8 SFF PCs: Small, But Not So Quiet


A group portrait

What's that expression? Not everything that glitters is gold. That's true of the SFF PCs as well. Not all of the eight test candidates are quiet and therefore fit for the living room.

Trigem demonstrates with the Kloss KLi915a that quiet works too. This SFF PC purrs like a kitten. Even when the CPU is working at full capacity, the decibel level came in at a meager 40 dB(a). The others had this value only in idle mode and only for a short time. We measured up to 65 decibels in various models. As good-looking as some of the SFF PCs were, 65 dB(a) is just too loud.

In addition to the noise level, ease of installation and dismantling is very important in an SFF PC. Because of the already small size, it must be easy to mount the hardware. It should be possible to expand an SFF PC in a practical manner. What good is an AGP or PCI-Express slot if it cannot be expanded with a long or wide graphics card? Even the arrangement of the expansion slots plays a significant role.

The winner in our tests, the Trigem Kloss KL-i915a, is beaten only by the Biostar iDEQ 300G in the discipline of handling and upgradeability . Here Kloss only takes second place.

In the other test categories, the KL-i915a makes the rivals look like 98-pound weaklings. The two-story design separates the various heat sources practically from one another. This has the advantage that the hardware components will not heat each other up.

This makes the few fans of the Trigem SFF PC rotate quietly. They are adequate for cooling the CPU and the rest of the hardware. The KL-i915a can be upgraded to a degree that is more than adequate for a mini-PC. Up to two hard drives and a 5.25" drive can be built in without difficulty. The two expansion slots are fully available for use and there is nothing preventing the installation of a newer PCI-Express graphics card. The remote control and PowerCinema software included allow all multimedia film and audio files to be accessed conveniently, even from the couch. This remote control even functions to switch it on and off. It couldn't get any easier. The purchase price of the Kloss KL-i915 is about $350 (300 euros), which is more than fair.

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