Remember my review of the world’s smallest ‘desktop’ PC, the Fit-PC2? I recommended it for use as a lightweight, energy efficient server, but apparently you can do much more exciting things with it. Matt Bunting, a University of Arizona electrical engineering senior, used it to power a very cool, spider-like robot. And it turns out Intel just bought two of them to show off the Atom’s potential. It uses other stock parts too, including a Logitech webcam.
More Fit-PC2 used to power amazing robot spider
A little over a year ago, I got myself the cheapest media center PC ever, on the form of an old refurbished office machine. It was fast enough to handle most of what I wanted it to do, but it was lightly too big for my AV setup, and decidedly beige. Ugh. But my main issue with it was that it was also making long hours. The Pentium 4 series of processors is notorious for its high power consumption, and I was starting to feel guilty.
I’ve had a couple of Atom based PCs in my home (a netbook and that really small PC I wrote about earlier), but found them to be slow, especially when it came to graphics. Intel’s ancient 945 chipset was a real bottleneck, and the newer US15W had terrible driver issues in Linux. That’s why I wanted to try nVidia’s Ion chipset. I decided that an ASRock Ion 330 would be the perfect little HTPC for me.
More ASRock’s ION nettop really rocks!
CompuLab just released a new version of their tiny Fit-PC2, called the Fit-PC2i. My guess is the ‘i’ stands for ‘internet’, because the most interesting new feature is a second gigabit ethernet port. This allows the device to be used as a router or firewall, so it’s not a feature that helps desktop users much. In fact, in order to fit (pun intended) the second RJ45 socket they’ve had to eliminate two USB ports from the back of the device, leaving just two full-size USB ports.
But there’s some good news too. According to the press release, the ‘i’ can be ordered with a 2GHz processor (although not currently listed on the website), and a 2GB memory model is also available. This is more important than you might think, because the RAM chips are soldered onto the motherboard and can not be replaced or upgraded. Also new is an RS232 port on the front of the device.
So, if you’re looking for a tiny little computer with an astonishingly low power consumption and two network connectors, look no further. Be advised though that the current state of the GMA500 graphics driver is still ‘a bloody mess‘, and you’ll need a display with a digital (DVI or HDMI) input.
As I wrote earlier, CompuLab was kind enough to send me a Fit-PC2, so I could find out if this tiny little PC is as great as it sounds on paper. The first unit I received failed before I could properly test it, but it was quickly replaced and I’ve been putting the replacement one through its paces all day today.
The Fit-PC2 is the world’s smallest fully functional desktop PC. It’s about 1/4 the volume of a Mac Mini, and it still has all the necessary connections and features to be used as a home or office computer. It’s also the most energy efficient PC I know of, using only six watt when idle and eight when playing full resolution HD video (1080p). Yes, it does that. But more about that later.
More Fit-PC2 review: The world’s smallest desktop PC