Why Mini ITX

From Snakeoil OS Reference
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Snakeoil OS is based on Linux - as such it will work with all computers hardware out there.

The Snakeoil stock kernel is stripped down to work best for mini-ITX. Why? What is better? That's a rhetorical question that can never be answered because if you think of "better" as a mathematical problem, then "better" has no solution. Every person out there has their own idea on what is better, and what is best. Simply support a request thread in the Support & Troubleshooting section if you want a customised kernel for the motherboard you think is best.

But here here are my 2 cents. Is it better to go with modern state of the art full sized motherboards with CPUs (offering heaps of FLOPs); or go for a low power board and CPU that's stripped down to the bare essentials? Are extra FLOPs necessary? Perhaps it's simplicity that's better?

My answer - simplicity.

The downside of using ATOM based mITX boards is the clear lack of processing horse power. However, it has an overwhelming advantage with it's simplicity. Simplicity not only in the physical requirement to dissipate heat, power supply considerations are simpler too. Less processing speed directly translates to less power consumption requirements.

Less is More

And it's simplicity for the audiophile as well. Thanks to a simpler board, putting together a mITX based system takes next to no time at all (see next chapter)! No need to mount and secure fancy air/water coolers, no big ugly computer cases, no noisy fans to keep everything from burning out, no big computer power supplies with more connectors than you'd ever need!

And if you choose a motherboard that works directly with DC (e.g. The Jetway NF9C pictured below that runs on 12 VDC), you can start to use high quality Linear Power Supply to power this machine straight away (e.g. HD Plex). A good power supply can make or break a good quality digital player. With the asking price of some high quality ATX SMPS these days, a higher quality LPSU makes better economical sense, and better sound quality.

Jetway NF9C Motherboard

This is the benchmark result of cyclictest with my old tricked out Core2Duo machine (running the predecessor of Snakeoil):

cyclictest -t2 -p 80 -n -i 10000 -l 10000 -q
# /dev/cpu_dma_latency set to 0us
T: 0 ( 1122) P:80 I:10000 C: 10000 Min: 1 Act: 1 Avg: 1 Max: 1
T: 1 ( 1123) P:80 I:10500 C: 9525 Min: 0 Act: 1 Avg: 1 Max: 2

The above is about as good as it gets. And contrast the above with the current machine I'm running (NF9C-2600):

cyclictest -t2 -p 80 -n -i 10000 -l 10000 -q
# /dev/cpu_dma_latency set to 0us
T: 0 ( 1034) P:80 I:10000 C:  10000 Min:  31 Act: 17 Avg: 60 Max: 232
T: 1 ( 1035) P:80 I:10500 C:   9526 Min:  26 Act: 45 Avg: 53 Max: 254

The NF9C board fares a lot worse! It is all over the place, and yet this NF9C based machine sounds so good it replaced my C2D immediately. Having said that, what sounds good for me may not be the same for you. Snakeoil OS is all about music your way. The beauty of the Snakeoil is the ability to give you the power to choose. You have to make up your own mind based on your own observations.

Even though the stock ISO is designed for a mini-ITX board, it will still continue work for 95% of the machines. If you're the remaining 5%, a simple kernel swap is all it takes to get Snakeoil OS working on your PC.

 Main   Hardware   Audio Requirements   Build Your Own mITX Computer