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."