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Seven Small (But Powerful) Mini-PCs, Reviewed

Logic Supply's ML300 is a bit of an oddity in our round-up because it's not aimed at the same audience as the other contenders, although there are some client applications that could benefit from its unique selling points. While Logic Supply will build your system for you, you can also purchase the ML300 enclosure on its own for $129.

This chassis differentiates itself by being a dust-proof, vent-less industrial case. No fans and no vents mean no active cooling, so you also don't have to sweat a fan failure. See the ribs on the top of the chassis? The entire exterior serves as a passive heat sink for the processor; this works surprisingly well.

Logic Supply configures systems to order. Our review sample came with an Intel Core i5-3427U sporting 3 MB of shared L3 cache. Its 1.8 GHz base clock rate scales as high as 2.8 GHz under the right thermal conditions. Intel's on-die HD Graphics 4000 engine can handle very mainstream gaming, but that's about it. The machine we're looking at sells for $1245.65, making it the most expensive entry in our round-up. But remember that it's also armed with 16 GB of DDR3-1600, has the only bundled mSATA-based SSD, and includes an operating system. 

Of course, if you're content to build your own passively-cooled mini-PC, you can save some money by buying the ML300 and platform components separately.

Bundle And First Impression

In the plain cardboard box you'll find Logic Supply's ML300, an AC adapter, a power cord, an HDMI-to-VGA adapter, wall, VESA, and DIN rail mounting hardware, and Windows. A lack of fancy packaging suggests this product's industrial focus.

The front of this compact system features a power button and two USB ports. Measuring 7.72" x 1.45" x 5.17", the enclosure is roughly equivalent to one and a half NUCs. More surface area is necessary to cool the internally-housed processor passively, and to accommodate more I/O.

The back plays host to a power plug, two more USB ports, a pair of mini-DP outputs, an HDMI connector, and a GbE interface. Cutouts for other connections exist, but are not populated.

Open the chassis up and you'll see all of its extra expansion space. Our review unit doesn't have Wi-Fi or Bluetooth support, but there is a mini-PCIe slot under the mSATA-based SSD, though. Logic Supply uses an Emphase 128 GB model, along with two 8 GB DDR3-1600 SO-DIMMs with 11-11-11-28 timings. 

Special Features And Livability

An ultra-compact form factor is ideal for commercial applications, and a fan-less enclosure with nothing but solid-state components is ideal for ruggedness. With a wide range of mounting options and room for expansion, the ML300 chassis works well for its target market; it's a specialized piece of equipment that effective satisfies a specific need. 

Intel QS77 Express
Intel Core i5-3427U, Dual-Core, Hyper-Threaded, 1.8 GHz (2.8 GHz Peak Turbo Boost), 3 MB Shared L3 Cache
Intel HD Graphics 4000, 350 MHz - 1.15 GHz
Graphics Memory
Shared with system memory
System Memory
2 x 8 GB Transcend PC3-12800, 1600 MT/s DDR3, 11-11-11-28-1T
Hard Drive
Emphase Enterprise 128 GB SSD, mSATA
Optical Drive
Operating System
Windows 7 Professional x64
Included Peripherals
Not Included
Internal Interfaces
Memory Support
Dual-Channel, 2 x DDR3/L/-RS SO-DIMM slots, 1.35/1.5 V, 1333/1600 MT/s, 16 GB Max
Not Included
One slot
Mass Storage Controllers
Chipset SATA
1 x mSATA 6Gb/s
I/O Panel Connectors
Not Included
Not Included
2 (mini-DP)
Not Included
MHSL Input
Not Included
2 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0
Memory Card Reader
Not Included
Not Included
Digital Audio out
Analog Audio
Not Included
IR Sensor
Not Included
Ethernet & Wireless
Integrated Gigabit
Not Included
Not Included
HD Audio Codec
HDMI: Intel Display Audio
Audio Channels
HDMI 7.1 Digital Audio
Physical Specifications
196 x 36.75 x 131.20 mm
(7.72" x 1.45" x 5.17")
1111 g  (2.45 lbs)
As Tested: $1245.65 (with Windows 7 Ultimate x64; tested with Windows 8.1 Professional)

Case Only: $129 (Logicsupply)
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