LAS VEGAS—DIY is not dead.
Gigabyte wants to transmit that message clearly. The Taiwan-based motherboard manufacturer ships millions of motherboards into retail, which are used by enthusiasts to build their own hotrod performance PCs. Trends in the industry, like the all-in-one PC, seemingly make big tower PCs obsolete. Even the boutique suppliers of PC gear are moving into smaller systems, one key example being Falcon Northwest’s Tiki micro-tower.
Now Gigabyte and Intel are teaming up to let you build your own all-in-one PC. Intel is developing a standard for modular all-in-one components. The standards include specifications for very low profile, mini-ITX motherboards called Thin Mini-ITX. Gigabyte is offering two motherboard products based on the standard, including one using the feature-rich Intel H77 chipset.
Intel is pretty serious about this push, including offering tutorials and support documentation to get you started. In order to minimize confusion, Thin Mini-ITX motherboards based on the new standard will include an Intel AIO logo on the box.
A motherboard needs a case, so Intel’s standard also encompasses specs for a monitor chassis that will fit this class of motherboard. The proper cooling hardware will be included with the case. Gigabyte showed off one example of a DIY AIO case in their suite.
As it stands, there are relatively few options for customizing the configuration. There’s little or no space for a discrete graphics chip, for example, and the Gigabyte boards will only have PCI Express x1 slots anyway, which don’t really have robust bandwidth for high end games. Gigabyte does offer more standard mini-ITX boards for building higher end systems, but these need to go into more standard PC cases.
Intel’s standard also encompasses features unique to AIO PCs, including support for external power bricks and even Low-voltage differential signal (LVDS) connections so LCD panels can easily connect internally.
The new boards and cases will be available by late Q1 2013. While pricing hasn’t been set, the boards themselves will be in the $100 price range. Smaller (22-inch) cases with monitors built in will likely cost $300 - $400.