Small Form Factor PC Reviews And News

Palm sized or pint sized, PCs are getting smaller, more powerful and more capable. Micro ATX motherboards and mini ITX motherboards for X86 processors, as well as tiny single board computers that run Linux and other open source operating systems, can deliver powerful computing experiences and great performance per square millimeter. Here are the mighty mites.

We dig burly, decked-out gaming PCs stuffed with powerful hardware as much as the next guy around here. Sleek, ultra small form factor systems like the MINIX Neo Z83-4 we’ll be showing you here today, however, also have a certain appeal. Powerful gaming PCs are awesome for their intended purpose, but try sticking one in a typical home theater setup and things can so sideways. Not only will it usually look out of place, but there are power, heat, and noise considerations to worry about.  Conversely, a miniscule machine like the MINIX Neo Z83-4 is so quiet and requires such a small amount of power, that you’ll wonder why every self-respecting geek doesn’t have a tiny PC attached to their TV.The... 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 enclosure means the CPU inside must be actively cooled. There’s just not enough space in there for a... Read more...
There’s a lot to love about a mini-ITX gaming PC. Portability is a big draw, of course: carrying your computer through the parking lot to a LAN party is much easier if it happens to be an SFF system. Reclaiming desk space is another reason to go small. And some of us just take a lot of pleasure in knowing that our tiny, unassuming PC will drop a few jaws when it’s game time. With an Intel Core i7 3770 and an MSI GeForce GTX 660 at its heart, Maingear’s mini-ITX Potenza only looks mild-mannered. In fact, Maingear offers the system with up to a Core i7-3770K and a GTX Titan, but Maingear sent us a slightly tamer unit to show what it can do in the $1600 range. As configured,... Read more...
Notebook makers aren't the only ones trying to cram big performance parts into little form factors. Desktop system builders are attempting the same thing, and if you require proof, all the evidence you need is packed inside Maingear's Potenza Super Stock (SS) gaming PC. Built around the mini-ITX form factor, the Potenza SS is a small form factor (SFF) system that rises above moderate expectations of what a comparatively itty-bitty PC can truly deliver. As it turns out, a mini-ITX rig can pack quite the payload. It starts with an Intel Ivy Bridge foundation, and Maingear bumped up the default processor option to an unlocked Core i7 3770K chip. Maingear then goosed the CPU past its stock 3.5GHz... Read more...
It's hard to believe that the first time we set eyes on a Small Form Factor PC was back in December of 2001.  Back then, Shuttle was breaking new ground with several new products that helped give birth to a whole new sector in the PC industry.  As Shuttle's successes mounted with each new release, other manufacturers took notice and also started jumping into the Small Form Factor foray.  One such company to deliver their own mini-barebones units was MSI.  Their Mega mPC Series of SFF systems is comprised of various solutions that cater many different applications.  Whether your loyalties lie with Intel, AMD, VIA, NVIDIA or ATI, MSI has an mPC to... Read more...