A few months ago, we tested and reviewed the first Sapphire miniPC Edge HD, which was awarded due to its accessible price, solid performance and low consumption. We’ve just received its heir called Edge HD 2 for testing. One could say that the new model is really just an evolution of the old one, as there is no radical difference between the two. One of the reasons for this is that Edge HD 2 is based on the same platform, with slightly upped hardware specifications compared to its predecessor.
The packaging of Edge HD 2 is almost the same as the previous time, with a few minor differences. One of these is the so-called “Vesa mount”, an additional bracket of sorts included in the bundle, which enables the device to be more easily mounted onto the monitor, which in turn saves significant space. The option of using the standard bracket is still there, of course, as it’s included in the bundle as well. This enables each user to pick how and where he/she will install the miniPC. Instead of the USB flash disk provided with the first version, containing all required drivers, you now get an optical medium, and the drivers are also located on the hard disk of the PC. Another difference is that the new device will come in two variants - with or without an operating system. The basic model will have FreeDOS preinstalled, whereas the more expensive one will contain Windows 7 Ultimate OEM. The version that we received for testing is of the latter sort. Other than the OS, nothing else is provided as preinstalled, leaving the choice of support programs entirely to the user. The hard disk is split into two partitions, a system one and an additional one containing drivers, which is a good idea, as you can reinstall the OS if you wish, without the need to re-download all drivers.
As with the predecessor, the materials used to manufacture this PC are high-quality ones, and the choice of the rubber-like material for the door hiding the two front USB ports is a spot-on hit. The number and types of connectors included have remained unchanged, making the exterior identical to the first Edge model. The only possible negative remark would be the fingerprints, which are a bit too easy to leave on the enclosure; however, the situation isn’t nearly as bad as on devices that have a piano finish.
The inside of this PC is what makes it the heir here, as it now has a stronger dual-core CPU working at 1.8 GHz with support for hyperthreading, which makes Windows detect four cores. Besides the increased CPU frequency, there’s also the increased-capacity HDD, which is always a plus. The memory system has suffered its fair share of changes as well, as the new Edge uses DDR3 memory instead of DDR2. The device comes with a single 2 GB module of 800 MHz. The somewhat higher latencies of the DDR3 memory compared to DDR2 running at the same clock may mislead some to believe that the memory subsystem would be slower on the whole than the last time around, but that’s not the case. The graphics chip and the rest of the configuration are identical to the first Edge HD. Realtek’s chips were used for network, wireless and audio support, which means a hassle-free, simple experience in this respect.
Due to the PC’s miniature dimensions, active cooling had to be used in order to efficiently cool the CPU and GPU. The slots on the top and bottom of the device make sure that everything runs smoothly; they aren’t particularly noticeable and do their job well, one might say. Noise was minimal even under heavy load, and Edge HD 2 has managed to remain cool even under harsh conditions. The most demanding of users will appreciate the fact that BIOS allows you to manually set fan RPM, which allows them to reduce noise further at the cost of a mildly higher temperature.
The thing that most potential buyers are interested in is whether this device is capable of playing the most demanding HD material. The answer is yes, as long as GPU-assisted decoding is used, as the CPU is still too weak to cope with 1080p material on its own. However, 720p material can be played using the CPU only, as can 1080p material if a lower bitrate is used. ION’s graphics power is required for more demanding scenarios.
|Sapphire miniPC Edge HD||Sapphire miniPC Edge HD2|
|7-Zip 9.20 comp./decomp. [kB/s||1,837 / 33,496||1,960 / 35,570|
|Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL [fps] / CPU [pts]||6.9 / 0.53||6.87 / 0.56|
|Everest memory read/write/copy [MB/s]||4,366 / 2,954 / 2,898||4,561 / 3,569 / 3,646|
|Everest memory latency (less is better) [ns]||96.8||94|
|HD Tune Pro 4.5 read [MB/s] / Access Time (less is better) [ms]||67.9 / 16.5||65.8 / 16.8|
|3DMark Vantage Performance (Total/CPU/GPU)||859 / 1,591 / 774||870 / 1,766 / 745|
|Resident Evil 5, 1280x720 medium [fps]||17.7||18.9|
|Unigine Heaven, 1280x720 medium [fps]||8.8||8.7|
|Power Consumption (idle/max, less is better) [W]||20 / 28||16 / 26|
Our test results show a minimal advantage of the new model over the old one, as the CPU clock is the only thing that’s really changed here. Although the performance of the latest model is better, the total power consumption hasn’t risen; in fact, it’s decreased a little, which is a huge item on the “pros” list. The aforementioned power-saving aspects of this already tiny device makes this PC perfect for offices, while HTPC-hungry users will rejoice at the fact that they won’t have to pay performance with higher consumption, heating and noise. Casual gamers aren’t excluded from this deal at all, although they will have to stick to lower resolutions and detail levels; this is just the way it is for this type of devices.
All those who wish an accessible device with modest dimensions and consumption, but demand that it plays HD video smoothly, will find an excellent solution in Edge HD 2. All things considered, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be awarded - yet again.
|Sapphire Edge HD 2|
|Processor||Intel Atom D525 dual-core 1.8 GHz|
|Graphics adapter||NVIDIA ION 2|
|RAM memory||2 GB DDR3 800 MHz|
|Hard drive||Samsung HM321HI 320GB|
|Connectivity||4 x USB 2.0, D-Sub (VGA), HDMI, 1Gbit LAN, stereo out, mic in, DC in|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 32-bit|
|Size||193 x 148 x 22 mm|
|Price (with/without OS)||€ 340 / € 260|