First off if your new to CarPCs, then you've stumbled across (hopefuly) a useful thread.
First off Theres 3 MAIN ways you can take to constructing your carPC:
Obviously when your first setting up a computer, you'll need to select a motherboard.
The main differences between these will be listed/reason for using each'll be listed.
The main ways are: Mini ITX, Micro ATX, and laptop.
Laptops will not be discussed here, although they are a very cost efficient system for in your vehicle
Motherboards are the mainboard of your computer, every component connects to this. This is the body of your PC.
Mini ITX - Product Image
Mini ITX motherboards, are mainly chosen for their small size. They generaly have everything you will need onboard. That would include Audio (generaly 6 channel, due to the nature of the PCs, being mainly for media purposes, although not limited to), Video (high quality, same as previous), and most of them have usb, ps/2, serial, and parallel, some even have S/PDIF (sony panasonic digital interface?, anyways its a audio port, great quality), some have RCA output for video to a standard TV, and nearly all have onboard LAN(local area network). Many also include onboard processors.
I have no experience with these computers, although they do come highly recommended by many.
They range from 133-225 dollars. (keep in mind that the more expensive ones do include proccesors, although they dont exceed 1.2ghz)
These computers fit great in small enclosures.
The generaly have everything onboard (audio, video, lan, even processors).
Most of the components will be more expensive for these motherboards, seeing as everything must be 'low profile' (smaller than usual). You will need low profile RAM (random access memory), Low profile heatsink and fan (for cooling your proccesor) which all run more expensive.
They also generaly only have one PCI slot.
Almost never have an AGP slot
Most standard PCI cards will not fit in these enclosures.
have never used a mini-itx before.
Micro ATX - Product Image
These are my favorite motherboards, so if i seem to favor them, i do. These motherboards are generaly also have everything on board, they have Audio, Video, Lan, usualy no onboard processors.
They Range from 39-150 dollars.
They have plently of room for expansion.
They have most everything onboard.
They do not require low profile items.
They are about 2-3 inches bigger than a mini itx. and the height of the board is much larger.
PCChips "M925ALU" P4M266A Chipset Motherboard for Intel Socket 478 CPU - 39$
Onboard, Audio AC '97 (6 channel), Video 3D AGP graphics accelerator, 1 serial, 4 usb, 10/100mpbs lan, 1 parallel, 2 ps/2
Supports Intel Pentium4/Celeron 400/533fsb processors.
2 PCI slots - for expansion i.e. audio, or wireless card
1 AGP 4x - for video expansion
1 CNR - Communications Network Riser
Processors are the brain of your system, they control how quickly it runs.
For virtualy every application that will be run in a CarPC, a Pentium 3 1ghz will do the trick.
This list includes: GPS, DVD playback, mp3 playback, cd burning, voice activation..
But for the money a p42.0+ is worth it (room for upgrading)
Pentium 1.13ghz -OEM - 44$Pentium 2.0ghz - retail - 120$
Proccesors can be aquired cheaply here: NewEgg, or here Tiger Direct, however NewEgg has better shipping/custom support.
Memmory or RAM, is self explanitory. The more the better, however 512mb is ideal for application GPS, DVD playback, mp3 playback, cd burning, voice activation..
RAM has many different specifications, and types, and most be checked to be compatible with your system. So prices will vary.
RAM can be aquired cheaply here: NewEgg, or here Tiger Direct, however NewEgg has better shipping/custom support.
There are obviously three different types of cases
Mini ITX cases are generaly quite expensive, but tend to be pretty stylish and obviously keeping to the trend, quite little.
They range from 88-200$
These little cases can be stealthed (hidden) with ease.
They can be placed in your dash, in a glovebox, in an armrest.
They do tend to run warm, because of the size.
Dont fit full size PCI cards.
Micro ATX cases require more space, but can be hidden without too much difficulty.
They range from 13$-110$
They fit full size PCI cards.
They usualy have space for fans.
Low Profile items, generaly are'nt neccesary.
Larger, usualy not as attractive as Mini ITX cases.
Were not disscused here, because there is no 'assembly' unlike mini ITX, or mATX cases. Also, the main way you will save money with a laptop, is if you have one laying around, or if you get one cheap.