I've been using the Asrock Beebox as my day to day HTPC for a few months and it's been doing a fantastic job, so I didn't expect it to be replaced so soon. Nonetheless, Asrock has sent an updated Beebox-S model sporting Intel's new 7th-generation processor based on the Kaby Lake-U architecture.
Those on the hunt for an affordable book-sized HTPC will have likely come across the impressive Asrock Beebox. Now meet the faster Asrock Beebox-S. Powered by a Core i5-6200U, the mini PC has received other enhancements including DDR4 memory support, a high-speed PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot, USB 3.1 Type-C and 4K support at 60Hz via HDMI 2.0 and DP 1.4.
In an effort to capture some of the lucrative gaming market, Intel has developed a new NUC aimed at enthusiasts and gamers with the Iris Pro Graphics 580. The Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK is marketed for "intense gameplay," but we'll have to see about that.
The Asrock Beebox N3000 measures 0.6L and boasts a mere 4 watt TDP. This incredibly low power rating has allowed Asrock to create a tiny HTPC that is completely fanless draws less than 10 watts under typical usage. The company is heavily promoting the fact that its latest mini PC can support triple-monitors using three video outputs simultaneously.
Setting a new bar for small form factor PCs, ECS launched the Liva earlier this year, making comparable machines look oversized and overpriced. Since its debut, ECS has updated the Liva with a 64GB option and though that's double the storage, we have only seen a mild price increase to $185. Paired with a super efficient fanless design that promises smooth 1080p playback it certainly grabbed our attention.
It's been a few years since we published an enthusiastic review of Asrock's pricey yet powerful Vision 3D HTPC. The company has since kept our attention with annual updates, now on its fourth generation, the Vision HT 420D has received a proper upgrade to Intel's Haswell architecture as well as other improvements that contribute to the system's respectable list of features, making it one of the most impressive HTPCs to date.
Taking advantage of Ivy Bridge's efficient operation, Intel accompanied its third-generation Core processors with a new small form factor platform dubbed Next Unit of Computing (NUC). Unfortunately so far the project has basically amounted to a cool idea hamstrung by poor hardware choices and unattractive prices.
Gigabyte hopes to buck the trend with its own NUC offerings. Their pint-sized "Brix" systems come in four CPU configurations, including the 1.8GHz Celeron 1037U, 1.9GHz Core i3-3227U, 1.8-2.7GHz Core i5-3337U and 2-3.1GHz Core i7-3537U.
While full-sized desktop computers are still around, tablets and smartphones have proven that technology has come far enough to essentially cram a fully capable computer into a space that is suitable for your pants pocket, a purse, or a small backpack. This idea of shrinking hardware hasn’t been overlooked by manufacturers as several now feature space-saving designs based on mobile hardware.
Such is the case with Sapphire’s new Edge VS8 mini-PC powered by AMD’s A8 APU. The system is hardly any larger than an external optical drive, while still packing 4GB of DDR3 memory, Radeon HD 7600G graphics, a 500GB SATA HDD, built-in support for Bluetooth 3.0 as well as 802.11 b/g/n wireless and a bevy of rear I/O connections.