ITX-MINI small form factor

Posted on 2011-10-04
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Can anyone tell me how these ITX small form factor PCs are used in the real world and what they are best suited for?
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Question by:mc2explore
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    Expert Comment

    Small Form Factor (SFF) PCs are often used in spaces where a limited footprint is desirable due to smaller desk space.  They are also used in Network Operations Centers (NOCs) where a fully functional computer is needed but will only be used for short-duration work or limited amounts of time.

    I have five small form factor PCs at home right now and am working on changing them into different types of computer cases for different applications.  Small Form Factor (SFF) computers are also ideal for Point of Sale (POS) systems in niteclubs, restaurants, automotive service stations and other business areas where a less imposing, possibly low-power comsumption system might be desired.

    Many SFF computers are "fanless" and cool the internal Central Processing Unit (CPU) by ordinary thermal convection (heat rising), so careful attention should be paid to observing where the ventilation holes are placed on the casing; so the flow of rising heated air is not obstructed from leaving the case.

    Finally, with the proper mounting options a SFF computer might even be sutiable for use in a mobile application such as a food service vehicle, mobile pet grooming business, etc.  The five systems I have were recycled after serving previous duty as hospital staff workstations where the nurses and doctors would access and review patient admittance records and status charts (presumably).

    Key SFF features:
    * Low space utilization
    * Low noise
    * Lower heat (although perhaps not the lowest)
    * Lower power consumption (possibly important when staffing a Call Center with 100 computers)
    * Limited upgrade options (in scenarios where it is undesirable for USERS to open the case and install extra upgrade cards; possible security issues)

    The per unit cost to deploy a Small Form Factor computer should also be less except when very specific performance upgrade features (faster CPUs, better video, better audio, additional hardware-card based options) are requested.
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    Expert Comment

    by:Gerald Connolly
    We use Asus eeebox PC's hung on the back of a widescreen LCD monitor (in Portrait mode) to show the live timing screens for MotoX. We use a 5Ghz Wireless LAN using equipment from Ubiquiti ( to connect up to (currently) 5 units spread around the track with link lengths of over a kilometre.

    We choosed the eeboxes because they ran Windows - our application is windows based.

    Author Comment

    How can they be used in the home as part of a media entertainment center? and do you have any examples for better understanding?
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    Accepted Solution

    If you had one running Windows Vista Home Premium or Media Center editions, the Small Form Factor computer could easily be hooked up to many models of LCD display (High Definition televisions with extra "Ports", specifically including a "HDMI" port).

    This hyperlink is somewhat technical, but I am including it to show the number of Media Center "capable" versions of Microsoft Windows [O.S.]:

    Now there is a good point, before making any purchase of a SFF computer it would be important to ask about the HDMI output capability, or match the computer's output with one of the LCD television's inputs.  There are several somewhat competing types of connectors all capable of carrying a "digital" television picture signal (as opposed to the older "Analog" type of signal).

    The "digital" video connections, in addition to HDMI, all mainly feature slightly larger connectors with white plastic showing on the face of the plug.  The older SVGA or standard 15-pin computer display connection has a blue plastic face (on the tip) and is smaller than the other digital connectors.

    The HDMI connector slightly resembles a USB connector which you will find on most computers.

    A Small Form Factor computer might not be the best choice for home entertainment because of its typically lower performance specifications, however there have been a few models specifically designed for Entertainment Center installation.  The Entertainment model PCs might even have "slimline", low-profile cases and feature front panels resembling commonly found stereo equipment.  By that I mean you might see polished silver fronts, burnished aluminium faces or darkened chrome looking front panels with LED displays placed behind the plastic (so the lit indicators shine through as the PC operates).

    Opinions vary on the success and functionality of these "specialty" computers, but I have not read any recent reviews and as such am not able to comment on the latest of them.

    See also:

    (for example case styles)
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    Expert Comment

    by:Gerald Connolly
    Some of the eeebox (NB this is not a eeePC nettop) have HDMI, some of the older ones have DVI-D which is similar to HDMI 1.3 but without audio (ie extra cables required).

    They are very quiet, quieter than my SKY+ box and come with a VESA mount

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