Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

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Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:34 am

Don't want to get into the whole Mac/PC thing, but I was looking at the new Mac Pro specifications and they are able to put an Xeon E5 and 2 AMD FirePro GPUs into a canister 6.6 inches in diameter and 7.5 inches high.

I'm looking at my mini-ITX Lian Li system PC-Q07 with an i3 and a Radeon 7750.The GPU has started to overheat when playing planetside 2 so I've currently got the side panel off and a fan blowing into it. It's dimension are 7.5 inches in WxD and 11 in high. (And yes it does have a full size DVD player so subtract for that)

Now I realize Apple started with a clean slate and is using proprietary boards and everything. But couldn't the PC world create something similar using existing parts or exiting standards?

I guess I'm basically asking is what would it take for the PC world to make an approximately powerful machine in the approximate form factor? Minus the bling, histrionics, and expense of Apple products. Maybe they already exist in the professional/server world? I'm approaching this from a enthusiast/consumer angle.
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:46 am

Steam Machines.

SFF machines were already on the rise, but having a package designed using (mostly) off the shelf PC parts is going to drive the demand even higher and (hopefully) in a good way. The biggest issue I see is getting a 90 degree angle on the motherboard for the PCIe slots. The beta machines achieve this on a mITX board with a riser, as seen in this teardown, but my hope is that it will drive a new motherboard standard based on mATX to allow for the inclusion of a sound card. Although it might make more sense for an external DAC, but an extra PCIe slot could be good for WiFi, too.

Basically, there needs to be a demand for chassis that can make better use of the volume, and therefore take up less space using existing components.
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:18 pm

An MSI GTX 760 ITX could really spice up your life if you're willing to mod your PC-Q07. I don't see anything smaller than mITX mobos being a useful standard for a high-powered GPU in the near future. Right there, you're in a (roughly) 6" x 6" profile + 1 expansion slot for a dual slot card. These new SFF GPU's like the linked MSI GTX 760 or the pioneer Asus GTX 670 do help to minimize space by not extending past the edge of a mITX mobo.

Next we just have to shrink the other elephant in the room...PSUs. TFX PSUs are great (I own one) but they don't get much attention from reputable PSU OR case manufacturers. You could just about fit a TFX PSU +1 3.5" hdd or 2 - 2.5" hdds in the space that an ATX PSU takes up.
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 1:04 pm

tl;dr: I think we're at a tipping point in the quest for a svelte upgradeable powerhouse, and standards are in the way.

I think the Steam Box and similarly laid out systems are roughly the best power:size ratio we'll see this year. Any smaller and we start having backward compatibility issues with components.

The main problem in making everything smaller is standards, unfortunately. It's easiest to make your own proprietary format, but no one will do that (except Apple, and we know how many gaming-purpose systems Apple makes). Everything is just physically huge right now: Power supplies and their 20-24pin ATX connections are objectively massive in comparison to mITX boards. 5.25" drives are massive, and even 3.5" drives are unwieldy in the face of [the more expensive] mSATA or NGFF SSDs.

As much as I dislike Apple, I do of hope we move towards some sort of form factor similar to the Mac Pro: smaller boards, external or smaller power supplies <=500W (good enough for the beefiest single GPU system or a midrange dual GPU system), etc. We saw something along the same lines in the Piston Xi3, except it was too small/expensive/weak for fulltime gaming machines. But to keep upgrading, we're going to need a new set of standards. The ATX group should really get together and format the future.
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 1:25 pm

Duct Tape Dude wrote:Any smaller and we start having backward compatibility issues with components...But to keep upgrading, we're going to need a new set of standards

Exactly. The problem is the slowing of software requirements. Heck, a 2006-era PC is still fairly adept at handling office-type computing tasks, so why replace it? And manufacturers are going to resist having to make hardware for multiple standards (they do already) because it leaves the potential for hardware sitting on shelves. Not saying new standards won't be created, but they'll be slow to gain footing.


Addional comment: I like the prospect of AIO computers if we could get external GPUs to take off. THAT'S probably our best hope for easily minimizing size in the short-term. If there were an external GPU enclosure with an integrated power supply, it wouldn't be a stretch to say you could build a dual-GPU system using hardware that's readily available today in roughly the same size as a Mac-Pro at a fraction of the cost. Heck, if you used the aforementioned TFX PSU inside the external GPU enclosure, you still might be able to hold that general size.
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 1:49 pm

Cooling is a big stumbling block when it comes to powerful systems. Right now every CPU, GPU and PSU has its own cooler and this takes up a tremendous amount of space. Apple is using one cooling system for everything and this contributes to a much smaller footprint.

PCIe slots are another big waste of space. PCIe expansion via Thunderbolt 2 is a better way to go.

Ideally there would be a new modular motherboard standard that would allow for Mac Pro like systems to appear in the PC space.
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:26 pm

The new Mac Pro is a neat concept, but unnecessary. Apple would probably sue any company who tried to copy their cooling design anyway, assuming it's patented. Every piece of hardware in the new Mac Pro is making the same amount of heat as a desktop PC would. It is just their stylish way of cooling it. I can imagine mac nerd vs. pc nerd arguments now. Mac Guy says, "Nhe hne, *snort*. Oh yeah, well Mac is better cause it uses a workstation processor AND looks kind of like Darth Vader." PC guy says, "Oh yeah, well PC is better cause it has more stuff to cool it down and it doesn't need to be pretty cause your looking at the screen most of the time anyway. Neh heh *snort snort*" Mac Guy says, "Oh yeah, well Mac doesn't get viruses." PC guy says, "Oh yeah, well Linux is free and it doesn't either, so there." Mac Guy says, " Oh yeah, well I have pictures of your mom on my Mac." PC Guy says, "Oh yeah, well your sister is my wife, and I don't need porn on my computer." Booyah! lol.
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:03 pm

confusedpenguin wrote:The new Mac Pro is a neat concept, but unnecessary.

Totally unnecessary. :roll:
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:04 pm

confusedpenguin wrote:The new Mac Pro is a neat concept, but unnecessary. Apple would probably sue any company who tried to copy their cooling design anyway, assuming it's patented. Every piece of hardware in the new Mac Pro is making the same amount of heat as a desktop PC would. It is just their stylish way of cooling it. I can imagine mac nerd vs. pc nerd arguments now. Mac Guy says, "Nhe hne, *snort*. Oh yeah, well Mac is better cause it uses a workstation processor AND looks kind of like Darth Vader." PC guy says, "Oh yeah, well PC is better cause it has more stuff to cool it down and it doesn't need to be pretty cause your looking at the screen most of the time anyway. Neh heh *snort snort*" Mac Guy says, "Oh yeah, well Mac doesn't get viruses." PC guy says, "Oh yeah, well Linux is free and it doesn't either, so there." Mac Guy says, " Oh yeah, well I have pictures of your mom on my Mac." PC Guy says, "Oh yeah, well your sister is my wife, and I don't need porn on my computer." Booyah! lol.


Well that escalated quickly. :D
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:10 pm

You don't deserve it.
You always bitch and moan about any innovation, that it's expensive and incompatible.
You want cheap, modular and compatible and that's exactly what you get.

Steam boxes may venture into more novel designs and leave these ridiculous standards behind, but there's hardly any reason to hope it will happen very soon.
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:12 pm

I think the new Mac Pro is neat, but not $3k to $9k (depending on configuration) worth of neat. Next time I build, it'll probably be an mITX system, but not until long after Broadwell. I'll probably upgrade my GPU at some point but for now my 3570K is fast enough and I don't have such a dire need to save space.

I'd like a Steam box-type build with the parallel layout for the GPU, but I'd also have to go with mostly external storage to make that happen.
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:49 pm

I'm keeping my 24" tower from last century. Lots of room for whatever I might want to stuff in it, it's had 4 computers in it already. Fits under my desk.
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 7:31 pm

I'm still suggesting the 21.6-liter micro-ATX Grandia GD05 for a living room gaming PC. It's the same size as a home theater receiver (so it fits into your component stack), and it has room for a no-compromises gaming PC build.

Once you drop below the power of a full-height graphics card, you're getting pretty close to Iris Pro territory for something like the 0.72-liter Gigabyte Brix.
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 7:48 pm

PenGun wrote:I'm keeping my 24" tower from last century. Lots of room for whatever I might want to stuff in it, it's had 4 computers in it already. Fits under my desk.

Yup, "fits under the desk" is my requirement as well. Those old Chieftec full towers are sturdy enough to use as furniture!
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:02 pm

just brew it! wrote:
PenGun wrote:I'm keeping my 24" tower from last century. Lots of room for whatever I might want to stuff in it, it's had 4 computers in it already. Fits under my desk.

Yup, "fits under the desk" is my requirement as well. Those old Chieftec full towers are sturdy enough to use as furniture!

I painted mine red with car paint, looks spiffy.
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:09 pm

Milo Burke wrote:
confusedpenguin wrote:The new Mac Pro is a neat concept, but unnecessary. Apple would probably sue any company who tried to copy their cooling design anyway, assuming it's patented. Every piece of hardware in the new Mac Pro is making the same amount of heat as a desktop PC would. It is just their stylish way of cooling it. I can imagine mac nerd vs. pc nerd arguments now. Mac Guy says, "Nhe hne, *snort*. Oh yeah, well Mac is better cause it uses a workstation processor AND looks kind of like Darth Vader." PC guy says, "Oh yeah, well PC is better cause it has more stuff to cool it down and it doesn't need to be pretty cause your looking at the screen most of the time anyway. Neh heh *snort snort*" Mac Guy says, "Oh yeah, well Mac doesn't get viruses." PC guy says, "Oh yeah, well Linux is free and it doesn't either, so there." Mac Guy says, " Oh yeah, well I have pictures of your mom on my Mac." PC Guy says, "Oh yeah, well your sister is my wife, and I don't need porn on my computer." Booyah! lol.


Well that escalated quickly. :D


I've seen people who are passionate about a brand get pretty defensive real quick. I was once at staples, and mentioned to a staples employee that I thought macs were overpriced compared to a pc with similar specs. He looked at me like he wanted to choke me.
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:20 pm

confusedpenguin wrote:I've seen people who are passionate about a brand get pretty defensive real quick. I was once at staples, and mentioned to a staples employee that I thought macs were overpriced compared to a pc with similar specs. He looked at me like he wanted to choke me.


Had an Apple customer that freaked out, turning bright red, while complaining to a coworker after I told him that the reason his iMac needed laptop memory was because it was a laptop with a CRT bolted on :).

I still don't know why he was offended...
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:26 pm

confusedpenguin wrote:I was once at staples, and mentioned to a staples employee that I thought macs were overpriced compared to a pc with similar specs. He looked at me like he wanted to choke me.

I'm not surprised. When you want to use that 30 year old gem you might as well just move along without saying a word. That way of thinking just highlights the fact that you don't get it. No harm in that. Stick to what you know.
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:29 pm

Airmantharp wrote:I still don't know why he was offended...

I'm sure it wasn't because of the way you said it.
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:53 pm

Image
End User wrote:
Airmantharp wrote:I still don't know why he was offended...

I'm sure it wasn't because of the way you said it.


People are just weird like that. Some deep hidden issue. You never know if you might say something that will set someone off. PC users have issues. Mac users have issues. Everyone has issues. The better person will always take it in stride if they get offended though. Mac or PC, in the end it really isn't important. :)
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:11 am

End User wrote:
Airmantharp wrote:I still don't know why he was offended...

I'm sure it wasn't because of the way you said it.


Couldn't have been that :D

I was actually pretty taken aback at his response. I pulled up the memory it needed, showed it to the guy, and he asked why it needed that kind of memory, so I told him. He went off after that!
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 8:41 am

WhatMeWorry wrote:Don't want to get into the whole Mac/PC thing
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 1:53 pm

End User wrote:
confusedpenguin wrote:I was once at staples, and mentioned to a staples employee that I thought macs were overpriced compared to a pc with similar specs. He looked at me like he wanted to choke me.

I'm not surprised. When you want to use that 30 year old gem you might as well just move along without saying a word. That way of thinking just highlights the fact that you don't get it. No harm in that. Stick to what you know.

Don't get what?
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:39 pm

PenGun wrote:
End User wrote:
confusedpenguin wrote:I was once at staples, and mentioned to a staples employee that I thought macs were overpriced compared to a pc with similar specs. He looked at me like he wanted to choke me.

I'm not surprised. When you want to use that 30 year old gem you might as well just move along without saying a word. That way of thinking just highlights the fact that you don't get it. No harm in that. Stick to what you know.

Don't get what?


Don't you love that type of condescension?

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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:41 pm

Jonsey wrote:Don't you love that type of condescension?

"My brand is superior to your brand, and if you ask me to enumerate the reasons why, I won't bother because the lofty reasons are beyond your meager skills of comprehension."

I'm not even sure whose condescension you were referring to here... maybe all of the above? :lol:
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 4:30 pm

PenGun wrote:
End User wrote:
confusedpenguin wrote:I was once at staples, and mentioned to a staples employee that I thought macs were overpriced compared to a pc with similar specs. He looked at me like he wanted to choke me.

I'm not surprised. When you want to use that 30 year old gem you might as well just move along without saying a word. That way of thinking just highlights the fact that you don't get it. No harm in that. Stick to what you know.

Don't get what?

If you understand the following then you get where I am coming from:

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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:40 pm

ROTFLMFAO
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 8:34 pm

just brew it! wrote: Those old Chieftec full towers are sturdy enough to use as furniture!
I thought of you, jbi! and your strange attachment to them, when I carried two of those ancient Antec Performance Series (SX1030B and SX830) cases to the curb this week.

The newer and better cases that my family is using now include:
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 8:52 pm

Blasphemy! Thou shalt not discard perfectly usable hardware! :wink:
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Re: Are we going to see much smaller more powerful systems?

Postposted on Fri Jan 03, 2014 9:07 pm

They actually housed a pair of functioning socket-A Barton systems (Athlon XP 2400+ on an Asus A7N8X-E Deluxe and Mobile Athlon XP-M 2500+ on an EPoX EP-8VTAI+), each with 2 GiB of PC3200 memory. The EPoX motherboard was the last and greatest socket-A motherboard released, but I should've abandoned socket-A and moved on to socket-939 as Socket-A was obsolete even then. That gear is just too old and slow to be useful these days.
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