Intel has launched a new motherboard form factor it calls '5x5'. These represent the smallest socketed board standard, almost a third smaller than the Mini-ITX standard. The actual board dimensions are 5.5-inches x 5.8-inches (140 x 147mm).
The Intel NUC and its equivalents from the likes of Gigabyte (BRIX), Zotac (C-series nano) and ASRock (Beebox) have been one of the bright spots in the PC systems market over the last couple of years, alongside gaming laptops. So at IDF 2015 Intel looks to have indulged in a bit of product proliferation, as evidenced by the slide below.
Above you can see where the 5x5 motherboard has been designed to fit into the product mix. As you might expect, the 5x5 is less expandable than the larger Mini-ITX (170 x 170mm) but trumps the NUC motherboards (102 x 102mm) by offering the upgradeable processor socket.
Intel's 5x5 motherboard allows buyers the flexibility to fit their choice of Intel processor ranging from the Celeron to Core i7 – supporting CPU with TDPs of 35W and 65W. As well as the processor socket, there is a pair of SODIMM slots for (dual channel) memory. For fixed storage you will need to equip an M.2. drive or 2.5-inch SATA drive. Other features include Ethernet and Wi-Fi.
An Intel 5x5 system will typically be as small as 0.85 litres (39mm Z height). However if you choose to fit a 2.5-inch SSD, or a 65W TDP CPU with the greater required cooler height, then you will have to have a bigger system chassis than that. While on the topic of cooling, Intel proposes system makers integrate aesthetic air intakes on the top / bottom / sides while expelling warm air away from the operator.
For enthusiasts who want to add a PCIe graphics card to their systems the Mini-ITX remains the smallest viable standard. However with a fast CPU packing 'Iris' graphics some users might consider a 5x5 system the best choice for an ultra-compact form factor (UCFF) build. According to Anandtech chassis maker In Win has a product ready to support Intel's new 5x5 motherboards.