Is BTX really going to replace ATX?

PSUs: The source of DC power for all components in the PC & often a big noise source.

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Lone Ranger
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Is BTX really going to replace ATX?

Post by Lone Ranger » Wed Apr 14, 2004 9:34 am

The BTX announcements last years said they were going to push it hard by mid-year 2004. It all seems a bit quiet at the moment and few people seem to be talking about BTX. Here are some personal observations. I would welcome comments and corrections from anyone.

Personally, I want to get a new PSU (maybe a Nexus 3500) and I want it to be an *investment* which will last a relatively long time. At the moment I am rather releuctant to get an ATX in case BTX does take off and my ATX PSU get to be old hat.

----

I believe BTX is broadly similar to ATX but there will probably be enough difference to make ATX supplies feel their age! :-) For example I believe there is a unified or joined up Molex made up for two ATX Molexes (20 way and 4 way). BTX will probably have plenty of SATA power connectors too.

Is the actual casing for the BTX PSU going to be different too? Mounting holes and all that sort of thing?

I think there is more emphasis on air flow, too, so fan location and amount of air movement may be more tightly specified than for ATX.

Also I imagine that the power capabilities of the different voltage lines (+3.3, +5, +12) in BTX may not put quite so much power where we tend to find them in today's PSU. I recall reading that some of the voltages and the power which ATX PSU's supplied to them were a bit of an overhang from the requirements of much older generations of processors and motherboards. (If I expressed that clearly! :-)) Maybe BTX will try to clear these anomalies but in the process it may mean that ATX is not proerly compatible.

So all in all you can see why I am holding back. What are you folks thinking about BTS PSUs (and of course cases)?

You might think BTX will take over but that it will be a slow process, so I should go for the ATX PSU now. However I don't want to pay full price for something like an ATX PSU and case which is destined to be on the trailing edge of technology quite soon. I'v ehad enough of that in my life! :-D

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Post by POLIST8 » Wed Apr 14, 2004 9:59 am

Purchasing the ATX Power Supply would be a good investment due to the fact that if you decide to upgrade to a BTX motherboard in the future that you will need a new case and PSU as well.

See Tom's here

http://www6.tomshardware.com/motherboar ... index.html[/url]

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Post by mpteach » Wed Apr 14, 2004 10:20 am

Im upgrading my system with a new abit nf7, pc3500 and a OC'd moible xp2600. Good bang for the buck.

I wouldnt worry about getting the ATX supply. It will be at least 2 years before prices on BTX, DDR2, and 64b proccessors become reasonable.

You would save alot of money by buying good atx stuff now and then upgrading when btx is not astronomically priced.

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Post by gauravsharma » Wed Apr 14, 2004 12:01 pm

BTX will be similar priced to ATX and will supposedly completely replace it by the end of the year (definately on Intel systems, most likely on AMD too - remember PCI-Express is a complementary technology and will be pushed along with BTX when it happens).

That said, I spent £100+ on a PSU, Case, fans, all ATX, just recently because I know I won't be upgrading this system (Barton 2500, Radeon9800U) for a long time yet, most likely at the end of *next* year.

By then there'll be so much NEW stuff out that even if you got BTX kit now, it'll be out of date then and u'd have to upgrade anyway :)

Set milestones for system builds - if you know your current ATX system will do for at least another year, then why not make the investment in a decent ATX PSU?

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Post by mpteach » Wed Apr 14, 2004 12:33 pm

gauravsharma wrote: Set milestones for system builds - if you know your current ATX system will do for at least another year, then why not make the investment in a decent ATX PSU?
Agreed. Moore's law states that computer hardware will double in speed every 18-24 months. Thats why i usually buy products that are 18-24 months old. They are only 1/2 as fast but they cost 1/4 the price. At those prices i can aford to upgrade more often, run nearly every program(except really crazy games) and save money.

Also older products have less bugs and more spcr reviews. That being said i uaually like to buy a new techonolgy once its maturred a while. Finally going to LCD screen:)

Another good practiice is to budget your computer money. How much money are you willing to spend on your Computer system in the next two years? HOw about the two years after that? While analog devices, such as fans, speakers and maybe printers are reaching their best, digital devices will always get better and hence the eternal upgrade.

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Post by shathal » Sun Apr 18, 2004 2:07 pm

Hmmmm ... BTX makes me wonder about one thing.

What about "Power Users" - among which I count myself.

How am I supposed to stuff 2 (let alone 4) HD's, along with 2-3 5 1/4" devices into one of these chassis?

While I agree that this is a great idea for "Joe Sixpack" user in general ... but me?

Let alone the "Bling bling"-kids (I apologize for the expression, it simply seems to me as if it's mostly kids into the "bling bling"-ness, that said, ony of my cousins (late 20's) is also into anything that goes "bling bling")...?

And OC'ers?

I find it a little hard to see mid-towers just disappearing ...?

Am I alone in this? It may not be called ATX (and it'd be about time it got revised), but "bigger than BTX" is likely to be around, I believe.

I hope :).

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Post by lenny » Sun Apr 18, 2004 3:06 pm

Well, I tried to search for BTX specifications, but the 4 most likely links I tried to follow are either dead or down, which leads me to think that there is a conspiracy. Yes, time for my medication.

Anyway, back to your point, does BTX put a limit on the case size? Wouldn't it be more mounting points for MB and PSU? After all, there are those double width ATX server cases, and I doubt if that's in the ATX specifications. Or the giant Zalman TNN500A, for the matter.

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Post by Ralf Hutter » Mon Apr 19, 2004 5:04 am

lenny wrote:Well, I tried to search for BTX specifications, but the 4 most likely links I tried to follow are either dead or down, which leads me to think that there is a conspiracy. Yes, time for my medication.
Hmm, weird. Even the Formfactors.org website has removed all reference to BTX, as well as doing a real poor redesign of their website. I smell a consiracy and I have taken my meds this morning.



I sent an email to Formfactors.org regarding this issue. Here's the text:
Ralfie wrote:You guys changed your website and, among other things, all references to BTX seem to have disappeared. The new site design is difficult to navigate so maybe I'm just missing it. Can you provide a link to the BTX specs page? Thanks!

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Post by chylld » Mon Apr 19, 2004 6:04 am

keep in mind that you can very easily modify the ATX power connector from an ATX power supply to run on a BTX motherboard. only problem is finding space for it in a BTX case.

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Post by MikeC » Mon Apr 19, 2004 6:49 am

shathal -- There are 3 sizes of BTX boards, and at least as many case size variants. You won't have to worry about the tower form factor disappearing any time soon.

ralf hutter -- Speaking of disappearances, that is very odd, you're absolutely right, the BTW docs have disappeared from formfactors. I don't think you have to be paranoid to know they're always up to something. :lol:

But you'll be pleased to know that I've made a habit of collecting documents like this over the last few years and have a huge database of ref. tech docs. Including BTX_Specification1.0 which I have just posted as downloadable ZIP file. 8)

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Post by sthayashi » Mon Apr 19, 2004 7:50 am

Motherf*****s!!!! Was it REALLY necessary to add 2 pins to motherboard power connector? That's the only difference between ATX and BTX power supplies.

I wonder if we'll see adaptor connectors in the future to connect an ATX PSU to a BTX board. Or are there mechanical difference that would prevent that from happening?

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Post by 1398342003 » Mon Apr 19, 2004 8:47 am

sthayashi wrote:*************!!!! Was it REALLY necessary to add 2 pins to motherboard power connector? That's the only difference between ATX and BTX power supplies.

I wonder if we'll see adaptor connectors in the future to connect an ATX PSU to a BTX board. Or are there mechanical difference that would prevent that from happening?
Actually they added 4 pins. If you have a spare PSU you can do this: http://www.overclockers.com/tips1137/ That will make an ATX psu BTX compatible.
Last edited by 1398342003 on Mon Apr 19, 2004 11:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by lenny » Mon Apr 19, 2004 10:30 am

I'm too lazy to go look it up, but it looks like the 24 pin MB connector that some server boards require. If that's the case, this might be easier than cutting up a connector:

http://store.power-on.com/20to24pinatx.html

I'm not recommending the store. It's just the first to pop up from a google search.

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Post by Jan Kivar » Mon Apr 19, 2004 12:06 pm

MikeC wrote:ralf hutter -- Speaking of disappearances, that is very odd, you're absolutely right, the BTW docs have disappeared from formfactors. I don't think you have to be paranoid to know they're always up to something. :lol:
There are updated (1.0a) versions on the formfactors.org, but I can't open them!

Maybe they'll work tomorrow... :lol:

Cheers,

Jan

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Post by Ralf Hutter » Mon Apr 19, 2004 12:19 pm

Jan Kivar wrote: There are updated (1.0a) versions on the formfactors.org, but I can't open them!
I can't find 'em and some of the pages are messed up. Got a link?

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Post by mpteach » Mon Apr 19, 2004 1:17 pm

1398342003 wrote:
sthayashi wrote:*************!!!! Was it REALLY necessary to add 2 pins to motherboard power connector? That's the only difference between ATX and BTX power supplies.

I wonder if we'll see adaptor connectors in the future to connect an ATX PSU to a BTX board. Or are there mechanical difference that would prevent that from happening?
Actually they added 4 pins. If you have a spare PSU you can do this: http://www.overclockers.com/tips1137/ That will make an ATX psu BTX compatible.
The extra pins provide the same voltages, Do they expect BTX mobos to suc so much current that the need 4 extra pins?

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Post by 1398342003 » Mon Apr 19, 2004 6:43 pm

I think that the PSUs need to provide more power, so Intel wants ATX PSUs to be incompatible.

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Post by mpteach » Tue Apr 20, 2004 11:51 am

i bet your right.

Soon conversion kits will come out though so i wont worry.

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Post by shathal » Tue Apr 20, 2004 2:34 pm

Hmmm - yep, I certainly can say that I've seen that happen a few times.

Intel does tend to do such things, and has done these in the past.

To be perfectly honest, I don't ENTIRELY mind. I've been on the bad side plenty often of "when converters go bad" (which is when people usually use "el cheapo" stuff), examples being shrunk CPU's requiring tighter VRM specs, which get ignored with a cheap slocket ... result - fried CPU.

And so on.

I am not FOR Intel strongarming "the industry", I am however for some encouragement and "easily recognizable" way of making sure that "old stuff" will not work with "new stuff" - be it CPU connector, power-connector, or whatever (ATX vs ATX 12V comes to mind? :)).

That tends to make things somewhat clear cut for "Mr. Joe Sixpack", while the techs can usually quite easily find a way around. So - no big loss, IMHO.

Will have to go through those specs at some point. Haven't done that in a while ... arrhhh ... *reverts to Were-geek*.

Hmmm ... ok, MAYBE I'll bring myself to read them. At the moment, quite happy to get an ATX box :).

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Post by mpteach » Tue Apr 20, 2004 11:44 pm

This reminds me of Dell, For a few years their psu's had a few wires stwitched around. Didnt take long for conversions kits.

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Post by 1398342003 » Tue Apr 20, 2004 11:49 pm

mpteach wrote:This reminds me of Dell, For a few years their psu's had a few wires stwitched around. Didnt take long for conversions kits.
For future reference, does IBM or any other big OEM do this?

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Post by mpteach » Wed Apr 21, 2004 12:07 am

Many Oems have used propretary standards at one time or another. I believe Dell is the only oem in the last six years that has used nonstandard atx.

What was particullarly evil about the delll psu/mobo is that they used standard atx connectors, only with adifferent wiring configuration. So an unsuspecting joe sixpack could try to upgrade his old dell psu or mobo to a standard one and fry something.

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Post by Lone Ranger » Wed Apr 21, 2004 2:28 am

mpteach wrote:i bet your right.

Soon conversion kits will come out though so i wont worry.
The BTX problem is not just to do with PSU connectors.

The actual form factor and mounting holes of the motherboard are going to shift. So are the recommendations for location(s) of fans.

So if I do not get a BTX case now then I may find that things like BTX motherboards I consider getting in the future will not fit the case.

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Post by sthayashi » Wed Apr 21, 2004 5:29 am

1398342003 wrote:For future reference, does IBM or any other big OEM do this?
Compaq used to do this on their computers for a while. It was a pretty nasty thing to do.

Also, many moons ago, I worked for a company that had HP Vectras. I remember them mentioning HP used a motherboard that was different from AT and ATX. Never did find out for sure what that difference was though.

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Post by Jan Kivar » Wed Apr 21, 2004 8:11 am

Ralf Hutter wrote:I can't find 'em and some of the pages are messed up. Got a link?
Balanced Technology Extended (BTX) Interface Specification
Balanced Technology Extended (BTX) Interface Specification Errata A

They don't open; AR4 complains "This viewer cannot decrypt this document."

Cheers,

Jan

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Post by boardsportsrule » Wed Apr 21, 2004 8:46 am

[quote="shathal"]
Let alone the "Bling bling"-kids (I apologize for the expression, it simply seems to me as if it's mostly kids into the "bling bling"-ness, that said, ony of my cousins (late 20's) is also into anything that goes "bling bling")...quote]


well first, im 14, and i hate the bling bling... no windows, no LED fans, for now...just a simple black case, that is overclocked to the max...modding a case now that will be even less blingy and silent(or close to)....that outta the way

im not gettting BTX for a while...when btx becomes populat, ATX prices will fall like crazy, so us cheapo's can get kickass products for incredibly cheap...it wont be the latest and greatest, but it will be good...im not upgrading(except for my upcomng b-day....1 week!) until setpember 04 at the earliest....by then A64's will be cheaper, and everything will be less buggy :)

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Post by shathal » Wed Apr 21, 2004 9:38 am

Hi boardsportsrule :).

You're the blessed exception to the rule, as I'm sure you'll acklnowledge. :) Most of "bling bling" is among the younger generation, though age (as I've pointed out) alone is not a factor. My cousin in question has always loved anything that goes "bling bling" (or "our" technical term "ooooohhhh - flashy lights") since he's been able to speak :).

As for "everything will be less buggy" ... I would disagree. The increasing complexity of manufacturing/designing things (be they from something purely hardware like a heatsink, to pure software) is very doubtfully going to DECREASE.

Remember the Star Trek truism. "The more complex a machine, the easier it'll break." :)

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Post by HammerSandwich » Wed Apr 21, 2004 10:16 am

Jan Kivar wrote:They don't open; AR4 complains "This viewer cannot decrypt this document."
I hate to tell you this, Jan, but it's time to upgrade your AR. If you go all the way to 6, be sure to pull the unneeded plugins.

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Post by boardsportsrule » Wed Apr 21, 2004 10:32 am

haha, yeah, most other kids i kno do go with the blingity bling, so ur right :)....as for buggieness, the Abit nf7 went thru 1.0, 1.1(i think) 1.2 and finally caught on in 2.0...so it took 3 or 4 revisions(depending on if there is 1.1) until it got right...im just waiting for the future revisions :) VERY true about the more complex machine, the easier it can break..plus it is harder to fix :(

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Post by Ralf Hutter » Wed Apr 21, 2004 11:05 am

Jan Kivar wrote:
Ralf Hutter wrote:I can't find 'em and some of the pages are messed up. Got a link?
Balanced Technology Extended (BTX) Interface Specification
Balanced Technology Extended (BTX) Interface Specification Errata A

They don't open; AR4 complains "This viewer cannot decrypt this document."

Cheers,

Jan
Thanks!

BTW - They open fine for me but I'm using a neutered AR 6.x

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