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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  • PCfan720 - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    The base system is around $650, which is only a couple hundred bucks more than the standard NUC with a fan that Intel offers. A couple hundred bucks isn't bad for a completely sealed and fanless unit. Reply
  • WithoutWeakness - Thursday, May 1, 2014 - link

    The NUC is also barebones. The price of comparable RAM and an MSATA SSD should be included in the price of the NUC for a fair comparison. Reply
  • eBob - Thursday, May 1, 2014 - link

    This isn't really intended for a home or office user. When you have things running on the factory floor, reliability becomes a more overriding concern. These systems often end up running ten and even twenty years and often without software updates. I would imagine that a lot of these systems are destined to be locked in control cabinets with other hardware and forgotten about unless something goes wrong. Reply
  • Morawka - Thursday, May 1, 2014 - link

    how did you build a NUC for under 300 when the barebones is $365? and that's not even counting $50 RAM, $70 Intel Wireless and $60 hard drive + $6 Power Cord Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    What's gong on with the Habey on the 7zip test? Shouldn't Gigabyte still be way ahead? Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    We weren't able to run 7-Zip on the BRIX Pro (1) configuration because we no longer have access to that particular configuration. You can see updated benchmarks in our second part of the BRIX Pro review that will use different DRAM / storage. I will be posting that shortly. Reply
  • senthil.c - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    It is very disappointing that most NUC does not comes with the IR sensor built-in, since these kind of PC's are mostly used in home theatre environment, IR sensor is a must needed feature. Reply
  • PCfan720 - Thursday, May 1, 2014 - link

    The ML320 does have an IR sensor, it's pictured in the main image and listed in the spec table on the Logic Supply site (http://www.logicsupply.com/core-ml320/). Did you just mean that in general most NUC systems don't have one? Reply
  • Antronman - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - link

    Wouldn't make bad HTPCs.

    No IR, but not bad. A little bit on the pricey side though...for 1000-1300USD you're not looking at an HTPC, but a low-end gaming PC.
    Reply
  • harshw - Thursday, May 1, 2014 - link

    There's also the Akasa Newton H. It's smaller, cheaper ( in the UK at least. US prices are a laugh ) and with a bit of modding for LEDs - it is perfectly acceptable as a HTPC

    Mine does 41c/50c for the CPU/SSD at an ambient of 27c

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/akasa-newton-h-alum...

    The default LEDs for all these cases are usually a blindingly bright blue for power and an anemic green/yellow for HDD. I modded mine to have a warm daylight dim white LED for power and a dim blue for HDD activity. Wish manufacturers had more sense ...
    Reply

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