Per the post subject, is there an x86 computer like this that I can still buy or otherwise acquire in 2019? Used or refurbished is OK as long as it is still reliable. I want a low-cost, low-energy, fanless, small, 80686 (including CMOV instructions, so VIA C7 is OK but VIA C3 is not) or x86-64 computer with at least three SATA ports using normal connectors, as used by 2.5-inch HDDs and SSDs, instead of mSATA to replace some full-size ATX tower computers with fans and using Core 2 and earlier hardware platforms. Ideally, I want to continue using the current installations of Ubuntu 10.04.x LTS for x86-32 from 2011 because it still works for my application so I want to avoid the chore of upgrading the OS only to use a newer computer. The primary market lifetime (correct term?) of x86 motherboards is frustratingly short for someone like me who still does not have a newer than Core 2 era x86 computer in 2019 because the Core 2 era and earlier x86 computers I use still suffice for my application. I use the same computer hardware until the hardware, such as through-hole electrolytic capacitors, fails. I have found some small, such as Mini-ITX, motherboards with at least three SATA ports using normal connectors but they seem to no longer be for sale by the time I find them, years after they were released. For example, here is a fanless AMD x86-64 Mini-ITX motherboard with six SATA ports using normal connectors:


Unfortunately, I cannot find anywhere that still sells this model. The hardware does not need to be current; the computers I want to replace use hardware platforms aged at least a decade. I really want to avoid the chore of upgrading the OS only to use a newer computer but I can try to upgrade the OS if necessary or maybe only retrofit a build of a newer than 2.6.32.x Linux kernel into the current installation of Ubuntu 10.04.x LTS from 2011. I think even a Pentium II computer will suffice for my application if it meets the SATA requirements. I need one Ethernet port, preferably (at least) Gigabit Ethernet; Fast Ethernet is the minimum. I prefer Intel over Realtek for Ethernet controllers but Realtek should suffice as long as it is reliable. I live in Canada. On NewEgg.ca , I can filter Mini-ITX motherboards to only those with at least three SATA ports, which eliminates all but two models. One of these models was eliminated because it costs over 1 000 CAD and I do not remember why the other model was eliminated. On Amazon.ca , I can narrow down motherboards to Mini-ITX but cannot filter the results by cooling type (fanless) nor by number of SATA ports. It seems that most models of Mini-ITX and smaller x86 motherboards only have up to two SATA ports using normal connectors. Some motherboards may have at least three SATA ports including mSATA sockets but the drives I am currently using are 2.5-inch or larger and I want to continue using them instead of having to buy mSATA drives. I bought 2.5-inch SATA SSDs instead of mSATA SSDs because I bought the drives for use with microATX or larger motherboards that use normal SATA connectors instead of mSATA; I thought it was better to reduce the number of connectors required to connect the drive to the motherboard to reduce long-term reliability problems caused by connectors than to have more modularity/interchangeability by using mSATA drives. As for the definition of “small”, I want microATX at the largest. As for “low cost”, I am used to paying <=15 CAD for an Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 CPU and around 50 CAD for a used or refurbished Socket T AKA LGA775 motherboard when I buy five of the same model of motherboard at once. Yes, I realise that these computers have fans but I am trying to give an idea of what I mean by “low cost”. Anyway, Amazon has too many models of Mini-ITX motherboards to go through them one by one to see if any are fanless and have at least three SATA ports using normal connectors. I did find this Core 2 era Mini-ITX motherboard with four SATA ports using normal connectors but I do not know if it is feasible to use this motherboard without any fan?


Edit #1: I prefer to buy x86-64 hardware in case I later need to use an x86-64 OS but, because I am currently using an x86-32 OS, I can still use an 80686 computer with CMOV instructions.

I searched this database of single-board computers for x86 computers with SATA connectivity:


but the only computers with at least three SATA ports looks like they will cost far too much and, regardless, they are overkill for my application.

  • 3
    When you write questions, don't hesitate to add paragraphs. Huge walls of text are difficult to read, and some may prefer skipping your question, lowering your chances to receive an answer. Jun 16 '19 at 8:42
  • Unreadable, sorry. Please break the text up. It is good that you are provided a lot of details, but they are not well presented. The more presentable the question to better the response. Jun 19 '19 at 8:03
  • What are you using this computer for? If applicable, what should the maximum total dimensions, case included, be? What's your budget? Would you be willing to buy used?
    – JMY1000
    Jun 25 '19 at 8:32
  • It is multiple computers, not only one. Among other uses, the computers automatically back up the file system of other computers over the network. One of the computers uses custom software I developed for the backup system, which is part of the reason I do not want to upgrade the OS. Jun 29 '19 at 3:51
  • Maximum dimensions: approximately 30 cm high × 30 cm deep × 18 cm wide or smaller would be nice but I do not really have a hard requirement as long as it fits in the space I currently have. As the second sentence of my post says, used or refurbished is OK as long as it is still reliable. Budget: I do not have a hard limit except I do not want to spend a lot of money on it because the decade+ old computers I currently use still work but produce waste heat and fan noise. I do not want to spend lots of money on hardware much more powerful than I need nor that requires upgrading the OS. Jun 29 '19 at 4:07

Low-cost, low-energy and fanless? Raspberry Pi. In order to connect your three hard disks, you may want to purchase an external HDD case. You can either have two of them, one for two disks, another one for the remaining one, or find a case which can be used with three or four disks (there is much less choice for them compared to one or two disks cases, but you can still find ones).

With a Raspberry Pi, you get an Ethernet port and Wi-Fi connectivity, four USB connectors (two to three left after you connect the hard disks) for your devices, an HDMI port to connect a monitor, and an audio jack. Don't forget an SD card for the operating system.

It is not particularly fun to use as a desktop computer, but it doesn't seem that you're looking for the latest hardware for a gaming platform anyway, so...

In terms of the cost, Raspberry Pi with its official case costs about 45 USD. Add 10 USD for the SD card. The most expensive part would be the HDD cases, at least 75 USD, probably more. If you don't have an USB charger to power the Raspberry Pi, add extra 15 USD (don't buy a cheap one, as it won't be able to provide enough power for the device and the three disks).

  • I need an x86 computer with at least three SATA ports, not an ARM computer with zero SATA ports. DFI has some Mini-ITX motherboards with four SATA ports using normal connectors and some other small x86 computers with at least three SATA ports using normal connectors but does not have pricing on their Web site and I do not know if all of these small x86 computers that meet my SATA requirements may be used without a fan because at least some of these motherboards do not include a CPU. Jun 17 '19 at 10:53
  • 1
    With OP on this one. Even ignoring the explicit requirement for x86, as much as I love the Pi, it probably doesn't make sense here; perhaps the Pi 4 thanks to the full Gigabit ethernet and USB 3, but still, probably not the best.
    – JMY1000
    Jun 25 '19 at 8:26
  • @JMY1000: why not? The problem is that the OP said absolutely nothing about the reason he wants x86 or SATA ports on motherboard (and there is nothing which would indicate there is a reason in the first place). And I won't ask him for the details either, since when I recommended him to add paragraphs, he answered that I have attention-deficit disorder (comment removed later), so I'm not willing to help the OP any longer. Jun 25 '19 at 17:18
  • Fair points; we are lacking a lot of info, thus my comment asking for more. However, x86 is a common requirement for many programs, and SATA provides significant benefits over USB; given there are other, likely nearly-as-cheap alternatives to a Pi that don't compromise here, at the cost of power consumption and size, it seems unlikely the Pi is the best answer. I'm still waiting on more info from the OP so I can write my answer. Sidenote: those comments were flagged, which is why I presume they were removed.
    – JMY1000
    Jun 25 '19 at 21:17
  • I have not removed any comment; someone else did. I appreciate you trying to help me and did not intend to offend you but I seriously do not think my original post is very long. Anyway, as I said, I want to continue using the same OS installations on the same physical drives as I am currently using, which is why I need an x86 computer with SATA Host ports. Even if I wanted to switch to an ARM computer, why not choose one with SATA connectivity? I gather that the Raspberry Pi version 4 is out now but I have not yet researched it but I am assuming that it still lacks SATA connectivity? Jun 27 '19 at 6:35

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