AMD's Project Quantum mini-PC gets dissected

AMD first showed off its Project Quantum mini-PC at E3 earlier this year. Aside from some broad discussions of the dual-tiered box's specs, the company was coy about what exactly was going on inside to allow Project Quantum to cool twin Fiji GPUs and a Core i7-4790K CPU. Now, one of the Project Quantum demo units has apparently failed after a hard life on the road, and AMD gave the fallen PC to PC World to dissect as the site saw fit—which, of course, it now has.

Project Quantum is a liquid-cooled system, and its upper chamber is devoted entirely to liquid-cooling hardware. AMD stuffed a 180-mm radiator and a custom-made coolant reservoir into the top chamber, and PC World's Gordon Mah Ung thinks that both the reservoir and the plastic hard lines between the chambers are 3D-printed affairs.

The bottom chamber houses the system's motherboard, CPU, and graphics card. Though AMD has alluded to the existence of a dual-GPU Project Quantum, the version that PC World examined only has a single Radeon R9 Fury X inside. The Core i7-4790K CPU sits in an off-the-shelf ASRock Mini-ITX mobo that's been heavily modified for this system. A massive aluminum waterblock is the meat in a CPU-GPU sandwich.

If the modified motherboard, tight confines, and custom waterblock weren't tip-offs, PC World doesn't think Project Quantum is something AMD will sell as a barebones system. Instead, Mah Ung thinks that the company intends to make the system available as a complete PC for purposes like VR demonstrations, but he doesn't see how AMD could sell it directly to consumers without angering PC OEMs. Microsoft's Surface and Intel's NUC are successful examples of companies taking matters into their own hands in the PC marketplace, though, so AMD might not have reason to be afraid if it strikes out on its own with a halo system.

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