Smaller size systems don't signal the end of overclocking
We still find full tower system sexy as ever, but there's a definite trend right now toward small form factor (SFF) rigs. Valve is partially responsible for the movement as it finds ways to encourage PC gamers to play in the living room via Big Picture Mode and Steam Machines, both of which are proving popular. Wondering what impact this trend will have on overclocking? No doubt trying to overclock in tightly packed systems becomes a bigger challenge due to higher temps, but it's not impossible -- just ask the folks at G.Skill who overclocked a set of Ripjaws SO-DIMM memory to DDR3-2600 speeds.
Zotac, a company that's best known for its line of mini PCs, just fleshed out its Zbox family with a new model. The newly introduced Zbox ID45 comes to town wielding a 3rd Generation Intel Core i3 processor (Ivy Bridge) paired with Nvidia GeForce GT 640 graphics. It's a bit of a blast to the past to see a new system rocking a last generation foundation, though Zotac claims this combination offers plenty of performance while remaing energy efficient.
It doesn't take a monster system to run Microsoft Office or surf the web, hence why we're starting to see so many small form factor (SFF) PCs as of late. One of the newest SFF rigs to emerge is the Asus Eee Box EB1037, which is a mini-desktop system that looks like a router but is a full-fledged PC build around Intel's Bay Trail platform with a Celeron J1900 quad-core processor clocked at 2GHz.
Gordon gets up close and personal with the Bolt II
Digital Storm's original Bolt introduced gamers to a console-like box filled with PC hardware. It was essentially a Steam Machine before such a thing existed, minus Valve's Steam OS. This time around, Digital Storm's Bolt II is a bona fide Steam Machine that once again comes in a small form factor (SFF) chassis, only now it runs both Windows and Steam OS, and is liquid cooled to boot.
Fanning the flames of Valve's Steam Machine initiative with a Spark
Valve isn't having any trouble lining up hardware partners to build Steam Machine systems of varying power and shapes at different price points. One of those companies is Maingear, a boutique builder out of New Jersey that decided to go with an AMD foundation inside a small form factor (SFF) chassis for its take on a Steam Machine. The aptly named Spark measures only 4.5 inches wide by 4.23 inches deep by 2.34 inches high and weighs less than a pound.
Looking for a small PC? It doesn't get too much smaller that Zotac's Zbox Nano line of mini PCs, which you can tuck neatly out of sight behind your monitor for a home brewed all-in-one experience. These aren't typically powerhouse systems, though for the first time, you can get quad-core processing from a Zbox Nano machine. The new Zbox Nano AQ01 features an AMD A4-5000 APU clocked at 1.5GHz with Radeon HD 8330 graphics.
ASRock and BMW Group DesignworksUSA collaborated on a small form factor (SFF) system called M8 that offers "unstoppable gaming" and lots of other hyperbole, though before we get into the nuts and bolts of the machine, a little background is in order. ASRock, as you probably already know, is a player in the PC space and was originally formed as a subsidiary of Asus. It's now a part of Pegatron, which itself was spun off from Asus.
Lenovo on Tuesday announced the latest generation of its "Tiny" ThinkCentre desktop PCs. One of those new desktops is the ThinkCentre M93p, a small form factor (SFF) system that measures no wider than a golf ball (34.5mm), Lenovo claims. Don't let its small size fool you, the M93p can be configured with up to a 4th generation Intel Core i7 processor (Haswell) with Intel vPro technology.
Small form factor (SFF) systems are growing in popularity, especially as PC gamers look to venture out of their bedrooms and into the living room. Luckily for them, SFF cases are increasingly capable of housing high-end hardware, which is thanks in part to optimized designs but also power efficient hardware. We bring this up because boutique system builder Origin PC just dropped us a note to let us know it's now building systems inside Silverstone's box-like SG10 SFF chassis.
Small form factor (SFF) PCs have been around for a long while, but now we're starting to see ultra compact systems with powerful components emerge into the market place. Enter Gigabyte and its new BRIX desktop, a square-shaped PC that fits in the palm of your hand just like Intel's Next Unit of Computing (NUC) device, it sports a stylish glass surface mounted on an anthracite aluminum frame.