Compulab released the Airtop2 mini-PC. Configurable with an i7-7700, GTX 1060, four hard drives, and two PCI-e SSDs, it exceeds expectations for a fanless computer.
Most of us probably haven’t heard of Compulab. According to its website, the Israel-based company specializes in fanless PCs, which it has been manufacturing since 2007. Its newest product, the Airtop2, is a configurable, passively cooled mini-PC. Although there are parts, such as the Streacom DB4 chassis, that enable you to build your own fanless PC, the Airtop2 doesn’t appear to be using an off-the-shelf chassis or motherboard (at least not any we’re familiar with).
The apparently custom design is how Compulab managed to make the Airtop2 so small--it measures just 12 x 10 x 4”. That size doesn’t make it truly miniature like Intel’s NUC or Zotac’s Zbox PCs, but those aren’t fanless, or nearly as powerful. A low-end configuration of the Airtop2 would have an i7-7700, one 8GB DIMM for memory, one 2.5” drive, one NVMe SSD, and a GTX 1050. That configuration would already be quite impressive for a fanless PC, but the Airtop2 can do better.
The highest-end, or at least the most heat-producing, configuration for the Airtop2 would have a Xeon E3-1275 v6 (73W TDP vs the i7-7700’s 65W TDP), four 16GB DIMMs for memory, four 2.5” drives, two NVMe SSDs, and a GTX 1060 (120W TDP vs the GTX 1050’s 75W TDP). Those who don’t need a GPU can opt for three more NVMe SSDs. If that’s not impressive enough, the Airtop2 can be configured, and we don’t know what changes occur for this to happen, to work in up to 70°C ambient temperatures.
Compulab relies on its chassis’ and motherboard’s clever design to dissipate all that heat so effectively. Similar to the design of the Streamcom, the Airtop2 uses its two side panels as heat sinks. The GPU is attached directly to a copper cooling plate on the the left-side panel and connects to the motherboard via a flexible PCI-e cable. The CPU, on the other hand, is cooled by contact with the right-side panel. Flat heatpipes spread heat over the entirety of the panels, which have vertical air channels to take advantage of natural convection. Because the right-side panel can’t be easily removed--it’s rigidly attached to the CPU, after all--all of the Airtop2’s internal expansion slots are accessed from the left-side.
Another clever aspect of the Airtop2 is its configurable front I/O panel, called the FACE module. There are many options, including quad ethernet and USB 2.0, dual miniPCI-e, and dual optical LAN. Perhaps the most interesting option is the FM-AT2 module that has a self-test function, dual USB 3.0, audio, microSD, and miniPCI-e
The fact that Intel’s recent consumer chipsets no longer support Xeon CPUs means that the Airtop2 isn’t using something familiar like Z170 or H170 as its platform. Its motherboard uses the C236 chipset, which is basically Z170 but with enterprise features like Intel Node Manager. The chipset gives the Airtop2 six USB 3.0 ports, two gigabit ethernet ports, two DisplayPorts, and one HDMI port. Additionally, the back of the Airtop2 has connectors for four Wi-Fi antennas and a redundant power supply.
The Compulab Airtop2 is available via Compulab’s website for a bare-bones starting price of $1,335. You don’t even get ram at that price, though, so a more reasonable starting price, with a GTX 1050, is about $2,078.
Compulab Airtop 2
Intel Xeon E3-1275 v6
Nvidia GTX 1050 2GB
Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB
Nvidia Quadro P400 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 Wi-Fi card with BT 4.2
6 x USB 3.0 (rear)
2 x DisplayPort 1.2 (rear)
1 x HDMI 1.4 (rear)
Windows 10 Pro
10 x 25.5 x 30cm
Starting at $1,335