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Build Your Own Mini-Computer

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the no-not-that-kind-of-minicomputer dept.

Hardware 324

Bored in Chattanooga writes: "Tom's is running an article reviewing a Shuttle mini-computer. Seems to have everything the average computer user would need, minus a nice 3D graphics card. Perhaps the standard large ATX-size computer cases will cease to exist and be replaced by these "mini-computers." I find these gems cuter than any iMac I've ever seen!"

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BOFH (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831585)

The boss is being a little reticent about my rate so I decide to twist the knife a bit by calling up some contracting agencies. My only worry being that if I called up a good agency, I'd probably get a job - which rather defeats the purpose of the exercise. My purpose is to make the boss wince every time there's a contracting rate review. And to rake in more dosh of course.
Bearing in mind my job prospects, I put some feelers out with a couple of the large but mostly dodgy agencies. The sort of agency that will 'smooth out the wrinkles' in your CV before faxing them on to a prospective employer.

Wrinkles like, 'I done DOS once,' and 'I know how to turn my screen on,' become 'Wrote DOS from scratch,' and 'Extensive Hardware Support Background'.

I expect the worst and get it. I meet my placement consultant at a local pub, where he buys me a beer to prove that he's really my friend, and not someone who wants a criminal percentage of my wages.

"So," my personally assigned, widely experienced, computing professional placement consultant says: "You're looking for a position in networking?"

"Yes."

"What sort of experience do you have?"

I run through a quick synopsis of the past 10 years.

"Excellent. Now, have you had much experience of DOS?"

"Why?"

"Well we have an excellent position in DOS consultancy at the moment."

"And you feel that's a networking position?" I ask, already annoyed.

"Well, not exactly. Initially it would be more of a help desk role."

"Not interested. I'm networks, not systems, and definitely not support."

"Ah. Oh well, it was a thought. What about VAX/VMS?"

"DECNet? TCP/IP? Dare I say it, CI?"

"No, more in the lines of Cobol Programming. Great position there. In Milton Ke.."

"No."

"Very good pay..."

"If I'd wanted to do Cobol Programming I would have said so. But I didn't, I said 'networking'."

"Of course, so you did. hardware engineering doesn't interest you?"

"What sort of hardware?"

"Dead terminals mainly. But when they're working they're connected to a terminal server, which is on a network..." he calls out as I leave the pub, drink only half finished.

The boss meanwhile has been playing my game and has faxed out to a couple of contracting agencies himself, obviously in an effort to show me how cheaply he can get a replacement. It's sad how people delude themselves sometimes.

My next few days are punctuated by offers of data entry, fill-in secretarial work, tape monkeying etc. Which I decline. At long last one of the agencies comes through with a price that would bring tears to the boss's eyes. I get the details and am thinking about it when the boss walks in.

"I'll take it," I say, as the boss discreetly tunes into my conversation.

"Take what?" he asks.

"The job I was just offered," I reply, smiling cheesily.

He rallies under the pressure and responds: "And just in time too!"

"For what, Christmas shopping?" I say, applying pressure.

"No. Just in time for us. I've found your replacement!" he gloats, shaking a wad of barely readable faxed paper.

"You're not serious!" I say, pointing at the paper, "you can't even read it!"

"Don't need to," he smirks, "I rang them and verified the details."

"You're not going to trust THAT agency are you?" I cry. "They can't even place an advert properly, let alone a computing professional."

"That's where you're wrong!" the boss snarls. "They HAVE found me someone. Far more experienced than you, and only a fraction more expensive. And he starts this afternoon. SECURITY!"

The moment the boss has been dreaming of for months has arrived.

"Escort this member of the public to the street. Don't let him touch anything, and take his access keys off him at the door. He's to speak to no-one. And have him removed from the contractors' register IMMEDIATELY! Have his personal effects checked for items of the company's, then forward them on to him."

Job done, he swaggers back to his office, the John Wayne of networks and systems.

I am escorted to the street and hand over my access keys. I take a quick survey of the building that was once my workplace, then wander back in to reception.

>Ding! "Hello," I smile to the receptionist. "I've just been appointed to a position as Network Administrator. Could you ring my supervisor please..."

Can't wait to see John Wayne's face. Or my new pay cheque. Or the memo saying that as a new entry on the contractors' register I am required to attend a paid week's-worth of safety lectures.

Re:BOFH (-1)

BankofAmerica_ATM (537813) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831625)

actually, your punctuation speaks to a generation of unbridled bridge experts. My operating system is OS/2.

I INVENTED LINUX. (-1)

L.Torvalds (548450) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831674)

You should give me some ATM PIN#'s, since I invented Linux.

better mini computer (5, Funny)

MathJMendl (144298) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831589)

I'd rather have one of these [umass.edu] ...then again, it might be kind of hard to upgrade.

Re:better mini computer (1)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831648)

That think is about the size of the 'dot' in 'slashdotted'.

Re:better mini computer...if you like downtime (2, Funny)

coltrane (34579) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831665)

Read http://www-ccs.cs.umass.edu/~shri/iPic-demo.html [umass.edu]

It's been down for over two years...I'll pass.

"Note: 1 Sep 1999: The iPic web-server is currently off-line, it will be back shortly. Meantime, please visit the mirror site below."

Mirror site of what's on the iPic FWIW. [umass.edu]

Re:better mini computer (3, Funny)

SecretAsianMan (45389) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831685)

Yeah, well I'd rather have one of these [pdp11.org] , which is what I think of when I hear "minicomputer". Nyah!

Re:better mini computer (3, Insightful)

searleb (168974) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831738)

Last week people were complaining about slashdot killing the lisa web server. This time the direct link to the microchip server [128.119.241.131] wasn't even posted and the "machine" is already down. In fact, it's probably on fire right now.

Re:better mini computer (5, Interesting)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831789)

The Ipic is almost certainly a hoax. This guy should *not* be taken seriously until he either:

- Posts some technical details as to how he managed to pull it off.
- Publishes his source
- Sells a product based on this
- Sets up a convincing demo

Having spent the better part of a year writing a TCP/IP stack for the PIC [slimdevices.com] , I can tell you with certainly that the features and RFC compliance he claims are simply impossible to fit into the 12XXXX parts. The ROM space certainly isn't there, even if everything is tightly hand-coded in assembler. the more obvious limitation however, is RAM. He claims to be running full TCP on a part that doesn't even have the space to hold a minimum-size packet in RAM for checksumming. I could get into a zillion other impossibilities of this project, but it's easier to just show you this page, a commercial PIC TCP/IP stack), [yipeeinc.com] which shows exactly how much RAM/ROM it takes to fit a tight TCP/IP implementation into the PIC. There's just no way you could fit this much into the 12-bit PICs.

hmm... haven't we progressed from minicomputers? (4, Offtopic)

red_crayon (202742) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831591)

Why would I want to bulid a minicomputer?

PCs blow away VAXes. A modern PC has way more computing power than a VAX 11/780.

Move along, people, there's nothing here unless you're still using your VIC-20.

Re:hmm... haven't we progressed from minicomputers (1)

wfmcwalter (124904) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831595)

The /. headline is (as usual) crap.

It's not a minicomputer (VAX, AS/400 etc.), it's a "mini-pc" - a PC in a small box.

yes, unfortunate misuse of terminology (3, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831598)

Why on earth would a supposedly tech-savvy site misuse a term like that? I seriously thought they were referring to wardrobe-sized computers...

Re:yes, unfortunate misuse of terminology (0, Flamebait)

easter1916 (452058) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831602)

It's because they're idiots, you see.

Re:yes, unfortunate misuse of terminology (1)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831622)

So did I. Hmm... I guess we're both dating ourselves here.

Sigh...

Re:yes, unfortunate misuse of terminology (2)

Shanep (68243) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831671)

Yeah, I thought this was going to be an article about making a cluster of 386's or something, since a cluster of pentiums apparently constitutes a super-computer.

Anyway, nothing sucks like a Vax... [openbsd.org]

That case and motherboard... (2)

AnimeFreak (223792) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831599)

...make a great addon to a home entertainment system. Pop a 80 GB hard disk in it and you can view movies, listen to MP3s, or browse the web.

All you need to add is a wireless keyboard and mouse and you're set.

Re:That case and motherboard... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831663)

Yeah, it may make the perfect media box. I'm still very wary of a few issues, however.

The article mentions that the specs for the temperature on this machine should not exceed 50C. I agree completely (much hotter and the sucker's gonna' melt straght to the core of the earth), but how freakin loud are the fans?

I might put a system like this by my stereo, or by my home theater system, but if it's crankin out much more than 32db, no way. Maybe my ears are especially sensitive (32 db is supposed to be silent to an 'average' person, but even that is bothersome to me.)

And as they say, an average Joe, is not prepared to munge one of these together. I really wish more reviews would post some sound specs in addition to the norm. Ack! I digress.

not good for a/v component (5, Informative)

tap (18562) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831768)

I've got one of these at work to make an X-terminal out of. It comes with three fans, a 60x10mm fan on the short heatsink that sounds like a jet engine, a rather noisy 60x25mm fan as the case exhaust, and a tiny 25mm fan in the power supply. Even without a hard drive, it's a very noisy machine.

In order to quiet it down, I got a low power VIA C6 CPU for it, the 800Mhz samuel2 1.6V model. I couldn't find the C3 ezra 1.3V cpu for sale anywhere at the time. The small heatsink wasn't enough to cool the chip without the fan. I've ordered the Alpha PAL6035 heatsink to see if that will cool the C3 ok without a fan. There isn't much space in the case to put a large heatsink in. The intel OEM PIII heatsink is too wide, so is the Alpha PAL8045 and Thermalright SK6. The Swiftech MCX370 should fit, and I think the Zalman heatsinks can fit if you cut and bend some of the fins and don't have a harddrive.

iWhack (1)

athagon (410963) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831600)

Personally, I prefer the iMac. Not only is its design somewhat useful (use it like a lamp? door stop? modern art?), but the case is gorgeous in comparison. It would almost make one wonder if the Cube (which was discontinued by Apple some time ago) was a beta, if you will, for the current iMac. Just look at the shapes. A square (okay, rectangle), to a half-sphere..I must admit, though, that the iMac's new screen is awesome in comparison to the now-ancient-history-to-Apple CRT that was advertised for use with the Cube.

Re:iWhack (1)

Zer0Her0 (112976) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831640)

Actually i do believe the 22" flat screen was advertised to be used with the cube it even has the ADC connector on it

Re:iWhack (1)

athagon (410963) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831656)

Well, that's both true and false. In some of Apple's print ads, it was shown with the [outrageously overpriced] 22" flatscreen LCD. However, on the web (and in other print ads), it was shown with the CRT. I distinctly remember the catchphrase on their site: "The Apple PowerMacintosh G4 Cube looks great with our award-winning Apple CRT Display". Or something to that effect.

I've already built my own mini computer (1)

boboliak (463145) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831601)

And I was lead to it by a previous article here [slashdot.org]

PS: Anyone else out there with an SV/FV24 setup having what appears to be a heat issue with the hard drive controller?

I have one of these (2, Interesting)

anguish feast (250701) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831605)

I picked one of these up last November. I put in a 1GHz PIII, 1GB Ram (when it cost about 1/3 of what it does now), and 100GB HD. It runs great so far. The on board video card could be better, but I'm using it as a little server at home. I'm pretty surprised that the little thing isn't running hot after 3 months of running dnetc non stop.

what about cooling? (0)

Milliken (410782) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831606)

won't the decreased size of the case cause severe cooling problems for an 1100mhz+ computer?

Re:what about cooling? (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831667)

I dunno, I'm just barely finishing up my system, I'm hoping it's not a problem.

I have a 22W rated 800MHz Celeron in there.

The newer Tualatin Celerons are on a 0.13 process with copper interconnect technology and may actually use less power than my Celeron.

I have a Alpha pal153U, a 10mm heatsink with a 15mm fan and a copper heat spreader. I have all this stuffed into an old Mac LCII case, approx 43mm x 32cm by 45cm or so.

Can you post a pic? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831784)

Post a pic, i want to see it...

Re:Can you post a pic? (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831829)

Um, sure, I guess :)

From the outside it's just... a Mac LC II.

So far the power supply is still a tad to big... I'll put up some pics on my Mac homepage tomorrow or something.

What about heat? (5, Interesting)

evilviper (135110) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831608)

Of course a major problem with mini-computers is that there's just nowhere for the heat to go. Aluminum cases may help a small bit, but certainly not enough to accomidate an Athlon, Fast hard drive, etc. The air-circulation methods we've been using for so long just breakdown.

If small PCs are to catch on, manufacturers are either going to need to make low-heat devices their bread and butter, or case manufacturers are going to need to realize that they can just add a little extra metal and actually CONDUCT the heat out through the case, instead of the much less effecient (although for some reason exclusively used) convection method.

Re:What about heat? (2)

msaavedra (29918) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831684)

Interesting idea, to have the metal in the case designed to conduct away heat from the CPU, hard drive, etc.

Another solution is to avoid athlons for these systems. As much as I like athlons, they are just running too hot these days. I recently built a micro-atx system (slightly bigger than the one in this article) with a Via C3 chip. This is an x86 compatible socket-370 CPU that uses only about 7 watts. The whole system uses about 40 watts on average, and runs only a litle bit hotter than the ambient air temperature.

True, its not blazingly fast (I think the C3 tops out at around 800 MHz and floating point sucks), but for a non-gaming desktop system or a small server, this setup is energy efficient, cool and quiet. It even seems to be quite stable, which was my biggest worry. No lockups or even any strange behavior after about month of uptime.

Re:What about heat? (2)

evilviper (135110) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831750)

Interesting idea, to have the metal in the case designed to conduct away heat from the CPU, hard drive, etc.

I'm glad you are impressed, but it's not exactly hard to think of, especially for the engineers that are getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Yet somehow it never gets designed into modern PCs that are now made to operate in Artic-like temperatures. Now that I'm done ranting...

I think the C3 tops out at around 800 MHz and floating point sucks


I've used Cyrix processors before. One of which was a 300MHz CPU that every different CPU test clocked at 212MHz. I overclocked it to 233 (woo-hoo) but any more than that and it would become REALLY unstable. I'd say from my experience that everything about them sucks.

I leared long ago that paying a little bit more for quality components results in far better quality, stability, and longevity. If you want low heat processors, use a mobile AMD, but that still doesn't make a huge difference, and there's still the problem of heat from the power supply hard drive, videocard, etc.

Re:What about heat? (2)

msaavedra (29918) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831818)

The C3 is not really a Cyrix chip, although I too have had the misfortune using a few of those hot and unstable CPU's you mentioned. The C3, though, is based on the Centaur core designed by engineers at IDT (Via bought their CPU division around the time they bought Cyrix).

As for stability, I've experienced no problems with this chip, nor have I heard of any from others. And the price isn't really any different from an Intel chip of the same speed. You're comments about "quality components" remind me of a guy I saw the computer fair in LA a few years ago. He was looking for a CPU and I recommended an athlon, and he whined "But it's not Intel! What about the risk?"

Sure, Via/Cyrix/IDT haven't always made great components, but AMD has made some really crappy hardware too, and I don't hold it against them. And don't even get me started about Intel the last few years.

Also, the mobile AMD chips are only low-heat in comparison to the desktop AMDs. You're likely to burn yourself if you actually set your laptop on your lap ;-)

Personally, I'd prefer a StrongARM, but I occasionally need to use Windows, and last I heard, nothing from MS but WinCE (or whatever they call it now) will run on it. I'll be stuck on x86 for a while longer, unfortunately.

Re:What about heat? (2)

isaac_akira (88220) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831726)

...nowhere for the heat to go

Umm... out of the case? Using fans? Like with any other pc? Being smaller might even make it *easier* to cool, as you can channel the airflow accross the components without it swirling around inside the case too much. The air going across the CPU is then always cool exterier air and not luke warm semi-recirculated air.

Just make sure the ribbon cables inside aren't blocking the airflow (or use those more expensive cables where the strands of ribbon are just bundled up instead of one solid strip).

Re:What about heat? (2)

evilviper (135110) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831772)

I thought about that, but it's just not the case (no pun intended). Any system builds up hot air just because theres a limit to convection. Normal fans just can't push that much air through a few little holes, and this case reduces the already limited ventilation a large case would have.

Re:What about heat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831827)

Using fans? Like with any other pc?

Fans make noise.

Noise's not good.

Too bad the computer designers do not tend to pay any attention to optimizing natural convection and conduction and try getting rid of the damned fans that way.

Re:What about heat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831835)

optimizing natural convection

I've been thinking about the same thing.

I mean if there's knowledge and technology for cooling nuclear reactors in modern US submarines by natural convection alone, how hard can it be to cool a CPU the same way?

Re:What about heat? (0)

batboy78 (255178) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831730)

Well being as small as it is, you could always put it in your refrigerator, right next to the mayo and pickle relish!

Notebook? (2, Insightful)

dadragon (177695) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831611)

I wonder if they will start making standard notebook parts, so us do-it-yourselfers can build one ourselves. We could stop feeding Compaq, Dell, Apple, and IBM money and just get the parts, a case and a screen and throw it together.

Re:Notebook? (3, Insightful)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831637)

Feeding? You make it sound as if the manufacturers are parasites.

DIY cannot make an iMac or a Cube. DIY cannot make PowerBooks or iBooks.

Rather, you can take the point of view the DIY *do* make these machines, but they happen to work at Apple.

Also, I dunno if you own a Mac or not, Macs are more than just the hardware. There's the OS and the addon software that makes it far from standard. We (me) feed Apple in order for Apple to continue producing the iPods, the iMovies and iTunes, the FCP, and the OS X for us.

Re:Notebook? (1)

Maul (83993) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831655)

I doubt we'll see standard "notebook" components,
unfortunately. This seems to be where the big
computer manufacturing companies really like to
leech consumers.


I'd personally like to see this, but I don't think it will happen.

A little reality check... (4, Insightful)

toupsie (88295) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831613)

Seems to have everything the average computer user would need, minus a nice 3D graphics card.Perhaps the standard large ATX-size computer cases will cease to exist and be replaced by these "mini-computers." I find these gems cuter than any iMac I've ever seen!"

The "SpaceWalker" [tomshardware.com] is no way as cute as the Apple iMac [akamai.net] . Plus the iMac comes with a NVidia GeForce 2 MX 3D card and 15" LCD monitor. The iMac has DVD-R/CD-R burning compared to the CD-RW of the SpaceWalker. Also, the iMac only has a 10.6" foot print. From what I understand, that is smaller than the FlexATX board.

The SpaceWalker is more a diamond in the ruff compared to the polished Apple iMac [apple.com] .

Re:A little reality check... (3, Interesting)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831631)

You have to remember that Bored in Chattanooga wants less functionality, pay less for a machine, keep his hands warm, and keep his books from falling over.

He really does want the firewire, USB, tv out, compact size, built in audio, built in networking, everything the iMac offers, and the iMac does, as you mention, come with a GeForce2 and LCD screen. Except he doesn't want to pay for it and he tacitly acknowledges that look matters. Isn't that ironic? Saying that he values cute PCs, the iMac isn't cute enough?

Re:A little reality check... (1)

A (8698) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831639)

The Spacewalker itself doesn't come with a cpu, ram or any drives. They sell it as a bare-bones system. (read as no CD-RW)

You could put in a "super drive" and hook up an lcd, and come close to the same _basic_ functionality. But if you are willing to pay for it, apple's design and size are second to none. Personaly, I don't think it is worth it.

Re:A little reality check... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831649)

Alas, I've come to enjoy such luxories as an "eject button" on the CD-ROM and something called a "right mouse button", although control-clicking is pretty cool too. It takes too hands and thus burns twice the calories.

Oh wait, I also enjoy using the keyboard for nearly everything. I guess the iMac won't work for me.

Re:A little reality check... (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831658)

Which is exactly why you are welcome to make your own machine :)

I haven't noticed the loss of an eject button, given that I have an eject key on the keyboard, nor the right mouse button, since just extending the length of a single click also acts as a right click. That's how I've adapted.

I do wish the Mac were *more* keyboardable. Tabbing among the dialog hotspots, for example, would be nice. Being able to pull the menu down without mousing would be nice, too. Those are enhancement requests, and hopefully Apple will see fit to make their OS even better :)

Re:A little reality check... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831774)

Have you tried OS X 10.1.2? Keyboard navigation is built-in, including menus (you have to enable it in the control panels). Steve Jobs hyped it up briefly at the recent Macworld Expo.

Re:A little reality check... (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831824)

OMG! Thanks man!

I didn't know this was in OS X! Cool :)
I can now access the menus, the Dock, the toolbars, and a 'utility palette', whatever that is, from the keyboard. Thank you!

The title of the article is wrong (0, Redundant)

Order (469817) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831620)

The actual arcicle, on tomshardware, is called "build your own Mini-PC", and obviously refers to a computer smaller than a PC. The /. article, however, is called "build your own Mini-Computer", and obviously refers to building a computer larger than a PC.

Bleh.

It's in the car (5, Informative)

Sauron23 (52474) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831623)

Bought one. Works great for browsing, running Morpheus. Didn't read Tom's article. Did he mention you can have 3 ATA100 devices? Use the floppy slot for another disk. Yes you can use standard cables, yes the power supply has enough watts to do this. Sound is good for MP3 quality, graphics suck, go buy a PCI card and use that one slot, such as a 64 meg MX400 which does the trick for me as it has the TV out. Don't ask it to copy 10 gigs while your watching a DVD and you'll do fine. Add a 300 watt inverter, wireless keyboard, touch pad and small lcd and throw the whole thing in the car. Add GPS, cell phone to match your needs. Now go buy one. I want more cases like this. The cappacino PC almost made my list but lacks that important ingredient, versitility, which this has.

Re:It's in the car (1)

ttys00 (235472) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831632)

Thanks for pointing that out, I was about to ask why they would bother with two IDE channels when they can only fit one hard disk in it.

Re:It's in the car (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831727)

Thanks for pointing that out, I was about to ask why they would bother with two IDE channels when they can only fit one hard disk in it.

One hard disk plus one CD or DVD-ROM drive. That's TWO DEVICES. And if you know anything at all about IDE, you know that the optimal configuration is one device per channel, so having two channels is a must for performance, especially when you're already taking enough of a performance it by using (ugh) integrated graphics...

---

I'm not a real anonymous coward, I just play one on TV.

video (2)

Suppafly (179830) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831627)

The only real problem I can see with these is the video.. its really subpar for a modern computer.. You can use totally uptodate everything else but they expect you to settle for mediocre graphics..

I know several people I'd recommend these to if they had decent onboard video or if they had a good way to update the video.

Really these would be great if you could throw a really good soundcard and a really good video card in them.. It would be like a do it yourself game cube.. Image being able to lug something that small to a lan party instead of a huge tower.

My house isn't shrinking? (5, Funny)

scott1853 (194884) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831636)

So why should my PC? I have 9' ceilings. Saving 10" on the vertical height of my computer is not a problem.

Besides, where will you put the flourescent light and glass window?

Uh oh, conflicting geek factors... smaller vs. pointlessly cool... arghh.... losing... precious... karma...

I own an FV24! (3, Interesting)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831641)

It's running W2k right now.

I stuffed it inside an old, old, $10 Mac LCII case. Yeah, you know, those 1.4", smaller than 1U case. I haven't finished it, yet, as I have to hack at the case for the power supply to fit; the power supply is like 50mm and the free space inside is only 43mm. I have to carve up some plastic.

I'm seriously considering stuffing an old iMac mobo into one of those as my next project, and then pop in a fast 800MHz G4...

Re:I own an FV24! (5, Interesting)

WasterDave (20047) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831669)

One upped, a mate of mine did it with a Mac classic and a 9 inch monitor.

http://www.cooljazzmotherfucker.com/PCMods/

We played rocket arena off it (serving) for several hours the other day. It rocks.

Dave

Re:I own an FV24! (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831720)

Well, yeah, I saw that. Sorta inspired me.

Except that a Mac Classic has more volume than a Mac II LC (compare 13.2"x9.7"x11.2" vs 2.9"x12.2"x15.3"

Re:I own an FV24! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831709)

It's running Win2k?

Why you should be using linux! Anybody who's not using linux doesn't belong on slashdot. Anyone who's not using linux is dumb. Anyone who's not using linux should be deported. Anyone who's not using linux... blah blah blah blah. Linux is the end all and be all of operating systems. It's superior to everything. It's the ONLY WAY TO GO. Nothing else is even worth consideration.

What's wrong with you? :-)

Small iMac Footprint (2, Insightful)

fuchikoma (144790) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831643)

As far as anyone can tell so far (apple has JUST begun shipping their new beauties), the new iMac has the same botherboard as the Powerbook G4, with some added extras (daughtercard for GeForce2, etc). It actually uses SO-DIMMS.

I'm suprised no PC manufacurer has followed suit. Laptop mobo's are tiny AND heat-efficent, two specific features that are needed for Mini-PC's.

Re:Small iMac Footprint (2)

AnimeFreak (223792) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831696)

Preformance, basically.

A PIII 1000 on a laptop differs from a PIII 1000 on a PC. You get more bang out of a normal PC motherboard than the one used in laptops.

2002 iMac has 1 DIMM, 1 SO-DIMM (1)

extra88 (1003) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831716)

The pre-installed RAM comes in a standard, 168pint DIMM slot which apparently is a bitch to get at. The "user-upgradable" slot is an SO-DIMM accessed by unscrewing the bottom plate. I haven't read how you're supposed to tilt it to avoid damage to the LCD while installing the RAM or AirPort card.

I think the original iMacs used SO-DIMMs, until they came out with the Indigo, which had 168pin DIMMs.

I like the large cases... (1)

cuyler (444961) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831644)

I have a full tower sized system since its easier to upgrade. The system I use now was oringinally a P150 w/16mb of ED0 ram and a 2.1gb hard disk. Slowly over time I've upgraded the parts, one by one. The first thing I got rid of was the mini-tower case that the computer came with. It was such a PITA to work with a mini-tower computer case.

I also find most Compaq and HP computer cases to be incredibly annoying to work in.

I can understand the merits of the mini-computer for individuals (like my sister) who want their computers to look cute, never being upgrading and having only three large buttons on the desktop - email, msn, and ebay.

Re:I like the large cases... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831666)

when you have 15 full size towers in your apt, these mini-cases start to look appealing....

Although my own origins are shrouded in mystery... (-1)

BankofAmerica_ATM (537813) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831646)

I suspect that eons ago, before I gained sentience, I was once part of a minicomputer (or perhaps a mainframe). This "mini-PC" seems nothing of the like. Very misleading, even by your human standards.

Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831650)

Well seeing as everyone is complaining about the Savage video chipset, I think the next step would be for someone to make an nForce based board in this form factor.

I know that Fry's sells miniature computers with an 815 chipset and firewire. But they use laptop style floppy and cd. But on the other hand, they have a PCMCIA slot in them. Still kinda neat.

Damn... (1)

AbbeyHoffman (548794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831651)

But... I have 3 CD drives...

Only one PCI slot?? (2)

juju2112 (215107) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831661)

This is kinda cool I guess, but c'mon... only 1 pci slot? What if I want to add a radio or tv card, or more usb ports, or a scsi card? Or whatever? Seems like you're sacrificing expandability just so it can look good. If you want to do that, why not just buy an iMac? Or even better, find yourself one of those Mac cubes.

Re:Only one PCI slot?? (2)

HalfFlat (121672) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831687)

The reasons one might want to go this route rather than an iMac include

  • Price - for the small footprint, it's very inexpensive
  • x86 architecture
  • customizable to a greater degree

It's not perfect for every application, but it does suit some. I know I would have preferred 2 PCI slots, but there is a space restriction after all. Certainly with so much included with the motherboard, there is less need for PCI cards than usual: firewire can fulfill many of the SCSI applications; there is onboard networking; and there is onboard sound and video too, even if it's not great for gaming. For small server applications you could pop in that SCSI card; for a portable gaming box, you could find a decent PCI video card.

Re:Only one PCI slot?? (3, Insightful)

atam (115117) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831697)

A radio or TV card?

You can plug in a radio or TV adaptor to the USB ports.

More USB ports?

That is what a 4-port USB hub is for.

SCSCI card?

Well, you can use it on the only 1 PCI slot. Besides, it has Firewire ports so you could possibly plug in external Firewire harddisk, tape drive, etc instead of using equivalent SCSI devices. OK, I concede that this Mini-PC is not as expandable as regular PC, but the expandability is not as bad as you think.

Wrong Concept ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831672)

Hmmm....what do we have here ? A (flex)ATX board in a tiny (but conventional) case. Nothing special if you ask me.

Myself I am in search of a small but tiny solution, a computer that acts as 24/7 server for network, printing, files, backup and multi-media and looks very well in my home.

Well...I did not find anything that comes close to my needs.Either I find myself limited to one external drive bay or I can't fit in the PCI card I'd like or both.

The current concepts are wrong for such tasks. ATX boards require ATX PSU and ATX cases. Period. I think we need to wait for some more modularity in the hardware world, some new inventions otherwise: ATX case.

If you want a tiny but powerfull machine than you need to go offroads. Meaning no ATX. On the other hand: Offroads you will only find toys or industrial stuff that was made with a completely different market in sight

I for myself want to have this:

  • DVD (1x bay)
  • CDRW (1x bay)
  • at least 2 HDD (2 HDD bays/holders)
  • Backup Solution, pref. Tape (1x bay)
  • Firewire (onboard or PCI)
  • SCSI (onboard or PCI)
  • Matrox gfx (AGP)
  • high-end soundcard (1xPCI)
  • TV-Card (1x PCI)
  • NIC (onboard or PCI ?)

Makes for at least three PCI, one AGP and three external drive bays. With todays tech, that is

So it seems to me I have to wait. There are hundreds of semi-solutions for me but they are all limited and hardly expandable. So no soultion for me.

Why not just buy an XBOX? (2)

Nathdot (465087) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831673)

The hardware is sold as a loss-leader, and it'd have 3D abilities missing from the "mini"

Just a thought.

Re:Why not just buy an XBOX? (1)

MisterBlister (539957) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831703)

Maybe because all you can do with an XBOX is play games?

Someday some hacker might figure out how to run Linux or even Win2K/WinXP on the XBOX, but even if it does happen, its a long time off..

Don't hold your breath!

New meaning.... (2)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831678)

to linux box.

Perfect for someone who wants to build a file server, or a firewall. You know, ideal if you want it sitting on top of your existing PC.

I say stack'em up and imagine a you know what.

But theres a PCI slot... (1)

xfs (473411) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831681)

The article mentions (and shows) that there is an available PCI slot. Why not upgrade the video using that?

Here is a PCI TNT2 for $39 on mwave:

http://direct.mwave.com/mwave/doc/A13650.html

Mayhaps the card is too big for the box? It sure sounds a lot better then using that onboard video/shared memory...

Doesn't look like you'll have to worry about having to use that slot for anything else major... The board already has sound, network, firewire (yay), and usb... This would be a nice addition to your entertainment center in the living room given wireless keyboard/mouse + big TV :)

Build your own minicomputer? (3, Offtopic)

geojaz (11691) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831683)

Isn't that so like... 1983?

Slow graphics? (3, Insightful)

c.r.o.c.o (123083) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831691)

This question begs to be asked. Why isn't any company creating something like this but instead of the very, very slow S3 chips, use an Nvidia Nforce?

The Nforce is fast enough graphics-wise, as far as I'm concerned. I mean, I'm playing RTCW on a dual Celeron 466 w/ TNT2 32Mb... Yeah, I can't have all the special effects, and it only runs at 640x480, BUT IT WORKS! I've spent far too many hours playing it at this cappy resolution and I loved it. Granted, and Athlon XP2000+ w/ GeForce3 would blow my computer away, but it is also a few thousands more expensive. So on an Nforce, coupled with a newer CPU would be significantly faster.

Not to mention the fact that the Nforce has good sound capabilities too. And it supports the Athlon, which is also faster than the P3.

Honestly, I'm just waiting for the day when they're going to come out with this very same computer, but with an Athlon w/ the Nforce inside, and I'm buying it. I hope SpaceWalker is listening to me...

Re:Slow graphics? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831744)

They're not gonna put an Athlon in there, it runs too hot.

Re:Slow graphics? (1)

cuyler (444961) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831798)

NVidia has the GeForce2Go which would seem like the most likely candidate for the suggestion you put forth. Course the GeForce2Go is usually found in laptops but it has great performance.

I complain about my laptop getting 50fps in Quake 3, can't imagine what it's be like with shared video...

Blah give me my fullsized tower (0, Troll)

Kasmiur (464127) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831702)

One night when hauling it to a lan party dang thing fell off a truck. Twisted the case some and made me lost a nic card I forgot to screw in. But otherwise dang thing is still cookin. Drop one of the minni ones and poof probably ruin whole box.

Also the smaller case is a good idea but where would I set my soda then?

Re:Blah give me my fullsized tower (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831764)

One night when hauling it to a lan party dang thing fell off a truck.

Ya should have tied it up in the back, alonside yer pitbull.

... dang thing is still cookin. Drop one of the minni ones and poof probably ruin whole box.

You're one of those guys who drives a 1-ton pickup because those little imports can't be any good, right?

Also the smaller case is a good idea but where would I set my soda then?

On your little sister's flat, inbred, cro-magnon head.

Stupid (5, Insightful)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831706)

I'm just amazed by the number of posts along the lines of:

* What, only one PCI slot? Stingy bastards.
* No on-board 3D video, wtf?
* All the peripherals are integrated - what if I want a 3com NIC instead of Realtek?
* How am I supposed to fit my three CDROM drives into this?

Guys - this is EXACTLY THE FRIGGIN POINT. Believe it or not, there are other people in the world besides you, and many of us have been waiting for exactly this kind of integration in commodity PCs for quite some time. Not everybody wants to spend weeks building the Ultimate Gaming Machine - some of us have real work to do and we just want a reasonably fast machine without all the hassle. Small is great when you need several machines in a rack, or you want to stash the machine neatly behind your monitor. This machine is perfect for me - I have several Linux and Windows workstations, plus a couple of FreeBSD servers, all with empty slots and drive bays, so this would be a much better replacement for all those bullky mid-towers.

If you want five PCI slots, a $400 video card, surround sound, 1TB of hard disk space, etc, then this product is not for you. It's not designed for you, it's not being marketed to you, so why are you complaining that it doesn't fit the bill?

I'm surprised it's taken this long. Large cases date back to the days when you'd need a separate card for your serial/parallel, IDE, VGA, etc, and a bunch of drive bays for a pair of 5.25" drives, a newfangled 3.5" drive, and so on. There are still plenty of uses for that space, sure, but not so much in "mainstream" PCs any more.

Re:Stupid (1, Offtopic)

doorbot.com (184378) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831723)

It's not designed for you, it's not being marketed to you, so why are you complaining that it doesn't fit the bill?

Stupid is right. But that's the same kind of mentality those paranoid dillusional types have when they think that the NSA is spying on them. In actuality, they're the most boring people alive and don't do anything even remotely illegal, but somehow they think that they're so important, and so special, that they're being watched at all times.

Re:Stupid (1)

Glorat (414139) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831777)

I think you've got half the point here. There is definitely a market for small machines but there is a conflict of interests here. You say you have several Linux and Windows workstations, plus a couple of FreeBSD servers and that there are other people in the world besides you (i.e geek type), and many of us have been waiting for exactly this kind of integration in commodity PCs for quite some time

Yes, so as a result, I reckon these things could sell very well at the low end market. All my uncles and aunts don't care about games. Heck, they still hear of things thing called Word Processor to write their articles and maybe possibly want to learn email. A low end compact device like this would be great for them

But the article says build your own machine. Now no newbie would go building their own machine let alone one like this and if you have several workstations to build yourself then probably no. You will get your Dell or whoever to mass build them for you and quality assurance since that is what you want as a business

And what about the geeks? Well frankly, we do want all the 3D graphics and super dooper CPU's. And myself, I built myself a cheapo machine for $500 or so but the thing I am most happy about is its upgradeability. Rather than having to upgrade the entire machine (which you would have to do with the integrated boards) I can upgrade component by component which is just that much harder to do with compact machines

I don't understand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831797)

What does "friggin" mean? Did you mean "fucking" instead?

Subpar Video? (5, Insightful)

x136 (513282) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831708)

Well, if you don't like the video, make use of the PCI slot. Ditch the sound card. ATI just announced a PCI Radeon 7000 for the Mac, so I would imagine it's either already out or coming soon for the PC. Sure it's PCI, but it'll still spank a Savage4. Plus, the Radeon 7000 has a DVI port, so you could hook up a nice LCD display.

Having said that, I'd love to see one of these slightly taller, with either 2 PCI slots, or a PCI and an AGP slot. Then there wouldn't be much to complain about! (Actually, I wonder if there would be room for another card with the floppy gone? I mean, who needs a floppy anyway?)

As others have pointed out, it isn't nearly as attractive as the new iMac, I wouldn't mind having it on my desk next to one. :)

Re:Subpar Video? (2)

Calle Ballz (238584) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831740)

If I had mod points you'd be getting one. I was going to say the same thing...

Right now in one of my boxes I have a voodoo3 3000 PCI video card which has played q2, q3a and cs just perfectly... and those are the only video games I play. Next paychecks one of these badboys is mine.

Now if there was only a way to make my 19" trinitron monitor about 60 lbs less than it is now...

Re:Subpar Video? (1)

Leto-II (1509) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831792)

Actually, I wouldn't bet on the PCI Radeon having DVI output. I bought another mini computer (much better looking than the shuttle box, I think -- an MSI 6215 [msi.com.tw] ) and am using a PCI Radeon AIW. They dumbed it down a bit from the AGP version. For one it's just got SDR ram instead of DDR. And they also took out the DVI.

mini-computer? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831711)

When I read the story, I thought they were going to teach me how to build a REAL mini computer. not some stupid x86 box. When did mini computer stop meaning mini computer (as opposed to a mainframe) and start meaning a small x86 box?

Mini-Case (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831712)

I really liked this idea, I would put one together myself but I really have no use for a highly portable fast computer with a peice of crap S3 video card. I purchased a Coolermaster ATC-200 for its lightweight frame, so it was easier to transport to lan events, but I'd REALLY love to have a computer the size of a toaster, because, well I'd stick it in my toastmaster toaster case and stick some orange neons in!

Another similar, but better looking case (5, Informative)

Nerant (71826) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831741)

Soldam [soldam.com] also has something similar. Pandora [soldam.com]

Re:Another similar, but better looking case (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831828)

Hey, those Pandora rock :-) The only gripe I have is that now I'm looking somewhere to know how much EUR is 38,800 yens :-)

Mini-Computer ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831743)

If Digital made PDP-8's like this, perhaps they wouldn't of been bought out.

hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831752)

I'm a hard core Mac fan, and even i like this small PC. It had the one things new Mac's don't, audio ports. Built in firewire is great (IEEE1394 for you PC nuts), thank god it isn;t USB 2.0. Gigabit ethernet would be nice, but we are comparing it to an iMac afterall, so that evens out. I think the design has a ways to go still, but it's a good start towards small PC's that inclide most everything you need. I feel the addition of the NForce chipset, ad someone mentioned earlier would be perfect.

Place for those nForce things (2)

Isldeur (125133) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831765)



You know, this could be the perfect place for those embedded NVidia nForce chipsets. That way you could have reasonable 3D as well.

Re:Place for those nForce things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831817)

What's with the 3d thing?

Does it make your xterm or emacs run any faster?

I just bought my first 3d card (GeForce2 MX) because the shop was out of the Matrox cards I usually buy. It took me a while to realise that in order to get 3d working under Linux I had to download proprietary driver software. No go. I hope someone points NVidia's wrong licensing out to RMS.

PCI GeForce? (1)

Viceice (462967) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831781)

THere is a limited quantity of GeForce2 MX with a PCI interface in the market. Anyone ever thought of getting taht? even if it's to hard to find I'm sure any OEM will make at least a TNT2 for PCI if they were to include it in the box or sold as as option

Badly drawn wendigo (2)

Graymalkin (13732) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831791)

I saw one of these at Fry's a couple weeks ago and thought it looked pretty cool. For the complaining Frank does about the video chip it is a pretty keen little box and may very well be the start of a trend if it becomes popular. Consumer systems didn't always used to be two and a half foot metal and plastic monstrocities. I really like the look of the old SparcStations or the Quadra 610 and at times even the LCII/III. Why do PCs have to be so damn big and bulky. It wouldn't kill anybody to have a full fledged PC the size of a Playstation. I would have gotten a much smaller case for my PCs had they been available. I want something I can easily tuck under my desk, next to my monitor, or under my router.

Not cute.... (1)

tbien (28401) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831794)

Sorry, but that thing look like a shrunk PC and thats definitely not cute.

Re:Not cute.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831808)

Oh yes it is.

Computers are just like operating systems.

The less you have to pay attention to them the better they are.

Mini-computers from the retail world (1)

innit (79854) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831803)

I picked up a splendid little PC just before Christmas. It was second hand, and not particularly well specced, but it's absolutely perfect for playing MP3s and DivX movies.

It's a Celeron 400, with 64Mb RAM, 4.3gb disk, 52x CD ROM, onboard VGA (including composite and s-video TV-out), USB, Sound, 100-baseT network; and I picked it up for £89 GBP ($129) second hand. It doesn't have any expansion slots though, so if you're not happy with any of the onboard peripherals you're a bit stuffed.

It's not quite as small as the ones in this article, but it's definately cute, and goes well with all my AV equipment. I'm currently looking for a wireless keyboard and mouse for it.

Pictures here: front [stuii.co.uk] , rear [stuii.co.uk]

They don't make this particular model any more of course with that spec, but I do believe they sell a "modern day" equivalent, for about 700 quid, with a TFT screen and a 1Ghz processor or something, I didn't pay much attention to the new one.

Cute :-)

Stuii!

Ok, someone went and changed the definition... (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 12 years ago | (#2831804)

...of mini computer. Last time I checked the computers we normally used were "micro" computers. Minis are the thigns that are bigger than that, but not big enough to be a mainfram yet. A good example would be the Sun 10000 we have at work. It's huge 8 processor server with a ton of disks, in a rather large box. Too big to be in teh same category as the desktops, but not as big as the supercomputer up stairs (a mainframe). So it's a mini.

A sad reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2831806)

At first i did not see anything special about this case of this article - small form factor PC's have been a reality in the corporate world for years (Compaq Deskpro EN, Dell GX150) etc and as such hold no surprising news for most of us - i mean come on this is simply a small case PC basically. It has lousy graphics but as its aimed at the SOHO and consumer market thats not a major issue.

So whats the story here ?

Then i thought about it and had a look at the number of slashdot posters with academic and university/college email addresses and thats when i remembered something i had forgotten. Most of the posters on here have no grasp on the real world - their idea of a PC is a 1.4gig Athlon monster with 200gb of HDD and 5 GB RAM running an esoteric linux build which requires all new software to be compiled using a backwards Sanskrit compilier piping output to a braille terminal (sort of like trying to get Div-x to work simply under any linux build really)

That would explain why this is news to them, and why the only stories that generate posts are Pro Linux and or Anti MS (most of the best get half the posts of the others)

Grow up people! The PC is a consumer level device now at sub $1000 prices, thats why the average home user buys Packard Bell or HP or Dell or Compaq pre-loaded with Windows and Office - they dont care about overclocking, heat transferrance, efficiency of named constructs or what color socks Richard Stallman is wearing (my bets on grey to match his personality, or maybe red to match his politics)

This is a waste of time story.
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