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785G And H55: Two Powerful Mini-ITX-Based Desktop Solutions

785G And H55: Two Powerful Mini-ITX-Based Desktop Solutions
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When it's time to look into small form factor machines, do you pick AMD or Intel? With an increasing number of motherboard companies offering Mini-ITX platforms with powerful desktop performance in a diminutive footprint, we compared two modern options.

Downsizing is a key trend across a lot of industries recently. When you get small, you often save energy and resources (at least, that's the idea). But that's not always the case with PC platforms, since power consumption has little to do with size and form factor.

On the bright side, at least small computers can be quite attractive, so long as they deliver the performance and features we expect.

The Mini-ITX (Integrated Technology Extended) form factor has been around for many years. Initially driven by VIA, it has outgrown its low-cost, small form factor origins and has become an industry standard for SFF computing, regardless of specific sub-segments. Sporting a footprint of only 170x170 mm, Mini-ITX is 61% smaller than full ATX, less than half the size of microATX, and even one-third smaller than FlexATX.

Early Mini-ITX solutions were typically equipped with low-end hardware, such as VIA’s Eden processor. Recently, Mini-ITX has become popular for Atom-powered nettop PC solutions. However, motherboard manufacturers have discovered this form factor as an attractive option for enthusiasts that don’t insist on products being fully equipped so much as blending performance, features, and small dimensions. Arriving at a LAN party with an SFF Mini-ITX PC capable of outperforming most big towers is pretty freaking sweet.

We used an AMD and an Intel platform to look at what state-of-the-art Mini-ITX solutions can do today. The AMD machine is based on a Sapphire-based motherboard sporting AMD's 785G chipset. Our Intel candidate utilizes a Zotac-based platform with Intel's H55 chipset. In both cases, we tried various processors to cover different price points and performance segments. Who came out on top?

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Top Comments
  • 22 Hide
    roadrunner343 , July 9, 2010 10:42 AM
    killerclickAMD is dead. They should just dissolve themselves instead of cutting into Intel's well deserved profits.


    I feel dumber for having read your comment. I could literally feel my IQ drop a few points. They are no where near dead. Definitely not dominant in the CPU market, but they have an excellent grip in the GPU market and are still hanging with Intel. They have quite a ways to go until the are not relevant anymore.
  • 20 Hide
    Anonymous , July 9, 2010 10:17 AM
    ^--^ what are you talking about killerclick

    Seriously, AMD have never been more alive since the beginning of the c2d days, they are producing fantastic chips, at great prices with tons of performance..

    Intel have the lead in performance for sure, but you pay through the nose for that..

    These days pretty much any decent chip..AMD or Intel rocks and is capable of most users uses.

    You can thank AMD for staying in the fight and keeping Intel honest, Imagine what they could charge if there was no AMD churning out cheap good chips like they do!

    And dont even get me started on the awesomeness that is the ATI division!

    Intel are good, very very good, but we need AMD now more than ever and they are starting to deliver!
  • 18 Hide
    Anonymous , July 9, 2010 7:22 AM
    it htpc system, so where test for htpc - pay full hd, bd ?
Other Comments
  • 2 Hide
    stm1185 , July 9, 2010 6:30 AM
    Does the Intel graphics core offer acceleration for Flash 10.1 like the AMD?
  • 3 Hide
    Tamz_msc , July 9, 2010 6:53 AM
    Intel takes a lead in overall efficiency, though the AMD platform still costs less.
  • 18 Hide
    Anonymous , July 9, 2010 7:22 AM
    it htpc system, so where test for htpc - pay full hd, bd ?
  • 13 Hide
    Anonymous , July 9, 2010 7:36 AM
    So the AMD Procs are hanging with the Intel procs in power use, despite their older 45nm manufacturing process? This doesn't bode well for Intel when AMD's next generation comes out next year.
  • 11 Hide
    V3ctor , July 9, 2010 7:50 AM
    Sold an old HTPC for 90€ (cpu and mobo) and used the DDR2 sticks that got left behind.
    Bought an ASUS M4A78-EM (support for 6cores) for 50€
    Bought an AMD AThlon II X4 600e (2.2ghz,2mb cache L2, 45w) for 110€

    And I have a quad cpu with almost as much power as my Q6600, but with 45w máx TDP.

    Cheap to upgrade, efficient, and very powerfull. Couldn't choose the Intel way because I had to buy DDR3 too, and the Intel HD graphics are really bad compared to AMD's.

  • 0 Hide
    johnsimcall , July 9, 2010 10:14 AM
    Anybody have any suggestions for a case and graphics card for the Zotac H55-ITX? I'm willing to pay more for performance, but I'm getting confused trying to validate which components will fit in the reduced footprint / thermal envelope. Thanks...
  • 20 Hide
    Anonymous , July 9, 2010 10:17 AM
    ^--^ what are you talking about killerclick

    Seriously, AMD have never been more alive since the beginning of the c2d days, they are producing fantastic chips, at great prices with tons of performance..

    Intel have the lead in performance for sure, but you pay through the nose for that..

    These days pretty much any decent chip..AMD or Intel rocks and is capable of most users uses.

    You can thank AMD for staying in the fight and keeping Intel honest, Imagine what they could charge if there was no AMD churning out cheap good chips like they do!

    And dont even get me started on the awesomeness that is the ATI division!

    Intel are good, very very good, but we need AMD now more than ever and they are starting to deliver!
  • 22 Hide
    roadrunner343 , July 9, 2010 10:42 AM
    killerclickAMD is dead. They should just dissolve themselves instead of cutting into Intel's well deserved profits.


    I feel dumber for having read your comment. I could literally feel my IQ drop a few points. They are no where near dead. Definitely not dominant in the CPU market, but they have an excellent grip in the GPU market and are still hanging with Intel. They have quite a ways to go until the are not relevant anymore.
  • 1 Hide
    Userremoved , July 9, 2010 11:14 AM
    killerclickAMD is dead. They should just dissolve themselves instead of cutting into Intel's well deserved profits.

    AMD=Budget
    Intel=You got cash
    I don't have spare cash for the 980X but AMD offers me a good price for what I need (a good performing CPU).
  • 4 Hide
    rootheday , July 9, 2010 11:22 AM
    Quote:
    Does the Intel graphics core offer acceleration for Flash 10.1 like the AMD?


    Yes.
  • 13 Hide
    kokin , July 9, 2010 11:26 AM
    killerclickAMD is dead. They should just dissolve themselves instead of cutting into Intel's well deserved profits.

    The guy's just a trolling fan boy, why bother guys?
  • -6 Hide
    rootheday , July 9, 2010 11:29 AM
    Quote:
    the Intel HD graphics are really bad compared to AMD's.


    Really? Evidence please.

    Recent Anandtech article suggests otherwise.

    For gaming, AMD integrated and Intel integrated are fairly similar; Performance is comparable and Intel is clearly working to resolve driver issues.

    For HTPC, Intel has full dual steam HD decode, HD post processing, and 7.1 audio and bitstreaming DTS-HD/MA audio - the latter 2 are things AMD integrated doesn't support. And it does it all at lower system power than AMD for quiter operation.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 9, 2010 12:03 PM
    I've been playing with replacing my full-size desktop with a mini-ITX rig, but haven't been able to find a decent single-slot video card. Best I've been able to find is a Radeon 4850. Supposedly there's more powerful cards out there, but can anyone point me to one right now?
  • 4 Hide
    talalhaj , July 9, 2010 12:09 PM
    Your CPU choice is unfair, you should pick cpus that have the same performance, or the same price, not power saving AMD and High end intel, also you did not mention 3d bechmarks, as you know any body may like to play sometime...
    Very Bad Choices.
  • 10 Hide
    jedimasterben , July 9, 2010 12:18 PM
    Are the graphs blurry to anyone else? It's been like that for the past few days, across several computers, so I know it's not just one.
  • 8 Hide
    Reynod , July 9, 2010 12:24 PM
    This is another Intel fanboi article where the authors have cherrypicked low end AMD CPU's to deliberately make the Intel i3 and i5's look good.

    1. Note there are no prices listed against the AMD CPU's ... wonder why? They are much cheaper ... so you would purchase a faster CPU from AMD ... and turn the tables on the review.

    2. Note, the deliberate selection of a higher clocked i5 CPU against the low end CPU's.

    3. Note the positive spin on all aspects of the Intel performance.

    4. Note the selection of the older chipset for the AMD mobo - check out the later 8 series AMD chipsets which frankly put the Intel GPU's back into their box ... as they are clocked 200Mhz faster for a start.

    Other than the complete mismatch of components it was well written.
  • 8 Hide
    jedimasterben , July 9, 2010 12:29 PM
    reynodThis is another Intel fanboi article where the authors have cherrypicked low end AMD CPU's to deliberately make the Intel i3 and i5's look good.1/ Note there are no prices listed against the AMD CPU's ... wonder why? They are much cheaper ... so you would purchase a faster CPU from AMD ... and turn the tables on the review.Note, the deliberate selection of a higher clocked i5 CPU against the low end CPU's.Note the positive spin on all aspects of the Intel performance.Note the selection of the older chipset for the AMD mobo - check this out for the later 8 series AMD chipsets which frankly put the Intel GPU's back into their box. Other than the complete mismatch of components it was well written.

    I couldn't agree more, but you missed how they used a lot of applications that perform better on Intel systems. I hate it when articles are skewed like this, makes you wonder why they write them at all, other than to make money.
  • 8 Hide
    sirmorluk , July 9, 2010 12:30 PM
    jedimasterbenAre the graphs blurry to anyone else? It's been like that for the past few days, across several computers, so I know it's not just one.

    Your glasses. Put them on.
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , July 9, 2010 12:30 PM
    It is good to see the intel idles are so good. I have a H55n USB3 on the way to play with.

    I wanted to go with an AMD alternative after seeing some very good lower power use out of a X4 955 build(mind you I under volt) with a 5770. Under 60 watts idle seemed good with my E6600 system running in the high 80's with only a 4350 installed. My I7 system idles at about 150.

    Thanks for the write up guys.
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