First Fanless Enclosure Designed for the Johnstown Board

First Fanless Enclosure Designed for the Johnstown Board

First Fanless Enclosure Designed for the Johnstown Board

First Fanless Enclosure Designed for the Johnstown Board

The Morex T-1610 case is slim. It measures 178 x 38 x 178 millimeters (7″ x 1.5″ x 7″)—just 1.2 liters—and is designed to house the Intel D945GSEJT “Johnstown” Mini-ITX motherboard. The case is stretched so tautly around this low-profile board that it barely extends beyond the board’s edges and is 0.25” shorter than a standard Mini-ITX I/O shield. It’s fanless, solid aluminum (don’t be fooled by the pictures, it’s not plastic!), and minimalist, taking full advantage of the Johnstown board’s low profile, onboard power, and low TDP. However, this is not a compromised solution; the case can still accommodate a 2.5” notebook HDD and wireless networking via a Mini PCIe card.

Johnstown Case

Johnstown Case

The case and the Johnstown board have no internal active cooling, which makes this pairing a great low-cost fanless system without having to mess with somewhat messy heat paste and complex heat pipes. There is a simple thermal pad that is positioned directly below the processor and chipset and then sandwiched between the board and the case to help disperse heat. Even though the Johnstown board has a combined processor-chipset TDP of only 11 watts, it runs a little hot, even outside of an enclosure. Because of this tendency, we conducted in-depth thermal testing to make sure the T-1610 didn’t get too hot. Even after we ran the CPU at 100 percent for an hour, the processor core temperature readings were all well within range, same for the hard drive. However, because we don’t know what our customers will ultimately do with this system, as a precaution we are recommending having sufficient airflow in the room where the system will be placed.

For storage, there’s space for a 2.5″ HDD or SSD (SATA only). You could install an IDE flash module in there, but you’ll have to sacrifice the use of the power LED. The cable to the power LED is positioned right over the IDE slot making it next to impossible to squeeze any sort of IDE device or cable into the slot without first removing the power LED cable.

For I/O, you get exactly what the Johnstown has to offer: DVI-D, VGA, 3 USB ports, LAN, audio, and 12-volt DC power. There is a hole for a wireless antenna and you can put a wireless card in the PCIe Mini card slot.

The T-1610 comes standard with a VESA mounting bracket, AC adapter, and vertical mounting stand. A system is available with up to 2 GB memory, a 2.5″ notebook HDD or SSD, wireless card, and operating system (Windows XP, Windows Embedded Standard, or Ubuntu Linux).

Comments (10)

  1. Robert Boerner
    July 8, 2009

    Interesting case…any chance of a photo of this unit besides a Mini-box M350 so size comparison can be made?

    Speaking of the M350, do you plan to offer the PCI card riser for that case?

  2. Kristina Bond
    Kristina
    July 8, 2009

    Hi Bob,
    I’m sure we could arrange for something like that.
    As for the M350, we do plan on getting the PCI riser and backplate in, and we are expecting those items very soon.
    I’ll keep you posted…
    Thanks,
    Kristina

  3. August 13, 2009

    Fantastic case!

    Silent and small, maybe even attached with the VESA mounting brackets behind a monitor or even a TV.

    That’s the perfect computer for the living room!

  4. Ivan
    August 31, 2009

    A pity there is no low profile competitor to the Intel board, with a fanless VIA Nano processor. We are about to release our “Webframe” product, a small business server based on our own, read-only version of Linux.

    We would use such a combo both as an entry level server and for the disk-less work-stations. But, with a nice shiny case, it would also be an popular consumer product. I predict it would vastly outsell all of the other, embedded mini-ITX solutions, combined. I know this from the reactions I got when I showed this combo to some of our clients, and told them I was thinking about switching to this as a replacement for their dull, pre-production servers. Some of them came up themselves with the idea of using these for their Windows and Linux business work-stations. (We can’t use Intel boards ourselves, because losing the VIA accelerator would cripple our crypto support in SSL and we really need to standardize on 64-bit).

    Intel clearly gets this. But VIA and Jetway, as usual, don’t. Having invented the mini-ITX format, they’re now going to lose more than 90% of the market to Intel. We’ll continue using their bloated skyscraper boards, because we have to, but I am not a happy camper. I suspect many of you may feel the same way. If so, I’ll be happy to post my ideas for a low profile VIA Nano board.

  5. Tony Fiset
    tony f.
    September 14, 2009

    Ivan,

    We’d love to see a low-profile Nano board (preferably the 1.3Ghz fanless version) with a VX855 chipset, DVI-I, HDMI, Gbe, LVDS, etc. Unfortunately, VIA is spending a lot of time and energy developing new form factors and more boards with the aging C7 CPU rather than giving us the products we’ve been asking for.

    I suspect that they are doing this because they don’t want to produce a long-life EPIA board with the single-core Nano (thus the limited VB board selection) and are waiting for the dual-core Nano. When will this happen? Not soon enough for them to maintain/gain market share, despite having a superior product to Intel. It’s a shame, really.

    Let’s hear your wish-list for a LP Nano board, and we’ll encourage our mainboard manufacturers to consider building it.

  6. Tony Fiset
    tony f.
    November 16, 2009

    Check out the review of this system over at SilentPCReview.com.

    Also, take a look at the Broadcom Hardware Decoder card and USB flash modules (coming soon) for the ultimate in totally silent, low power, HD-capable computing.

  7. Josh G
    November 17, 2009

    Any issues with the T-1610 case laying flat as opposed to being in the vertical stand? ie. it has a flat bottom surface and does not affect cooling?

    To hijack the thread for a moment, have you tested the Johnstown board with the M350? I see the M350 listed as <10 TDP if fanless, with the Johnstown coming in at 11.8, is that a no go? How would you compare it with this case?

    Whats the fastest Gb LAN board (including add on daughter board option) for the M350 if going fanless?

  8. Tony Fiset
    tony f.
    November 18, 2009

    Hi Josh,

    The system definitely cools better when oriented vertically, but it is acceptable (depending on your environment) laying flat as long as the rubber feet are installed. Without the feet, it will most likely overheat rather quickly.

    We are currently developing a more rugged fanless case for the JT board, which should have significantly better cooling efficiency. The prototype should be here by the end of the month.

    We actually have an M350/1610 comparison blog planned, so I won’t go into too much detail here, except to say that we have found the JT/M350 combination to work pretty well. It’s easy enough to add a fan (or three) if you find your environment is too hot for this combination.

    I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “fastest” but all N270/945GSE fanless boards will perform comparably. The only other real option would be a VIA Nano 1.0Ghz (Jetway NF76) which would perform similarly to the N270, depending on your application.

  9. Josh G.
    November 19, 2009

    Thanks for the info Tony. Can’t wait to see the new case!

    As background my use will be for potentially hard-hit file servers in remote deployments (no peripherals) and I’m looking for no moving parts on the unit bc lack of ongoing maintenance or testing. I won’t have much control over how/where its set up so I’m looking for a rugged case with horizontal storage option, excellent passive cooling. Rebrandable non-descript chassis and professional in appearance is a plus.

    The board needs Gb LAN and low TDP as I can get without sacrificing too much performance. The Jetway fanless Nano board looks great at TDP < 5W – of course the JT comes in ~$70 less so if the option is available with the new case so much the better.

  10. Tony Fiset
    tony f.
    November 19, 2009

    Hi Josh,

    I think we’ll have at least one, if not two or three, very solid options for you by the end of the year. I suggest you check back here and/or our fanless system page around December 18th.

    In the meantime, you might want to look at the QBOX-1000, WindBOX II (MS-9A25), and DE2700.

    Cheers,
    Tony

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