Not everyone can afford to build their very own Dream Machine, so we also created a scaled-down version that’s half the size
A while back, we made the decision to use Corsair's towering 900D case for this year's Dream Machine, and we knew we wanted to complement it with a Build It article. When the 900D’s little bro, the Corsair 350D, arrived in our offices a few weeks later, a plan started to form. About the same time as the case arrived, we also received Nvidia's GeForce GTX 700-series cards. With those, plus a Haswell CPU already in the Lab, the plan became fully realized: We’d just make a smaller version of the Dream Machine. The 350D wouldn’t take a full-size motherboard, but we could still pack it with full-size badassery like dual Nvidia GTX 780 cards, an unlocked Intel Core i7 CPU, a primo mATX motherboard (they do exist), a jumbo radiator, and other tasty accoutrements. Our goal was to build a rig that can game to the hilt just like the Dream Machine—only scaled back so it’s easier to assemble and a lot easier on your credit line.
Note: This article was originally featured in the September 2013 issue of the magazine
One is an outlier. Two a coincidence. But three, as we know from News Media Statistics 101, is a crystal-clear trend.
And that’s just what we have with the Digital Storm Bolt, which follows on the heels of Alienware’s X51 and Falcon Northwest’s Tiki: proof that the PC is making an assault on the living room. Of course, the “assault on the living room” is our own private fantasy about the PC pushing the traditional game console overboard—Digital Storm just presents the box as a small PC (although we will note that the machine came with a wireless keyboard and game controller).
Note: This review first appeared in the January 2013 issue of the magazine.
We had a tough time figuring out how to categorize the Polywell H770i-400B PC. Its small size puts it clearly in the class of HTPCs or mini PCs that get tucked behind a monitor or TV.
What’s confusing about the Polywell H7700i-400B is its power curve. PCs in this class typically pack AMD’s Fusion CPUs or Intel’s lower-voltage CPUs to balance price, thermals, acoustics, and the typically modest performance requirements of a mini PC.
A handsome aluminum chassis is marred by chintzy rubber feet that easily come loose.
The biggest thing about Zotac’s new ZBox Nano XS AD11 Plus may in fact be its name. This new mini PC is so small, it makes the diminutive ZBox Nano AD10 look positively fat in comparison.
Hell, the only commercial mini PC we’ve seen that’s smaller is the Apple TV, which is about the same width and depth but a quarter-inch thinner. The Apple TV is ARM-based, though, and more in the class of a typical HTPC streaming device. The AD11, with its AMD E-450 APU and 64GB SSD is a full-on PC. While streaming boxes such as WD’s Live have come a long way in capability, it’s tough to beat a PC’s ability to go anywhere you want. From streaming sites that are restricted by cable providers to not-safe-for-work content, an HTPC streaming PC trumps all others if you’re willing to live with a mouse and keyboard controls.
Zotac’s ZBox Nano XS AD11 Plus is the smallest commercial PC we’ve ever tested.
Computers, like people, come in all shapes and sizes. Except you've never seen people who tip the scales at 200-plus tons. Or expand so radically they essentially cover the earth. Or shrink so small they're no longer visible.
For today we're going to look at the extremes. The smallest. The fattest. The most grandiose. And all things between—including a couple of quick jaunts down memory lane that'll have you pining for the innocent days of olde.