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Blogs Should size be the new battleground in the motherboard market?

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by brumgrunt, 8 Jun 2012.

  1. CrapBag

    CrapBag Well-Known Member

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    I still have one of these boards, it's my back up board in case any of my kids gear goes down the pan.

    My kids both have AM3 boards though (GD70 and C45) which are both great boards so it would be a step down if they had to use it.

    Size isn't evrything though, personally I prefer a full size board and roomy case.

     
  2. mi1ez

    mi1ez Active Member

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    I'm looking at M-ITX for my next build with a custom case so it can be as small as possible as I may be moving to Australia in the next year. Much easier to ship!
    I'm also looking at making a much cooler custom case for the same machine, but that's another story...
     
  3. shuffle

    shuffle New Member

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    Bit Tech, this article is worrying. Do you really worry that a PC case is too big? Or shall we have it pocket size, like a smart phone? C'mon.
     
  4. dunx

    dunx ITX is where it's at !

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    See the Asus mITX board in the article... all we need is for the TDP to decrease another "tock" and we are close. Add some serious on-board GPU hardware and leave the slot for RAID or audio use ?

    Given that most cases are way larger, I'd prefer mITX to expand to allow for some added features...
    my Fractal Array case could hold a three slot GPU if the PSU was swapped for a 450W SFF unit.

    dunx

    P.S. I'm one "gen" behind - Zotac H55N-wifi + i7 870 + 8 Gb DDR3 + Intel X-25 SSD + 1Tb HDD
     
  5. faxiij

    faxiij Member

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    your picture example proves my case/concern: not only itx, but also the m-atx formfactor rarely exceed 1 expansion slot.

    it is a problem i often observe with MANY regular mainboards - they might have 7 slots, but often you can only use half or less then half of those due to the configuration.

    the best example is just considering a dual-gpu (as in real sli, two physical cards or more), which very often renders you unable to use 2 expansion cards like audio, tv oder network, sometimes even just one.

    sure you can use these flexslot-thingies that extend slots via cable (extenders i think theyre called), but that is just too much trouble for the task if you ask me.

    i embrace progression towards more compact technology, however i would much rather see innovation in new layouts that allow more efficient use of slots. hell, if you ask me i would welcome a new formfactor. for example high and narrow boards. just align cpu, memslots, expansion slots etc. in one row.

    sure this is problematic because it would require a whole industry to adapt which is costly, but it would allow for more differentation, customisation, better cooling solutions and more volume-efficient desktop systems (imagine, the "slim" office pc systems become the new desktop-systems, just not as fat..)

    well, i can hope. and i will pray. remains to be seen if thats worth anythign though
     
  6. stoff3r

    stoff3r New Member

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    This comes from an pro-atx gamer:

    How would one cope with not having pci-slots?
    Lets say i Opt for a Asus Gene mATX, would an geforce gtx 580 fit on it?
    What downsides are there to not having 10-phase VRM for a gamer?
    How would one connect everything neatly if, even on an atx board in a midi-tower like carbide 400r, is allready maxed out regarding space and slots for everything....

    Sorry for all the dumb questions, but i can't imagine how anyone could do with less space, building must be hell?
     
  7. Elton

    Elton Officially a Whisky Nerd

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    Truth be told, less is more. I have a sound card and a GPU. That's it. Most of the VRMs are either not used or extraneous. I honestly don't think we need more than 4 slot (well unless you have a folding farm, but that's why the Asus WS series exists. :D )boards. In fact a GTX 580 would fit perfectly in a mATX board and in some cases as well.

    That aside, I don't think size should matter but what features are given. For example, vdroop and voltage regulation still has a ways to go as even on some expensive boards, there's some significant amount of vdroop. That should be eliminated as much as possible. Feature wise, I think it's time to be able to grab some add on sound cards...sure someone can figure out a way for a dedicated sound card slot? Because that realtek stuff just isn't up to scratch. (Neither is Creative's X-Fi).

    At any rate, while it is awesome to have so much power in a small form factor, sometimes cooling constraints hinder this progress.. Which brings me to this: why can't desktop users buy laptop chips?
     
  8. B3CK

    B3CK New Member

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    Personally, I have seen hp shipping these small mobos inside of med size desktop cases as of late. I work at a pc repair shop, that sees everything from custom water cooled setups to all-in-ones, to server racks.
    All this discussion got me to day dreaming, small mobos, with optical linked component add-in ports. Forget pci-e slots, ram slots, or large on board connectors. Just a simple mobo with CPU and X optical ports that can handle the bandwidth of ram, gpu, hd, etcetera. Sold by how many optical ports are mounted, chipset, and bus speed. Optical port can be measured by how many multi-plex channels and daisy chains they provide. Psu should be separate, as a workstation will not need to change drastically, but a gaming, power user would change/upgrade frequently; as well as the second most failure proned part. (statistically from our records the hd is number 1. Using hd diagnostic utilities via mfg of hd, and multimeter testing of Psu.)
    Let add-on parts get mounted to case via rail or sled system, and power and data cable attached, done.
    Just day dreaming here, and only spent a couple minutes thinking, but I do love the idea of a modular setup that isn't as restrictive of current mobo scheme of today.
     
  9. ChromeX

    ChromeX New Member

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    That's an awful idea. As Hopelessness stated it would be DLC for motherboards. But more than that, from an engineering perspective the complexity of making a multi-layered pcb motherboard, would make it an impossible task. Even if it were possible to add bolt-ons in the way you describe, the performance would be so bad no one would want to buy it. Things like pci-e lanes and data buses for memory have to be built in from the start, that's just the way it is i'm afraid.
     
  10. jon

    jon Chief Phrenologist

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    Why not exchange pci lanes (not all of them mind you) with thunderbolt and manage extensions that way?
     
  11. Cei

    Cei pew pew pew

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    A GTX 580 fits fine on a Gene board, after all it's designed to the PCIe specifications. The only thing to pay attention to is the case, and whether long cards will fit.

    My current set up has the Maximus V, a 580 in the first x16 slot, Xonar DX in the second x16 slot and the bottom x4 reserved for the upcoming Thunderbolt EX expansion card. I don't need anything else in terms of PCIe cards, as I have no intention of running SLI, and this all means I can have a much smaller case.

    Working on the system can be tricky at times, due to cramped space, but on the whole everything works out fine.
     
  12. ArthurB

    ArthurB New Member

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    How come Mini-DTX motherboards didn't get a mention? They would be a perfect size for a lot of people, since you would get a board not that much bigger than mini-ITX, but still have two PCIe slots (assuming Thunderbolt was included as standard on the rear I/O panel). It's a shame Intel do not make any. :-(

    Speaking of which when is the size of the rear I/O panel going to get reduced? Most ports would fit in half the space e.g.

    4 x USB 3.0
    2 x USB 2.0
    2 x Mini-DisplayPort
    1 x Thunderbolt
    1 x RJ45
    1 x SPDIF / TOSLink
     
  13. dunx

    dunx ITX is where it's at !

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    Add wi-fi HDMI and your sorted !

    dunx
     
  14. r3loaded

    r3loaded Well-Known Member

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    What exactly is wrong with Realtek audio chips? They work fine for me with no issues...
     
  15. Star*Dagger

    Star*Dagger New Member

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    Maybe the Picos would work fine with the anemic PSUs you guys started recommending again ;)
     
  16. mi1ez

    mi1ez Active Member

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    What's wrong with them you stated in your own post. They "work fine". Many people are after a sound stage that sounds better than fine, and Realtek's solution just doesn't cut it.
     
  17. jrs77

    jrs77 Well-Known Member

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    My onboard-audio (aswell Realtek) does a good job for voicecomms, or watching things on youtube etc, but for listening to lossless audio it's not really that great. There's allways some white noise.
    This might be a problem of either the soundchip itself or a problem with the connections on the I/O, but it's noticable. Especially when you plug in a good pair of open AKG or Sennheiser headphones.
     
  18. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    We still do them! And they are still called Deluxe and Premium! ;)

    jrs77 - Sound chip quality is down to a dozen different issues:

    Low cost, high compatibility sound chip with a max SNR of about 110dB

    Then throw in:
    Crosstalk between analogue and digital areas
    Shared power and grounding
    EMI from other components

    All this gives you a real SNR of sub-100, sometimes sub 90. There simply isn't the PCB space to do proper sound card level quality so you can forget about it on mini-ITX! If they develop a daughterboard like DFI's old ~2003-2005 Karajan audio (http://www.legitreviews.com/images/reviews/266/Karajan_Audio_rear.jpg) it could work a little better, but it still needs EMI shielding and a dedicated, clean power source. But in limited space the ROI is very low to go to the extra effort, unless it's very highly demanded by users and media.

    ArthurB - DTX was an open standard proposed by AMD in 2007, so Intel will never use it. Plus, like BTX, it never really caught on. The ATX market is so ingrained.

    Another answer to the question: Why all the same colour?
    Because people demand it. Black Black Black Black Black Black Black Black Black aaaaand something complementary - usually red or blue is masculine enough. You can't do white or silver because the PCB gets dirty on the production line and the camera can't see where to put the surface mount ICs as there's not enough contrast. Green is still the best colour for it, which is why all server and industrial boards are still green.

    Obsession with ATX? Or a sales driven factor?
    We launched the Maximus V GENE first this time. ROG has never put a mATX board out before ATX before. Reception has been very good (thanks for the award :D), yet we get a LOT of people demanding the Formula or ATX versions. It's a psychological perception that smaller = inferior, to many people still. Plus ROGers almost always do multi-GPU. Even if your most recent buyers guide you had comments about 'why do you always suggest mATX?'.

    Price war?
    I disagree with you Paul that price is the only way to differentiate. Quality and brand (whatever you prefer) still go some way to swaying people's perceptions. A board has to last 2-3 years flawlessly - even longer if you bought X58 - so why not think about what is going to last? If we have enough power from a K series CPU now (or last year!), surely buying a better board with more features to last the longer gap to your next upgrade is worth it? Otherwise you end up having to buy a new CPU because of a likely socket change half way down the road, which costs more.

    In the short term if companies compete on price, how do they reduce the cost? They leave out components or they use crapper ones. Is that 40/50/60 quid board worth it? You may have paid the same price 3/4/5 years ago but if materials cost has also gone up 40% (you've seen news reports about increased copper and PCB prices) you get less board for your money now (that's also ignoring inflation).

    In the long term price competitiveness is great for the consumer - at least we don't suffer a monopoly market!, but as soon as you start overly focusing on price in a market where a few manuf. are already struggling you end up REDUCING competition quicker, which is worse for the consumer in the long run. In the graphics market price competition between 2-3 large players in a big enough market is good, but GPU makers are different because they design the inherent technologies. Motherboard makers just apply a platform created by someone else. Plus, there are still 6/7 significant producers in the motherboard markets (more in China, less in Europe). You cannot invest in innovation AND cut the price of your products. It's mutually exclusive and an unfortunately truth.

    You say the P8Z77-I Deluxe looks great - huge thanks! - but how many people are willing to buy it here? I see a lot of H61s get thrown about in the build guides for example (not a complaint, just an observation). People often see mini-ITX and think 'small=costs less'. Because minaturization (increasing PCB layers from 4 to 6 or 8 adds a big chunk of change) and custom design (working around EMI, assuring stability) actually always costs more.

    Overall I will express that everything is driven by sales, regardless of company. Forum posts and media perk interest, but don't necessarily convert to sales. However, if medium-to-premium mini-ITX does sell NOW, you will absolutely see manufacturers cater to it more positively in the next generation.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 11 Jun 2012
  19. jrs77

    jrs77 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, that's for sure not an easy task to solve the onboard-audio with all the quirks there Bindi and the reason for me not to use my PC as audio-device, when I just want to listen to music.
    Still, it has to be possible to make it better then what we've got currently :geek:
     
  20. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    Sorry for the advert, but this is what they do on GENE/Formula ROG boards:

    http://rog.asus.com/91382012/labels/rog-exclusive/what-is-supremefx-iii/

    If someone wants to test it you should get close to 110dB SNR. The ROG guys claim the white paper for the codec is about 110-111. Beyond this you need to get a pro-audio card or external device and output via S/PDIF or LPCM. Unfortunately you'll never get 2.5" connectors on a motherboard, 3.5mm is never considered pro audio and afaik S/PDIF's maximum is ~AC3 level.
     
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