Hands on with Intel’s open all-in-one platform

After many years of arousing little more than indifference among PC buyers, all-in-one systems are enjoying a surprising surge in popularity. If you read our news section, you might have seen our coverage of a recent IHS report on the subject. IHS said all-in-one shipments are growing at a considerably faster rate than desktop PC shipments—by about 20% to 0.2%, according to the firm’s forecast for this year.

Perhaps users think desktop towers are old hat. Maybe they feel that, if they’re going to have a non-portable computer at all, that system should have as small a footprint as possible. And what has a smaller footprint than an all-in-one? With their PC guts tucked away behind the LCD panel, most of those machines resemble chubby monitors or diminutive TVs. Looking at them, you might never think there’s a fully functional PC hiding inside.

The downside is that, traditionally, all-in-ones have been as closed-off as your typical laptop. Changing the motherboard or processor, replacing the display, or performing routine upgrades can be an iffy proposition, if not prohibitively difficult. Should one part break down after the warranty expires, you might find yourself forced to toss out the entire machine, monitor and all. That proposition isn’t just wasteful; it can be expensive.

Ah, if only all-in-ones mirrored desktops in their use of interchangeable components. If only they were as easy to build and take apart as modern desktops.

That may sound like a pipe dream, but it’s essentially what Intel is pushing. The company’s Thin Mini-ITX platform comprises a motherboard form factor and a cooler design that can be paired with other, standard components to enable both uncannily thin desktop PCs and modular all-in-ones.

Intel first unveiled Thin Mini-ITX at Computex 2011 a little over a year ago. As its name suggests, the standard calls for motherboards with the same 6.7″ x 6.7″ footprint as regular Mini-ITX offerings, but with a thinner port cluster and horizontally stacked SO-DIMM memory slots. The idea is to keep the I/O shield—and the other components—from protruding by more than 25 mm (0.98″) vertically. Thin Mini-ITX systems accommodate standard desktop processors, but Intel has designed a flat, laptop-style heatsink and fan with copper pipes that transfer heat to a slim array of fins sitting next to the motherboard. The cooler can handle desktop chips rated up to 65W without poking beyond the sacred 25-mm height limit.

Users and system builders are free to complement the motherboard and cooler with SO-DIMMs, 2.5″ hard drives or SSDs, slim optical drives, and Mini PCI Express cards as they see fit. The resulting systems can be incredibly thin and still offer some of the benefits of full-fledged PCs. For example, Lian Li offers a stand-alone Thin Mini-ITX enclosure, the PC-Q05, that’s only 47 mm tall—about 1.85″, or roughly the same height as a pizza box.

A system built inside that sort of enclosure would fit comfortably in a home-theater environment. Of course, Thin Mini-ITX is about more than just ultra-slim HTPCs. Because the components occupy such little vertical space, they can easily be tucked away behind a monitor to create an ersatz iMac. Behold!

What you see above is an all-in-one Loop chassis, which is designed to accommodate a Thin Mini-ITX motherboard and Intel’s matching cooling solution. We supplied the keyboard and mouse, so forgive us if those don’t quite match. The Loop AIO Chassis has a 21.5″ LCD panel—without touch-screen capability, by the way—and is suspended atop a metal stand not unlike those that bolster Apple’s iMacs and Cinema Displays. The panel and bezel are covered by a single pane of glass, and they’re bordered by a rim of either brushed aluminum or a convincing plastic facsimile.

It all looks rather elegant. The enclosure that houses the display and PC guts is barely 2.2″ thick, which gives the system a very streamlined appearance. The stand does add a few inches of extra depth at the back, but it’s a curved piece of metal only 5 mm thick, so it almost blends into the background.

This specimen is but one of many all-in-one Thin Mini-ITX enclosures listed in Intel’s component catalog. Firms like ECS, Gigabyte, MiTac, Shuttle, and Wibtek all offer similar enclosures, with display sizes ranging from 18.5″ to 24″. Some of them eschew Intel’s cooler in favor of custom solutions, but all of the enclosures can accommodate Thin Mini-ITX motherboards, making them easy to assemble and upgrade. System builders are the prime targets for such designs, but Intel also wants to service consumers and enthusiasts.

Today, we’re going to be spending a little quality time with the Loop chassis and a set of matching Thin Mini-ITX components. We’ll get a feel for what it’s like to build an open all-in-one PC, and for just how usable and convenient that system can be.

Parts and labor

Intel provided all the parts we needed to complete our assembly. There was the chassis itself, of course, which shipped without its metal stand attached.

Then, there were the other bits and pieces required: Intel’s HTS1155LP cooler, some thermal compound, a pair of 4GB SO-DIMMs, a 2.5″ 320 Series 300GB solid-state drive, a Mini PCI Express 310 Series 80GB SSD, a Centrino Advanced-N 6230 Wi-Fi card, and some miscellaneous cables and screws.

The rest of the necessary hardware was already pre-installed. Accessing it was simply a matter of unfastening five Philips-head screws and popping off the rear lid, which is essentially a thin plastic shell.

The motherboard hiding inside was Intel’s own DH61AG. That mobo features an H61 Express chipset and a standard LGA1155 socket, which can accommodate Core i3, i5, and i7 processors with thermal envelopes up to 65W. It also has a pair of SO-DIMM slots, a Mini PCI Express slot, a half-size Mini PCIe slot, a regular PCIe 2.0 x4 slot, two internal 3Gbps Serial ATA ports, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, and one 3Gbps eSATA port. You’ll find a DVI connector in the port cluster, in addition to the onboard LVDS and Embedded DisplayPort headers.

Our processor, a 65W Core i5-2405S, was already mounted in the socket with the cooler’s backplate fitted beneath it. The chip is a 32-nm Sandy Bridge with four cores and as many threads. It has a base clock speed of 2.5GHz, a top Turbo Boost speed of 3.3GHz, and 6MB of L3 cache. Intel lists a price tag of $212 for the retail-boxed model.

Intel had taken care of most of the wiring before shipping the chassis to us. Note the headers on the motherboard. According to the interactive layout page for the DH61AG, the pre-connected headers included the LVDS display interface, the flat-panel brightness control, the front-panel USB 2.0 ports (two of ’em), HD audio, the CPU fan, the internal stereo speaker, and the front-panel button and LED hookups.

To get a feel for the installation process from scratch, we removed the motherboard, disconnected all of the headers, and then attempted to put everything back together again. Our verdict? It’s a piece of cake. The motherboard is held in place by only four screws, and the various headers are hard to mix up. The Loop chassis even has a pre-baked connector for the front-panel hookups, so you don’t need to connect each wire individually.

Fitting the cooler was child’s play. We applied thermal paste, lined up the mounting holes around the socket with the four screws, and tightened everything into place with our trusty screwdriver. The heatsink’s fins, which sit at the other end of the heat pipes, lined up perfectly with the pre-installed fan. The last step was to anchor the heatsink’s fin array to the chassis using a pair of small screws.

If you’ve ever upgraded the memory on a laptop, then SO-DIMMs should be no mystery to you. Ours snapped in with ease.

We carefully connected the Mini PCIe solid-state drive and the half-size Mini PCIe Wi-Fi card, fastening a pair of screws to keep each one steady. With the Wi-Fi card, we also had to hook up the chassis’ built-in antenna—a simple matter of connecting a wire to one of the small, gilded sockets near the edge of the card.

Oddly enough, installing the 2.5″ SSD involved the most work. We had to start by mounting the drive on a sled, but it wasn’t clear which type of screw we were supposed to use—and some of the screws had rounded heads that kept the sled from sliding back into its rails properly. We figured it out after a while, though.

Labor, part deux

Here’s everything all snug and ready to go. Well, except for one little detail.

There’s an extra fan attached to the lid. The cable is a little short, so we had to hold the lid over the motherboard while plugging it into the header.

After that, we simply lowered the lid, pushed down to make sure it snapped into place, and fastened it using the same five black screws we removed before. We then mounted the stand. That step involved the installation of four stainless steel, partially threaded screws, under whose heads the stand slid into place. Finally, we tightened a thumbscrew in the middle to keep the stand from sliding off.

Looks pretty slick, doesn’t it? Just remember to keep a microfiber cloth handy. The back of the system is clad almost entirely in glossy plastic, and the front is covered in glass. Both of those materials beckon dust and fingerprints.

We had to compromise some of the enclosure’s slickness to plug in the external power supply. The 150W power brick measures about 6.7″ x 2.8″ x 1.6″, so it’s not exactly inconspicuous. You should be able to tuck it away under a desk or table, though; the main cord is just under six feet long, and the detachable AC cable adds nearly five feet of slack.

Ports and buttons

The Loop chassis’ streamlined appearance, coupled with its use of a Thin Mini-ITX motherboard, comes at a cost. The main port cluster is perpendicular to the motherboard, which means it’s hidden away at the back and pointed downward. You know how annoying it is to plug a DVI cable into your monitor? The Loop all-in-one chassis is just like that, only for almost everything you’ll need to plug into your PC.

The easiest way to access the port cluster is to rotate the machine 90 degrees on its stand, so the display points straight up. Even then, you’ve got to hunch over and try to find the right port in that murky, recessed nook. And plugging in anything with the least bit of force threatens to tip the machine over. Hardly the most convenient design.

Apple solved this problems on its iMacs by making the port cluster parallel to the display and flush with the rear of the system. Plugging something into an iMac is a mere matter of craning your neck to look behind the thing and locating the right port. Of course, Apple doesn’t have to accommodate the Thin Mini-ITX form factor; it uses proprietary motherboards and a custom internal layout.

Luckily, the Loop chassis makes some ports easily accessible. The left edge of the machine plays host to a microSD card slot, a stereo output, a mic input, and a pair of USB 2.0 ports. Hooking up your keyboard and mouse to these would be a little awkward, though. Also, since the system’s only USB 3.0 ports are in the main cluster, connecting a high-speed storage device will involve the same awkward mating dance.

There are no connectors on right side of the machine, only brightness controls, the main power button, and power and storage activity lights. Above those lies the covered opening to the system’s slim-line optical drive bay. We didn’t have any slim optical drives on hand, so we left that bay unpopulated. Optical storage is starting to get a little old-fashioned, anyhow.

Usage impressions

With the assembly complete, we copied the Windows 8 Release Preview onto a USB thumb drive and installed it on our brand-new all-in-one. Everything went seemingly without a hitch from setup to first boot. Windows 8 automatically detected all of our hardware, including the Wi-Fi adapter, webcam, and integrated audio. It even applied the panel’s maximum 1920×1080 resolution without prompting us.

Intel told us that, with the DH61AG motherboard’s former BIOS version, setup would have involved the use of an auxiliary display. That’s because the system had to be configured manually to use an integrated LCD instead of one connected through the DVI output. However, Intel removed that particular hurdle with the latest BIOS release, which went up on its website a couple of months ago. Currently shipping DH61AG boards should all feature the newer BIOS.

Not surprisingly for a system with a quad-core processor and solid-state storage, the Loop all-in-one feels incredibly snappy and responsive. Apps launch quickly, animations are fluid and rapid, and boot times are very short. (I timed 22.9 seconds from the power button being pressed to the logon screen appearing.)

The 21.5″ panel is, as you might expect, of the TN variety. Colors are bright and vivid, but we wouldn’t put much stock in their accuracy. Viewing angles are unsurprisingly limited. You’ll probably want to look elsewhere for a professional photo editing rig. If you’re only concerned about watching movies and surfing the web, though, the screen is just fine—just remember this is an all-in-one chassis, so there’s no way to swap out the panel for something nicer. We do wish Loop had invested in some beefier speakers. Audio comes out muffled and sounds generally awful. That headphone output on the side isn’t much help, either. It’s poorly insulated, so it translates on-screen activity to an endless succession of beeps and chirps. The only road to passable analog audio quality is through the stereo output in the main port cluster.

If you’re not blasting music through the lackluster speakers, the system is quiet, with no fan noise to speak of at idle. We could hear a constant, high-pitched electrical whine just within our range of hearing, however. Intel’s cooling solution seems to prioritize low noise over low temperatures. With Prime95 running on all four cores, the CPU’s temperature got up to around 80°C before the fan really kicked in. Even then, the noise produced was more of a low whoosh, and temperatures only dropped by a few degrees.

Our only real regret is that the enclosure lacks room for a good discrete graphics card. We were stuck with the Core i5 processor’s HD 3000 integrated graphics, which lacks the horsepower to run newer games. Skyrim, for example, was too choppy and laggy to be playable at the native 1080p resolution. That’s despite the fact that we used the lowest detail preset and installed the latest Windows 8 graphics drivers from Intel’s website.

Conclusions

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.

Comments closed
    • fantastic
    • 7 years ago

    “The left edge of the machine plays host to a microSD card slot” The silkscreen suggests it’s a slot for regular MMC/SD cards. Maybe micoSD fits too? SD is plenty small for my hands.

    I think I still prefer a standalone system. If I bought one of those I’d feel like an Apple design flunky. The “box” is better because it’s not so proprietary.

    • grantmeaname
    • 7 years ago

    I forgot to mention: the photography for this article is stunningly good. It’s one of the many reasons I keep coming back.

    • sschaem
    • 7 years ago

    Its a bad value proposition, but I see the appeal in term of cable reduction for ‘web browsing’ stations.

    This might sell well for internet cafe … (do those thing still exist?)

      • Darkmage
      • 7 years ago

      They do indeed. And they are sometimes a lifesaver when I’m traveling.

    • Bauxite
    • 7 years ago

    Weird that they sent you the 1156 version, its on its way out.

    I just bought the intel Q77 thin itx board on monday, though its to build a fanless router.

    I saw some other cases while shopping around (odd they wouldn’t mention them to you, they are listed in their own PDF for the low profile cooler) and the one that is basically a base for a VESA mount stand is interesting, pair this with a cheap korean monitor and win 😉

    • shaurz
    • 7 years ago

    Cool, but it would be nice if there was a way to add 1 or 2 full-size PCI-E cards on some kind of riser system.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    It just seems like a lack of imagination (or perhaps a bias) led to this thing not including something a little more beefy in the GPU department. You could use one of those PCIe adapters that the Alienware Xbox-Eater thingie uses and turn the video card on its side. Extend the spec out horizontally in the direction it’s already kinda big in and you can fit a video card on its side. You obviously couldn’t go full on double slot cooler big, but you could certainly fit a single slot cooler card in there. And at this point, anything discrete is better than what Intel’s crapping out.

    Have it exhaust the heat out the back and it’s magic. Still, I don’t think something like this will win out over something pre-built, pre-configured, pre-optimized. I say that with the regret of knowing it means the PC market will suffer for the concept not taking off. But I think most users today want things to be done for them, even if they miss out on the chance to upgrade or tweak it. I think most people just want it to work.

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      I think you’re not thinking it through :).

      This is ‘step 1’; nothing’s going to stop any of the other board makers from building one of these with discrete GPUs in mind, nor from building a sharp IPS-wielding 23″ or 27″ enclosure that could accommodate one.

      Hell, just reverse the PCIe slot electrically so that the back of the card faces the back of the monitor and have the thing exhaust up; done.

    • indeego
    • 7 years ago

    Hah, really, a power and HDD activity light right next to the display itself? What a gross oversight.

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    Great review as always. This system will start to get more interesting when you have this form factor + Haswell with “good enough” graphics to play a decent selection of games.

    It is nice to see something that incorporates some degree of integration with the ability to actually build it and take it apart.

    • Airmantharp
    • 7 years ago

    Thank you Cyril and Co. for taking a good look at this system. All-in-ones have always been a curiosity of mine, but configurability and adaptability have been suspect. Nice to see that it’s changing!

    Looking at the design, it doesn’t look like it’d take much effort to turn that CPU cooler ninety degrees counter-clockwise to make room for a full-length PCIe slot.

    Fitting something decent in there with cooling, say a GTX660 or an HD7850, to back up a 23″+ IPS panel would make this thing extremely desirable.

    Hell, that’s really all it’s missing, I agree. Good binning and a custom GPU PCB with attention paid to the cooling and you’d have a silent all-in-one gaming workstation. Make it an S-IPS panel without input lag (which it shouldn’t need any of the components that would slow down input signals) and you’d have a real photo/video machine. Give it a Thunderbolt port, and you could easily stack a storage array next to it, and call it done!

    • GTVic
    • 7 years ago

    I would consider this. Hopefully there will be offerings with better screens and built-in USB 3.0 on the side panel, discrete graphics options, mSata3 connectors.

    Other than USB 3.0 access I think the port issues in the article are greatly overstated. A USB hub would solve this problem.

    For any PC, but this type especially, I think there is a market for a USB hub / audio control that fits below the monitor. This would solve USB 3.0 port access issues and provide separate jacks for speakers and headphones and separate speaker and headphone volume controls.

    • bjm
    • 7 years ago

    They need to do this for laptops.

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      It’s called Clevo (or Sager)

        • DPete27
        • 7 years ago

        Alienware also

          • Airmantharp
          • 7 years ago

          If you like space-ship shaped computers :).

    • DPete27
    • 7 years ago

    Since iMacs are essentially a laptop with the screen flipped over, why not include mobile graphics on the motherboard. Sure it removes the “open platform” feel a bit, but tossing in a 670M or 7870M would be a HUGE bump over integrated graphics while keeping space and thermal solutions in check. I imagine it will take quite some time for IGPs to exlipse that kind of performance.

    Either that or toss in one of those [url=http://www.orbitmicro.com/global/pciexpressx16rightanglerisercardbsideconnectorheight105-p-738.html<]right angle PCI express cards[/url<] and give us a place to mount a discrete graphics card beside the motherboard. (probably for the larger screen sizes)

      • vargis14
      • 7 years ago

      I agree dpete27,
      Plus with Thunderbolt becoming more popular and the sufficient bandwidth it provides, a dual slot Powered video card external honeycome housing for good ventilation without needing a fan with a couple USB3 ports would be nice and i would think they would sell great. Just think Any laptop or AIO with thunderbolt could have desktop class graphics power. Turning any Sandy/ivy bridge little PC setup into a formidable gaming platform.
      Since these new 28nm graphics cards pull so little juice, But for luck i think at least 250 watts with 1 6or8 pin PCIe power connector and another 6 pin power should be able to power most any dual slot card.
      I think its just too dang hard to find laptop graphics card vendors that do not charge twice the price of a desktop card for a laptop mxm card that cannot touch the power of a similar priced desktop card.

        • DPete27
        • 7 years ago

        Oooh, I like the external idea. A power brick might have a difficult time coping with the power needs of a high(er) end discrete GPU along with feeding the monitor and CPU/mobo. Whereas an external unit could have it’s own power dedicated to the GPU only. I wonder how they would get that to feed back in and run the monitor though? The wonders of thunderbolt I suppose.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      It should totally use “standard” MXM III modules. Not that MXM has caught on all that well, but at least they make sense in an AIO model.

        • DPete27
        • 7 years ago

        +1: Best of both worlds! That would be modular AND reduce power requirements compared to full-on discrete GPUs. Now, lets see that in the next generation of consoles also?

          • vargis14
          • 7 years ago

          I remember Gigabyte making a all in one that would hold a dual slot card… i found it but it only has a 180watt power brick but supports a 95 watt cpu and a dual slot video card….Just i wonder if they make a 300 watt 19v power brick and does it have built in PCI-e power connectors for that built in dual slot video card dock???

          Plus i would only use a video card with a blower type cooling system that exhausts the heat out of that chassis no dual fan heat everywhere deal:)

          [url<]http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=4137#sp[/url<] I also found a video on the internals with some big videocards in it how with a 180 watt psu and yes it had a 6=2 pin power adapter plus a 6 pin power adapter for the card interesting. [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AP9S4XQZlEI&feature=player_detailpage[/url<]

      • Bauxite
      • 7 years ago

      Would have to be a ribbon pci-express extender and placed elsewhere, their cooler blocks the spot next to the pci-e slot pretty well.

      I saw someone use the lian li thin case and a ribbon extender to fit in a ceton cablecard tuner, though they had to cut the back of the case some.

      • My Johnson
      • 7 years ago

      After my experience with Intel HD2000 graphics and laptops, I say no to integrated. Really low end discrete is troubling too. And I’m not considering only gaming.

        • Airmantharp
        • 7 years ago

        My experience with HD3000 and HD4000 have affirmed my confidence in integrated. I think you were running into other problems, but these things are actually quite amazing considering their cost.

    • pedro
    • 7 years ago

    What was the final price of this puppy? I’m interested to see how competitive it is with the lowest spec’d iMac ($1199). Although both have their strengths and weaknesses, they’re broadly comparable.

      • halbhh2
      • 7 years ago

      Comparable, and the iMac better in almost every way except that you can upgrade this in every way except….where it counts — graphics.

      I don’t use an iMac, but I couldn’t help but notice the main selling point is the amazing quality of the display.

        • Airmantharp
        • 7 years ago

        Yup. You can knock Apple for so many things, but hardware really isn’t one of them. They’re not perfect but they sure do execute better than most, and they’re computer hardware is one place where they regularly shine.

        While I’d love to see a real competitor to the iMac in the PC space, it makes more sense to just get the hardware out there like Intel did with their Ultrabooks, and refine it from there. So we’re on track.

      • DPete27
      • 7 years ago

      My calculations show that TR’s system would cost $910 (with a 256 GB Samsung 830 SSD instead of that 300GB Intel SSD which costs about twice as much), while a setup with equal hardware to the $1200 iMac would cost $725.
      As other have said, that doesnt take into account the 6750M mobile graphics in the iMac, the cost of a Windows license, or the vastly superior IPS screen on the iMac. With 21.5″ external monitors, it costs about $120 to upgrade from TN to IPS.

      • TakinYourPoints
      • 7 years ago

      Lowest specced iMac has an IPS display and a discreet GPU. This seems to lean on integrated graphics to work.

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      If HD3000/4000 is enough for you, it should be cheaper, though if you’re going to bare-spec it you’d might as well get a Dell, HP, Asus, etc. that comes with a warranty, and maybe an IPS panel.

        • pedro
        • 7 years ago

        Yeh, that’s what I’m thinking.

    • halbhh2
    • 7 years ago

    Neat, but: “…real regret is that the enclosure lacks room for a good discrete graphics card. We were stuck with the Core i5 processor’s HD 3000 integrated graphics, which lacks the horsepower to run newer games. Skyrim, for example, was too choppy and laggy to be playable.”

    Kinda like buying a minicooper with a weak transmission that you can’t replace. Just makes sense for grandma, but not us.

    It’s almost like someone on the design team said: “Make sure it does not compete with Apple.”

      • thill9
      • 7 years ago

      No, it’s more like ” Don’t let ATI or Nvidia put their GPU in this”

        • Airmantharp
        • 7 years ago

        Yeah, that single x4 slot seems to cover that point well, as does the HSF design and orientation.

        Not that it couldn’t change; I fully expect it to.

    • shakyone
    • 7 years ago

    For a minute there, I thought other vendors were offering AIO chassis. I guess it is still just ECS under the guise of a company named ASI:

    [url<]http://www.asipartner.com/Microsites/Intel/ASIAllInOnePC/tabid/887/Default.aspx[/url<] Compare the G11 config shown on that page to the ECS G11 here: [url<]http://www.ecs.com.tw/ECSWebSite/Media/NewsRoom_Detail.aspx?NewsID=1425&MenuID=45&LanID=0[/url<] Maybe one day my dream will come true. Interesting that the Loop does not come with Touch capability whereas the ECS G11 does.

    • Dezeer
    • 7 years ago

    You call the 310 Series 80GB SSD connector a mini PCI Express, I think you should call it mSATA because yes it has the same pins as mPCIe, but it is electrically a Sata connector.

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      You’re right- I almost caught that too. As to why Intel gave them a slower mSATA drive to complement a SATA drive…

    • hiro_pro
    • 7 years ago

    i like. put that sucker on a 27″ touch screen and set it next to my bed. it gives me the basics (porn, solitaire, alarm clock, internet weather and traffic, sports score… oh and work email:( ). hell i probably paid that much for my stupid iHome alarm clock mistake.

    • flip-mode
    • 7 years ago

    I love it! I’d love to get one.

    • Dposcorp
    • 7 years ago

    Looks pretty cool…thanks for the quick review; looking forward to the 24″-28″ touchscreen model mounted on the wall, with wireless keyboard/mouse/remote, and built in cable card tuner or something similar.

    Also, I think I spotted a error:

    “The motherboard hiding inside was Intel’s own DH61AG. That mobo features an H61 Express chipset and a standard LGA1156 socket,………..”

    +

    “Our processor, a 65W Core i5-2405S….”

    Does not compute 🙂

    That should read ” a standard LGA1155 socket,………..”

      • Cyril
      • 7 years ago

      Oops. Good catch. Thanks.

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    Having an integrated screen is a bad idea, especially when (as in this case) a lousy panel is chosen. eIPS has killed the reason for cheap TN to exist.

    I would much prefer Intel to design a mini-ITX platform that was slim enough to attach to the back of a screen using standard VESA100 mountings. You could take one of the many great screens on the market and turn it into an all-in-one without any compromises over this demo platform.

      • bthylafh
      • 7 years ago

      eIPS has not removed TN’s reason to exist. I can find cheap TN monitors for not much above $100, but the cheapest eIPS monitors are twice that.

      At the low end things are extremely price-sensitive.

        • Airmantharp
        • 7 years ago

        Nice TN monitors still out-pace eIPS in every category except viewing angles as well- TN still has a worth place.

        You can calibrate TNs, you can give them decent viewing angles, you can even give them decent real contrast, and they’ll still be three to four times as fast as an IPS- which means that they can easily run at 120Hz, something IPS has to stretch to do now.

        • Chrispy_
        • 7 years ago

        I get your point, but newegg has a good number of sub-$200, 1080p IPS screens in stock right now.

        There is still a small premium on IPS but with 1080p IPS screens starting at [url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824236205<]barely $170 shipped[/url<], it's hard to justify $130 for the nastiest TN equivalent you can find. Most of the worthwhile TN panels are above $150 anyway. If the cheaper TN panels at this price level offered faster response or better contrast ratio it would be different [url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824009306<]but they don't[/url<]. We are talking "bargain basement" TN at this price. That means slower 5m responses, poor contrast, poor viewing angle, cheap glossy plastic bezels and nasty glossy screens all round. At the very least, the iMac and Dells that helped to build the all-in-one segment now use IPS screens. Intel could at least do the same as an example of the intended usage - media consumption, not gaming prowess.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 7 years ago

    I wonder if there would be room for discrete (mobile, I suppose) graphics on the motherboard if it wasn’t using a mini PCIe SSD along with the regular 2.5″ SSD? Get rid of that mini PCIe slot and maybe get an AMD 6670 or nVidia GT 640 in there? Maybe it’s not enough room considering it’d need more cooling…

    The whole thing should be this form factor but all mobile sockets/parts. the full-sized socket for a desktop CPU is probably a bit much, too.

    • pedro
    • 7 years ago

    This is so awesome. Altho’ I wouldn’t buy this gen, I’m very keen to watch this space as these things evolve.

    Big ups Intel.

    • albundy
    • 7 years ago

    looks an awful lot like a cinema display, but way way thicker than an imac, with iphone side buttons. not well done imho. should have made it thin with laptop internal specs, at least it would have decent graphics then.

    • nico1982
    • 7 years ago

    It’s funny how, on top of having an iMac overall appearance, it looks like a giant iPhone 4 in some of the pics 😛

    • FubbHead
    • 7 years ago

    They should be able to trim that backplate a bit more, removing the USB jacks and leave it up to the chassis to provide jacks for headers.

    • 0g1
    • 7 years ago

    Pretty cool having a PC with such high mobility and free desk space. Just a pity its not very powerful — no graphics card support, no standard DIMMs, can’t have many mechanical drives.

      • Darkmage
      • 7 years ago

      Agreed. But I am going to look hard at this sort of thing the next time a friend of the family wants me to build a computer for them so they can check their email and play Farmville.

      • Bauxite
      • 7 years ago

      nitpick, mostly because it bugs me:

      DDR3 so-dimms are very common, and cheap. No real price difference from desktop sticks, in fact for the typical configurations I’ve seen laptop ram cheaper than the desktop equivalent fairly often. Low voltage is more common too, another bonus.

      One could argue now that laptops outsell desktops, they are the new standard 🙂

        • 0g1
        • 7 years ago

        Hmm good point. Its just no standard for serious gamers to use a laptop.

    • grantmeaname
    • 7 years ago

    I wonder if things are going to be standardized enough that you can move between boards in one monitor/case as new processor generations come out.

    I wonder if AMD will produce thin mini-compatible boards and coolers. It seems like the perfect place to throw in one of their APUs.

      • yokem55
      • 7 years ago

      The part that makes me skeptical it would be possible for this to work out, is that changes in the thermal design will be difficult to adapt for. We already have a fair amount of adapters for heatsinks needed on towers to accommodate different socket/retention designs. Now imagine the whole case/airflow solution may not match up to a newer generation.

    • yogibbear
    • 7 years ago

    Images on page 1 don’t work. :/

      • grantmeaname
      • 7 years ago

      They worked for me. Odd.

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