Remember the Mini-STX form factor? Do you remember "5×5," then? Well, in any case, the smallest socketed desktop systems around are based on Mini-STX, a somewhat obscure size class for systems created by Intel. ASRock offers a few tiny barebones built around the form factor, but going 5×5 meant going Intel—until now, anyway. Check out the DeskMini A300.
Yep, that's a little bitty desktop system with an A300-chipset Socket AM4 motherboard inside. The chassis is 6.1" square and 3.1" thick (155 x 155 x 80 mm). Obviously, there's no room in this case for a discrete graphics card, so you'll want to install a processor with graphics built in. Any graphics-equipped Socket AM4 processor rated for up to 65W TDP should work, whether it's a Bristol Ridge APU or a Zen-based Athlon or Ryzen chip. The board's two SO-DIMM slots will accept DDR4 memory running at up to 2933 MT/s.
You might expect such a miniature machine to have minimal storage capacity, but you actually get two M.2 sockets and two 2.5" drive bays in the A300. Both M.2 sockets support drives up to 80mm in length and offer four lanes of PCIe 3.0 connectivity. Meanwhile, the two 2.5" drive bays hook up to SATA 6 Gbps and support RAID 0 and 1 modes. ASRock notes that this little box could make for a killer home server or NAS with a low-power CPU, but we'd rather shove in a Ryzen 5 2400G and make a real console killer.
Display connections on the DeskMini A300 comprise an HDMI 2.0 port, a DisplayPort connection, and an old-school VGA port. Data connections consist of two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a USB 2.0 Type-A port, a USB 3.0 Type-C port, and an Ethernet jack that connects to a Realtek controller. Analog plugs include 3.5mm microphone and headset connections, as well as the 12-V barrel plug to connect the (included) external power brick.
100×100 VESA mount for scale.
The standard package simply includes the chassis, the motherboard, and the power brick. There's actually a third M.2 socket specifically for a Wi-Fi card, and there are pop-outs in the case that you can remove to install two Wi-Fi antennas—all part of a Wi-Fi kit that ASRock sells. You can also add two more USB 2.0 ports and a rear-facing 3.5mm audio connection. If you'd prefer to get everything in one place, ASRock offers a low-profile CPU cooler for the chassis, as well as a VESA mounting kit so that you can attach it to the back of a display.
Unfortunately, the one thing ASRock didn't tell us is when you'll be able to buy the DeskMini A300—or for how much. We can at least guess at the latter, though. Similar Intel-based DeskMini systems go for around $170, so we'd expect the A300 to land somewhere around there when it hits store shelves.