Introducing the CompuLab Intense PC

The last time we checked out a fanless desktop system, it was Logic Supply's LGX AG150. While affordable, that system was powered by Intel's Cedar Trail Atom processor, a chip with serious teething issues under Windows. Today, though, we have a beefier beast: can CompuLab's Intense PC with an entirely fanless enclosure handle the heat from a 17W Ivy Bridge CPU?

While performance isn't exactly liable to be intense, what's certainly intense about the Intense PC is its weight. What you're looking at, essentially, is one massive heatsink with a computer at its center. The Intense PC is almost three pounds, so it's roughly as heavy as an ultrabook, but it's a lot smaller and denser. CompuLab's site says the Intense PC is ruggedized to take a beating and handle industrial situations, and I believe it.

CompuLab Intense PC Specifications
Chassis Custom CompuLab
Processor Intel Core i7-3517UE
(2x1.7GHz, Turbo to 2.8GHz, 22nm, 4MB L3, 17W)
Motherboard Custom QM77 Board
Memory 2x4GB Hynix DDR3-1600 (maximum 2x8GB)
Graphics Intel HD 4000
(16 EUs, 350-1000MHz)
Hard Drive(s) 500GB 5400-RPM Hitachi CinemaStar C5K750 SATA 3Gbps HDD
Optical Drive(s) -
Power Supply External ~30W PSU
Networking Realtek RTL8723AE 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz Wireless Ethernet
Realtek PCIe Gigabit Ethernet
Intel 82579LM Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Realtek ALC888
Speaker and line-in jacks
Front Side 4x USB 2.0
Top Side -
Back Side Power button
Speaker and line-in jacks
2x Removable Wi-Fi antennae
2x USB 3.0
2x USB 2.0
1x RS232
AC adapter
2x eSATA
2x Gigabit ethernet
Operating System Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1
Dimensions 7.5" x 6.3" x 1.6"
190mm x 160mm x 40mm)
Extras Completely fanless
Customizable FACE module
Warranty 2-year limited parts and labor
Pricing Starts at $399
Review system MSRP $1,149

The base $399 model is CompuLab's barebones: it comes with an Intel Celeron 847E, which offers just 1.1GHz dual core operation and ditches the RAM, HDD, and OS. What's important to keep in mind is that while none of the specs are particularly fancy, the enclosure is. I can't stress this enough: this is a giant block of metal with ports and a computer hiding inside it. It's also intended for predominately industrial applications, and comes with a 24-month warranty standard. This is effectively enterprise-class.

CompuLab sent us their top of the line model for review, so this is as good as the Intense PC gets before you start upgrading it manually. The Intel Core i7-3517UE is a dual core processor that runs at 1.7GHz nominally, up to 2.6GHz on both cores, and up to 2.8GHz on a single core. The HD 4000 does take a slight hit compared to the conventional i7-3517U, though, sporting a top speed of 1GHz instead of 1.15GHz.

Backing up that processor is 8GB of DDR3-1600 courtesy of Hynix, and the memory is user expandable to 16GB. The Realtek wireless is serviceable but not outstanding; as even smartphones are starting to graduate to 5GHz wireless, settling for the 2.4GHz band only is kind of a drag. Thankfully that's also user replaceable. Finally, the biggest drag may just be the storage subsystem. There's a full-size mini-PCIe slot inside the chassis, but that slot does not support mSATA, which in my opinion is a pretty big omission at this point in the game. and it does support mSATA.

The chassis also supports a single 2.5" drive, but the 500GB, 5400-RPM Hitachi drive included lowballing it. I see why they chose this model specifically; heat tolerances are actually very high, with a maximum operating temperature of 70C, and the drive is designed for 24/7 operation. Still, in this day and age, a $1,149 computer shipping without an SSD is a bitter pill to swallow; if reliability is an issue, shipping an Intel SSD would've been appreciated.

Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • A5 - Saturday, April 20, 2013 - link

    The Mac Mini will destroy itself if the fan fails or clogs. Like the article repeatedly says, you already know if this kind of thing is what you need.
  • Greg512 - Saturday, April 20, 2013 - link

    I am not sure if you are trolling or not, but this pc does not have fans, unlike the Mac. You wouldn't buy this unless you had a specific usage case in mind that required a fan-less computer.
  • ViewRoyal - Sunday, April 21, 2013 - link

    In answer to A5 and Greg512:

    No, I am not trolling... unless making a logical comparison is "trolling" to you. Yes the Mac mini does have a fan, but it rarely turns on since the solid aluminum enclosure acts as an excellent heat sync.

    The only time I've noticed the fan of a Mac mini turning on, was if the computer was in an excessively hot environment (for example in the hot sun by a window) or if the vents are covered. When the fan does come on, it is incredibly silent... and I've never heard of the Mac mini fan "clogging".

    There is a benefit to having a similarly small computer with a backup fan, which only turns on when conditions require it. The CompuLab Intense PC is hindered by relying entirely on its case design, and not having a fan to kick in when external conditions are too hot.
  • kyuu - Sunday, April 21, 2013 - link

    You obviously don't understand the intended application of this device (despite the article repeatedly stating it). This is for industrial applications, not your house.

    Please, do go ahead and put a Mac Mini in an industrial environment and let us know how that goes.
  • seanleeforever - Monday, April 22, 2013 - link

    yes you are trolling. unintentionally at the very least.

    this product, again, is not for home use. i assume you never use your computer other than home/office environment so i am not going to say harsh things to this comment.

    let's assume, if you want to have a log server on a air plane. your example of mac min will fail in no time. 1st. hot sun by a window is by no means a HOT temperature... anything industrial grade needs to go from -40 to 85. 2nd. environmentally sealed is a big thing. the fact that this guy is essentially in a seal box could potentially provide MIL spec 810, which is extremely desirable in a lot of places.
  • andymcca - Saturday, April 20, 2013 - link

    ? Most mfr environments are on concrete slab w rubber padding under each station/unit. What use case are you referring to which involves outside of 2.5" disk tolerances (most of which are designed for laptop use)?
  • andymcca - Saturday, April 20, 2013 - link

    ? Most mfr environments are on concrete slab w rubber padding under each station/unit. What use case are you referring to which involves outside of 2.5" disk tolerances (most of which are designed for laptop use)?
  • andymcca - Saturday, April 20, 2013 - link

    appears anandtech can't handle replies w/o insecure browsing features (java)....
  • NCAM - Sunday, April 21, 2013 - link

    Anandtech does not require Java.

    (Sent from my Java-free iPad.)
  • kyuu - Sunday, April 21, 2013 - link

    He probably means Javascript, not Java. I'm guessing his troubles are from using Scriptblocker, as I had the same issue until I figured out which scripts to enable.

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