Akasa has announced the industry's first fanless chassis for Intel's NUC 9 Compute Element platform. The Turing QLX will enable enthusiasts and PC makers to build quiet systems using Intel's gaming-oriented NUC 9 Compute Element modules.
Intel and its partners brought the first NUC 9 Pro/Extreme Compute Element modules and supporting cases to the market in Q2 2020. But at the time, none of the chassis could offer passive cooling, as reckoned by Liliputing. In late December, Akasa finally announced the industry's first fanless chassis for Intel's NUC Compute Element platform.
The Akasa Turing QLX is a sub-7L chassis that measures 212(W) x 150(D) x 220(H)mm and can support all five of Intel's currently available NUC 9 Pro/Extreme Compute Element modules that are compatible with the Intel West Cove carrier board, including the top-of-the-range BXNUC9i9QNB that carries the eight-core Core i9-9980HK CPU.
To install a Compute Element into a Turing QLX, all users have to do is to remove their stock cooling and then attach one of Akasa's heat dissipation modules with the appropriate thermal copper tubes. The case is made of aluminum and features extruded fins on the side to maximize its cooling performance. Akasa says that the chassis can support modules with a CPU up to 45W TDP, typical for Intel's high-end mobile processors.
Akasa doesn't provide any details about what kind of power supply it will ship with the Turing QLX, but it recommends using a low-power graphics card since the chassis was not designed to handle dual or triple-slot monsters for hardcore gamers. Meanwhile, enthusiasts will certainly find a way to squeeze something more or less advanced into this case.
When Intel first launched its NUC systems about eight years ago, it positioned them primarily for those who wanted compact and quiet PCs and didn't plan to upgrade their system. Over time, the company realized that many of those who would like to use an ultra-portable desktop were also interested in gaming. Still, NUCs barely offered enough performance even for casual games. Intel began to offer NUCs with entry-level discrete graphics processors, but even those systems could not provide sufficient performance for demanding games. Eventually, Intel offered NUCs with a Thunderbolt 3 port that allowed users to plug-in an eGFX box and use any graphics card they wanted. However, even these systems did not support CPU upgrades.
Finally, Intel realized that it needed an architecture that could provide performance and upgradeability that users come to expect from a higher-end gaming PC and combine it with the simplicity of its NUCs so that users would never have to worry about things like cooling or assembly. Intel's Compute Element concept simplifies PC architecture to just three key components: a Compute Element module which carries a CPU with an active (meaning not quiet) cooling system, RAM, storage, and I/O; an off-the-shelf graphics card, and a special chassis with an appropriate carrier board (to connect a CE to a GPU), power supply and cooling.
The manufacturer has yet to announce the pricing and estimated availability date of its Turing QLX chassis.
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Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.