Intel has been a real champion for small form factor computing, recently introducing three new types of mini PC designs in addition to the NUC: the Compute Stick, Mini Lake and 5" × 5", or mini-STX as it is now commonly referred to. One of the first companies to adopt the new mini-STX form factor is MSI with its new Cubi 2 Plus, a tiny 1.3L computer that not only supports a desktop Skylake Core i7 processor but also accept up to 32GBs of DDR4 memory and a high-speed NVMe SSD for good measure.
Building a new PC is all about choices and tradeoffs. Picking between AMD and Intel is usually the first choice you have to make, but it certainly isn’t the most complicated. Instead, that honour goes to the motherboard, with each board maker typically offering at least half a dozen different models based on a single chipset. We've done a lot of the homework for you to save you some time, money, and/or regret. Here's what we believe is the very best out there.
The GS40 Phantom is loaded up with a 14" 1080p display, a Core i7-6700HQ CPU, GeForce GTX 970M graphics, 16 GB of RAM, and a combination of a 128 GB SSD with a 1 TB disk drive. It also packs the latest connectivity, including a USB Type-C port sporting Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.1 gen 2. When it comes to looks the GS40 Phantom's design is both understated and nice enough to stand out from the pack.
Launched alongside new Skylake processors are accompanying motherboards using the Intel Z170 chipset that go from $100 right up to $500. Having that said, most capable Z170 motherboards can be had for around $200 to $250 and today we'll be looking at six options in this bracket.
Codenamed 'Wildcat Point', the Z97 chipset brings support for future Broadwell CPUs, along with SATA Express and the M.2 socket. With over 90 designs available right now, picking the right one can be a difficult decision. Hoping to narrow the search down, we have taken seven popular boards and compared them in every way possible.
Most gaming notebooks have a certain stigma attached to them. While some of the better systems available are more than capable of running the latest graphically demanding PC games out there, they're often hulking beasts that can easily tip the scales at over 12 pounds. That's been changing, however, and the MSI GS70 Stealth Pro on our hands today is another example of powerful gaming laptops steering towards slimmer form factors.