Viako Mini Letter ML-80 H61 Sandy Bridge Barebones PC

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Audio Recordings

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 10 second segments of product at various states. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

Comparable System sound files:


For those interested in a SFF PC, the Viako Mini Letter ML-80 H61 barebones provides a much more powerful platform than the smaller Fusion based Mini Letter ML-45 E-350. An upgrade to a desktop CPU makes the system more responsive and fast enough to perform more advanced tasks. The case is larger to accommodate a bigger heatsink required for Sandy Bridge, but at 8 cm tall we don't imagine many would complain about its size. The height is enough to fit a quality slim CPU cooler like the Scythe Big Shuriken, which helped create a well cooled and reasonably quiet build. Stock cooling is not recommended as the motherboard's has a rather high minimum PWM fan speed. Even if the stock heatsink never speeds up, it would be considerably louder than the system we built.

While the ML-80 H61 provides the basic building blocks for a relatively very fast and small machine, the ECS H61H2-I2 motherboard ruins the entire experience by missing a single critical feature: HDMI. The entire device, with its LCD display, remote control, and software is geared toward use as a media PC. In this day and age it seems odd to have to use a DVI to HDMI adapter and pipe out the sound separately to a modern television. The board also lacks the mini PCI-E slots, S/PDIF port, and WiFi and Bluetooth adapters found in the ML-45.

Still, it is important to note that Viako is transitioning from making mini cases and industrial PC to barebones and complete systems. Its primary markets are in Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Israel and England. It's quite possible that the vast majority of Viako customers are not using these mini-ITX systems with TVs, where HDMI is an absolute necessity, but rather, with VGA/DVI connectors and small external self-powered speakers.

The greater speed makes the ML-80 H61 a splendid compact desktop replacement, but on the whole it's not tailored properly for its intended purpose. It's also not as versatile, lacking the connectivity options of its smaller but less powerful brother. Perhaps most disappointing of all is the fact that swapping in a more capable motherboard would instantly transform it into a winner. This isn't worthwhile for an end-user to do, but Viako also offers the ML-80 case and PSU by itself (with and without the remote). Viako says there are options for fuller featured boards, and they will be offered as they expand into the international markets, especially the US, Canada and EC.

Our thanks to Viako for the Mini Letter ML-80 H61 sample.

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