Nettops may have started out as the spiritual cousin of netbooks, with low power processors, tiny cases, and low price tags. But you know what piece never really fit? That underpowered CPU. Because let’s face it, nobody really buys a mini-desktop because they want it to be able to do less. They just want it to cost less, and take up less space — maybe with some energy savings thrown in for good measure. And that’s why the Tranquil PC iXL is such an interesting looking machine.
This mini-laptop isn’t much larger than an ASRock ION nettop. But instead of an Intel Atom processor, this little guy has a 2.93GHz Intel Core i3-530 CPU. The computer still manages to use just over 30W of power while idle. While that’s high by netbook/nettop standards, it still makes this little computer more comparable with a laptop than a typical PC in terms of power consumption.
The Tranquil PC iXL also has DVI, HDMI eSATA, and USB ports, as well as an optical drive bay for a DVD or Blu-Ray drive. There are 2 DDR3 memory slots and a hard drive bay.
Prices start at £389, or about $576 US which seems reasonable — until you realize that the price doesn’t include RAM, a hard drive, operating system, or Blu-Ray drive (It does, however, include a DVD drive). Adding 1GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and Windows 7 Home Premium brought the price up to $812.
Still, while the price could be lower, I appreciate that companies are starting to put out small form factor computers that you could use as home theater PCs, low end gaming rigs, or workhorse computers.
Since I am not a Gamer I have replaced my Desktops with low power units already. First a Zino hd with AMD x2 1.5ghz and ati 4330 graphics.
The other a studio hybrid with 2.1 ghz dual core cpu and intel 3100 gma.
Bother use less than 50 watts at full output. I paid $299.00 for the Studio and $349.00 for the Zino both on sale. Both play 1080p video just fine I am no longer sucking power just to be on the internet.
They might pay for themselves eventually but as one already mentioned some people are running high powered desktops to download a torrent. I reaaly like the new desktops and they must have a dvd, but I think many are overpriced considering whats left out..
I does feel good to not waste all those watts when I don’t need to.
They’ve got a Core i5 version as well.
Compared to current generation Mac Mini:
* Slightly more expensive ($576 barebones vs. $699 w/2GB RAM + 320GB HD)
* Much larger (a stack of 3 Mac Minis would be very slightly shorter and more than 1.5″ smaller in width and depth)
* Uses 3 times more power in idle (30W vs 10W), under load probably not far apart-the Core i3-530 CPU is 73W, the Mac Mini is speced at 85W.
* Much slower 3D graphics performance (Core i3 integrated graphics is probably a little more than half as fast as Nvidia GeForce 320M)
* No wireless (Mac Mini includes 802.11n + Bluetooth 2.1+EDR)
On the positive side:
* More powerful CPU
* Supports faster memory
* Two internal hard drive bays (one 2.5″, one 3.5″)
* PCIe x16 2.0 low profile slot
* More analog audio outputs + separate optical digital output (6.1 vs. stereo digital/analog, but Mac Mini’s audio input is also switchable digital/analog), both apparently support multichannel digital audio output via HDMI.
* Eight more USB+eSATAx3 (Mac Mini has Firewire 800)
* Media card reader (unspecified format compatibility) vs SD card reader
The eSATA, the PCIe slot, and the extra drive bay could be quite useful for a media PC, probably unnecessary for an office PC. I don’t understand why Apple stuck the SD card slot in the back.
It’s probably not as big a deal with your typical home consumer, but something like this would be huge savings for corporations looking to cut costs without cutting personnel. In most companies I’ve worked for IT generally mandates that employees leave their computers on at night so they can be upgraded/scanned/or whatever remotely without having to physically walk over to a machine.
Moving to a lower idle power draw for a consumer might mean a 10-15 dollar savings per year, which isn’t really enough to justify the expense. When you have 800 or more employees, and the correspondingly higher utility bill that corporate work sites usually see each month, the equation change somewhat… it’s not big dollars, but it’s enough to switch the requirements when replacing PC’s so that you slowly green the computer infrastructure over time. If that happens a company can see a fairly sizable return without a lot of up front investment.
“It’s probably not as big a deal with your typical home consumer”
That might be true in countries where electricity is cheap (relatively) but my mini-itx Atom system paid for itself after 18months. There’s also the environmental benefit of very low consumption. I hear of people downloading torrents 24/7 on a gaming PC which is abhorrent.
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