Logic Supply LGX ML300 Fanless NUC

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Logic Supply ML300
Product Logic Supply LGX ML300
Fanless NUC Computer
Manufacturer Logic Supply
MSRP Case only, $129; systems start at $566; $1,234 as tested

Logic Supply has submitted many small, unique and mostly fanless systems to SPCR over the past few years. The company's primary target markets are industrial and commercial, and these small, fanless computers are meant for use in digital kiosks, signage, POS and other applications where minimum maintenance and power requirements plus high reliability are keys. Being fanless, however, also means these products are of interest to general users seeking zero noise from their computers, which represents a big slice of SPCR's audience. The new Logic Supply ML300 manages to appeal not only in size, low noise and high efficiency, but also with looks. The contrast of its silver finned top panel and the (optional) orange front panel is striking, giving this Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing) box an appeal that goes far beyond the industrial markets.

The ML300 is the first Logic Supply sample we've received that doesn't use a mini-ITX platform. Incidentially, the tiny NUC is the only motherboard line Intel will be offering in the future. The industry giant still offers ATX, mATX and mini-ITX boards, but after Haswell, there will be no more new Intel desktop boards, and production of current models will be discontinued by 2016, with the possible exception of the NUC line. This was announced in January 2013, and it came as no surprise to anyone following the long term sales trend of desktop PCs.

Meanwhile, the NUC line is apparently quite popular, despite somewhat inflated pricing. Intel has a long tradition of creating reference boards and integrated designs, with partners copying those designs as well as expanding beyond them. So far, only Gigabyte appears to be taking on the NUC, with its Brix line, first shown back in June at Computex Taipei. This is not to say the NUC is truly unique — there are many tiny computers offered by many brands, including Zotac Zbox, Asus Eeebox and VivoPC, and VIA Artigo, to name just a few — but the NUC's dense combination of high performance parts in such a small package seems unprecedented.

So what has Logic Supply done with the NUC? They're using a NUC board with its soldered CPU in their own custom-designed fanless chassis. There is enough room to fit a 2.5" drive in that chassis, which is a real option now that a SATA port is appearing in some of the Haswell NUC boards.

Shortly after receiving our sample, Logic Supply announced that Intel had been testing many fanless chassis for the NUC, and their ML300 chassis came out tops:

Logic Supply’s fanless NUC, the ML300, has returned from the Intel testing lab as the clear leader in fanless Next Unit of Computing systems. In exhaustive Intel testing, the ML300 was the first and only fanless NUC to maintain performance in ambient temperatures exceeding 30°C. Standard configurations of the ML300 reached 40°C and with the addition of Logic Supply wide-temperature components the computer was verified for a staggering 50°C, without CPU shutdown, wifi failure, or data corruption. Said lead Hardware Engineer Rodney Hill, “The ML300 is by far and away the top thermal performer of all fanless NUCs verified by Intel.

The ML300 sample we received:

The Logic Supply ML300 came in a small carton, with Windows 7 Pro installed, VESA mounting hardware, an adapter for DVI video, and a Delta Electronics 65W adapter.

The ML300 is a touch slimmer than Intel's NUC case but wider, and can accommodate a 2.5" drive. It is entirely fanless.

The particulars of the ML300 sample:

- Mobile DualCore Intel Core i5-3427U, 2000 MHz
- Intel Rend Lake D53427RKE
- Intel Panther Point QS77, Intel Ivy Bridge
- Transcend TS1GSK64V6H 8 GB DDR3-1600 DDR3 SDRAM x2 (16GB total)
- Emphase Enterprise MLC mSATA SSD G5 128 GB
- Delta Electronics AC/DC Power Adapter 65W, 19V
- Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
- VESA mounting kit
- Expedited Assembly & Validation Service (2 working days) -FSR
- 1 Year Warranty (Standard)
- Dimensions: 196 x 36.75 x 131.20mm (7.72" x 1.45" x 5.17")
- Weight: 1.2 kg (our measurement)
- Current price: $1,236.69

This configuration may be a bit extreme; 16GB of RAM is still way more than most applications will use, for example. This NUC board also does not have a SATA port. Of the six NUC boards offered by Intel, only two models, D54250WYB and D34010WYB, have a SATA port as well as an mSATA slot; they were not available at Logic Supply when the sample for SPCR was being prepared. The D53427RHE is an earlier board with an Ivy Bridge mobile CPU. Unfortunately, only USB 2.0 ports are featured, even though one USB 3.0 is supported by the board. Finally, the mini Display Ports are just that, and do not support Thunderbolt, as did our first NUC kit sample from Intel a year ago.

None of this is fixed; it is only one configuration of many that can be ordered at Logic Supply. It's a review sample from components available at the time. In the ML300 case, I would prefer the D54250WYB or D34010WYB board with SATA port (and USB 3.0 ports). Then a 120GB mSATA SSD could be dropped in for the OS and programs, and something like a high capacity 2.5" HDD could be added to create a nifty full-featured media PC.

Back panel ports: 19VDC power, 2 USB 2.0, 2 mini DisplayPort, mini-HDMI, RJ-45 gigabit LAN.

On the expanded portion of the back panel are markings and cutouts for various other ports, including one for a built-in UPS system that Logic System can provide for industrial applications. Again, this is only one particular back panel; Logic Supply has others for various different Intel boards

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