Fanless mini-itx motherboard with a 4x-16x PCI-e slot

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mcoll
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Fanless mini-itx motherboard with a 4x-16x PCI-e slot

Post by mcoll » Tue Dec 06, 2016 12:16 pm

Any recommendations on a fanless mini itx board with a 4x-16x PCI-E slot? Something a few years old ideally, as I need to keep costs down.

Current set-up is with a fanless Asus J1800-c, which runs really well, but only has a 1x PCI-E slot.

I've set-up OpenBSD on this system with no problems so far and was going to go on and repurpose an Cisco EA2700 as a wireless AP/ethernet switch...

But

Have decided a one-box solution would be better. Acquired an Intel 4 port GB Ethernet card... then to my horror realised it required a 4x PCI-E as minimum.

Have been out of the system-building game for so long I hadn't realised the slot had changed so much!

The board spec must have a low watt power passive CPU. A celeron would be fine, as with the J1800-C. Must also have 1 gigabit ethernet port.

Would ideally take the 4gb RAM, which is laptop style ddr3-1333, and low volatge (1.35v), and ideally have at least 1xUSB3 port, 1 gigabit ethernet port, and one SATA3 port.

5 years old at most, as it needs more juice than a simple router/firewall requires, due to running snort and various other in-line traffic sniffing stuff.

I'm currently running the machine on a 90w pico-psu, and its stable. But suspect that won't be sufficient when the intel 4-port ethernet is added, as it requires about 10w.

So the lower the power draw of the cpu/m'board, the better.

entreri
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Re: Fanless mini-itx motherboard with a 4x-16x PCI-e slot

Post by entreri » Tue Dec 06, 2016 12:30 pm

The Asus H81I seems to answer your needs. Note that the PCI is gen 2.0 though, not 3.0.
It accepts celerons but also other Haswell's like the i5 and i7.

A step up would be the H110 with the newer 1151 socket and will not be outdated as fast as the H81I, although tht is of course very relative :)

mcoll
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Re: Fanless mini-itx motherboard with a 4x-16x PCI-e slot

Post by mcoll » Tue Dec 06, 2016 2:51 pm

Thanks for the suggestions. Unfortunately it doesn't meet the necessary criteria of being passively cooled.

quest_for_silence
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Re: Fanless mini-itx motherboard with a 4x-16x PCI-e slot

Post by quest_for_silence » Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:15 am

mcoll wrote:The board spec must have a low watt power passive CPU.

AFAIK <10w Atoms (the ones you may cool passively) usually are not on server-class boards, and not-server-class Atom's boards usually don't sport anything higher than PCIe x2.
Take also note that those server-class Atom's boards are usually very expensive too.

edh
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Re: Fanless mini-itx motherboard with a 4x-16x PCI-e slot

Post by edh » Wed Dec 07, 2016 5:04 am

mcoll wrote:Thanks for the suggestions. Unfortunately it doesn't meet the necessary criteria of being passively cooled.
Then use a really low power CPU/undervolt/underclock and stick a passive heatsink on it.

Abula
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Re: Fanless mini-itx motherboard with a 4x-16x PCI-e slot

Post by Abula » Wed Dec 07, 2016 7:45 am

When i was playing around that i didnt didnt want to use the Realtek lan and bought an intel gigabit lan card, the consumption went up around 10W, if your goal is to go low power as possible i would avoid add in cards, thats not to say that built in wont consume the same.... but in my experience it balance better.

I leave you with some motherboard suggestion, for you to see if they fit your budget and what you are looking for their specs.

ASRock AD2550R/U3S3 Mini ITX Server Motherboard DDR3 1066
Intel Quad core atom, dual lan and PCIe 16x, passively cooled, and cheap.

ASRock J1900D2Y Mini ITX Server Motherboard LGA 1150 DDR3 1333 / 1066
This might not fit what you are looking, as no PCIe 4x nor quad ports, but two. Still a very interesting passively cooled mobo with a similar CPU than what you are looking.

SUPERMICRO MBD-X11SBA-LN4F-O Mini ITX Server Motherboard Socket FCBGA1170 Intel N3700 1600 / 1333 / 1066 MHz DDR3 SO-DIMM, 204-pin gold-plated DIMMs
Intersting mobo, with intel quad low power pentium, with quad (i see 5) lans, and passively cooled, with a 4x PCIe.

SUPERMICRO MBD-A1SRi-2758F-O Mini ITX Server Motherboard DDR3 1600/1333
This would be my pick, quad lans built in, Intel Atom Octa core, and passive cooled, it even has a 4x PCIe if you wish to use the intel card.

SUPERMICRO MBD-X10SDV-4C-TLN2F-O Intel Xeon D-1520 Mini ITX Server Motherboard
In case you would like more cpu power, this is a low powered xeon quad core, it will consume more than the atoms/celerons/pentiums but it will also be more capable, still passively cooled, with a 16x PCIe, on the downside no laptop memory.

quest_for_silence
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Re: Fanless mini-itx motherboard with a 4x-16x PCI-e slot

Post by quest_for_silence » Wed Dec 07, 2016 8:57 am

Abula wrote:SUPERMICRO MBD-X11SBA-LN4F-O Mini ITX Server Motherboard Socket FCBGA1170 Intel N3700 1600 / 1333 / 1066 MHz DDR3 SO-DIMM, 204-pin gold-plated DIMMs
Intersting mobo, with intel quad low power pentium, with quad (i see 5) lans, and passively cooled, with a 4x PCIe.

SUPERMICRO MBD-A1SRi-2758F-O Mini ITX Server Motherboard DDR3 1600/1333
This would be my pick, quad lans built in, Intel Atom Octa core, and passive cooled, it even has a 4x PCIe if you wish to use the intel card.

SUPERMICRO MBD-X10SDV-4C-TLN2F-O Intel Xeon D-1520 Mini ITX Server Motherboard
In case you would like more cpu power, this is a low powered xeon quad core, it will consume more than the atoms/celerons/pentiums but it will also be more capable, still passively cooled, with a 16x PCIe, on the downside no laptop memory.
Abula, AFAIK those heatsinks were not meant to work fanless, they heavily depends of case airflow (think to typical blade small fans) to ensure proper cooling.

Abula
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Re: Fanless mini-itx motherboard with a 4x-16x PCI-e slot

Post by Abula » Wed Dec 07, 2016 10:37 am

quest_for_silence wrote:Abula, AFAIK those heatsinks were not meant to work fanless, they heavily depends of case airflow (think to typical blade small fans) to ensure proper cooling.
You think the N3700 needs a case fan? seems very similar to J1900/J1800

quest_for_silence
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Re: Fanless mini-itx motherboard with a 4x-16x PCI-e slot

Post by quest_for_silence » Wed Dec 07, 2016 11:53 am

Abula wrote:You think the N3700 needs a case fan? seems very similar to J1900/J1800

No, my bad, that board is ok, CPU is only 6W.

mcoll
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Re: Fanless mini-itx motherboard with a 4x-16x PCI-e slot

Post by mcoll » Thu Dec 08, 2016 5:22 am

thanks abula and quest_for_silence (and edh for reminding me about undervolting). Lots to think about.

Those lower-end server boards are very interesting. With regards power consumption, I'm not sure it would tip the balance either way, with on-board or expansion card. As the CPU is under more load when the lans are on-board, and under less load when its an expansion card. That's just me making an assumption. These things tend not to follow natural logic, as you will know.

I'll take some time over the weekend to umm and ahh. I was trying as much as possible to repurpose. The intel quad port NIC card has really put the spanner in the works. I was thinking of scrapping the entire project and rebuilding it around that one card. It is a very nice card!

Now I need to take a step back and reconsider. Although one nice item I had almost forgotten about is now out of the loft and ready to start a new life: a Cubid case. Anyone remember those? I think it once housed one of the original mini itx atom boards. It's such a great case. Like something from the set of Logan's Run. And one big heatsink too.

Thanks again for all the pointers. I'll be back soon with details of what happened next.

Abula
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Re: Fanless mini-itx motherboard with a 4x-16x PCI-e slot

Post by Abula » Thu Dec 08, 2016 9:08 am

Upon Quest pointing the last two supermicro not able to run fanless, there is even comments on newegg about the xeon that you do need actively cool the cpu as it gets to hot, i think my recommendation would go down to two boards.

ASRock AD2550R/U3S3 Mini ITX Server Motherboard DDR3 1066
This complies with the fanless, has the PCIe to use the intel card (some say its not a true 16x but a 4x but should be enough i would think), its cheap. The downside is the cpu is slower than the J1800.

SUPERMICRO MBD-X11SBA-LN4F-O Mini ITX Server Motherboard Socket FCBGA1170 Intel N3700 1600 / 1333 / 1066 MHz DDR3 SO-DIMM, 204-pin gold-plated DIMMs
This is the one that imo suits better, its not that expensive, has a PCIe 8x (maybe its 4x electrical), has 5 lans so if either you using them now or later (in case the card burns down), the CPU seems a little faster than J1800, if you need faster than this you will need to go with fans.

Zolishoru
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Re: Fanless mini-itx motherboard with a 4x-16x PCI-e slot

Post by Zolishoru » Thu Dec 08, 2016 9:56 pm

Abula wrote:...
This is the one that imo suits better, its not that expensive, has a PCIe 8x (maybe its 4x electrical), has 5 lans so if either you using them now or later (in case the card burns down), the CPU seems a little faster than J1800, if you need faster than this you will need to go with fans.
Supermicro_specs wrote: LAN:
4x RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports
1x RJ45 Dedicated IPMI LAN port
IPMI: Intelligent Platform Management Interface AKA Remote control; so the MB has 4 GB LAN's, the fifth is for remote control in headless applications.

mcoll
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Re: Fanless mini-itx motherboard with a 4x-16x PCI-e slot

Post by mcoll » Fri Dec 09, 2016 1:21 pm

The SUPERMICRO MBD-X11SBA-LN4F-O board is a beauty, but for my purposes, it's overkill. Not least the cost. And not least because there is already a fair bit of overkill in my build.

And it being such a new board, there is a high risk of OpenBSD having a few choking fits. Although that may not be the case. I haven't checked.

It's one of the reasons I went for the ASUS J1800-c. It kicked a punch and old enough to have been extensively resolved by OpenBSD developers.

It's worth pointing these things out, for anyone that chances upon this thread.

The ASRock AD2550R/U3S3 Mini ITX Server Motherboard DDR3 1066 is more my kinda spec, but again is not too old and therefore may have issues with OpenBSD. I think the spec lists for this one are a bit misleading. When I checked the manual only the version of the board called ASRock AD2550R has a PCI-e slot above 1x. All the others don't including the /U3S3 version.

It's a minefield, isn't it?

The SUPERMICRO MBD-X11SBA-LN4F-O. It's definitely a board I will consider a few years into the future.

As things stand I've decided to try a less conventional or even particularly sensible solution. And that is a 1x to 16x converter. It was only a few bucks and I'm interested to see what happens.

And, while looking for that, I chanced upon this:

Soekris lan1841... a quad port PCI-e 1x intel gigabit controller.

From what I've read, the gigabit ports will not max out, but then how often does anyones' home gigabit port max out? Internal file transfer would take a hit, but then for my own purposes, I can just as easily copy a file to a usb stick.

I have found some interesting boards. I need some grunt to run all the in-line stuff I'm setting up. And don't want to run the CPU too hot, for too long.

Ideally I'd like to keep everything I already have, and do some modding.

It may even be worth a careful dremel of the intel quad port pcie 4x, to make it fit the 1x. It will still run – if the cutting is done well. The card and the board decide what speeds are going to be utilised.

People have had success with the 1x-16x adaptor when utilising a spare 1x socket, in building crypt-coin mining boards, with graphics cards. The bandwidth loss is negligible in those cases, as it's the calculating power they are after from the graphics card, rather than the capacity to shift around huge lumps of data.

It will be interesting to see if and how the 4x nic works out in a 1x slot. Given that bandwidth is at at the heart of the process.

And if that doesn't work I'm willing to get the dremel out. The worst I can do is destroy everything in the process and have a stronger buying narrative to present to my other half.

Best wishes again and thanks for the contributions. It is all helping me come to some kind of solution, in a roundabout way.

I'll be back with the results of these reckless experiments soon. Thanks.

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