Release roundup: Small mobos, slick cases, and a tiny USB 3.0 drive

This week in the release roundup, we have news from Biostar, BitFenix, Lian Li, and Mushkin:

  • "Biostar "Hi-Fi H81MDC" - powerful value line of m-ATX motherboard." This latest addition to Biostar's motherboard lineup is a budget microATX offering based on Intel's H81 Express chipset. It'll take one Haswell processor, two DDR3-1600 DIMMs, two PCI Express expansion cards (one x16 and one x1), and four SATA storage devices (two 6Gbps and two 3Gbps). The external I/O cluster is similarly spartan, with just DVI and VGA video outputs, four USB ports (including two USB 3.0), Ethernet, analog audio, and PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports. Biostar's announcement doesn't quote pricing, but I don't expect the company to charge much for this board.

  • BitFenix - introducing Comrade. The word Comrade makes me think more of a Soviet-era Bond villain than computer hardware, but either way, this is a slick-looking ATX mid-tower from BitFenix. It has the usual assortment of enthusiast-friendly features, including a bottom-mounted PSU emplacement, cut-outs in the motherboard tray for cable routing and CPU socket access, removable dust filters, side-mounted (and tool-free) drive bays, and support for long (11.8") graphics cards. On the storage front, the Comrade can accommodate three 3.5" hard drives, three 2.5" SSDs, and three optical drives. The 2.5" bays have even their own little removable trays, just like the 3.5" ones. Oh, and as you can see in the picture below, the front-panel I/O ports are on the side, not at the front. Look for the Comrade in either "midnight black" or "arctic white" later this month.

  • "Lian Li releases the PC-V358 M-ATX chassis in North America." Lian Li's latest small-form-factor case can accommodate either microATX or Mini-ITX motherboards, which it places in a separate compartment above the storage devices and power supply. Other notable features include a "flip open design" for getting to the internals, support for 240-mm radiators, and room for up to six 3.5" hard drives, two 2.5" SSDs, and graphics cards as long as 11.8". Asking price: $179. Lian Li says this baby will show up at Newegg at the "end of December."

  • "Mushkin introduces new Atom USB 3.0 flash drive." Remember when USB 3.0 thumb drives used to be humongous? Well, looks like those days are gone. Mushkin's Atom is barely any bigger than its USB connector—heck, it almost looks like one of those little Bluetooth adapter things. Despite its small size, the Atom will be available in capacities up to 32GB, and according to Mushkin, it'll hit top speeds of 155MB/s when reading and 21.5MB/s when writing. The write speed doesn't exactly warrant a SuperSpeed connection, but come on. This thing is tiny.

You know, I almost think that Atom thumb drive almost looks too small. I routinely lose track of full-sized thumb drives, and this is one quarter the size. I think it would get stranded between cushions or under papers on my desk pretty much immediately.

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