CompuLab Strikes Again; Intense PC Looks Sweet!

 

CompuLab, the company that brought us the Fit-PC series have a special place in my heart. Their little super-small-form-factor PCs hold an attractive quality that’s hard to describe.

I rather impulsively bought a Fit-PC2 even though I really didn’t have any need for it. The little 4″ square box is actually mounted on a VESA bracket on the back of an LCD monitor. It essentially turns that monitor into a net-top.

As cute and appealing as they were, a Fit-PC was never going to be my primary desktop. Sporting an Intel Atom running at 1.1 GHz they just didn’t have the CPU power to fill that role. However, that may be changing. The introduction of their latest offering, Intense PC, might make a viable replacement for my ailing desktop.

Intense PC has a form factor similar to Fit-PC3, but dials up the hardware specs quite a bit. Here’s an excerpt from the Feb 27 press release announcing the product:

 

Specifications

  • Intel® Core™ i7-2610UE Processor (4M Cache, 1.50 GHz dual-core) with Intel® HD Graphics 3000
  • Intel® Core™ i3-2340UE Processor (3M Cache, 1.30 GHz dual-core) with Intel® HD Graphics 3000
  • Intel® Celeron® Processor 847E (2M Cache, 1.10 GHz dual-core) with Intel® HD Graphics 2000
  • Intel® Celeron® Processor 827E (1.5M Cache, 1.40 GHz) with Intel® HD Graphics 2000
  • Chipset: Intel® HM65 Express Chipset
  • RAM: Up to 16 GB dual channel DDR3-1333 using two SO-DIMM sockets
  • Storage: Internal 2.5” hard disk or SSD – SATA3 6 Gbps
  • 2x eSATA ports – SATA2 3 Gbps
  • mSATA socket (shared with mini-PCIe socket)
  • Display: HDMI 1.4 up to 1920×1200 with 3D support
  • DisplayPort up to 2560×1600
  • Audio: 7.1 channels S/PDIF in/out, stereo line-out, mic
  • LAN: 2x GbE ports
  • WLAN: WiFi 802.11b/g/n (2 antennas) + Bluetooth® 3.0
  • USB: 2x USB3 ports 5 Gbps
  • 2 USB2 ports 480 Mbps
  • Serial: RS232 full UART via mini serial connector
  • Power: 8 – 16V
  • Dimensions: 7.5” x 6.3” x 1.57” (19 x 16 x 4 cm)

The release indicated availability in Q2, but Amazon doesn’t show the device as offered yet. I’ve sent an email to inquire about pricing and availability. If the pricing isn’t outrageous I’ll definitely consider it as an alternative to traditional box.

I’d order it with the i7 CPU and add one of the Seagate Momentus XT hybrid disk drives. It just happens that I have one hanging around after last weeks debacle with the old desktop.

Of course, I’d not have the RAID 1 disk storage that I’ve come to appreciate these past few years. Perhaps I could work around that with a more diligent backup regime.

Fast. Small. Quiet. Cool. These are all good directions for a home office.

  • mjgraves

    Cute as they might be, the pricing has been released and I will not be going this direction. Here’s what you get for $972 USD.

    Intense PC Standard 4GB Win7 Home Premium
    Intel Core i3-2340UE (1.3 GHz dual core + Intel HD Graphics 3000 – 17W)
    2GB DDR3 SODIMM x2
    HDD 500GB with Windows Home Premium
    WiFi 802.11 b/g/n + BT 3
    4 USB FACE Module

    That takes it completely out of contention for most people. You must really, truly need the minute form factor to see that as acceptable pricing.

    • Clay

      I don’t think you analysis here is exactly fair. Sure there’s going to be a price premium on a product like this, but it actually a lot less expensive than you let on. Most people who are going to buy something like this are likely tinkerers and will opt for the barebones model to save money and fill it with their own memory/disk.

      I’m actually planning to order one of these to use as an XBMC linux-based HTPC streaming media from a linux fileserver.

      – $836 + $20 shipping – Intense PC Pro Barebones -> Intel Core i7-3517UE (1.7 GHz dual core + Intel HD Graphics 4000 – 17W)- $42 + free shipping – G.Skill 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1333 (NewEgg)- $55 + free shipping – OCZ Solid 3 60GB SATA III MLC SSD (NewEgg)- $0 – Your linux flavor of choice (Slackware in my case)Total = $953As you can see the top of the line Ivy Bridge model with HD graphics 4000 can be had for $19 less than the configuration you specified just by doing a little work and avoiding the Windows tax. I won’t contest the niche aspect of this box, but people need to do their due diligence if they want to get the best deal. Windows will always add $80-$150 to the price of a pre-built system. It’s time we stopped faulting companies for merely offering the option if they also offer the option to go without.Clay

      • mjgraves

        The problem I face is that, in my personal application I can’t assign much value to the form factor, no matter how much it pleases me. I am still somewhat considering a new desktop PC. However, for $1K-ish I can do considerably better than the capabilities presented by the Intense PC.

        If this were a commercial digital signage application where the form factor added a lot of value then I could certainly justify the expense. In replacing my desktop PC I need performance over form factor, although I have over the years tended to buy SFF desktops.

        If money were no object then I’d buy one just to have a look at it, as I did with the FIT-PC2.

        I do agree that making the hardware available without an OS is a great move. Everyone should do that. Unfortunately, for my primary desktop I remain largely committed to Windows7. Too many apps that I already have and need to run, not to mention the fact that my employer is a Windows development shop.

        • Clay

          To be fair I admit that you did frame your writeup as how the logic of this purchase would work for you personally, but I just wanted to add another perspective. Some people live in small homes and having one less box under the desk or under the TV could make all the difference.

          I’ve had HTPC of ever decreasing size and noize. My current setup is an i5 rig (HD Graphics 3000), passively cooled with an SSD so there is absolutely no noise or moving parts. It’s amazing but this, for me, would be the ultimate in downsizing. A quarter the size of my current machine using a fraction of the power while mounted to the back of the TV, absolutely no visible wires, IR/Bluetooth keyboard, mouse and HTPC remote.

          Hell, if they hurry up and issue the promised bios update that adds mSATA drive support I’d take two!

          • mjgraves

            I can certainly see that in aux roles, like an HTPC, it’s a really attractive little package. 

            It it were my employers $ involved I would definitely buy a couple. When we stage trade shows we are always pressed for space in the storage room where the racks is located. These little systems would be great for PCs in supporting roles where specific graphics capability (nVidia Quadro4000 typically) were not required.