Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Enclosures, modding, blowholes, and the power needed to run it all.

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Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:57 am

I have a full height, full footprint Baby-AT (8.5" wide by 13" deep) case I figure could be a good size for a workstation and or medium-high gaming system. It's current components appear to be of standard sizes from when it was originally built (286 era, "BEST" brand, P/N KS-700-A.)

The Baby-AT layout is effectively phased out and quite different than ATX and variants. Fitting it with a new motherboard / mainboard is not readily apparent, however a Mini ITX or a "Shuttle"-style Micro ATX board should fit. Standoffs should be easy enough to add. An issue, though, is that there is no I/O panel hole on the case. I'm not too concerned about blocking off ports, though protruding ones (ala VGA / DVI) could push against the bump-in for expansion cards.

I'm also a bit stumped on a power supply. The case is made for the PSU to have its power socket and power switch face "upward" (i.e. the top of the expansion cards) and held by a wrap-around bracket. That places the PSU above the banks of memory chips, which is about where the CPU socket goes on the ATX-based boards. Between this orientation requirement, suitable dimensions to fit in the case (I might take-out or replace the bracket,) and potential placement above the processor, I'm at a bit of a impasse. I know there are some supplies with corded power sockets, but are more expensive since they are intended for rackmount systems.

Does anyone have experience with updating an old Baby-AT system or similar that could share some suggestions or insights? It would be much appreciated.
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:35 pm

You're going to need to get busy with a Dremel tool because nothing will fit right - AT and ATX just don't line up in so many different ways ;)

If you're really keen on customising this old Baby-AT case to work, then your best bet is to dremel holes into it to make all the ports line up, and potentially cannibalise an old uATX case to get the IO cluster and a few expension slots to line up.
A hot-melt glue-gun is your best friend, too.

If you're not modding the old Baby-AT case for nostalgia, have a look for the Lian Li PC-TU200, it's literally a lunchbox.
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:49 pm

My main reason for choosing this chassis is portability and getting it being freely available (it's just been sitting on a shelf for about two decades.) The nylon cover case is a big plus. Paying US$2700+ for an actual modern lunchbox case is far beyond what I can budget right now.

It's a full-fledged system, with keyboard "cover" and LCD screen, but neither are useable for any current PCs. I'll likely update those pieces later, but for now I'm concentrating on making it a working, modern system. It also is wrapped in a plastic shell, which brings the issue of alignment. That, and the rather thick steel of the actual cage, will make cutting holes quite an ordeal.

Future upgrades and rebuilds are also what I'm hoping for out of this project. I'm not sure how much modification I want to, need to, or should do, but I'd rather keep it minimal if just for the reason of it being easier to remove than to add back material. As I stated earlier, I'm not too concerned about blocking on-board ports; most of them will have redundant headers I can connect to. The graphics port will be handled by a card I'll add, anyways.
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:53 pm

I like messing around with pre-Pentium machines myself, but retrofitting one of those old cases would be a nightmare. Every single aspect of it is just going to be wrong, and require chopping, hacking, and fabricating.

My suggestion would be to get a modern case of equal dimensions, paint it beige, and slap the old front bezel on it. Since there's no way the optical drive will line up, maybe keep a dummy front fascia of a 5.25" floppy in the bay, and use an external solution for your optical needs.
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:14 pm

SonicSilicon wrote:The nylon cover case is a big plus. Paying US$2700+ for an actual modern lunchbox case is far beyond what I can budget right now.

It's a full-fledged system, with keyboard "cover" and LCD screen, but neither are useable for any current PCs. I'll likely update those pieces later, but for now I'm concentrating on making it a working, modern system. It also is wrapped in a plastic shell, which brings the issue of alignment.

Um....what? You lost me at the $2700. I've never seen a case anywhere near that price range, so you must be needing some sort of specialized military type application.

As far as the nylon cover and plastic shell on your old case, I'd need some pictures to completely understand what you're describing.
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:26 pm

SonicSilicon wrote:Paying US$2700+ for an actual modern lunchbox case is far beyond what I can budget right now.

Where did you find those? The Lian Li case that was mentioned above was just closer to $200. Due to the smaller size you are not going to put multiple Titan's/290X in there so I am not sure why you think building a new "lunchbox" size PC is going to cost that much (you thinking of RAID-ing 1TB SSD's in there?).
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:49 pm

Oh, I think I see - it sounds like a portable desktop with an integrated keyboard and screen?

I'm otherwise confused about the $2700. You can get mITX lunchbox cases cheaper than $200 even, but I figured you have some money because retrofitting is usually quite expensive in time, tools and materials and may involve cannibalising a perfectly good ATX case anyway.
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Wed Mar 12, 2014 3:29 pm

For the time and effort in hacking the AT case, it may be far more cost effective and easier to just build and SFF case, get a mini PCIe wifi+BT module (or those tiny USB transceiver) and use a set of Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Or those Logitech nano transceiver thingies with non-BT wireless keyboard and mouse. You can go wired too of course. For the monitor it should be possible to just duct tape the thing onto the chassis?

You have to remember component sizes have come a long way, now the monitor is larger than the computer itself (so does the keyboard footprint wise, unless we are talking tiny keyboards). You can see that by the OEM's releasing all-in-one's which basically stick the computer behind the monitor itself.
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:06 pm

Flying Fox wrote:For the time and effort in hacking the AT case, it may be far more cost effective and easier to just build an SFF case.
I'm with Flying Fox on this one. The last time that I did this with a Dremel rotary cutting tool, pliers, hammer, chisel, metal snips and some swearing, I concluded that it would have been much better to buy a new case.
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Sat Mar 22, 2014 8:21 am

Sorry for the long time between responses. Yes, the case is a " portable desktop" arrangement (I cannot recall reading that description of any system, though) and, eventually, would like to make it fully that way.
For now, making it a working modern computer is all I really need, and I think less work may be needed, specifically avoiding any cutting.

This is a write-up on motherboard formats I have been using as a guide:
http://flylib.com/books/en/4.57.1.40/1/
Comparing Baby-AT and Micro ATX, the standoffs are completely different, but changing them should be within my ability. The more precise dimensions (8.57 by 13.04 inches) broadens my motherboard search, though it definitely will have two slots at the most. I'm looking through manufacturer sites for models, but some companies provide far less information than even retail sites.
Having a few picked out will help in determining if and how a power supply could fit.

By the way, I did eventually find a few pictures of this case, specifically, but they are best described as thumbnails.
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Sat Mar 22, 2014 9:34 am

SonicSilicon wrote:By the way, I did eventually find a few pictures of this case, specifically, but they are best described as thumbnails.

Links please? That can still help us understand what you really want, and see if build is better than buy.
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Sat Mar 22, 2014 2:46 pm

My browser didn't throw any red flag on these links, but I truly have no idea what the Russian page is about. (Maybe a seller listing?)
Unfortunately these are only exterior shots:
http://elektrostal.tinot.ru/curr/kingte ... 23775.html
http://www.abc80.net/Datorerna/PC_Kompa ... ibler.html

Oh, and before anyone asks, yes, those are buckling spring keys.
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Fri May 02, 2014 1:02 pm

(This post may be taking this thread into the realm of system building, but in an attempt not to start yet another dangling thread I am placing it here. If any moderator feels this should be moved / split, I'll understand their discretion.)

Last week my laptop developed severe issues and is not booting. As it is/was my primary system, I have tried my best to diagnose and repair it to no avail. This has brought rebuilding this portable system back to the forefront. At least this way it should be easier, faster, and cheaper for me to fix a potential hardware failure.

Objectives: portability, stability, efficiency, durability
Usage: general use, moderate gaming, photo editing -- possibly video editing and learning how to setup and use virtual machines (mostly for using older utilities and games)

Case is a luggable Baby-AT, model KS-700-A. Interior dimensions : 8.5" wide by 13" deep, full height expansion cards +~20mm above bracket
CPU: Intel Core i7-4770S
Graphics: NVidia GeForce GTX 750Ti
Audio: some external USB solution
16 GiB RAM -- possibly expand to 32 later

It's difficult to pick other parts without settling on a motherboard. Here are three I have found that will physically fit in the case:
  • TYAN S5533GM2NR-LE http://www.tyan.com/Motherboards_S5533_S5533GM2NR-LE
    Mini-ITX with ECC ram support for 16 GiB and PCIe 3.0 16x slot. Unlikely candidate as places I have found selling it seem to only sell to registered companies, and, as such, I have no idea on price.
  • FOXCONN H81MXV-D http://www.foxconnchannel.com/ProductDe ... -us0000611
    Around $55 to $60 US. Small Micro-ATX, seemingly non-ECC up to 16 GiB, unknown PICe version slots, one 16X and one 1X, and unknown SATA III speed. I know it states 8.5 inches wide, but I'm a bit skeptical with the headers past the last slot.
  • SuperMicro X10SLE-F http://www.supermicro.com/products/moth ... 0SLE-F.cfm
    Around $205 to $210 US. 4.6"Wx11.7"D -- a custom board that happens to be within dimensions. 32 GiB ECC, PCIe 3.0 8x slot (not sure how on a C224 chip mobo)
    This is really getting exotic, and I'm hesitant to get a board with connectors I'm not even sure what are used for (at the back end.) Also, it only states specifically it supports 4th generation Core i3 processors, with no mention of i5 or i7.

I really want ECC RAM for the added stability, especially given that the price gap is fairly small at this time. I am ready to accept that there may not be a motherboard that supports ECC, the CPU, and the GPU while fitting inside this case, though.

I would like for this to be entirely passively cooled, but likely will end up with a large, slow fan. Large, weighty heatsinks might be an issue in terms of portability and physically stressing boards.

For a display, I thought a Pixel Qi PQ101WX01 would be nice to go with the portable and low power objectives while being 10.1 inches would fit the front panel :
Datasheet PDF ( http://www.pixelqi.com/yahoo_site_admin ... 201705.pdf )
The issue with that is providing an LVDS signal to run it. DisplayPort is supposed to output LVDS, but at the least I'd need a converter, plus might not find a GTX 750Ti with DP.
If worse comes to worse, I'll just use just an external monitor.

Lastly, undervolting; I would like to do it. Manuals are not so readily found to see if a motherboard does support this, plus, is this possible with an i7-4770S since it's already marked as a low power processor?
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Fri May 02, 2014 1:50 pm

Uh...what about just buying a nice refurbed laptop? Maybe a Panasonic Toughbook or rugged equivalent from another manufacturer? Just a thought.
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Fri May 02, 2014 3:11 pm

A ruggedized system will be at least a few hundred dollars more with less powerful hardware. I've never seen ECC on a laptop, either. There's also the ability to repair, as stated earlier.
I keep forgetting to list a budget, and I'm not exactly sure I have one in mind, but let's say ... $1000 US?

This is mostly investigating possibilities, and I realize I am asking for a good chunk of help, so thank you for you time and patience. I'm trying to put in as much effort as I can, but I do realize that others have experiences and thoughts that are worth reading. The least this thread will do is act as a sounding board and project log.

Now that I'm under the pressure of time, I am more likely to compromise to get a solution out sooner than later, and just upgrade later on. Mini-ITX consumer boards are starting to seem like the best route.
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Mon May 05, 2014 5:24 pm

So, I've hit a brick wall.
I had forgotten that not all Intel CPUs have ECC support. In fact, it seems to only be the Core i5 and i7 lines that have no versions whatsoever. Xeon does, as expected, as do Pentiums. :-| And Celerons. -_- And even the new server-type Atoms (Avoton). O_O
I figure this is forced market segmentation, so I looked over the Xeon line; yeah, there are quad cores, but the current generation have a TDP of 80 (and no graphics to subtract from that) nevermind the expense.

I even looked at the entire current generation of AMD CPUs, and they still look attrocious from performance and efficiency standpoints. It would be a way to get ECC support at a reasonable price, though.

The whole situation has left me not wanting to make any choice and wait for Intel to plug up their pointless hole in selection, which probably won't happen. I really do need to get something, though, so I can stop borrowing a computer; it's just that nothing seems to really fit my expectations for seemingly no real reason.

I really could use some perspectives on this. :-/
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Mon May 05, 2014 8:07 pm

You’re severely overthinking this. First take your hypothetical $1000 dollars and go shopping and see what you can find in a full size laptop. If you put the laptop in a nice case it will survive all kinds of rough treatment. I have 7 year old laptop that has been treated like luggage and it still works. It will become obsolete before it breaks.
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Mon May 05, 2014 8:52 pm

Nope.
I've never had much luck with them.
Plus they're plain old expensive.
I even specced out my last one to last with quality ,low power parts, and it still failed just past the five year point where I wanted seven or eight out of it. And it wasn't inexpensive.
I have given up on that direction, and I believe it's with good reason.

I may be overthinking the exact specifications per some unobtainable "dream machine", but I am through with spending my money in a segment that treats computers as disposable commodities.
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Mon May 05, 2014 8:54 pm

Why do you think you need ECC RAM?
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Mon May 05, 2014 9:17 pm

Hmm... I guess I haven't really thought about it that thoroughly.
The last system I built, ten years ago, is an AMD Athlon II with ECC. It felt a lot more stable than the two Pentium architecture systems I built prior to it. Those tended to generate blue screens of death. With that stated, I think I did get random reboots every so often on the AMD. Having just read up again on ECC RAM, that may have been its fault protection kicking in, though I had always attributed occurrences to power or graphics instability. Also, with the more memory that you throw around, the higher a likelihood of a bit getting flipped. It's not necessarily a huge issue, but it's becoming more of one at an accelerating rate, right?

So, I guess it's a combination of rose-tinted nostalgia with a bit of uncertainty after having two laptops in a row die with no and little warning, respective to chronological order.
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Mon May 05, 2014 9:28 pm

SonicSilicon wrote:I figure this is forced market segmentation, so I looked over the Xeon line; yeah, there are quad cores, but the current generation have a TDP of 80 (and no graphics to subtract from that) nevermind the expense.


First, assuming that TDP is literally accurate (which it's not) what's so bad about 80W in, say a E3-1220V3, versus the 65W in your i7-4770s? It's a 15W difference. Why is that significant? Also, that E3-1220v3 costs $100 less than your 4770s for the same performance and adds ECC support.

Second, I think you're expecting too direct of a correlation between listed TDP and actual wattage. I don't know that Intel is more conservative with their TDP values in the Xeon line, nor that the better Xeon binning gives you better wattage, but neither of those would surprise me. Nevertheless, let's assume those TDP numbers are literal and play it safe: if you're willing to spend $310 on the 3.1GHz i7-4770S, why not spend $290 on the 3.5GHz E3-1245V3 and underclock it?
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Tue May 06, 2014 8:52 am

SonicSilicon wrote: the more memory that you throw around, the higher a likelihood of a bit getting flipped. It's not necessarily a huge issue, but it's becoming more of one at an accelerating rate, right?

There are plenty of people out there (and here on TR) that are running perfectly stable machines with 32GB of non-ECC RAM (run Memtest86(+) after finishing the build to make sure you don't have any bad DIMMs). I just think you're artificially limiting your options based on personal preference rather than hard facts. I don't feel qualified enough to tell you (or educate you) on why/how ECC (server) memory should be used, but I know that having non-ECC (consumer) memory doesn't imply you're going to have an unstable system.
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Tue May 06, 2014 9:37 am

If stability is your main concern, spend a little extra on a high-end motherboard with high end components and extra cooling on the VRM. It wouldn't hurt to get a board that's been out for a while so it can be vetted and thoroughly tested by others. Don't do any overclocking, manually enter all the memory timings at spec, and run an extended Memtest86 test (say, 24hrs+)
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Tue May 06, 2014 10:18 am

How about something like this http://www.directron.com/cap08loopaio.html It is a barebones all in one. You sound like you are taking the computer into a combat zone with your history of broken parts, so I would recomend spending some money a nice carrying case for the whole thing. It should have at least an inch thick of padding on all sides. In my experience blue screen of death crashes are more a function of the windows opperating system itself than the memory. Windows 7 is very stable, it will run months or years without crashing on plain old Dell or HP machines. I don't have any experience with Windows 8, but unless it being used to fly aircraft, a crash or two every now and then should not kill you.

Have you considered buying two different computers? A cheep and rugged laptop/tablet/phablet for the road and a faster deskop for at home? That is what most are using right now. Heck, high quallity phone in a bullet proof case should last you and is good for just about everything you mentioned minus the photo editing.
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Tue May 06, 2014 10:24 am

I love the idea. Post pictures when you do it!
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Thu May 08, 2014 5:54 pm

Taking The Egg's advice, I started looking at consumer/desktop orientated boards.
Much verbiage!
Low info.
Brain hurts.
I think I've spent far to much time scrolling past about how each vendors' specific capacitors will help my system, when all I'm looking for is whether or not components will work on their motherboard.

Anyways...
The gist of what I was getting was that by the time I found a well built consumer board, I'd probably made up the price difference between an i7 and a Xeon with a C226 mobo.
So, here's a tentative list of parts:
ASrock E3C226D2I ($222 inc s/h) http://www.asrockrack.com/general/produ ... E3C226D2I#
8GiB x 2 ... Crucial ($197 kit) http://www.crucial.com/store/partspecs. ... 2472BD160B
or Kingston ($96 each) KVR16LE11/8 (sorry, Kingston's page is a bit weird : http://www.kingston.com/us/memory/searc ... odel=86498 )
Xeon E3-1220v3 ($200) http://ark.intel.com/products/75052/Int ... e-3_10-GHz (everything except graphics and Hyperthreading)

Using a power supply calculator (I forget which) this system, including drives and peripherals, is recommended a 220 watt PSU.

From browsing the web, I was getting these impressions:
Haswell Xeons do a bit better at undervolting than Haswell Core processors.
The ASRock mobo may be eating 10 more watts at idle than their consumer boards with more integrated peripherals. (NewEgg feedback; take it with some skepticism.)
Support for DDR3 DIMMs at 1.35v is not really discussed. I saw one ASUS board that could volt from 1.2 to 1.9 (I think), but never really stated what it supported for RAM. *shrug*
You have to dig for information about USB headers, though manufacturers will gladly tell you about their gold-plated, electrostatic-proof 2.0 that's on the back plate.
When it come slots for PCIe, some companies assume you just know what version it's running. o_O
Power consumption of a motherboard is something that simply is not discussed. *shrug*

EDIT
I forgot a few things, as usual.
EVGA GTX 750 Ti ($150) http://www.evga.com/Products/Product.as ... P4-3751-KR
I might make that the SuperClocked version if the current price break remains in effect.
As for a drive, I'm definitely going with an SSD. I'm looking to spend $100 tops, and I really didn't max out my laptop's 120 GB. I know Intel is tops, but any other suggestion for rock-solid SSD tech?
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Thu May 08, 2014 6:32 pm

I would just like to point out you are paying a considerable premium going with xeon and ECC memory.
With that said if you are going the route of high durablity then the entry-level seagate 600 pro 240gb is a great deal at 119.99 http://www.amazon.com/Seagate-ST240FP00 ... B00DI7AR0A
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Thu May 08, 2014 9:02 pm

I'm still trying to figure out how much of a premium it'd be to go with ECC.
For the motherboard and CPU of relatively equivalent function would be, for non-ECC, a $100-$120 mobo and $300 CPU compared to the ECC route of a $200-$220 mobo and $200 CPU. It's starting to look the only premium would be the price of the ECC RAM itself. However, I am still looking through non-ECC motherboards, and it's taking a lot longer. Compounding this is not every motherboard being directly listed on retailer sites in the motherboard category, so I'm having to manually search for models.
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Thu May 08, 2014 9:46 pm

Well the premium comes down to needing a graphics card or not, an i7 you wouldn't need one were as with a xeon you would. So with no ECC, its $100ish mobo, $300 I7, and $130-140 for 16gb 1600-1833 ram. So what about $200 cheaper roughly.

On a side note that xeon you picked does not appear to have hyper threading and it is also a lga1155 while your mobo is a lga1150. If you don't care about hyper threading you can get a non-k i5 for much less then the i7.

I really don't know what kinda of work you would be doing that you feel ECC is necessary, I have a perfectly stable PC without it, I have even had considerably overclocked systems run non-stop for months with out a BSOD. Really I stopped getting BSOD's back when I switched to vista from XP. I feel ECC is only necessary if you are doing some very time intensive or critical work were a crash would set you back hours or more.
Esproc
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Re: Luggable / lunchbox Baby-AT. Modern board and PSU?

Postposted on Thu May 08, 2014 10:55 pm

At first I thought this was an old post from like... 1999.

But seriously... buy an off-the-shelf (or barebones at least) Steam Box-type machine. There are many models coming soon, and many support ANY OS, not just steam. Samples:

http://gizmodo.com/13-steam-boxes-ranked-1496078448

My favs are the Origin, Digital Storm, alienware, Cyberpower, and ibuypower. Pretty sweet designs :)

What you need to look for is Mini-ITX Tower cases, such as http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductLi ... niITXTower

Lots to choose from.

I personally bought (and modded for improved cooling and silence) an Alienware X51 with an Intel i7 CPU, then upgraded the RAM to 16GB, GPU to a GeForce 660 GTX, and hard drive to an SSD. The whole thing fits in a backpack alongside my MacBook Pro :)
JdL
286DX > Pentium Pro 200 > Athlon 1000 @ 1.4 GHz > Athlon 64 2.2 GHz > Athlon XP 3200+ > Core 2 Duo 3300 @ 4.0 GHz > Core 2 Quad 6600 G0 @ 3.2 > Core i7 3770 @ stock
JdL
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