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Maingear Launches AMD-based Mini Gaming PC

Maingear launched on Wednesday what appears to be a clone of Gigabyte's red Brix gaming mini-PC. Maingear calls this little PC "Spark," and it should spark an interest in PC gamers looking for a lot of power in a small form factor. And yes, the pun was intended.

"With a tiny footprint measuring 4.5" wide, 4.23" deep, and 2.34" tall, it is the smallest, lightest, and most versatile gaming PC solution Maingear has ever offered," the emailed press release stated. "The Maingear Spark PC will be offered in the iconic red and black Maingear colors and can easily be placed in a living room environment without taking up a large amount of space. It is also extremely portable, and makes a great LAN party or dorm-room PC."

The base specs show that Spark ($699) includes AMD's A8-5557M quad-core APU (2.1 GHz, 3.1 GHz) packed with Radeon HD 8550G GPU cores, 4 GB of DDR3-1600 RAM (2x 2 GB), AMD's Radeon R9 M275X discrete GPU, and a 2.5-inch 500 GB WD Blue 7200 RPM hard drive. Additional features include Realtek HD surround sound, Gigabit Ethernet, and Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity.

As for the I/O ports, they consist of one mSATA slot and one half-size mini-PCIe slot that's occupied by the Wireless AC network card. There is also one HDMI-out port, one mini DisplayPort jack, four USB 3.0 ports, one Ethernet port, one audio port and a Kensington Lock. Optional operating systems include Microsoft 7 Ultimate/Professional/Home Premium and Windows 8.1 Pro/non-Pro, all of which are 64-bit versions.

Customers have the option to upgrade a number of Spark's components. They can add 8 GB or 16 GB of Corsair Vengeance memory, SSDs up to 1 TB, hard drive options up to 1 TB, and mSATA options up to 512 GB. This form factor is also capable of having two drives: one mSATA SSD and one 2.5-inch hard drive. Additional options include an external optical drive, peripherals and software.

Based on the press release, this may have been a Steam Machine at some point. Presumably because Valve Software's Steam controller still isn't ready for mass consumption, Maingear isn't waiting and is pushing this mini PC out the door with a fiery new name. Having no pre-installed OS leaves gamers with the ability to install Linux or SteamOS, both of which are free to use.

"The SPARK is an extremely small and powerful gaming box that will make gamers think twice about small form factor performance," Wallace Santos, CEO and founder of Maingear, said in the emailed press release. "Building what we think is a great performing tiny PC with tons of storage for games and entertainment, this is the best PC to complete your home entertainment system."

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  • patrick47018
    SSD's up to 1GB, that sucks! Also faster RAM is a must for an APU
    Reply
  • chaosmassive
    SSD's up to 1GB, that sucks! Also faster RAM is a must for an APU

    typo perhaps?
    up to 1 TB make much sense..
    Reply
  • de5_Roy
    i don't understand how the hardware is completely different. this red brix gaming barebones has the same specs as the spark. only differences are that the spark is a full pc with storage and memory.
    Reply
  • exfileme
    That was a typo sorry. As for the Gigabyte comparison, I changed the link. I swear I didn't see that model when I was digging through Gigabyte's website. Thanks for pointing that out! -KP
    Reply
  • Henri Afari
    That A8 will bottleneck the beast of that R9 M275X
    Reply
  • de5_Roy
    thanks. :)
    Reply
  • slyu9213
    SSD's up to 1GB, that sucks! Also faster RAM is a must for an APU

    Anyone in their right mind should know it was probably a typo. I've seen 4GB SSDs but not 1GB. You're also right that faster RAM is a must for an APU, but the reason for that is because the IGP uses the System RAM. In this case the Mini PC has a dedicated mobile GPU that probably has its own GDDR5 Memory. So you're wrong.

    I wish someone would make a motherboards for Mobile CPUs in Mini-ITX form factor. The day my laptop dies I would love to reuse the I7 3632QM in the laptop to make a mini gaming PC.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    Anyone in their right mind should know it was probably a typo. I've seen 4GB SSDs but not 1GB. You're also right that faster RAM is a must for an APU, but the reason for that is because the IGP uses the System RAM. In this case the Mini PC has a dedicated mobile GPU that probably has its own GDDR5 Memory. So you're wrong.

    I wish someone would make a motherboards for Mobile CPUs in Mini-ITX form factor. The day my laptop dies I would love to reuse the I7 3632QM in the laptop to make a mini gaming PC.
    You started off making sense but then you went off the deep end. :D Most if not all modern laptops have the processor soldered to the mainboard. That's why AM1 recieved some attention, even though it's basically yesterday's budget mobile chips repackaged - it's serviceable and (potentially) upgradeable.

    With that being said I really hate that they used mobile chips for the exact same reason. I'd rather the case was a bit bigger and they used an FM2+ ITX board. Sure it'll use more power and generate more heat... but a $700 starting point I expect either more performance and upgradeability, or just finish the job and make it a laptop.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    That A8 will bottleneck the beast of that R9 M275X

    Not really. The R9 M275X is a laptop chip. It's actually slightly slower than a desktop R7 250X. Granted it has an impressively low 50W TDP, and so it has impressive performance/watts, but it's still not really a "beast".
    Reply
  • photonboy
    What qualifies as a "GAMING" system anyway?

    These specs are NOT a great gaming system and the following is completely misleading:
    "The SPARK is an extremely small and powerful gaming box that will make gamers think twice about small form factor performance,"

    How about you just show me some benchmarks compared to say a GTX760 rig that show me just how awesome this is.
    Reply