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Xi3 Intros Easy-To-Upgrade Modular PC

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 23 comments

It's no taller than an iPhone and super-easy to upgrade.

Wednesday Xi3 Corporation announced the Xi3 Modular Computer, slated as the last computer you may ever need to buy. The bold statement is backed by six U.S. Patents and an award-winning design aimed to make upgrades super-easy for consumers.

The rig was showcased Tuesday night at the CES Unveiled@NY Showcase and Networking Reception and was named as an Innovations Award Winner in the Computer Hardware category for CES 2011. It sported a cube-like aluminum chassis measuring less than 4-inches per side, and a motherboard that was divided into three separate sections-- one section for the processors and RAM, and two sections handling all connectivity and input/output requirements.

"We reject the concept that computers should have a useful life of only two to four years," said Jason A. Sullivan, President and CEO of Xi3 Corporation. "Instead we believe that computers should be upgradeable and updateable over and over and over again, and that’s how we’ve designed the Xi3 Modular Computer, making it (potentially) the last computer you ever need to buy."

According to Xi3, the rig's aluminum casing serves as a heatsink, while the flow-through design and the placement of the 64-bit x86 processors combine to help mitigate and dissipate heat blooms inside the enclosure itself. Three of the external sides even play host to universal mounting slides, allowing users to mount the Xi3 Modular Computer to almost anything.

As for specific specs, the modular computer will feature an AMD Athlon 64 X2 processor (2000+, 3400e, 4200+), up to 2 GB DDR2 667/800 RAM (4 GB in later models), dual display support for 1080p DVI, VGA, HDMI, LVDS and DisplayPort, and 128 MB of side port memory. It also offers six USB ports, 2 SATA ports, Xi3p, PCIe 1x and more.

The Xi3 Modular Computer isn't expected to go retail until early 2011--currently the company is offering the rig for evaluation and proof-of-concept purposes. However when it finally reaches the market, consumers should expect to pay a base price somewhere around $850 USD. Based on the specs, three models will be available to consumers.

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  • 11 Hide
    kelemvor4 , November 11, 2010 4:40 PM
    Ok but aren't all computers (except macs) upgradable and modular? If not, I better call eVGA and see if I can cancel my gtx 580 order ;) 
Other Comments
  • 11 Hide
    kelemvor4 , November 11, 2010 4:40 PM
    Ok but aren't all computers (except macs) upgradable and modular? If not, I better call eVGA and see if I can cancel my gtx 580 order ;) 
  • 3 Hide
    amdwilliam1985 , November 11, 2010 4:42 PM
    Great idea in theory, but in reality how does it handle when Intel/AMD changes the socket type? example, socket 939 to AM2.
  • 4 Hide
    Hard Line , November 11, 2010 4:42 PM
    interesting idea but not for ppl with high power requirements I can't see an i7 in that.. i don't think it could keep it cool enough
  • 2 Hide
    dman3k , November 11, 2010 4:46 PM
    I looked at it. And it doesn't look too easy that you have to purchase proprietary parts from Xi3.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , November 11, 2010 4:50 PM
    @kelemvor4

    if i understand this correct.... it's a modular motherboard, upgrade from USB3 to light-peak can be handled via simply swapping out the IO module, new CPU can be accommodated via swapping out the CPU module, sounds interesting, have to see it in practice to see if it's viable
  • 5 Hide
    gsacks , November 11, 2010 4:50 PM
    Modular to a point. Like any PC, if you replace a main component, like the motherboard, you basically have a brand new PC as far as your operating system is concerned, which means all sorts of driver issues unless you re-install the OS. Not to mention that Windows will probably require re-activation, and if you have an OEM version, then MS may not be too keen on allowing that. Nice concept though, and it look pretty cool.
  • -4 Hide
    gorillateets , November 11, 2010 4:55 PM
    This is retarded. Another gimmick for some idiot to buy. It's so tiny you could never do any high performance computing in this. Have they gotten with mobo manufacturers to change standardization? I couldn't even fit my 5870 in that case. What's the point here? And good obversation on drivers...Count me out. I'll stick with my mid tower.
  • 9 Hide
    tommysch , November 11, 2010 5:34 PM
    My HAF-932 is modular and easy to upgrade.
  • 3 Hide
    Khimera2000 , November 11, 2010 5:42 PM
    It would be cool if you could slap multiple units together so you can have more moduals in one system.
  • 2 Hide
    cybr , November 11, 2010 6:13 PM
    My Cosmos is modular as well... As a matter of fact, I've kept upgrading my PC since @ 1997 days, and haven't bought a full PC in that time.... From power supply and case, to motherboard and processor, each time it's an "upgrade", not a replacement.
  • 0 Hide
    kingssman , November 11, 2010 7:11 PM
    Looks like a good small scale PC thats modular (something that most tiny PCs lack) However usually if you upgrade the CPU you sometimes upgrade the motherboard, mostly for socket changes, or bus changes.. Unless you go for a full blown MB and go with a cheap CPU to start with.

    Most things people upgrade in a computer is graphics card, RAM, and Hardrive, maybe soundcard.
    I dunno THG readers, how often would you upgrade your CPU vs your GPU?
  • 0 Hide
    halls , November 11, 2010 10:48 PM
    "last computer you may ever need to buy..."
    Pretty sure I saw a line similar to this in a Simpsons episode.
  • 0 Hide
    dEAne , November 12, 2010 12:45 AM
    I wish it is available in our country too.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , November 12, 2010 2:43 AM
    athlon 64 x2... that right there tells me these people know nothing about the market.. in less than 6 months AMD is bringing out a whole new platform, (not to mention that the 64 x2 is already what 2 CPU generations old? counting athlon 2 and phenom 1 and 2...) and 2 gigs of ram? for real? 850$ may as well buy a mac... i'll take my 850 and get a mini-itx and custom build my case, and have a true upgradeable modular PC... thank you.
  • 0 Hide
    jestersage , November 12, 2010 2:58 AM
    Cute.

    That was a compliment. But for THG readers, myself included, I think we'll stick with our boxes and upgrade parts as we see fit. Cheaper... and way more fun!.. that way.
  • 0 Hide
    Alvin Smith , November 12, 2010 6:57 AM

    The form factor is great ... The specs are WAY LAME !

    ... especially for that price.

    = Al =
  • 1 Hide
    x3style , November 12, 2010 11:21 AM
    I thought the whole upgradability thing would be an ability to interconnect as many of these as you like to increase performance.Stack-em-up kinda trick?
  • 0 Hide
    g00fysmiley , November 12, 2010 11:36 AM
    awsome idea... if onlt somebody had thought of this before... luiek a standardised size/screw layout for easy interchangability ... oh wait thats ATX... or where the power suppl was replacable... oh wait thats also atx... perhaps if processors didn't use different sockets every single model... oh wait wrong again alot of variety in each generation for an easy upgrade..

    and finally those damn graphics cars if only they all had a standardised slot liek some sort of pci standard but faster ... a pci-express slot if you will... oh wait we have that too... god people are idiots... i hope this fails, its rediculously easy to build a pc and to upgrade it as it is there is no need for this and i think it'd actually hurt the pc enthusiast market by people refusing to mov on in sockets and such unless its gonna use some kinda adaptor to ada0pt new sockets to old
  • 0 Hide
    Alvin Smith , November 12, 2010 11:55 AM

    Hey! ... Why don't you folks build me something I can really USE !!!

    You wanna make some real dough ? .. Howz about a 6U sized desktop case where the top 4U consists of six 5.25" (horizontal bays) and the bottom 2U has *ALL* the rear ports and internal ports replicated, on the FRONT panel ???

    Include an optional rack-mount kit (ears and rails + screws) and I'd pay for all that.


    Nobody has done this and every project studio needs this. Just make sure the ports are on the bottom third, so they don't hang down in front of the drives, please.

    Thankyou, Santa.

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