Portable gaming mini pc

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5 Apr 2012
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Hey guys, I'm a bit of a newbie to the whole small form factor thing but I'm looking to build a mini pc that can be as small as possible and portable enough for alot of travelling. I really don't want a laptop, and i'm hoping that with a little advice this could be feasible or at least close to.

I want it to be able to play media, but additionally blizzard games (wow, d3, sc2. cpu intensive), indie steam games and perhaps some newer games but nothing on ultra just playable. This probably sounds like a bit of a pipe dream and that's why I'm asking for some advice.

I do have some ideas, perhaps an i3 2120, z68 mobo, silverstone chassis (though they might be too big, needs to be suitable for air travel), 4gb ram, approx 150gb hdd/ssd should do. Unsure on psu or possible fan. I was thinking about the 6850 hd radeon or the 7750, but again thinking about size. I did see some of the asrock stuff but I think i'd rather make my own.

Anyway as you can see i'm a bit of a newbie to this, would appreciate some guidance. Would also point out this isn't a desktop replacement and is to be used on a tv, I already have a sweet desktop from here actually :)
 
Soldato
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Case size is going to be determined by graphic card requirement.

Don't know what AMD motherboards are like for integrated graphics for the games you've listed, but if integrated is not sufficient then I don't see you going much smaller than a Silverstone SG-05 case.
 
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I built the rig in my sig (yay rhymes) just over a week ago. Aces Mass Effect 3 and handles SWTOR fine until you get to PvP where it drops to 20 FPS sometimes, but I read it's just the way the game is coded. Haven't installed any other games to test further. Check the gallery sticky for pics.
 
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Associate
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Forget intel and a discrete graphics card, for what you need i.e. a lot of plane travel it's going to end up quite a large and heavy box to drag round with you.

AMD's Llano will do exactly what you need in a super tiny and lightweight package.

Case Antec ISK-110
http://www.antec.com/product.php?id=704934&fid=294

The vesa mount just unscrews to remove it.
The 90w dc powerboard isn't going to be enough, you'll need to remove this and use a 150w pico psu with a 150w 12v power brick.
The case has 2, 2.5" drive mounts so perfect for an SSD boot drive and 2.5" drive to store your games / apps on.
I could have suggested the more usual Antec ISK-100, but the 110 is a touch smaller and omits the extra fan which is not needed.

APU: AMD A8-3870K
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CP-316-AM&groupid=701&catid=1967&subcat=2060

Motherboard: Gigabyte A75N-USB3
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MB-382-GI&groupid=701&catid=1903&subcat=2058

Memory
Any 2x4gb kit will do the job, although bear in mind Llano scales better with more bandwidth a good ddr3 1866 kit is perfect for this, although absolutely not required.

I've lived and worked all over the world for the last 20 years, I've dragged some huge pc's round with me in that time.
If I had to go away again any time soon, I'd build the above in a flash and be confident in the knowledge it will play everything you've listed (and much more) with ease.
Lightweight and tiny, with enough grunt for a quality gaming and media experience!

I use Llano on a daily basis,I game on it, browse and watch all types of media.
Most people who post in the SFF forums and "advise" people have never even used a Llano setup nevermind owned one.


Will you get more performance from an Intel setup and discreet card? Sure you will, but you'll sacrifice the tiny size and a lot of weight to get it.
 
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Soldato
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Forget intel and a discrete graphics card, for what you need i.e. a lot of plane travel it's going to end up quite a large and heavy box to drag round with you.

AMD's Llano will do exactly what you need in a super tiny and lightweight package.

spot on really. Llano is perfect for what you need here.
 
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Legion you sir are a genius, and weirdly I've got those components already in my basket! I had a good look around before seeing that AMD integrated destroys Intel's (unsurprising I guess).

http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1859/7/

Will I need a fan if I overclock? Also it'll probably be june/july before I get the time to do this and by then I've heard trinity from AMD is coming out (may 15th rumored?), which apparently will have 50-70% better integrated gpu performance. So assuming AMD sticks to that i'd be better off choosing that with a corresponding mini-ATX correct?
 
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Legion you sir are a genius, and weirdly I've got those components already in my basket! I had a good look around before seeing that AMD integrated destroys Intel's (unsurprising I guess).

http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1859/7/

Will I need a fan if I overclock? Also it'll probably be june/july before I get the time to do this and by then I've heard trinity from AMD is coming out (may 15th rumored?), which apparently will have 50-70% better integrated gpu performance. So assuming AMD sticks to that i'd be better off choosing that with a corresponding mini-ATX correct?

You won't be overclocking this on a 150w/160w pico psu you're already going to be at ~130w draw while gaming, stressing it further with overclocking won't be a good idea.
The heatsink and fan that come with the apu is surprisingly good, the case is well ventilated, I can't see any problems.
You can swap it out later if you find it's not to your liking or you want more epeen than a standard hsf in your little monster.

Those rumors of Trinity's gpu being that much faster for desktop parts are vastly over exagerated, you can quote me on that.

The mobile parts will have the best gains with Trinity, not the desktop part.

The desktop part will be quicker than Llano but don't expect it to be hugely different.
That's largely down to the piledriver cores acting like a a dual core with hyperthreading so won't be much quicker than the true 4 core Llano we have now, despite the large difference in clockspeed with Trinity.
On the Gpu side Trinity is also still using a HD6xxx derived part using the VLIW set.
It can't be hugely more powerful than it already is due to the power envelope of the whole package i.e. cpu and gpu which will be 100w for the top end APU'S same as it is now with Llano.
They've saved a bit of power using the new piledriver cores and used it on improving the gpu a little, but don't expect miracles until Kaveri (next year)
Trinity is still a 32nm part just like Llano is, so that also tells us it can't be hugely different.

It will for sure be quicker but not by those margins.

The only other hurdle with Trinity is going to be how fast we see ITX boards for it from the big boys getting out into retail.
Llano ITX boards didn't appear until a good few months after it was released.

My first Llano set up was M-atx not through choice but the simple fact there was no ITX board for it on release.

TL;DR if Trinity is around with an ITX board when you want to build it go for it.
If it isn't Llano is still worth buying.
 
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Associate
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Hmm ok that is interesting, and makes it a nice and easy decision when the time comes :) Thanks for the assistance. I'll post specs and pics on the SFF thread when built :)
 
Soldato
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A NES size case would be cool, but then there is the GPU add on card issue & the PSU will need some figuring. Plus, I watched a youtube vid. with a system build in a NES case, kind of cramped.
 
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