Small form-factor PCs are back in Vogue. Specifically, mini-ITX, which was first developed by VIA in the late 2001, but has really taken off in popularity in the last couple of years.
While motherboards remain the backbone of a PC, and thus its principle size direction, a supporting eco-system of smaller size components needs to accompany it for everything to fit. Where high-performance CPUs have dropped in power consumption; from 100+W to 95W, then 77/65W or even lower, graphics cards mostly have shown the opposite trend, with the fastest parts hitting near 300W. They accommodate physically larger cores, additional memory, power circuitry and enlarged coolers, to the point that they often dwarf mini-ITX motherboards, making it difficult to find cases to accommodate them.
While Nvidia's GTX 670 tries to buck the trend with a small 6.75" (~17cm) PCB, it's always fitted with a far larger cooler. ASUS has instead matched the cooler to its 17cm PCB length, which is ideal for the smallest gaming builds. Here's a first look at ASUS' new GTX 670 DirectCU Mini.
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The GTX 670 DirectCU Mini features all the same game crushing power as a full-fat GTX 670, but squeezed into a dual-slot width card only 17cm long. That's the same width of a mini-ITX board. This reduction in size makes it perfect where portability is key, such as a LAN system, or small size such as a home theater PC.
The GTX 670 DirectCU Mini features an all new DirectCU cooler with patent-pending fan design and vapor chamber, enabling the full DirectCU cooling potential in a smaller space. The new fan design angles airflow over key components on the card, and when coupled with ASUS's Super Alloy Power components, which last up to 2.5X longer than reference parts, results in a perfectly stable and long lasting user experience as good or better than larger GTX 670's. Finally testing and design tweaks are still ongoing however, so full specifications will be made available at launch.
Is the GTX 670 DirectCU Mini the ideal graphics card for your mini-ITX system, or is it the card that'll make you dump the PC and move to small form factor? Let us know in the forums.