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  1. #1
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    Some nice neat and small RETRO/MAME SFF machines

    Here is one for the lazy - a pre-installed SFF MAME PC:

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/DELL-OPTIPLEX-...item3a5843bb38

    Not bad actually if you want a dedicated retro machine. Good price too.

    The hard drive is a bit small on that DELL and the software a little questionable on legality, but it looks to be a nice SFF for a dedicated retro machine.

    I already have a couple of SFF's - an Aopen and Biostar.

    ---------- Post added at 04:03 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:24 PM ----------

    Ok, had a quick read about the small DELL OPTIPLEX SX270 in the MAME auction above. They have a few known problems (heat, PSU) and the possibility of leaking caps, others seem happy with them and these may have been refurbished.

    Worth checking out however, if interested.
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  2. #2
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    SFF machines are definitely good for emulation. I have one SFF from Biostar myself, although it is currently retired and packed away as the PSU fan got quite noisy. It is also a few years old now and only an Athlon XP 3000+, although that is still good enough for emulation.

    You mentioned you have a BioStar one. What are your views on it? Mine is a 200N with silver aluminum case. The insides are quite nicely designed, although the PSU and CPU fans on mine could get quite noisy. I also had to cut a hole in the front side panel and fit an extra intake fan to get good airflow through the system. It ran well for about 3 years though as my main download and test server.

    The best for emulation in a system case that small these days is an Intel Core 2 CPU as they run very cool.

    The one on offer in that auction is a little low spec in my view. XP isn't that great with 512MB ram anyway. Much better with 1GB. And as you say, the HDD is way too small. You can however easily buy much larger 2.5" HDDs these days. Even a 500GB 2.5" drive doesn't cost that much.
    Last edited by Harrison; 1st March 2010 at 23:10.

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  3. #3
    For those who dare! ClassicWB dev
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    It is on the low spec side, but I know a 2.8Ghz P4 will run just about any emulator apart from the newer 3D MAME stuff. I agree though, modern CPU's run so much cooler now they're 45nm tech and are even better for SFF.

    The reason this caught my eye is it's kind of a Dell custom ITX PC with licensed copy of XP - also with laptop components and so it's very small and easy to carry around. The weak link is the hot running P4. ITX systems are faily expensive to build - the cases and motherboards are quite dear if you want a half decent system. Only the expensive ones have decent CPU's - most are slower than P4's including the Atom based machines.

    As for my Ideq, it's the 210P: http://www.biostar-usa.com/ideqdetai...odel=ideq+210p

    It's got a Athlon64 3200+ Venice, so it runs pretty cool, and a true power 250W PSU allowing me to run an x800 pro in their. Also got some nice CAS 2 crucial ballistix RAM.

    It's old by today's standards, but I use it to play all the old PC games, some multiplayer LAN gaming when friends come around and emulation too. Never felt a need to upgrade it - it's a nice small gaming machine for pre-shader model 3 titles.

    I'm surprised you had to add extra cooling - what were you running in there? As you said the fans run quiet fast and noisy at default. You have to install speedfan or Biostars fan control software that came with the case to bring them under control. It works quite well, but it's a shame Biostars "smartfan" doesn't do this at bios level as well as my Aopen SFF which is nearly silent without any extra software.

    I did actually mod my Biostar one too actually - the x800 pro's heatsink fan turned into a screamer, so I removed it and placed an 80mm stealth fan on the cases ventilation holes right in front of the card. Works well, and is quieter.

    I don't think I'll ever retire this machine until it breaks or the Aopen one (XP Mobile, legendary nforce2 chipset). As you said, they are neat and well designed inside - full colour manuals too!!!! The Aopen one has some nice touches and was definately a labour of love for the designer - very nice machine: http://www.hardwarezone.com/articles...cid=26&id=1189

    Use them both for retro gaming and now retro XP gaming since Windows 7 is the way forward. I have them networked permanently to one another for two player LAN gaming in the same room too. Enjoy them more than my main Quad core machine online when friends come over!!!!

    So, these will probably be my SFF's for many years to come. Just don't feel the need to upgrade when they play all my old games and emulators absolutely fine.
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  4. #4
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    The problem with mine was the Athlon XP 3000+ CPU. The older Athlon XP processors liked to run hot, and didn't have very high temperature ceiling before they got into trouble. The one in my Biostar SFF would sometimes hit 60 Deg C, which was way too hot for my liking, and that was with the fans all on max. Adding the extra fan to the side of the case dropped the temps to 40-50 deg C, which was better. And most Athlon XP's all ran in the 40's a lot fo the time anyway so it was more normal.

    One of the main reasons I stopped using the system was the noise to keep the temps down, and the amount of heat it pumped out the back. No need for the central heating in the room. Athlon XPs do have a special mode that allows them to slow down when not being used fully, and therefore rom cooler, but for some reason none of the utilities that enable that would work with that system. In another Athlon XP system a utility called vCool worked perfectly and dropped the CPU temp to 32 Deg C when idling which is very low for an Athlon XP.

    But these days that is still fairly high. Even my older Athlon 64 3700+ only goes into the 30's when running a game and taxing the CPU. That idles in the low 20's. And my Intel Quad Core system idles in the 20's too, which is great when you think there are 4 cores in there. Amazing how CPU and computer technology in general keeps moving forward.

    I keep thinking about building a mini-itx system, but as you mentioned, they can get quite expensive to build. The motherboards with the built in CPUs are expensive to start with, then you have to use laptop ram and drives with them which all costs more than standard parts, and the small cases and the pico PSUs are all expensive too.

    Would be great having a Mini ITX Intel Core 2 system though that could be on all the time for downloading and general internet and email.

    If you haven't played a classic game in years, it's never too late to start!


  5. #5
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    Didn't read the whole thing now, but talking about SFF or barebone systems, how do you find these. Look very good I think.

  6. #6
    For those who dare! ClassicWB dev
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    LOL Demoncleaner, no wonder you didn't read the whole thread, it's a long winded one!

    That link you gave - very nice looking machines. Top ones look a little like a mac-mini. Make a great HTCP machine with the front VFD's.

    Harrison, yeah those older XP's did run hot. The one I have in my Aopen is the low voltage mobile Barton with 512kb cache - 1.4v vs 1.75 of normal XP's. It was the last generation of XP's made for laptops and manufactured on the smaller process. It runs very cool, even overclocked to 2.2Ghz at 1.5v.

    The Aopen SFF also has a HUGE copper based heatsink. The thing weighs a ton, expels heat straight out the side of the case, so it really does run very quiet even when I used to have a hotter XP in there. It's definitely designed a lot better for cooling and noise than the Biostar.

    I'd love an ITX system too - but I already have 4 PC's. Just can't justify anymore.
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  7. #7
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    @DC. Those cases look great. I especially like the bottom one with the sliding touch-screen. It would be perfect for a standalone jukebox and media system.

    But they are very expensive.

    @Bloodwych. Only 4 PCs? You are only getting started!

    If you haven't played a classic game in years, it's never too late to start!


  8. #8
    For those who dare! ClassicWB dev
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    LOL!! How many have you got Harrision? I thought you off-loaded a few a while back?
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  9. #9
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    Currently I have 3 that are used daily. My main system, my emulation system, and my download and testing server. And I think another 8 (including laptops).

    And that isn't including all the retro stuff!

    If you haven't played a classic game in years, it's never too late to start!


  10. #10
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    Im looking at building a mame cab this year that sff looks quite good. Is there any othere route i could take,i have no knowledge of pc harware or that but i dont mind learning. Ive never built a pc and i supose i could combine that into my cab project.

    So any good site links would be greatly appreciated.
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