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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-28-2004, 11:31 AM Thread Starter
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Carputer: MicroATX vs MiniITX

Ok I was planning on building my carputer with a Lilliput 7" touchscreen monitor. Everything was going well until i ran into different form factors. There is MicroATX and MiniITX.

First off Mini-ITX can be smaller than the Micro-ATX cases. However, with Mini-ITX, it looks like the only motherboard/CPU I can get is the VIA EPIA-M motherboard with propritery CPU (Neitherthal or something) which is rated 1 GHz.

MicroATX i can go wild with and overclock a cheaper AMD XP or AMD XP Mobile chip.

Mini-ITX can use less power and could require less cooling.

My biggest concern with either of these format is heat. I live in the desert so on a good day its only 105 degrees outside. So that means with the sun shining on my car it gets around 130 - 150 degrees inside my car. Not sure if the computer parts will melt because computers were meant to run at room temperature-ish. The fans will only be working while the car is running so either format could not be an issue except for size and price. Obviously the smaller it is the more expensive it is.

What do you guys think is the "best" way to go: Micro-ATX or Mini-ITX?


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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-28-2004, 01:05 PM
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Reading Topic: Carputer: MicroATX vs MiniITX

... You mean Nehemia or Eden, thats what VIA uses on their mini itx boards.

Your parts wont melt, i can assure you on that. The electronics in your car seem to be working fine still right..? How is your computer different?

Heat is an issue, however it's not something to get stuck on. As long as you have good air circulation inside the whatever enclosure you're going to stick your cpu into.. you'll be fine. If you think it will seriously damage your components, leave the computer off for 10-15 minutes after you get in to cool down the air inside the car and than use it.

go wild and overclock? 1) If anything, based on your heat issues you wont be going to far with overclocking. 2) For sake of power consumption you should be underclocking a cpu to lessen the heat and power consumption.

Smaller = more expensive? Not really, dont forget to take into account the fact that a VIA board comes with the proc, whereas micro requires a separate cpu to invest in. Plus depending on your application (ex. EPIA II) comes with pcmcia and flash reader built in.



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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-28-2004, 03:06 PM
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Reading Topic: Carputer: MicroATX vs MiniITX

I mostly agree with iG on the heat and cpu performance issues. You're looking at installing a computer that will be used to play music and probably nav, not video editing. The performance of a 1Ghz proc is more than enough for playing music or doing nav. However, you do need to be careful about heat. Computer components are built with the idea they will live in a controlled environment where as car components are designed to withstand greater operating ranges. Be sure to check the operating range of the equipment you use, not just storage temp.

I've never designed one myself, but if I did I would look for a cpu that can be air cooled when run at normal speed and then down clock it to further reduce the issue of heat there. I'd be more worried about the hard drive myself. A laptop hard drive makes the most sense in my mind because they're designed to be used in something that is moving. Alot of people are building systems with large desktop drives and I'd be curious to know what happens to these systems after a year or so. If flash memory was cheaper and you could get 20GBs of it, I'd go solid state myself!


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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-28-2004, 05:12 PM
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Reading Topic: Carputer: MicroATX vs MiniITX

Notebooks drives do have more 'shock' protection as compared to full sized IDE drive, however it doesnt really affect it that much in the car. Notebook drives that come with 'shock' protection are usually designed to withstand a large shock, such as dropping your laptop on the floor (i've done it too many times myself). However in the car, where it's exposed to almost constant low vibration (unless you like going offroading in your 6? ;)) it's just as bad as a normal IDE. The most important part about mounting the IDE is doing it properly. Mount the drive vertically, that way the head wont hit the plates but rather give you a misread/write. Second.. dont make any homemade shock absorbing techniques, you're more likely to create a mount that will produce a resonant vibration than actually 'absorb' the shock. Effectively destroying your drive in no time.

Luck is also important, I've went through 3 drives in past year in my desktop.. and thats not moving! Heh. Mind you I have 7 drives in my computer.. but still.


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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-28-2004, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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Reading Topic: Carputer: MicroATX vs MiniITX

It looks more like I am heading in the direction of Mini-itx but I absolutely cannot decided on a screen. I was very gung ho on getting a lilliput touchscreen but it appears to be prone to defects (refub lcds) from what I hear on mp3car.com.

It is highly unlikely i will be playing a DVD and doing anything else with the comptuer while driving. Two things that might run simultaniously is MP3s and GPS. I will be using Bluetooth GPS probably with Microsoft Streets and Trips since I already ahve it and probably winamp. I think 1ghz should be find for what I need to do, my friend however is concerned with upgrades (next to none for mini-itx) and processing power. Also I will be running my Autoenginuity Scantool to possibly monitor my cars sensors and perform on the spot dynos. Probably would run the Autoenginuity by itself without other software running.

But i think I will add extra fans for the case anyhoo so either I mod an existing mini-itx case or build my own. IG, i think you were the one who had that external HD cooler. That seems like a neat idea.

But Touchscreen LCDs, aiy caramba!

oh and IG you beat me i only got 6 HD in my desktop. Good thing for RAID!

BTW...whats the verdict on Carputers and Subwoofers? I got 2 - 10" RF subs in a bandpass box. We all know how computers and electronics "LOVE" magnets and i got two huge ones in the trunk.


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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-29-2004, 02:42 AM
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Replying to Topic 'Carputer: MicroATX vs MiniITX'

If I were you I'd go MicroATX, mainly for 3 reasons:

1. The option to use ATX fans would help keep components much cooler.

2. Easier to customize, with more hardware options.

3. Price.

For durable hard disk drives and dvd-rom players, check out IBM or Fujitsu ones. Those things are durable as f*ck. My buddy got sooo pissed (broke up with his girl), he threw his comp out of his second story window...only components that still worked were (you guessed it) the IBM hard drive and cd-rw drive.

Not sure about those components working in a car though, cause like iG said, the constant vibration is a big factor. Should probably try a search on google, or check out companies that make carputers, and see what kind of hardware they're going with.

Check out this site for ideas on parts.

http://www.gnetcanada.com/

Good luck!
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-01-2004, 08:28 PM
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Reading Topic: Carputer: MicroATX vs MiniITX

when i was specin one out i went with miniITX...
1) space was a concern, you can get a TINY miniITX case if you use a notebook HD and a slim DVD drive
2) noise was a concern, no fans needed in a miniITX if you build it right, no fan noise.
3) power, i didnt want to have to supply a lot of power to a computer, with miniITX it uses barely nothing by way of power, and you can get a plug in ITPS to sequence the power up and down of your computer with you car on and off thus never NEEDING a switch, but its never bad to have one.

Overall i think i built a kick ass miniITX computer that was the footprint of 3/4's a sheet of paper and not to high either and the price came to around 450 minus the screen.

Lapis Blue 6s MTX
Sport, Sport Grill, RB Springs, Injen


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