Intel makes no secret about its intentions with Thin Mini-ITX. The chipmaker wants the market for all-in-one PCs to "mirror the tower desktop market as much as possible." The advent of Thin Mini-ITX and compatible all-in-one enclosures, like the Loop chassis we tested, are part of that strategy.
For the most part, I think we can say Intel has the hardware part of the equation down. Building a Thin Mini-ITX all-in-one is clearly quite different from building a tower desktop, but in our experience, it's not substantially more difficult. The use of standard components also promises future upgradability. Despite all of that, the resulting all-in-one system can be slim, slick, and fast, so the open nature of the system doesn't appear to involve serious compromises—awkward port cluster positioning excepted. The lack of space for a game-worthy graphics card is a downside, too, but it's forgivable enough considering the likely target market for all-in-ones. True gamers will no doubt want a proper desktop with a discrete display.
As for product availability, well, Intel still has some work to do in that area. Intel Product Marketing Engineer Rob L'Heureux told us pre-built Thin Mini-ITX all-in-ones are available at Newegg and Amazon right now, but he couldn't name specific models, and our search didn't yield any machines that were clearly identifiable as Thin Mini-ITX offerings. Intel's Thin Mini-ITX portal is also frustratingly bereft of product links.
Thin Mini-ITX parts and enclosures for home builders are available at retail, but not in great quantities. We found Amazon Marketplace listings for both the Loop chassis we reviewed (asking price: $264.60) and Intel's DH61AG motherboard (sold for $109.46). Amazon sells Intel's BXHTS1155LP cooler directly for $25, too. However, none of those parts are listed at Newegg, and Amazon says there's only one Loop chassis, three DH61AG boards, and 16 coolers in stock right now.
Still, there's no question the Thin Mini-ITX platform, whether in all-in-ones or small-form-factor desktops, is a positive thing for the PC industry. The PC owes much of its success to openness, and any efforts to maintain or expand that openness warrant praise. I think Intel deserves particular commendation, given that its hardware already powers the top-selling all-in-ones on the market right now: Apple's iMacs. Intel doesn't have to embrace openness, but it seems to have done so anyway.
59 comments — Last by fantastic at 2:36 PM on 08/12/12
|1. GKey13 - $650||2. JohnC - $600||3. davidbowser - $501|
|4. cmpxchg - $500||5. DeadOfKnight - $400||6. danny e. - $375|
|7. the - $360||8. Ryszard - $351||9. rbattle - $350|
|10. Ryu Connor - $350|
|The typical enthusiast PC is more decked-out than you might thinkDissecting the TR Hardware Survey 2014||173|
|TR's September 2014 System GuideHaswell-E and DDR4 galore||79|
|TR's August 2014 peripheral staff picksMonitors, monitors, monitors!||53|
|Zotac's Zbox ID92 mini-PC reviewed35W Haswell, 802.11ac, and dual Ethernet||18|
|Gigabyte's Brix Gaming BXi5G-760 mini-PC reviewedSmaller, at any cost||53|
|TR's July 2014 System GuideGPU price cuts, Pentium AE, and Crucial's MX100||86|
|TR's May 2014 System GuideHaswell refreshes and Radeons return||66|
|TR's April 2014 peripheral staff picksOur new companion to the TR System Guide||89|
|Here's another reason the GeForce GTX 970 is slower than the GTX 980||11|
|This might be why Windows 10 isn't called Windows 9||50|
|The Windows 10 Technical Preview is available now||35|
|ARM announces OS, server tools for the Internet of things||10|
|Borderlands 2 comes to SteamOS, and The Pre-Sequel will follow||15|
|Haswell duallie infiltrates Zotac Nano XS mini PC||5|
|Mozilla unveils $25 Matchstick HDMI dongle||13|
|Self-destruct sequence fractures the NAND in ultra-secure SSD||17|