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Old 5th Nov 2011, 12:29   #1
arcticstoat
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Is the Age of Massive PCs at an End?

In the 15-odd years I've been building my own PCs, all my main systems have invariably been housed in large towers. Whether this was because they needed to accommodate multiple hard disks when I was experimenting with RAID, or to fit water-cooling hardware inside, my cases have got perpetually larger...

http://www.bit-tech.net/blog/2011/11...pcs-at-an-end/
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 12:31   #2
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Will we get to a point where we just don't need the extra power?
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 12:42   #3
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I think they're the present, not the future. Right now nothing is too demanding hardware wise, but once there are new consoles out in 2013/14 PC's will be playing catch up again and it might start becoming harder to play everything maxed out at 1080p.
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 12:47   #4
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I built a rig out of the wonderful Silverstone SG07-B with a OCd i5-750 and a GTX 570, but ultimately I found that while it worked well, it was impossible to make tidy, and didn't allow me to do the one thing I love doing with my PC. Tinkering.
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 13:08   #5
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I have liked the principles of being able to use a mini-itx and to have enough processing power and features for most uses and loved the MSI Mega 180 which provided not only a small form factor with an overall, albeit not perfect design but also enabled you to use the optical drive as a cd player and also the option of a radio when the pc without having to power up the pc itself.

With the multitide of options available for NAS in so many forms having a large beast of a case seems so archaic. Why have a monolith when you can have something far more sublime?

If you really need something more for localised storage have you considered a more modular apparoach? How about putting that tiny Zotac in it's own tiny custom enclosure with just an OS drive and make a matching one for an external hard drive or even modded NAS box to plug in to it for all your extra storage.

One thing I have been considering trying myself is to use the smaller form factor of something like the Zotac and going with a Network Boot option and completely forego localised storage altogether. With a 1Gb wired connection or Wireless N this should prove fast enough for most situations, though I don't know how this would affect more intensive tasks.
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 13:15   #6
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Personally, I like big cases - the larger the better. I don't LAN party, so moving it around isn't an issue, and if the case weighs a couple of hundred pounds with everything inside it... any thief is going to give themselves a hernia trying to steal it.
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 13:21   #7
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I was having the same thoughts as the author recently. I mean, in this web-page and its adjacent forum, there is mainly a community of people that love hardware/software. But the needs of the other users can be basically covered by a laptop or mini-ITX or MATX at most. I mean my parents would never make a difference if there is a big box or small box next to the display or if its just a laptop. They use only skype, browsing, movies and you don't need a water cooled beast for that. Its a topic that deserves more investigating though. I wonder if the time of the "heavy hardware" is really at its end.
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 13:33   #8
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I've built a very good system into a silverstone SG07.
i7-2660k, 8Gb DDR3, Zotac Z68 Mini-ITX WiFi Mainboard,
Zotac N480, 2Tb Hdd (will be donating that to family when the 4Tb's come out), Crucial 512Gb SSD, XP-140 Thermalright heatsink (god it only just fits), Slot loading Bluray Drive, AND I still managed to fit a coolermaster GX750 Psu.... without cutting wires. Now I can go lanning without a forklift. until i move the 27" monitor.
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 13:44   #9
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I've been thinking the same but for different reasons. Hardware is at a point where you can cram a lot of power in a small portable case which not only saves room but opens up the possibility of making a semi-portable system. Yet a large case still has the advantage of being able to cram everything under one roof.
TBH I'm looking at embracing the cloud computing model with 1 large box at home that does the heavy lifting so to speak. That would allow a smaller desktop PC that is focused on the GPU rather than everything having to be brilliant and crammed full of all my disks, tv tuners etc.
I think both are suited to different needs and having the ability to make a small neat PC is a huge advantage and preferable option, its like choosing a people carrier over a citron C1. The citron is preferable since its more efficient, yet I still have the need to carry things on occasions ie. My large box.
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 13:59   #10
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I've started downsizing two or three years ago, when the first Atom-boarss with nVidia ION graphics showed up. These were the first mini ITX boards that packed enough power to build very small and efficient office- and multimedia-PCs. Sure, Shuttle was around well before that, but they were rather expensive.

Witht the introduction of mini ITX boards capable of running "normal" CPUs and PCIe x16 GPUs the possibilities for building a very small gaming-rig not using Shuttle-barebones instantly catched my interest.

I got to say, that I'm not interested in overclocking or Crossfire/SLI. There's no need for that actually, as usual hardware is capable enough of playing games or running graphics-software, etc. Crunching numbers isn't exactly that interesting for me, and for me a PC should be first and foremost as efficient as possible.

What's efficient for me? Well... efficiency for me is based on three things: price vs performance, powerconsumption and size.
This way the most efficient PC has to be cheap, but still capable of running all the tasks you throw at it, while drawing as little power as possible. And the size makes it more efficient, because you need less ressources for the parts (boards, case, etc).

If you look at my sig, you'll notice, that I'm totally down that road allready
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 14:14   #11
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No of course not. A case which you can fit your choice of components comfortably inside.. the more powerful the better. You can choose how environmentally friendly it is.
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 14:34   #12
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Our very own mars-bar-man downsized in Project Shrink: http://forums.bit-tech.net/showthread.php?t=190391.

It is very possible to build a small and powerful rig but as Parge says above, it is very hard to make it tidy.
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 17:08   #13
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making a SFF with a bit of power is easy, but until some one can condense water cooling then big cases will always be around, personally I love them. There's something about a big case with all the hardware showing thats makes it look so dam cool.
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 17:32   #14
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I love my big case and wouldnt be without it, I love big components as well. The ability to make it tidy but also make your PC a feature of your room using LED's and similar is much of the appeal for me.
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 17:35   #15
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Its the constant Display Res v PC power battle, and the display side has stagnated.

The problem at the moment is that 1080p doesn't require high-end, and hence the space or cooling. If more 2k (or better 4k) displays were available, then the PC would be behind the displays, and big cases to fit watercooling and dual/triple gpu's etc would be needed.
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 17:43   #16
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PC taking up half the room? Move into a bigger house!
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 17:49   #17
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Yeah, if 4K resolutions could fit into a monitor we would actually need tri sli 580s
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 17:55   #18
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I think you might want to be a little less extreme. A shoebox is VERY smal, cabinets the size of the Antec Sonata (to which I moved from a Zalman GS 1000 with great result) or similar, can be modded to be really effective and fairly tidy as well. And compared to the rig you describe, it will defintely feel a lot smaller... If you want something smaller than that, get a powerful laptop.

Eventually, though, shoebox size cabinets probably will become standard, as hardware develops.
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 18:30   #19
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Small mobos are getting better, but if you need performance, you need a large gfx card and therefore a large PSU, with enough cooling.
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 19:54   #20
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Yes. You wouldn't want a 1970's colour tv 2 foot deep...
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