One of the most recent examples of PCs leaving its image of the big beige box is the HTPC (Home Theater Personal Computer), which is essentially a computer dedicated to manage living room entertainment.

The form factor for a HTPC is somewhat of a concern, as a standard ATX system is obviously going to be too large. For those building an affordable HTPC, the microATX format makes the most sense, but there are however even smaller, less conventional motherboard formats available. Enter the Mini-ITX form-factor, measuring just 17x17cm (versus microATX's 24x24). This format was created by VIA Technologies in 2001, and was designed to be passively cooled using low power consumption chipset architectures.

Almost 6 years later however, the Mini-ITX has failed to crack the mainstream market for a few reasons... but my dream of owning a powerful Mini-ITX computer is still alive thanks to motherboard maker Albatron. They have taken a 17cm x 17cm piece of PCB board and slapped a Socket 754 connector onto it, four SATA300 ports, support for eight USB 2.0 ports, dual LAN controllers including a Gigabit LAN port along with many other essential features. Utilizing the Nvidia GeForce 6150 chipset allows the Albatron KI51PV-754 to support VGA and DVI out. Unfortunately, there are some obvious limitations to the KI51PV-754 such as its processor, memory and add-in graphics card support. Furthermore, the KI51PV-754 is also very expensive, retailing for an incredible $310. We will find out if the KI51PV-754 can overcome these issues.



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