Small system with double-slot GPU

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Small system with double-slot GPU

Postposted on Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:28 am

I need to build a new system with two requirements. It needs to be pretty small, and it needs to hold a PCIEx16 double-wide graphics card like the Nvidia 280GTX. Ideally there's a Shuttle design that I could just get, but it seems that the space inside, even for the models with 2 PCIE slots, isn't quite enough for a 280GTX. Or am I wrong? The modern cards are not just double-wide but they're LONG too so it becomes tougher to keep everything inside.

And then finally POWER becomes an issue, since it's unclear if the default Shuttle PSU could handle such a beast.
And ideally I want to put an NVidia 295 in there, not a 280.. [And quadcore is nice but not a requirement...]

The goal of the system is to make a luggable demo supercomputer for developing and showing GPGPU applications.
A gamer laptop could do OK too, but even the highest end laptop could never compare to the full power of system with a 280 or especially 295.

Any suggestions? I can build my own from parts if need be, but then it becomes a game of finding small motherboards, compatible cases, etc.
I really want to be able to bring this on an airplane easily when travelling.

Thanks much for ideas!
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Re: Small system with double-slot GPU

Postposted on Thu Jan 15, 2009 2:12 am

If I was going to attempt this I think I'd use a Silverstone SG03 and then pick an appropriate mATX mobo and PSU. (If you prefer the case-door look there's also the SG-04). There are a few other mfrs that do cases like that -- bigger than a shuttle, smaller than a mini-tower -- but the SGO3 is remarkably light-weight and well-built. They also offer custom CPU coolers to fit.
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Re: Small system with double-slot GPU

Postposted on Thu Jan 15, 2009 3:47 am

What's your budget? I mean, for about $4K you can get an Alienware with RAID-0 7200RPM, 4GB of memory, Intel T9500 2.6Ghz, 17" 1920x1200 LCD, and dual 512MB SLI nVidia 9800M cards.

Are you using a projector or separate monitor, is that part of the budget, etc.?

Obviously, you can build an uber-mini-desktop that is nearly as portable (but nowhere near as convenient and functional) as a laptop, but it really boils down to money, not whether it is possible.
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Re: Small system with double-slot GPU

Postposted on Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:42 am

@Uber.. wow, excellent pointer (from the Man himself!). That's a tiny and restrictive case, but that of course is the fine niche I'm aiming for. The Silverstone site is rather annoying to navigate with Flash everywhere, but it may be that you can use DUAL double-width cards which would be rather incredible. Now I need to dig deeper and learn about PSUs and such too.

@compu: budget is pretty high, since it's for business and it's better to do things right. These days it's rather hard to spend a lot for a PC though.. (Well, sure you could RAID up some Intel SSDs or whatever if you really wanted to boost the pricetag.)


The SECOND box I'm planning to build at the same time is a full size tower. It will use a Foxconn Destroyer with 4 Nvidia 295GTX boards in it, similar to FASTRA http://fastra.ua.ac.be/en/index.html, a machine built last year by another GPGPU research team.

But for this one, my main criteria is "the most powerful box that fits in airplane carry-on and is also one-handed luggable. A shuttle case would be great, but that Silverstone may be give the best flexibility.
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Re: Small system with double-slot GPU

Postposted on Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:01 pm

I'm just asking for trouble.. because I think I'm going to go the matx route, and use this i7 MB when it comes out:
http://vr-zone.com/articles/dfi-lp-jr-x ... l?doc=6299

The crazy idea is to stuff an i7 quadcore and TWO NVidia 295 boards in it.

This thing will be so powerful.. and I mean that not just in FLOPS but also in watts. 4+ Gigaflops, and likely 1 kilowatt.
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Re: Small system with double-slot GPU

Postposted on Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:13 pm

That is one badass little board... and you could shove 12GB of DDR3 on it, because for an mATX board it still has 6 slots- I have two that only have two slots. I think the hardest part, particularly with GTX 295's, is going to be figuring out how to power them. You'll need to be very careful with PSU sizes I would imagine.

*edit: It looks like the optical drive is above the PSU- but the PSU is above the CPU, which is scary. You'll be quite limited by your HSF and thus overclocking options, if that's an issue. Either way, post back when you get the system built, this is interesting!
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Re: Small system with double-slot GPU

Postposted on Fri Jan 16, 2009 9:12 pm

While I am not sure if this is small enough for your uses I would suggest the Thermaltake LANBOX VF1000BWS. If I were going to be lugging around a high performance rig all the time the handle on this case would be a definite plus. The micro ATX i7 board you found and this case would be my selection assuming this thing fits in the overhead carry on. The clear sides might also be useful in getting you through airport security checks?

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Re: Small system with double-slot GPU

Postposted on Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:35 pm

spworley wrote:But for this one, my main criteria is "the most powerful box that fits in airplane carry-on and is also one-handed luggable. A shuttle case would be great, but that Silverstone may be give the best flexibility.
There are some other mATX cases you might want to look at (the Antec Minuet or NSK1380, for example). Cooling and power is going to be tricky with any small case.

But I wouldn't be certain that every airline is going to let you walk on with a tiny tower, even if it is carry-on sized, and the security guys might hold you up for a while too (or make you check it). They understand notebooks; weird boxes full of electronics...not so much.
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Re: Small system with double-slot GPU

Postposted on Mon Jan 19, 2009 12:24 pm

Looks like there's also some new options coming soon:
Shuttle woke up and made some new systems just last week, shown at CES.
One nice one is the i7 based system...
http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Shuttl ... ,6817.html

BUT

they also have a portable workstation, the SDXi Carbon, which supports quad core and a high powered NVidia 295GTX, with PSU to support it.
The heat is indeed a problem, and they have watercooling to deal with it. (!)
http://www.extremetech.com/slideshow_vi ... 00.asp?p=y


-
You're right that TSA checkers don't like mystery boxes. But how else do you travel with a PC? There's NO WAY you would check in a PC inside baggage, no matter how well you packed it, it's going to be trouble.
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Re: Small system with double-slot GPU

Postposted on Mon Jan 19, 2009 12:59 pm

I'm not sure exactly what your idea of small is, but Lian-Li makes a few cases that with unorthodox placement of the PSU that makes them shorter than most cases but still able to support full ATX boards. The ones I could find are the A05, G50, and V600.
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Re: Small system with double-slot GPU

Postposted on Mon Jan 19, 2009 1:21 pm

spworley wrote:You're right that TSA checkers don't like mystery boxes. But how else do you travel with a PC? There's NO WAY you would check in a PC inside baggage, no matter how well you packed it, it's going to be trouble.
The one time I flew with a mini-tower I pulled off the CPU heatsink and all the expansion cards, wrapped them in bubble-wrap and put them inside on a bed of bubblewrap and filled all the remaining space with bubblewrap. Then I put it in a cardboard box with enough space around it to fill with those syrofoam peanuts, and sealed it up. The hard drives I pulled and put into my carry-on. Everything worked when I put it back together on arrival (remember to bring thermal paste for the heatsink). i had a friend do something similar but he put it in his checked bag, surrounded by and stuffed full of clothes (and with the HD in his carry-on). It's possible the HDs in the carryon might freak them out but they have to see things like that every time they scan a laptop.
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Re: Small system with double-slot GPU

Postposted on Mon Jan 19, 2009 2:21 pm

I use a Silverstone TJ-08 to house my ASUS P5-E VM HDMI uATX board with a C2D E8400 @ 3.6 GHz, a Thermalright Ultima-90 cooler and a Radeon 4850 with an Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 passive cooler and 8 GB of DDR2-1000 RAM. It still has space for a Xonar DX audio card and 5 TB of hard disk space.

Of course, it's bigger than a Sugo, so is not so luggable-friendly.

But if you're looking for a compact, powerful system, something like it or the Antec mini P-180 will accomodate full size coolers.
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Re: Small system with double-slot GPU

Postposted on Wed Feb 04, 2009 12:46 am

I've gotten my Shuttle through domestic airport security several times. I just take it out of the bag and put it in a bin to go thru the x-ray. Never had any problems.
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