Small Form Factor

Lenovo is pitching the emerging interest in virtual reality as a reason for developers to consider its new ThinkStation P320 workstations. The world's top PC maker (in terms of market share) used Develop3D Live as the launchpad for its new systems, which featured Intel Xeon and 7th generation Core i3/i5/i7 (Kaby Lake) processor options paired with NVIDIA Quadro graphics. Buyers can opt for a full-tower enclosure supporting up to a Quadro P4000 (Pascal) graphics card, or a small form factor (SFF) setup with up to two Quadro P1000 GPUs. Either setup can be configured with an Intel Xeon E3-1200 v6... Read more...
The Gigabyte BRIX Gaming UHD is an exciting small form factor PC prospect. It packs a surprising amount of muscle into a tiny frame. This little flyweight may not sound too beastly with its GeForce GTX 950, but Gigabyte reckons it is more than capable of streaming 4K UHD media and taking a few swings at 1080p gaming with good image quality. Its 4.3-inch square footprint should help it blend into many entertainment centers or find a home on a dorm room desk for work, play, business or pleasure. Most ultra small form-factor computers, by comparison, rely on integrated graphics to due to thermal constraints.... Read more...
Intel's first generation Compute Stick turned quite a few heads, including ours, as it was a remarkable thing to consider that a fully functioning PC could be crammed onto a device roughly the size of a bloated USB flash drive. It wasn't especially powerful—Intel pairing an Atom processor based on its Bay Trail-T platform with just 2GB of single-channel RAM and 32GB of onboard storage—but for $149 with Windows pre-installed (or $99 with Ubuntu) it was an intriguing device that could turn any HDMI-equipped display into a full-fledged PC. Knowing that it was on to something, Intel updated its Compute... Read more...
As longtime enthusiasts, we tend to get most excited for the latest, big, bad, benchmark-busting specimens of PC hardware to hit the lab. However, there’s something about ultra-small form factor devices that’s intriguing as well. The focus on power efficiency and performance-per-watt from virtually all semi-conductor manufacturers over the last few years has enabled some pretty impressive hardware in fairly tiny form factors, and it’s now possible to have a fully-functional – and rather quick – desktop PC that literally fits in the palm of your hand.Take the Gigabyte Brix S (model number BSi5HT-6200)... Read more...
As much as we like piecing together formidable desktop systems crammed full of high end hardware, the future of PC gaming for many mainstream users may lie in more compact setups. Certainly there's been a push to get PC players out of a dank basement and into the living room with Steam Machines and similar console-sized PCs. However, Dell's Alienware division is hoping to take things to the next level with its pint sized Alpha R2 system, an ultra small form factor (SFF) gaming desktop. We have to use the world "desktop" carefully here because the Alpha R2, like its predecessor, is more of a "shelf-top"... Read more...
Gigabyte, Corsair and Intel held a press event in California on June 30th to show off some of their new hardware. Though Intel just talked broadly about its thoughts on the PC gaming market (it's growing, and they are committed to it, basically), Gigabyte and Corsair both demo'd high-end gear it first unveiled at Computex. We were on-hand to check everything out, and have the details lined up for you here. First up, we have some video of many of the products... IntelIntel didn't have anything new to show, but wanted to reiterate its commitment to the PC gaming and high-end desktop spaces, as evidenced... Read more...
PC enthusiasts and hardcore gamers are passionate about their hardware. We all lust after expensive, high-performance CPUs, GPUs, monstrous RAM kits, and ultra-fast solid state storage devices. But for many of us, top of the line PC components may be overkill, and in some situations, a more mainstream rig will do just fine. That’s the crux of the message AMD has been trying to get across for quite some time with its mainstream APU line-up. Sure, you could build a high-performance rig with a top of the line processor and beefy discrete GPU, but why spend the money if you don’t have to? To that end,... Read more...
Intel's successful line of NUC (Next Unit of Computing) mini PCs have done well for the company, for various use cases where an ultra-small form factor computer might come in handy. In areas where a PC either needs to stay out of sight, blend in with its surroundings or squeeze in places where other, larger computers just couldn't go, a NUC can make a lot of sense. Tiny boxes like the Intel NUC5i5RYK can pack a fair amount of CPU horsepower in their petite, silver 4.5-inch frames, but some users still want more juice and beefier graphics for heavier gaming and content creation workloads.Fortunately,... Read more...
One of the many benefits of Intel’s strong focus on power efficiency in recent years is that relatively high performance processors are now able to fit into tiny form factors. Case in point, the recently released Intel Compute Stick for 2016. That little gizmo has a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and a handful of ports in a package that’s not much bigger than a thumb drive.Although we dug the latest Compute Stick, it’s not without some drawbacks. 2GB of RAM is essentially the bare minimum needed to run Windows 10 semi-smoothly, and the device’s diminutive... Read more...
We dug the original Intel Compute Stick that launched last year. If you recall, the original Compute Stick was a tiny, Atom-powered device that could turn any HDMI-equipped display into a basic PC. The low-power nature of the Compute Stick meant it was ideally suited for every-day, less-demanding computing tasks, and wasn’t a replacement for a full-on PC or notebook, but it was a relatively capable device given its ultra-small form factor.The original Compute Stick wasn’t without its issues, though. Last year’s model featured dated 802.11n wireless connectivity built in and had only a single USB... Read more...
We recently set out to design a mini desktop computer with the wildly popular Raspberry Pi single board computer. The Raspberry Pi is a Linux-driven, ARM processor-based micro computer that is known for its low cost and small size. People use the device for a variety of projects, from micro-servers to low cost media players. Basically, our goal was to turn what is currently one of the cheapest bare-bones computer boards  into a fully enclosed mini desktop computer that could be taken anywhere without the need for cabling or setup. One of the high level goals of this project was also to learn... Read more...
The last time we looked at Dell's Alienware X51 series of console-sized gaming PCs was back in mid-2013. Back then we were working with Intel's 4th generation Haswell Core Series processors and NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 600 series GPUs based on their Kepler graphics core. Our man Paul, frankly, was spouting off a bit wildly about aliens serving humans for dinner and, well, let's just say it made for interesting reading. But that was so 2013, and like anything in life, seasons change and architectures evolve. Paul is still nuttier than a fruit cake but that's a different story all together, so we'll... Read more...
In addition to ushering in a tidal wave of new notebooks and mobile devices, Intel’s Broadwell microarchitecture has also found its way into a plethora of recently introduced small form factor systems. We have already taken a look at a couple of them, like the excellent Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK and Gigabyte Brix S BXi7H-5500.The low-power characteristics of Broadwell simply make it well suited to the tight spaces and constrained thermal envelopes of small form factor systems. But another side benefit of Broadwell is that it also allows manufacturers to cram higher performing parts into the same (or... Read more...
We first got an official look at the Intel Compute Stick earlier this year, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In one of those “But wait! There’s more!” kind of moments common at trade shows, one of the good folks at Intel that was previously showing off a few upcoming NUC systems pulled a tiny device from his shirt pocket and revealed the diminutive Compute Stick. If you’re unfamiliar with the Intel Compute Stick, it’s essentially a fully-functional, low-power, Atom-based system—with memory, storage, and an OS--crammed into a form factor not much... Read more...
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