Passive Compulab Airtop2 SFF Workstation Launched, with Xeon E3 and Quadro

Passive Compulab Airtop2 SFF Workstation Launched, with Xeon E3 and Quadro

Compulab this week has introduced a new generation of its passively-cooled Airtop workstations. The new updated models, called Airtop 2, use Intel’s latest Xeon E3 v6 processors, featuring the Kaby Lake microarchitecture, as well as Pascal-based Quadro graphics cards. The new Airtop2 systems can pack up to six storage devices, drive seven monitors, connect legacy COM/RS232 devices, and support Compulab’s proprietary FACE modules (function and connectivity extension modules) to further enhance functionality and connectivity.

Small form-factor (SFF) desktops are considered to be gaining in popularity recently, so virtually all PC makers have appropriate products available. By contrast, SFF workstations are somewhat rare: large OEMs offer them to their clients, but they are hard to find outside of Dell, HP, Lenovo, or similar companies, and require a sizeable order. Compulab is among a handful of PC makers offering SFF Xeon and Quadro-based systems, but the company appears to be at aiming at a couple of different niches to its rivals: its workstations are passively cooled, using the firm’s proprietary natural air-flow (NAF) cooling tech (you can read more about it in our coverage of the original Airtop), and they are also marketed as being very highly integrated, with the idea that there are no compromises when it comes to storage capabilities. Another listed benefit is that these new Airtop2 systems have vast connectivity options that include modern and outdated ports and can be expanded further if needed.

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The latest Compulab Airtop2 resembles the original Airtop that was introduced a little more than two years ago, with the premise being that it is a 7.5-liter box that can dissipate up to 200 W of thermal energy. The new system relies on a specially-designed Intel C236-based motherboard that places CPU socket, DIMM slots, PCI Express x16 slot and other components in a way to enable the most efficient dissipation of heat. The motherboard supports Intel’s Xeon E3 v6 and Core i7 7000-series processors  up to 73 W TDP, whereas the chassis is compatible with mid-range professional graphics cards, such as NVIDIA’s Quadro P4000 or consumer-grade GeForce GTX 1060. If you are wondering why that 73W TDP looks odd: the Xeon E3 v6 line (as we reported on here) has a maximum TDP of 73W across the entire line.

The Airtop2 can be equipped with up to 64 GB of DDR4-2400 ECC memory, four 2.5”/9.5mm SATA HDDs/SSDs and two M.2 NVMe SSDs – and thus 10 TB of storage if modern consumer/workstation components are used. Furthermore, a special card with three M.2 NVMe slots may be installed instead of the Quadro for those who need even more storage space and can rely on integrated graphics. The system features two Gigabit Ethernet network controllers (four more may be added using an extension card), an 802.11ac Wi-Fi + BT 4.2 module, an optional cellular communication M.2 module, six USB 3.0 Type-A ports on its rear panel, two USB 3.0 ports on its front panel, three RS232 ports, and Realtek ALC1150 multi-channel audio. The discrete graphics card, when installed, can work in tandem with Intel’s iGPU and therefore the Airtop2 can drive up to seven displays. For those who need additional USB, RS232, GbE connectors, or mini PCIe slots, Compulab offers a lineup of FACE modules priced at $21-$125.

Compulab Airtop2
  General Specifications
CPU Intel Core i7-7700 (4C/8T, 3.6/4.2 GHz) or
Xeon E3-1275 v6 (4C/8T, 3.8/4.2 GHz)
Chipset Intel C236
SKL, KBL support,
up to 20 PCIe 3.0 PCIe lanes
x1, x2, x4 bifurcation
RAID, vPro, TXT etc.
RAM Up to 64 GB DDR4-2400 with ECC
GPU NVIDIA Quadro P4000 8 GB or
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 4 GB or
CPU Integrated Graphics
Storage DFF 4 × 2.5″/9.5mm SATA HDDs/SSDs or
2 × 2.5″/15mm SATA drives
Modules 2 × M.2-2280 PCIe NVMe SSDs
3 × M.2-22110 PCIe NVMe SSDs on backplane card installed instead of discrete graphics card
Expansion PCIe x16
FACE Modules
Display Outputs iGPU 2 × DisplayPort 1.4
1 × HDMI 1.4
dGPU Quadro: 4 × DisplayPort 1.4
GeForce: 3 × DisplayPort 1.4 + 1 × HDMI 2.0b
Networking Wired Dual GbE: Intel I219 + Intel I210
Wireless 802.11ac, 2T2R, 2.4 GHz/5GHz
Bluetooth 4.2
WWAN Optional M.2 B-key 3042 + 2×RP-SMA antennas modem with micro-SIM
I/O 2 × USB 3.0 on front panel
6 × USB 3.0 on back panel
3 × RS232/COM
Audio Realtek ALC1150 audio codec with line-out, mic, S/PDIF
Dimensions 100 × 300 × 255 mm
3.93″ × 11.8″ × 10″
Volume 7.5 L
Operating System Windows 10 Pro x64
Linux Mint
FACE Modules FM-AT2 Built-in-self-test LED indicators | 2x USB 3.0 | audio | micro-SD | mini-PCIe
FM-POE 4x Gbit Ethernet with PoE (PSE) | 2x USB 2.0
FM-LANE4U4 4x Gbit Ethernet | 4x USB 2.0
FM-OPLN 2x Optical Gbit Ethernet (SFP+) | 2x USB 2.0
FM-EBP Gigabit Ethernet bypass
FM-SER 6x RS232 / RS485
FM-XTDM2 2x mini-PCIe

The manufacturer positions its Airtop2 primarily for professional use, so it can be outfitted with a redundant external PSU. The system can also be built-to-order with industrial temperature range (-40°C to 70°C) using appropriate components.

Compulab’s Airtop 2 starts at $1335 without VAT, but a high-end configuration featuring Intel’s Xeon E3-1275 v6, NVIDIA’s Quadro P4000, 64 GB of RAM, multiple SSDs, a wireless module and other enhancements hits $7,828 without taxes. A build certified to work in hard environments will cost even more.

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MSI at CES 2018: Vortex G25 for Workstations, the W25

MSI at CES 2018: Vortex G25 for Workstations, the W25

At the MSI suite this year at CES, one of the updated systems on display was the new MSI Vortex W25. The W25 is a workstation version of the G25, a popular mini-PC that packs some super high-end hardware into a super small PC chassis. I saw the G25 wi…

Shuttle Squeezes Desktop Graphics Card into a 3-Liter XH110G SFF PC Barebones

Shuttle Squeezes Desktop Graphics Card into a 3-Liter XH110G SFF PC Barebones

Shuttle has announced a new small form-factor barebones PC aimed at entry-level gamers as well as those who need a SFF multi-monitor setup, such as graphics professionals, traders, digital signage, control room applications, and so on. The XH110G has a volume of only three liters, but can accommodate a variety of graphics cards, assuming that they do not consume excessive amounts of power and use single-slot cooling systems, because the chassis is only 78.5 mm thick.

The Shuttle XH110G is based on Intel’s H110 PCH and supports all contemporary desktop LGA1151 CPUs that Intel has to offer with up to 65 W TDP (no Xeons, no ECC memory, etc.). Therefore, the fastest processor the XH110G supports is the Core i7-7700, but given the form-factor, it is more likely that owners of the system will choose something like the Core i7-7700T with a 35 W thermal envelope. To cool down its CPU, the XH110G uses a notebook-like ICE cooling system featuring two heat pipes that take away thermal energy from the chip and transfer it to a fairly large radiator located on the right side of the chassis. The radiator is cooled down using two 60-mm fans. Typically, small high-pressure fans have very high RPMs and are noisy. Shuttle does not disclose many details about its fans, but says that the XH110G supports five fan modes for one of the fans: a PWM-controlled smart fan mode along with pre-set ultra-low, low, mid and full speed modes. Meanwhile, the second fan either rotates at a constant speed of around 1300 RPM (based on a screenshot from the BIOS manual – see the gallery below for details) or works at the speed of the first one. For extra ventilation, the XH110G chassis has many holes to ensure sufficient cooling for all components.

When it comes to DRAM and storage, everything looks pretty standard for a modern SFF PC: the XH110G has two SO-DIMM slots supporting up to 32 GB of DDR4-2400 memory, a 2.5” bay for an HDD or SSD located under the motherboard in a special bay, as well as one M.2 slot (PCIe and SATA) located on the motherboard near the fans to ensure proper cooling. Those, who would like to expand storage capacity of the XH110G further can install a USB flash drive into an external USB 2.0 port. Shuttle does not set maximum capacities for SSDs and HDDs supported by the new SFF PC, but since the thickness of the internal USB drive cannot exceed 11.5 mm, it looks like only 7-mm 2.5” storage devices are supported, which means up to 2 TB for contemporary HDDs. Keep in mind that the Intel 110 PCH has 6 PCIe 2.0 lanes, and therefore even if a PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD is used, its maximum throughput will be around 2 GB/s. This may not be a problem for entry-level systems that do not use high-end SSDs, but an advanced solid-state drive will not be a good fit for the XH110G.

Discrete graphics support is clearly a key selling point of the Shuttle XH110G. When it comes to integrated graphics outputs, the system itself has a D-Sub and an HDMI connector, which means that those who want to run two modern monitors will have to get a discrete video card. The graphics board should be installed horizontally above the CPU using a special riser card which has all pins needed for x16 operation. The card should use a single-slot cooler and its maximum length should be no longer than 208.5 mm. Shuttle officially lists AMD’s FirePro W600 and W2100, NVIDIA’s Quadro K2000 and M2000 as well as Matrox’s C680 (this one is particularly important as it can drive six displays) graphics adapters as supported, but the system can handle a great variety of graphics cards. Keep in mind though that the XH110G is powered by a 180 W external PSU and therefore maximum power consumption of a video card should not exceed around 100 W, even with a 35 W CPU. At present, the most powerful graphics adapters that can be installed into the XH110G system are the AMD Radeon RX 460 and NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1050 Ti.

As far as connectivity is concerned, the Shuttle XH110G looks rather basic. The system has two USB 3.0 ports on the front, and six USB 2.0 ports in total, a Gigabit Ethernet connector, driven by Intel’s i211 controller, and two 3.5-mm audio jacks. In a bid to get Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, one should buy a separate M.2-2230 WLN-M card from Shuttle (802.11ac, up to 500 Gbps, BT). In addition, the internal USB 2.0 header can be used to plug in a USB accessory, and Shuttle suggests a TV tuner or a 4G/LTE modem.

Rather moderate I/O features of the XH110G are conditioned by the company’s choice of chipset and its intention to keep the price and costs down.

Shuttle XH110G Specifcations
Model SYS-SH-XH110G
CPU Skylake or Kaby Lake CPU with 35 W or 65 W TDP
Up to Intel Core i7-7700
dGPU Single-slot graphics card up to 208.5 mm in length and a sub-100W TDP
Up to AMD Radeon RX460 or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
Up to 32 GB of DDR4-2400 in dual-channel mode
Motherboard Custom
Storage SSD M.2-2280 (PCIe 2.0 x4 or SATA)
HDD 2.5″/7mm/9.5 mm SATA 6 Gbps
Wireless Optional WLN-M 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth module
Ethernet 1 GbE port (Intel i211)
USB 2×USB 3.0 Type-A
6×USB 2.0 Type-A
1×USB 2.0 internal
Display Outputs 1×D-Sub
Audio 2×3.5mm audio jacks (ALC662 controller)
Card Reader
PSU External 180 W PSU
Warranty Typical, varies by country
Dimensions Length: 250 mm
Width: 200 mm
Height: 78.5 mm
MSRP in Europe €231 ($319)

When it comes to price, the company has succeeded in keeping it low. Shuttle’s XH110G is now available from specialist retailers in Europe for €231 ($319), which is a price of a Mini-ITX case, an Intel B250-based motherboard with integrated 802.11ac Wi-Fi and a circa-400 W PSU. Shuttle’s system looks to be more compact than typical Mini-ITX builds and can be mounted to a display using a VESA mounting mechanism. However, it has a number of peculiarities when it comes to SSD performance, connectivity and support of graphics cards that may not be welcomed by enthusiasts.

Gallery: Shuttle XH110G

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Sources of information and images: TechPowerUp, Shuttle.

EagleTree and Partners Acquire Majority Stake in Corsair for $525 Million

EagleTree and Partners Acquire Majority Stake in Corsair for $525 Million

EagleTree Capital, the Investment Management Corp. of Ontario (IMCO), and the Honeywell pension fund on Wednesday announced that they had reached an agreement to acquire a majority stake in Corsair. Andy Paul, founder and CEO of Corsair, will continue to serve as the head of the company. Corsair expects to use investments from EagleTree and its partners to fund development of new technologies and products.

Corsair was founded in 1994 and initially focused on high performance memory modules. Since its establishment more than 20 years ago, Corsair has expanded its product lineup considerably to computer cases, NAND flash-based products, coolers, keyboards, mice, PSUs and even actual gaming PCs. All these expansions require a lot of money and back in 2013 Corsair received $75 million in strategic investments from Francisco Partners.

Further growth and increased competition from companies like Razer and other brands require additional investments and Corsair got them from EagleTree, IMCO, and Honewell. The three investors will buy a majority stake in Corsair from Francisco Partners and several minority shareholders for $525 million. Since the deal is conducted between private equities, they are not disclosing how much money will be paid to Francisco Partners and how much will go into Corsair’s coffers for investment into the development of new products.

“We are excited about the opportunity to partner with EagleTree and leverage the team’s consumer products expertise to further accelerate our progress,” said Andy Paul, founder and CEO of Corsair. “EagleTree’s backing will allow us to continue to focus first and foremost on our loyal and passionate customers and accelerate our investment in innovation and new technology and products to enhance the quality experience that enthusiasts and gamers have come to expect from us.”

Under the terms of the agreement with EagleTree and its partners, Andy Paul and other managers of the company will continue to control a significant stake in Corsair. Moreover, they will also continue to serve at the company and therefore Corsairs’ strategy will generally remain the same. In particular, the company considers its PC business a significant growth opportunity and will therefore likely continue to invest in it.

Razer, which is one of the rivals of Corsair, recently disclosed plans to raise around $600 million in Hong Kong IPO in a bid to enable further growth. With money from EagleTree and its partners, Corsair will have similar investment opportunities going forward.

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MAINGEAR Launches R2 Razer Edition: Mini-ITX System with AMD Ryzen or Intel Core i7

MAINGEAR Launches R2 Razer Edition: Mini-ITX System with AMD Ryzen or Intel Core i7

MAINGEAR this week introduced the first small form-factor Razer Edition desktop aimed at loyal clients of Razer. The new MAINGEAR R2 Razer Edition uses AMD’s and Intel’s latest platforms and comes with a lot of green lights, green coolant, and other green features to reflect the company’s main color.

Razer has made quite a name for itself over the years in the gaming laptop market, but instead of entering the desktop business, the company decided to collaborate with renowned system builders to produce “Razer Edition” PCs. This enables Razer to offer Razer-branded desktops customers without entering a highly competitive market, whereas its partners gain access to Razer’s customer base. So far, Razer has collaborated with Lenovo and MAINGEAR for tower gaming desktops aiming mainstream and no-compromise gamers. With the MAINGEAR R2 Razer Edition, the two companies offer something for those who are looking for a miniature system featuring extreme components with further overclocking potential and liquid cooling.

The MAINGEAR R2 Razer Edition is a Mini-ITX desktop that can fit in a motherboard based on AMD’s B350 or Intel’s Z270 chipset as well as an AMD Ryzen R5/R7 or Intel Core i5/i7 CPU respectively. Keeping the form-factor in mind, the R2 Razer desktop can fit in one graphics card (up to NVIDIA’s Titan Xp), one 3.5” or two 2.5” storage devices, as well as one M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD. Unlike many contemporary gaming desktops, the MAINGEAR R2 can accommodate a 5.25” ODD, and when equipped with an appropriate drive, can playback Blu-ray disks.

When it comes to the motherboard choice, MAINGEAR offers ASRock AB350 Gaming-ITX/ac for use with AMD’s Ryzen processors or ASUS ROG Strix Z270I Gaming or MSI Z270I Gaming Pro Carbon AC for Intel’s Core i7 CPUs. All of the motherboards feature GbE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, 7.1-channel audio, as well as USB 3.1 connectivity. MAINGEAR’s product brochure for the R2 also mentions ASRock’s X99 Mini-ITX motherboard, but at this point, it is impossible to order such a system, which is not surprising as this is an outgoing platform.

Cooling is crucially important for high performance gaming PCs and MAINGEAR offers many options for the R2 Razer Edition. For entry-level builds, MAINGEAR can install AMD’s or Intel’s retail CPU coolers and keep stock cooling systems on the GPU. For something more advanced, the company offers the closed loop EPIC 240 LCS for the CPU. For high-end configurations MAINGEAR can also build a custom open loop LCS for both the CPU and GPU featuring soft tubing and a 360 mm radiator, whereas for ultra-high-end builds the PC maker can design a custom LCS with crystal or metal hardline tubing, chrome fittings, and other stylish components.

MAINGEAR’s R2 Razer Edition desktops are now available from the company’s web site. Entry-level machines featuring AMD’s Ryzen R5 or Intel’s Core i5 start at $1099 and $1199, respectively. Meanwhile, SuperStock configurations featuring a customized LCS with hardline tubing and top-of-the-range CPUs and GPUs start at $4299 or $4399 depending on the platform.

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