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Smallest/Cheapest Builds For Several Purposes

post #1 of 3
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I'm looking at doing a few very small form factor builds around the house. Maybe something with VIA embedded boards or similar, like the one done in the Level Eleven build featured a year or two ago over at [H]. Problem is, I'm having trouble working it so that it would be small, and thus extremely portable, and no multiple times more expensive than a simple mATX/mITX build.

I'm wanting to do the following:

1 Untangle/pfSense router. Total of three NICs would be needed for WAN/DMZ/LAN.
2 HTPCs capable of playing 1080p movies from my home server

Ideally, it'd be built out of an embedded system that could fit inside of an Altoids-sized case. However, if it can be done for less at a size less than that of an ITX build - I'm all ears.
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Core i7 970 @ 4.0 GHz 1.22 Vcore Asus Rampage II Gene GTX 260 216SP G.SKILL PI 3x2gb DDR3 1600 @ 7-8-7-24 
Hard DriveOSMonitorPower
2x 500gb Seagates RAID 0, 1x 500gb non-RAID Windows 7 Professional x64 ASUS 24'' VH242H / Spectre 24'' WS Corsair 750TX 
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Corsair 300R 
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Core i7 970 @ 4.0 GHz 1.22 Vcore Asus Rampage II Gene GTX 260 216SP G.SKILL PI 3x2gb DDR3 1600 @ 7-8-7-24 
Hard DriveOSMonitorPower
2x 500gb Seagates RAID 0, 1x 500gb non-RAID Windows 7 Professional x64 ASUS 24'' VH242H / Spectre 24'' WS Corsair 750TX 
Case
Corsair 300R 
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post #2 of 3
Four problems.

First is that you want three NICs. Some Mini ITX boards have two, but AFAIK Pico ITX boards only have one, and no expansion slot. Thus, only way I can see it working is if you use USB NICs. Also, Pico ITX still doesn't fit in an Altoids tin.

Second is you want 1080P movie playback. You will need a CPU powerful enough, unless your media and player can be GPU accelerated, in which case you need a GPU.

If you don't want to use motherboards more expensive than mATX and consumer level Mini ITX, you are out of luck with the tiny motherboards that have multiple NICs.

How will you get Untangle/pfSense to play back media?

Wouldn't it be much easier and cheaper to just get a networked media player like a WD TV Live or Boxee, and a separate broadband router?
Main home rig
(15 items)
 
  
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Core i5-3570K ASRock Z77E-ITX GeForce GTX 670 8GB Samsung DDR3 
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Intel 330 240GB SSD, Crucial M4 256GB mSATA SSD... Samsung DVDRW CoolIt Eco Windows 7 Home Premium x64 
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Samsung 305T Plus, Dell 2005FPW Cooler Master QuickFire Pro mechanical keyboard Rosewill Capstone 450W Lian Li PC-Q11B 
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Main home rig
(15 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Core i5-3570K ASRock Z77E-ITX GeForce GTX 670 8GB Samsung DDR3 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingOS
Intel 330 240GB SSD, Crucial M4 256GB mSATA SSD... Samsung DVDRW CoolIt Eco Windows 7 Home Premium x64 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
Samsung 305T Plus, Dell 2005FPW Cooler Master QuickFire Pro mechanical keyboard Rosewill Capstone 450W Lian Li PC-Q11B 
MouseMouse PadAudio
Logitech MX518 Allsop Metal Onkyo TX-SR505 receiver, Polk bookshelf speaker... 
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post #3 of 3
If your willing to go mini-itx its no problem, but anything smaller then that and it aint going to be cheap.
 
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AMD A8-3870K ASRock A75M-HVS  AMD Radeon HD 6550D Patriot Sector 5 8GB (2x4GB) 1600MHz 
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Western Digital 250GB (old sata1 drive) Lite-On 24x DVD Burner Linux Mint 12, Windows Server 2003 Dell 450watt 
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Old Dell Case 
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Nvida Tegra 2 @ 1.4GHz 1GB DDR 2 or 3 16GB SSD Ubuntu 11.10, Android 3.1 
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On the Go
(6 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
AMD A8-3870K ASRock A75M-HVS  AMD Radeon HD 6550D Patriot Sector 5 8GB (2x4GB) 1600MHz 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSPower
Western Digital 250GB (old sata1 drive) Lite-On 24x DVD Burner Linux Mint 12, Windows Server 2003 Dell 450watt 
Case
Old Dell Case 
CPURAMHard DriveOS
Nvida Tegra 2 @ 1.4GHz 1GB DDR 2 or 3 16GB SSD Ubuntu 11.10, Android 3.1 
MonitorCase
10.1 inch touchsceen Samsung Galaxy 10.1 
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