Sapphire Edge-HD2 Mini PC
As multimedia technologies and uses become more prolific and part of our daily lives, consumers are looking for products that fill more than one role. Historically, small motherboards with integrated chips and graphics have typically been poor performer and offered questionable value. They were geared to consumers that had small expectations and a small budget. Technological progress being what it is, things are now at the point that small form setups can accomplish a wide range of tasks and give consumers a healthy dose of value for their money at the same time.
The Sapphire Edge-HD2 is one such product that seeks to be more to the mainstream consumer, both in the terms of physical design but also in versatility. It is designed in an extremely compact layout and takes up a positively miniscule footprint. In terms of performance, the Edge-HD2 can’t run with the big dogs but it’s not intended (nor priced) to do that. What it does, it does very well though. The integrated chips are robust, able to perform basic HTPC tasks with no noticeable lag or stutter. The combination of low power and low noise is a potent combination for a smallform setup, and the Edge-HD2 mini PC certainly has those.
There are a few downsides here. The first is the is obviously the CPU; it’s not designed for impressive computing power. It’s designed for bsaic all-around use for essential tasks: email, browsing, streaming video, music, movies. Boot and access times are on respectable but don’t expect to do much multi-tasking. And with only 2GB of memory, you can forget about running several programs simultaneously.
The second downside is indicative of wishful thinking on our part. We were really hoping to see USB 3.0 connectivity here rather than just USB 2.0. Having USB 3.0 included would make for an utterly killer package, even with a modest price increase, since an external USB 3.0 docking station/enclosure could be used for high-speed, high-capacity storage. The USB 2.0 does severely hamper that, but it does keep the cost down, so we can’t really complain too much.
The last issue is that the ATOM platform is getting a bit long in the tooth and is now being overshadowed by AMD’s Fusion platform which is looking awfully impressive in terms of performance and value. The Edge-HD2 may well be the last of its kind with the new platform implementations looming on the horizon.
The Sapphire Edge-HD2 is priced about $400 for the Windows version, which is a respectable value for what you get here. You are paying a bit of a premium for the plug-and-play convenience and of course the utterly small form, but the Edge-HD2 would make for an impressive tiny home PC for daily essentials: email, browsing, music, video, and home theater.
The Pure Point: Packed into a extremely small and sleek form that runs silent and barely draws any power, the Sapphire Edge-HD2 mini PC is a good option for a value-oriented all-in-one system.