mCubed HFX Micro S13 system: Atom 330, Silenced

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FINAL THOUGHTS

From a technical standpoint, the mCubed HFX Micro S13 is a basic, rather underpowered desktop machine consisting of a dual core Atom processor, an outdated IGP, only 1GB of RAM and a 80GB hard drive. Its upgrade options are limited — you can replace the single existing stick of memory and add a second hard drive. There is no spot for an optical drive, nor a PCI expansion/riser card. It is best suited for light use and or as a media extender, as long as you don't mind analog outputs and not being able to play VC-1 (Blu-ray) material.

While you can certainly build an equivalent system for a fraction of the cost, getting it down the HFX Micro's quiet level without compromising the cooling of the system would be a daunting task. The Intel mini-ITX Atom boards are ideal for quiet computing, yet most off-the-shelf mini-ITX cases just aren't designed with silence in mind. The smaller enclosures lack ventilation or utilize small fans and the larger ones typically use noisy Flex ATX and SFX power supplies. In our opinion, almost all mini-ITX cases should be powered via a picoPSU-type device with an external power brick — they are silent, take up so little space, energy efficient, and provide more than enough power for most mini-ITX configurations.

In actual use, we could not help but marvel at the experience of working with a pre-built system and hearing nothing but the idle whirl of the hard drive and the occasional chatter when it seeked. We've been waiting for some time for someone to come up with a fanless cooling solution for the Intel Atom processors, and mCubed came through. The price of this implementation is as extravagant as they come, but we cannot deny its effectiveness. While the majority of users may perceive the HFX Micro as an over-priced luxury item, some believe that silence is priceless. For those users, 12 dBA is a bargain, even at 545 EURO. It's surprising that a solid state drive is not a standard upgrade option considering the well-heeled, noise-sensitive buyers mCubed is wooing. If total silence is desired, an SSD will grant you that — mCubed will surely set you up, again, at a price.

mCubed HFX Micro Business S13
PROS

* Good looks
* Extremely quiet
* Low power consumption
* Adequate video playback (all formats except VC-1/Blu-ray)
CONS

* Extravagant price
* Lacks digital outputs
* No optical drive or PCI card option

Our thanks to mCubed for the HFX Micro Business S13 sample.

EndPCNoise is a HFX reseller in the US.

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Articles of Related Interest
Dell Studio Hybrid: Small, Stylish... but Quiet?
Anitec's SPCR-certified SilenT3 PC
Intel D945GCLF m-ITX: Atom For The Desktop
Asus Eee Box B202: An Atom-based mini PC
Tiny, Silent and Efficient: The picoPSU
mCubed's HFX mini: Fanless HTPC "heatsink case"
Mappit A4F: A Truly Silent PC

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