Items tagged with SFF

As Intel (and other chip makers) have been able to shrink its processors, integrate more features, and reduce power requirements over the years, manufacturers have been able to fit them into smaller and smaller form factors. That means notebooks and tablets have gotten thinner, lighter, faster and more portable over the years, of course, but it also means that desktop systems no longer need to be big boxes crammed with numerous components and cooling hardware. In some ways, Intel’s NUC series of products are the epitome of this dynamic. Intel’s NUC systems are ultra-small form factor systems that pack almost all of the features of a full sized desktop, but with minimal expansion options. Intel... Read more...
Intel is readying its latest generation of NUC small form factor systems, based on the company’s recently-released Broadwell-U processors. We got our hands on a Core i5-powered version dubbed the NUC5i5RYK. To be more specific, this little machine is packing a Core i5-5250U processor with on-die Intel HD 6000 series graphics. The system also sports built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0, M.2 SSD support, and a host of other features. We’re still readying our full review, but in the meantime we thought you’d like to take a peek at the diminutive Intel NUC5i5RYK to get a sense of what the system can do. As you’ll see, not only is the machine nice and small, but it packs... Read more...
Valve’s Steam Machine was all the rage at CES 2014 in Las Vegas, but as we enter 2015, the SteamOS gaming platform (and Valve’s tantalizing Steam Controller) are still works in progress. SteamOS hasn’t been written off, but Dell, which was one of the first PC makers to build a custom console-sized system for SteamOS, isn’t waiting around. Its Alienware gaming brand launched the Alienware Alpha, which is meant to be your next (or your first) living room gaming PC. The Alienware Alpha plugs the holes left by Valve with Microsoft hardware and software and a simple 10-ft UI developed in house. Instead of shipping with a Steam Controller, for example, the Alpha features an Xbox 360 wireless controller.... Read more...
SFF (small form factor) rigs can be tricky; depending on the configuration, they can be decent if underpowered machines or performance beasts, and although many system builders are putting out whole lines of the compact computers, you’ve in some cases only been able to configure them so much, often limited by the size of the chassis. CyberPowerPC, for its part, has just launched a configurator for SFF builds, so you can obsess about every detail and nuance of a little build as much as you have larger systems. The key is CyberPowerPC’s use of chassis that can support a wider variety of components, such as full-size graphics cards and standard-size PSUs. Chassis include the Corsair... Read more...
The small form factor market has seen a ton of innovation as of late, and while it’s quite nice to have so many tiny PC options that offer generally impressive performance in a package that you can stick just about anywhere (often with price tags that make these machines affordable enough as your second PC), system builders need to work harder than ever to differentiate their products. Zotac has decided to take a stab at a radical chassis design with its Zbox OI520 Plus “Sphere”, and indeed, the black orb will make you do a double-take when you see it. It’s small. It’s spherical. It’s certainly different. And it has an icy blue LED light band around its entire... Read more...
The small form factor market has seen a ton of innovation as of late, and while it’s quite nice to have so many tiny PC options that offer generally impressive performance in a package that you can stick just about anywhere (often with price tags that make these machines affordable enough as your second PC), system builders need to work harder than ever to differentiate their products. Zotac has decided to take a stab at a radical chassis design with its Zbox OI520 Plus “Sphere”, and indeed, the black orb will make you do a double-take when you see it. It’s small. It’s spherical. It’s certainly different. And it has an icy blue LED light band around its... Read more...
Small form factor PCs are all the rage these days, and the boutique builders are no exception. Increasingly, companies are looking for ways to push the envelope in terms of what they offer in a compact rig, and to that end Maingear built a liquid-cooled system called the Epic Torq. The system offers closed-loop liquid cooling on both the CPU and GPU. The system runs up to an Intel Core i7-4790K (4/4.4GHz, overclocked up to 5GHz) with either an NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Z (12GB GDDR5) or AMD Radeon R9 295X2 (8GB GDDR5) GPU. It supports up to 16GB of Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR3-2133 (2x8GB) memory, up to three internal storage drives (up to 1TB SSD and 4TB HDD), and onboard Gigabit Ethernet... Read more...
There are lots of SFF PCs floating around these days, but the Zbox Sphere from Zotac is an odd duck among them. Instead of a tall and slim chassis or a tiny square-ish thing like a NUC, this PC is a sphere. (Er, hence the name.) It’s not just a gimmick to hear Zotac tell it, either; in a press release, Zotac actually calls it a “sphere form factor” which would indicate that the company views the Sphere series as a whole new way of making SFF rigs. From a marketing perspective, it’s certainly a wise idea. The sphere shape is distinctive and could help Zotac’s products stand out from NUCs and Brix PCs, and it’s too obvious to try and copy it. (That said, there’s... Read more...
CyberPowerPC isn’t the only boutique gaming PC maker building tiny PCs this week. iBuypower announced a new rig of its own called the HEXA Ultra Compact Performance System, which is available in both Intel and AMD flavors. On the Intel side, the HEXA will come with the Intel Core i7-4770R with Intel Iris Pro 5200 graphics while the AMD version will rock the AMD (Richland) A8-5557M APU. Expect 8GB of DDR3-1600 SO-DIMM memory and a 500GB (5400 rpm) HDD with Windows 8.1 and WiFi and Bluetooth (via a mini PCIe module) in base configurations. Ports include mini DisplayPort, HDMI, four total USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet port, a Kensington lock port, and an audio jack. You can add an mSATA... Read more...
The SFF gaming PC craze is in full swing, and CyberPowerPC has lent the “Fang” moniker to a pair of the little beasts. The company is rolling out the Fang Mini R9 (which is based on an AMD platform) and the Fang Mini Pro (which is based on Intel), both of which are available today. How small is small? The chassis measures just 4.5 x 4.3 x 2.4 inches (LxWxH). The AMD version sports an AMD A8-5557M quad-core APU with Radeon R9 M275X (2GB) graphics, 8GB of DDR3 RAM (expandable to 16GB), and a 1TB (7200 rpm) HDD for $799. The Pro version rocks a quad-core Intel Core i7-4770R chip with integrated Iris Pro Graphics 5200, 8GB of DDR3 RAM (also expandable to 16GB), and a 1TB 7200 rpm HDD.... Read more...
Intel's Haswell 4th generation Core series processors with Iris Pro Graphics (formerly known by the code name Crystal Well) offered the promise of more robust integrated graphics performance, since we first laid eyes on the Gigabyte-built device we're showcasing here today, back at CES 2014 in Las Vegas earlier this year. The Gigabyte BRIX Pro is a tiny 4.5-inch square "brick" of technology, if you will, and it's powered by an Intel Core i7-4770R quad-core processor with integrated Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200. This CPU actually boasts the fastest, most powerful Intel graphics engine we have tested to date, so this should be an interesting ride to say the least. Let's have a look... Gigabyte... Read more...
Mini PCs are big business these days, whether you consider devices like Valve's Steambox initiative, ASUS' Chromebox, Zotac's ZBox line or Intel's own NUC (Next Unit of Computing) mini PC. In fact, Intel has gone on record, projecting mini PCs like this have shipped over a million units in 2013 and are projected for strong growth this year as well.  So what's the attraction? Obviously there are a number of use cases for this class of device, whether it be as a home theater PC, a strategically placed and aesthetically pleasing family or office PC or even as an arguably (or not) more versatile alternative to console gaming.  Regardless, the form factor itself has taken the market... Read more...
Zotac has a new lineup of mini PCs that alternately rock Intel Core CPUs and AMD A8 APUs, and some of them are aimed at mainstream gamers. The Zotac Zbox E-Series offer Intel Iris Pro 5200 graphics with 128GB of EDRAM and Intel Pixel Sync technology and have quad-core Intel Core i7-4770R (3.2GHz) or Intel Core i5-4570R (2.7GHZ), both with Turbo Boost. Zotac ZBOX E-Series The four E-Series models also feature up to 16GB of DDR3-1600 RAM (2 DIMMs) and a 2.5-inch HDD or SSD. The “Plus” configuration offers 8GB of RAM and a 1TB (5400 RPM) HDD via SATA 6Gbps. Ports include two DisplayPort, two DVI-O, a 4-in-1 card reader, dual 10/100/1000 LAN, four USB 3.0, and 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth... Read more...
We’ve been hankering to test out one of CyberPowerPC’s new Zeus Mini SFF gaming desktop models ever since we got some hands on time with it at CES, so we were happy to unpack the black and neon green Zeus Mini-I 780 that CyberPowerPC sent us this week. Small form factor (SFF) PCs are something of a trend these days, and frankly, it’s refreshing to see powerful machines on the market that don’t take up much space and and don’t weigh 50 pounds.... CyberPowerPC Zeus Mini-I 780 SFF Gaming PC Review... Read more...
We’ve been hankering to test out one of CyberPowerPC’s new Zeus Mini SFF gaming desktop models ever since we got some hands on time with it at CES, so we were happy to unpack the black and neon green Zeus Mini-I 780 that CyberPowerPC sent us this week. Small form factor (SFF) PCs are something of a trend these days, and frankly, it’s refreshing to see powerful machines on the market that don’t take up much space and and don’t weigh 50 pounds. However, there are two big challenges a SFF machine must face. One is engineering a system that can fit all of those high-end components into a tiny space while still dissipating heat effectively. The... Read more...
We got a firsthand look at some of CyberPowerPC’s Zeus Mini small form factor gaming PCs at CES, and now you can grab your very own from the company’s site. There are eight different models to choose from, with three AMD-based models and five systems rocking Intel parts. The SFF chassis, which measures just 4.4 x 17.4 x 13 inches (LxWxH), houses a mini ITX motherboard and a slim 8x DVD/RW drive, and it can accommodate full-size GPUs and 240mm liquid coolers. Each system includes three USB 3.0 ports, HDMI 1.4, and HD audio. To give you a sense of the range of the Zeus Mini options, the least expensive system is $599 and has an AMD A10-A7850K processor, integrated graphics, 8GB (4GB... Read more...
We got a sneak peak at Gigabyte’s new Brix Gaming PC when we toured the company’s booth at CES, and now the tiny machine with discrete graphics is official. Other Gigabyte Brix PCs we’ve been privy to rely on integrated graphics--which, considering that some of those IGPs are Intel’s Iris Pro Graphics isn’t anything to sneeze at--but the new Brix Gaming model offers a discrete AMD Radeon R9 M275X GPU (2GB), along with an AMD A8-5557M APU. The system is sold as a DIY kit (with a preinstalled WiFi Mini PCIe module), so you can choose your own SO-DIMMs (there are two slots supporting up to 16GB of 1600MHz) and storage configuration. For storage, there’s an mSATA... Read more...
 We spent a little time meeting with the folks from Gigabyte while zipping from demo suite to demo suite at CES, and have some interesting products to show you. Along with a their wide array of existing motherboards, graphics cards, and peripherals, Gigabyte was showing off some brand new products as well, including a few updated (and more powerful) Brix small form factor machines and a couple of Thunderbolt 2.0 certified motherboards.   This GA-ZZ87X-UD7 TH is one of Gigabyte’s latest flagship Z87 Express based motherboards for Intel’s 4th Gen Core processors. In addition to all of the features inherent to the chipset, Gigabyte has also equipped this board with high-end... Read more...
The long-awaited Steam Machine consoles are rolling out, and Digital Storm fittingly placed the “Bolt” name on its version. The first Bolt, which we reviewed, was all the things we expect now from Steam Machines--compact size, excellent specs, and a cool design. The Digital Storm Bolt II is a SFF and hybrid Steam Machine, which is to say that it offers both Steam OS and Windows, thus giving gamers the option to run either OS. That perhaps runs slightly counter to what Valve had in mind with Steam OS, but it’s a terrific idea nonetheless. “We (Digital Storm) are not looking to compete with console pricing,”? said Rajeev Kuruppu, Digital Storm?s Director of Product... Read more...
Falcon Northwest is a big name in a very niche market of luxury PCs. The company is known for special touches like custom cases (think FragBox) and mind-blowing, artist-rendered panel images. The company has also built the rest of its reputation on blazing PC performance. Falcon Northwest recently shipped its Tiki to take on the other small form factor rigs we’ve tested of late. The Tiki is small enough and light enough that it could be your next LAN-party rig, but it’s really meant for your desk. And although it’s much, much smaller than your old full- or mid-tower system, it’s going to draw a lot more attention, by virtue of its statuesque design. The Tiki has a clean,... Read more...
Desktops are evolving, getting smaller and less intrusive. Zotac is a company that's been at the forefront of this evolution by offering up a constantly expanding line of small form factor (SFF) mini PCs that have grown more powerful with each new generation. The compromise between raw performance and power efficiency lessens with each advance AMD and Intel make to their respective processor technologies. In this vein, Zotac sent us its ZBOX ID89 Plus. This little system hardly takes up any space, yet it packs an Intel Core i5 3470T dual-core processor clocked at 2.9GHz (3.6GHz Turbo), 4GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, half a terabyte of HDD-based storage, and a plethora of complementary parts and features... Read more...
If you're a proponent of the desktop, don't worry, the sky isn't falling on your form factor. Yes, we've read the same reports you have, the ones pointing out how traditional PC sales are shrinking in the wake of a mobile revolution that has consumers turning to tablets and smartphones for surfing the web and logging into Facebook. There's no denying mobile is sexy right now, but when it comes to getting work done and playing games with more depth than Angry Birds, desktops haven't lost their swagger. Desktops are evolving, however, and getting smaller and less intrusive. Zotac is a company that's been at the forefront of this evolution by offering up a constantly-expanding line of small form... Read more...
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