FAC­TOR­ING IN FORM FAC­TORS

TechLife Australia - - HOTSPOT -

THE VAST MA­JOR­ITY OF EX-OF­FICE PCS COME IN SFF — SMALL FORM FAC­TOR — CASES.

They didn’t need to be gi­gan­tic for the job they were de­signed for, but it does mean you’re go­ing to have to think about what you’ll be able to achieve. The case de­sign is of­ten fan­tas­tic for quick main­te­nance; gen­er­ally hard drive and op­ti­cal drive cad­dies are screw-free, the case it­self opens in sec­onds, the RAM slots are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble, and there’s no ex­cess wiring to worry about. But you’re stuck with half-height cards, and it’s im­per­a­tive that you check the po­si­tion of the PCIe slot be­fore buy­ing the PC or a graph­ics card. All too of­ten, it’s lo­cated in such a po­si­tion that only sin­gle-slot-width cards work, and so close to the PSU or the side of the case that ad­e­quate air­flow is im­pos­si­ble.

You may also see USFF PCs, even smaller than SFF. These aren’t much good for us, as they don’t have any space or slots for ex­pan­sion. There’s a way to add ex­ter­nal graph­ics to them, sure: If you find the right ca­bles, it’s pos­si­ble to string a wire from a mobo-mounted mini-PCIe socket to an ex­ter­nal PCIe card slot. But don’t buy a PC ex­pect­ing to do this. It’s im­prac­ti­cal, awk­ward and silly. Keep an eye on eBay list­ings — if one is deal­ing with mul­ti­ple lots and says you may re­ceive an SFF or USFF edi­tion of a PC, walk away. Look for a tower case. The ex­tra space makes them worlds eas­ier to work with.

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