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AMD Ryzen Mini-STX: ASRock’s DeskMini A300 (smallformfactor.net)
143 points by walterbell 28 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 81 comments

That would be such a great system if it had an internal PSU. I'm so tired of all these ultra small cases which require an additional bulky external PSU. Apple seems to be the only manufacturer who cares about that.

Why? Take the weight and heat out of the device, and put the PSU on the ground out of sight.

I wish I could use an external PSU for my desktop!

I can already put the device out of sight. I want a tiny case because it takes up less space in whatever nook I store it in.

To add on that- there are several other reasons why this makes sense- if you have solar power, batteries, and a regulator, it makes sense to go straight without going to AC in between- it's one less place to lose energy.

this seems like a very niche use case. I would imagine most home solar installations are wired directly into an inverter to supply AC to the house. how many people would have both DC and AC outlets in their wall?

I've been looking for a good SFF home server system but every one I find has an external PSU. It's surprising to me. I'd love an Intel NUC but I don't want a power brick the size of the computer itself.

In case you don't already know, the Mac mini has an internal PSU.

I'm like you; I want one box / lump, not two (mainly because I move the box around a lot). Consequently, I have a Mac mini. The price cheapest non-used Mac mini however has risen from $500 to $800 in about 3 years.

It also overheats if you use it for too long (e.g. keep the Simulator open for most of a work day), causing the machine to slow down to a barely usable speed.

I'd prefer an external PSU.

This seems to be a common thing with apple devices - supposedly powerful hardware with woefully inadequate cooling. iirc one of the i9 macbook models actually performed worse than the corresponding i7 model because the cooling was so bad.

Seeing as I'm being downvoted - look! I found a source: https://www.notebookcheck.net/Apple-MacBook-Pro-15-Core-i9-s...

I'm at work so I don't have time to do many more googles.

See https://www.sfflab.com and https://www.mini-itx.com/store/category?type=case&volume=ove.... Most cases with an internal PSU are over 4L in volume. This mini-STX case requires an external power brick: https://www.amazon.com/SilverStone-Technology-Mini-STX-Compu...

Never could figure out people who actually wanted an internal PSU ... i thought big tech forced them on us for reasons of their bottom line: Ie as planned obsolescence. Eg one could easily make a svelte "phone" with a 30 second capacitor and Qi power transfer... Such would not wear out, letting one choose, swap, power backs/cases. Bigger things might standardize on wired connections like USB-C to cheap 18650 packs.

There are options for building a brickless SFF system, but they all have tradeoffs or limitations. There isn't a good one-size-fits-all internal psu until you get to the SFX size psus.

I myself have been building out a brickless skyreach s4 mini system inspired by this [0] (same author as this A300 unboxing)

[0] https://smallformfactor.net/articles/feature/community-featu...

This Intel NUC compatible power supply is not that big. Plugs into the wall and barely noticble. https://www.amazon.com/FSP-Barebones-Replacement-FSP065-10AA...

Honestly, if there was a way to attach them together (say, a clip), I'd be fine with a brick. Make the clip provide a small gap and airflow should be good enough to prevent thermal issues. If I do run into problems, I can always separate them...

Isn't that the kind of thing you could make?

Would an internal PSU somehow be smaller than an external one?

My understanding is that part of the reason this is done, is that you can buy the external PSU module pre-certified for whatever country you need to import the product into.

If you integrate the power supply into the inside of the product, then you need to certify the product itself individually once for whatever standard, and potentially for each country you import into.

Hence Apple can do it partly because of a combination of scale and margin, where-as it's a lot harder for smaller manufacturers to do so in a cost effective or reasonable way.

Having said that, I agree with you, external PSUs drive me nuts. And I love products like the Mac Mini that have it integrated.

Nice SFF cases (more steel & cooling needed) with internal PSUs may cost more than this entire $150 system.

This $150 includes a power brick, which requires no cooling. Putting that brick inside the case wouldn't change the price much. I personally prefer the external power brick.

I bought the Intel version of the DeskMini for $130 a while back. It's about the same price as a normal case + mobo + psu, which it replaces. I put an i5 8400, an M.2 SSD, and some memory in it, and in 5 minutes you have a working system. No hassle, inexpensive, and small. Highly recommended unless you need a GPU.

With the external PSY, you can much more easily and efficiently run on batteries, which can be handy.

sony, too, with ps4

If you want to build your own SFF PC, using more powerful and widely available components, there is a good guide here from the SFFPC subreddit:


i love the idea of sff, but my one attempt at mini-ITX resulted in a system with non-standard PSU and mainboard (i think). i have an ATX case from college that I'm still able to throw a new PSU and mainboard in, and i'm good to go. have things stabilized enough in sff that i'd likely to be able to swap mainboards for several generations ?

>have things stabilized enough in sff that i'd likely to be able to swap mainboards for several generations

If you get a case large enough to support a full-size GPU and SFX PSU (so around 7-8L in volume), you're golden. Smaller than that you start having to go with ITX GPUs or external PSUs.

I think every big motherboard maker has at least one ITX board for each new generation/chipset so I haven't had any trouble in the last 3-4 years since I switched over to ITX for my builds.

The only thing you really have to look out for is some of more recent extra tall + wide GPUs. But even some full-tower ATX cases can't fit these without vertical mounting.

ITX boards and SFX power supplies are certainly less common, but by no means hard to find. And they are standardized, just like the ATX board variants and ATX power supplies.

The only compatibility issue that you need to worry about is cooler height and video card length, if you choose a very small case. But there are plenty of really nice ITX cases like the NCASE M1 that are reasonably small, with excellent compatibility.

If you want to get really exotic, there are cases that require DC to DC adapters for external power supplies, but if you stick with SFX internal PSUs you should be fine.

Great sheet, thanks for posting.

I've been waiting for the next run of the Skyreach S4 Mini to finish my sff build. It's gorgeous.

Thanks. Is there a similar guide for NAS cases?

Yep! Data hoarders imo is the best sub for this kind of info, here's a link to the wiki for looking at cases and guides: https://old.reddit.com/r/DataHoarder/wiki/index

This helped me in the past for setting up my own NAS.

A lot of people in my company have their laptop on with lid closed and they use external monitors. I, a Joe programmer, don't need a laptop to work and I guess there are lot of people like me. So, if there's a desktop which is as small as a laptop, but more powerful and more ports (USB, display port, HDMI, DVI, VGA ...), cheaper than a laptop (because of no screen) and not very Linux unfriendly, I think it will sell.

Whoa, this computer cost less than the case I bought for my m-ITX pc last year.

To be fair, I think this is essentially just a case, motherboard, and power supply and not an entire computer. Still an amazing deal!

The forum thread has more discussion, Newegg has been restocking every couple of weeks and sold out within a day or two, https://smallformfactor.net/forum/threads/sffn-asrocks-deskm...

Asrock has an upcoming low-power fanless MB/barebone for embedded, http://linuxgizmos.com/worlds-first-amd-based-nuc-mini-pc-sh...

> ASRock Linux-ready “iBox-R1000” industrial PC and “NUC-R1000” mainboard provide the new AMD Ryzen Embedded R1000 SoC in a 4×4 NUC form-factor with up to 32GB DDR4, 2x GbE, 3x USB 3.1, triple 4K displays, and 2x M.2 slots.

There we go: 2 gig-e ports means it will be useful as a router/firewall. I hope they don't price it too high.

Hopefully there will be some tests for this, there are so many of these computers that have onboard 1 gbit card that share the bus with other devices so that in reality you can't route 1 gbit.

For my current router I had to buy separate pcie cards to get proper throughput, the 1gbit cards on the intel motherboard could only sustain 300 mbit/s routing (600 mbit on the bus), but if only one card was used it could accept or send 1 gbit.

Site has been hugged to death. Alternate review that works: https://www.techspot.com/review/1816-asrock-deskmini-a300/

EDIT: smallformfactor.net link appears to work again.

If it is ASRock (an Intel shop for decades) makes bet on AMD, Intel should begin to scratch their head at least.

The bet to prioritise server chips over consumer ones in fab priority may seem like a win from money side, but loss of clients will be much more impactful on them long term.

Ehhh.... Asrock has AFAIK never been an Intel shop, and also hasn't existed for decades (they'll have for two in 2022).

Just head over to eBay and you can find a bunch of used Asrocks with Socket A/462 for AMD Athlons from the mid-2000s.

What would you use this for? Gaming? 4k home media? Bitshekel mining? General purpose computer? I had to Google the term apu and I'm still not sure if I understand (whether it's marketing or something distinct).

I have an old SFF-PC currently as my home server, it does my domain DNS, hosts my e-mail, is my Samba-/SMB-/file-server and hosts an Avorion and Arma3 dedicated server.

It's way more power efficient to have an SFF do all the 24/7 IT-work and my gaming/main-PC only selectively powered up when I need it.

From Wikipedia [1]:

> The AMD Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), formerly known

> as Fusion, is the marketing term for a series of 64-bit

> microprocessors from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD),

> designed to act as a central processing unit (CPU) and

> graphics processing unit (GPU) on a single die.

My understanding is that it has always been a CPU and GPU combined, but is some marketing wangle as you suggest. I've owned one in the past and it was generally quite fast in general use, I believe it off-loaded simple GPU related tasks to the GPU part of the APU which ultimately reduced the graphics latency.

This seems to be quite similar to the Mali GPU which can be bundled on ARM packages to handle simple graphics [2]. I believe this is how something like the Raspberry Pi can output 4k over HDMI despite not being particularly powerful.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD_Fusion

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mali_%28GPU%29

Why the down votes? I am trying to learn, just like the grandparent poster. Parent seems to be giving information that I was seeking as well. Is the parent’s post wrong or what?

No idea, I wish these people would at least reply and correct me if something is wrong.

Light gaming, general use, HTPC, just about anything really. APU is AMD's term for a CPU with a small graphics chipset on it (most of theirs don't)

Yea I have a ryzen5 and was shocked that it wouldn't boot without a graphics card. No biggie, so I guess this makes sense. No need to buy another card, presumably something akin to the Intel embedded graphics..

> Yea I have a ryzen5 and was shocked that it wouldn't boot without a graphics card.

Quite a lot of motherboards will do the (I think) "three beeps" which means it's detected a missing graphics card.

But if you leave it to go for a small while (20 seconds?), they'll continue on after the pause then boot/run without problem.

Useful for home servers.

This looks like a nice box. Powerful, super cheap! Perhaps a bit thermally constrained though.

On a similar note, I picked up a Gigabyte GB-BLCE-4105 a couple of months ago. Very small box with a quad core J4105 Celeron CPU. Tiny fan. Added 16 gigs of RAM and a 512GB NVME SSD.

Super nice home server, using a small amount of watts. Running a minimal Ubuntu install which uses kvm to host multiple isolated VM's for different applications (Unifi controller, domotica, smb, solar panel/energy control, etc.).

> The rear IO is modest, including DisplayPort (1.2), HDMI, VGA (honestly?!)

Gee, I'm just happy that they reaped the RS232 DB9 ;)

The recent STX form factors are a wonderful boon to SFF consumer computing, and this is a welcome step towards wider SFF adoption. Looking forward to the gradual miniturization of desktops, love efficiency at lower TDPs.

Theres clearly a market for mini computers, I wish we had more products like this or the Mac Mini.

You might find the Udoo Bolt interesting: https://www.udoo.org/udoo-bolt/

With APUs and NVMe storage, it seems like these things can be fairly powerful and still really small.

Odroid H2 Gemini Lake, quad core, dual NIC, https://www.amazon.com/ODROID-Intel-Quad-core-Processor-Sepe...

Does anyone has a photo side by side with an intel nuc ? it looks maybe twice the nuc size ?

It can fit/cool dual 2.5" drives and a 65W TDP desktop CPU with a powerful GPU, not the low-power laptop CPUs used by a NUC.

Already out of stock at NewEgg! Anyone know of alternative suppliers that are reputable?

The funny thing to me is that the front panel is obviously from an old design which had a mounting point for a slimline 5.25" DVD-RW drive, but re-used for USB ports and other stuff instead.

Can you put a decent graphic card in it and play games from three years ago at 1080p?

No PCIe slots in a 5"x5" motherboard.

The article says "GTA V, 50FPS at 1080P" for Ryzen 5 2400G with integrated Vega 11 GPU.

Doubt you'd fit a standalone GPU inside, but the integrated one on the 2400g is surprisingly decent.

With a couple of caveats: first you need to find an M.2 VGA or you need to use a PCI to M.2 adapter and second, the BIOS won't boot without an APU, a standard Ryzen CPU won't work on that MB. There's a thread on smallformfactor.net where they are trying to mod the BIOS.

BTW, on YouTube you can find some videos where that MB is piggybacked on huge VGAs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGM-Hf-CPuk

I would like to buy this if it supports ECC memory

Asrock generally supports ECC with Ryzen CPUs. APUs and Athlon 200GE ($55) do not support ECC. You will need SODIMM (laptop) ECC RAM.

Supermicro is now shipping Epyc 3000 mainboards with ECC, e.g. 8 cores at 30W TDP with quad NIC and quad SATA.

> Asrock generally supports ECC with Ryzen CPUs. APUs and Athlon 200GE ($55) do not support ECC.

Do you have a source for that? My current understanding is that Asrock only officially supports ECC RAM for Ryzen Pro APUs/CPUs, but non-Pro ones work fine with ECC enabled as well.

Given that there is no chipset in the way, what would stop the use of ecc if the cpu supports it? Are they electrically different?

Sorry, can't find a definitive reference, so I'll withdraw the claim. Athlon 200GE Pro (for OEMs) supports ECC.

Out of curiosity, what is your use case/application that requires ECC memory?

Any use case where you cannot afford data corruption requires ECC memory. A single bit flip in a JPEG image can totally ruin it (and you might not notice at first, because the thumbnail doesn't change, allowing the corruption to spread to backups...)

Particularly susceptible to memory errors are applications that keep data cached in RAM over longer periods of time, such as file / database servers.

One use case for ECC is ZFS.

ECC is probably less important for ZFS than it is for just about any other filesystem.

That’s simply not true. ECC is key to avoid bit rot.

ZFS includes strong checksums over stored data. Bit rot is more protected against with ZFS on a non-ecc system than most other filesystems on a system with a theoretical/impossible 0% memory error rate.

And ZFS+ECC is better than ZFS without ECC.

Exactly my point. Then why the need to down vote my comment? The statement that ECC is irrelevant for zfs is blatantly incorrect. There can be bit rot in ZFS checksum values without ECC. Ask Allan Jude if need be.

It's not irrelevant, but you should still use ZFS if you care about your data, even if you don't have ECC.

Don't quote me but AMD APUs (Raven Ridge) shouldn't have ECC support, unless the Pro variant. I've read somewhere it's a BIOS/AGESA thing.

One of the first Google hits: https://www.phoronix.com/forums/forum/hardware/processors-me...

It's unfortunate that AMD has no chips with weak integrated graphics. Their non-G chips require an external GPU, while the G line has a high powered iGPU, which costs you compute performance.

AMD doesn't really have a good offering for small fast home servers that will sit in a closet.

They have the $55 2C/4T Athlon 200GE with Vega 3, https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/amd-athlon-220ge-240ge-...

Or 8-core Epyc embedded server motherboard with VGA BMC from Supermicro, https://www.servethehome.com/supermicro-m11sdv-8c-ln4f-revie...

What they're missing is something like the i5 8600 or i7 8700.

That embedded server looks sweet but is overkill for most homes in terms of connectivity and price.

ASRock Rack X470D4U comes with onboard BMC and doesn't use integrated graphics.

Also you can limit the power that the iGPU uses if you absolutely want, but as long as it is mostly idle I see no reason to do that.

Agreed. Although alternatively, some ARM SoCs have relatively weak iGPUs, which make them great hobbyist headless machines.

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