Logic Supply LGX ML300 Fanless NUC

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THERMAL PERFORMANCE

The system was left at various activity states for ~30 minutes in each state to allow temperatures to stabilize. Exterior case temperatures were measured with an infrared thermometer.

Logic Supply ML300 Temperatures
State
AC
CPU
PCH
HD
Top Cover
Idle
9W
60°C
43°C
30°C
39°C
x264 video
14W
64°C
53°C
30°C
54°C
TMPGEnc
25W
81°C
59°C
30°C
63°C
Prime95
29W
90°C
60°C
30°C
64°C
Furmark
36W
90°C
63°C
30°C
66°C
P95+Furmark
38W
90°C
63°C
30°C
66°C
Ambient temperature: 22°C.

In normal use, the case gradually warmed up over time, as it should. CPU temperature jumped under high loads, and the PCH got quite hot as well. A bit of throttling was seen about 20-25 minutes into the torture tests (P95, Furmark) when the CPU temperature exceeded 90°C. Since Intel's testing saw the ML300 come out tops for passive cooling, we have to assume the other passively cooled cases do worse. Remember, too, that we use apps like P95 and Furmark for only one purpose: To stress the heck out of the cooling and power systems. They have no thermal or power equivalents in real world software that real people actually use. At no time was there any kind of noise heard from the system nor its power adapter.

How does this compare with last year's fan-cooled NUC? Temperature-wise, they are pretty close, as you see in the table below. Of course, at maximum load, the cooling fan in the original NUC was screaming away at 6100 RPM and 31 dBA but it managed to keep the CPU just barely cooler than in the Logic ML300.

Intel NUC DC3217BY System Measurements
System State
Temps
Fan RPM
SPL @0.6m†
Power (AC)
CPU
Ext*
Idle
62°C
37°C
2000
11 dBA
9.5W
H.264 Playback
65°C
38°C
2200
12 dBA
15W
TMPGEnc Encoding
68°C
39°C
2900
16 dBA
21W
CPU Load
80°C
41°C
3580
20 dBA
23W
CPU + GPU Load
88°C
42°C
6100
31 dBA
40W
Ambient: 22°C, 10~11 dBA.
*External temperature measured using an IR thermometer pointed at the hottest portion of the external chassis
We measure SPL at 0.6m for all devices meant to be used atop a desk, as it is more realistic a distance than the usual 1m. It also corresponds to the "seated user SPL" distance as per the computer noise measurement standard ISO 7779.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The LGX ML300 is a logical addition to Logic Supply's fanless system and case lineup. Fanless cooling of the NUC is a no-brainer for a company like Logic Supply to pursue, and the ML300 chassis is certainly an excellent execution of the concept. With its good cooling under normal loads, the system is an easy choice for commercial or industrial applications in tight, poorly ventilated spaces and minimum maintenance. It is larger than the stock Intel NUC chassis, but the fanless operation and the additional 2.5" drive capacity more than makes up for the slight increase in size.

An Intel NUC D54250WYB or D34010WYB board with support for a SATA drive could turn an ML300 into the ultimate silent mini HTPC. A 64~128GB mSATA SSD plus a high capacity 2.5" drive would make a good foundation. (2.5" drives of standard <10mm thickness have already reached 1.5TB capacity and will likely hit 2TB soon.) The noise of such drives is not significant for a media PC; they are very quiet, and as soon as the system is actually playing something, whatever little noise it does make will be drowned out. Add external USB 3.0 storage if you need or use the gigabit network to access a network attached storage device. If you must have broadcast TV, sophisticated HD tuner cards come in tiny USB form these days.

The $129 price for the ML300 case looks a bit steep, considering that most retailers sell the NUC kits rather than just the boards by themselves. The DC53427HYE kit which includes the stock Intel NUC case, a 65W adapter, and the D53427RKE board in this sample, for example, typically retails for $370~420. The boards by themselves are hard to find; Logic Supply itself retails this board for $409. These pricing complications are likely to be directly related to volume and retailers' preference to play it safe by offering only the most popular options. The vast majority of retail NUC buyers are likely to choose the kits, not the boards, with some opting for a fanless case later if they get bothered by the noise of the standard cooling solution.

The ML300 is a natural for specialized applications where silence, dust-resistance, zero maintenance or no airflow to disturb the environment are important. The zero noise, low heat and minimal energy usage, makes it a winner for home use, too. We found the orange facia of our LGX ML300 sample modern and attractive, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. WAF in the living room should be a non-issue, regardless of how it is perceived: Being so small, it is easy to tuck out of sight.

Logic Supply LGX ML300
PROS

* Completely silent
* Really small
* High performance
* Super low energy consumption
* Cool enough
CONS

* No memory card reader

Our thanks to Logic Supply for the LGX ML300 sample.

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Logic Supply LGX ML300 is recommended by SPCR

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Articles of Related Interest
Logic Supply LGX AG150 Fanless Mini PC
Intel Next Unit of Computing Kit DC3217BY
Jetway AMD G-T40E Fanless Barebones Nettop
Akasa Euler Fanless Thin ITX Case
Gigabyte GA-H77TN Thin Mini-ITX Motherboard

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Discuss this article in the SPCR forums.



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