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Jan
11

CompuLab Intense PC Pro Review – The Mini PC of your dreams

by Rob Zwetsloot

The specs say it’s packed with power, but has CompuLab truly delivered an intense product in such a small package?

Specs

Operating system: Linux Mint
Processor: Intel i7-3517UE, dual core 1.7 GHz
Memory: 8 GB (Upgradeable to 16 GB)
Storage: 500 GB
Power Usage: 10-26W (dependant on load)
Display output: HDMI (bundled with HDMI to DVI adaptor), Display Port
Networking: Wireless N and two Gigabit LAN ports
Price: £630 GBP ($999 USD)
Website: http://www.tinygreenpc.com/

Fit-PC Mini PC
The grilled design aids heat transfer

The Intense PC is the latest effort by CompuLab, creators of the Fit-PC and Mint Box, and is another small, all-in-one computer solution that’s supposed to be good enough for desktop use, and small enough for use as a Home Theatre PC. While the Pro is their most powerful version of the Intense PC, there are SKUs for those who do not need such high power requirements, and this drastically reduces the price of the product as well.

The Pro comes packed with an astounding 8 GB of RAM, upgradeable to 16 if you so wish; a Ivy Bridge chipset with an Intel i7 Mobile CPU and HD 4000 GPU; and a 500 GB HDD as well. To access all this raw power, there’s Bluetooth, N-rated WiFi, two ethernet ports, two eSATA ports, HDMI and Display Port output, and a total of eight USB ports, two of which are USB 3.0. All of this is packed into a die cast, ridged case no bigger than a digital set-top box, which is frankly pretty amazing.

The Linux option of the Intense PC comes with Linux Mint 13 pre-installed, likely a result of CompuLabs work on the Mint Box, however it’s a fine distro to get up and running with the PC. Alternatively, bootable USB sticks are prioritised in the boot order, so replacing it does not require any fiddling with BIOS settings or figuring out which function key opens the boot menu.

In terms of raw power, we had trouble finding much that could really tax the Intense PC, especially in terms of day to day use. 1080p video of all kinds worked absolutely fine, and even transcoding media didn’t cause any issues. Other resource intensive operations went absolutely fine, and the only noticeable difference was that the case got slightly warmer.

This ridged case is designed to keep the insides cool of this fan-less design, and heat dissipation even while idling makes the case warm to the touch. It never got worryingly hot during our tests, however with any electronic device it’s best to keep it in a well ventilated environment so as not to aggravate any overheating issues. The case itself is die cast, and combined with the sheer number of components, makes the Intense PC a fairly hefty device.

One of the boasts of the device is that, when idling, it consumes only about 10 watt of power. This is very impressive, and opens up the possibilities for the uses of the Intense PC outside the obvious of media PC or desktop replacement, most notably a transcoding or media server, serving your devices and TV with content or merely just as remote file storage. The HDD can be upgraded with any 2.5” drive, so you can expand the base storage internally if you wish, although the 8 USB ports allow for a lot of external storage to be attached. There is no SSD option though for the Intense PC as standard, which would drastically cut down on power requirements further, although again you can switch out the HDD for one.

We’ve been very impressed with the Intense PC overall, and while it’s always amazing to find out how much power can be packed into such small packages, CompuLab have really managed quite the feat here. It is a little pricey though, however you’re paying for a quality product without Windows Tax.

Verdict

5/5

A stunning piece of engineering has managed to fit a huge amount of raw power into a small, fan-less case that keeps it running even at high loads. Add to that a ton of outputs and inputs, a customisable faceplate, and low power requirements, and you have a tiny PC perfect for many uses

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    • Kevin

      Wouldn’t the i7-3517UE be Ivy Bridge?

    • Mike

      Check out Cappucino PC. They’ve been producing a complete range of products like this for years. I bought one configured almost identically to the unit in this article two years ago.

    • Scott

      After reading this I looked over a MacMini. I do not see any real advantage the Intense has over it, spec-wise.

    • Brett

      $1,000 USD for this?
      I am not quite getting the point of this “stunning piece of engineering”.

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    • http://www.reformas-y-rehabilitaciones.es/ Joaquin

      I love it. It is a great pc. But too expensive. I think there are minipc with android by 70$ and HD

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    • Simon

      We just selected this to put inside 3000 vending machines after evaluating countless machines . Don’t be confused here by the price by comparing to a consumer product with fans in a plastic box
      If you want Something very small which is great for 24/7 use, powerful , but very low energy, it really does stand out. We also changed the face of the product to put 4 usb’s and 4 ethernets which is another thing we liked about it

      Mac mini is a pure consumer product, I believe with a fan.
      Android cheap boxes have arm computers, not 3rd gen i7

    • Owen

      I agree that the price is up there, but the fact that after you put an SSD into this thing, it is totally fanless. We put the lower powered i3 version out on our factory floors and are absolutely pumped about the reliability of a full, very small form factor PC with no moving parts. Just incredible all of the things this little thing can do.

      Owen

    • COBRACHOPPERGIRL

      Worked great, once I formated that linux crap off of it and installed XPx64. Would rather have XP than bloated Win7x64

      Get rid of the HD asap and replace with an SSD, and throw that idiot looking heat trapping finned top cover in the closet as well. Like all PCs, you want to run this without a cover and add your own massive passive heatsinks where necessary. Hot glue gun works great for this.

      Probably my biggest gripe about this stupid little system, is the lack of dual SVGA ports. Yeah, guess what, most of us still wont ever use HDMI or newfangled easily breakable display ports, and I intend to be one of them until the end of time. F**k that crap. Stick with a standard, and SVGA is it.