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HTPC Mini-ITX Gamer in P55 Test
After testing the excellent Silverstone GD04 , the interests of a very compact box capable of accepting a configuration performance proves to be a real advantage for integration into a lounge and manufacturers seem to make real efforts in this direction .
While there is still a good year while "HTPC HD drive was based on an ATX motherboard see MicroATX form factor, the arrival on the market MPC7A GF9300/9400 alias and its hardware acceleration enabled our platforms s enfranchise an additional video card and therefore settle for a smaller package.
In 2009 the success of the mini ITX Zotac GF9300 thanks to an integrated wireless card, but mostly its PCI Express 16x allowing the addition of true 3D map, which opened a new market, one of the "mini- ITX gamer. Indeed, after having proved they could overcome any constraints associated with HD playback 17cm/17cm despite their size, the mini-ITX boards can now receive the largest processors and the most powerful video card .
With this in mind we started looking, configuration mini ITX format most efficient way in a housing as compact as possible.
Although it is evolving, it appears that the sector Mini-ITX is still quite undeveloped. However, the reference current Mini-ITX enclosures, the SG05 and 80 + 300W power supply is so far unavoidable.
As for motherboards, DFI is well known in the community "gamer" to offer its products to large overclocking capabilities. The manufacturer now offers mini ITX motherboard "Gamer" of the moment: the MI-P55- T36. We will test its ability to rise in frequency through a Core i5 750 and a kit DDR3 2GHz. To cool all these people, we will test kit Corsair Hydro H50 seems that on paper the ultimate cooling, lack of availability of Thermalright AXP-140.
Since the time we hoped to test in practice the future of storage, ie DSS, Corsair P64 is a model that will allow us to judge the progress of the technology 100% silent when faced with mechanical disks.
Tested on numerous occasions on the net, the Silverstone SG05 will therefore favor of this test. Its format "Shuttle" of (WxHxD) 222 mm x 176 mm x 276 mm makes it a relatively compact housing or even portable. It can receive a slim optical drive, hard disk format standard 3.5 p and 2.5 per second format Perfect for use on paper for a ssd drive system and 3.5p for storing data.
Compatible with mini-ITX and mini-DTX, it comes with a 120mm fan blade design which recalls a golf ball, probably the same model as in the GD04.
His power is 300W 80 + certified. She has three SATA connectors, 3 molex 4pins, a floppy drive power. The cable length is relatively short, perfectly designed for the size of the box. By cons, although it is probably related to its modest power, it is a pity it is that with a 4 pin CPU in addition to the conventional 24-pin. 8pin connector would have been more, as cable sheathing.
Silverstone offers in the traditional bundle of hardware, an IDE adapter to IDE slim slim optical drive. Our first reaction was to think it was a real plus significant. Until me to realize that the motherboard does not have IDE port.
After a tour on the net, it appears that very few Mini-ITX motherboards still have an IDE port, the choice of Silverstone is curious in the end. Replacement in the bundle the adapter with a "Slim SATA to SATA" or "ide to sata slim" would be a real plus when you see the price of these accessories to the unit.
DFI P55-MI-T36 Motherboard
A mini ITX motherboard DFI! A year ago or two, we never expected that to happen, but the evolution of the market has opened a breach in which the Taiwanese manufacturer was engulfed in without half-measures: socket LGA1156, P55 Chipset 2 slots DDR3 1600MHz, 3 SATA connectors, 2 USB 2.0 internal chip realtek AL885 7.1 associated with Creative X-Fi drivers, two fan connectors, 1 x 8pin CPU and a PCI Express 16X.
The rear panel is also richly endowed: 5 USB 2.0 powered eSata a SPDIF optical and coaxial, 2 PS2 ports and six audio jacks. Small detail "DFI", a button "Clear MOS is present.
There is simply no equivalent on the market. His bundle is proportional to the size of the card, 2 SATA cables, a power molex to 2 4pins Sata 2 connectors and smart. The card also comes with drivers on a CD and a CD suitable for X-Fi chip and a multilingual user manual.
Who says DFI Ultra Complete bios and said this is the case, we would be lost in the possible settings. Interestingly for those looking to overclock, it is possible to save four profiles in bios, the CPU VCore is adjustable from 1 to 2v and the VRam 1.2 and 2.6 v! The block (equivalent FSB of Core i3 i5 and i7) is adjustable from 100-500 MHz (133 original). In short, as an advertisement saying: "It has everything a great".
Intel Core i5-750
The processor which will be associated with an Intel Core i5 750, the first quad-core LGA1156 (Lynnfield) clocked at 2.67 GHz and 8 MB of cache. Its overclocking potential should be revealed by this motherboard.'s VID is 1.25V and TDP of 95W.
G. Skill DDR3-2000 Memory:
Listed memory, and to not be crippled in our attempts to rise in frequency, is a kit 2x2GB G. Skill DDR3-2000 MHz Ripjaws was chosen because it offers the best price / performance. Only 10% more expensive than the 1600MHz kit for 25% of perf in addition, it is a shame to miss out.
Cooling Corsair Hydro H50:
Offer liquid cooling system compact and powerful, ready to be used for the price of a large CPU cooler, the bet is tempted by Corsair with H50.
The concept is simple: a waterblock / pump that attaches to the place the cooler connected to a small radiator 120mm deported. Compatible with Intel and AMD AM2/AM3 LGA775/1156/1366, it comes with a 12cm black fan base PWM. The pump plugs into a 3-pin connector and the radiator is fixed on the location of a 12cm fan.
Sapphire Radeon HD 5770 v2 Graphics Card:
The graphics card chosen for this test is simply the most powerful compatible with the housing, the ATI Radeon HD 5770 1GB DDR5 V2, the fan is considered quieter than the original, which is part of a use in the living room, an advantage. His performance should help to play in good conditions to nearly all current games. This is becoming one of the leading price / performance.
SSD P64 Corsair:
We all agree that a HTPC worthy of the name must be as quiet as possible. The use of an SSD drive system provides increased performance and silence. Its use to store its data on a disk 5400 rpm almost inaudible over can be paused by the system when not solicited. Corsair sent us a P64 which, as its name suggests, has a capacity of 64 GB is based on the controller and Samsung's second generation with a cache of 128 MB It boasts a read speed of 220 Mb / s and 120Mo / s in writing and is compatible with the trim . Its aluminum shell gives it a nice finish.
Re: HTPC Mini-ITX Gamer in P55 Test
Performance And Nuisance:
So here we are at the heart of this test and first positive surprise, the installation of Seven is fast. Less than a quarter hour to see the Windows desktop, the DSS is reactive.
Once configured the bios and installing drivers made the PC is almost inaudible at 1 meter. The most audible component is the video card, the H50 pump emits a clicking sound that can be perceived only within 20cm. The first objective is completed, the assembled configuration is sufficiently quiet to take place in a lounge.
First test "home" Windows Experience Index and initial observation, the configuration looks balanced since the index varies between 7.2 for Windows DSS (5.9 for a velociraptor or a modern disk 1TB) and 7.5 for memory (recognized 1333 MHz). For its part, the processor gets 7.3 and the video card 7.4
We then checked for selected few additional benchmarks, HD tune and CrystalDiskMark 2.2 were selected for evaluating the DSS and "Restart-Time" a small program which calculates the time to reboot the system. To compare, we made same operation on our configuration whose main drive is a Samsung 1TB F3 The classic 3DMark Vantage benchmark and Resident Evil 5 and Street Fighter IV and that of future DX10 STALKER Call of Pripyat and the game will be DirectX11 Dirt 2 Part. To assess the capacity of the mainboard, we will make a gradual rise in frequency on the processor. OCCT will allow us to test the stability of the system and cooling capacities of H50.
It is difficult to tell which mode is more interesting. In fact HD tune shows that IDE mode enjoys reading curves more regular, but smaller. In AHCI mode, although the curves are higher readings, but the data entries are slightly less good under CrystalDiskMark. Would that take advantage of the "hotswap" (Hot Plug SATA devices) that can be very useful for HTPC AHCI mode was chosen. For cons, the difference in performance with Disk 1TB is impressive, access times and reading / writing small files. The interest here is crying ssd.
Duration of reboot:
Small software whose interest is certainly symbolic, we tested the time to reboot on the same configuration with this little program which allows simply to measure the time a system reboot. To do this we have simply cloned the system partition on a HDD HITACHI 80GB SATA 2007, unable to do so with a hard drive later. The 69S disk is mechanical while the same system on the P64 Corsair takes only 34s 2x or less time. I admit that this gain on the loading time is very valuable when you start the computer, not to mention the silence of a cathedral.
Under 3dmark Vantage, our setup gets 9950points (9250 for the video card and 12,704 for the processor), which is an honorable score. Our configuration was then freed without any problem with these two games, and this, whatever the resolution and anti-aliasing settings. We wanted this benchmark for assessing the capabilities of our configuration can play a game of last-generation DirectX 11. The result is very satisfying because once again the game is quite playable full HD, even Ultra mode.
Let's see now how is the configuration on the game that we had, namely "Colin MacRae dirt 2" an early DirectX 11 games on the market. It appears that the game is playable in good condition all options enabled until resolution 1680/1050. The finding shows that the latter fleurte with the boundary of gameplay (30 fps) in full HD. It will therefore benefit from a greater flow balance settings.
H50 Overclocking Performance:
By blocking the CPU Vcore 1.25V in the bios and making a gradual ascent of the block we were able to stabilize the platform at 3.8 GHz is a block to 190 instead of 133 original. Not exceed the recommended Intel Vcore (1.25V) to the original frequency (2.67 GHz), we managed to get overclocking of over 42%, the vdrop bringing down the Vcore to 1.23 v Windows.
At this frequency our memory works at 1900 MHz (it is still below its capacity), but the platform becomes very reactive. It should be noted that despite the overclocking, Corsair H50 keeps the temperature very reasonable because the warmest heart reached "only" 67 ° C, which is pretty good.
However, it should be noted that validation does not happen without a little trick, because when our first workbenches, we found that one via HWMonitor probes exceeded 95 ° C, which was crashing the computer . Connecting a small fan slim 6 cm (from the bundle of Zotac IONITX) led to the floors of food and Mofset was enough to obtain a gain of about 20 ° C.
This breakdown has helped stabilize the platform at 3.8 GHz, but also highlighted the implication of using the Corsair h50 which by its specificity can not separate components located around the socket. It is again clear that the SG05 is broken only by his 12cm (slim for our test) and 8cm food. This area, located between the socket and the rear panel therefore did not profit from any air flow.
We will retain only its excellent performance and strongly recommend this set for any box that is able to receive it. Quiet, efficient ventilation even with limited and relatively simple to implement, although its price is relatively high, but the average wholesale market cooler.
Re: HTPC Mini-ITX Gamer in P55 Test
As we have said from the start, the sector is booming. Our test showed that our original configuration was balanced, but that overclocking had virtually no effect on 3D performance, which is a shame given the potential of these processors. The choice of HD 5770 has imposed itself over the available space in the cabinet and the limited power supply (300 watts), but serious competitors could still disrupt the deal now, and c ' is a good thing. Alternatively, The Lian-li Q08 and Silverstone SG07 can be the good option.
While the first ad can receive up to 30 cm video cards, 6 hard drives, an ATX power supply and a standard optical drive, the second, which will also be compatible with the longest video cards, will retain its slimline and would be delivered with power of 600W with a length of son will be specially studied. By cons, it would lose its location 2.5 "at the expense of a single 3.5", damage to the DSS.
As for motherboards, the pair H55 / H57, which should help the development of the class, less oriented "overclock / gamer" as the model of DFI, it will still accommodate the dual core Intel Core i5 ( CLARKDALE) and a graphics card in PCI-Express 16X:
Silverstone SG05 case:
The case offers Silverstone in a compact the essential items required to mount a HTPC, position 2.5 "SSD and a 3.5" for storage, its completion is correct and fairly tight price saw its benefits. Available in 90 €, it is very interesting.
DFI P55-MI-T36 Motherboard:
Even if its price around € 130 may at first seem high for such a small card, motherboard DFI will be very difficult to dislodge. It may stay for this year's reference category because no other manufacturer has yet announced equivalent. The Cebit we reserve may be some surprises, but this model is evidence that performance can rhyme with compactness. For many MicroATX form factor motherboards and ATX are not able to obtain a stable block 190. Not to mention that we probably have not pushed it in its boundaries, which has limited the Vcore to 1.25, while the options "aliens" can attach to 2V. The only disappointment is that it can deal with the i5 750 stock, the memory above 1333MHz. In practice, play on the coefficient of the processor and / or overclocking the processor will still allow to make adjustments.
Intel Core i5-750:
The i5 750 is Intel Quad core processors in the first socket 1156, its original performance will be sufficient for most of us. But its overclocking potential is such that you should not deprive yourself. What is it that on buying a more expensive model is not justified, especially since we could even do with a dual core Core i3/i5 for this type of configuration.
Watercolling CPU Corsair H50:
The Corsair kit H50 has clearly impressed, it is easy to implement as long as the necessary space is available. At 70 € a minimum unit, it is certainly not cheap, but it allows for a Watercooler for the price of a large CPU cooler.
You understood, mini ITX is a standard that we can now count. It is entirely possible to assemble a powerful computer in the format that is easily its place in a salon. The coming months should prove to us that the best is yet to come.
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