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.

A new era of home entertainment is upon us. If you think about how you watch TV today versus 10 or even five years ago, it's probably a completely different experience. Nearly everything is served up in high definition, digital video recorders (DVRs) are now the norm and not the exception, and streaming services are making a big push to be the primary way in which you view content traditionally served up by cable and satellite TV. Unless you live way out in the boonies, you're probably rocking a broadband Internet connection, which is your gateway to any number of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, VUDU, Pandora, and so forth. With so much online content to choose from, you could... Read more...
Dell's enthusiast gaming PC division has built a legacy on designing over-the-top desktops and notebooks, that push the boundaries of performance and style with an unmistakable design flair.  We've been pretty impressed with the Alienware systems we've looked at thus far, and though they tend to run a premium in terms of price, performance and design quality generally scale along with that higher price tag. On the test track, Alienware notebooks have racked up some of the best performance numbers we've seen and the company's desktops rank right up there as well.  One shape the Aliens have never assumed previously, however, is the small form-factor desktop.  And let's be honest,... Read more...
Zotac is one of a select few companies that have fully embraced the ultra-small form factor and home theater PC markets. Although they’re also known for producing custom, high-end graphics cards, and an array of motherboards, which include a smorgasbord or mini-ITX options, Zotac’s Zbox and Mag lines of mini PCs are quite diverse. A quick jaunt to their website reveals over 30 ultra small form factor designs that leverage technology from Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, and even VIA. What’s also interesting about Zotac’s mini-PCs are their extensive feature sets. Zotac seemingly crams as many features into a small space as physically possible. If you need proof, look no further than... Read more...
Apple's Mac mini hadn't seen a substantial update for about a year, but with Intel's second generation Core processor family arriving in 2011, it was only a matter of time before one of those chips found favor with Apple's tiniest desktop. The Mac mini design really hasn't changed in the year or so it took the folks in Cupertino to swap out the Core 2 Duo for Intel's new Core i line of processors. In terms of volume and dimension, it's almost exactly the same as the 2010 edition, but with a major addition--that port between the HDMI socket and those four USB 2.0 ports. It's a Thunderbolt port, a lightning-fast interconnect jointly designed with Intel. With the addition... Read more...
Free flowing bandwidth; it's an enabler.  There was a time when no one had cable modems or DSL lines. Remember that?  Alright, fair enough, neither do we.  Regardless, having a 10Mb+ data connection to your domicile is a thing of beauty, because there's obviously so much you can do with it.  The question becomes not so much what the cable or telecom companies tell you, or sell to you, with respect to what you can do with it, but rather what a little imagination, and some optimized hardware and software can do with it.  And that's exactly the premise by which service platforms like Roku, Apple TV, Google TV and Boxee were born, though Boxee was a bit of a pioneer... Read more...
Asus is out to prove that big things really do come in small packages with its EeeBox PC EB1501P. This nettop offers an array of I/O ports as well as a slot-load optical disc drive and the ability to play content from your own media library in Full HD. Thanks to USB 3.0, the EeeBox PC EB1501P also supports fast transfers of high definition content as well as other large files from external storage. Powered by Intel's energy efficient Atom processor, the EeeBox PC EB1501P uses up to 70 percent less energy than a traditional desktop PC. To ensure you're not trading too much performance for power savings though, Asus' Super Hybrid Engine enhances the system's performance and also tailors the nettop's... Read more...
Nettops are not nearly as popular as their mobile contemporaries, i.e. netbooks, arguably due to the lack of any significant horsepower within the tiny machines. Up until now, most nettops have been good for little more than basic Office duties, Web surfing, and occasional 720p (max) movie playback. There's a fine line that has to be walked with a nettop; there's far too little space to shove a Core i3 or better CPU in there, and besides, companies are trying to keep pricing at reasonable levels. Thus, nettops have largely been left with one main processor option: Intel's Atom family. If you've read a few of our past netbook reviews, you may have noticed that we've been somewhat... Read more...
  When building or buying a desktop gaming system, enthusiasts don't normally put much thought into how much it's going to weigh, or how hard it will be to carry around when attending a LAN party. Notebook and netbook end users are much more weight-conscious consumers than are folks looking at desktops, obviously.  And in the case of a gaming desktop, users tend to opt for power over form factor.  Then the day comes that you decide to bring the system to someone's house, or to a hotel ballroom, for a LAN party. That's when you realize your desktop, in its steel tower case, throws your back out when you try to load it into your car. AVA Direct's... Read more...
NVIDIA's Ion platform generated quite a buzz when news first broke of the company's plans late last year. As such, we've been keeping on top of Ion-related developments and have posted a number of stories related to Ion, beginning with our coverage of the platform at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. We followed that up with an evaluation of NVIDIA's own Ion reference system, and a few weeks back took a look at the first design win announced for the platform, the Acer Aspire Revo.Today though, we're going to take a look Zotac's brand new Ion-based motherboard. What makes this product interesting to us is that it's the first one designed for the do-it-yourself crowd looking to assemble their... Read more...
We have been talking about NVIDIA's Ion since late last year when news first broke of the ultra small form factor platform. At the time, NVIDIA's tiny Atom-powered prototype system wasn't even called Ion yet, but images of the miniscule motherboard that would eventually be used in the reference platform had already surfaced and the community was buzzing with interest. One of the major concerns with most netbooks and nettops was their relatively weak integrated graphics solutions, and Ion would potentially address that concern.Around the time when Ion was first announced, there was some scuttlebutt that Intel "disapproved" of the platform and that the company wouldn't sell OEMs Atom processors... Read more...
Two perpetually, almost fad-like and recurring themes for computing technology in 2008 are low power, environmentally friendly products as well as tiny, small form-factor or ultra-portable machines.  Power consumption and size -- it has become undeniably hip and cool to offer products that cater to the new carbon footprint and mechanical footprint-minded consumer. If you didn't know better, it almost seems like the introduction of Asus' Eee PC started the craze back in Q4 of '07 but clearly, at least small form-factor system have been around for many years.  Some of you will remember Shuttle's line of wildly popular barebones XPCs which... Read more...
Synopsis:  With an Intel Core 2 Duo low power dual-core processor under its hood, this machine is capable in many mainstream user applications and could make for a decent Home Theater PC.  Aficionados may scoff at the system's integrated Intel X3100 graphics, which does not provide full offload processing for HD video.  However, the Studio Hybrid has more than enough power to playback full 1080p resolution content with its Core 2 Duo dual core processor, standard 160GB hard drive and DDR2-667 system memory.  As a minimalistic business-class machine, family computer or college-bound bookshelf computer, the Studio Hybrid has all the basic features... Read more...
Asus certainly made a splash this year with their line of ultra-light, ultra-affordable Eee PC notebooks and they've been fleshing out the product line ever since with a wealth of new offerings, as the company continues to milk the product's successful brand name recognition for all it's worth.  Since their initial release we've seen a number of different notebook-based Eee PC products come to market, including machines pre-loaded with either Windows XP or Linux operating systems.  In addition, Asus has even brought out larger models, with the 10" display and near full size keyboard of the Eee PC 1000 series of notebooks, not to mention larger storage options... Read more...
Synopsis:  In some respects, when we think about what the capabilities of a $349 desktop system should be like, we can't help but be impressed what Asus has achieved and the overall value of the Eee Box.  What's more impressive though is the Eee Box's absolutely tiny form-factor and completely miserly power consumption.  The original Eee PC notebook cultivated quite an enthusiastic following in the marketplace and we think the Eee Box is likely to as well.Our more detailed full review can be found here at HotHardware:https://hothardware.com/Articles/Asus_Eee_Box_B202_Desktop_System/      ... Read more...
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