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Mini-ITX: Two Cases And Four Motherboards Compared

Mini-ITX Motherboard: iBase MI950AF (LGA 775)

iBase’s MI950 platform is based on Intel's LGA 775 interface and Q45 chipset, which is technically very similar to the G45, but adds the vPro management feature set and an integrated trusted platform module. iBase matches the MCH component up to the ICH10DO southbridge, which comes equipped with four SATA/300 ports (this should be sufficient in a small form factor environment).

Since this is basically a platform for business and industrial applications, it also includes dual Gigabit Ethernet ports (one integrated, the second via PCI Express) and two serial ports. This board offers DVI-D and D-Sub (VGA) display outputs, as well as eSATA, four USB 2.0 ports, and audio jacks.

This is the only mini-ITX platform we're reviewing today that runs on DDR3 memory. You can install two memory modules with up to 4GB each (and running at transfer speeds of up to DDR3-1066). iBase decided to equip the board with a rather powerful four-phase voltage regulation circuit. As a result, all Core 2 Duo and Quad processors, including the fast Q9000-series models, can be used, allowing for some rather powerful small-footprint hardware combinations. 

The motherboard comes with one expansion slot, per the mini-ITX standard. iBase decided to implement a 32-bit PCI 2.3 slot for legacy add-on cards rather than any sort of PCI Express slot. All of the other solutions come with different card configurations.

The iBase board does not support overclocking and it doesn’t come with any fancy features except the VPro management options. However, given that this is a high-quality business class small form factor solution, it will certainly be a good choice if you’re looking for a reliable PC in a confined space. Be aware that this product isn’t the best choice for multimedia or gaming, though, as Intel’s integrated GMA 4500 engine isn’t a fast solution for 3D graphics.

Ed.: while you won't find this board in the US on the usual e-tail sites, we were able to find it on a handful of specialty stores (none that I've worked with before, personally). Expect this specialty product to run in excess of $300, though.

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