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Sunday, August 21, 2005
  blackhole- BTX form factor to make PCs smaller, cooler
Fast cars need more than just a powerful motor. They need a car body that can handle the strain as well. The same is true for PCs: processors and other components have grown significantly smaller recent years, but overall dimensions for computers have remained roughly the same.

That may now change with new format called BTX (Balanced Technology Extended).

For private users, however, a switchover probably isn’t worth the money just yet.

The switch to the new BTX PC format is the next logical step on the way to quicker and more compact computers.
Intel involved in the development of the standard, which sets norms for the shape of casings as well as the construction in the PC interior.

BTX is intended to replace the existing ATX (Advanced Technology Extended) standard. It offers one significant benefit: better ventilation for PCs, which therefore helps them run cooler.

The demands on a PCs cooling system in particular have risen.

The development of more powerful PC components has led to increased heat from a computers’ inner working, with the current batch of processors typically generating more heat than a hotplace.

An overheated PC is somewhat like an overheating car – eventually it will stop working for good.

Proper cooling, by contrast, ensures a longer service life and more stability for the PC system.

New order

To achieve effective cooling, the BTX formats put the PC components into a somewhat different order than before.

One new item is a special thermal module that is responsible for improved air circulation in the casing. This reduces the number of fans, which in turn reduces noise levels.
There are three different BTX formats in all: a standard BTX form factor developed for power PCs; a Micro BTX intended for standard desktop computers, and Pico-BTX for mini PCs and laptops.

Other changes from the old format affect the power supply, the casing, and the motherboard.

The new slots will also allow for newer technology like the PCI Express port to become standard.

A change at this point would mean unnecessary costs for the consumer.

BTX elements have to this point been relatively expensive. Furthermore, few complete BTX systems are available on the market as of yet.
In the long term, consumers will not be able to avoid switching over.

As more and more new BTX components flood the market, fewer and fewer will fit the old standard.

Anyone who prefers to run top end machine will likely make the switchover sooner rather than later.

Even so, the investment seems questionable for normal PC users. Computer systems develop so quickly that many users make new purchase every few years anyways.

ATX still alive

Advanced users who prefer to build their own machines can also continue to but ATX parts without fear.
It is not yet clear whether and when Intel will succeed in pushing BTX technology onto the market. ATX users will certainly be able to find sufficient supplies from Intel competitors like AMD through 2006.

there are also still questions as to whether the theoretical advantages of the BTX format will make a big difference in real practice.

The stability of a PC system, its service life, and noise levels typically depend not on the PC format, but rather than the quality of the components.

By all accounts, the ATX PC format seems unlikely to disappear from the market anytime soon.

It’s likely that the two formats will simply co-exist with one another.

-smaller and cooler PC-

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