bit-tech.net

Is the Age of Massive PCs at an End?

Posted on 5th Nov 2011 at 12:26 by Antony Leather with 59 comments

Antony Leather
In the 15-odd years I've been building my own PCs, all my main systems have invariably been housed in large towers. Whether this was because they needed to accommodate multiple hard disks when I was experimenting with RAID, or to fit water-cooling hardware inside, my cases have got perpetually larger.

It’s now got to the point where I own one of the largest PC cases ever made – the Lian Li V2000. I’ve currently got a quad 120mm-fan radiator and a triple 120mm-fan radiator in a single loop, cooling my BIOS-modded HD 5870 1GB, overclocked Intel Core i7-975 and Gigabyte GA-X58 UD7 with a full-cover waterblock. This enables me to have a near-silent system, as the seven 120mm fans spin at a very low rpm, but still offer enough cooling power to enable sky-high overclocks. However, the case feels like it takes up half of the room.

While my current system is also still part of an on-going modding project, I’ve had a real hankering to do something completely different to the norm – my norm anyway. I want a smaller PC, but not just something half or even a quarter of the size of my giant V2000. I want something that’s not much bigger than a shoebox, but still water-cooled and able to pack a powerful punch.

Thankfully, I’ve already built quite a few mini water-cooled PCs in my time, so I know this won’t be an issue. I've also had projects such as Phinix Nano Tower for some excellent inspiration, showing what can be achieved with modern hardware. Also, the GTX 560 Ti can be found with trimmed PCBs, so there are also respectable graphics options. The limiting factor has been the motherboard – having built numerous mini-ITX systems in the past, including a couple of water-cooled machines – I really want to see just how small I can make my PC.

This question was answered by the guys at Zotac, who recently released the Zotac Z68 Mini-ITX WiFi – the first Z68-based mini-ITX board that can access K-series CPUs' unlocked multipliers.

Is the Age of Massive PCs at an End? Is the age of the massive water-cooled PC case at an end?
Zotac's Z68 Mini-ITX WiFi can push K-series Sandy Bridge CPUs nearly as far as the best boards we've seen

Combined with an overclocked Core i5-2500K, the system should pack enough punch to deal with the games I throw at it (a bit of Bad Company 2 with a smattering of World of Tanks and some flight sims). What's more, while 8GB kits of memory are available for less than £40, I could also use it to help with the increasing amount of photo editing I do in my spare time.

Half of me thinks I should stick with big towers, though. They allow you the greatest flexibility when it comes to building big, powerful systems with exotic cooling. They also look cool. Maybe my urges are just my way of coming out in sympathy with the world economy – downsizing, shedding extra baggage, becoming more efficient? But seeing as Intel’s latest CPUs are so power efficient and don’t need oversized cooling systems to achieve large overclocks, I really don't think that a powerful system needs to be big any more.

Are small PCs the future? Should I downsize? Let us know your thoughts in the forum.

59 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
jezmck 5th November 2011, 12:31 Quote
Will we get to a point where we just don't need the extra power?
Mentai 5th November 2011, 12:42 Quote
I think they're the present, not the future. Right now nothing is too demanding hardware wise, but once there are new consoles out in 2013/14 PC's will be playing catch up again and it might start becoming harder to play everything maxed out at 1080p.
Parge 5th November 2011, 12:47 Quote
I built a rig out of the wonderful Silverstone SG07-B with a OCd i5-750 and a GTX 570, but ultimately I found that while it worked well, it was impossible to make tidy, and didn't allow me to do the one thing I love doing with my PC. Tinkering.
tad2008 5th November 2011, 13:08 Quote
I have liked the principles of being able to use a mini-itx and to have enough processing power and features for most uses and loved the MSI Mega 180 which provided not only a small form factor with an overall, albeit not perfect design but also enabled you to use the optical drive as a cd player and also the option of a radio when the pc without having to power up the pc itself.

With the multitide of options available for NAS in so many forms having a large beast of a case seems so archaic. Why have a monolith when you can have something far more sublime?

If you really need something more for localised storage have you considered a more modular apparoach? How about putting that tiny Zotac in it's own tiny custom enclosure with just an OS drive and make a matching one for an external hard drive or even modded NAS box to plug in to it for all your extra storage.

One thing I have been considering trying myself is to use the smaller form factor of something like the Zotac and going with a Network Boot option and completely forego localised storage altogether. With a 1Gb wired connection or Wireless N this should prove fast enough for most situations, though I don't know how this would affect more intensive tasks.
Paradigm Shifter 5th November 2011, 13:15 Quote
Personally, I like big cases - the larger the better. I don't LAN party, so moving it around isn't an issue, and if the case weighs a couple of hundred pounds with everything inside it... any thief is going to give themselves a hernia trying to steal it. ;)
Sutura 5th November 2011, 13:21 Quote
I was having the same thoughts as the author recently. I mean, in this web-page and its adjacent forum, there is mainly a community of people that love hardware/software. But the needs of the other users can be basically covered by a laptop or mini-ITX or MATX at most. I mean my parents would never make a difference if there is a big box or small box next to the display or if its just a laptop. They use only skype, browsing, movies and you don't need a water cooled beast for that. Its a topic that deserves more investigating though. I wonder if the time of the "heavy hardware" is really at its end.
DarthDVD_AU 5th November 2011, 13:33 Quote
I've built a very good system into a silverstone SG07.
i7-2660k, 8Gb DDR3, Zotac Z68 Mini-ITX WiFi Mainboard,
Zotac N480, 2Tb Hdd (will be donating that to family when the 4Tb's come out), Crucial 512Gb SSD, XP-140 Thermalright heatsink (god it only just fits), Slot loading Bluray Drive, AND I still managed to fit a coolermaster GX750 Psu.... without cutting wires. Now I can go lanning without a forklift. until i move the 27" monitor.
javaman 5th November 2011, 13:44 Quote
I've been thinking the same but for different reasons. Hardware is at a point where you can cram a lot of power in a small portable case which not only saves room but opens up the possibility of making a semi-portable system. Yet a large case still has the advantage of being able to cram everything under one roof.
TBH I'm looking at embracing the cloud computing model with 1 large box at home that does the heavy lifting so to speak. That would allow a smaller desktop PC that is focused on the GPU rather than everything having to be brilliant and crammed full of all my disks, tv tuners etc.
I think both are suited to different needs and having the ability to make a small neat PC is a huge advantage and preferable option, its like choosing a people carrier over a citron C1. The citron is preferable since its more efficient, yet I still have the need to carry things on occasions ie. My large box.
jrs77 5th November 2011, 13:59 Quote
I've started downsizing two or three years ago, when the first Atom-boarss with nVidia ION graphics showed up. These were the first mini ITX boards that packed enough power to build very small and efficient office- and multimedia-PCs. Sure, Shuttle was around well before that, but they were rather expensive.

Witht the introduction of mini ITX boards capable of running "normal" CPUs and PCIe x16 GPUs the possibilities for building a very small gaming-rig not using Shuttle-barebones instantly catched my interest.

I got to say, that I'm not interested in overclocking or Crossfire/SLI. There's no need for that actually, as usual hardware is capable enough of playing games or running graphics-software, etc. Crunching numbers isn't exactly that interesting for me, and for me a PC should be first and foremost as efficient as possible.

What's efficient for me? Well... efficiency for me is based on three things: price vs performance, powerconsumption and size.
This way the most efficient PC has to be cheap, but still capable of running all the tasks you throw at it, while drawing as little power as possible. And the size makes it more efficient, because you need less ressources for the parts (boards, case, etc).

If you look at my sig, you'll notice, that I'm totally down that road allready :)
shuffle 5th November 2011, 14:14 Quote
No of course not. A case which you can fit your choice of components comfortably inside.. the more powerful the better. You can choose how environmentally friendly it is.
Fingers66 5th November 2011, 14:34 Quote
Our very own mars-bar-man downsized in Project Shrink: http://forums.bit-tech.net/showthread.php?t=190391.

It is very possible to build a small and powerful rig but as Parge says above, it is very hard to make it tidy.
bulldogjeff 5th November 2011, 17:08 Quote
making a SFF with a bit of power is easy, but until some one can condense water cooling then big cases will always be around, personally I love them. There's something about a big case with all the hardware showing thats makes it look so dam cool.
shaunster1011 5th November 2011, 17:32 Quote
I love my big case and wouldnt be without it, I love big components as well. The ability to make it tidy but also make your PC a feature of your room using LED's and similar is much of the appeal for me.
cjb119 5th November 2011, 17:35 Quote
Its the constant Display Res v PC power battle, and the display side has stagnated.

The problem at the moment is that 1080p doesn't require high-end, and hence the space or cooling. If more 2k (or better 4k) displays were available, then the PC would be behind the displays, and big cases to fit watercooling and dual/triple gpu's etc would be needed.
morbias 5th November 2011, 17:43 Quote
PC taking up half the room? Move into a bigger house!
David164v8 5th November 2011, 17:49 Quote
Yeah, if 4K resolutions could fit into a monitor we would actually need tri sli 580s :D
kent thomsen 5th November 2011, 17:55 Quote
I think you might want to be a little less extreme. A shoebox is VERY smal, cabinets the size of the Antec Sonata (to which I moved from a Zalman GS 1000 with great result) or similar, can be modded to be really effective and fairly tidy as well. And compared to the rig you describe, it will defintely feel a lot smaller... If you want something smaller than that, get a powerful laptop.

Eventually, though, shoebox size cabinets probably will become standard, as hardware develops.
Omnituens 5th November 2011, 18:30 Quote
Small mobos are getting better, but if you need performance, you need a large gfx card and therefore a large PSU, with enough cooling.
tonyd223 5th November 2011, 19:54 Quote
Yes. You wouldn't want a 1970's colour tv 2 foot deep...
Cei 5th November 2011, 21:09 Quote
I think technology has advanced far enough that you can cram it in to small cases. No longer do you need a whole bundle of HDs to get 2TB of capacity without spending silly money - a single drive will do the job perfectly fine.

I went for my FT03 as it has a very small footprint (admittedly it's reasonably tall), but still fits a full GTX 580 (or two!) and mATX board with all the trimmings. Far better choice than full ATX, the only features I've lost are multiple PCIe slots that wouldn't have been used anyway.
yassarikhan786 5th November 2011, 21:16 Quote
For me the answer is no :).
Blazza181 5th November 2011, 21:20 Quote
Nah - I actually prefer bigger cases. They are easier to build with and are easier to mod with (a mon avis).
jimmyjj 5th November 2011, 21:59 Quote
Bigger the better baby.

The more normal folk who move to tiny cases, the cooler great big f***ing cases will be for us real men!
steve30x 5th November 2011, 22:00 Quote
I got a Corsair 800D and I think its way too big. I am going to buy a smaller case soon.
mystvearn 5th November 2011, 22:20 Quote
Well I think that downsizing is the way to go. I've own Thermaltake Tsunami, and Antec Three Hundred and think that they are too big.

With the TT Tsunami, I did use all PCI, AGP slots and all the front slots. I even moded a LED switch onto the unused floppy slot.

With the Antec 300: 2 HDD (more space than all 5 HDD on my TT), one media burner, One PCI-card, aftermarket CPU cooler. full 5 gb ram, thats it. The entire system runs cool under 40C OC with the optional fan bays provided on the case.

If possible, I would like a case, where the entire side wall is one huge fan, say 25-40 cm square case, and that is the only case fan. One thing big cases offer is ease during building process. There are tons of space so you can't really go wrong with the cabling. Smaller case, tighter cables, poor airflow.

On another note, maybe bit-tech should consider a SFF build in the affordable, enthusiast, etc monthly builds?
rogerrabbits 5th November 2011, 23:45 Quote
I don't care about size at all really. The only issue I have with PC gaming is having to spend about £400-700 on a single component (graphics card), to be able to crank games on a big screen.
IAMTHEPROCESSOR 6th November 2011, 05:23 Quote
No I don't believe it the end because when I become a pilot I will afford to build a lot more for my family! Also if it were dying out it be because the masses don't know about how to make a computer or even that you can make one there no real advertising for us....most people only know dell apple and hp exist some people know about building....... Also I am gonna build a lot of big computer I like them I love my ft02 I wouldn't get anyother case its great not a single piece of dust in the case its cools my i7 and gtx 590 msi mobo 16gb ram accept my ssd....other wise its my favorite case but soon I am gonna switch a brands to corsair for my family because other wise I keep my ft 02 for a long time and this case was made a couple year ago i think cant remember how old it is it the problem is bad its not so easy to do great wiring and the metal they use for the case is to much compared to the corsair case I saw Linus unbox which is awesome carbide series 500r the metal is way thinner and it aint flimsy or anything it more customize able and it would match my awesome corsair speakers!
Cuzza 6th November 2011, 07:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyjj
Bigger the better baby.

The more normal folk who move to tiny cases, the cooler great big f***ing cases will be for us real men!

Obsessed with size huh? Are trying to compensate for something?!

haha lol j/k man, sure big has its advantages, and I don't have anything against that.

But small is where its at for me. Fitting your system (whatever it is used for) into a small space adds an extra level of challenge to modding which I love.

SFF modding is cool as, expecially retro-modding of older computers where you can only fit ITX board.

Here's a shameless plug for the LOSIAS forums

Anyone who likes SFF computing should stop by!
Picarro 6th November 2011, 08:18 Quote
For all of you that think your ATX cases are too big but don't want to go mITX or mATX - look no further than the Lian Li A05FN. I have one and I am loving it!
modfx 6th November 2011, 09:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paradigm Shifter
Personally, I like big cases - the larger the better. I don't LAN party, so moving it around isn't an issue, and if the case weighs a couple of hundred pounds with everything inside it... any thief is going to give themselves a hernia trying to steal it. ;)

This. Love my hulking monolith.
braincake 6th November 2011, 11:59 Quote
im genuinely wondering if i can build 2 micro-itx systems in a xigmatek elysium with a bit of modding, i dont know why but ireally want to
feathers 6th November 2011, 12:08 Quote
If I wanted a miniature game platform I would buy a console. Actually I wouldn't because I hate consoles. My PC consists of Cosmos full tower case, triple 120 thermochill radiator, 500mm XSPC water reservoir tube. The water parts sit a meter away by the window so the radiator expels heated air outside in summer resulting in much lower temps than a standard water setup. It's not easy to move such a system but I don't need to move it. I don't play LAN.

Although there are some good uATX mobos out there, I want a full motherboard with full connectivity. I dont want some cut-down crippled system (if I wanted that I'd have a console).

Oh and I have laughed at somewhat stupid friends who bought small computer cases then said "I'm not sure if this or that graphics card will fit in my case?"

I told them to wise up and buy a full tower case. One friend is somewhat retarded and never takes advice unless it's from noobs on forums, the other wised up very quickly and has a Cosmos full tower like me. I wouldnt mind a new case now because there are things that could be improved on the cosmos RC1 but I am without motherboard or cpu at the moment so it doesn't matter.

I was going to buy 1155 mobo and i5 2500k but maybe I will wait now and see how much x79 will cost?
badman_mo007 6th November 2011, 12:40 Quote
Full Tower FTW!!!
It would be awesome to try fit a mITX build alongside a Xbox and PS3 all in one massive modded case.
Might look into that if I get time...
Kayden 6th November 2011, 18:13 Quote
There will always be a market for large PC's and small PC's. There are a few reasons why I think smaller PCs are getting a lot more attention these days.

First: People think small PC's always equates to smaller power draw but they leave them on all the time, saving now power if they don't turn it off. Second: They need it to fit in a smaller area, such as a childs room, apartments or use as a Media Center PC. Three: Holiday sales, they are being sold for cheap (probably over stock from lack of sales earlier in the year) and make a some what inexpensive gift for those who have asked for a new computer this holiday season.

These are the only reasons why I think they are selling well, but to say that all PC's are going smaller is a incorrect assessment of the buyers needs/opportunities of sales vs the PC standard of mid to full towers. We saw rise to these with great fan fair in like 2007 and 2009 (and now 2011) then these sales dropped off, now they are peaking again but what happened between those years? Sales for PC's went up on average from HP, Dell and etc, with the standard sizes of mid tower to full tower cases. This concludes me to think, there are reasons to have one, but not because the market demands them over all.
tad2008 7th November 2011, 00:21 Quote
I used to think having a big case was better and although when it came to upgrading there was always plenty of room to work, but I also found all that extra air space inside was just that, air space and that meant wasted space.

So I switched to a smaller form factor and have never looked back. There have been the odd occasion when I have had to consider the dimensions of a graphics card but that has usually only been because its a newer model and the manufacturers have not got around to creating a smaller form factor for it. Wait 6 months and I end up with the same card, smaller size and usually one that ends up cheaper, runs cooler, quieter and draws less power than the original.

I personally have no need to have a PC that requires or uses an excessive amount of power to run or that has any need to have it's own raid array or multiple drives. I much prefer the networked approach with remote storage, NAS or similar options that don't limit me to having to rebuild raid arrays.

With de-centralised storage, upgrading is easier and if one machine dies or needs upgrading then only that machine is affected, all my data is kept separate from the OS so it doesn't matter whether it's a PC, MAC or Linux box.

The use of a small form factor case or even HTPC box for me also fits in better with the room it is in rather than some huge behemoth that dominates it. For me the PC at least should fit the room not have to have a room built to house the PC.
Sloth 7th November 2011, 02:51 Quote
The "age" of massive PCs? Certainly seeming like it. Massive PCs themselves aren't done for, of course. Bar enthusiasts with space consuming watercooling setups or a personal preference for the space to move around and work there's just no need for anything larger than a mATX-sized PC.

Me? Couldn't live without a hulking behemoth for my gaming rig, so easy to work with and tidy up and all of the 120mm fans keep it nice and quiet but ever since building a mITX HTPC I've been convinced that for most other applications I don't need the size.
Jedibeeftrix 7th November 2011, 10:24 Quote
i have always built small PC's........... until my latest:

———————————
2001 –
Athlon Thunderbird 1200Mhz
AMD 760 DDR chipset
Geforce 3
512MB of PC2100
40GB HD
17″ CRT monitor
———————————
2002 –
Athlon Thoroughbred 1733MHz (run at 2000MHz)
Nvidia nForce2 chipset
Geforce 4 Ti4200
512MB of PC3200 (run at 200MHz)
40GB HD
17″ CRT monitor
———————————
2003 –
Athlon 64 2000MHz
Nvidia nForce4 chipset (shuttle case)
Nvidia 6600GT
1024MB of PC3200
160GB HD
20″ Dell widescreen TFT
———————————
2004 –
Athlon 64 X2 2000MHz
Nvidia 6150 chipset (Silverstone Sugo 01e case)
Nvidia 7900GT (similar to the PS3 RSX)
1024MB of PC3200
250GB HD
20″ Dell widescreen TFT
———————————
2006 – (PLAYSTATION 3 ERA)
Intel C2D 2400MHz
Intel P965 chipset (Silverstone Lascala LC16 case)
Nvidia 7950 512MB passive
2048MB of PC6400
320GB HD + 320GB data
24″ Dell widescreen TFT
———————————
2008 –
Intel C2Q 2660MHz
Intel G33 chipset (Silverstone Sugo 03 case)
Nvidia 9800GX2
4096MB of PC6400
500GB HD + 1TB data
24″ Dell widescreen TFT
———————————
2010 –
AMD X6 3200MHz (runs at 3600MHz + turbo)
AMD 890FX chipset (Silverstone FT02 case)
AMD 5870 2GB VaporX
8192MB of PC 12800
128GB SSD + 2x 2TB data
3x 24″ Dell widescreen TFT
———————————
i’m a sucker for SIlverstone cases! :D

I think my next will use the Fortress 03 mATX case.
Floyd 7th November 2011, 13:43 Quote
Funny this just popped up after I just went from a HAF932 case to a NZXT Vulcan with the same amount of power and cooling temps.
Still all watercooled but its a LOT smaller and im loving the extra space at the moment.
Waynio 7th November 2011, 17:17 Quote
It is for the time being for me, not buying new hdd's until the prices normalise again.
I like having the available option of going sli if I ever fancied it & really like good quality audio so 1 expansion slot doesn't cut it for me really if I wanted an all in 1 system, as a bare minimal for an all round PC I think I'd have to go for micro-ATX so I could have good gpu, sound & maybe a tv tuner or sata controller.

If I chose to do a pure htpc I think I'd use the 1 slot on mini-ITX for a good sound card but wouldn't go with mini-ITX for an all round system, I know you could put a good gpu in & 8GB & core i7 etc but if I wanted that type of rig I'd stay with at least micro-ATX so it's a better all rounder which has a bit of wiggle room for upgrades.

But I love having a super easy maintanence rig plus you can still go massive while keeping the desk space minimal, just go tall & keep the bulk of weight at the bottom (hdd's, psu) & it really changes the idea of a massive rig ;) or does for me at least.

I've been wanting to do a tiny ultra low power rig for some time though for stuff like this & watching media, it's nice having an all in 1 case where you can do anything you want on it but have also thought of making a dual rig, 1 a high capacity very low power draw htpc & the other a pure gaming power rig to keep the juice usage low for typical computer use or the more power hungry side just when I want to game or design etc which is a minimal amount of my computer usage time.

So final verdict to the article from me is big rigs & small rigs have their use & I intend to use both but will stay with my big all rounder rig for the time being :).
docodine 7th November 2011, 18:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by jezmck
Will we get to a point where we just don't need the extra power?

until the next wave of consoles, yes
Hakuren 8th November 2011, 15:34 Quote
I need to build one mini-PC for night related works when extreme performance is not necessary - mainly database updates. For everything else extended cube all the way. Anthony, believe me. I was in Lian-Li camp for many, many years, but you have no idea how tiny Lian Li V2000 is when compared to (e.g) Mountain Mods Extended Ufo or Ascension. And if you bolt 2 or 3 of those together you end with true behemoth! I will switch back to Lian Li when they understand that people require horizontal motherboards in big, big cases.
Waynio 8th November 2011, 16:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hakuren
I need to build one mini-PC for night related works when extreme performance is not necessary - mainly database updates. For everything else extended cube all the way. Anthony, believe me. I was in Lian-Li camp for many, many years, but you have no idea how tiny Lian Li V2000 is when compared to (e.g) Mountain Mods Extended Ufo or Ascension. And if you bolt 2 or 3 of those together you end with true behemoth! I will switch back to Lian Li when they understand that people require horizontal motherboards in big, big cases.

:D Agreed, having motherboard in horizontal position is so nice for maintenance & best way I think especially if you use a heavy heatsink, I'd have loved to used the thermalright TRUE copper LE sink on my latest but weighs a lot for vertical setup.

But wow wow wow a few mountain mods cubes bolted together :) your mad :D got a picture of that? ;).
kzinti1 8th November 2011, 19:03 Quote
In response to the title of this blog: No. This is definitely not the end of the so-called Age of Massive PC's. Not today. Maybe tomorrow.
Not as long as there are people who have hands too large to manipulate small components. Not as long as there are people that cannot see small components well enough to manipulate them into their correct orientation. Not as long as people are arthritic and need larger components to easily assemble them into a working unit. Not as long as there are people who are proud enough of their computers that they wish them to be seen, in either external &/or internal views. Not as long as people feel the need to have a properly cooled computer system.
The only thing(s) that will end the Age of Massive PC's are the manufacturers of the components, who meet together, (they do that you know, it's called industrial standardization,) and decide to no longer produce the components that PC builders use, in the large sizes. As is quite usual, this will occur simply out of greed. At first it may cost too much to produce proper small components. One day it will be discovered how to massively produce these items in a small form that will be cheap enough to do so, while still maintaining the usefulness of these components. What the consumers actually want be damned. You'll either take it or leave it. You'll take it, of course. You'll have no choice. What the consumer actually wants does not and never has been of any great consequence. The almighty dollar is the driving force behind any innovation, whether it is ever admitted to or not.
So, this is not the end of the Age of Massive PC's. To be quite honest, it was a rather stupid question to begin with and should never have been published by bit-tech or anyone else.
j1o2h3n4 9th November 2011, 00:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kzinti1
In response to the title of this blog: No. This is definitely not the end of the so-called Age of Massive PC's. Not today. Maybe tomorrow.
Not as long as there are people who have hands too large to manipulate small components. Not as long as there are people that cannot see small components well enough to manipulate them into their correct orientation. Not as long as people are arthritic and need larger components to easily assemble them into a working unit. Not as long as there are people who are proud enough of their computers that they wish them to be seen, in either external &/or internal views. Not as long as people feel the need to have a properly cooled computer system.
The only thing(s) that will end the Age of Massive PC's are the manufacturers of the components, who meet together, (they do that you know, it's called industrial standardization,) and decide to no longer produce the components that PC builders use, in the large sizes. As is quite usual, this will occur simply out of greed. At first it may cost too much to produce proper small components. One day it will be discovered how to massively produce these items in a small form that will be cheap enough to do so, while still maintaining the usefulness of these components. What the consumers actually want be damned. You'll either take it or leave it. You'll take it, of course. You'll have no choice. What the consumer actually wants does not and never has been of any great consequence. The almighty dollar is the driving force behind any innovation, whether it is ever admitted to or not.
So, this is not the end of the Age of Massive PC's. To be quite honest, it was a rather stupid question to begin with and should never have been published by bit-tech or anyone else.

Long winded, but I agree.
leslie 9th November 2011, 21:38 Quote
Large systems are done for all but hobbyists.

Not only have board sizes diminished, but it used to be you had a separate sound card, separate nic, separate video card, several hard drives, maybe a dual rom... Most office/home systems today need none of that. As enthusiasts we used large cave size cases so we could get to all of those components without performing difficult yoga positions to reach everything or fit water cooling because cooling systems stunk.

Today, most of your parts are built in (often even video), we don't need a ton of drives, and air cooling is plenty capable. There are fewer parts to change or fail and less reason to open the box.


Are big boxes dead?
No, but they can be if you want.
kzinti1 9th November 2011, 21:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by j1o2h3n4
Long winded, but I agree.

You're certainly right about that. Completely unintentional. This Hawaiian coffee I've been ordering from Kona must be much stronger than it tastes.
Fizzban 9th November 2011, 22:03 Quote
Size doesn't = Power. Components are getting smaller. Consoles still suck when compared to a PC. Don't see that changing any time soon.

So smaller desktops? Yes, definitely.

Massive Pc though, seems debatable. Is massive a size? Or an ability. If it is the latter, then no.

PC will own from now until the near future. But will desktop (size) shrink in general? Yes.
brave758 9th November 2011, 23:34 Quote
SR2/SR3 anybody.....
ZERO <ibis> 11th November 2011, 05:13 Quote
Each of my main systems is larger than the last over the past 10 years. My current rig uses 2 full tower cases and within 2 more years I will have the towers completely filled.

I plan to make my next rig even bigger so that it is easier to change out parts I want to make it a modular rack mount design. Instead of having a normal case for HDDs I will just use a rackmount SAS backplane hotswap. The cooling system and everything will be in their own rackmountable boxes so you can easily access what you want without disturbing the rest of the equipment. Also makes it easier and faster to swap sections.

Basically the more critical my main rig is the more I will be building it closer and closer to super computer specs and that is something that takes a lot of space.
The_Beast 11th November 2011, 05:46 Quote
I'd love to have a smaller system but with all my hard drives it's hard to find a smaller motherboard case with enough drive space
leslie 11th November 2011, 22:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Beast
I'd love to have a smaller system but with all my hard drives it's hard to find a smaller motherboard case with enough drive space

Get yourself a small, low power server (spare parts?) and offload your data storage. Gigabit ethernet is nearly as fast as an older hard drive, so large file transfers are plenty fast.

You could also consider replacing the smaller drives with a single larger drive. You can recover much of your investment with savings on your electric bill in a single year.
legoman 11th November 2011, 23:12 Quote
I think there will always be a market for both, like cars some people prefer large some small.

Also try keeping a small case cool in the summer especially an overclocked one. Even water cooling would struggle with what in most cases would be a single 120-140mm rad setup air cooling would be a nightmare.

I can see its appeal im sat here with my 20in monitor and a case which makes it look small sat beside it. something like an FT02 would be ideal but, i like my massive back breaking case what else could you chuck all the kit i have in my sig in?
My living room is another matter entirely. Ive a Zoltac Zbox hooked up to a NAS ticks all the boxes and doesn't take up much space.

I think what ever size or form factor you take you will have to make a sacrifice, big PC's give huge amounts of power and coolness but then mini pc's can be very cool and also save a hell of a lot of space.

Horses for courses at the end of the day.
leslie 12th November 2011, 09:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by legoman

Also try keeping a small case cool in the summer especially an overclocked one. Even water cooling would struggle with what in most cases would be a single 120-140mm rad setup air cooling would be a nightmare.
I quit overclocking because most of the time, the improvement was tiny, and usually not even perceivable. The heat, even if kept cool was also heating the rooms too much.

It just seemed pointless.

Also, small doesn't necessarily equal hot.
It's a matter of airflow, big cases need lots of cfm just to cover the large cubic footage. You pump in lots of air in order to get enough air flow over the scattered components. In a small case the fans are closer and have more direct airflow over each component as opposed to just flowing through empty sections of case.

Large cases are simple, if you need more air, add more fans or vents. Small cases need to have airflow taken more seriously during the design phase. Done right, you still get the same amount of airflow over each component, it's just done more efficient with fewer fans.
Lazarus Dark 14th November 2011, 04:00 Quote
I think more of us are going to a two-pc system.
One high performance gaming rig and one low power rig for web and daily use.
Right now I have a Core2quad q6600 oc'd to 3.4 ghz full time running 24/7. I estimate this costs me 10-20$usd per month in electricity, based on my ups backups software monitor (and much more in the summer when the a/c has to overcompensate for the rigs heat). I have been wanting for a while to build a small mini-itx, probably using a Fusion, for my daily use, htpc, torrenting, web use, file serving for my devices/wife's macbook over wifi. I think it would pay for itself in a year in electricity savings.
feathers 18th November 2011, 14:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mentai
I think they're the present, not the future. Right now nothing is too demanding hardware wise, but once there are new consoles out in 2013/14 PC's will be playing catch up again and it might start becoming harder to play everything maxed out at 1080p.

I guess u haven't lived on the cutting edge of gaming.

Flight Sim X with HD scenery addons.

http://fullterrain.com/

It doesn't take PC long to catch-up with console. 1 year perhaps. Consoles quickly become overtaken by PC.
mediapcAddict 21st November 2011, 00:39 Quote
once I've added a sound card, a tele card , a "whatever else u do with ur computer card " and a few extra discs ( no network storage in my flat ) not forgetting the biggest cooler that'll fit I end up with an atx board in a big case ( and big 12cm fans - nice and quiet ) . Also I'd rather have a spare pci/pci-e slot and not need it that need a spare pci/pci-e slot and not have it avaiable. - but then my computers are all about flexability and multitasking. nothing is ending only diversifying.
jezmck 22nd November 2011, 18:07 Quote
WTF is that?! A SFF rack?
Waynio 22nd November 2011, 20:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canon
RE: Thread title;

No.

:) ;)
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