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SpotTheCat
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Form factor trends

Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:54 pm

I hadn't built a system using a new case in a decade or so... I picked up a Fractal Design Define C to replace my Antec P180 and it got me thinking. Though my new machine is smaller/cheaper/better than anything I've ever used and has shed many legacy technologies, there is still a long way to go in the form of the desktop PC to make them worth having over a laptop/tablet/phone.

Nobody needs 5.25" drives. Good to see these go, I didn't use them a decade ago, and I sure won't use them now. Good job, industry.
Next up is 3.5" drives. I only use 3.5" drives because they are left over. I use an M2 SSD as my main drive and I love it. We won't need 3.5" drives soon, though they may linger until they feel like a 200GB HDD does today.
There shouldn't be a need for dedicated cards other than graphics... Why is full size ATX still a thing? Micro ATX is huge. How expensive is WiFi that it isn't included on a default motherboard vs a second Ethernet port? Nobody should crave a dedicated audio card... "just" figure out one good enough for everybody that you can integrate for less than a dollar and sell a few tens of millions of it over a decade... what are all of those expansion slots actually used for? Likely nothing. Enthusiasts prefer today's performance over compatibility with last week's technology.
I want AMD and Intel to start selling CPUs outside of the current LGA/socket setup and do non-removable integrations with board partners without a need for chipsets and replaceable RAM... sort of like buying a graphics card. This would enable cheaper devices, fewer purchased components and compatibility issues for the user, less user-handling, and smaller/cheaper desktops could be built by leveraging mechanical advantages over legacy (~1993) system designs.

Hopefully in a decade cases can progress as much as they have... The P180 is bigger than the PCs I used in the early 90's. Hopefully the big 500+ watt PCs can keep coming down in size/cost over the next decade. I think to stay relevant they'll have to be much smaller and better integrated than my current PC.
 
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Re: Form factor trends

Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:15 pm

If you want a NUC, you know where to find one.
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Re: Form factor trends

Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:49 pm

Non replaceable part computers have been done many times before, and technically a smartphone is one of them. The big reason they don't do this, is when a ram stick goes bad, or the cpu dies...you have to send back the whole unit to be replaced. Plus another issue is you have to support multiple versions of the same thing, one with more ram, one with a different speed processor. That makes things extremely expensive, and that is one of the main reason they do not do this.
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Re: Form factor trends

Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:18 pm

What we are discussing is really the main drawback of open industry standards: Life is great until it takes forever for the standards to evolve because of established inertia even in the face of obvious deficiencies.

It's even worse in the case of the PC industry where there are so many little players who are naturally risk-adverse compared to the likes of Samsung and Apple.
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Re: Form factor trends

Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:08 am

SpotTheCat wrote:
I want AMD and Intel to start selling CPUs outside of the current LGA/socket setup and do non-removable integrations with board partners without a need for chipsets and replaceable RAM... sort of like buying a graphics card. This would enable cheaper devices, fewer purchased components and compatibility issues for the user, less user-handling, and smaller/cheaper desktops could be built by leveraging mechanical advantages over legacy (~1993) system designs.


Intel already sells Celerons and Atoms baked into NUCs and mITX boards, Newegg has an "embedded motherboard section" for that stuff though it's mostly old and dated hardware now.

Different people have different needs, and so randomly baking different CPU models into different boards only further increases floods of models, product inventory. ASUS creates a dozen motherboard models per chipset generation as it is, adding multiple processor models to the equation would make the number of motherboard SKUs simply explode.
 
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Re: Form factor trends

Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:36 am

There is ONE glaring trend over recent years,in homes and offices-Desktops are being replaced with Laptops.....

"Don't need optical drives" Be difficult to rip and encode Blue ray and DVD's to HEVC without them.
Going to store those encodes on SSD-haha-NO-3.5"spinning rust will be with us for a long time yet.

One of the wonderful things about this world is "We are all different"(excluding apple sheep of course)
and all have different needs.........................................
 
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Re: Form factor trends

Sat Sep 02, 2017 7:44 am

HERETIC wrote:
There is ONE glaring trend over recent years,in homes and offices-Desktops are being replaced with Laptops.....

Yeah, we don't have desktop systems at work. Standard issue computing device for everyone (including developers) is a MacBook Pro. I spend quite a bit of time in a Debian VM, since our product is Linux-based. At least they also gave us 4K monitors!

HERETIC wrote:
"Don't need optical drives" Be difficult to rip and encode Blue ray and DVD's to HEVC without them.

External USB optical drives work reasonably well.

HERETIC wrote:
Going to store those encodes on SSD-haha-NO-3.5"spinning rust will be with us for a long time yet.

Most people just stream everything these days.

HERETIC wrote:
One of the wonderful things about this world is "We are all different"(excluding apple sheep of course)
and all have different needs.........................................

While I'd prefer a native Linux solution at work, the MBP + VM works well enough. I certainly wouldn't have paid for a MBP with my own money!

At home, I indeed have a desktop with an internal optical drive and plenty of spinning rust. :wink:
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Re: Form factor trends

Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:19 am

just brew it! wrote:
HERETIC wrote:
There is ONE glaring trend over recent years,in homes and offices-Desktops are being replaced with Laptops.....
Yeah, we don't have desktop systems at work. Standard issue computing device for everyone (including developers) is a MacBook Pro.
This costs a fortune to provide significantly worse performance than a desktop PC would. :(

just brew it! wrote:
HERETIC wrote:
"Don't need optical drives" Be difficult to rip and encode Blue ray and DVD's to HEVC without them.
External USB optical drives work reasonably well.
They work, but they're slower than built-in drives and they clutter your desk.

just brew it wrote:
HERETIC wrote:
Going to store those encodes on SSD-haha-NO-3.5"spinning rust will be with us for a long time yet.
Most people just stream everything these days.
You can also put your spinning drives in a NAS box in an out-of-the way closet. In a business environment, the desktops should have SSDs and your large shared storage goes to a server.
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Re: Form factor trends

Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:43 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
Yeah, we don't have desktop systems at work. Standard issue computing device for everyone (including developers) is a MacBook Pro.

This costs a fortune to provide significantly worse performance than a desktop PC would. :(

Yes, it does. Most of the developers use a central build server though, so the lack of "oomph" isn't as big of a deal as it could be.

In my case, the workflow does not fit well with the way they've got the main build server set up since my group does not work on the main product as much (we're more along the lines of "infrastructure" type stuff). We do build custom Linux kernels though, and we've set up a few private dev servers (cobbled together out of hand-me-down parts from datacenter upgrades... PC building experience comes in handy for that!) which we can use for building and testing kernels.

We're also allowed to work from home 1-2 days/week, so a portable device is kind of important there (can't get onto the corporate intranet from home unless you've got an IT-blessed device that's allowed to connect to the VPN).
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Re: Form factor trends

Sat Sep 02, 2017 6:23 pm

JBI wrote:
(can't get onto the corporate intranet from home unless you've got an IT-blessed device that's allowed to connect to the VPN).


That seems to be the way of things these days. In the just the past month I can't even get email anymore without an officially-provisioned device/computer.
 
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Re: Form factor trends

Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:09 pm

Glorious wrote:
JBI wrote:
(can't get onto the corporate intranet from home unless you've got an IT-blessed device that's allowed to connect to the VPN).

That seems to be the way of things these days. In the just the past month I can't even get email anymore without an officially-provisioned device/computer.

Same here. But most intra-office communication is handled via Slack now, so e-mail has become less important. Still need to check e-mail periodically since it is used to schedule meetings though.
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Re: Form factor trends

Sun Sep 03, 2017 2:45 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
External USB optical drives work reasonably well.
They work, but they're slower than built-in drives and they clutter your desk.

You just named the one irritation I've encountered with my HTPC rebuild -- the Define Nano S has no 5.25 bays, so I'll have to rely on an external USB unit whenever there's another DVD or BRD to rip. This happens more often than one might think, since we tend to pick up stuff cheaply at the local thrift stores and the semi-annual library book sale.
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Re: Form factor trends

Sun Sep 03, 2017 7:31 am

ludi wrote:
JustAnEngineer wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
External USB optical drives work reasonably well.

They work, but they're slower than built-in drives and they clutter your desk.

You just named the one irritation I've encountered with my HTPC rebuild -- the Define Nano S has no 5.25 bays, so I'll have to rely on an external USB unit whenever there's another DVD or BRD to rip. This happens more often than one might think, since we tend to pick up stuff cheaply at the local thrift stores and the semi-annual library book sale.

While it won't fix the clutter issue, you could at least solve the speed issue with an eSATA external optical drive enclosure.
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Re: Form factor trends

Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:13 am

I know it's wrong but I just pirate the movies that I own physical copies of. It's easier than ripping them myself and given that I'm out of practice it's probably better quality than me ripping my own discs.

Since the MPAA and greedy distributors are complete scum I have no ethical problem doing whatever the hell I please once I've already paid them money for a physical copy/license/whatever-they-call-it. Purchasing a blu-ray disc legally entitles me to view that content in 1080p H246/x264 and I can download that with ease in around the same time it would take me to insert the disc and sit through all the unskippable BS piracy warning, legalese and someimes even ads that they force upon blu-ray victims.

No thanks, not playing that stupid game, and I haven't even touched on the problems of the HDCP DRM that makes playback and ripping such a nightmare...
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Re: Form factor trends

Sun Sep 03, 2017 11:07 am

Chrispy: Had to chime in and say that your rationalization is exactly what I do too. I feel I'm cheated when I have to sit through ads And extras I never agreed to have on the physical media. Just easier to get the mkv and/or mp4 online
 
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Re: Form factor trends

Sun Sep 03, 2017 4:36 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:
I know it's wrong but I just pirate the movies that I own physical copies of. It's easier than ripping them myself and given that I'm out of practice it's probably better quality than me ripping my own discs.

I have no moral or ethical qualms with maintaining a digital copy of anything that I also have in physical format, but I do have some very practical qualms about the sort of sites where those things can be downloaded.
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Re: Form factor trends

Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:39 pm

Glorious wrote:
JBI wrote:
(can't get onto the corporate intranet from home unless you've got an IT-blessed device that's allowed to connect to the VPN).


That seems to be the way of things these days. In the just the past month I can't even get email anymore without an officially-provisioned device/computer.


Not getting email is a bit on the strong side of things, but I'm glad the whole BYOD thing is starting to get reigned in. We never allowed people to bring their own devices for primary use in the office (for a whole host of reasons), but we don't block personal devices from connecting through our VPN.

One of the reasons for not allowing personal devices reared it's head with someone's printer a few years ago. We upgraded to Windows 7, and true to form, HP didn't have drivers for the guy's printer. He actually told us we had to buy him a new printer since we upgraded our systems and broke compatibility. Guess who won that battle. Hint: he didn't get a new printer and was told not to bring another one into the office.



With regards to the other items in the OP, those other slots exist for all kinds of reasons. Graphics cards are by far the most common these days in enthusiast sytems, but there are definitely other things besides audio and graphics that they can be used for. As far as including wireless, not everyone needs it. My desktops are all wired, but then my house is cabled and as many things that can be wired are wired.
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Re: Form factor trends

Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:50 pm

I'm surprised anyone was still that dependent on a printer as of a few years ago, and bringing your own printer to work just sounds like an odd thing to do. Since starting my current job about 2 years ago, I think I can count the number of times I've needed to print something on the fingers of one hand. I'm not even sure the printer drivers on my MacBook Pro are correctly set up any more, since the last time I printed anything predates the last OS X upgrade.
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Re: Form factor trends

Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:02 am

Chrispy_ wrote:
I know it's wrong but I just pirate the movies that I own physical copies of. It's easier than ripping them myself and given that I'm out of practice it's probably better quality than me ripping my own discs.

Since the MPAA and greedy distributors are complete scum I have no ethical problem doing whatever the hell I please once I've already paid them money for a physical copy/license/whatever-they-call-it..


Agree 100% when it comes to Blue ray and 1080P.Can't even get close to the quality/size the pro's can.
Where I have a problem is DVD/standard definition.
Most torrents seem to be encoded for absolute minimum size.And i would like the quality a little higher,(not as big as 720P)
so have to encode TV series off DVD myself..........
Also H265(HEVC) started appearing just over a year ago,but seems harder to find now...............................
 
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Re: Form factor trends

Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:35 am

unless you live in a tiny room or an apartment or its a htpc i never saw the point of making computers super small
i have plenty of room for a big atx case that can hold a whole bunchload of harddrives and custom watercooling, infact my htpc is starting to show its limitations by only being able to hold 5 hdd's (silverstone tj08-e)
i guess its now "cool" to have a tiny computer but screw it i like my big massive box with 3 radiators and 9 hdd's and sli graphics cards and a sound card
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Re: Form factor trends

Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:46 am

Your HTPC's awesome Silverstone Temjin TJ08-E is a compact 30.2 liters. The Cooler Master Cosmos II in TR's system guide is 160.8 liters!
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Re: Form factor trends

Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:02 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:
Your HTPC's awesome Silverstone Temjin TJ08-E is a compact 30.2 liters. The Cooler Master Cosmos II in TR's system guide is 160.8 liters!

yes but my main pc is a thermaltake corex9 which is 502 x 380 x 640 mm http://www.thermaltake.com/Chassis/Cube_Case_/Core/C_00002562/Core_X9/Specification.htm
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Re: Form factor trends

Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:21 am

f0d wrote:
unless you live in a tiny room or an apartment or its a htpc i never saw the point of making computers super small
i have plenty of room for a big atx case that can hold a whole bunchload of harddrives and custom watercooling, infact my htpc is starting to show its limitations by only being able to hold 5 hdd's (silverstone tj08-e)
i guess its now "cool" to have a tiny computer but screw it i like my big massive box with 3 radiators and 9 hdd's and sli graphics cards and a sound card

TBH I think a mid-tower or a wide mini-tower like you've got is fine. Not massively huge, but roomy enough to be easy to work inside of, and less likely to have airflow issues. If you have more HDDs than you can fit in a mini/mid-tower you should have a separate NAS or server (located out of earshot) anyway.

My main desktop (which is still a Piledriver-generation AMD) is a mid-tower. I would've considered going mini-tower, except that there were basically no decent micro-ATX AM3+ boards. There's a full tower server in the crawlspace with a pile of HDDs in it.
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Re: Form factor trends

Mon Sep 04, 2017 2:46 pm

The PC industry is all about modularity and build options so they're never going to force any one form factor or component selection on everyone, which is a good thing. Personally I always want at least one 5.25" bay for vintage games as well as used music CDs and movies I pick up in the Walmart bargain bin (which, amusingly enough, actually have far less ads and cruft than the pricey first-run stuff). While my main system is all SSD right now, they're not a great choice for bulk storage or anything that spends lots of time powered off so 3.5" is very much here to stay. External drives do exist in both cases, but they're a hassle and usually of poor build quality. ITX has come a long way in the last few years, and any high end motherboard suite includes at least one mATX option. ATX may be useless for the vast majority of buyers, but they buy it anyway given equal or better mATX/ITX alternatives so it's not the industry's fault that it's still popular.

just brew it! wrote:
Yeah, we don't have desktop systems at work. Standard issue computing device for everyone (including developers) is a MacBook Pro. I spend quite a bit of time in a Debian VM, since our product is Linux-based. At least they also gave us 4K monitors!

We're going this way at work, except it's Thinkpads and developers still get Xeon workstations. The justification is that non-R&D travels a lot and needs portability--even many engineers, myself included, have a hand-me-down laptop for going into meetings--but software guys and especially the physicists and mechanical E's need a lot of firepower to do their thing.

Likewise, we're heading toward authorized-devices-only but with provisions for non standard equipment that passes muster. The officially supported hardware alone is about six years worth of machines from three vendors, so it's easier for everyone to focus on compliance rather than conformity.
 
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Re: Form factor trends

Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:51 pm

We've got tons of non-standard equipment since we're an R&D shop, but it is generally restricted to the "red" network. Systems on the corporate intranet (a.k.a. the "blue" network) can initiate connections to things on the red network, but not the other way around. Anything non-standard can't be used to access e-mail or other "critical business functions".

I actually had the option of going with a Thinkpad, but that would've also meant going with Windows as the host OS (so I would've still needed to use VMs anyway). Most of the people I talked to who had gone the Thinkpad route were also reporting a lot of problems with hardware failures and other random glitches; I guess the model of Thinkpad IT chose was a lemon.

The MBP + VMs seems to be the path of least pain.
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Re: Form factor trends

Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:12 am

I don't want the ability to replace components because I don't want to have to replace components... Do you want a car with easy access to repairs and common parts, or a car that doesn't need repairs?

I haven't used an optic drive on a computer in at least 5 years.
 
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Re: Form factor trends

Wed Nov 08, 2017 3:14 pm

SpotTheCat wrote:
I don't want the ability to replace components because I don't want to have to replace components... Do you want a car with easy access to repairs and common parts, or a car that doesn't need repairs?

Let me know when that "car that doesn't need repairs" is available. All things wear out or become obsolete, the question is, do you want to replace the entire car because of a $50 component that failed? If the car is cheap enough, maybe, but we're not there yet -- on cars or PCs.

It makes sense that the components most likely to experience a failure or defect in the equipment lifetime should be separable from the rest and replaceable using a standard physical and electrical interface -- memory and data storage in particular. And heat dissipation is still an issue on higher-end kit, which is helped by spreading things apart.
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Re: Form factor trends

Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:23 am

If you're OK with replacing the whole thing when something fails, then fine, go with an integrated unit. I'm fine with my "no user serviceable parts inside" MacBook Pro at work because if it dies, I walk over to IT and say "my laptop just died, give me another one please".

For personal mobile use, I prefer my HP EliteBook (traditional clunky laptop design), where I can replace/upgrade stuff myself. I vastly prefer the feel of the keyboard to the MBP too.

For personal desktop, I still use (and prefer) a mid-tower solution. TBH I finally ditched my ancient Chieftec full tower (it pulls file server duty now) because of the lack of front ports and 80mm case fan limitations; I'd probably still be using it for my primary rig otherwise.
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Re: Form factor trends

Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:23 am

Eh, I'm sticking with ATX for now: I want the extra slots, and I have actually used MGPU over the majority of the last decade.

But 5.25" bays? My next case, a Define R5 White, will have those removed. I do have a full-size Blu-ray burner in a USB3/eSATA enclosure for the ifs and whens.

My secondary 'Linux' box is going to be a Cryorg Taku, just because it's so fricken' cool. mITX, but it'll have my 6700k and one of my old 970's and whatever drives I have laying around. It'll be a 'clean' area workstation where I can sit down and focus on learning.
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Re: Form factor trends

Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:39 am

Airmantharp wrote:
But 5.25" bays? My next case, a Define R5 White, will have those removed. I do have a full-size Blu-ray burner in a USB3/eSATA enclosure for the ifs and whens.

I still like to have at least a couple of 5.25" bays. My current system has 3, all of them occupied: DVD drive, 3.5" hot swap bay, and dual 2.5" hot swap bay. Granted, I only use the DVD drive to rip audio CDs these days (which could easily be done with an external instead), but I do like having the hot swap bays.
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