, Jan 29, 2011.

  1. Unframed

    Unframed Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2010
    Messages:
    8,532
    Location:
    Hella south west
    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?
     
  2. SLATYE

    SLATYE SLATYE, not SLAYTE

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2002
    Messages:
    26,799
    Location:
    Canberra
    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).
     
  3. stmok

    stmok Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2001
    Messages:
    8,878
    Location:
    Sydney
    You haven't said anything about how you're going to use this Pico-ITX solution? :confused:
    => Video playback? Kiosk? Car-PC?
     
  4. Unframed

    Unframed Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2010
    Messages:
    8,532
    Location:
    Hella south west
    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.
     
  5. SLATYE

    SLATYE SLATYE, not SLAYTE

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2002
    Messages:
    26,799
    Location:
    Canberra
    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.
     
  6. Unframed

    Unframed Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2010
    Messages:
    8,532
    Location:
    Hella south west
    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.
     
  7. SLATYE

    SLATYE SLATYE, not SLAYTE

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2002
    Messages:
    26,799
    Location:
    Canberra
    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.
     
  8. Unframed

    Unframed Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2010
    Messages:
    8,532
    Location:
    Hella south west
    A laptop style is fine, I just didn't want a typical PSU hanging out the ass.
     
  9. SLATYE

    SLATYE SLATYE, not SLAYTE

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2002
    Messages:
    26,799
    Location:
    Canberra
    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.
     
  10. akromatic

    akromatic Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2008
    Messages:
    408
    probly not, fit-pc is launching a new AMD version based on bobcat

    http://www.gizmag.com/compulab-announces-fitpc3-with-amd-processor/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
     
  11. SLATYE

    SLATYE SLATYE, not SLAYTE

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2002
    Messages:
    26,799
    Location:
    Canberra
    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.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011
  12. Unframed

    Unframed Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2010
    Messages:
    8,532
    Location:
    Hella south west
    Well I've asked the Aus distro for the LP-170 about prices and such. If that goes well that may be my solution.
     
  13. yujen

    yujen Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2001
    Messages:
    628
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    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.
     
  14. Liighthead

    Liighthead New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2010
    Messages:
    212
    Location:
    Melbourne
    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 :/
     
  15. Unframed

    Unframed Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2010
    Messages:
    8,532
    Location:
    Hella south west
    Pico is pretty much the biggest it can be. The box hasn't arrived so I don't have internal measurements yet just external.
     
  16. Unframed

    Unframed Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2010
    Messages:
    8,532
    Location:
    Hella south west
    Cigar box arrived today and wonderfully the internal measurements are 160mm x 95mm so that means the LP170 should have a n easy fit with space for the other internals. Is $370 posted about the going rate on the LP170?
     
  17. yogev_ezra

    yogev_ezra Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2010
    Messages:
    36
    Location:
    Israel
    Compulab's Fit-PC3 is using the embedded AMD CPU version, which means it will be available for at least 5 years. Compulab is an embedded-only manufacturer much like Axiomtek, Commell etc., so no way they are releasing something short lived. Unfortunately for you, their Fit-PC3 is 16x16 cm which means it will not fit in your cigar box. Also it will be only available in June - probably too much waiting for you :paranoid:

    If you plan to settle on LP-170C, you may wish to wait 2-3 weeks before you purchase it, as a review is planned on a major website very soon. I have sent them the board, some mini PCIe card and a custom fanless aluminum case designed by me. Can't disclose the site name unfortunately, but I promise to give the link here as soon as the review goes live.
     
  18. Unframed

    Unframed Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2010
    Messages:
    8,532
    Location:
    Hella south west
    Wonderful, I won't be purchasing the board for around 6 weeks (it isn't too high of a priority) so this review should work out well, I look forward to it.
     
  19. yogev_ezra

    yogev_ezra Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2010
    Messages:
    36
    Location:
    Israel
    I haven't forgotten you, but I was just notified by the website editor that the review will not be ready before end of February. :( Will come back with update once it's finally published.
     
  20. Unframed

    Unframed Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2010
    Messages:
    8,532
    Location:
    Hella south west
    Good to hear, I still haven't got the money together so I'm still super keen.
     

Share This Page