When you hear that a machine is fanless, you'll probably also assume that it's not extremely powerful, likely relying on mobile-focused components that don't pack much of a punch compared to high-end desktop gear. CompuLab's latest desktop PC, the Airtop, challenges that preconception, offering 200W of completely silent passive cooling, allowing for powerful CPUs and full-size graphics cards.
Israel's CompuLab has come out with a number of fanless computers in the past, including the tiny and affordable, Linux-powered MintBox Mini. The company's newest effort, the Airtop, focuses on providing high performance for both normal and server use, while maintain an entirely silent cooling set up.
The little machine, which measures 30 cm (11.8 in) tall and 10 cm (3.9 in) wide, is sold with a choice of an Intel Xeon E3 or Core i7-5775C processors. Users can also take their pick of some capable dedicated graphics options, including an Nvidia GeForce GTX 950 or a more professional user-focused Quardro M4000. If you're not interested in those cards, you can substitute in a different full-height single slot GPU. The machine supports up to 32 GB of RAM and up to four HDD or SSD drives.
Those specs aren't bad at all, but what's much more impressive is that the system that keeps all of that hardware cool doesn't contain a single moving part. The design sits the CPU and GPU on opposite sides of the case, cooling each via a dual layer patent-pending flat heat pipes array, topped with a panel of 14 air tubes. Air is naturally drawn in through the base of the tubes, rising as it heats and exiting at the top of the case, all completely silently.
Connectivity is also impressive, with two GigaBit Ethernet ports, six USB ports and two HDMI-outs on the back of the case. There's also a DisplayPort included, and the system has built-in 802.11ac WiFi.
As you might have guessed, the Airtop doesn't come cheap, starting at US$1,128 for a DIY version of the machine that comes without a CPU installed. All the Airtop PCs ship without an operating system, but CompuLab says Windows 7/8/10, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Linux Mint are all supported. The systems are expected to ship in Q1 2016.