Final ThoughtsAlthough we were thoroughly satisfied by the Intel DH61AG's showing, making an outright recommendation isn't that simple. The motherboard itself is fine, but we feel there is a serious lack of complementary hardware. Finding a heatsink that's less than 30mm tall is no easy task and as of writing, we haven't found the ideal Mini-ITX case for low-profile motherboards like the DH61AG.
Some of today's smallest Mini-ITX cases, such as the Antec ISK 100, could be deemed too large for the DH61AG. After all, it can accommodate standard Mini-ITX motherboards and even includes its own 90-watt power supply with internal adapters. Again, it'd "work" for all intents and purposes, but it'd defeat the point of buying Intel's thin platform.
We did stumble upon the Mini-Box M350, which is priced at $40 and is designed specifically for Thin Mini-ITX boards. It can be mounted to the back of an LCD to create a DIY all-in-one computer. Additionally companies such as CTL are offering barebone systems such as their All-in-One 650 desktop which are meant to be used with the Intel DH61AG.
Nonetheless, we're eager to see more cases and coolers designed for the DH61AG. For now, Intel has only been able to provide us with limited information regarding hardware that supports the Apple Glen motherboard but we remain hopeful that some new and exciting products will be released soon. Only when that occurs will we be able to truly appreciate what this platform brings to the table.
The Intel DH61AG is well endowed for a 6.7" x 6.7" board, offering mSATA connectivity, full and half-size mini PCIe slots, not to mention its HTPC-minded features. It's highly adaptable and the mSATA port means you won't require a 2.5" storage drive as mSATA SSDs are available in capacities up to 120GB, such as the OCZ Nocti Series. Although such a setup wouldn't be cheap, it would have no equal.
Luxury accessories aside, the DH61AG costs just $125. Barebone systems using the M350 case that we mentioned above with the Core i3-2100 and 2GB of memory are available for $400. You just need to buy a storage drive.
We must also give credit to the second-generation Core processors. Not only does Sandy Bridge make the Thin Mini-ITX platform possible, but also very powerful. It's remarkable to think that processors such as the Core i7-2600S feature a TDP rating of just 65 watts while AMD's recently released FX-8150 Bulldozer based processor has a 125-watt TDP. Meanwhile, the more cost effective Core i5-2400S and Core i5-2390T have a TDP rating of only 35 watts.
Pros: Solid (non-gaming) HTPC performance, impressive performance per watt ratio
Cons: Lack of complementary hardware, weak integrated graphics