Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

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Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Wed Oct 03, 2012 9:47 am

Well, my existing machine is a loud power hog and it's time to slim down.

I recently built a micro ATX system for work, and it is a quiet, cool, yet speedy little beast. I'm considering an identical system for myself.
However my geeky senses are tingling for a mini-ITX system.

What I'm really conscious of this time around is power efficiency. I doubt there's much difference between the 2 options and I know that putting the machine to sleep and configuring a nice power scheme is really the best thing to do, but, well, there's some food for thought.

I do music composition (i've an external firewire recording interface - and need a buttload of RAM), game development (just need generally good performance for this), graphic & web design (photoshop - so maybe option for dedicated gfx a bit later), and general facebooking of course.

Mini-ITX
Silverstone ST45SF-G 450W SFX Power Supply (GOLD certified)
Core i7 3770 CPU
Intel DH77DF Motherboard
Corsair Vengeance 16GB (2x8GB) 1.5v 1600Mhz DDR3 RAM
Samsung 830 128GB SSD
Silverstone FT03B-MINI Black Mini-ITX Case
Total Cost: $918

Micro-ATX
Antec 550W EA-550 Platinum Power Supply
Core i7 3770 CPU
Gigabyte GA-Z77M-D3H-MVP Motherboard
Corsair Vengeance 16GB (4x4GB) 1.5v 1600MHz DDR3 RAM
Samsung 830 128GB SSD
Silverstone TJ08E Case
Total Cost: $856

Firstly, do any of you see any problems with these options? I can vouch for the performance of the Micro-ATX option having built a system just like this already (although with an Antec Green PSU instead of the platinum PSU). The Mini-ITX is similar except for the case, mobo, and PSU. The RAM is the same but in a 2x8GB config instead of 4x4GB.

Secondly, is there much power efficiency benefit to having a Mini-ITX system? What would you go for?

Thanks!
-Rhys
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:06 am

For power efficiency I would go for the i7 3770S.

Mini-ITX normally have less extras than their big brother Micro-ATX, so it supposedly use less power. But it depends on the motherboard brand and adjacent technologies.

If you can, try a less powerful PSU. The more approximate your power usage is from the optimal efficiency of the PSU the better. The components you choose should use at the most 150W.

*Edit

As you refered a dedicated GPU in future, you can't make much adjustments to the PSU wattage, so stick with Platinum certification then :wink:
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:11 am

I've been in this predicament myself actually and I always lean towards a small mATX box that can fit the things I want with room to spare. It's for this reason I can't justify a mini-ITX box for my main PC. Maybe I'll want to add an adapter card for thunderbolt or something down the road. With mini-ITX I'm looking at a graphics card... and that's it. Some people have gotten creative with the mini-PCI-Express slot that comes on some mini-ITX boards but, really, your room for expansion is limited.

I have a Silverstone SG02 (modded to fit my wants) but the new silverstone SG09 is pretty much what I did without all the power tools. :)

http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=345

Not sure how you feel about the look, but this case is not that much bigger than the FT03 (17.6L vs 23L). For comparison, the TJ08E is something like 30L.
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:18 am

Save $30 and get the Rosewill FORTRESS Series FORTRESS-450 450W Continuous@50°C,80 PLUS Platinum

It is as good as or better than the antec and on sale for $80 delivered.

I would go with mATX. You are certainly going to have a very efficient system either way. However, you might want to add a graphics card in the future, quieter aftermarket CPU cooling, etc. etc.

Read your usage again: A good graphics card will certainly be beneficial. The increase of GPU compute in those programs is going to continue to expand over the next few years, not only from CUDA with NVIDIA, but also with open CL.

More room is always going to equal more options, and will not have any negatives for sound or cooling.

Mini-ITX only if you are certain that you will build it and "forget it" :wink:

PS, again, 2 sticks for the 16 GB for the same reason. :wink:
PSS take the $30 you save and get an aftermarket cooler. Since you are not getting the K version CPU, I guess you are not going to OC. However, the good coolers can be set to be significantly quieter in addition to better cooling. :wink:
Last edited by mdk77777 on Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:23 am

I can vouch for that Silverstone PSU, have one running the machine right next to me in a BitFenix Prodigy - it is a little overkill wattage wise, and I don't technically need an SFX PSU in that case but I wanted one anyway and if you want something high quality its really the only option out there with modular cabling. I can't recommend the BitFenix Prodigy itself though, its functional but too big really with sub-par build quality, I much prefer the SilverStone Sugo systems I've built (although the Prodigy is much easier to work in because its so much larger). I've grown to really love miniITX in the past year - but mostly for work systems, I'm not ready to commit to one for my main rig yet.
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:57 am

I like the mATX build, I would use 2x8GB kit though instead of 4x4GB kit to take advantage of dual channel. I also second the notion of using the Core i7 3770s, seeing as how the TDP is 65W vs the Core i7 3770k with a TDP of 77W.
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:21 pm

"S" versions of processors are not worth the performance you sacrifice for very little power savings. I say stick with the 3770 if thats what you really think you need.

mdk77777 wrote:A good graphics card will certainly be beneficial. The increase of GPU compute in those programs is going to continue to expand over the next few years, not only from CUDA with NVIDIA, but also with open CL.

Ivy Bridge's IGP supports OpenCL too, I see little benefit in buying a discrete GPU for "casual photoshop" usage.

Why the Intel mobo in your mITX build? I prefer to stay away from Intel mobos and go with something from Asus, AsRock, Gigabyte, or MSI.
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:34 pm

I'd get this for a PSU if the case you choose can use full ATX:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6817151117

360W 80+ Gold.
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:38 pm

Ivy Bridge's IGP supports OpenCL too, I see little benefit in buying a discrete GPU for "casual photoshop" usage.


As does AMD APU. However, the performance you get with IGP is not anyway near what you get with a discrete card. Sometime in the future, the reduced latencies might be of a larger value, but for now, you can get 10X or more performance with a graphics card.

The penalty in noise and power usage is not anywhere it used to be( as both AMD and Nvidia have come a long way in ramping down in idle.)

A NV 570 or AMD 4780 might have cost you 60-80 watts at idle. Now it is 7-15 watts at idle. So you get the best of both worlds, power when you need it and cool and quite when you don't.

Ivy bridge is a huge improvement from the past intel igp....but that means it is up to speed for desktop use, not any serious "game development" or GPU compute.
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mATX

Postposted on Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:44 pm

mATX unless you have a specific case you absolutely want to use and are prepared to make sure everything fits before ordering.
Honestly unless you are trying to go extra small (half-height etc) ITX is not worth the trouble. Heck, there are some beefy ITX cases with more volume than many mATX cases, such as the bitphoenix one.

Since you are not getting a "K" cpu, check the motherboard and see if it can use a Xeon E3 1245v2 instead, usually cheaper.

Possibly consider the 1230v2 or 1240v2 w/o GPUs if going discrete GPU: nearly as fast and still 4C8T like i7, the 1230v2 is as cheap as some i5 models :)

http://ark.intel.com/compare/65732,65730,65729,65719
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Wed Oct 03, 2012 2:47 pm

that is very good advice.

@ $233 today at newegg for the E-3 1230 V2

You get 8mb cache instead of 6mb......8 cores hyperthreading.....69 watt vs. 77 watts..

priced like the i5 3570k but performance very similar to the i7. I like it. I haven't built a intel rig in years(AMD fan) and this is generally the reason why. I can't justify paying 1/3 more to turn on Hyper-threading when I know it is already on the chip. But I like this Xeon. I might have to build one. :wink:
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:33 pm

Thanks everyone! I think I'll go with an mATX Build.
Can somebody recommend a power efficient, dedicated video card that's good value?
I currently use a GTX 260 but was pretty happy with a 9600GT too, so I don't think my requirements are overly high. I only play the occasional game and don't need extreme graphic settings.

For power efficiency I would go for the i7 3770S.
I did a bit of research into this and didn't think it was worth paying extra for less power + wattage. I'd prefer use a power scheme that reduces the CPU % when I don't need to do anything power intensive.

Save $30 and get the Rosewill FORTRESS Series FORTRESS-450 450W Continuous@50°C,80 PLUS Platinum
Would like to, but I live in Australia and I've not really got as much option.

I would use 2x8GB kit though instead of 4x4GB kit to take advantage of dual channel.
Can you expand on this advice?

Why the Intel mobo in your mITX build? I prefer to stay away from Intel mobos and go with something from Asus, AsRock, Gigabyte, or MSI.
It was the only one that fit all my requirements - firewire being one of them. I also just assumed Intel made decent motherboards but I guess I'm wrong.

Since you are not getting a "K" cpu, check the motherboard and see if it can use a Xeon E3 1245v2 instead, usually cheaper.
Sounds like a cool idea - although these Xeon's are Sandy Bridge, not Ivy Bridge.. and only a few dollars cheaper.
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:58 pm

Sounds like a cool idea - although these Xeon's are Sandy Bridge, not Ivy Bridge.. and only a few dollars cheaper.



You didn't follow the link :cry:
V2 and Intel link definitely show Ivy Bridge.

$100 or 1/3 less here= more than a few dollars unless by 'these' you mean the ones available in your market.
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:05 pm

Can you expand on this advice?.... would use 2x8GB kit though instead of 4x4GB kit to take advantage of dual channel.


The memory controller can handle two channels by design...when you have memory in 4 physical positions on the board it has to take some time to "split" between the two physical locations. It adds latency and reduces the frequency potential of the memory. Is it huge? No. But all other things being equal...8GB sticks have come down is price sharply the last few months...you do better with 2 sticks rather than 4.
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:38 pm

Can somebody recommend a power efficient, dedicated video card that's good value?
I currently use a GTX 260 but was pretty happy with a 9600GT too, so I don't think my requirements are overly high. I only play the occasional game and don't need extreme graphic settings.


well depends on if you value absolute performance ratios or not.

The newest Kepler and AMD Tahiti parts have the best performance and the best performance per watt.
However, they range from $230 to $400

I have an AMD 7970 that I game on. A NV 560 TI that I use for GPU compute (Folding) but an old AMD 6850 works great for my everyday office computer.


This site does a good job of ranking the results of current cards by performance/watt and performance/dollar:
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Zota ... 60/29.html

Given your description of usage the Radeon HD 7770, and the GeForce GTX 650 2GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express look like good solid choices.
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:04 am

Finally, regarding PSU.

Seasonic G is very recent low price Gold =reasonable/good quality.

Capstone Gold and Kinwing PLAT at Newegg = very good quality SuperFlower units ruling the quality/price market here. You should have access to superflower direct but I don't know prices.

Review:
http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?na ... 2&reid=250

The Plat Model I Listed is an Enhance model made directly for Newegg. The antec you listed is similar in price and performance.
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Thu Oct 04, 2012 1:38 am

mdk77777 wrote:
Sounds like a cool idea - although these Xeon's are Sandy Bridge, not Ivy Bridge.. and only a few dollars cheaper.



You didn't follow the link :cry:
V2 and Intel link definitely show Ivy Bridge.

$100 or 1/3 less here= more than a few dollars unless by 'these' you mean the ones available in your market.
Sorry - I did but I was looking at the supported CPU list for the motherboard I was choosing - which lists V1 (sandy bridge) but not V2 CPU's.. so doubting they're going to work. The price difference with my supplier is about $5.

Thanks for your other advice.. I'll look into it all :D
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:46 am

RhysAndrews wrote:
For power efficiency I would go for the i7 3770S.
I did a bit of research into this and didn't think it was worth paying extra for less power + wattage. I'd prefer use a power scheme that reduces the CPU % when I don't need to do anything power intensive.


Sorry sir, I just said that because in my usual store the "S" is 10€ cheaper that the normal 3770 :wink:
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:02 am

Ryhadar wrote:... but the new silverstone SG09 is pretty much what I did without all the power tools. :)

http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=345

Thanks for the link ! It really has a great design, and it has filter on every intake-fan grill !
The only downside for me would be to replace the optical drive with a slim one.

RhysAndrews, I think you should consider this case.
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:41 am

Ok - so PSU:
http://www.pccasegear.com/index.php?mai ... s_id=21502
OR
http://www.pccasegear.com/index.php?mai ... s_id=19331

I don't see why I'd go with the Seasonic but one of you recommended it to me - it's a few bucks more, only Gold rating instead of Platinum, and less wattage..

Then, I would go with the following:
Intel Xeon E3 1230V2
Gigabyte GA-Z77M-D3H-MVP (from what I can see, this won't support the Xeon 1230v2, only v1 which is Sandy Bridge - can somebody confirm? And if it doesn't work, is there a similar motherboard available that will?)
Corsair Vengeance 2x8GB DDR3 1600Mhz 1.5v
Galaxy GeForce GTX 650 1GB
The power supply above
Samsung 830 SSD
Silverstone TJ08-E (I'd go with the SG09 but it seems difficult to find in Australia, and I know the TJ08-E is great based on first hand experience).
Total: About $1,031

Any thoughts??

Thanks!
-Rhys
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If you don't overclock, or want VT-d, yay@xeon

Postposted on Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:13 am

Keep in mind any 12_0 xeons have no iGPU hence the 8W lower TDP, so only consider them combined with a discrete card.

The 12_5 have equivalent to a HD4000.

And yeah V2 = ivy :)

The only issue is whether or not an OEM bothers to puts them in the BIOS cpu table of a particular motherboard, because according to intel datasheets there is no actual hardware incompatibility with 7 series chipsets. It is a bit of a gamble if a board does not have it listed on the website or manual, but it might still work, or work with a newer bios than it was shipped with. I took this risk and confirmed one of intel's own Q77 boards. (really foxconn but whatever)

Still, a non-trivial risk of a big headache without verification.

Either way, they can be a good bit cheaper depending on your reseller options. It gets weirder with the not-so-mainstream models: in the states you can't find the 45w 3770T as an end user for less than $crazy, but the same 1265Lv2 is in a freaking retail box at newegg.
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Thu Oct 04, 2012 1:10 pm

see this chart

http://www.gigabyte.com/support-downloa ... ntel%20Z77

Any board that has M after the number is a Micro board.
There are several listed that show support explicitly. (Others might, but you take your chances)

GA-Z77M-D3H, GA-Z77MX-D3H TH,GA-Z77MX-D3H, etc. etc.

Given your retailer, the Antec is indeed the best psu choice.

This is always a problem with discussions in distant markets; local prices and availability will significantly impact the choice matrix.

For example Enermax is competitive in Europe, but always seems to be well overpriced here.

Similarly, if you end up paying a huge premium for a newer MB, you might quickly eat into the savings we see here with the Xeon chip.
But, when you ask a gear-head for advice, you gotta expect some skew to the higher end, right. :wink:
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:48 pm

RhysAndrews wrote:Gigabyte GA-Z77M-D3H-MVP (from what I can see, this won't support the Xeon 1230v2, only v1 which is Sandy Bridge - can somebody confirm? And if it doesn't work, is there a similar motherboard available that will?)

Pretty clear on Gigabytes site that it is not supported.
The GA-Z77M-D3H (no MVP) and the GA-Z77MX-D3H both list support.
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Re: Help me choose between mATX and mini-ITX

Postposted on Fri Oct 12, 2012 7:20 am

the sg09 is available in australia (wish I lived there)
http://www.myshopping.com.au/PR--433737 ... o_ATX_Case
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