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Building a CarPC - Help me understand mobile graphics!

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 24, 2006 7:48:52 AM

Hi..

I'm planning for a CarPC. Of the many things it must do, one big thing is gaming, since I will spend a sizeable amount of time waiting in my van as an on-call driver.

As far as I know, at the moment, the top of the line mobile graphics solution is the Mobility Radeon X1800 XT. If that has been surpassed by now, then what is the current top of the line? Mind you, it must be mobile, as I am building the PC to survive the harsh environment of a car, where temps can possibly exceed 140F! It will have fans, and I'll try to mount it under/near my dash and split off some cool air from an A/C duct, but that may or may not be possible in the end, and even if it is, I may be running the PC with the van shut off at times, hence no A/C, and this will be in Florida.

Once I know what the current top of the line mobile graphics solution is, how can I go about finding a motherboard which uses it? Newegg has been of little help, as their components are decidedly slanted towards desktops.

Thanks!
December 24, 2006 9:25:56 PM

Quote:
http://www.hothardware.com/viewarticle.aspx?articleid=8...

That would be the fastest card. But good luck finding one.


Thanks for the informative reply. From some Googling, as far as I can determine, that card is not sold via retail channels yet in mobile form, only to OEMs, correct?

I've also heard that I might be better off waiting to see what Mini PCI-E cards come out with native DX10 support in a few months. Is that correct?

Thanks!
Related resources
December 24, 2006 10:44:10 PM

Quote:
http://www.mini-itx.com/projects/bmwpc/

This may give you some helpful information or ideas.


Mpilchfamily, I appreciate the ideas, but I think that I may have the design phase nailed down. Call this v0.1.

From another forum post, with edits
-----------------------------------------
Mind you, the system is still in stage of 1 of the design phase right now. I'm considering using an MB899 motherboard with the following basic specs:

Processor: Intel Core Duo T2700 @ 2x 2.33Ghz - 2048KB Shared L2 - 667Mhz FSB - @ 31W Max - Socket M
Memory: 2x 2GB DDR2 @ 667Mhz SDRAM DIMM (non-ECC)
Video: Onboard Intel GMA950 (For now - I'm waiting to see what the DX10 Mini PCI-E cards are like)
Hard Drive: 2.5" Toshiba MK2035GSS 200GB 4200 RPM 8MB Cache Serial ATA150
DVD Writer: Slim notebook style drive, unsure of what exact DVD formats I'll need to be able to write
Screen: The biggest VGA touchscreen LCD I can fit into the dash
Mouse/Keyboard, when needed: One of those compact notebook sized ones with an integrated touchpad, connecting via USB

I'm considering casing it up in an IBT-168-899, which, if I read the page correctly, includes the MB899 motherboard. It's a nice fanless case designed for industrial installs. Though I plan on adding some fans, especially after I add in a DX10 capable Mini PCI-E graphics card.

The case includes a 90W DC PSU, which should greatly increase power efficiency over an AC-DC inverter. Hopefully that 90W PSU will have sufficient power on all the rails to power what I want it to. (In DC supplies, even though the total wattage may be there, the supply the 12, 5, or 3.3V rail may be lacking in amperage.)

However, it has been many years since I took basic electronics in school, so I'm lost as to how I might calculate power capacity in relation to a 90W suppy drawing from an isolated (except for charging) deep cycle battery.

As for mounting it under the passenger seat, I'm beginning to rethink that idea. Many people have their Car PCs installed under the dash, and some have even spliced off an A/C duct for cooling, assuming that the vehicle is running and that the A/C works. The system would have auto-temperature shutdown of course, to avoid actively cooking components.
a b U Graphics card
December 25, 2006 9:21:28 AM

Highest end single mobile chip right now is the MR-X1900XT

Most powerful Mobile solution is two GF7900/7950GOs in SLi.

Both are rare from a DIY perspective.

These cards are rarely sold just as SKUs, but more as parts of at least chassis solutions.

A very good source for Such things is eBay, but also big OEMs like ROCK or ASUS who deal in upgrade parts for their laptops.
a b U Graphics card
December 25, 2006 10:09:39 AM

Mount the PC under the van :p  Seriously, if you can find a place towards the rear away from exhaust, it should be no more than 15F above ambient.

You might consider a large passive water cooler mounted under the van with the PC inside. The coolest place would be in the rear, where the spare tire traditionally sits.
!