Compulab is looking to Kickstarter to launch its newest mini-PC, the Airtop2 Inferno. The totally fanless machine is powered by an Intel i7-7700K and the desktop version of Nvidia’s GTX 1080.
We’ve covered Compulab before. Following the release of its Airtop mini-PC in 2016, which we reviewed, the Israel-based company recently launched a successor model fittingly called the Airtop2. Building on its design, which was already impressive enough in its own right, is the even more ludicrous Airtop2 Inferno. Whereas the Airtop2 can squeeze an Intel i7-7700 (65W TDP) and a desktop Nvidia GTX 1060 (120W TDP) into a case that measures 12 x 10 x 4”, the Inferno ups the ante by packing an i7-7700K (95W TDP) and a desktop GTX 1080 (180W TDP) into a package that’s only two inches wider.
All of the Airtop mini-PCs share the same basic layout for their fanless chassis, which rely on their metal side panels to dissipate heat. The GPU is directly attached to the left-side panel and is bridged to the motherboard via a flexible PCI-e cable, while the right-side panel is rigidly fixed to contact the CPU. The side panels use heatpipes to distribute the heat over their surface area efficiently, and they are formed with air channels to harness natural convection. Because the right-side panel can’t be removed without detaching it from the CPU, Airtop PCs are designed so that all of their swappable components can be accessed from the left side.
The Inferno maintains the same design of the series but has significantly thicker side panels to dissipate the added heat of its more powerful components. Those side panels are the reason why the Inferno is two inches wider than the regular Airtop2. Apart from this aspect, the only other externally visible differences that set the Inferno version apart are its red accents and different front I/O layout.
Platform-wise, the Inferno has the same setup as the regular Airtop2. This means that it uses the same custom motherboard based on the C236 chipset, which is basically an enterprise version of the Z170 chipset. The motherboard and case allow for the installation of up to four 2.5” drives, two NVMe SSDs, and four DDR4 memory DIMMs. The motherboard itself provides dual GbE ports and six USB3.0 type-A ports. Audio comes from an ALC1150 audio chip, but only stereo line-out and optical outputs are available. A Wi-Fi add-in card is optional, but the Inferno comes with spots for four antennas. Compared to the regular Airtop2, the Inferno lacks a configurable front panel and has instead been designed with a more consumer-friendly fixed configuration that includes dual USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports (Type-A and Type-C).
Because most of the Inferno’s components are shared with the already shipping regular Airtop2, Compulab said there wasn’t much it had to design specifically for the Inferno. In that sense, the company doesn’t see much risk if the Inferno doesn’t perform up to its potential. Still, putting an expensive and niche product into production is a risk that the company didn’t want to take without the confidence of knowing that there is a market for it. Compulab therefore chose to launch Inferno with a Kickstarter campaign. It has no stretch goals, but Compulab says that if the Inferno is successful in the longer term, they may offer GPU adapter kits to give the PC support for newer cards. CPU and motherboard upgrade kits are also on the table.
Those interested have a choice of five configurations for the Inferno: Half Life ($1,699), Skeletal ($2,480), Demonic ($3,170), Diabolic ($3,961), and Doomsday ($7,478). The Half Life configuration is bare-bones, coming only with the motherboard and CPU. Buyers of this configuration will have to source their own GPU from Compulab’s list of compatible products. The Skeletal configuration adds a GTX 1080 but still lacks memory and storage. The Demonic configuration is the cheapest complete system with 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SATA SSD. The Diabolic configuration upgrades that to 32GB of RAM while adding a NVMe SSD. Finally, the Doomsday edition just fills the Inferno to the brim with 64GB of RAM, four SATA SSDs, and two NVMe SSDs.
The Compulab Airtop2 Inferno Kickstarter campaign is running until March 25 and is all-or-nothing, which means backers won’t be charged if the project doesn’t reach its goal.
Airtop 2 Inferno
Nvidia GTX 1080 8GB
Up to 64GB DDR4 (4 DIMMs)
Up to 4 x 2TB Sata SSD
Up to 2 x Samsung Evo 960 1TB
Custom (Intel C236 chipset)
2 x Gigabit ethernet
802.11 ac wifi card with BT 4.2
6 x USB 3.0 (rear)
1 x USB 3.1 gen 2 type-C (front)
1 x USB 3.1 gen 2 (front)
1 x USB 3.0 (front)
2 x DisplayPort 1.2 (rear)
1 x HDMI 1.4 (rear)
Windows 10 Pro
15 x 25.5 x 30cm
Starting at $1,699