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[Discuss] mini-ITX boards for Haswell CPUs

I was curious to see if you could get a mini-ITX motherboard that
supported Intel's new Haswell CPU family[1] (4th-generation Core i5, i7)
that also would support multiple monitors. Sure enough, a query at
NewEgg turned up a family of ASRock motherboards[2,3,4] starting at $80[2].

ASRock[5] is pretty brief in addressing the multi-monitor capabilities,
saying, "This motherboard supports Triple Monitor. You may choose up to
three display interfaces to connect monitors and use them
simultaneously." The trick, though, is that each of the 3 ports are
different, and the ones you get vary depending on the board. The low-end
board has D-Sub (analog VGA I presume?), DVI, and HDMI, while the
high-end ($165)[4] board uses DVI, Display Port, and HDMI.

What's strangely missing from the NewEgg specification is any mention of
the GPU. My understanding was that Haswell came with on-die integrated
graphics[6] - in fact this is supposed to be the first time integrated
graphics (or at least Intel graphics) are competitive with add-on GPUs -
yet strangely no mention of this. The one review[7] I found also makes
no mention of either the graphics or the multi-monitor capability,
though it was a review of the high-end board, which has a PCIe x16 slot,
with the assumption that you'll be using a add-on GPU.

Fortunately the manufacturer's site does have specs on the GPU, showing
that the low-end board[8] tops out at 1920x1200 @ 60Hz (which feels
dated), while the high-end board[9] can handle 4K x 2K @ 24Hz on all but
the DVI port. Only 24Hz refresh? Is that typical at 4K? (I'd be more
interested to know what max resolution it can handle at 60 Hz.)

I was surprised to see that these boards max out at 16 GB of RAM, which
seems on the verge of obsolescence. I haven't looked to see if this is a
limitation of the Intel chipset, of merely the physical constraints of
these tiny board that only have room for two DIMM slots. A search on
NewEgg suggests that DIMM densities haven't yet surpassed 8 GB per
module, or at least not in the mainstream, so I guess that explains it.
Then the question is whether the chipset and BIOS will support 16 GB
modules when they become available.

Anyway, interesting to see how much capability and high-end performance
they can pack into tiny boards these days.


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Tom Metro
Venture Logic, Newton, MA, USA
"Enterprise solutions through open source."
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