Tigo G5 NVMe SSD: Underclocking The SM2260

Tigo is part of China’s largest memory supplier. With that designation, the company can build unique controller and memory combinations before many of the global brands that frequent the pages of Tom’s Hardware. Last year, we tested the Tigo T-One with a unique tandem of SM2256 and Sk Hynix TLC planar memory. For early 2017, Tigo set us up with the first SM2260 NVMe controller paired with IMFT’s rare 3D MLC flash, but that’s just where we start with the Tigo G5.

The G5 is the first SSD we’ve tested with a user-selectable power mode. Similar technology has been a staple in motherboards and video cards for decades. Tigo didn’t design the feature to overclock the Silicon Motion, Inc SM2260 controller, instead it decreases performance for less demanding workloads. During a media briefing in Asia, Tigo described the feature as an option that provides different modes for gaming, work, or a very low power state for surfing the web and other low bandwidth activities. We see the feature as more of a distraction from our objective today.

The Tigo G5 is the first product to market with the SMI SM2260 NVMe SSD controller and IMFT (Intel Micron Flash Technology) 3D MLC flash. This is the same configuration that Ballistix (By Micron) planned to release as the TX3, but canceled at the last minute. Adata announced the M.2 SX8000, which is similar to the TX3, but we’ve yet to find one in the wild.

Today we’ll finally get to see this elusive combination in action and take in the sights of the best Asia has to offer in this well-built, great looking SSD.

Technical Specifications

Product
Tigo G5
Available Capacities
256GB / 512GB / 1TB
Controller
Silicon Motion, Inc. SM2260
DRAM
256MB / 512MB / 1024MB
NAND
Micron 3D MLC
Sequential Read
2,500 MB/s
Sequential Write
1,100 MB/s
Random Read
Unpublished
Random Write
Unpublished
Warranty
3-Year

Tigo launched the G5 with three capacities of 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB. We have the 512GB and 1TB in-house for testing, but are await final firmware for the largest model. The G5 256GB and 512GB both have mass production firmware, which is industry-speak for the retail-ready code.

As we mentioned, this is the first product we’ve tested with the SM2260 NVMe flash processor and IMFT’s 3D MLC NAND flash. The SMI controller uses an advanced design with low-density party check code for next generation flash to enable high endurance and reliability. This is the same controller Intel adopted for the 600p entry-level SSD with 384Gbit 3-bit per cell (TLC) flash. The G5 uses the 256Gbit 2-bit per cell (MLC) flash that we rarely see in consumer SSDs. To date, Intel has only used its 3D MLC flash on a single enterprise product. Adata’s Ultimate SU900 and XPG SX8000 are the only third-party SSDs on the market with IMFT 3D MLC.

The Intel M.2 600p and the Tigo G5 use a different number of channels on the controller. Due to IMFT’s odd 384Gbit die and the limited space of the M.2 2280 form factor, Intel could only run the SMI SM2260 controller in 6-channel mode. The Tigo G5 with 256Gbit MLC and a larger PCB uses all eight channels.

The Tigo G5 has several unique features. The first and most obvious is the three-way power selection. We’ll show later in this review that the feature is more of a gimmick than something most will actually use. It comes down to the power involved, though. The PCIe G5 uses less than 10W at full speed. In a world of 400W video cards and 60-225W host processors, a switch to shave off a few watts doesn’t make a lot of sense. None of these parts use all of that power 100% of the time. Host- and software-initiated low-power states already reduce total power consumption at idle, or while surfing the internet or composing a Word document.

The second feature is just as unique for consumer SSDs, but a little more well known. The Tigo G5 also features host power-fail protection. Tigo doesn’t limit power loss protection to simply protecting data at rest like some other consumer SSDs. The G5 actually intervenes when a power-loss event occurs and provides 100 milliseconds of protection for data in flight. The feature protects against firmware corruption and flushes the data down to the flash.

Pricing And Warranty

We don’t have pricing information on the Tigo G5 yet. Tigo doesn’t list the drive on its website either, but both will change over time. The last Tigo SSD we tested made it to North America, but not through Newegg or Amazon. We may see a limited number of these drives sold in the US and Europe as the company expands its distribution channels outside of Asia.

Product Packaging

The Tigo G5 ships in a premium package that must really stand out in its target markets. We haven’t seen a premium package like the G5’s come to market in several years–even in North America and Europe. The last SSD I’ve tested with a package this nice was the first Kingston HyperX SSD with the blue on gray color scheme.

Normally I don’t care too much about packaging; it’s all sort of pomp. For the most part, I just want the package to relay accurate information that makes shopping easier in a retail store. We could say the same about a car key. You just want to use it to start the car, but you have to admire an Aston Martin crystal key when you come across one. The G5 package isn’t that exotic, but we can make a case for a similar package with other SSDs.

A Closer Look

The Tigo G5 is really unlike any of the SSDs we’ve seen over the last couple of years. The Intel SSD 750 Series has more of an industrial feel, and the Plextor M8Pe is gamer-oriented, but the G5 aims for luxury. It’s kind of like a supermodel from a faraway land.

A blue plasma glow comes from the triangle diffusers on the side of the Tigo G5 when you power on the system. At first, it detracted from the luxury of the drive, but after I looked closely and noticed the plasma-like glow, I started to appreciate it.

There is one other feature that we can’t overlook; the three-way giant toggle switch sticking out of the back. Let’s take the cover off and see what it does.

Inside The Tigo G5

The power mode switch is a three-way toggle with the designations S, D and P.

S is full power mode, D is the mid-mode for some power savings, and P is the low-power mode. We’re not sure what the letters stand for. The only issue we found was reaching behind the computer to toggle the switch. It would have been better to have a software actuated switch or remote fob, even if Tigo attached it to a wire.

The rest of the G5 add-in card is really nice. There is a large heatsink on one side that cools the controller and NAND flash. A second, much smaller, heatsink rests on the other side to cool the DRAM packages. The second heatsink would also cool the additional NAND on a 1TB G5.

We also notice the copper cover over the SMI SM2260 controller. The cover first appeared on the Intel 600p. At the time, we thought it was an Intel-only feature because we’ve only seen the controller displayed without the copper liner. It seems this is now a fixture for the SM2260 controller. We reached out to SMI for clarification, and it responded:

The IC industry has used this method of heat dispersion for several years. The material spreads the heat away from the central part of the package to aid cooling.

MORE: Best SSDs

MORE: Latest Storage News

MORE: Storage in the Forums

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Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti review: The monster graphics card 4K gamers have been waiting for

Nvidia’s mighty Titan has fallen, as it always does.

Jaws dropped when the second-gen Titan X stomped onto the scene in August, and for more reasons than one. The monster graphics card was the first to ever flirt with consistently hitting the hallowed 60-frames-per-second mark at 4K resolution with everything cranked to 11—but that privilege cost a cool $1,200. Fast-forward five months: Nvidia’s teasing the GTX 1080 Ti as the “ultimate GeForce” card, with more performance than the Titan X for just—“just”—$700. That’s what the GTX 1080 Founders Edition cost at launch, and Nvidia says the Ti stomps the base GTX 1080.

gtx 1080 ti best ever Brad Chacos

Graphics-card lust truly is the cruelest obsession.

But does the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti live up to Nvidia’s hype? Is this the 4K-capable graphics card that gamers flush with tax-return money have been waiting for?

Yes. Oh my, yes. Let’s dig in.

Meet the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

Nvidia’s Pascal GPU architecture launched almost 10 months ago, so you won’t find many surprises lurking underneath the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti’s aluminum Founders Edition shroud. Here’s a look at its technical specifications:

gtx 1080 ti tech specs Nvidia

The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti’s tech specs.

The most eye-opening revelation may be simply how little Nvidia’s nerfed the GTX 1080 Ti in comparison to the Titan X. Both are built around on the same GP102 graphics processor; the GTX 1080 Ti drops the render output unit (ROP) count from 96 to 88, as well as a single 32-bit memory controller that results in the card packing 11GB of cutting-edge GDDR5X memory with a 352-bit bus, compared to the Titan X’s 12GB and 384-bits, respectively. But that’s compensated for by higher GPU and memory clock speeds on the GTX 1080 Ti, which actually result in greater overall memory bandwidth for the $700 board. The two cards are otherwise identical.

Most gamers could never afford the Titan X, however, and the $700 GTX 1080 Ti’s firepower vastly outstrips the now-$500 GTX 1080. Nvidia’s new card offers over a thousand more CUDA cores than its cousin—3,584 versus 2,560—as well as 24 additional ROPs and 40 percent more texture units. The vanilla GTX 1080 was the most badass graphics card ever created when it launched less than a year ago and the GTX 1080 Ti blows it away on paper.

Watch Tom’s Hardware On EVGA’s Pax East Livestream On Saturday

This weekend, thousands of gaming enthusiasts (fanatics, even) will descend upon the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC) for PAX East, and Tom’s Hardware will be there to check out the latest games, hardware, and other emerging technologies.

In addition to our normal game coverage, we reached out to several component and system vendors, because hardware is steadily becoming a major part of these gamer-centric events. EVGA was one of the companies that answered the call, but instead of scheduling us for a normal meet-and-greet, the company invited us to participate in its Pax East Livestream.


EVGA will be at booth 20031, live streaming every day of the event (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) between 10pm and 6pm ET. Our own Derek Forrest (hey, that’s me!) will be joining the livestream on Saturday, March 11 at 5pm ET to discuss EVGA’s new ICX cooling, modular water-cooling system, and much more. We’ll embed the stream here, or you can also watch from EVGA’s Facebook, YouTube, or Twitch.

Do you have a question for EVGA? Leave it in the comments or tweet @TheDerekForrest during the livestream, and we’ll see if we can get some answers for you.

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Zotac Unveils Its Huge, Acceptable, And Affordable GTX 1080 Ti Graphics Cards

Zotac revealed a trio of top-tier GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards. The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP and AMP Extreme come with Zotac’s own premium coolers installed, whereas the standard GTX 1080 Ti from Zotac without any extra nomenclature comes with a simple blower style cooler.

The GTX 1080 Ti AMP Extreme comes with a large triple-slot cooler that uses three 90mm fans to dissipate the heat drawn to the fin stack through the direct-contact copper heatpipes. The back end of the card comes with a neat backplate, and it’s topped off with Spectra lighting, which is Zotac’s take on RGB lighting.  At a more sensible tier, the GTX 1080 Ti AMP comes with a dual-slot cooler with two 100mm fans, also packing direct contact heatpipes. It also comes with the Spectra lighting feature. Zotac hasn’t decided on clock speeds for the cards yet. All we know is that the GTX 1080 Ti AMP will have its GDDR5X memory run at the stock 11GHz frequency, although that does suggest a (slight) memory overclock on the AMP Extreme card. Both should overclock well with a 16+2 phase VRM power design.The Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is the most affordable of the bunch, featuring an Nvidia reference PCB and a simple blower-style cooler. You could argue that Zotac should’ve sold a Founder’s Edition card with the updated Nvidia cooler, but that’s actually quite costly to implement despite its blower-style design, so Zotac’s own design should make this one of the more affordable GTX 1080 Ti variants on the market. With a standard Nvidia PCB design, it’ll also be a good option for those who intend on throwing water blocks onto the card. Why pay for an expensive cooler you’re not going to use?

So far, that’s all we know about Zotac’s line of 1080 Ti cards. You can learn more about the GTX 1080 Ti in our review of the Nvidia Founder’s Edition card.

Product

GTX 1080 Ti AMP Extreme

GTX 1080 Ti AMP

GTX 1080 Ti

GPU

GTX 1080 Ti GTX 1080 Ti GTX 1080 Ti

CUDA Cores

3,584 3,584 3,584

Video Memory

11GB GDDRX5 11GB GDDRX5 11GB GDDRX5

Memory Clock

TBD 11GHz 11GHz

GPU Boost Clock

TBD TBD 1,582MHz

PCI Express

3.0 3.0 3.0

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Oculus Updates Rooms, Adds Events To Gear VR, Introduces VR Facebook Live streaming

Oculus released some changes to its mobile VR platform this week. The company launched Rooms 1.2, which introduces more things to do with your friends in VR, and Oculus Events, which helps you keep track of public events and schedule multiuser experiences with your friends. Facebook also extended its livestreaming service to Gear VR users.

Oculus introduced Oculus Rooms at Oculus Connect 3 in October and subsequently launched the multi-user feature near the end of last year. Rooms lets you share video and audio content or play a variety of mini-games with a group of friends inside a virtual environment. With Room 1.2, you can watch 360-degree content with a group, too.

The new update introduces the “collective viewing dome,” which is essentially a spheroid monitor that sits in the middle of a shared environment. With the viewing dome, you can watch 360-degree video from Facebook, or you can watch one of the animated VR short films that Oculus offers on its service, such as Invasion! or Henry. The spherical display inverts the video so that you can view it from the outside instead of from within the clip’s scenery. The new version also lets you watch free content on Vimeo.

The search function for Oculus Rooms also received an update. Now, you can use your voice to search for Facebook content to watch with your friends. The voice search feature is an extension of a new voice command feature that Oculus just rolled out today for Oculus Home on Rift and Gear VR. Oculus Speech Recognition lets you navigate menus and search for content in Oculus Home. Eventually, you’ll be able to check your friends’ online status and invite them to join you with a simple voice command.

Oculus also introduced Oculus Events with the latest Gear VR update. Events make it easy for you to schedule things that you wish to do in VR and set up reminders for those events. You can schedule multiplayer sessions with your friends or join public events with anyone. Oculus said it would highlight special events in Oculus Home, and it created an Events tab where you can search for other events. Oculus said that there, you’ll find game tournaments, trivia events, and tech talks, among other things.

Facebook owns Oculus, and the parent company had an announcement today, too. Facebook is preparing to roll out VR Facebook Livestreaming via the Gear VR headset. In the coming weeks, the Gear VR software will receive an update that adds a “Livestream to Facebook” button in the universal menu, which will enable you to share your VR games with your friends over the social media platform.

Facebook said the Gear VR livestreaming option is already available to Gear VR users outside of the U.S. Stateside users must wait for the next Android OS update.

VR Livestreaming

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The 10 best computers of 2017: the best PCs ranked

It wasn’t but a few years ago that pundits were clamoring for the death of the traditional desktop computer. It’s 2017, though, and the PC hasn’t gone anywhere. In fact, with AMD’s Ryzen processors finally here and its successor on the way, it’s only a matter of time before the PC space is littered with more powerful – not to mention more affordable – options.

Performing hardware-intensive tasks such as gaming and video editing on a powerful rig with personalized components is like nothing you could experience on a tablet or laptop. Averting dead batteries and upgrade limitations are just two of the many benefits the best PC has to offer. 

PCs have an upgradeability factor that’s virtually unparalleled. If you want to save up for the inevitable GTX 1080 Ti to shove into your computer’s chassis, that’s your prerogative, and it’ll likely garner you that sweet 4K HDR sweet spot in top-end games such as Mass Effect: Andromeda

There is a wide range, however, of form factors to choose from when shopping around for a new PC. The minimalism and compact nature of all-in-ones like the HP EliteOne 800 G3 is sure to appeal to those desperate for accessibility. Meanwhile, the traditional desktop PC tower still trucks on alongside tiny computers that go under your TV stand called mini PCs.

Save for our Apple examples, which naturally come loaded with macOS Sierra, and the Chrome OS-equipped Acer Chromebase, you can expect any one of the PCs on this list to support Windows 10 – whether out of the box or with an upgrade.

Dell Inspiron 3000

1. Dell XPS Tower Special Edition

Don’t be fooled, this machine is a gaming PC at heart

CPU: Intel Core i5 – Core i7 | Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 480 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 | Storage: 1TB HDD – 512GB SSD; 2TB HDD | Communication: Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 | Dimensions (W x D x H): 7.09 x 14.02 x 15.22 inches

Compact, minimalist design
Full online customer support
Spinning hard drive to start
Starting memory isn’t ideal for VR

Leave it to Dell to contrive a computer that’s not only affordable, but arguably one of the best options for gaming disguised as a regular productivity machine. It may not have “the look,” but the XPS Tower Special Edition is capable of far more than basic number crunching. Featuring anywhere from an Intel Core i5 to Core i7 Skylake processor paired with 8GB of RAM, that would be enough to make the Dell XPS Tower Special Edition sing.

But Dell didn’t stop there. Rather, the computer company managed to squeeze in discrete graphics that, surprisingly for a pre-built machine, doesn’t cost an outrageous wad of cash. Not only that, but register your XPS Tower Special Edition with Dell and they’ll throw in complimentary customer support via the web. If you prefer your PCs with subdued, austere designs over those bedecked with aliens and snakes, this one does it all.

Read the full review: Dell XPS Tower Special Edition

Apple iMac

2. Apple iMac with 5K Retina display

A stylish all-in-one with a stunning screen

CPU: Intel Dual-Core i5 – Quad-Core i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Graphics 6000 | RAM: 8GB – 32GB | Storage: 1TB HDD – 3TB SSD | Communication: Wireless: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0 | Dimensions (W x D x H): 196 x 196 x 36mm

Bright IPS screen
Few wires or cables
Tough to upgrade

The iMac is known for its essentialism. Easy-to-use hardware combined with the famed accessibility of macOS makes for a nigh-perfect computing experience. A built-in screen, speakers and 802.11ac wireless networking are only complemented by the fantastic Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2. All you need is a power cable to get it up and running.

There’s quite a range of iMacs, starting at £899 (around $1,365 or AUS$1,943) for an entry-level 21.9-inch model with a dual-core processor that’s just enough for basic tasks, up to 27-inch iMacs with quad-core processors and even the optional 5K display. If you want a faster, quieter and more reliable storage option, you can opt for a hybrid solid state drive as well.

Even on the low-end model, the IPS display is bright and vivid, with a clever design where the edges of the aluminum chassis are thinner than many standalone monitors. And as standard, the iMac runs macOS, although Apple makes it very easy to install Windows alongside if you want to continue using your existing Windows software.

Read the full review: Apple iMac with 5K Retina display

Apple 4K iMac

3. Apple iMac with 4K Retina display (21.5-inch, Late 2015)

Still stylish, still stunning, but compact too

CPU: Intel Quad-Core i5 | Graphics: Intel Iris Pro Graphics 6200 | RAM: 8GB 1867MHz LPDDR3 | Storage: 1TB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400RPM | Communication: Wireless: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0 | Dimensions (W x D x H): 45cm x 52.8cm x 17.5cm

Accessories
SSD not standard

Boasting a vibrant Retina 4K display that’s packed with color, Apple’s new 21.5-inch iMac is a small bundle of aluminum joy. Its display’s massive, 4,096 x 2,304 pixel-resolution is great for surfing the web in comfort with multiple windows side-by-side in El Capitan’s Split View in addition to image and video editing, watching 4K video content and just about everything else.

As expected from an Apple computer, it’s a typically well-built machine that, in true iMac tradition, barely takes up more space on your desk than a larger laptop. Apple is bundling the 4K iMac with a superb set of accessories, too including the latest versions of its Magic Mouse 2, Magic Trackpad 2 and its all-new Magic Keyboard.

Just make sure you upgrade the standard spinning hard drive to a 1TB Fusion Drive (or even better, the 256GB SSD) if you want to shell out a bit more cash to eliminate lengthy loading times.

Read the full review: Apple iMac with 4K Retina display (21.5-inch, Late 2015)

Apple Mac Mini

4. Apple Mac mini

The cheapest way you can go Mac

CPU: Intel Dual-Core i5 | Graphics: Intel Iris Graphics 5100 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Storage: 500GB HDD | Communication: Wireless: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0 | Dimensions (W x D x H): 196 x 196 x 36mm

The most affordable Mac
Internal power supply
Few expansion options
Upgrades get expensive

The Mac mini exhibits the luxury of an Apple desktop without the price tag to match. Starting at a mere $499 (£399, AU$779), the Mac mini is barebones yet affordable. Though it ships without the otherwise expected Magic Mouse and Keyboard peripherals, getting to choose your own accessories is, at the very least, liberating.

And, while it hasn’t been updated in quite some time on the hardware front, the Mac Mini’s Haswell-based i5 processor still chugs along nicely. Plus, with Iris Graphics onboard, you’ll get a bit more juice than expected. Combined with 500GB of storage space and 4GB of RAM, the Mac mini is arguably the best starting point for OS X newcomers even if a contemporary makeover is long past due.

With an aluminum shell and simplistic industrial design, the Mac mini represents Apple at its very core. Where it mainly lacks, however, is in performance. Luckily the option for a Fusion Drive, which marries the power of both HDD and SSD technology, somewhat makes up for this inadequacy. A configuration sporting 8GB of RAM is an option too, but if you don’t want to shell out the extra cash, the base model will do just fine.

Read the full review: Apple Mac mini

Acer Revo One

5. Acer Revo Build

A stackable media PC with plenty of storage

CPU: Intel Celeron N3050 – Core i5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics – Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 2GB – 8GB | Storage: 32GB SSD – 1TB HDD | Communication: 802.11ac, Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0 + LE | Dimensions (W x D x H): 5.3 x 5.3 x 2.2 inches

Ships with mouse and keyboard
Loads of modular functionality
Middling specs
Barebones for cheapest option

The Acer Revo Build is one of the few desktop computers you can actually take advantage of on the go in addition to with your at-home setup. Featuring upgradeability that’s as easy as stacking Lincoln Logs, the Revo Build is both the perfect media PC and a stellar charging station for your other devices.

Unfortunately, that’s assuming you shell out enough for the most expensive configuration, which comprises an Audio Block for built-in sound output, a 1TB hard drive block and even a graphics block for Ultra HD video. The Revo Build packs in not one, but three USB ports, an SD card slot and even DisplayPort. Plus, if your phone is up to task, you can even utilize wireless charging. 

Read the full review: Acer Revo Build

HP Pavilion Mini

6. HP Pavilion Wave

It’s a prettier, if less-beefy, Mac Pro

CPU: Intel Core i3 – Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 530 – AMD Radeon R9 M470 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 1TB HDD | Communication: 802.11ac, Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.2 | Dimensions (W x D x H): 6.81 x 6.62 x 9.25 inches

Unique, stylish cylindrical form factor
Clever and effective audio solution
No optical audio port
Unflattering specs

The HP Pavilion Wave is the latest in a trend of desktops posing as entirely different hardware. This time it’s a speaker, thanks to a partnership with Bang & Olufsen, and the HP Pavilion Wave succeeds where others have failed. Rather than muddling the audio quality exerted from the Wave’s onboard speaker system. HP and B&O Play have devised a clever cylindrical design that actually improves on sound quality while looking good at the same time.

The HP Pavilion Wave also manages to future-proof itself with Bluetooth 4.2 capabilities, three standard USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, DisplayPort and even a single USB Type-C port.

Read the first look: HP Pavilion Wave

Lenovo IdeaCentre Q190

7. Lenovo IdeaCentre 710

A multimedia aficionado for the whole family

CPU: Intel Core i5 – Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti – GeForce GTX 960 | RAM: 12GB – 32GB | Storage: 2TB HDD + 128GB SSD – 2TB HDD + 256GB SSD | Communication: Lenovo AC Wireless, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0 | Dimensions (W x D x H): 7.12 x 17.98 x 15.77

Powerful discrete graphics
Plenty of ports and storage
Windows 10 Home
GPU maxes out at GTX 960

When it’s not busy perfecting its ThinkPad formula, Lenovo is hard at work on its bombastic series of entertainment-centric desktops. Stacked with one of the most powerful Skylake processors on the market combined with a discrete GPU of your choosing as well as your preferred hard drive and solid state drive pairing, the Lenovo IdeaCentre 710 is more than enough for 4K video playback and then some.

Although it’s designed more for video editing than twitch-shooting, the IdeaCentre 710 can handle some light- to medium-weight gaming with ease. It might not run the latest Battlefield at the highest settings in 1080p, the IdeaCentre 710 is still far more capable than it has any right to be – and without costing a fortune at that.

Aside from the limited GPU configuration options, the only complaint we have is that for such a high-quality machine, the Lenovo IdeaCentre 710 ships with Windows 10 Home rather than Windows 10 Pro. As a result, you’ll need to upgrade manually if you want the option to defer updates or access your desktop remotely.

LG Chromebase

8. Acer Chromebase 24

An easy to use and excellent value all-in-one

CPU: Intel Celeron – Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics – Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Storage: 16GB – 32GB SSD | Communication: 802.11ac, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0 | Dimensions (W x D x H): 7.12 x 17.98 x 15.77

Core i processor options
Adjustable webcam
Expensive for a Chromebase
Not enough screen real estate

Chromebooks are Google’s reaction to cheap laptops that can barely run Windows 10 but, for whatever reason, still do. As such, there’s no reason the Chromebook operating system, Chrome OS, can’t be applied to all-in-one PCs as well. That’s the logic behind Acer’s Chromebase 24, a powerful performer with some nifty additives.

Being an all-in-one, it bears the same benefits as Apple’s far more expensive iMac – no need for loose cables spread across the floor. The speakers (of which there are two, along with four mics) are built into the display, which itself extends from the computer it contains.

Chrome OS is cleverly designed to work with files stored in the cloud rather than locally, as Google Apps substitutes Microsoft Office. It takes some getting used to, but once you do get into the swing of things, the Acer Chromebook 24 works, and it works well.

HP 260 G1

9. Intel Compute Stick (Core M)

The tiny computer that can

CPU: Intel Core m3 – Core m5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB eMMC | Communication: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2 | Dimensions (W x D x H): 38mm x 12mm x 125mm

Powerful CPU
Extremely portable design
Still hindered by fan cooling
Limited RAM and storage

When we reviewed the original Intel Compute Stick, we were undeniably disappointed by its lackluster performance and ostensibly unnecessary fan integration. Well over a year later, Intel has addressed both of these complaints with one major change: the switch to the company’s Core M-series processors. 

Whether you’re appeased by the Core m3 or you need the slight bump in power exhibited by the Core m5, the Intel Compute Stick offers a solution. Of course, it’s still not ideal to pack a fan into a tiny dongle, especially when the Core M CPUs were designed with noise elimination in mind. 

But, the Intel Compute Stick still maintains a cost low enough to where it may not matter if it doesn’t run completely silent. Its tiny form factor and powerful (for the price) CPU is enough to tide you over nonetheless.

Read the full review: Intel Compute Stick

Asus K31ADE

10. Asus VivoMini UN45

A compact desktop for everyday computing

CPU: Intel Celeron N3000 – Pentium N3700 | Graphics: Intel HD Integrated Graphics | RAM: 2GB – 8GB | Storage: 32GB – 128GB SSD | Communication: 802.11ac, Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0 | Dimensions (W x D x H): 5.16 x 5.16 x 1.65 inches

Attractive midnight blue finish
No-frills 4K media playback
Fanless only with baseline specs
No Core-M or i3 option?

Asus is a unique PC maker in that it offers a wide range of computers for a variety of different types of users. You typically won’t find in a mini PC with this many configuration options that no matter which one you opt for, the underlying computer remains the same. 

The VivoMini UN45 may look like one of Asus’ DVD burners, but in reality, it’s a full-fledged desktop that can be used as a companion for watching 4K movies in your home theater or it can even be connected normally to a monitor or a TV. 

Moreover, the UN45 bears an M.2 SSD regardless of which model you opt for, ranging from 32GB to 128GB. However, if you don’t mind the reduction in performance and configure your VivoMini UN45 with an Intel Celeron N3000, you’ll get the liberty of a fanless design that’s completely silent even when the CPU is under full load.

  • Find out how HoloLens will change computing forever

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article

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