Ever wanted to build a mini-ITX computer with a power-sipping 11th Gen Tiger Lake mobile processor? Now's your chance to do just that. MSI has released a new PRO series mini-ITX motherboard featuring a built-in Core i5-11260H Tiger Lake CPU called the Pro HM570TI-B I526. (opens in new tab)
As the name suggests, the board is designed for professionals who want a compact desktop workstation that will be just as power efficient as a laptop. The Core i5 processor inside features six cores and 12 threads with a 4.4 GHz max turbo frequency and a maximum configurable TDP of 45 watts.
The board has a decent feature set overall, with support for up to 64GB of dual-channel DDR4 3200MHz memory and two SATA ports for storage devices. Unfortunately there is only one M.2 slot available for wireless cards only. Rear I/O comes in the form of four USB ports, a single serial port, and a HDMI port for display output. There is also an Ethernet port and two dedicated 3.5mm jacks for mic support and audio.
But, the strange part of this motherboard is zero information on CPU cooler mounting support. MSI has no information on installing a CPU cooler or what CPU coolers will work with the mobile chip. As a result, you'll need to do this research yourself if you plan on buying this board. But we presume the board is designed for LGA115x or LGA1200/1700 coolers since the spacing between the holes is quite large.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, power comes in the form of a DC power brick. Standard ATX or SFX power supplies will not work with this motherboard if you want to build this system inside a standard mini-ITX desktop chassis. As a result, you'll have to look for a case that is designed around DC power bricks to ensure space isn't wasted and the system looks good.
MSI's board also lacks support for dedicated PCIe add in board cards, such as graphics cards, with no physical PCIe slots installed on the motherboard. It is somewhat of a bummer, as Intel's Tiger Lake processors aren't slow chips, and already make good gaming chips in mid-range gaming laptops with dedicated mobile GPUs or Thunderbolt graphics card docks.
If the board had support for a dedicated GPU, it would be a really cool little gaming machine, that would sip power and generate almost no heat. But, this board wasn't intended for gaming, so we understand why MSI didn't install a PCIe slot.
But, if you are courageous enough, you can technically use a dedicated graphics card. All you will need is a M.2 PCIe x4 to PCIe x16 or open x8 or x4 slot that allows x16 cards to be slotted in. Pair this, with a mini-ITX case with vertical GPU mounting support, and you can get a full blown discrete graphics card to work with this motherboard.
However, the apparent drawbacks would be no dedicated WiFi/Bluetooth card -- with the slot taken up by the GPU and four PCIe lanes is not fast enough for a lot of desktop GPUs. As a result, you'd need to use a low-end GPU to ensure the PCIe lane bottlenecking doesn't kill most of your GPU performance.
We don't know when this motherboard is on sale; MSI hasn't shared a price or estimated availability dates on its website.