Intel launches its smallest socket motherboard with LGA socket

26 Aug 2015


Intel has launched its smallest socket motherboard in the form of a 5x5in board with an LGA socket.

The motherboard, which is almost a third smaller than the Mini-ITX low power board, comes without the fixed down soldered processor of previous iterations of the firm's Next Unit of Computing (NUC), and has something in between on offer.

Like the Mini-ITX, it supported LGA-based CPUs, but also supported two SODIMM channels with dual channel performance, and M.2 drives, or a 2.5in SATA drive, although this would occupy more space.

It also offers wired and wireless networking options, like the NUC. A standard chassis and heatsink were required, and these would be needed to be bought separately.

Though Intel describes the board as 5x5in, but it actually measured 5.5x5.8in, however, this was still smaller than the 6.7x6.7 in mini-ITX and only a square inch or so larger than the 4.5x4.4in of the (Next Unit of Computing) NUC, but unlike the latter, had many more upgrade options.

The board would support Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, and the LGA socket made it flexible in terms of what could be put in there.

The 5x5 board could handle either 35W or 65W processors, along with tiny M.2 form factor storage or a 2.5-inch drive, but its drawback was it did not come with a PCIe slot, which left the system limited to the integrated graphics from whichever Intel Core processor users chose.

Gamers seeking peak performance in the smallest package would still need to rely on a mini-ITX board.

Small-form-factor PCs had a significant market as they could reach everywhere from living rooms to embedded solutions (kiosks, digital signage, etc.).

With the 5x5 form factor, Intel was acknowledging that buyers might like more flexibility (to upgrade the CPU) but not too much flexibility (such as being able to add a discrete graphics card).

According to commentators, as the board got a soft launch at IDF, there was no list of available vendors who had announced products in the pipeline supporting the new standard.

However, given the company's market clout, and the success of the NUC form factor with other manufacturers, there should be a number of 5x5-based motherboards and PCs on their way soon.

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