Introduction

Computers with completely passive cooling systems are advantageous in many respects. These aspects turn out to be very important for many industrial applications. Though a majority of fanless x86-based PCs in the market are based on the anemic Atom platform, there has been a sudden spurt in industrial PCs based on more powerful CPUs. The Aleutia Relia and the Habey BIS-6922 are examples of the general direction in which this market space is moving. However, the thermal designs for CPUs with TDPs upwards of 35W call for heavy units and the size itself might not make the cut for certain use-cases.

Logic Supply is one of the popular vendors in this 'passive industrial PC' niche. A couple of years back, we reviewed their AG150 fanless system based on Intel's Cedar Trail. The low power and ultra-compact nature of the Intel NUC motherboards make them perfect candidates for passive, yet small, industrial PCs. Logic Supply has designed a custom chassis for the Haswell NUC motherboards. While they do sell the chassis standalone, what we have in for review today is a fully assembled system in the ML 320 NUC chassis. The configuration of the review unit sent over by Logic Supply is provided below.

Logic Supply Core-ML320 Industrial PC Specifications
Processor Intel Haswell Core i5-4250U
(2C/4T x 1.90 GHz (2.60 GHz Turbo), 22nm, 3MB L2, 15W)
Memory 2 x 8GB DDR3L-1600
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 5000
200 MHz / 1 GHz (Turbo)
Disk Drive(s) 32 GB Emphase mSATA SSD + 60 GB Emphase 2.5" SSD
Networking 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Capable of 5.1/7.1 digital output with HD audio bitstreaming (mini-HDMI / mini-DP 1.2)
Operating System

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (Retail unit has choice of OSes including barebones option)

Pricing (As configured) ~$1300 (Varies depending on customization)
Full Specifications Core-ML320 Specifications

Our review unit came with the above internal configuration. In addition, we had the installation disk for a OEM copy of Windows 7 Professional x64, a 65 W DC power adapter, two antennae for the Wi-Fi / Bluetooth add-on card and an assortment of screws / rubber feet for the placement of secondary drives inside the chassis as well as wall-mounting the unit (if necessary).

The first section of our review will deal with the motherboard features and thermal design. A few benchmark sections are followed by notes on power consumption and thermal performance before we move on to the concluding remarks.

Prior to moving on with the rest of the review, we have a small table that gives an overview of the various systems that we are comparing the Core-ML320 against. Note that they may not belong to the same market segment. In fact, the Habey BIS-6922 is the only passive industrial PC in the mix. (Even though we evaluated the Aleutia Relia before, it doesn't find a place in the comparison graphs since it couldn't be put through our updated benchmark suite). The relevant configuration details of the machines are provided so that readers have an understanding of why some benchmark numbers are skewed for or against the Core-ML320 when we come to those sections.

Comparative PC Configurations
Aspect Logic Supply Core-ML320
CPU Intel Core i5-4250U Intel Core i7-3720QM
GPU Intel HD Graphics 5000 Intel HD Graphics 4000
RAM Transcend TS1GSK64W6H
11-11-11-28 @ 1600 MHz
2x 8GB
Super Talent W1333SB4GH
9-9-9-24 @ 1333 MHz
2x 4GB
Storage Emphase Enterprise mSATA G5RM3G032-M (32 GB)
Emphase Wide-Temp SATA T6VM6G060-2 (60 GB)
Intel® SSD 330 Series (60 GB, SATA 6Gb/s, 25nm, MLC)
Wi-Fi Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235
(2x2 Dual-Band 802.11n - 300 Mbps)
N/A

 

Motherboard Features & Thermal Design
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  • jcknows0 - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    The chassis itself is a little on the pricey side. Its pretty hard to recommend a $1300 i5 system with less than 100 GB SSD space. I just built my latest NUC for under $300, just doesn't seem worth it for fanless. Reply
  • faiakes - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    For Europeans, there is the very similar Alaska Tesla H. High-tech reviewed it and compared it to the Intel and another custom case herehttp://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/cases/2014/03/20/... Reply
  • WithoutWeakness - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    The target market for these types of fanless, industrial, SFF machines is not the same target market as Intel's off-the-shelf NUC or Gigabyte's Brix. Fanless boxes like these are meant to be deployed in areas where the machine likely needs to be running 24/7/365 and any downtime is an order of magnitude more costly than the $1300 that the box costs. Overheating due to fan failures, untimely deaths of non-enterprise-grade SSD's (or, god forbid, platter-based hard drives), and other potential issues can be avoided by getting something like this box that is built specifically for the application. For other uses a NUC makes more sense (I bought a NUC to run as a cheap all-purpose media/backup/Mumble server and I love it) but for industrial and enterprise purposes you're far better off getting something like this. Reply
  • BryanC - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    Why is it acceptable for a fanless industrial SFF machine like this to have an external power supply? Seems like that significantly complicates installation, especially in tight, cramped areas where this type of machine is attractive. Also, I'd be worried about the reliability of the power supply, it doesn't look like it's engineered to last. Reply
  • WithoutWeakness - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    Not a clue. I definitely have to agree that an internal power supply would make the unit far easier to install because you wouldn't have to find a spot to put the brick. My best guess would be that it would make the unit larger and run hotter as the PSU would be unable to vent externally. Apple's Mac Mini is only slightly larger than this and has an internal PSU and 35W CPU but it also has a fan to help keep thermals in check.

    Mac Mini: 7.7" wide, 7.7" deep, 1.4" tall
    Core-ML320: 7.72" wide, 5.17" deep, 1.45" tall
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    Probably because of the optional 6-30VDC input jack. That's flexible enough that you should be able to wire it into the existing power system of whatever machine it's embedded in. Reply
  • evilspoons - Thursday, May 01, 2014 - link

    This is exactly the reason. Every industrial panel I've ever installed a PC in already has a 24 VDC power supply for the rest of the control system. Reply
  • BryanC - Thursday, May 01, 2014 - link

    Thanks, I learned something today! =) Reply
  • BedfordTim - Saturday, May 03, 2014 - link

    I couldn't find the 6-30VDC input jack option on the website, but the NUC motherboard itself does have a 12-24V input. The motherboard manual is inconsistent about input voltages, and Intel haven't been very helpful in clarifying this. Reply
  • Lothsahn - Thursday, May 01, 2014 - link

    One reason is that with the industrial market, they'll actually have a DC line they want to wire the devices into. Reply

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