Builders Are Game For Upcoming BTX Form Factor

Custom-system builders already have built prototypes using samples of BTX chassis from such vendors as AOpen, San Jose, Calif., and Chenbro Micom, Ontario, Calif., and said their customers are ready for the new form factors.

That is especially true with gamers, said Albert Wang, division head for system integration at ABS Computer Technologies, a Whittier, Calif.-based builder of custom systems, most of which go to the gamer market.

"BTX is critical for gaming because it's faster and quieter [than ATX]," said Wang. "Office machines are usually lower end, where [heat] is not an issue."

'BTX is critical for gaming because it's faster and quieter [than ATX].' says ABS' Albert Wang.

The biggest obstacle to bringing BTX chassis to market is the high cost of new tooling, especially since Intel does not have a perfect record for predicting the market, said a chassis manufacturer executive who asked not to be named.

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"A lot of case makers are wary," the executive said. "Intel comes out with a new form factor and they have to spend a fortune to retool. For example, look at the micro ATX form factor. It still exists, but it has only one-twentieth the market that Intel predicted."

Teddy Wong, general manager of Gigacase, a City of Industry, Calif.-based chassis manufacturer, said his company already has two BTX models, but he expects adoption to be slow because, while they cut noise and heat, there is no performance gain.

"It's an investment in the future," Wong said. "Some people would rather wait to see demand. But sooner or later, they have to do it. We feel we should do it now. Then when someone else invests in the tooling, we are already in our second generation."

It might take six to eight months or longer for BTX chassis to be widely available, but it will be worth the wait, said Jay Adkins, director of marketing at Columbus Micro Systems, a Columbus, Ohio-based system builder with a focus on the education market.

"That's unfortunate for us," said Adkins. "BTX is a win-win product for us and our customers. The BTX chassis is quieter and cooler, which is a big benefit for our education customers."