I recently mentioned I was searching for a new desktop PC. In particular, I’m looking for a small form-factor PC that will sit, quite literally, on my desktop. It needs to be reasonable powerful and quiet. At the time too I mentioned it was difficult to find such PCs, without having to build one yourself. However, I’ve now come across 7 and I just wanted to provide details on each and where, I think, they’re lacking. I haven’t used any of these, I should add, so this is not a review!
Unless otherwise stated, all have 8GB of DDR3 memory and have an Intel Core i5 processor.
Chillblast Fusion Dagger
This is one of my favourites so far. It’s in a reasonably compact case and for additional money Chillblast will add additional quiet components.
I don’t play games but want reasonably powerful graphics which is ably provided by the built in Intel HD4000 built into the Ivy Bridge processor.
One of my requirements of a new desktop PC was a small SSD to compliment at least 1GB HDD – this would give the OS a lick of speed and vastly improve boot times. In this respect the Fusion Dagger doesn’t disappoint with a 30GB SSD and 2TB HDD – even better, the HDD, SSD and the motherboard have SATA which operate at 6GBPS, rather than the usual 3GBPS.
The only thing about this that disappoints is that the case uses a tray loading laptop-style optical drive. It looks ugly on the case and ruins what would otherwise be an attractive offering.
The Alienware X51 looks great and has been designed for gamers – that means you get a powerful machine for your money.
Sadly, it’s out of contention as it doesn’t include an SSD but it comes with the best graphics capability (a GeForce GT 545 graphics card). It’s also got a nicely frugle 240W power supply too.
Although this case is a lot taller than the Chillblast the overall dimensions are slightly smaller.
Dell Inspiron 660S
Using their slimline tower, this has similar dimensions to the Alienware. Again, their is no SSD option but it has a 220W power supply. The processor is slower, though.
Oddly they’ve included a seperate graphics card but it’s not very powerful and hardly out-paces the discreet graphics
A 2TB HDD is included along with a Blu-Ray optical drive and this is the cheapest set-up I found at under £600.
VeryPC make very green, lower PCs to individual requirements. There are no online configuration tools – a sales representative calls you and goes through your requirements.
The Broadleaf case that’s used is superb and is the 2nd smallest here.
They include a 60GB SSD. Unfortunately the best HDD option is a 500GB laptop drive that spins at 5400RPM.
The processor is a slower, previous generation and has the Intel HD 2500 graphics, a lot slower than the modern HD 4000 version.
ASRock Vision HT Series
Advertised through their site, ASRock unfortunately don’t sell direct and trying to find one of these has proved difficult – I therefore don’t know the price.
Intended more as a media PC this is the smallest here – it’s nearly half the size of the VeryPC.
It has just a 90W power supply but also contained a Blu-Ray drive and a reasonable processor with Intel HD 4000 graphics. There’s no SSD and only a 750GB HDD option. It’s also the only system to have less than 8GB of memory – just 4GB.
It looks great but otherwise nothing particularly stands out.
QuietPC Streamcom FC8-H61
A beautiful looking, fanless system from QuietPC. It’s not much bigger than the VeryPC case but rocks a modern Intel Core i7 processor, making it the fastest PC here.
It has a lowly 160W power supply but lacks an SSD. A 1TB HDD is included.
Sadly, the price is prohibitive at nearly £950.
Overclockers Titan Prodigy X
The case that the Titan uses looks amazing – looking like a half height Apple G5 server. Unfortunately it’s also big – the biggest case here by quite some margin. At nearly £890 it’s also not particularly cheap. It’s also powered by a not-to-frugal 650W power supply.
Which is a shame because it has a speedy Ivy Bridge processor, 1TB HDD and 120GB SSD and is the best looking desktop here.
There are some great systems here, running modern Ivy Bridge processors and really proving that modern desktops really don’t need to be in large cases. They are also, on the whole, extremely attractive, very different from the glossy black plastics of the usual “tower” case.
There are many companies out there manufacturing these small desktop cases – it just needs more PC companies to use them
Sadly, the manufacturers are rarely offering SSDs as an option, possibly due to the more restrictive case sizes. Hopefully, they’ll catch up with trends though and, when desktop sales are falling, find a way to breath some life back into the market.