Sapphire Edge HD2 MiniPC Review

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

Summary & Conclusions

The Sapphire Edge HD2 has a lot of great features and technology in an incredibly small package. The machine is focused on a small segment of users, who value its form factor over everything else. The included VESA mount bracket is a great addition, for making a desktop system as svelte and compact as possible with the flexibility of monitor choice retained. NVIDIA's ION 2 chipset provides lots of viewing options, courtesy of HDMI 1.4a and 3DVision support. The design and build is exceptional, aesthetically pleasing and exuding a quality feel.

The media playback performance is disappointing, unable to play streaming or locally stored Full HD media. The Intel Atom D525, despite being dual core and hyperthreaded, just isn't capable enough to be a dedicated Full HD media player, even with the assistance of the NVIDIA ION 2 graphics. the Edge HD2 is better suited for occasional or supplemental media playback, especially at less than Full HD resolutions. There is no card reader, but four USB ports should let you move digital media from your portable devices to your storage solution. Even if you don't edit your pictures or movies on your Edge HD2 you can upload and view, and basic resize and crop of a few pictures is not a strenuous task unless you're shooting in RAW format.

Extreme form factors and integration always lag behind the latest technology and, while the Sapphire Edge HD2 mini PC is the best OEM/VAR box in the teeny tiny form factor market, a mini-ITX AMD Brazos platform is clearly superior. Brazos is newer and right now building a mini-ITX Brazos PC can be achieved with a bigger form factor and better performance for the same money. Given that a small m-ITX case isn't exactly huge, despite being four times the size of the Edge HD2, it is still a viable option for most.

If you can live with the spotty media playback performance, the low power, elegant design, and form factor the size of a PC DVD game case make the Edge HD2 a great choice for niche applications like thin PCs or occasional and low power web/email/social/casual media PCs. The display output and support options are good, and the 802.11n Wi-Fi worked excellently in our lab tests. The whole device is miserly on power courtesy of the average efficiency 65W power brick (better than 87%). That said, understand this is form over function, using older technology and lacking Bluetooth, USB 3.0, SATA 3, and hybrid storage or SSD storage options. This PC should be based on AMD's Brazos platform (akin to what sister company Zotac is doing with their ZBoxes), with at least a Seagate Momentus XT hybrid hard drive in place of the cheap and slow Samsung drive it ships with, or even an mini-PCI Express SSD. Rage3D awards the Sapphire Edge HD2 mini PC 3 stars.

3 Star Award