Sapphire Edge HD2 MiniPC Review

Product: Sapphire Edge HD2
Company: Sapphire
Author: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: September 8th, 2011

Platform Comparison

The Sapphire Edge HD2 addresses the two major issues with the Intel Atom by adding NVIDIA ION 2 graphics. This CPU and GPU combination should make it perform comparably to AMD's Brazos platform, also targeted for media consumption and basic office/home computing tasks like webmail, internet surfing, video streaming and social media. We will compare the AMD E-350 APU, as seen here in Sapphire's' Pure Fusion Mini E350 mini-ITX board.

Component Specification
Mainboard Sapphire Edge HD2 Sapphire Pure Fusion E350
Processor Atom D525 1.8GHz AMD E-350 1.6GHz
Graphics NVIDIA ION 2 512MB DDR2 Radeon HD 6310 (512MB System Memory)
Memory 2GB DDR3-800 SO-DIMM 2x2GB DDR3-1066 SO-DIMMs
Audio Realtek ALC662 + NVIDIA HDMI Audio Realtek ALC892 + Realtek HDMI Audio
PSU MEIC 65W A/C Adapter HEC 200SA-2FX 200W PSU
Case Sapphire Edge HD2 HEC ITX200A
Storage Samsung HM321HI 320GB 2.5" HD OCZ Onyx II 60GB SSD
Display ASUS VG236 24" ASUS VG236 24"
Optical Drive None Lite-on BD-ROM DS-4E1S05C
Operating System Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 Windows 7 Ultimate SP1
Driver Intel + NVIDIA Forceware 280.26 Catalyst 11.8 WHQL w/ CAP 11.8 #2

There are some fairly significant differences between our comparison platforms, the first being size. The Sapphire Edge HD2 is a quarter of the size of the Pure Fusion based mini PC. The E350 board is powered by a m-ITX power supply rated to 200W, instead of a more efficient external power brick like the Edge HD2. The Pure Fusion system also contains two SO-DIMMs and a slimline BD-ROM drive, and has built-in BlueTooth rather than Wi-Fi. These design choices make a difference in the power consumption as the efficiency and extra components take a toll.

Pure Fusion and Edge HD2

Below you can see idle, DIVX HD playback, CPU load, and GPU load system power draw conditions. The readings were taken using a Kill-a-watt meter, and represent Windows 7 idle (network connections and aero active), WMP 12 playback, Prime95 and MSI Kombustor 1920x1080 stress test conditions.

We can see a fairly consistent 8-10W advantage for the Atom + ION 2 system, in all tests. Moving to a 65W adapter might reduce the power consumption of the Pure Fusion mini PC, but so would matching specifications - single RAM stick, fewer USB slots, Wifi in place of BT, no optical drive. It's the classic function vs. form, needs vs. power trade off argument.