Monday 6 April 2009

Intel Mini-ITX DQ45EK System Integration

The new Intel DQ45EK vPro series Mini-ITX motherboard allows us to put together some pretty slick systems with really small footprints.

We do not, as a rule, build our own workstations. We have a phenomenal system builder local to us that we have been dealing with for 10 years now (through previous employers as well).

But, one of the things we like to do with new technologies is test out the system configuration we plan on selling to our clients.

This configuration will be set up as follows:

A Lite-On DVD-RW drive and Microsoft OEM keyboard/mouse combination kit rounds out the configuration.

Given the cramped conditions inside of the chassis, it is important to make sure all of the power and data cables are routed in such a way as to stay clear of the CPU cooling fan:


Intel DQ45EK Fan Power Cable Routing

As shown in the above image, we made sure to tuck the CPU fan’s power cable around the CPU cooling fan mounting posts and then remove any slack from the cable so that it stays under the posts.

This is especially important for systems that may be transported or shipped somewhere as the jostling about can cause cables to move within the chassis. We do not want to get a phone call with the user on the other end complaining about a fairly loud buzzing noise emanating from within the chassis.

Another small caveat has to do with the installation of a 2.5” or laptop sized SATA hard drive:


2.5” Seagate Momentus installed on the HDD Carrier

The drive needs to be installed on the backside of the drive cage when using 2.5” drives. The drive cage has a good sized breather hole that resides right under the middle of the drive. The edges of the hole are wrapped around towards to inside of the cage. Thus, they present a good sized raised obstacle for mounting a laptop drive there.

There are also four raised mounts that face towards the inside of the chassis, that is on the outside of the drive cage. If the drive was mounted on the inside of the drive cage instead of the way it is in the above image, the drive’s electronics would be grounded out on the breather hole lip and we would lose a hard drive very quickly.

And finally, since the system comes with only 1 SATA power connector from the power supply, a Molex to SATA power connector converter will be required to give the SATA optical drive power.

When it comes to putting systems together, a flash of the BIOS is necessary to bring things up to date once the motherboard is installed in the system. After the update, a check of the BIOS settings to make sure they are correct is the last step before installing an OS.

Once the system was put together, we were very impressed by how quite it was. Not only that, it installed Windows 7 in very short order and is quite snappy in its responses. Our client will be very happy with this configuration.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

*All Mac on SBS posts will not be written on a Mac until we replace our now missing iMac! (previous blog post)

Windows Live Writer


Darwin said...

How much power does this setup consume?

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...


I will test it using an APC BR1500LCD that has a built-in Watt consumption metre tomorrow.

Without the LCD monitor, my guestimate is less than 80 Watts.


Unknown said...

I've build a system around this motherboard using a PICO PSU 105 W power supply. Unfortunately Windows 7 fails to install (SYSTEM_SERVICE_EXCEPTION). What BIOS settings did you use?

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...


BIOS settings were essentially left at defaults. We enable Intel VT and to auto power on after a power event.

105Watt may be too weak to provide the necessary power requirements with the processor runs at peak rates during the install cycle.