Mini ITX X86 Question

This is an inquiry to all your smart hardware people and expert link gatherers.  MarkusB wants to purchase a brain for the MAAHRs project, which I will be installing MRL.  Several of us came to the conclusion that a mini-atx computer would be the best choice.  But we don't know which one. Do you have experience in these?  Even if you don't, can you give us an idea & link of what might be a good start?  

Preference would be:

  • X86 architecture 
  • lots of memory 
  • integrated wifi if possible

To get the ball rolling I found this

The Pros are that its completely silent, has USB 3.0, and a bunch of other features... The bad part is that it appears to be extremely picky about its memory .. you have to get exactly the correct kind....



Via Epia are awesome

VIA’s are not the fastest kid on the block, but they are cheap, cool (as in heat) and extremely low power.

There is a collection.

Apparently there is a quad core coming out soonish.

Hi Benji83

Thanks for the info.   We need links to actual boards boards though… Hmmm site seems broken…

I noticed, it was up when I

I noticed, it was up when I linked it.
VIA Has some nice embedded boards, they are really small, but also have some larger, Mini ITX and Nano ITX boards, all are good and X86 based. 

Some searching has turned up


8gb max ddr3 1066, 4 usb 2.0, 2 3G/s sata ports, 1 PCI-E and 1 mini PCI-E


You want a system that

You want a system that requires as little power as possible, go for an intel atom system with embedded video.

How about to rip apart an

How about to rip apart an Eee PC.


  • small
  • SSD
  • standard memory module
  • fast CPU
  • onboard grafics
  • onboard sound
  • onboard WiFi/Bluetooth
  • and lots more
  • runs good with Linux or Windows
  • good power efficiency with up to 8 hours per battery charge (maybe even more if you don’t need the screen turned on…


  • costs?

Or go with another netbook/ or even an andriod tablet PC (e.g. Haipad).

Plus you can mount the

Plus you can mount the screen right to the rest of the computer, as in take out the keyboard… Hmmm now I want to try this haha :slight_smile:

I grabbed one similar to

I grabbed one similar to this and threw 4 gb and a 250gb drive. I use it as my mini server though not my dev system. It’s quiet, the one I have has wifi,as well as hdmi and dvi…though I didn’t plan to use the hdmi, it’s a nice addition for later. The proc is one of the slower ones, but honestly, for what I’m doing, I don’t need blazing speed. It also runs better than the current vm I run on an older pentium4 system, so it was a nice upgrade.  I also have another system thats about half the size and with the more recent 525 atom proc, but seriously, I didn’t see much of an improvement other than the video was a bit better…it’s also a bit noisy since it has a plastic case and less venting. that was one of the jetway systems. Honestly, thats sitting on my printer doing nothing since I found the noise annoying…  :/  Getting one in a case may be more economical as well…One of the other brands I was looking at was Zotac…they have several models so I would search that in newegg and see what you can find.

Geeeze … this is killer hardware !

I work on a sickly snail in comparison…  Maybe it’s a good thing that I do, so the software I make will be optimized as much as possible to work on tired dying computers…

Are you going to turn any of those into bots?

Great Suggestions

I think were moving ahead.
I believe we’ll go with TinHead’s suggestion, except dual core (for $20 more why not??)
Please check me on the Memory and PSU - still need suggestion for a disk … gettin close…

Mother Board $85

Memory $21 

PSU $50 

Disk ???


Without a working knowledge of the software you plan on using, I can only ask questions. Do you think there will be a great deal of drive access (R/W) or will it be mainly for reading? How much storage would you seriously require on the robot? I ask this because something like compact flash or sdhc are relatively inexpensive and if you don’t need a lot of onboard storage, along with relatively low writing, it could be a useful direction.

PSU + Disk

M2-ATX, 160w output, 6v to 24v wide input Intelligent Automotive DC-DC Car PC Power Supply may be a better option for PSU ?

A simillar MB is sold for 3 less $ on the mini-itx site but that one have a LVDS controller which may add to the overall power consumption.

It is interesting that the bulk version of that motherboard is more expensive that the retail version on Amazon :slight_smile:

For HDD, running over a flash disk may be enough ?

I think you can get a decent

I think you can get a decent setup with the case, adding memory and hdd would be another 30 and 45 for hdd. I don’t know if I’d go with the usb drive which will only give you what 32gb at a decent rate, but with read/write, you’ll go through the cycles pretty quickly. HDD would be a better option IMO

Looks pretty good, however I

Looks pretty good, however I personally have that little picoPSU unit and it cuts out on me with a regular HDD and CDROM drive. You may want to go with a solid state solution for the Hard drive.

I think this is it !

It’s Penguin Compliant !

Found this review - (I been using Linux for years and have found it typically safer to be on older hardware, because it often took time for the developers to hack proprietary drivers) … Of all the MB manufactures Intel has been one of the most Penguin Friendly…



linux friendly, May 15, 2011
This review is from: Intel Atom Dual-Core D525/Intel NM10/DDR3/A&V&GbE/Mini-ITX Motherboard, Retail BOXD525MW (Electronics)

I have this board running my NAS and ushare under Ubuntu 10.04.1. 
No issues with drivers or anything and it works MUCH better for streaming than my windows 7 PC that consumed over 5x the power. 
I can’t comment on the graphics however as I have the system headless and use webmin for remote administration.

Behold, the cutting edge uber capable super robotic brain (on a decent budget !)

Mother Board $85

Memory $21 

PSU $50 
Possibly  $80  

And Disk $70 
Notice Super-low power consumption reduces power costs over the life of the system up to 50% over those of standard desktop drives 

Total $226 - to - $256 depending on what DC-DC PSU is selected.
I like it !  So much, I’m considering getting the same set up…

Thanks for all the help,
any last suggestions before sending it to Markus? 

Thanks guys, I am starting

Thanks guys, I am starting to purchase for the  MAAHR project.

Next level

If your project succeeds and you need a little upgrading and detailed customization when it comes to parts, resorting to custom embedded boards could be an option. 

I’ve checked ASUS AT5IONT-I and I have to agree that the memory part is extremely picky. While you could resort on it for now, you’ll most likely look for other choices to fit your needs in the future. 

I have found that online but I’m not sure about the price. Any parts that are available in bulk are usually still pricey for me, but if you have the funds, I think its an intelligent choice.