The desktop PC needs a makeover

My PC is too big. Much too big. I’d always vaguely suspected it, but testing Corsair’s Obsidian Series 350D case earlier this week made it quite clear.

My PC is full of air and unoccupied slots and bays. I have four 5.25" optical drive bays that I don’t use. The top one houses a DVD burner, but I can’t remember the last time I stuck a disc in it. I moved to Canada over three years ago, and I’m positive that I’ve never purchased a blank DVD in this country.

Half of the expansion slots on my motherboard are set dressing. I only have a dual-slot graphics card and a sound card. In fairness, I use five of my six hard-drive bays—but that’s because I’m still holding on to old drives, including a 320GB WD Caviar SE16. If I were to build a new system today, I would probably need just two 3.5" bays, with one 4TB hard drive in each. Add a 2.5" solid-state drive for my OS and applications, and I’d be set.

I’m sure I’m not alone. In fact, I’m willing to bet the vast majority of PC gamers and enthusiasts out there have just as much empty space in their PCs. Oh, don’t get me wrong; leaving room for upgrades is fine. However, in the age of laptops, iPads, and smartphones, it seems a little strange that we should all have humongous mid-tower PCs full of air.

Over the past few days, I’ve been trying to picture what a modern desktop PC ought to look like. We could redesign everything completely, of course—introduce new form factors all over the place and wind up with something close to perfection. However, I think we can already improve things greatly with a few simple, practical steps:

  • Let’s make microATX the new default for desktops. microATX provides enough expansion for a couple of graphics cards plus one wildcard, uh, card, which is about all most of us will ever need. We can keep ATX around for workstations and extreme quad-GPU rigs.
  • Get rid of 5.25" bays. Just get rid of ’em. Optical media is dead, and there are far better ways to back up your data than to burn a DVD or Blu-ray.
  • While we’re at it, let’s have smaller power supplies, too. Pretty much nobody needs a 1kW PSU. Heck, I figure most gaming PCs draw less than 500W. I’m sure we don’t need to devote a cubic foot at the bottom of every case to AC-DC conversion. Switching to the SFX form factor could be a viable option there; Silverstone already makes a nice 450W SFX PSU.
  • Speaking of power, we could save users a lot of grief by simplifying power cabling. Heck, we could build it right into the enclosure—connect the PSU to the case with a big, standardized connector, and have strategically placed plugs and connectors sprout off where they’re needed. All of the sudden, you no longer need loads of space around the motherboard and behind the motherboard tray for cable routing.
  • In line with the above, we might as well integrate SATA data connectors into drive bays, too. Just make every bay behave like a docking station and pre-route the cables. I guess we’ll also want an option to bypass or upgrade the integrated cables, since high-end SATA Express SSDs are presumably just around the corner. Not all drives will need a 2GB/s interface, though.
  • Come up with a unified connector for front LEDs and buttons. This is long, long overdue. Seriously, how hard could it be to call up major motherboard makers and make them all agree on a common pin-out? Give it a snazzy marketing name, add it to the list of features along with your military-grade capacitors and auto-overclocking voodoo, and move on. Sheesh.
  • On the cooling side of things, let’s try to arrange the stock fans in order to maintain positive internal pressure. And let’s avoid having huge, unfiltered grates at the top of the case. You don’t see anyone cracking open their laptop to vacuum dust out of it every six months. Desktop PCs shouldn’t require that, either.
  • Oh, and give us more I/O at the front. Even high-end cases usually have only four front USB ports, and those tend to be all crowded together. I’d like to be able to leave at least a couple of charging cables plugged in permanently and still have room for chunky thumb drives and USB headsets.

That’s about as far as I’ve gotten just now, but I’m sure there are other things we could do. And I’m sure you folks have ideas, too.

The broader point, though, is that desktop PCs could use a makeover. With just a handful of good initiatives, and maybe a new standard or two, we could make desktop PCs substantially simpler to build, more straightforward to use, and easier to carry around. Not every enclosure needs built-in cabling for everything plus a dozen front-panel ports, but we should at least offer those options. The easier it is to build a PC, the more people will do it, and the better the industry will be.

Comments closed
    • CBHvi7t
    • 6 years ago

    I have my first ยตATX now and can live with it but e.g. the graphics card goes over one SATA port.
    [b<]we mainly need to think about the cooling of the graphics cards.[/b<] Since most graphics cards occupy 3 slots (2 for the card and 1 for fan clearance) ยตATX is just too small. What we really need is a new main board and graphics card standard that puts the GPU on top of the card. Usually there is empty room between the first slot and the CPU. Since cases are usually really wide and desktop cases a thing of the past the extension cards should be wider too. That way they need not be so high.

    • ClickClick5
    • 6 years ago

    [quote<]Get rid of 5.25" bays. Just get rid of 'em. Optical media is dead, and there are far better ways to back up your data than to burn a DVD or Blu-ray.[/quote<] But that is where spare wires go. And I'm always being asked about having a windows recovery disc because a friend derped their file structure.

      • indeego
      • 6 years ago

      There are fewer spare wires due to his other points like integrated wiring and modular power supplies.

      An install from the fastest USB keys is now about 5x-10x faster than the fastest optical discs. And growing year-on-year.

    • TwoEars
    • 6 years ago

    About the whole ATX and mATX thing – much of the industry is already going towards smaller computers. Just look at Dell and their small form factor business “desktops”:

    [url<]http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/optiplex-9020-desktop/fs[/url<] The one on the left has a very nice Haswell i5 cpu. Or the intel NUC of course (also with an i5): [url<]http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/motherboards/desktop-motherboards/nuc.html[/url<] I don't think there is any need to *force* anyone to go to mATX - it's happening anyway because of money and practial reasons. But some users - like myself - will still want as many PCI-E slots as they can get their hands on for sound cards, SLI, raid-cards, extra LAN-ports etc etc.

    • BIF
    • 6 years ago

    This article completely ignores some market segments that still exist, and that is the folder and the animator.

    Some powerful laptops can work here, but heavy or long-leadtime folding or rendering projects are just too hard on them. Even a mid-case system has its challenges for cooling. Big boxes and water cooling is still where it’s at, as far as I’m concerned.

    Makeover? Smaller and smaller systems are fine for most people, but not for me.

    If you can get by with an i3 or an i5 and a 60 GB system drive, then bully for you! But some of us still need big systems with lots of cores, GPU power, memory, hard drives, and power supplies. It’s myopic and even self-centered to think that “the PC” needs a makeover “just because I don’t need the power anymore”.

    If the market pushes folders out, it will just take longer to make scientific discoveries. And if powerful machines are one day too expensive or not available, then the little guy will get pushed aside and only the big renderhouses will be able to do animation. I don’t know about you but I think Hollywood sucks now and the best stuff is coming from independents and You-Tube posters.

    But then again, history shows that as a society, we usually get what we want, and that goes for everything from politics to crime to how our markets work.

    Maybe your PC needs a makeover. But “the desktop PC” is doing just fine, thank you.

      • protomech
      • 6 years ago

      “If you can get by with an i3 or an i5 and a 60 GB system drive”

      The OP’s hypothetical system had 2x 4GB storage drives and 1 SSD (available up to 1TB in size today).

      A well-designed small microATX case can probably dissipate around 500W at reasonable noise levels; that could mean a 120W CPU and a 280W GPU plus incidentals.

      The Mac Pro is a great example of a bespoke tiny, powerful workstation (up to 12 cores Xeon E5, 2x AMD FirePro GPUs). How can we build something similar using commodity, standardized parts?

        • BIF
        • 6 years ago

        I would love to build something similar!

    • trackerben
    • 6 years ago

    All nice suggestions particularly the extra front I/O. mATX is the way to go for 90% of all desktop uses. I would retain the 5.25 bay for all types of docks, from drive cradles to mSD/USB/eSATA port extenders to a handy drawer for storing small tools, screws and small parts, pistol, etc.

    What I’d like to see is an IBM-style console situated on the desktop close to the user. This would house I/O ports and docks while the mATX case shrouded with dust filters sits elsewhere, linked to the console by a single data/power cable. The monitor would stand right behing it, or the case could form the base of a VESA monitor stand. The top would have a dock on which to mount and sync/charge a 7-8in tablet – the tablet could be configured to act as a secondary screen or a touch controller.

    • gerryg
    • 6 years ago

    My biggest want is to remove legacy ports and features that aren’t needed anymore. Reduces complexity and cost over time. If Intel or AMD or Asus or somebody just said “we ain’t doin’ old stuff no more”, I would be a happy camper. I wish VGA would go away. Multi-memory card readers should just standardize on one format, at most (can always use a USB3.0 reader). Lets only have one type of HDMI or DisplayPort, too, not micro mini and full. Beyond that everything I want to add should be a USB3 add-on, not built-in. 80% of the market should be non-legacy in the next couple years.

      • Olreich
      • 6 years ago

      VGA is much easier for a chipset to run than a digital format like HDMI or DisplayPort, which I think is the only reason it still exists on motherboards (for when everything else is broken and you need to see the BIOS).

    • asdzxc57
    • 6 years ago

    Yeah brother. Thanks for thinking outside the case.

    • spigzone
    • 6 years ago

    1. ‘default’ for desktops ??? … by government decree? nonsensical point.

    2. I love my 5.25 bays. I put 3.5 and 2.5 (2 or 4 drives) docking stations in them and add card readers/USB ports with them. I haven’t used my internal 3.5 drive bays for years.

    3. I bought a good quality external drive years ago and just plug it into a usb port on whatever computer I occasionally need it on. Currently VERY occasionally since I switched to using a thumb drive to install OSes or using Spinrite.

    4. ‘arrange stock fans’ … in a micro-atx case?

    • TwoEars
    • 6 years ago

    But I like my ATX motherboard with SLI and extra soundcard!!!!

    No way I’ll have enough space for that on mATX.

    Totally agree about unified connector and pre-routed cabled though – been thinking that myself.

    One more thing – dust filters!!! Just give us some cases with good dust filters God damnit. Dust kills electronics and ruins cooling. How hard can it be.

    • Arclight
    • 6 years ago

    Problem is, as it has always been, cooling. Personally i prefer air cooling and that means space for the CPU cooler and possibly for the GPU as well if i ever want to install water cooling, space which only a few micro ATX cases offer but never completely equal a full sized ATX case. Personally i have nothing to gain from a smaller case. I realize most of the components don’t need a ATX case but i need it for the minority that do need it (CPU and even GPU).

    I have a Coolermaster 690 II case and i could fit another one on the desk and another 3 or 4 under or near the desk at close enough distance to reach the monitor. Smaller cases are neat but they don’t offer me anything. What i do agree that needs to be redesigned is the front of ATX cases which have too many bays that will never be used. With an intelligent design the form factor could be reduced, but again, smaller cases don’t offer me anything.

    • canoli
    • 6 years ago

    Well D42, I don’t think RAID is a backup solution. You can mirror all the drives you want but they’re still subject to all the usual security concerns, ie. malware, viruses etc. and they’re vulnerable to human error, ie. deleting the wrong file(s), overwriting your just-finished great American novel…etc. RAID is about redundancy not preservation.

    As far as external HDDs what’s the point? We backup our files only because we’re sure that all HDDs fail. Trusting a backup to the same medium doesn’t seem too smart to me. It’s certainly better than nothing but I don’t think adding HDDs is a very good solution.

    @sjl – I hear you, if you’re backing up [i<]everything[/i<] then you'll need quite a few BD / DVDs. So the first question is: What do I need to preserve? Everybody has a different answer but we can rule out quite a few things right? The OS and its attendant files...games and programs, anything that you own on disk...etc. But even if it turns out it's a 100 BDs...is that somehow prohibitive? It sounds like a lot but they don't take up much room, they're easily labeled and organized and they're reliable. It's true the early CDs were scratch-prone and some wouldn't last more than a few months (or even less depending how it was handled). But today's optical disks, esp the Verbatim BDs (the only ones I've used) are pretty tough. I expect I'll be able to access them for many years to come.

    • hasseb64
    • 6 years ago

    Yes baby!

    • sparkman
    • 6 years ago

    I’d click thumbs-up on this whole article a zillion times if I could.

    Right now I’m trying to build a gaming machine that can fit under a desk without being 90% air. ATX is so old.

    • GraveDigger
    • 6 years ago

    Let’s eliminate flexibility and choice from a platform defined by flexibility and choice? Fuck off and buy an iPad.

      • sparkman
      • 6 years ago

      Way to completely miss the point. The article isn’t about reducing flexibility or choice, it’s about reducing size while improving ease-of-use. There is no reason for our desktops to be sized to fit 1990’s PC components.

      For that matter, I still am highly suspicious that laptops can’t be made modular just like desktops. I think laptop makers keep everything incompatible and tightly integrated to make you buy a whole new laptop when you decide to upgrade.

        • Ashbringer
        • 6 years ago

        Just cause 20 years has passed, doesn’t mean the size of the computer would change. There’s a reason why it’s that big. It’s big cause the PC is modular, and as long as tech keeps improving then the need to install new parts will be there.

        It’s like the muscle cars from the 70’s. Why do people still love these cars, when they’re clearly outdated? But the room in the engine bay allows for some serious upgrades. Modern car engine bays are so cramped and tightly packed that just looking at them makes me wish I had smaller hands.

        In the right hands, an old V8 can be upgraded with new modern equipment. You can add fuel injection, and turbos. It’s the same with a desktop PC. Except you guys seem to want the expandability of a v8 70’s car, but the size of a Prius engine bay. This makes no sense. In practicality, you couldn’t fit a v8 engine in a Prius, and as we know there’s no replacement for displacement.

          • JustAnEngineer
          • 6 years ago

          Two words: Forced induction.

            • Thrashdog
            • 6 years ago

            The replacement for displacement! Well, that and direct injection, high compression, RPMs, and a host of other things that are Illegal In NASCAR And Therefore To Be Shunned.

            • clone
            • 6 years ago

            doesn’t change anything, big displacement with forced induction kills little displacement with forced induction.

            forced induction didn’t work before because of cost and complexity and today the increased cost and complexity while equally fashionable for the time is causing the same headaches, small displacement engines with forced induction have little to no torque unless they are onboost, because they are so weak off boost they spend most of their time on it which gobbles up gas.

            on the highway it’s a real problem as wind resistance minimizes the advantage, in the city their is a benefit that comes with the reduced reciprocating mass while sitting in stop and go but is it worth the cost and complexity?

            small cars while showing exciting fuel numbers aren’t exciting, Dodge Dart 1.4 multi air is a prime example, while the turbo does a decent job the party doesn’t start until 3000 rpm.

            Ford’s F150 Eco Boost is a great example of what can be done with a smaller displacement forced induction engine but the benefit of all that work amounts to 10% and is negated by a V8 using an 8spd tranny while the Eco Boost engine costs an additional $1500 on it’s own….. much ado about nothing and if they try to push the engine any further the need for high octane fuel eats up all cost savings resulting in a negative result.

            p.s. I’m saying this having just replaced my previous car which was a turbo.

          • sparkman
          • 6 years ago

          > Just cause 20 years has passed, doesn’t mean the size of the computer would change.

          Are you younger than 20? Or have you not been paying attention for the past 20 years?

          I remember full-height 5.25″ floppy disk drives, and they were huge noisy monsters. Are you saying we should bring back full-height bays in all of our modern PC’s for nostalgia?

          Unlike 1970’s muscle cars, old computer tech is only cool in the way that an antique, horse-drawn wagon is cool, to be marveled at what people used to put up with, not for real use.

          We currently fit our DVD drives into what I believe (from memory) was originally called a half-height 5.25″ bay. The vast majority of modern PC’s only have zero or one of them being used. These bays are nearly obsolete.

          In tech, smaller is [b<]better[/b<].

            • JustAnEngineer
            • 6 years ago

            I never had any in my own PCs, but I did encounter a few genuine Shugart 8″ floppy drives at one of my first jobs.
            [url<]http://abcresellers.com/store/product204.html[/url<]

            • derFunkenstein
            • 6 years ago

            Must have!

        • clone
        • 6 years ago

        reducing size while improving ease of use is a dubious claim at best and their are solid cost & airflow benefits that come with desktops built to fit 1990’s sized components.

        aftermarket heatsinks for overclocking and high end video cards are 2 primary reasons why a dramatic size loss would lead to an immediate versatility and performance loss. cost is another reason why while humorous many of the criticisms in this article are near worthless.

        more I/O and standardized pin out good, rest nilly willy to outright bad.

        p.s. they tried to sell customizable laptops years ago, they’d come with display, keyboard, a larger housing to fit desktop cpu’s if chosen and they were decently priced but instead of selling they got completely ignored because a fully integrated one was cheaper.

    • JdL
    • 6 years ago

    I LOVE the Alienware X51 design. I have one. The PS3-like size is perfect, the keys to which are having the power supply external, and having a special PCI-E riser card so the GPU sits vertically. It’s very light and I even carry it and the power supply back and forth with me to work in a backpack, along with my MacBook Air ๐Ÿ™‚

    However, the “stock” physical design has several flaws requiring some modification before being “perfect.”

    First, the stock HSF on the CPU is too small, too loud, and has terrible airflow design.

    Second, the airflow for the GPU is “not enough.” Only GPU’s that exhaust air from the back of the case will work (i.e. the “dustbuster” types), and even those still run hotter than they should.

    Third, the power adapter has no retention capability, which means the power will drop if the system is bumped or moved while on.

    I actually made the following enhancements to prove my point on the design. It’s an awesome form-factor, ideal for gamers and even modders alike.

    1. Cut hole in front side right directly above CPU. Design of hole matches design of case. Just need to add a small grill behind, and it will look completely natural.

    2. Removed and replaced CPU HSF with a Zalman low-profile model. Temps dropped from 50C+ on idle to 30-33C. Noise also eliminated almost completely. It NEVER even spins up during load because the direct air intake+large HS surface area keeps it cool enough.

    3. Removed blu-ray drive, added 2.5″ drive bay in place of 3.5″ drive holder. Will hold up to 3 2.5″ drives (based on limited SATA

    4. Replaced 60mm intake fan in bottom front (near GPU) with a quieter one. I tried using this for exhaust but did not improve situation. GPU needs direct intake for exhaust blower.

    Still pending fix:

    GPU. I need to cut hole in opposite side, on bottom, for air intake for GPU. GPU right now runs hot due to limited intake on the bottom.

    Limitations:

    Although this box uses a standard MiniITX motherboard, you cannot swap it out with another because the back-panel is not interchangable.

    • psuedonymous
    • 6 years ago

    [quote<]You don't see anyone cracking open their laptop to vacuum dust out of it every six months[/quote<]No, you see people own a laptop for 4-5 months and then begin the complaints about how it's so slow, and keeps crashing, and does all these weird things it never used to do, and they don't make them like they used to etc. Because the tiny little heatsink has become clogged with fibrous dust and now has about the same heat transfer ability of a lump of sponge, causing newer laptops to thermally throttle dramatically, and older laptops simply to fail. A shame that it's rarely ever easy to [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpCJzdWxEbQ<]clean the fan[/url<].

    • indeego
    • 6 years ago

    I just built a system based on your Sweet Spot from the summer, and I tend to agree. Most of the case sits empty. Most of the ports are unused. Kinda wish I’d gone with a smaller case. Feels like I need to fill it in somehow, but can’t think of anything.

    Good article, and I agree. Thanks for writing it!

      • indeego
      • 6 years ago

      Also I really don’t like the Xonar. Sound keeps cutting out when I’m playing a game and another event on the machine occurs. Haven’t noticed any difference in sound quality from onboard, either.

    • canoli
    • 6 years ago

    “…there are far better ways to back up your data than to burn a DVD or Blu-ray.”

    such as? Some random server somewhere? For obvious reasons, no thanks. More spinning disks? Seems silly to pick the same platform but besides that this solution depends on timing your transfers just right…because of course you [i<]will[/i<] need to keep transferring your backup from one HDD to the next. So either you move too soon and waste* the life of the first disk or worse, you wait too long and your data is history. Personally I like backing up to Blu-Ray. The Verbatim disks have never let me down and the DL, at ~$0.11/GB are hardly what I'd call expensive. Maybe Blu-Ray won't be around forever but they seem like a good bet for now and for many years to come. *of course you can always re-purpose that disk so it's not really wasted but your backup solution has just taken a hit. Not catastrophic, the way waiting too long would be but a hit nonetheless.

      • sjl
      • 6 years ago

      The main problem with Blu-Ray and DVD for backup is the size. The typical hard drive in a home computer these days is 1 TB or bigger. If you want to back it all up, that’s over 100 DVDs (200 if you go for single layer), 40 single layer BDs, or 20 double layer BDs. A quick check shows that BD burners are dirt cheap these days (under $AU90 without looking hard), so that’s not a factor.

      Now, if people manage to segregate their data so they have one directory filled with the important stuff, and everything else lives … everywhere else, then one single layer blu-ray disk will do the job for most people. Thing is, most people don’t do that. Everything goes into one place. So you have to assume that everything’s important and back it all up.

      Then you get into how long the media is going to last once it has been written to, and that’s a question that makes most people go, “Uh … well, it [i<]should[/i<] last (insert impressive sounding figure here)." I'm not convinced. Simple fact: doing backup properly is hard, no matter how you choose to do it. I'm not really happy with [i<]any[/i<] of the options out there for my own purposes - too expensive, too unreliable, too uncertain, too ripe for abuse by a third party ... and I do this crap for a living. Small wonder the average Joe struggles (if he does backups at all - at least Apple does try to make it easy, even if their solution is suboptimal in certain ways as well.)

      • Diplomacy42
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<] "...there are far better ways to back up your data than to burn a DVD or Blu-ray." such as?[/quote<] an external HDD on USB 3.0, firewire or E-sata comes to mind. which has the same net cash outlay as your BD-R. If you have an old dell computer, you can throw a 1 TB HDD in that (or an 8TB Raid array, w/e) and put together a server that you can use for your library and for backups. it can also host a perpetual minecraft server! this could all be potentially free if you have the spare PC(or laptop) in hand. continuing up the list, it seems that for most setups (home and buisness) a simple raid 1 setup would protect you sufficiently without ever needing to waste your time backing up anything. granted if your computer explodes you are SOL, but then BD disks are hardly indestructible. for instance.

        • beck2448
        • 6 years ago

        All hard drives fail, not very portable. Not convenient. I would like to see discs hit the TB level.
        That would be great for audio visual pros.

      • TwoEars
      • 6 years ago

      You do realize that burned blu-ray disks degrade over time don’t you? A USB-harddrive is far far better way to go about it.

        • canoli
        • 6 years ago

        So…trust my backup to the same medium I’m backing up [i<]from[/i<]? If you're happy with USB drives that's great. Like i said they're better than nothing. Just don't say they are "far far better" because that's ridiculous. You must realize the "degrade over time" case can be applied to everything including your USB drive. Well it's all a crap shoot anyway right? There's no guarantee any medium will respond after x-amount of time. After 5 years of storage I'd rather load a BD-R disk as opposed to firing up a USB HDD. [edit: YMMV]

    • LukeCWM
    • 6 years ago

    You all probably think I’m horribly antiquated for this, but I still by actual CDs that come in actual cases.

    I’ve never met anyone as OCD about how to properly rip a CD as I am, and I don’t trust anyone else to do it for me. And it is really hard to find uncompressed music for sale by download. The one exception for me is when I buy double sample rate music from HDtracks.com.

    Oh, and it’s also nice to have physical media for when I want to play music in my car or at a friend’s house without extra work required.

    And since I buy all actual discs and rip them myself, I am not even close to giving up an optical drive on my computer.

    Am I the only one left?

    Perhaps Cyril has a point, that many don’t need an optical drive anymore. I wouldn’t dream of restricting case manufacturers from making and selling cases without 5.25″ bays. It could be perfect for many. Just not me. =]

      • PenGun
      • 6 years ago

      cdparanoia -B

      We are done.

      But yeah I hear ya. I have had flacs from some fools that were video flacs. Luckily codecs are a toy of mine. Had to use mplayer to read em’ to a pipe … oh life is so hard.

      • dashbarron
      • 6 years ago

      Hmm. Was it Scott(?), one of the staffers wrote a blog post a year or two ago about how they buy a majority of their music on CDs.

      Personally, I never use the things (and my car holds six); I just iPod it. If it’s 256 mp3 I can’t tell the difference anymore.

      I use optical drives all the time for movies, burning said movies, and loading old games. And I have two drives, because nothing it makes swapping a heck of a lot easier.

      • Olreich
      • 6 years ago

      Standard should be 1 or 2 drive bays though, not 4 or 5.

    • mbutrovich
    • 6 years ago

    I switched to mITX for my gaming machine about 2 years ago and couldn’t be happier. A 3770k, GTX 680, and SSD in the footprint of a Playstation 3 is really all I need.

    Also on the topic of making mATX the default, OEMs did this years ago. If you look at what Dell, HP, Acer, Gateway, etc. are primarily offering as desktops, it’s not full-size towers anymore.

      • September
      • 6 years ago

      Aren’t OEMs using the BTX standard? Why can’t there be a new standard, something like mITX and mATX but that turns the board around? Silverstone went out of their way to do it with the Raven, and I’m intrigued by their FT03 but look what they had to do internally.

      But I agree with Cyril, there should be *some* new standard that makes a small size desktop factor more attractive.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 6 years ago

        Your standard Gateway/Acer/HP is mATX. I’ve seen some BTX Dells though.

    • Delphis
    • 6 years ago

    A very myopic and narrow view of the world of PC cases, Cyril.

    While ‘small case good’ might be fine for a lot of people, you don’t really save much by going to microATX. MiniITX is where the space savings are. I’ve built a few systems in such cases and they serve their purpose.

    For other machines I have Mid-tower ATX cases and my fileserver is in a full-tower case (and yes, I am using all 6 of my 5.25″ bays).

    There’s much more to the ‘PC’ landscape than what *you* do with your computers, Cyril.

    What is wrong with people having a choice with what they want to do?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 6 years ago

      I agree. Breadbox or bust.

    • kravo
    • 6 years ago

    I totally agree on mATX, Iยดd go even further/smaller. Iยดd keep the optical drive, though.

    What I donยดt know is, where would I place my pc when the chassis would be smaller. I believe it would be still to big to put it on the desk, and at the same time, it would be to small to have it under the desk (where I have my tower now). Why have it smaller for no good?
    Unfortunatelly, you donยดt find many nice looking desks that have appropriate bays for smaller PCs.

    I didnยดt follow all of the comments, maybe somebody already mentioned this.

    • flip-mode
    • 6 years ago

    I’ve been asking TR to pay more attention to MATX for what seems like 2 years now but TR has only shown love to ATX and MITX. Maybe Cyril can bend that curve.

    • PainIs4ThaWeak1
    • 6 years ago

    I’ve always been under the impression that more ambient air INSIDE the case decreases component temps, and decreases “heat soak” (for lack of a better word) between neighboring components (e.g. expelled GPU heat negatively affecting CPU cooling capability), but maybe I missed something… ๐Ÿ˜

    The last mid tower I owned ran too hot for my tastes, regardless of the amount of CFM of air I tried to move through it. Hence the reason I now own a 650D.

      • JustAnEngineer
      • 6 years ago

      A large case will take a few more minutes to warm up than a small one will when you first start your test.

      At steady state, it’s just the air flow rate and the temperature in and out that matters. The size of the case becomes irrelevant.

      A large case may have room for more fans and vents, making it easier to get more air flow. It may also have more room for cables, etc. to avoid blocking the air flow path inside the case.

    • Flatland_Spider
    • 6 years ago

    I too am sad Shuttle hasn’t advanced past their early success. The XPC stuff is neat, but they could slim it down a little bit.

    Anyway, I really want more half-height cards. That would go a long way to cutting down on the space needed inside a case.

    • Aliasundercover
    • 6 years ago

    What is the niche here? More heat dissipation than a laptop yet still sensitive to space? Isn’t this a bit narrow?

    Yes, most people like their computers smaller. Of course small isn’t just case size it is the mess created by wires all over the place. Most people are moving to more self contained units like laptops and tablets. I know some who rarely use either of these any more getting what they care about from their phones.

    It must be about gaming. Laptops are bad for high performance because they simply can’t dissipate the heat. Smaller desktop or deskside box formats can certainly outperform laptops.

    For my deskside PC I want flexibility. I want it to drive multiple monitors, hold lots of storage, let me upgrade what I want when I want. Space is not at a premium. It gets its slot by the desk and exact measurements don’t matter.

    What does matter is cables. External boxes are a pain as each one needs a cable to the PC and a power plug to the wall. More often than not they need disgusting power bricks. A PC big enough to have all my junk inside is less imposition on precious space than a smaller box which forces me to break out an external DVD drive or push storage external.

    Going from ATX to micro ATX just doesn’t matter. If I need small it should be small and self contained. That is what the portable is for. The main PC fits its allotted space and every time I open it up to work inside I am glad it spares enough room upgrade jobs don’t call for complete disassembly.

    More I/O at the front would be good. Standards for the random bits like drive lights, on/off, reset, power indicator would be good too. No need to aim for super small. The computer I take through the airport needs to be small. The one by my desk needs to be easy to work on.

    • NovusBogus
    • 6 years ago

    Definitely agree on mATX, it’s enough for just about everyone (heck, most people don’t even use dual GPUs) and they’re much cheaper to boot.

    Cases should still have one 5.25″ bay because not everyone has indentured themselves to the Internet and USB doesn’t always play well.

    I’m all for smaller PSUs, as everyone likely knows by now I like efficiency and it’s very frustrating to see all the ‘good’ PSUs start at like 600 watts. However, moving away from the ATX form factor may not be the best idea because it’s standard and this risks causing a lot of manufacturers to go off in pursuit of their own proprietary formats.

    I would definitely love to see cases come with integrated SATA docks and a unified I/O connector. In general, most cases–even the fancy ones–are not very installation friendly.

    I run open case so I don’t care all that much about cooling and front-panel stuff, but a bigger priority should be to make the cases themselves smaller since we’re going mATX and will have reduced real estate all around. An mATX case is about a third the size of an ATX tower so if you need more than 2-4 USB ports just put a hub on it. Keep in mind that motherboards almost never deliver anywhere near 500 mA like they’re supposed to so if you’re wanting to charge gadgets you’ll want an externally powered hub regardless of how many ports the case offers.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 6 years ago

      I disagree on cheaper. For example the basic entry-level mATX Z87 board from Gigabyte is $114. The basic entry-level ATX Z87 board from the same manufacturer is $119. For ASUS, their cheapest mATX board is more expensive than the entry-level Z87 board. You’re not really saving anything.

      They’re shorter, which I guess is a nice dimension to shrink it, but until you really get it narrower and less deep, it’s not really much savings. Sure you can convert it to liters and say “This case saves you 20 liters over an ATX midtower!” but if it’s only one dimension that’s limited usefulness.

        • JustAnEngineer
        • 6 years ago

        If the motherboard manufacturers can cut more motherboards out of a standard-sized PCB panel, they’re cheaper to manufacture. However, if they’re forced to use more layers in the circuit board, the cost goes up.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 6 years ago

          And that’s fine; my point was that it’s just not factually accurate to say they’re cheaper and mATX systems cost less money. I’m willing to deal with paying more to save space. I just don’t think mATX saves enough space, at least WRT case size. Not the mobo manufacturers’ fault though.

    • Antias
    • 6 years ago

    Strange you should bring this subject up right now… i’m the one all the friends and family call on to “build” their 3-4 year turnaround rig… and i just built 3 based on the Temjen TJ-08B (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811163182)
    Strangley you hit the nail on the head for the most part – no optical, 2x4Tb data and 1xSSD for main drive. A single 770 in each, with room to add another if/when they upgrade to 4K monitors. the only thimng i’ve got you haven’t mentioned above is a low profile dual TV Tuner card in each – for some reason they all want that on the PC too (we in AU don’t get Netflix etc like you northerners do, and recording FreeToAir is often the only option).

    All in all they are smaller, powerful and quiet rigs that i’m very pleased with.

    • rika13
    • 6 years ago

    AMEN!! TESTIFY MY BROTHER!!

    I love desktops, but full ATX is no longer needed, more than 1 5 1/4 or 2-3 3.5 bays is waste, Chernobyl PSUs are just padding profit margins, and most definitely standardized the front panel connector. There is no goddamn reason that could not have been done years ago as part of ATX 1.0.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 6 years ago

    The beauty of the desktop is that you can do whatever you want. If you want the monster gaming server capable of streaming games to every box in your house, you can build that. (Getting software to actually do it with is much harder, but maybe someday Kainy or something like it will get there.) If you want a small ‘n quiet ‘n powerful system, you can build that. If you want to build a gaming system today and have the possibility of going quad-SLI down the line, you can do that.

    What you suggest is as you said mostly already possible. Especially when you’re talking about smaller cases, mATX motherboards, smaller PSU’s, and the removal of 5.25 slots (which you can use for something other than drives). Of course, that also should include the possibility that if someone actually had need of an optical drive (I personally need one every 1.5 years or so it seems), you can go buy a USB drive. I got a $50 USB Blu-ray burner from Best Buy on clearance last November and I figure that’s all I’ll need for optical for… probably forever. I might be tempted to put another $50 in later to get a USB3 one, but this two-USB2 one will have to do for the time being.

    I think this is like arguing about whether the government should mandate something stupid like video games with a mature rating should be illegal for kids below the age of 16 and “Why aren’t we making laws stricter to punish parents/stores/gamemakers (depending on who’s doing the ranting) who violate this?” I think “the law” (or in this case the manufacturers) should just continue to make what we’re buying. Right now, enthusiasts want some air in their cases. In fact, quite a few of us know that more air makes it easier to silence the system than having the thing packed to the gills in the laptop model of “Burn ’em up.” There’s a reason you’ll see SOME people complaining that their Macbook Airs die after two years like clockwork. There’s a reason you rarely see a laptop last as long as a good gaming computer and even more rarely you see a gaming laptop that is both thin and powerful last for more than a few years.

    Plus, it seems like the smaller things are, the more expensive they are. Some of us prefer things be cheaper. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    That said, I think there is truth to what you say for many people and it’s great then that there are a wide range of options for people like that. There’s NUC all the way up to EATX. The beauty of PC’s is they are wide open, offer you configuration possibilities, and you can pick from whatever you need. Some would tell you that your discrete sound card is pointless and you should instead use the HDMI out from your video card to a good receiver and let the superior DAC of that receiver handle externally what sound cards do less well. Some would say that a dual-slot GPU is either not good enough or absolutely overkill compared to what people really need to game, depending on the resolution they’re going to game at. Lots of people would say this, in fact. I wouldn’t, but they’re out there. They’d be a large part of the group of people you are saying don’t need more than mATX. They’d go you one further and say, “Soon, I won’t even need a discrete GPU just like I don’t need a discrete sound card, discrete network card, discrete raid card, or discrete co-processor.”

    See? You speak as though you are saying what’s reasonable, but what’s reasonable depends on the person and the needs/expectations of that person. What you should be saying is, “I love freedom and I love the fact that PC’s offer me the options to do most of what I’m saying here already.” rather than saying, “I want what I want and btw I want what I want to be the norm because I want it and hey doesn’t it make sense that I want it?” and seeking some form of validation.

    Personally, I’m glad I can choose between going NUC or mITX or mATX or ATX or EATX. Seems to me the norm right now is either ATX and mATX. mITX and EATX are the fringe standards on the edges of what most people can live with. So why argue for change when what you want is already here?

    For connectors in cases, that’d be great, but it’d also obsolete a great many cases in rapid succession as cable standards and what not change because once you get a bunch of companies together to build a standard, they won’t sit still for long before they’re updating the spec and changing so you’ll want to upgrade an entire case just to get the newer standard (like they did with their slow march up from 80 Plus to Bronze, to Silver, to Gold, to Platinum, and now to Titanium). Imagine though them deciding to add a single pin to the cable to implement something awesome like, “data relay.” Suddenly, your entire case is in dire need of replacement. Of course, you can just run cables, right? Maybe. Hopefully, but depends on how the spec is set out, right? Depends on what these companies you’ve called into a single room to work together feel are their priorities, no? You called down the lightning, now get ready for the boom!

    So while I think it’d be a great idea if they could just make a standard and then sit on it for many years, it’s like USB (Okay, here’s USB3. Okay, that’s just gotten traction, here’s USB 3.1. You’re welcome!) or Displayport, or the worst offender, HDMI. HDMI 1.0, buggy; HDMI 1.1, nobody cares; HDMI 1.2a (lots of hardware is sold), then HDMI 1.3 rains on its parade and we need all new receivers. Then toss in HDMI 1.4a with features that should have been in the spec from the start, but hey… buying all new equipment again.

    They can’t leave the thing alone and they can’t just implement all the features they want the first time around. No, they have to piecemeal it because they just love compelling users to upgrade via constant updates that make the hardware built around the old standards look ancient and antiquated. It’s a racket and I’d personally not like to see them start on something new.

    So 1) PC’s are great because they’re so wide open and 2) the more distance between companies to keep them from colluding to create an environment where more upgrades are necessary is just fine by me.

    The best part is that even in disagreeing with me, you can still go build most of the system you wish to build. One without 5.25 drives, one based on mATX, with less air in your case, with a smaller PSU, only one dual-slot GPU, and a discrete sound card. Everything is out there.

    So what’s so wrong with the way things are right now?

    • tootercomputer
    • 6 years ago

    I still burn DVDs, but I suppose I could get an external USB burner.

    Keep in mind that large cases are easy to work in, that was always the advantage. The first computer I really upgraded and worked on was a Presario, in a small case, a real pain to work on, and so it was heaven when I built my first system from scratch and bought a mid-tower (in 2002, I still have it). It was so easy to install stuff.

    I need a non-gaming PC for a guest room where I have a 1080p 23″ television with multiple HDMI ports so I can use it as a monitor, and there really is no need for anything other than a mini-ITX system.
    I think for so many non-gaming office situations, e.g., college/university, corporate, and most home offices, mini-ITX could easily become the standard. I think the large monitor will be around a long time, but mini systems are more than adequate for most office use. Save space and power, what’s not to love.

    • Rza79
    • 6 years ago

    Cyril, you more or less describe the In Win BK644.
    [url<]http://www.in-win.com.tw/products_pccase_series.php?cat_id=1&series_id=42&model_id=374[/url<] I've used this case tens of times. Great case that doesn't collect dust inside. mATX, one 5.25 and a SFX PSU.

    • willyolio
    • 6 years ago

    i’d also like to see more PCI-E SSD’s. they can’t be that much more expensive than regular SSDs to manufacture. and it’s not so much speed as it is less cabling and easier organization.

    • ronch
    • 6 years ago

    Bring back the ATand Baby AT motherboard form factors!!!

    • Generic
    • 6 years ago

    I want all components to come in their own (small) enclosures. Make ’em all external devices. They connect in back and cool left to right if needed.

    The PC would be nothing but a rack to stack these components like AV equipment; an open box with no top or sides, just a bottom and four corners extending up to slide the components into.

    Waste of material? Yes.

    But imagine how much the bar to a custom PC would be lowered…

    • Sunburn74
    • 6 years ago

    I agree with almost all of cyrils points. Standardization for case connectors is long overdue and we could all probably use smaller PSUs.

    I think SSDs hold the next desktop form factor revolution in their hand. Simply put, the day is coming when the only connectors a PC will need be a 8pin for the motherboard and 2x 6 pins for the GPU. That day will arrive when 1+TB PCIE SSDs are reasonably affordable. Imagine a box where all you do is plug in 2x 2TB PCIE SSDs and your GPU and install your motherboard and you’re done.

    • Nikiaf
    • 6 years ago

    Why do we still need 5.25″ bays? Really, because one day you might wanna dust off that copy of need for speed 3? IF you actually do, what’s so hard about putting an old optical drive into a USB enclosure? If it’s not something you’re going to use on a regular basis, make it external and plug it in when necessary.

      • clone
      • 6 years ago

      perhaps desktops would be more sensible if we just connected all add in devices externally?

      heck why not get rid of both 5.25 bays and the 3.5’s.
      not everyone equips their system with add in graphics, surely those can be made to be external.
      external hard drives have been around for a while and really who wouldn’t want a few more sitting on their desk?
      personally I find anyone filling more than 2 ram slots on their motherboard to be pretentious, maybe their is a way to connect ram externally, might only need 1 wire from each dimm as opposed to 2 for everything else.

      and then the desktop PC would become an Intel NUC….. and look at what a sales sensation that is, why I’ve got 2 right now.

      smaller psu’s while certainly possible is nitpicking including the talk about cables given the modular options available and I’ve no interest in a docking station arrangement when more I/O ports is the answer.

      p.s. speaking as someone who just finished playing Crimson Skies and Homeworld and plans on playing COD2, GC2, DOW the dark crusade, Bioshock, Oblivion I disagree.

      maybe in 5 years time…. not sure but I’d hate to throw out so many great old games.

      • mcnabney
      • 6 years ago

      Some people like high quality video content (ie – not Netflix) and choose not to acquire it without paying. That means physical media (DVD/BD). Using an external is a PITA most of the time. Most microATX cases have a single 5.25 bay, so why mess with what works and doesn’t reduce options?

        • TO11MTM
        • 6 years ago

        As someone who uses an external Blu-ray burner, I would half agree. You usually either require 2 USB ports or an external power supply, and like non-slot notebook drives you expose the lasers every time you change discs.

        It’s nice as far as convenience goes (I like I only had to buy one drive to move from machines because I can just keep the drive with my movies,) But it’s definitely slower as far as seeking (Reading Thoroughput is fine over USB3.)

    • Voldenuit
    • 6 years ago

    On the topic of makevoers, why are they still called ‘desktops’? Most people keep them under or beside their desks these days. They should be called ‘deskbottoms’.

      • travbrad
      • 6 years ago

      We shouldn’t use the word “laptops” either in that case. Most people I see using a laptop have it sitting on a table or desk, not their lap.

      My desktop PC does actually sit on top of my desk, behind my monitors. I know I’m in the minority though.

        • JustAnEngineer
        • 6 years ago

        That’s where I’ve got mine, too.

        • clone
        • 6 years ago

        so laptops should be called desktops?

      • trackerben
      • 6 years ago

      So nowadays desktops are really cabinets, laptops are desktops, tablets are laptops, smartphones are tablets, and soon watches (Apple’s) will become smartphones. Rings are next.

      • BIF
      • 6 years ago

      Floortops.

    • phez
    • 6 years ago

    There’s so much misinformation here, from both the comments and the author.

    The “SFF” movement has been around for a long time now. Just look at how long Shuttle has been releasing their systems. There’s also the OEMs who moved to SFF some time ago. And for the customizable PC market, mATX cases have indeed been available for many, many years now.

    Even as far as components go, there have been performance oriented mATX boards available for years as well.

    There’s also this misconception that SFF cases are louder/hotter than normal sized cases. Where do people get this idea from?

    “Small” does not automatically equate to using small, high speed, whiny 60, 80mm fans. The TJ08E uses a single, quiet, high cfm 180mm front fan.

    Its true that with a larger case, you can add more fans, but there is also a larger volume of air to exhaust, so more fans is a necessity, rather than a luxury. The smaller your case is, the less volume of air there is to recycle, so you can get cooler air into the case and hotter air out of the case faster than a larger case. I most definitely present the argument that SFF cases run cooler and quieter than larger cases.

    • ptsant
    • 6 years ago

    Although I’m all for any improvement in practicality/performance etc, I don’t see the point of insisting in smaller form factors. All things equal, one would of course prefer a smaller case. However, even with the best possible engineering, a smaller case is usually noisier and has worse thermals. So, for a home computer sitting under a desk, saving a few cubic centimeters or even liters, is not worth it. There are so many small form factors, I don’t see why they have to become the standard.

    I also don’t agree with the idea of having small power supplies. Most users already buy low-quality PSUs and PSU performance degrades with time. Furthermore, peak efficiency is not at 90% load but usually lower and noise is usually least intrusive at 20-50% capacity. In conclusion, if a system needs to sustain 300W or more, a 500W PSU is usually not a good idea.

    The PC philosophy has always been one of expandability, practicality and customization. Giving up any of these attributes to shave space of simplify system assembly (which is, I remind you, not an everyday affair!) does not seem a good idea to me. That said, I agree with most of your other points.

    Finally, I would like to see standardized, simpler, closed loop water cooling. It would be nice, for example, to be able to route tubing in the chassis.

    • Bensam123
    • 6 years ago

    One of the things I’ve actually been pretty alright with is cases staying the same over the years. As far as the type of power supply they use, the type of drive bays they have (3 1/4, 51/2), and motherboards that fit into them. I’m still using my Lian-Li case I bought a decade ago and it works just fine. I have contemplated on going to mini-itx a few different times, but it doesn’t offer enough flexibility.

    Just the same as micro-atx doesn’t offer enough flexibility, there is always a chance where you’ll need more slots, more bays, or more power. Over the years I’ve definitely exceeded what I could fit in a mini-itx or micro-atx cases. I’ve upsized and downsized, the option has always been available to go either way. I like having options open and my Lian-Li is quite small for being a mid-size ATX case. About the only thing I don’t like about my Lian-Li is the fact that it was pre-120mm craze, where people realized having bigger fans was better, so there is a 80mm in the back and on top.

    • mimosomal
    • 6 years ago

    To those objecting to the removal of 5 inch bays, there is basically no possibility that this would interfere with your ability to play old games at all. With one bay or an external dvd reader you can rip them once to iso’s, and whenever you need to use them use software like virtual clone drive to mount them (for the few programs which require the OS to think there is a physical disk, for most things having a cd present is totally unnecessary)

    I’ve been using a micro ATX board in a small form factor case for about a year and enjoying it quite a bit, one high end GPU runs every game I’ve ever cared about beautifully, and there is still a giant fan in here so I can run my CPU at a ridiculous clock speed for OS and console emulation. Silverstone and other SFF case makers have done some amazing things creating cases that let you cram in good gaming equipment, four or five hard drives, and positive air pressure cooling fans without any real compromises, so unless you are just dying to waste desk space and make it difficult to lug your case around you most likely don’t need to get anything larger than micro atx these days.

      • Deanjo
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<] so unless you are just dying to waste desk space and make it difficult to lug your case around you most likely don't need to get anything larger than micro atx these days.[/quote<] Acutally the nice thing about a huge tower like the cosmos is that you do set it on the ground and have more desk space than with small on the desk systems.

    • Klimax
    • 6 years ago

    No.
    mATX is severely insufficient for anything more then regular user and maybe “just gamer”. For those who need power minimum is ATX if not E/XL-ATX. (Otherwise constraints on drives and cards will be to big)

    Optical is not dead for those who play games for longer then couple years. (And many games are not available online – including because they are territory restricted) Haven’t seen games like Starlancer nor I-War out there… And then there is matter of transferring files to old computers. (Best for old games)

    Nobody needs Titan and some other cards like RAID5, nobody needs 4TB, nobody needs 1KW PSU… (Already maxed out 550W PSU and that’s before Titan or any current upgrades like moving to C606 chipset)

    Modular PSU already made it simpler and your proposal would heavily restrict options for build. (How about getting power out of case for external connection of drives?)

    As for SATA plugs in bays, some towers already have it, also it is called backplane and is popular in servers. (But I’d like to have it optional)

    Nobody wants to use older cases, nobody wants any compatibility… (Not managing front panel cables often enough to care about that, although Asus had it quite right)

    Won’t cool well and would require severe restrictions on builds. (Otherwise not possible to maintain)

    Get expansion in those free 5.25 bays and you’re done. (Many mainboards have internal USB ports for this…)

    In short, speak for yourself and not us. Get yourself what you want or like and leave rest to us who can use that. (Can’t fit required hardware into mATX)

      • GENiEBEN
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<] I'm willing to bet the vast majority of PC gamers and enthusiasts out there have just as much empty space in their PCs[/quote<] Sure, I also have a 1.2K psu, 2P motherboard and 6000RPM fans on my desktop (literally), doesn't mean everyone else does. If you ever built PCs for others you'd know why he is right on spot.

      • Krogoth
      • 6 years ago

      Hate to burst your bubble.

      ATX is overkill for the vast majority of the users out there. They only use one or two expansion slots at most. (video cards mainly with a discrete sound card there and there. The users that have *need* for expansion slots (PCie SSD cards, high-end HBA cards, high-end NICs) tend to be professionals who shoot for even larger form factors (EATX, XLATX, SSI family).

      The reason is because most of the common peripheral devices that use to require expansion cards (serial, parallel, audio, USB, PATA, SATA, SCSI). These devices were slowly integrated into the motherboard which eliminate the need for expansion cards for these ports, unless you need more or something with superior performance or features.

      Optical media is only around because it is cheapest media for mass physical software distribution. It is under attack by digital distribution and affordable external HDDs (1TB or more) where you can store the content and archive the contents. It is no longer need as a low-end boot device, since modern motherboards can boot from thumb drives and external HDDs.

    • Grimmy
    • 6 years ago

    Game PC the size of a xbox360
    External PSU (external housing for a modular psu with cable).
    Only 2.5 internal HDDs (SSDs)
    ITX board with SLI. 16x pci-e extender cables.
    The GPUs set flat behind on the backside of the mboard (fans out).
    Liquid cooling solution for the CPU.
    Easy to carry to friends, LAN party, to the livingroom (HDTV) xbox1 gamepad will work on PCs 2014

    All xtra storage external.
    New product, cheap storage tower on network or USB 3.1/3.2 hub
    5 in a tower. Just drives. No Raid, no JBOD, No formatting, just insert and drives on LAN.

    note:
    See Dell (Alienware) X51 as a ref (its ugly, expensive and under powered)
    See Ray2kay6 videos with his Alienware X51 GTX 680 4GB with 850w power supply mod
    [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khbU3KtO2dw&list=TLTVYQlZxJ3C4xPP0gpIpHqIY1GLnBOjQ_<]YouTube[/url<]

    • clone
    • 6 years ago

    agree on mATX.

    umm no, let’s not get rid of 5.25 drive bays, I still have old video games on physical media that I’d like to replay in the future thanks.

    agree on psu.

    modular psu’s have partially addressed that concern.

    no docking station thanks, like my cases inexpensive far more than chock full of intangible benefits.

    agreed, nonstandard pin out is a ridiculous situation.

    meh.

    more I/O on the front would be lovely.

      • pancho77
      • 6 years ago

      I say get rid of 5.25 drive bays… there could be a tini slot for slim optical drives – you know, the kind that we already use in laptops for years. Or use an external one…

      On second thought, one 5.25 or 3.5 external bay could remain for expansion purposes (powered USBs, thudnerbolt or whatever comes next could be installed here)…

        • clone
        • 6 years ago

        their is a huge problem with this logic of getting rid of bays & or forcing consumers who still have a use for them to spend more all for the sake of reducing the size of the desktop case by inches.

        1st were talking about a desktop computer not a laptop, tablet, smarphone, portability and the smallest footprint is not a primary design concern….. it’s a desktop.

        2nd 5.25 optical drives sell for $17.00 now and for the HTPC crowd their is always the option of putting a blu-ray burner / player into the slot.

        3rd more space for expansion is one of the key benefits of the desktop computer case, you can add things like more I/O ports which has been mentioned and is definitely lacking in current desktop cases.

        4th regarding airflow like a mantra I’ll say it again, it’s a desktop computer that’s designed to house any and all components including some performance bits that are rather large and complex (high end graphics cards) and generate quite a bit of heat (cpu’s & graphics cards) a minimal footprint is not the focus and more space allows for more expansion.

        to be clear I fully agree on at least 2 points being made, more I/O ports are desired, a standardized pin out seems ridiculously long delayed at this point.

      • BenBasson
      • 6 years ago

      You don’t need a 5.25 drive bay to use an optical drive. Just get one you can plug in and use via USB, shove it a drawer with all your other unrelated computer tat that never gets thrown away for the other 364 days of the year.

        • clone
        • 6 years ago

        why would I want to pay considerably more for a component that’ll take up space in a drawer (drive + cable + power cord) when it’ll fit conveniently in the case and always be readily available?

        I can think of no practical reason let alone apply the term “need” in regards to getting rid of the 5.25 bay in the next 5 years.

        even today the floppy bays get accessories stuffed into them that are abundantly useful and floppy’s have been out of style since the 90’s….. 15 in 1 card reader anyone?… additional USB 3.0 ports on the front anyone?

        what is this magical benefit that’ll be had by making desktop computers less versatile?

          • JustAnEngineer
          • 6 years ago

          [url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151261<]$18[/url<] Slim SATA DVD-RW [url=http://www.amazon.com/Blu-Ray-Player-External-Laptop-Burner/dp/B001TVAU0E/<]$34ยฝ[/url<] External slim USB BD-ROM/DVD-RW [url=http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-UJ240-Blu-ray-Burner-DVD%C2%B1RW/dp/B003AXW2YQ/<]$59[/url<] Slim SATA Blu-ray burner [url=http://www.amazon.com/Silverstone-12-7mm-Interface-Blu-Ray-SOB02/dp/B00BY3LCLI/<]$146[/url<] Silverstone slot-load slim SATA Blu-ray burner

            • clone
            • 6 years ago

            those listed are internal except for the blu ray DVDRW which comes with those wonderful cables, and it appears they are slower or notably more expensive than plain vanilla offerings.

            while I appreciate the effort and was initially surprised it just goes back to my point…… why?

    • oldog
    • 6 years ago

    What about this case?

    [url<]http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ncase-m1-prototype-a-mini-itx-case[/url<] Heck, I just bought one.

    • RdVi
    • 6 years ago

    The only problem I have with properly small cases (not the 350D…) is the cooling performance and noise. Yes, they’ve come a long way, but Silverstones 450w gold PSU for example has a horribly loud 80x15mm fan. I am still going to buy one next year since I backed the Ncase M1 campaign and will be doing a build based on that, but will have to open up the PSU (ugh!) to replace the fan with a Noiseblocker equivalent.

    In the meantime I was looking at the Silverstone SG10, TJ-08E and Obsidian 350D, and a few other mATX cases, but decided to just go for a FT04 because it really makes no difference to my use scenario AND it’s quieter while being more expandable if I need it. Because of it’s shallow but tall(ish) design it fits under my desk without poking out too much like my older ATX cases did. The Seasonic 660w 80+ plat PSU hasn’t turned on the fan at all in stress testing in hybrid fan mode – which is great because the PSU is the closest fan to my ear without a metal noise dampened door in front of it. Also, unlike 2 of the mATX cases I mentioned, I have positive air pressure with all intake fans being covered by easy to clean filters. The TJ08E didn’t have the fan control for the front (loud) fan that was needed and put restrictions on the PSU I could use.

    I’m extremely glad I didn’t go for mATX, but only because the market for a great mATX case just isn’t quite there yet. I think an updated TJ-08E with some premium features, sound deadening and fan control would be perfect for me, but alas, it doesn’t exist. In the end I’ve come to the conclusion that I will have two PCs.. a workstation (ATX) and a more portable mITX gaming rig. When the mATX market is ready, I might find a happy medium with just one PC, but there is still work to be done on the cases.

      • JustAnEngineer
      • 6 years ago

      [quote=”RdVi”<] The TJ08-E didn't have the fan control for the front (loud) fan that was needed and put restrictions on the PSU I could use.[/quote<] I connected the 180mm Air Penetrator fan's 3-pin plug to the chassis fan header on my motherboard. With Asus' software, I've set a profile that spins it down to nearly-silent operation while browsing the web while still automatically spinning up to keep everything cool while I'm gaming. It'd be easier to do with a 4-pin PWM fan control, but it works. I'm using that same SeaSonic SS-660XPยฒ power supply with hybrid fan control in the TJ08-E.

        • RdVi
        • 6 years ago

        I got mixed up with the PSU limitations, it was more the fact that for the TJ-08E and SG10 in particular that short cables were desirable. I was looking at one of the Silverstone Gold PSU’s at 140mm in length and compatible with their short cable kit for this reason. One of the reasons I went with the FT04 was to use my old Corsair HX1000 PSU, but when finding that the fan had a slight click to it which was now noticeable because it was at the top of the case and every other fan was so quiet compared to my last build, I went out and bought the Seasonic – which cost about the same as the Silverstone 650Gold + short cable kit.

        I’d love to see Seasonic make a SFF PSU. If more were to invest in the format we’d soon end up with 500w Platinum PSU’s with hybrid fan modes… or at the very least, fans that aren’t stupidly noisy.

      • phez
      • 6 years ago

      The TJ08E does have a high/low speed fan switch on the side.

      • Chrispy_
      • 6 years ago

      Like Phez says, the TJ08-E is one of the very few inexpensive cases that includes a fan-speed switch that you can reach from outside the case.

      It is notable and widely reviewed for it’s excellent cooling at low noises. What [b<]ARE[/b<] you talking about?

        • RdVi
        • 6 years ago

        It has a switch for low and high with many complaining that low (700rpm) isn’t low enough. The FT04 goes down to 500rpm and I can definitely say that I wouldn’t want the fans any louder than that for general use. Yes, there are two of them, but unlike the TJ-08E, they are covered by a solid, sound-deadened door. The TJ-08E is still the best mATX case out there for air cooling and even light water cooling. I think they need to revise it though… something new at a slightly higher price point with sound deadening and some new features.

          • JustAnEngineer
          • 6 years ago

          The 180mm fan is pretty quiet below 600 rpm. My smart fan profile is set to turn it down to as little as 18% output (about 250 rpm) when my components are cool. I’m weighting it for 50% PCIe slot temperature, 35% CPU temperature and 15% PCH (south bridge) temperature since the GPU generates more heat than anything else in the case.

          Combined with the two NF-F12 fans on the Hydro H70 spinning at 300 rpm, my PC is quiet enough.

            • Chrispy_
            • 6 years ago

            What board is that with weighted smart-fan profiles based on different sensors?

            That single feature is almost worth me jumping on the upgrade train from my trusty 2500K

            • JustAnEngineer
            • 6 years ago

            That’s using the Asus Thermal Radar 2 software in Windows after running the “Thermal Tuning” routine on my Gryphon Z87 motherboard (part of Asus’ “TUF” line). The options in the BIOS fan controllers aren’t as rich.

            The fan speed control curve definition is pretty flexible, too. Below a certain temperature (calculated by combining up to three of the eight temperature sensors using the percentages that you enter), it runs at a fixed constant output (I’m using 18%). Between the first set temperature and a second temperature, it ramps up linearly to another output. Between that temperature and a third one, it again ramps up linearly. Above the third temperature, it runs at a fixed maximum output (I’m using 100%).

            There are similar options with a different curve for the CPU fan (which I’m splitting to drive a pair of NF-F12 fans on the Hydro H70) and the other three chassis fan controllers (which I am not using).

    • CrisisHawk
    • 6 years ago

    I must admit my initial reaction to this was “what? this is madness!” but after getting past that I can see that these ideas have merit to them, but they are most definitely not for everyone.

    I believe that systems built under most of these ideas would be beneficial to the common user who just wants “a computer” and buys one off the shelf. Also there is a market of more advanced users that I assume the author fits into which care more about there setup but don’t need/want a lot of customization options after the initial build/purchase that these ideas work well for.

    However I also believe that these ideas (with some exemptions) would be detrimental to enthusiast users, those of use who like to tinker with our builds, those of us who do things “because I can” rather than “because I need the storage space/performance/etc”

    To go through them,

    — mATX, this is fine for probably the majority of people, but ATX still has more uses than just workstations and 4 way SLI/Crossfire. sound cards, extra rear I/O (thinking of USB 3.0 expansion cards in particular), PCIe SSDs have hit the market recently. And if nothing else it simply leaves more room to put features on the boards.

    — Disc drives, they are on there way out to be sure, but they are not dead yet, at least among the common user, I don’t use them personally but I know plenty of people that still do.

    — power supply’s, again downsizing to the SFX for factor is probably fine for most people, personally I am happy with my 600 watt PSU for the time being. but there is also still going to be demand for those high end 1000 watt plus PSUs.

    — integrating power distribution into the case. This one I disagree with at all user levels. Firstly doing this introduces another point of failure into each machine. Secondly as it stands cases are normally chosen based on…..”will it fit everything I want to put in it”, front I/O options and design/aesthetics. Implement this means you also have to factor in the quality of the power components and depending on how it is implemented, it could introduce a lot of compatibility issues (for getting a replacement of a failed component, not just upgrades or a new build).

    — integrate SATA data connectors into drive bays, I can agree with this up to a point depending on the implementation. Maybe making drive cages essentially hot swap bays.

    — unified connector for front LEDs and buttons. This one I agree with for all use cases I can think of. but there should also be some headroom for additional features (like a boot to BIOS button) in this standard, I don’t think it should be power/reset/LEDs and that is it.

    — better stock cooling for desktops sounds like it could only be a good thing.

    — more I/O at the front, this one is quite subjective, some people are going to want more front I/O than others, for the time being units that add USB/card readers/etc that fit into 5.25″ bays are available. Personally I am fine with 4 well spaced USB ports for the time being.

    When it comes down to it I do think that when it comes to PCs there is such a thing as too much standardization you can never really have a one size fits all PC. That said as I mentioned at the start most of these ideas could be beneficial to some markets.

    • brucek2
    • 6 years ago

    My desktop unit is located under my desk, where it competes for space with nothing else. I like that it’s big enough that I’m not worried about stepping on it or kicking it over. Its extra height compared to a more compact case just makes it easier for my hand to drop down to just the right height to insert a BluRay, which yes I do still use from time to time.

    If it was smaller and meant to sit on my desktop, then it would be wasting more space that is valuable to me — my actual work area — than the much larger case is now. And regardless of whether I ever do put in that 2nd or 3rd huge video card (4K is coming!), or however many drives I end up wanting, I enjoy knowing that I am not likely to run out of room nor face an unwieldy space to work in.

    Finally, while I’m not a thermodynamic engineer, I strongly suspect having enough room for my large fans to work in and generate unimpeded air flow over my system is a factor in its cooling peformance which in turn is a factor in its overall performance.

    So sure, please keep the small form factors coming, they have lots of great applications. But they are not the only game in town and we’re a long way from having achieved sufficiently infinite performance in small sizes that larger sizes will never be needed.

    • Chrispy_
    • 6 years ago

    Why stop at SATA data cables?

    I wish manufacturers would just make six drive bays that can hold either 3.5 or 2.5″ drives, and then have a single, cheap PCB backplane that snaps/screws onto the back and dumps all the cables at the bottom next the SATA ports and PSU. Very few boards have more than 6 internal SATA ports anyway.

    When cables need changing due to new standards, sell a new snap-in backplane for $40 and enjoy the $35 profit

    I’m with you on SFX power supplies too. When you can run a 7970GE from a decent 450W PSU without too much trouble, it seems pointless for the PSU to occupy as much space as it does.

    A long time ago I used to buy a PSU for a case, then cut off things that were mutually exclusive (like the old AT power connectors, floppy connectors and usually at least two or three spare molex connectors). I’d then move the connectors of the IDE cables to where they needed to be with minimum folding/bending and I once even re-cabled the power connectors using monochrome, custom length wire (this was back in the 90’s when acrylic cases were coming into fashion). I don’t see why something as simple and cheap as power/data cables can’t be handled by the case manufacturer. Making Modular PSUs standardised can’t be that hard, and then it’s just a case of plugging your case’s single power connector into the PSU. Hell, it’d sure make replacing a dead PSU easier, too – like the typical Dell workstations where all the cabling joins the PSU in a single modular block….

    • TaBoVilla
    • 6 years ago

    I agree with you 100% on this post Cyril, big cases are so 1990’s

    • Machupo
    • 6 years ago

    Cyril — might as well ditch all of your SATA drives as well, put the big media spinners on your router and use a M.2 NGFF SSD for OS/Programs ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Oh, and I bought a couple of these cases for experimentation ๐Ÿ˜€

    [url<]http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ncase-m1-mini-itx-pc-case/x/2402755[/url<]

    • Shoki
    • 6 years ago

    I’d love machines to be much smaller. I recently built a [url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856101142<]Shuttle DS61 V1.1[/url<] and I love it. If I could get something similar in size but with a gaming grade GPU I'd be in hog heaven. I'm going to buy 1 external DVD or BluRay and use it as needed for all my PC's.

    • Mopar63
    • 6 years ago

    I am a huge fan of SFF builds (pun intended) and love mATX and mITX builds and yes that includes the super ITX cases out there right now.

    However a some of what you have posted I disagree with.

    First we do not need to kill off optical bays yet but more than one or maybe two is a complete waste. I personally have not had an optical drive in my PC in a few years but I know a lot of people that still want them and some use the bays for other than optical drives. The bays needs to stay but it needs to be default options that they can be removed.

    I also disagree with removing the grilled top to cases. A good positive airflow case can make good use of an open top area. When I build I system I try to max out the front intake and use a bottom intake if offered and then keep the top un-uses to allow that positive pressure and easy way to escape. This works along with basic air flow dynamics and heat to help get the heat out toe case faster.

    I also disagree about more front panel IO. I do not know anyone that uses more than one or two at a time the front panel connections. If the connection needs to be there long term I put it in the back. Short term, as in right at the moment is all the front panel is supposed to be for.

    Your overall premise however I agree with and actually practice. The 6 PCs in my house are three Sapphire Edge Mini PCs (2 attached to TVs and one used by 9 year old for his games) One is in a Node 304, another in a Prodigy and the last one just got moved from a full tower to a N200 case.

    None of the PCs need any floor space, or even a lot of table space. They all sit on shelves next to the computer desk or behind the monitor or TV they are attached too. No sacrifice in performance on any of them either. One is a Haswell 4770K at 4.3GHZ with a 7970, another an i5 with a 7950 and the third an APU A10 6800K with a 7870.

    SFF is the way of the future and I am very happy with the move to much smaller computers in my home.

    • Krogoth
    • 6 years ago

    I’m kinda half surprised that Intel still hasn’t made another attempt to replace the ATX form factor. Intel and AMD are already moving towards SOAC platforms, so this would be a good time to do it. You don’t need “ATX” board to get a build a powerful gaming that can effortlessly handle 4Megapixel gaming. mATX is more then sufficient there are some mATX boards that can even handle CF/SLI if that is your thing.

      • peartart
      • 6 years ago

      Because why bother? SoCs do a good job of enabling all-in-ones, which better serve the vast majority of the market looking for smaller desktops.

        • Krogoth
        • 6 years ago

        1.) Cost – ATX is overkill for most of the market. The users that *need* ATX tend to shoot for larger form factors like EATX and SSI family.

        2.) Design – ATX is ancient. It was designed in an era where CPUs only need 40Watts or less. The external and internal peripherals devices consume less then that. The system bandwidth throughput was less than 1GB/s. The distance between memory slots, expansion card slots, CPU and controller is placing serious limitations on how bandwidth you transmit over it. Thermal management is a nightmare for ATX, it was designed only to provide a wind tunnel for CPU, nothing else.

        There are far better ways to design a motherboard layout for the needs of a modern system. The still-born BTX was a step in the right direction, too bad it was designed primarily to deal with the thermal shortcomings of Prescott and Cedar Hill. Intel had to abandon it when memory slots were too far away from the CPU socket. This prevent CPUs with integrated memory controller from working. Intel couldn’t use their Nehalem chips with it. This was AMD’s main result why they didn’t adopt BTX ,since they were on the integrated memory controller bandwagon before Intel.

    • Kougar
    • 6 years ago

    For the most part the choice already exists. The proliferation of smaller form-factor motherboards, and especially cases in particular has never been as high as it is today. Don’t knock large cases just because you no longer need them. There are people that want the space to cram it full of drives for full backups, or a truly silent triple 140mm radiator for a silent overclocked system. I even have all the WC gear stashed out of the way in the 5.25″ drive cage too.

    I completely agree regarding the cabling mess and especially the front panel connectors. Yet having cases ship with pre-installed cabling? In a microATX or mini-ITX case you are wantnig to become mainstream it would be silly to do so. If you want neat, preinstalled cabling in a svelte, good looking case that’s what a boutique OEM will do… speaking of which, a Falcon Northwest Tiki has just about everything you’re looking for already. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • DPete27
    • 6 years ago

    Features like [url=https://techreport.com/review/24818/asus-shows-off-z87-based-haswell-motherboards<]Asus' mPCIe Combo port[/url<] and other vendors putting [url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157374&Tpk=asrock%20Z87%20itx<]multiple mSATA / mPCIe slots on their boards[/url<] is great for reducing cable clutter and required space. I would love this to continue. Socketed design (including drive bays) is good at allowing uninhibited future expandability, but in it's current state, it doesn't take the technological advancements of component downsizing into consideration. Take mSATA SSDs (soon with 3D NAND!), mPCIe wireless, slot-loading optical drives, [url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121768<]short GPUs[/url<], and [url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100007605%20600361786%20600358494&IsNodeId=1&name=2TB<]2TB 2.5" hdds[/url<] for example. All those components take up half the space of their traditional-sized bretheren and offer largely the same performance. I guess we're stuck catering to the lowest common denominator until SFF components become mainstream.

    • ikjadoon
    • 6 years ago

    Love all of these ideas, except more input and cable integration:

    1) mATX just needs some more loving. Look at what a well-designed mATX rig can look (and perform like!): [url<]https://www.maingear.com/custom/desktops/f131/gallery.php[/url<] It has an i7-3770K at 4.7GHz, in case you were apprehensive: [url<]http://reviews.cnet.com/desktops/maingear-f131-core-i7/4505-3118_7-35302659.html[/url<] 2) 5.25" is usually wasteful. If you need optical, still, though, Silverstone's FT03 and FT03-Mini use slot-loading laptop-sized OD drives. 3) Smaller power supplies: we need more! There's only one really good one, the Silverstone ST45SF. It can handle overclocked CPUs + a TITAN. If you want SLI/CF, no way, though. 4) Hmm..integrated power cabling with the case: I could see that working but also a bit restrictive. Maybe too much integration, me thinks! 5) Integrated SATA cables: also, too restrictive, I think. And mounts for a 2.5" drive aren't really taking up that much space, are they? 6) Unified connector: yah, seriously, what the hell is keeping this from existence? 7) Airflow is extremely important, but I fear it will take an entirely new standard, similar to BTX or better. But, yeah, we do need an updated standard. No one uses flat desktops any more, lol, which is what ATX was designed for! 8) You need *more* than 4 front USB ports? That's a little excessive for most people, I think. 4 is just enough.

      • paradigmshift
      • 6 years ago

      Big surprise a mATX case by Silverstone, which forward thinking people like me were looking into 2 years ago. What’s the next logical step….ITX. ATX is now for the basement dwelling gamer nerds that are stubborn and won’t accept the future.

        • Chrispy_
        • 6 years ago

        No, No, No.

        ATX is still vital – and far from the “basement dwelling gamer nerds” audience that you’re implying.

        Just because you don’t use ATX doesn’t mean that ATX is for the stubborn and stupid. What Cyril is suggesting is that the [i<]default[/i<] enthusiast size should be ATX, because most of us only use one card and a couple of drives. 95% of all PC's sold coule easily be half-height, mini-ITX - You can comfortably game/watch/work in a half-height cube with only a 150W PSU and either a low-profile GTX650 or HD7750. At 720p all modern games (even Crysis3) run pretty well, and the vast majority of mainstream titles are going to be fine at even 1080p too. Us enthusiasts want to game at 60fps or more at four-megapixel resolutions on high details, but I can guarantee you that is such an insignificantly tiny proportion of the PC gaming market that it's barely worth considering. 90% of PC gaming stops at The Sims, browser-based games and World of Warcraft; Ff the remaining 10% I would expect the majority of those to be perfectly happy with 1366x768 at default auto-detail settings, because that's still looks so much better and smoother than the console games that the majority of gamers actually use. FWIW, Full ATX is useful for those of us with twin-tuners, or simply a perfectly common jack-of-all trades PC that has maybe a dGPU, a proper SATA RAID card, Wi-Fi and a discrete soundcard. 4 slots is too few, that's all. And in case you're wondering, no - I'm not an ATX fanboy, I've been waving the tiny-PC banner around for ages and haven't bought a full-size ATX motherboard for myself since 2006 when the Core2 line was launched. Hell, I even hate the mITX Bitfenix Prodigy just because it's unneceesarily large for such a tiny motherboard tray.

          • paradigmshift
          • 6 years ago

          Yes you put it better than I did. I think for the enthusiast crowd mATX boards should be the new norm. ITX should be what mATX is to these “enthusiasts” now, though I think this group doesn’t see the potential they could get out of ITX, and yes they’re stubborn. Back in the day, I was the same, go for the fastest, top end possible, now all the Intel CPUs are powerful as heck, i5 K series is a great sweet spot and by no means breaks the bank. I can get that, 2 ssd, 4 HDs, h60, GTX 660 ti, all in a ITX case. I could have put more if i spent more, but that’s not the point. There are folks way smarter, and better than me at building, they could certainly do a lot more with ITX than I could. But….nope, I need my dual radiator, dual gpu, 5 expansion bays, etc. My ITX case is tiny, and I was surprised how efficient and cool it can run in such a small package. It opened my eyes and I never looked back, just like how I didn’t want to except that Apple was the new king innovation, sometimes you just gotta suck it up, and accept the future that you are uncomfortable with. Forward, not backward, people.

        • ikjadoon
        • 6 years ago

        Nobody wants any form factor to disappear. Cyril’s point is to change the dominant player, though.

        No one wanted to tear down huge sever farms when laptops hit the market.

    • PenGun
    • 6 years ago

    Huh. I’m not switching from my 24″ tower I built my dual P3 in. That was after the desktop case I kept the jewel like PPro in.

    It’s perfect. Just takes up 7 1/2″ of width under my 4′ wide desk. Easy to work on and I painted it red with car paint.

    It’s true if I did not have a desk to keep it under it would be far more intrusive.

    • cynan
    • 6 years ago

    While there is some uniformity of thinking across the comments, inline with at least some of Cyril’s *suggestions*, there seems to be much more variation in what constitutes the ideal desktop.

    And that, folks, is what being a PC enthusiast is largely about really: building and configuring your desktop to suit your specific requirements and/or desires. It’s this flexibility, together with some modicum of pride that goes with having assembled something yourself, that keeps said enthusiasts from buying Dells or HPs or even Falcon Northwests (budget arguments not withstanding for the latter).

    But with great flexibility comes great caveats. One of the largest is that, yes, form factors do not get updated regularly. If standards kept changing every couple of years, the various hardware OEMs simply would not be able to offer as much variety – whether cases or components – as they would continuously have to be catering to new designs and specifications. As a result, the basic form factors for the PC become dated.

    Yet despite this, there are still plenty of options and variety across ITX all the way to E-ATX that will meet most people’s tastes, and, if I say so myself, can look pretty darn good doing it – even if it isn’t as sexy as the latest box designed in Cupertino. No longer are we all stuck with the same ol’ mostly uniform beige boxes of yore.

    I’m not saying that we can’t do better than what the current motherboard and case form factors offer, and Cyril, many of your ideas are good ones (likely suited toward a majority of PC users) but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that the whole premise of this piece isn’t sort of at odds with the very raison d’รชtre of the PC enthusiast and the market they support.

    For in this market, and for the majority of these PC owners, flexibility and choice will always reign supreme.

    Case in point. My girlfriend and I have 3 “desktop” PCs in our place. 1) My big honkin gaming rig residing in a large ATX case (old Antec 1200) with custom water cooling and multiple radiators mounted internally, 2) my girlfriend’s micro ATX desktop that gets mostly used for work, and 3) a full size ATX media PC comprised of hand-me-down components from my previous gaming rig in a rack mount-style case that looks at home under my Denon AV receiver. Two of the three have optical drives and the media PC doesn’t have front ports because they would just be prone to get clogged with dust anyway as the enclosure is at floor-level…

    Why would I want someone telling me I would be better off with a micro ATX enclosure, etc, for all 3?

    • mkk
    • 6 years ago

    Lets have an expanded mini-ITX instead, making room for one expansion card above the dual slot sized graphics card. And four RAM slots as standard, possibly requiring a little more room in that other area to help board tracing design. mATX cases are rarely much smaller, even if that can largely be blamed on keeping 5,25″ bays around. Begone!

      • libradude
      • 6 years ago

      Expanded mITX has been around for a bit as the DTX standard; unfortunately, I have yet to see a decent DTX board at retail. Most seem to come in pre-built HP or Dell type systems in their “SFF,” or small form factor, lineups. Basically what you described – one PCIe x16 slot for graphics, and one more (usually x4) for one other card. I actually really like the look of the Dell Optiplex 7010/9010 SFF cases and am considering getting one and slapping a half-height video card in it and calling it a day. Problem is the most grunt you can get in half-height cards right now is a ddr5 gt640 (meh) or an HD 7750 (only slightly less meh)

      edit: forgot to mention 2 things: the SFF systems I mentioned above do indeed have 4 RAM slots, and secondly, DTX boards do (usually) fit in mITX cases.

      • Machupo
      • 6 years ago

      Sounds like a Shuttle SX79R5 meets your needs pretty well :p

      • JustAnEngineer
      • 6 years ago

      [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DTX_%28form_factor%29[/url<]

    • slaimus
    • 6 years ago

    My case is 5 years old, and all 5 of my 5.25″ bays are used in my mid-tower:

    1: optical drive
    1: X-Fi I/O box – Headphone amp, mic input, optical in/out, MIDI in/out
    3: Coolermaster 4-in-3 3.5″ to 5.25″ bay with cooling fan with 4 hard drives

    At the beginning of a build it may seem like overkill, but us enthusiasts usually keep upgrading a computer and will eventually find a use for available space.

    • Buzz78
    • 6 years ago

    To go with better mATX cases, I would like to see a better selection of mATX motherboards without integrated graphics (along the lines of the AMD 770/870/970 chipsets). If I don’t intend to ever use integrated graphics, I’d rather save the chipset TDP and cost overhead, along with space in the I/O connector panel.

    • TAViX
    • 6 years ago

    [b<]Bullshit[/b<] article. There are million of cases out there for all taste, small, big, etc. Take your pick.

      • ikjadoon
      • 6 years ago

      I would like more well-designed mATX parts, TBH.

      Unless you go for the ASUS ROG, ATX mobos > mATX mobos in features. But, the ROG series shows that great motherboards can be built for mATX sizes.

    • outamyhead
    • 6 years ago

    Sure most PC gaming enthusiast systems may have plenty of space or air in them, mainly so they can pull and push plenty of air through to keep things cool (yep even the liquid cooling needs air), and I like my optical drives, they allow me to play all of those old games that are on optical media, that I cannot activate on STEAM, or are so old I need DOS box to run them.

    I don’t mind micro ATX, but from an enthusiast point of view, it’s not a great alternative, especially if you want lots of storage connected up to the mainboard, or more than one GPU, mATX won’t work with my two graphics cards, sound card, two optical drives, and seven hard drives.

    I work on small form factor computers at work, they die all the time from heat related problems because the case is too damn small. And I clean the laptop air intake and exhaust every couple of months, same with the PS3, and the Xbox, you would be surprised how little dust and dirt would cause a serious problem.

    And I put AC filter material on the couple of blank mesh 5.25 panels I have, to block dust getting in.

      • ikjadoon
      • 6 years ago

      Actually, your build would work solid in mATX. Just gotta find the right parts, mate! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Just pointing that out.

    • paradigmshift
    • 6 years ago

    Wow, I’m really appalled at the comments in here. This is why innovation is so slow. You have myopic brains not only on the engineer/developer side, but also the consumer side. You guys think the author went too far in his suggestions for a PC revolution, but honestly if you had half a brain you’d realize he didn’t go far enough. ITX is the future, if the PC wants to compete with Macs. Who the fuck would want to buy full tower PCs in the future when you have powerful hardware in MacPro/ITX size. All I see in these comments are “wahhhh wahhh, plz don’t take away my space, I hate change, plz don’t change ahhhhhhhhhhhh im so scared.” Use your brain, come up with practical solutions. If you work in an industry that you will definitely need a large behemoth case, then go for it, but you’ll be the huge minority. 99% of people do not want or need something that big, upgradability or not, 99% of the time they don’t (numbers are out of my ass, and i give a crap, you don’t need real stats to prove a logical/obvious point). Why would anyone cater to 1% of a dying population? I’m a big time gamer too, and I switched to ITX and have never looked back. I lost space, I can’t upgrade a few things, well guess what….apply brain power, come up with a solution, and you can create a powerful/meaningful system, all in a tight package. Jesus, open your eyes you little whiney-brain-dead nerds. Please think forward, not backward. This is why there’s even a mention of Apple’s name when it comes to innovation (cause they think forward), god that hurts to come from my mouth.

    And to those of you cocks that are too ego driven or prideful that any average to can build a sweet ass rig were the industry to revolutionize and simply every process so that ANYONE can build a small powerful system, well fuck off. We need everyone to be building PCs and having fun doing it. Building one isn’t hard now for us techies, but for everyone else it’s stupidly archaic and pointless, you’d be a douchebag trying to deny people the fun that is building one, but it’s 2013 and it’s still the same crap. It’s sad reading these comments and people still stuck in the stone age. Grow up. For those that still want to do shit their way, guess what you’re all smart judging by your comments, there will still be ways for you to customize and upgrade, but look at the 99% that don’t give a shit about how powerful or monster rigs are. Here’s a relevant analogy, 10 years ago when everyone was still driving stupidly gas-inefficient SUVs in America, we had a huge surge in gas prices that have never gone back, and now everyone’s gunning for more efficient. Wow…forward thinking….progress…yea let’s try that in the PC industry.

    The funny thing is, the system I built in my ITX enclosure is as powerful, more thoughtfully built, and cleaner than most retardedly behemoth systems I see posted online. A testament to how stupid/brainless gamers can be trying to build the Ultimate gaming rig. Well I have a Ultimate Gaming Rig, as powerful or more powerful, or close to, all in 1/10 of the size (exaggeration needed).

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 6 years ago

      I can almost see and hear the vein in your temple pulsating as you typed this. I bet if the exact thing above was made and called “The Steam Box” there would be a much different response. /poke /prod

        • Kurotetsu
        • 6 years ago

        Looking at this posts its clear this guy has ALOT of pent up frustration to let out. I didn’t think form factor was such a RARGHSRSBISNESS issue.

        But seriously (see what I did there?), just get the one you like and suits your needs. I personally made the jump to micro-ATX (by necessity rather than choice) and its been great for me. There’s plenty of options around for everyone.

          • ikjadoon
          • 6 years ago

          Plenty of options: I wouldn’t say that. Well-designed ATX cases far out-number well-designed mATX cases.

            • paradigmshift
            • 6 years ago

            You must not use your eyes and brain much, you don’t need ATX anymore. 2013. Please use Mac, because you hold back PC.

        • paradigmshift
        • 6 years ago

        Lol, yes I’m irked by myopic brains. Those that cannot see past standard/set ways will always be idiots. Just look at those that you, a techie, probably look up to. Look at the man many PC-users hated, Steve Jobs, but you can’t deny that a brain like his is what drives innovation. Keep thinking you need a giant case. Keep believing that, and 10 years from now, you will still have the crap you have now. Congrats. My box will still only be marginally slower than yours, and it will still be less than half the size. Use brain.

        What is a Steam Box? I know ITX, and I know I can still build great hardware in a smaller packages.

          • XA Hydra
          • 6 years ago

          Can’t tell if Trolling, or if just needlessly offensive and overly-confident that their “paradigm” is best for everyone. PCs will advance either way, and there will be those that like theirs a certain way. Some people even build “retro-rigs” just because they enjoy the nostalgia. Are those who maintain old roadsters myopic idiots?

          There are millions of reasons people build and keep what they do. Why insult them all?

            • Kurotetsu
            • 6 years ago

            Does it matter? Anyone so invested in a freaking motherboard/case form factor that they feel compelled to throw around vitriol whenever anyone doesn’t have the exact same opinion on the matter isn’t worth paying attention to.

      • ikjadoon
      • 6 years ago

      To be fair, he posted this on TECH REPORT, lol. ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s full of enthusiasts. ๐Ÿ˜€

      In fact, Cyril, you’ll be interested to find that Maingear did some of its own studies and found out that most (reread that: most, not all) of their customers didn’t need a lot of space. So, now, their most popular rig is mATX. They have an mini-ITX build, too, and a full ATX. See here: [url<]http://www.maingear.com/custom/computers/custom-desktops.php[/url<]

    • DPete27
    • 6 years ago

    Funny story: I was touring a home for sale yesterday. In the basement were 2 gaming rigs in full-tower (CM HAF) cases. They were ominous. One case had the side panel off and of course I had to glance inside to see what hardware they were using.
    ATX mobo
    1x Nvidia GTX 570
    1x wireless card
    2x hdds
    I chuckled at the sight of a computer with the same number of internal components that I have in my mATX Silverstone PS07 but taking up twice the volume (or more). I didn’t put an optical drive in my current PC when I built it a year ago and still haven’t seen the need to install one.
    (Disclaimer: My PS07 build is very dense and wasn’t a walk in the park to build, some of the remaining preference toward big cases is to have room for big hands while inserting components into the case.)

    I think the enthusiast PC crowd in general is stuck in the outdated mindset of “I need this expandability” while more and more features are being integrated with every hardware generation. There will always be a niche market for the massive cases and and ATX / EATX mobos, but for the vast majority of users, I completely agree with Cyril.

      • paradigmshift
      • 6 years ago

      Wow, the only working brain I’ve seen in these comments. You can join me and Cyril in the future with our ITX/(whatever’s next) computers while everyone else has FULL ATX, horribly inefficient, has nearly the same components, but is 5% faster. Lol, your story is exactly how I see most of the brains in PC-enthusiast-industry today. Brain-dead dinosaurs.

        • Dashak
        • 6 years ago

        Welcome to TR. Please feel free to comment everywhere and badly. Oh, I see you’ve already done that. Carry on then.

    • Goty
    • 6 years ago

    Better yet, why don’t we leave it the way it is where people have [i<]choice[/i<]? You want a cramped, hobbled machine that's hard to work in? They make the parts to build one, go for it. As for me, I'll take my massive full-tower case that allows me some modicum of flexibility.

      • paradigmshift
      • 6 years ago

      Lol how old are you might I ask. Must be past your prime, because you have the brain of a dinosaur. Move forward, not stand still, not backward. It’s 2013. Why are you building 1990’s sized hardware. If you took your head out of your ass, you can build the same thing or close to it in ITX, you just have to “try.” In that aspect you might be too young to understand, I don’t know you so I can’t be sure. I’m sorry that building a powerful computer in a different package than you’re used to is out of your comfort zone, but your mindset is holding back an entire industry. You might as well Mac it up now, because brains like yours killlin the fun for all us PC users with a brain.

        • Deanjo
        • 6 years ago

        Put a couple of GPGPU computing cards and 24 TB of drives in your ITX and then you will be able to say that power users are holding the industry back. Just because you do not need ITX doesn’t mean that there are not true power users that do need those requirements. Don’t confuse gamers with power users as they are not the same (although you could have a person who is both). Gamers can make due with base components, power users often have much higher requirements to do their work effectively.

    • Deanjo
    • 6 years ago

    Meh, I’m actually hoping someone comes out with a double wide case like the Lian-Li PC-D8000 that can accommodate two motherboards with built in KVM capability.

    I NEED MOAR!!!!

      • f0d
      • 6 years ago

      MOAR.!
      i want a double wide 900D with 2 motherboards so i can encode blu rays on one while i game on the other and i can include the 2nd motherboard into my water loop

      currently using my matx htpc to encode blu ray on now and it isnt working out too well as the htpc is currently a file server for the house also and its starts to bog down while encoding blu rays watcing a movie and with others watching movies off of it also

    • PrincipalSkinner
    • 6 years ago

    My desktop with speakers weighs about 40 kg. I’m not complaning. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Cooktheman
    • 6 years ago

    1. No thanks. I want a full ATX motherboard with all the options. Gamers do use these. You are obviously not one.
    2. Still need an Optical drive sorry. Optical Media is not dead. Due to bandwidth restrictions/speed, as well as a great deal of titles still not available legally online and Optical drive is still needed. You might not need one but a vast majority still do.
    3. Running 6 Hard Drives, 2 Graphics cards, 2 Optical Drives, Sound Card (because onboard still sucks), Quad core Processor, 8 sticks of Ram, 8 Fans, 10 usb devices… sorry but we need a large power supply that can handle it.
    4. Integrated Cables suck. That is why we choose modular power supplies, When cables are integrated you cannot remove them if they are not in use. This makes for a tidy PC. And yes most drives will need the the interface.
    5. Uhm yes most gamers do clean their PC on a regular basis.
    6. Why do we need more IO on the front. You then have a crap load of cables sticking out looking like crap.
    Look if you want a PC that looks nice go buy some custom small form factor Dell or MAC. PC’s are about functionality not looks. What’s that your late for your Mani Pedi Chest Waxing. you better run along.

      • libradude
      • 6 years ago

      Thanks for the revelation that since I run a mITX box with a 660ti that I am not a gamer. I stopped reading there.

      • paradigmshift
      • 6 years ago

      I’m sorry a built a gaming rig 5% less powerful than yours, and 5% the weight and size. Are you jealous? Get your head out of the stoneage, and move forward. FORWARD people, why is this so hard to get this?

      edit: keep having to edit out rude words, because the comments in this post are littered with folks that probably still watch news on tv and call it real news. Just follow whatever your supposed “gamer-bros” are thinking…sheep.

      • ikjadoon
      • 6 years ago

      ๐Ÿ˜€ You represent the 0.01% well, friend! ๐Ÿ˜€

        • paradigmshift
        • 6 years ago

        the .01% will fight tooth and nail to keep progress from happening, look at religion.

      • Mopar63
      • 6 years ago

      Cooktheman, sorry to tell you but your initial premise is false. 90% of gamers are not geek tech heads and do not care if their computer is ATX and does not use the extra features. While most tech heads are gamers most gamers are NOT tech heads.

      I am curious though what features you think gamers need that only ATX systems offer? Most gamers only use a single video card, most gamers use onboard sound or USB headsets. Most gamers have at most two HDs in their system.

      Opical drives, serious?!!! Yopu do understand that gaming sales on phsyical medai has hit such an all time low thanks to Steam and Origin that most stores no longer carry many if ANY physical PC games right? Sales figures for gaming show the majority does NOT make use of optical drives.

      As for the larger PSU setup you described, that is such a rare system build that top use it as an example to explain why we need something is NUTS!

      Seriosuly dude, know your subject matter before preparing an argument like this.

    • iatacs19
    • 6 years ago

    You just described the upcoming Mac Pro. It’s good to have options though. The machine you described can be built now, is there a need to force it on everyone?

      • paradigmshift
      • 6 years ago

      It’s not being forced on everyone, you’re just too dinosour-brained too see in the future. Move forward, not backward. With your mindset, you’ll never advance in anything. You’ll just sit still. Have you not tried to build a powerful rig in a tight package? It takes a little effort, I guess that’s a tad “too much” effort for a crowd that lauds it’s abilities to build powerful gaming machines.

    • Beelzebubba9
    • 6 years ago

    I built my last system using a Silverstone SG08 and an Asrock Z87E-ITX motherboard with a GeForce 660 Ti and a i5-4760 and while doesn’t address all of the points you made, but I think it’s a pretty remarkable computer for what it is.

    It’s the size of a shoebox and so quiet that while gaming I can her the VRMs switching over the complete lack of fan noise. That along with it’s amazing connectivity (thanks to the Z87E-ITX motherboard) make it a much more versatile system than any PC before it. Gaming towers are great, but I’ll gladly trade that expandability for the luxury of being able to put my full fat gaming PC behind a TV or into a suitcase.

    • Meadows
    • 6 years ago

    Mah spoon is too big.

      • anotherengineer
      • 6 years ago

      Your grammar sucks.

      ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • windwalker
    • 6 years ago

    The makeover you suggest is much too modest.

    The PC’s huge inefficiencies in terms of space, power consumption and noise makes it look and feel like a relic. I guess we can be grateful it doesn’t emit lots of thick black smoke during standard operation.

    What we need is complete redesigns like the 2013 Mac Pro.
    Intel has pushed the rippoff of MacBook Air to ultrabooks and Mac mini to NUC, championed the AIO PC renaissance, so we can expect them to have something “new” again around 2015.

    • LastQuestion
    • 6 years ago

    I could’ve gotten by with a microATX mobo/case earlier on. That has changed as my interests have expanded. A microATX case would have been a significant roadblock to overcome as it would both deter and delay developing skills that required more HDD space and PCI-e slots.

    Micro-ATX has been available to consumers for some time now. If it did, in fact, better meet their needs it would be more popular then it currently is.

    5.25″ bays definitely could do with a reduction down to two or three slots.

    My single GPU system uses 450w of power while running BF3. A 500w PSU would have little overhead.

    Many of your suggestions just seem out of touch with gamers. People have budgets and pre-cabled systems would increase the cost of cases. How often does one need to crack open the case and fiddle with cables? Once, twice a year?

    I imagine it’d be troublesome to replace those parts as well. Not as simple as just grabbing a different SATA cable.

      • DPete27
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<]My single GPU system uses 450w of power while running BF3.[/quote<] Do you own a Kill-a-watt meter to confirm this? Even an [url=https://techreport.com/review/24381/nvidia-geforce-gtx-titan-reviewed/14<]i7-3820 + Titan system only uses 330W under load.[/url<]

        • LastQuestion
        • 6 years ago

        My UPS has a display for power consumption. After double-checking it seems I was not remembering matters correctly. 450w was my total power draw, including my old monitor, which is now ~380w, with my current monitor using only 10w.

        Yet, that test you linked…

        Skyrim is not a good test. I went ahead and ran a modded Skyrim, and BF3 on a cqc map, ultra, both 1080p: BF3 used 20-40w more than Skyrim. A vanillia version of Skyrim would use even less.

        At launch Skyrim couldn’t utilize more than 2 CPU cores, let alone make use of the HT on an i7. The test system was on bench, no case fans, and did not have multiple mechanical HDDs.

        Questionable testing methods aside, my system could run on a 500w PSU, but, since it doesn’t I’m not locked into buying a 700/9000 series GPU this fall to continue 60fps gaming. I can get another GTX 570 for a fraction the cost. I could wait until a price drop, or a clear winner between the 9000/800 series, or just say, to hell with budgets and CF 8950s.

    • odizzido
    • 6 years ago

    The only time I use my DVD drive these days is when I am installing an OS pretty much. My drive hasn’t even been in my computer for half a year.

    • erexx
    • 6 years ago

    1. Let’s make microATX the new default for desktops
    —-microATX is already the standard for Enterprise buisiness.

    2. Get rid of 5.25″ bays
    —Agreed

    3. let’s have smaller power supplies. Pretty much nobody needs a 1kW PSU.
    —microATX already have small effeciant power supplies.
    —This just makes you sound like Desktop PC Enthusiast hater. Jelly Much?

    4. We could save users a lot of grief by simplifying power cabling
    —microATX is already very efficient with cabling.

    5. We might as well integrate SATA data connectors into drive bays.
    —This assumes the SATA data connector standard will never change.
    —Is a 3 inch SATA cable really to much to handle in a microATX case?

    6. Unified connector for front LEDs and buttons.
    —While this is true and a good idea I think your confusing Enterprise, Average and Enthusiast computer needs.

    7. On the cooling side of things…
    —Again I think your confusing Enterprise, Average and Enthusiast computer needs.

    8. Oh, and give us more I/O at the front
    —Seriously I think your confusing Enterprise, Average and Enthusiast computer needs.

    • superjawes
    • 6 years ago

    1. I think this is slowly happening, but yes, mATX is probably a good standard board unless you’re using two graphics cards. Even then I would only do that to drive more than two monitors from a single machine…one can dream…

    2. I almost agree on this, but I still think there are plenty of people who need some access to optical media. The alternative solution I want is to have this integrated into the chassis. Actually, a slot loading drive would probably be best. If you are willing to rotate that slot 90 degrees, you might be able to open up some other layout options and make better use of the space.

    3 & 4. Agreed.

    5. Why has this not happened?

    6. Agreed.

    7. This would also be nice, but I think that there are probably better solutions. For one, monitors with USB ports. These are especially good for charging devices. Another alternative would be for someone to make a hub that fits into one of those 5.25″ bays. If they’re going to leave those on cases anyway, that leaves plenty of room to spread out some USB ports so you’re not crowding anything.

      • JustAnEngineer
      • 6 years ago

      [quote=”superjawes”<] mATX is probably a good standard board unless you're using two graphics cards. Even then I would only do that to drive more than two monitors from a single machine.[/quote<] You don't need two graphics cards to drive three or more monitors. Most AMD-based graphics cards easily support four monitors. Some of them support six monitors from a single graphics card.

    • Voldenuit
    • 6 years ago

    5 years ago, I was running a mATX case (Silverstone TJ-08) with a core 2 duo, a mid-high end GPU (Radeon 4850, passively cooled), a discrete sound card, a TV capture card and 6 hard drives (5.25″ bays holding 3.5″ drive adapter).

    My current PC is an OEM beige box (hp), mATX, with some user upgrades (GPU, SSD), and I’m chafing at the 2-hdd limitation in the chassis.

    I don’t need anything bigger than mATX, so I definitely hear where Cyril is coming from.

    • just brew it!
    • 6 years ago

    Why not take it to its (il)logical extreme? We should all be running Raspberry Pis duct taped to the backs of our monitors!

    J/K…

    Seriously, I agree on the mATX thing. In general, everything you need is integrated; a GPU slot and an extra slot for (say) a discrete soundcard is enough for the vast majority of people, and most peripherals are available in USB versions as well. I’ve been using mostly mATX since about 5 years ago; TBH the main reason my current rig is full-ATX is because of the piss-poor selection of mATX Socket AM3+ motherboards.

    I still use optical drives, but not nearly as much as I used to. And there are reasonable USB versions of those, so it isn’t a terribly compelling argument for keeping the 5.25″ bays.

    Many of my cases are still full size towers that I’ve had for ~10 years. Yes, putting mATX motherboards in them wastes a lot of space, but at least there’s plenty of room to work inside the case. I imagine I’ll eventually trade/give most of them away at the TRBBQ hardware swap (not planning on bringing any this year though… maybe in 2014). Gleek got the ugly green one last year though! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Deanjo
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<] We should all be running Raspberry Pis duct taped to the backs of our monitors![/quote<] Actually one of my systems is a Raspberry Pi mounted in the monitor.

        • willmore
        • 6 years ago

        But, are you using Duct Tape?

          • Deanjo
          • 6 years ago

          How else do you think the monitor is mounted to the wall? Sheesh! ;D

            • willmore
            • 6 years ago

            Blue tack?

      • Flatland_Spider
      • 6 years ago

      The RPi is too big!

      The ODROID-U2 is 48x52mm, which is much better. ๐Ÿ™‚
      (http://www.hardkernel.com/renewal_2011/products/prdt_info.php?g_code=G135341370451)

    • mark625
    • 6 years ago

    To reduce the space taken up by full sized (half-height) optical drives, a couple of options are available:

    First, case manufacturers could start building their cases with support for the narrow laptop-type optical drives. These are still 5.25″ wide, but only 1/2″ thick. They work well vertically, allowing the case to be much narrower.

    Or, drive manufacturers could start making disc burners that only accept 8cm discs. These drives would fit in the floppy bays that are still included in many aftermarket cases (and are almost always left empty). The smaller 8cm discs still hold up to 14GB in the Blu-ray format.

      • ikjadoon
      • 6 years ago

      Silverstone FT03 and FT03-Mini use the laptop-type ODs. Look stellar, too!

        • libradude
        • 6 years ago

        +1 for slimline – my last 2 systems have been built in Silverstone SG05s, one with a DVD drive, another with a blu-ray burner; both slot-loading for a really clean look. Haven’t regretted it yet!

    • Prestige Worldwide
    • 6 years ago

    I would like room for dual-card SLI and a dedicated sound card. Looks like I’ll be sticking to standard ATX for a while.

    • yogibbear
    • 6 years ago

    This article is wrong for so many reasons. Though it is always good to challenge things for being the way they are and getting to the bottom of them. Especially when they are long established standards that no longer seem relevant. I fear that we are at a stage where we are spoilt with quiet systems, cool systems, and unburdened systems, purely because as a platform, the power users are only pushing the envelope in certain applications and not throughout, so the cycle of change seems to be only at the horizon of progress and not somewhere reasonable on the bell curve. So things like case sizes, formats, cables, flexibility are needed by the few and not the many, hence some of these questions seem reasonable. But taking these away would cause the industry to challenge its own values. Almost certainly any new case or PSU or what have you that compromises on heat/flexibility/noise profiles to improve on some of the issues you’ve pointed out in this article would receive negative reviews across the board. Either that tells you the customer doesn’t want that, or doesn’t know that that’s what they wanted all along.

    • WaltC
    • 6 years ago

    I think you have two classes of computer user. The first class I’d call the “functional” class who understands what the purpose of “room” inside a desktop chassis is (it’s there because the PC is designed to be upgradable in terms of modular hardware, and because of ventilation and temperature purposes–but mostly it’s roomy so as to provide working space for decently sized human hands to be able to get in there and replace and upgrade things, etc.) My own hands still bear the battle scars of trying to shoehorn tight-fighting components into too-small cases with various sharp edges in places decades ago–never again. Having a roomy case is a joy. Desktops can be so luxuriously constructed because they are under no constraints to be portable and/or to run off batteries–the opposite of laptops–you absolutely *do not want* your desktop designed like your laptop unless you like temperature-induced fires and heat-stressed circuit failures, you plan on running low-to-mid-range performance hardware, you do very little hardware upgrading, user servicing and replacing, etc. Few things in computerdom are as catastrophic as having a fan fail inside a factory-sealed laptop. Ugh.

    Basically–if the inside of your desktop is sloppy and messy looking to the point where your sensibilities are offended then that’s your fault. It doesn’t have to look that way–if you don’t do something about it nobody else will. Whining about the state of your own hardware to the extent that you’d rather buy something far more limited and constricted just to avoid properly maintaining what you own seems to me the height of laziness. To briefly tackle some of your other moans & groans…

    *Making MicroATX some sort of default. Ugh. What’s wrong with people these days? You could’ve bought MicroATX but you didn’t. I’ll presume you had reasons for that at the time that you have now abandoned and/or forgotten. Choice is good. Restricting choice is bad.

    *5.2.5″ bays are horrible things. Heh…;) I happen to like to have DVD drives available–especially with a few rewritable DVD disks within reach. Been very handy many times.

    *I agree that not everybody needs a thousand-watt psu, but you do realize, I hope, that you don’t have to buy one…? Some people with dual/tri-gpu systems might need them, however. A lot depends on the amperage on the 12v rail, etc.–some 800W psus aren’t as strong there as some 600W psus, and so on.

    *PSU cabling being too complex for you. There really is a reason why PSUs have various cables with various connectors. Think about it. Point is, you make the decision as to what psu you’ll buy–so your objection doesn’t make much sense–there are tons of PSUs with myriads of differing cabling schemes to choose from. If you bought a 1k-watt psu when all you needed was a 500-watt psu, why blame that on your desktop? It’s your fault…;)

    *Getting confused by Sata drives. You could a) learn how they work or b) just buy fewer drives, I suppose. This is yet another operator problem not relative to “desktop PCs” since a desktop PC can be exactly and only what the consumer chooses it to be.

    *Motherboard LED connectors. Most of them actually are pretty standard, actually–my 8-year-old case, for instance, has seen [s<]innumerable[/s<] several motherboards where my power, drive, and reset buttons more or less all work. But this is something that not only affects motherboards, but also system cases, too. This is the one thing we agree on, I suppose--it's the most tedious thing about building a box today. It's not hard/difficult--just tedious. Absence of a standard, I suppose. *Cases with unfiltered holes at the top. I hope I don't need to point out that while this may prevent you from having to clean out the case periodically, you instead will have to clean out/replace the filters periodically--and sometimes that is more of a pain by far...;) Again--laptops aren't to be compared with desktops in the way that piper cubs aren't really comparable to 747s, etc...;) If you "crack open" a laptop you will most likely void your warranty. *More I/O at the front. That's a matter of case choice, obviously. Another consumer choice matter. You might not have realized it, but some people like all their I/O in the back--out of sight and so on. It's a matter of personal preference. There are also inexpensive kits you can buy that will usually fit in an unused 5.25" drive bay and offer extra USB ports and so on. But I'm sure you already are aware of that. Really, there is no [i<]desktop PC[/i<] in the way that you describe it above. A desktop PC can be built to your exact specifications and desires, so long as you don't mind putting it together yourself. If you want somebody else to choose your hardware then buy a pre-assembled OEM system and you'll get what's convenient for the OEM to sell you (most profitable, etc.) But if you hand-pick your components from the case up then the odds of you getting exactly the ideal system you describe above are near 100%. It's *your* idea of "ideal" and so you should select the components and assemble it yourself--about as difficult as building with Lego blocks these days. So what's the second class of computer user? I call him the "ornamental" computer user. He likes having one around so that he can talk about it at the office or at parties, but he views it as furniture and isn't remotely interested in its function, upgrades, servicing, etc. He just wants it to "look" a certain way--and usually when it's turned off being far more important to him than when it is turned on...;) These folks generally buy Macs I've observed. My own brother is precisely like that, bless his pea-pickin' little heart.

      • l33t-g4m3r
      • 6 years ago

      Pretty much. I disagreed with almost the entire article. Modular PSUs, enough said on that. Fans on top of your case is stupid, and so is making the entire front or side of your case a giant vent. I just don’t buy it. Have one big fan in the front, one in the back, that’s all you need. MicroATX? Hell no. That’s for niche builders who want small compromising systems. SATA docking? I dunno what’s the big deal, although I DO have a 5.25 bay removable hard drive dock. What was that about 5.25 bays again? Throw my Blueray player away? Never have LCD fan controls? No Creative Labs front panels? LOL, NO.

      The only thing I really agreed with is having more front panel I/O, and that’s easily remedied with an external USB Hub or 5.25 bay. Yeah. 0/10.

      You know what this guy really wants?
      [url<]http://www.falcon-nw.com/desktops/tiki[/url<] Me? Not so much.

    • jjj
    • 6 years ago

    What needed a change was the PSU and the connectors – only one cable from the PSU to the mobo in an ideal world – but that’s an old problem and right now there is very little interest in the desktop. The big boys are focusing on other form factors (sometimes at their own peril).
    The ARM ecosystem had ,and still has, the opportunity to define some new , modern, standards but they don’t seem all that interested to go for this market.
    Integrating cables would push the costs up and limit flexibility. You can integrate front panel better but SATA would be a bad idea – would be costly to have cables for all the bays and removing those cages for rads would be more difficult. I would much rather have power over SATA to use only 1 cable for drives.Besides, there are cases that have hotswappable bays and that’s pretty much what you are asking for so the option is out there.
    Optical drives are useless but we still need them, having some cases with no 5.25 bays would be ok but they can’t be fully dumped just yet.
    On the mATX side ,there other AiB that one might need besides GPU and audio. WiFi, RAID , TV Tuners , upgrades like USB3 or SATA 3 (there will always be a new standard that an old mobo is lacking) so for the DiY market mATX as the dominant form factor seems very unlikely.

    • A_Pickle
    • 6 years ago

    You’re right about everything except power supplies. SFX is great for small form factor desktops, but I want standard ATX power supplies that can accommodate a quiet 120mm fan.

    • jensend
    • 6 years ago

    As far as power goes, I’m quite pleased with the 160W PicoPSU and 192W external power adapter I used for my mATX Trinity build.

    Having rectification happen outside the case reduces the heat you have to dissipate inside the case, and having the PSU sit right on the ATX plug avoids any need to route a 20-wire ATX bundle.

    As I type this the PSU is pulling < 20W from the wall. Even in stress testing I don’t think the kill-a-watt has ever hit 80. So I’ve got a decent amount of headroom for future expansion.

    • shaurz
    • 6 years ago

    Instead of having GPU cards sticking out of the motherboard I think it would be better to add GPU sockets to the motherboard and package GPUs in the same way as CPUs. That way you would save space, remove the need for PCI-E slots (for most people anyway) and improve cooling (you could have one big heatsink for CPU+GPUs).

    • TEAMSWITCHER
    • 6 years ago

    Nothing depressed me more that looking at the new SATA-Express motherboard connectors. To maintain backwards compatibility with earlier SATA devices they ganged together two existing SATA III type sockets to implement a single SATA-Express connection. Here they had a golden opportunity to introduce something better and they blew it! Sure it’s backwards compatible, but it’s essentially the same old tired-ass two-cable (data + power) design to a unnecessary box surrounding a circuit board. I guess that’s what you get when you design by committee.

    ATX, Micro ATX, and mini-iTX, are all just different sizes of the same tired design. The PC needs so much more than a new motherboard. It needs some bold new thinking and that’s pretty rare in the PC space, and I don’t understand why. It’s not hard to be creative, it’s just laziness.

      • ronch
      • 6 years ago

      Bold new thinking? Like what, having non-replaceable BGA processors and soldered graphics chips right on the motherboard? Yeah, that is a makeover, alright.

    • willmore
    • 6 years ago

    I’m not sure you proved your premise, Cyril. All that it looks like you showed is that *you* would do better with a smaller case and MB. My CM 932 HAF has every 5.25 and 3.5″ drive bay full–I even have two SSDs stacked on each other because I lack enough 2.5″ bays. I’ve got a 240×120 double height radiator, the pump that goes with it, and a lot of other assiciated plumbing (T-line and fill which impinge on the upper 5.25″ slot.

    I’ll agree that the MBs often have too many slots, but I’m not sure I can fit what I need on a micro-ATX board. Can you stuff 4 DIMMs, 8 SATA ports, two 16x PCI-E slots, one 1x PCI-E slot, and one PCI slot on one of those?

    [quote<]On the cooling side of things, let's try to arrange the stock fans in order to maintain positive internal pressure. And let's avoid having huge, unfiltered grates at the top of the case. You don't see anyone cracking open their laptop to vacuum dust out of it every six months. Desktop PCs shouldn't require that, either.[/quote<] Are you kidding? I take the compressor with an air nozzle to my laptop twice a year to blow all of the crud out of it. I even have a small vacuum that I use to keep my desktop (tower next to the desk) clean. I'm all for filtered air intakes, though. I'm planning on moving the radiator/pump/fill system out of my case and into an external cabinet--which will use a huge house A/C type 1" filter. I'm tired of cleaning that guy out. I love your ideas WRT power and data cabling. Please, industry, listen to this!!!

      • pragma
      • 6 years ago

      Refresh my memory, someone. Didn’t the first ATX specs call for positive internal pressure, with PSU fan blowing inward? Be that as it may, this positive pressure is one of the first things I tried with my computer. It just does not work. A hot region will form at the top, where your PSU and opticals will cook. You may end up with a push-pull configuration (more fans), big air filters that you must clean regularly, air-flow blanks in unoccupied slots as in servers/mainframes, etc.

      With a sealed design, one could put a separate cooling compartment on top of the box. The internal thermal hardware and interfaces may prove complicated, however. Methinks future computers may well look like carpets, serve as floor heating.

      Has anyone built a box that cools with shop air? Bonus points if your PSU is air-powered, as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • JustAnEngineer
      • 6 years ago

      [quote=”willmore”<] Can you stuff 4 DIMMs, 8 SATA ports, two 16x PCI-E slots, one 1x PCI-E slot, and one PCI slot on a micro-ATX board? [/quote<] Easily. There are several LGA1150 or LGA1155 motherboards available that would meet your criteria. You should dump that long-obsolete PCI slot for a fourth PCIe slot.

        • Deanjo
        • 6 years ago

        [quote<]You should dump that long-obsolete PCI slot for a fourth PCIe slot.[/quote<] It's not that easy. There are a ton of cards that still do not have a PCI-e equivalent or if they do, they are using a bridge chip. That gains you nothing but purchasing another card for doing the exact same thing with no reason other then changing a slot. So if you have an existing PCI card and want to move it to a new system but if it doesn't have a PCI slot you are increasing your expense and gaining nothing in return.

    • anubis44
    • 6 years ago

    Agree about keeping the 5 1/4″ bay. I like blurays. Use them regularly for movies. I like to own some movies and TV shows, not just rent them (or life-lease them from Apple).

    • internetsandman
    • 6 years ago

    All great ideas. I’m not too sure I like the idea of building the PSU into the case and providing cable outs where they need to be. In ITX rigs, especially ones like Silverstones Fortress Mini where you’re gonna use all the cables and they’re gonna be cramped anyway, yeah it would definitely be useful there, but in the more reasonably sized MATX cases Im not sure it would serve too great a benefit, unless you just had standardized pinouts on the motherboard tray itself where you ran short cables from the tray onto your components. You still gotta leave room for aftermarket customization and modding and replacement cables

    Otherwise i loved all of these points, especially the mATX standard one. I remember even when I built my first computer 3 or 4 years ago that I didn’t even look at ATX motherboards. I knew that it would just be wasted space, and while at one point I did have all 4 of my boards slots filled (a wifi card, sound card and graphics card) I couldn’t think of anything else I legitimately needed, and for my next build, the only reason I’m not looking at ITX is because I want a SB-e/IB-e system

    • Noigel
    • 6 years ago

    All you’d need is a link at the bottom and I would have bought the thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    My only trepidation with removing the optical drives is Windows OS installs… what’s the next best way to install a Windows OS if it’s not on a DVD? Serious question.

      • AustinW
      • 6 years ago

      USB flash drive. Works exactly the same.

      • Convert
      • 6 years ago

      USB drive. Microsoft even provides a tool for it: [url<]http://wudt.codeplex.com/[/url<]

    • dmjifn
    • 6 years ago

    I like how you’re thinking. Except I’d dump microATX. Go with mini-ITX-sized or smaller boards – big enough for the chipsets, CPU, and RAM but no expansion slots. Slap on a 5-10 multipurpose, high performance plugs Thunderbolt style, and connect [i<]everything[/i<] to those - graphics, drives, upgraded audio, TV tuners, etc. Increased speed and other improvements will come eventually, and having different plug versions like we have different sata versions would probably be a must. But they should be backwards compatible (like sata) and not have affinity to certain device types. Then take all those expansion cards and package them into standard form factor boxes connected by TB cables or similar. Nothing bigger than a 5.25" drive, and any cooling space they need has to fit within that space. Have like 2-3 form factors at most, with the requirement that they be combinable. E.g., have * A "full" box for truly beefy hardware or something that needs a lot of airflow (like graphics cards) * "quarter" boxes for small stuff that can be tightly packed (SSDs, wireless, audio, etc.), and 4 quarter boxes fit perfectly in a full slot. * "half" boxes for stuff in between - TV-tuners, HDDs, drive docks, etc. where 2 can go into a full slot. Or some other scheme that gets high standardization in components but high flexibility in overall case shape.

    • marraco
    • 6 years ago

    We need for notebooks to be as easier DIY as desktops.

    We all know how much we a ripped by trademark PCs on desktops, so is obvious that we are equally ripped with laptops.

    We need a market of laptop cases, motherboards, monitors, video cards, etc.

    • jessterman21
    • 6 years ago

    Sheesh indeed. I couldn’t agree more with your points, Cyril.

    I built my first rig last summer and waffled between a mid-tower or mini-tower. Because I was Not following the footsteps of my two PC gamer friends and getting a hulking Antec 1200… (Both have a lightly overclocked 95w CPU and a single graphics card)

    I loved the Rosewill Ranger-M, but the execution of a decent, tiny gaming case wasn’t perfected until this year with the Line-M (a case I’m seriously considering downgrading to). I ended up getting a Bitfenix Merc just in the off-chance I ever buy an overclockable CPU and tower cooler, and I’ve been very happy with it. Even if it’s slightly too tall for my desk.

    I recently upgraded to the Zotac GTX 660 because I love its compactness, and it stays even cooler than my previous IceQ X card under load. But now I’ve got a lot of emptiness in my case, as you lamented – one SSD and HDD, one DVD drive, a 500w PSU, one GPU, and a CPU with the stock cooler (works great with some Arctic Silver underneath). A 15″x15″x7″ case would be perfect.

    Integrated cabling sounds genius. And I purposely bought the Bitfenix Merc [i<]Beta[/i<] for the closed top - a case fan at the front and one in the rear is plenty, no need to invite extra dust. And MAN, you are so right about the front-panel connectors! It is my number-one dread when building PCs.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 6 years ago

    My main issues with case design these days is air flow. We pull in air from the front and sides and exhaust it out the bottom, top and back. This creates allot of random air movement that isn’t efficient and requires several fans. What we could accomplish with a simple low level intake and top exhaust would require next to nothing in term of rpm just the gental pull of one or two big fans on their lowest settings using the heating air that is exhausting to pull in the new air like a turbine. We could likely get away with better passive cooling, have quieter cases that are cooler or even completely passively cooled.

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 6 years ago

    I stumbled on this thing when surfing [H], has a somewhat pertinent backstory:
    [url<]http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ncase-m1-mini-itx-pc-case[/url<] [quote<]We are a couple of guys with an interest in hardware and design that connected while discussing what we wanted from a small form-factor (SFF) computer case. We felt that the available cases were either too big, too limited, or too lacking in the aesthetics department. So we set out to design our own SFF case, with input from the community of hardware enthusiasts at [H]ardForum. After months of R&D, through numerous iterations, then a successful prototype crowdfunding campaign and product testing, we've arrived: the NCASE M1 is ready for production![/quote<]

      • Thrashdog
      • 6 years ago

      I’ve been following this for a while, and I’m planning to move my current build from a BitFenix Prodigy into an M1 once mine ships (4670K with a Corsair H80i, a GTX 780, one 3.5″ drive, and one 2.5″ drive, in case you were wondering — and yes, that will all run off of a 450W SFX power supply!). Mini-ITX has the potential to pack a lot of power into a tiny footprint, and I’m glad that these guys are stepping up to make the cases that make it possible.

        • cynan
        • 6 years ago

        Sure looks like great little ITX case. I wonder if Lian Li is kicking themselves for not offering an enthusiast version of their model the M1 is based off of.

        Only caveat is price. At $200+ (and an extra $40 if you don’t live in the USA), the M1 ain’t cheap. You can find a heck of a lot of other cases that are almost as good for almost half the price. Quite the tax to have a “cute” enthusiast PC.

          • Machupo
          • 6 years ago

          FWIW, the M1 isn’t based off of a current Lian-Li design, it just looks similar because they are manufacturing the case (thus similar tooling capabilities, tolerances, etc — and it’s more economical to go with features they already have tooling for, i.e. the pressure-latch sidepanels).

          It seems that Lian Li has pulled some of the design cues into new designs (the -9, IIRC, picked up beveled front edges after the initial design for the M1 was submitted), but haven’t gone full-hog like Wahaha and Necere decided to go :p

          I’m really, really happy that this project made it through to production; excellent work (and perseverance) by those two guys. Now I just need to figure out how to cram twice as much computer in there to keep the bleeding edge nice and far away from the huddled masses ๐Ÿ˜€

    • rwburnham
    • 6 years ago

    I’ve already moved over to Micro ATX and Mini ITX boards because of the space savings. My gaming rig uses one video card and sometimes a sound card, so Micro ATX is perfect. My workstation only uses a CPU with integrated graphics (currently an AMD APU), and down the road I hope to turn a high end convertible Windows tablet into my workstation (essentially combining my tablet and desktop PC into one), although the hardware and prices aren’t quite there yet.

    Among my gaming friends, almost none of them use more than one graphics card, so I agree that ATX should be more of a fringe option and Micro ATX should be the focus.

    I still have use for optical media, but only when I install Windows and rip the occasional music CD. I am fine with the idea of ditching optical drive bays, because I can always use an external drive, which is exactly what we did at my job, where we moved to the new thin iMacs.

    I am totally on board with the SFX PSUs. My gaming rig draws maybe a little above 300 watts at full load, and it gives great performance. It’s a Micro ATX case, so having that small Silverstone PSU that was mentioned would be perfect. As is, the one I use is bigger and a little on the noisy side. The main factor for gamers in terms of power draw is the video card. There are plenty of powerful cards that have reasonable power draws. Also, a lot of great CPUs are coming in under 100 watts from both AMD and Intel.

    I love the idea of enclosures with built in cables. We must have this. (Although I think it’s “all of a sudden” and not “all of the sudden.”) Same with the data cables. Some sort of pass-through would be super.

    A unified connector for the front LEDs would be a gift from above. Seriously, why don’t we have this yet? Why is the front panel not just one connection like we have with internal USB connectors? It’s downright silly.

    Yes on better fan setups and yes on more front panel connectors.

    What a great list.

    • the
    • 6 years ago

    I’m of the mindset that we need a new motherboard and case standard beyond mATX. My idea would merge two well design case concepts: Apple’s G5/Mac Pro enclosure and Corsair’s Carbide Air 540 and do something radical.

    Put the CPU socket, DIMM slots and IO connectors on the opposite side of the PCIe expansion slots. The motherboard would act as a natural division between CPU and GPU heat zones, something that I appreciate in Apple’s tower case. Routing PCIe lanes form the CPU socket to the slot would be simplified as the distance is much shorter. This would also give more room for VRM and chipset cooling and the option to be placed in either cooling zone. The number of the default expansion slots would be 4 with 8 and 12 slot optional implementations in the spec. (6 way SLI anyone?) The IO connectors would on a riser card that is perpendicular to utilize more of the width rather than increase the case’s height. IO panel placement would be near the bottom as this would help with some external cable management. For example, a network cable wouldn’t have to climb halfway up the case to reach the common RJ45 jack on the motherboard.

    The PSU and storage I see occupying the bottom of the case in their own thermal zone. This would do one thing that is often overlooked: lowering the center of gravity of the design so it is harder to knock over. I’ve never understood why the ATX standard traditionally put the PSU, one of a system’s heaviest parts, at the top of the case. This will also help with external cable management too as the power cable does not have climb the ATX tower enclosure. (Any yes, some of these improvements are available on select modern ATX cases.) The PSU physical dimensions would reduce in depth but offer more width. Height would remain the roughly the same so that 80 mm fans can be used to exhaust heat. The PSU voltages would standardized around 12V with any necessary conversions to take place on the motherboard. +5V would remain to support power requirements used by storage devices. PSU’s would also include USB connectivity to provide information like internal PSU temperature, internal fan monitoring and voltage monitoring with in the PSU. These sensors would be optional in the PSU and due to the security nature of some organizations, these features can be turned off in EFI/BOIS. My proposal would encourage the use of back planes for hard drives/SDD to reduce cable clutter inside the case but back plane usage would be optional.

    Single optical media bay would optionally occupy the top of the case. This is the logical place to put it from a usability stand point. Additional storage may be placed in this area due to the depth of the case.

    The fan setup can be quiet clever: uses large fan that runs at low RPM to move air in both the GPU and CPU chambers. A 240 to 300 mm fan can move alot of air through a case.

    • XTF
    • 6 years ago

    [quote<] I'd like to be able to leave at least a couple of charging cables plugged in permanently and still have room for chunky thumb drives and USB headsets.[/quote<] Why don't you plug those into the back? And why not prefer USB ports to be on your monitor? [quote<]i agree that everyone else would be fine with matx boards and cases but i just dont think it would cut it with enthusiasts and gamers[/quote<] Why not? Not every gamer has dual-GPU and water-cooling.

      • f0d
      • 6 years ago

      actually you are right maybe i shouldnt have said gamers

      but most enthusiasts want plenty of room for watercooling or dual cards or lots of hard drives or they just like having plenty of space (depending on what type of enthusiast you are)

      i have always said that most people would be ok with matx boards and cases but there is definitely a fair few people still that just dont want a small case/motherboard

        • XTF
        • 6 years ago

        What’s the definition of an enthusiast? And who’s saying every case has to be suitable for every use case / person?

          • f0d
          • 6 years ago

          an enthusiast usually has an above average pc in some way which is why i mentioned many types of enthusiasts like the watercooler or the sli gamer or the storage fanatic (im all 3)

          i mostly dont disagree with the blog post with the exception of making matx the standard for enthusiasts as there is some really good ideas there

            • XTF
            • 6 years ago

            Enthusiasts is a poorly defined qualifier. Still, being an enthusiast does not imply using dual-GPU or WC. And dual-GPU and WC don’t imply requiring full-ATX boards (or cases).

            • f0d
            • 6 years ago

            i just gave examples – i just think that generally an enthusiast has an above average pc in some way, the WC and dual gpu cards were just examples

            and i never said they require full atx boards – i just dont think matx should be the standard (as is implied in this blog) for enthusiasts as its already the standard for everyone else (dell’s/hp’s mostly use matx so you could say its the standard for most people already)

            what are we debating about again? the definition of enthusiast? really? REALLY? cant you just get past it?

            lets just say theres some good ideas in the blog but i just dont agree with making matx the standard

      • hans
      • 6 years ago

      Monitor ports are a tease. The ones on the bottom are hard to reach from the front. The ones on the side are blocked by multiple monitors. I happen to use a power strip that turns off all aux devices (like the additional monitors) when the main monitor goes dark, so no charging on those secondary monitors.

        • XTF
        • 6 years ago

        Not everyone uses multiple monitors… And the ports on one of your outer monitors should still be usable.

    • ronch
    • 6 years ago

    I have to agree that PC enclosures, at least those that support full-size ATX motherboards, are quite huge. Given today’s high price of real estate (and consequently most folks only being able to afford small houses), space has become a luxury. I do, however, have some comments and even disagree with some of Cyril’s (you remind me of Cyrix) statements.

    [quote<]Let's make microATX the new default for desktops. microATX provides enough expansion for a couple of graphics cards plus one wildcard, uh, card, which is about all most of us will ever need. We can keep ATX around for workstations and extreme quad-GPU rigs.[/quote<] That's right. Given a choice I'd be perfectly smug as a bug with a mATX board, but the thing is there doesn't seem to be a decent mATX AM3+ board with a proper 990FX chipset (you will, however, find some cheap mATX AM3+ boards that only use non-9-series chipsets... we obviously don't want those). What do most folks plug in, anyway? Most TR folks will install a video card, a PCIe Wifi adapter, and some will want another PCIe x1 slot for a sound card. That's probably it for most folks. Those who want more will have to go full-size ATX. [quote<]Get rid of 5.25" bays. Just get rid of 'em. Optical media is dead, and there are far better ways to back up your data than to burn a DVD or Blu-ray.[/quote<] No way. I like my DVD drive and I can't live without it. You'll never know when you'll need to burn a DVD or pop one in. Not everyone can download software from Steam and not everyone has a fast internet connection (like me!). And I don't want to plug in an external DVD drive every time I need one. [quote<]While we're at it, let's have smaller power supplies, too. Pretty much nobody needs a 1kW PSU. Heck, I figure most gaming PCs draw less than 500W. I'm sure we don't need to devote a cubic foot at the bottom of every case to AC-DC conversion. Switching to the SFX form factor could be a viable option there; Silverstone already makes a nice 450W SFX PSU.[/quote<] Spot on. I've always thought those 1KW PSUs do more epeen-bloating than providing juice. Only the insane will go for those killer PSUs. Honestly, isn't 600w enough? And isn't buying a QSLI or QCF setup just an exercise of epeen-bloating? Two upscale cards such as a pair of HD7870s should do quite nicely in most games. Beyond that, it's epeen territory. [quote<]In line with the above, we might as well integrate SATA data connectors into drive bays, too. Just make every bay behave like a docking station and pre-route the cables. I guess we'll also want an option to bypass or upgrade the integrated cables, since high-end SATA Express SSDs are presumably just around the corner. Not all drives will need a 2GB/s interface, though.[/quote<] Enclosure manufacturers can do this if they want to, but obviously it will most likely only be in high end cases where these fancy cabling will make the high price seem more justified. [quote<]Come up with a unified connector for front LEDs and buttons. This is long, long overdue. Seriously, how hard could it be to call up major motherboard makers and make them all agree on a common pin-out? Give it a snazzy marketing name, add it to the list of features along with your military-grade capacitors and auto-overclocking voodoo, and move on. Sheesh.[/quote<] This has to be one of the most PRACTICAL, SPOT ON things I've read here on TR!!! I've been thinking about this for ages!!! Crazy how you have to manually plug the POWER LED, POWER SW, HDD LED, RESET SW, USB, FP AUDIO.... oh god... We have USB 3.0, PCIe 3.0, SATA 3.0.... but still the same lovely FP connectors since the 8086 [IIRC]!! [quote<]Oh, and give us more I/O at the front. Even high-end cases usually have only four front USB ports, and those tend to be all crowded together. I'd like to be able to leave at least a couple of charging cables plugged in permanently and still have room for chunky thumb drives and USB headsets.[/quote<] Having just two USB ports out front is a bit limiting, but I think it's just ok. I only plug USB thumb drives in front and most things plug at the back where they're all hidden from view. But more ports out front can't hurt, can it? Ok, maybe four is ok. Nevermind Firewire and SATA - I'm super ok with USB 2.0 / 3.0. My ideal case would have just one 5.25" external drive bay for a DVD drive, perhaps a 3.5" external bay for a card reader, accepts only mATX boards (making it even less tall), has maybe 4 USB ports out front, not too long (because not everyone installs a long graphics card), and back plates that are replaceable. Most backplates today are one-time affairs, i.e. once you remove them you can't put them back and you'd need a back plate cover to screw on to cover the gaping hole left by the card that you took out. As for my ideal mATX board, please don't put a slot below the main x16 PCIe slot. Those slots below the video card are usually rendered useless because most folks will want a decent 2-slot video card. One x16 PCIe and two [u<]usable[/u<] x1 slots. Forget Firewire and eSATA. Just give me lots of USB ports at the back and out front (via USB headers, obviously).

    • Nutmeg
    • 6 years ago

    Agreed on all points tbh. My worst bugbear is those tiny front panel connectors. How is every other cable perfectly easy to see where to put, and how it plugs in, but you still need a magnifying glass and a manual to see where those little diddly plugs go? So annoying.

      • ronch
      • 6 years ago

      Plugging the wires on the board when the board’s not secured inside the case yet is not too bad, but once it’s already bolted inside it can be quite a hassle. I wish they’d just bundle all the connectors into one nice, keyed connector that’s impossible to plug incorrectly.

        • JustAnEngineer
        • 6 years ago

        Asus has been doing this with their motherboards for several years. They include an adapter block. with the motherboard.

          • aceuk
          • 6 years ago

          Has Asus patented their Q-Connector? I can’t think of a reason for other manufacturers not to bunde an identical connector with motherboards.

          • ronch
          • 6 years ago

          Asus’s little accessory makes it a bit easier to do especially when the board’s already bolted in place but the fact remains that you have to insert each and every header one by one. It doesn’t help that some connectors such as the HDD LED either come in 2-pin or 3-pin connectors, and depending on your board, you’d need to slip out a wire from the connector to adapt it to the motherboard’s header for it. It’s not hard, but it’s crazy how nobody has ever thought of rallying the board makers to adopt a standardized FP panel header layout so the case makers can just come up with a standardized connector.

          Anybody out there willing to do this? Intel? AMD? Cyrix?

      • ronch
      • 6 years ago

      The FP connectors are usually oriented in such a way that the power LED and power switch pins are on the top row of pins (if the board is standing with the CPU socket on top), and you have the HDD LED and reset switch pins on the lower row of pins. Just something to keep in mind in case you can’t find the manual.

    • bhtooefr
    • 6 years ago

    I’d actually say to move AC/DC conversion out of the case entirely.

    Take +12 VDC regulated into the machine, and then the in-case power supply can derive all the other rails off that. (Alternately, if a whole-house DC standard, or a datacenter DC standard takes off, use that instead.)

    And, there are machines that do the whole, power and disk cabling are part of the case thing. They’re server and workstation-class machines. Unfortunately, little to no standardization there.

    • JustAnEngineer
    • 6 years ago

    [quote=”Cyril”<] Let's make microATX the new default for desktops. [/quote<] I agree completely with this point. With four PCIe slots, there's plenty of room for expansion as long as you're using a single graphics card. [quote="Cyril"<] Get rid of 5.25" bays. Just get rid of 'em. [/quote<] I'm not quite ready to give up all of my shiny discs just yet, especially in an HTPC application. Since slim laptop-sized optical drives are now close to price parity with the large desktop versions, can we incorporate the slim drive form factor into the desktop case for folks who still occasionally spin an optical disc? There's obviously still room for improvement, but I will suggest that Silverstone has been making efforts to meet some of your demands for a more evolved desktop case. Take a look at the [url=https://techreport.com/news/24179/silverstone-sg10-case-accepts-microatx-mobos-full-sized-components<]Sugo SG10[/url<], [url=http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=392&area=en<]for example[/url<]. My current gaming PC lives in a [url=https://techreport.com/review/22814/silverstone-temjin-tj08-e-evolution-enclosure<]Temjin TJ08-E[/url<]. I used one of the two 5ยผ" drive bays for [url=http://www.amazon.com/StarTech-com-3-5-Inch-Mounting-5-25-Inch-SLIMCDFDCAGE/dp/B0009F8DV4/<]this[/url<]. I installed a [url=http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=315&area=en<]card reader[/url<] to add a third USB 3.0 port on the front of the case.

      • mcnabney
      • 6 years ago

      There are SLI/Xfire microATX boards. Just don’t plan on any other cards.

        • JustAnEngineer
        • 6 years ago

        Here’s how the Canadians build a desktop PC:
        [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSOxvwbke9w&list=UUjTCFFq605uuq4YN4VmhkBA&index=2[/url<]

      • derFunkenstein
      • 6 years ago

      ooh, that bracket is cool. 5.25″ optical + 3.5″ HDD.

    • eoi
    • 6 years ago

    Yes, and it’s called laptops and tablets. Those are the things I want to build, but it seems impossible right now. I want stuff I can carry around, weighing less than 2 pounds (1kg), but with a lot of compute power and fast storage and memory (ok, I really want a laptop supercomputer, but don’t get me started). I’d like to build my own tablet – really convenient to read stuff and study on the couch. I don’t do gaming, but do heavy duty math simulations that might as well be games. I need serious mobile stuff, and I’d like to build it myself.

      • peartart
      • 6 years ago

      Building your own laptop is like building an airplane. It’s possible, but not an option if you need a fighter jet.

    • cheesyking
    • 6 years ago

    [b<]Oh, and give us more I/O at the front.[/b<] How about using some of those 5.25" expansion bays you say are obsolete, they're not just for optical drives you know.

    • f0d
    • 6 years ago

    i agree with getting rid of 5.25 bays – i havnt used one in years (external blue ray when its needed)

    i still prefer my full atx massive case (900D) only because i have custom watercooling and sli graphics cards – i like big cases also

    microatx is the perfect size for just about everyone else though, they even have some good intel microatx motherboards that are just as good as full atx but what i find odd though is amd doesnt seem to have any really good enthusiast microatx motherboards – try and find one because i couldnt when i was going to make a microatx htpc (wanted an 8core amd for something different and to encode bluerays on while i was gaming on my main i7 intel pc)

    all i could find for matx amd motherboards was really low end ones with low end chipsets and no heatsinks on the VRMs
    just for future reference does anyone know of a high end matx amd motherboard? because im sure they just dont exist

    • allreadydead
    • 6 years ago

    You have some good points but never forget that those big boxes are for enthusiats. And we all know those lunatics can spend hundreds of dollars for their hobby that would fill up that case. That’s what PC’s are for nowadays; no limitations, tons of options for expansions. Don’t need expansions ? buy matx. Need only some ? buy Midtower ATX. Need MOAR SLOTS ? buy full Tower ATX. Those 5.25″ maybe historical expansion slots but they are good for expanding interior volume to make user fit big coolers or longer GPUs.

    mATX format has it’s uses but suggesting limited boards and small cases to be new PC standard…. is like saying “I choose to be spied on”

    Oh wait..

      • f0d
      • 6 years ago

      great post i couldnt agree more
      i really like my massive case (900D) and i have plenty of room where i keep my PC so space isnt an issue but if i diddnt have enthusiast level hardware a matx mobo and case would be just fine
      yes i am one of those lunatics that spend hundreds just on cooling alone (custom watercooling) and for me personally the bigger the better ๐Ÿ˜›

      • DeadOfKnight
      • 6 years ago

      I take it you never picked up on the underlying message of that blog post.

      • ronch
      • 6 years ago

      All those slots and whatnots are for future expansion, alright, until the next socket comes along.

    • destroy.all.monsters
    • 6 years ago

    Wow, I use optical media *all the time*. I guess that makes me an outlier. I need a minimum of two 5.25″ bays.

    Pretty much everything else I agree with. Only my DAWs really need the slots at this point and fewer interfaces require pci/pci-e slots. Doing away with them though would require a whole new mobo every time a component dies which is expensive and wasteful.

      • nanoflower
      • 6 years ago

      You aren’t the only outlier. I’m in the process of burning a few backups right now using a DVD burner. I’ve seriously considered buying a BR burner as a replacement.

      • Khali
      • 6 years ago

      I still need at least one 5.25 bay. Some of us still have software on disks we bought years ago that we still use.

        • XTF
        • 6 years ago

        What about a USB DVD reader/burner? Or a slimline one?

          • Khali
          • 6 years ago

          I don’t have room on my desk for several different drives. Why do that when I can put a drive into the case? Just because others do not use CD’s any more does not mean everyone does not use them.

          This whole thing comes down to choice. I choose to have a CD drive and like having the access to one if I need it. You can choose not to have one if you like. Why force every one to go one way or the other?

            • XTF
            • 6 years ago

            Who is forcing what on who?
            Nobody is saying all cases should come without 5.25″ bays.

            • Khali
            • 6 years ago

            Go reread the article, Cyril says get rid of 5.25 drive bays. Here I will copy and paste it for you so you don’t have to put any effort into it.

            Get rid of 5.25″ bays. Just get rid of ’em. Optical media is dead, and there are far better ways to back up your data than to burn a DVD or Blu-ray.

            You and Cyril don’t want 5.25 drive bays, fine that’s your choice. But don’t go whining trying to get case manufacturers to do it your way only because there are as many of us that do want the 5.25 drive bays as there are of those that think we all should conform to what you think is the right way.

          • destroy.all.monsters
          • 6 years ago

          As Khali mentioned space concerns are important here – and burning speeds are slower on slimline drives (which are also typically more expensive).

            • JustAnEngineer
            • 6 years ago

            I’ll give you that burning speeds are slower, but have you looked at prices lately? Slim-line optical drives are not much more expensive than similar full-size (5ยผ” half-height) optical drives.

      • Waco
      • 6 years ago

      Pretty much. The only optical drive in my house is a USB external for ripping any DVDs I get as gifts. None of my desktops (or laptops) have optical drives any more and I can’t remember the last time I actually used a disc for anything.

      • beck2448
      • 6 years ago

      I use optical discs in my audio work all the time. They are working on getting discs to store multiple terabytes of data which again would be super for audio visual storage. I think discs are a long way from dead for audio visual pros. I much prefer a disc to a hard drive or god forbid, a cloud.

        • peartart
        • 6 years ago

        It sounds like you need an IT department.

      • paulWTAMU
      • 6 years ago

      Exactly what I was going to say. I use optical media. Not daily or weekly, but probably monthly. Often enough I’d like it integrated in my system rather than having to use an external drive.

        • nanoflower
        • 6 years ago

        Agreed. I wrote up a long post but it got lost when I had a crash. To summarize it we shouldn’t be forced into giving things up just because Cyril or anyone else doesn’t like them.

        There’s choice already in the marketplace so if you want a small case with limited options you can get that. If you want a big case with lots of room and expansion slots you can get that. If you don’t want an internal CD-ROM then don’t get one and don’t get a case that includes the slot. Make the choices that you want that work best for you, and I’ll make the choices that I want that work best for me. The great thing about today’s market is that you can find whatever you need. Often at a variety of prices points so you get to make the choice on what features you have to have and what would be nice to have if the price is low enough.

        The only thing that Cyril did bring up which I like is including the SATA date connectors which hot swap drive bays do include. Unfortunately the few pennies that costs is enough to cause most manufacturers to ignore the option.

          • paulWTAMU
          • 6 years ago

          and standardizing the LED/on off plugs. Good lord I’ve been kvetching about that for years.

      • Anonymous Coward
      • 6 years ago

      Long live optical media!

      A DVD is about the only thing I know some corporate jerk isn’t going to take away from me some day. (As long as I can find a player anyway.)

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 6 years ago

      how else can you rip red box movies???

      Jk, but seriously who else isn’t digitizing their movie library?

    • Ashbringer
    • 6 years ago

    1. Tried using MicroATX for a few years and I wish I never did. At some point you’ll need the room. Also, it’s nice to have the option in the future to expand.

    2. No please the 5.25 drive bays have plenty of uses. Besides my Blu-Ray drive, which I use to burn 100GB Blu-Ray discs, you have accessories like sd card readers or a water cooling reservoir.

    3. No complaints about the power supply. Not that I care if they suddenly drop in size.

    4. This I like. Power cables built into the case.

    5. Also like this idea.

    6. I thought some cases already did this? It’s just that some do it, and most really don’t.

    7. You don’t see people cracking open their laptops to clean dust, cause they don’t know that a huge dust ball has clogged up their heat sink. Causing the CPU to overheat and the CPU retards itself and slows down to prevent damage. Trust me, I’ve opened friends and family’s laptops for this reason. A good idea would be to have an air filter you can clean and easily remove, rather then tear something to pieces to vacuum it.

    8. This I agree. Hence why I use a 5.25 bay for 16 additional USB ports and SD card readers. But would be nice if this was built into the case, and not needing to waste a 5.25 bay for. Only have three 5.25 bays in my case, and all used up.

      • sbhall52
      • 6 years ago

      Pretty sure you, too, missed the point. You just described yourself as an enthusiast; the article was specifically for the rest of us.

        • f0d
        • 6 years ago

        well he does mention enthusiasts

        “im sure I’m not alone. In fact, I’m willing to bet the vast majority of PC gamers and enthusiasts out there have just as much empty space in their PCs. Oh, don’t get me wrong; leaving room for upgrades is fine. However, in the age of laptops, iPads, and smartphones, it seems a little strange that we should all have humongous mid-tower PCs full of air.”

        i agree that everyone else would be fine with matx boards and cases but i just dont think it would cut it with enthusiasts and gamers

        • Ashbringer
        • 6 years ago

        If you build a PC, then you’re an enthusiast. You want small PCs with no 5.25 bays, then buy them. I’m sure you’ll find plenty. The whole point of owning a PC is looking ahead. That’s why we want the room, and the expandability. Don’t like it, then buy a premade PC.

        What’s the point to even building your own machine, if you just want the basics? Both my main PC and my HTPC are very basic. Both run cheap AMD CPUs with 8 gigs of ram. Both are water cooled. Both are enormous in size. Both have TV capture cards, and sound cards. My main PC has a Asus Xonar, while my HTPC has a Auzentech Xplosion 71 for the DDL. One has an old PCI modem for faxing, cause it’s so much easier to print from a PC and fax then to deal with an external machine. The modem is like 10 years or even older, but still works fine.

          • DancinJack
          • 6 years ago

          That doesn’t make much sense to me. The point of building my own PC, to me, is putting exactly what I want into it at any time. That doesn’t require me to have 15 expansion bays and tons of extra room. Is there a pre-built PC fitting everyone’s exact needs? No way.

          If I want to build a mATX machine for my main use I have that option. You however don’t like it. No big deal, but don’t tell everyone to buy a pre-built PC because you want the extra room.

            • Ashbringer
            • 6 years ago

            They make plenty of cases that don’t have lots of expansion bays. Usually reserved for HTPC applications, but still exist. Also I’m not telling everyone what they want, I’m just telling you what I want. My HTPC was a mATX case with board, but overtime the lack of room became annoying. I filled all the slots, and couldn’t do much else with it. I’m not even the kind of guy who builds super PCs, with two video cards and 1000 watt power supplies. Just a very basic cheap setup.

            If consumers wanted more mATX cases with no 5.25 bays then the market would adjust. I will add this though to the list of changes I would like. Why in gods name do we still have video cards? Why don’t we have sockets on motherboards, along with memory slots just for video? The reason for this is because the amount of room needed to cool a video card is just atrocious. You almost always lose the adjacent slot to the video card because of the cooling, and it doesn’t cool all that efficient. Where with a socket you could use a standard CPU cooler on it, and get 10x better cooling. That would require a full size ATX board.

      • Rakhmaninov3
      • 6 years ago

      Alright, Steve Ballmer.

    • tinkerboy
    • 6 years ago

    mATX – good call. For most people IO integrated in a chipset is sufficient and with only 20 lines to split in mainstream Intel platform – there is no need for more space and controllers.
    Unfortunately ATX cases are where most innovation and interation goes on.
    There are far fewer mATX cases I would consider for a personal build and they tend to be not only smaller but leaner – with less space for CPU coolers and that is the sacrifice I am not willing to make.
    4 USB on the front is rare, 6 even more…
    Optical drives – space for a slim drive maybe, if at all.

    Some clever cases, cool & quiet – think of Raven 02-E, TJ08-E, new Phanteks, separate compartment for PSU & HDDs, clean way for air through the case, not as bulbous as Corsair Air, cleaner mATX Coolermaster XB…

    I think crucial is not making PC leaner or easier but learning it new tricks, tricks that mobile hardware cannot learn (yet) to do cheap enough.
    High dpi enthusiast grade motion detectors doubling as 3D scanners, monstrous Microsoft Vermeer with fluid, complex motion, 4k displays – all of them using every sip of power they can get, making mobile hardware gasp.

    • continuum
    • 6 years ago

    microATX is more or less the default from most of the big OEMs for a long time, at least for much of the OEM/ODM designs we see destined for consumer/business dekstops…

    And hell I think HP finally killed the 5.25″ bay in their new EliteDesk G1’s…

    But yeah, I’m tired of seeing enthusiast chassis with more than two 5.25″ bays on 98% of the ones on the market. Some of us do need more, but the 99%? Could I trade them for a nice 120mm or 140mm additional intake and some more 2.5/3.5″ bays please?

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