Building an AOpen Mini PC (MP965-D). Suggestions needed.

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Building an AOpen Mini PC (MP965-D). Suggestions needed.

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2008 9:08 am

Hi folks,

In about 3 weeks I'll be building a system based around an AOpen MP965-D. In case you're not familiar with this barebones beauty the website giving the specs and some pics is here: http://minipc.aopen.com/Global/spec.htm.

I like this thing. It's tiny which means I'll be able to take it with me in my bag quite readily. (I already have a laptop but I'd like something with a little more grunt. NB: I won't be gaming on this thing.) It also has a good amount/variety of ports, a good chipset, etc.

Silence isn't an absolute must in this instance at all. However, I'll be using this computer predominantly in Bangkok and therefore considerations of heat are important. The reason I'm waiting 3 weeks before I build it is that I'm holding out for the new Penryn 45 nm CPUs to become available (I currently live in Australia) in the hope that they will:

a) offer greater performance; and
b) run cooler than the current 65 nm Intel mobile CPUs.

I'm weighing up all the mobile CPUs in the 45 nm range (i.e. T9500, T9300, T8300, T8100). Here's Intel's comparison page: http://www.intel.com/products/processor/core2duo/specifications.htm?iid=prod_core2duo+tab_spec.
Do you think that buying a T9500 (which runs at 2.60 GHz) and throttling it down to say 2.20 GHz will improve temperatures (and as a side effect, CPU fan speed) significantly? Or am I best to simply go with the T8100 (which runs at 2.10 GHz) and will presumably be much cheaper?

Furthermore, the T9xxx CPUs have 6 MB of cache whereas the T8xxx CPUs have 'only' 3 MB. What are your thoughts on potential performance differences and power consumption differences depending on the amount of cache on die?

Another question relates to the HDD that I will need to put inside the barebones case. Should I be looking at a 7200 RPM 2.5 inch drive or do you think a 5400 RPM 2.5 inch drive will be sufficient? That is to say, is the difference in speed noticeable? I've never used a 5400 RPM drive before. I don't need a lot of storage space. In some senses, the less the better as I have external drives for my storage needs. The drive in the case will only run the OS and applications. Again, remember that silence isn't the priority here but is seen by me as an added bonus.

I'll be putting in 4 GB of RAM and running either one of the Ubuntu flavours of Linux or Windows XP x64 (a license of which I already have).

Thanks for reading thru' my rather long post. I hope I've made myself clear. Any comments would be highly appreciated.

Thanks,

Pedro.

PS: Is anyone aware of AOpen's plans to release a newer version of this barebones system in the nearish future? I hate buying a machine only to find that a new and better one by the same company is on the market the following week.

Cheers.
Ubuntu 12.04 AMD64: E8200 // P35 // HD 4850 // 4GB
OS X 10.8.x: iMac12,2, MacBook 5,2
pedro
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Re: Building an AOpen Mini PC (MP965-D). Suggestions needed.

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2008 11:22 am

I've been testing almost every laptop CPU from the Celeron M 440 up to the Core 2 Duo X9000 and personally I'd take the T9300.

All Merom based chips come in near identically on peak power consumption, to within 1-2W, while the Penryns come in around 7-8W lower than these. The faster the CPU however the quicker it can return to idle and therefore the better the overall power efficiency.

The T9300 gets you the full 6MiB L2 cache and is only 100MHz slower than the T9500, so should make a bit more sense in terms of performance/$.
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Re: Building an AOpen Mini PC (MP965-D). Suggestions needed.

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2008 4:03 pm

Hmmm... thanks Thorburn. This is what I've been thinking actually.
Ubuntu 12.04 AMD64: E8200 // P35 // HD 4850 // 4GB
OS X 10.8.x: iMac12,2, MacBook 5,2
pedro
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Re: Building an AOpen Mini PC (MP965-D). Suggestions needed.

Postposted on Sat Feb 02, 2008 11:23 pm

I am sure I saw somewhere that while the maximum memory size is 4G, the MP965 will only recognize 2G. Not sure if this just a limitation of the OS (that they presume you will install) or the actual hardware ?

I too am waiting for a penryn, probably just a T8100. Consequently haven't bought any other parts while I wait. But in the meantime, I did buy the AOpen Mini PC already ( because it was my birthday gift from the office and I have to submit a picture with the choosen gift to satisfy the company gift policy ), it looks very cool, all the parts look well made (except for the cheesy plastic lid, not sure I want to open and close it too many times :( ) Anyhow while we all wait for the penryn, any good info you gather along the way is much appreciate here !!
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