- Extremely compact
- Very low power consumption
- Solid fanless aluminium case
- Mini-USB ports are awkward to use
- Limited customisation options
The Fit-PC2i is the latest in a series of 'nettop' PCs from CompuLab. Distributed in the UK by Anders Electronics, Fit-PCs combine modest specifications with extreme compactness and a low energy footprint.
Our review unit is the Windows 7-based Turbo model, which costs £549 (ex. VAT). This miniscule PC weighs just 369g, measures 11.5cm wide by 10cm deep by 2.7cm high and comes in a functional-looking die-cast aluminium casing.
As well as being physically small, the Fit-PC2i makes minimal demands on the power grid. According to the spec sheet, the system runs at between 6W and 8W, drawing less than 1W on standby. In our tests we found that the Fit-PC2i uses closer to 10W under maximum load — still a very impressive figure.
Although the fanless design ensures that the system runs quietly, it does become hot to the touch after just a few minutes' use. Be aware that although the Fit-PC2i Turbo comes with a power brick, no mains cable is included.
Inside the Fit-PC2i Turbo is a 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z530 processor and Intel's US15W chipset, with 2GB of DDR2 RAM and a 4GB Flash drive soldered to the motherboard. There are also two Gigabit Ethernet ports, integrated 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi with an external antenna, four mini-USB 2.0 ports (two mini-USB on the front, two normal size at the back) and a MiniSD card slot.
The Fit-PC2i Turbo can be purchased without a hard drive (£419 ex. VAT) or with a 160GB SATA hard drive (2.5in., 5,400rpm) and Windows 7 Professional (£549) or Ubuntu Linux (£445 ex. VAT) preloaded. Note that support for the Fit-PC2i's integrated Intel GMA 500 graphics is less than optimal under Linux.
Other hardware configurations are the Fit-PC2i, which has 1GB of RAM and no on-board flash and comes either diskless (£299), with Ubuntu Linux (£340) or with Windows XP Professional (£379).
The final configuration is the Fit-PC2i Lite, which has a 1.1GHz Atom Z510 processor, 1GB of RAM and no Wi-Fi. It's only available without a hard drive and costs £265 (ex. VAT). Check the UK Fit-PC website for more details.
The only video-out port is an HDMI connector, presumably to save space. However, an HDMI-to-DVI adapter is provided in the box. If you need an analogue VGA connection, you'll have to buy an additional DVI-to-VGA converter for £25 (ex. VAT).
The integrated GPU's maximum supported resolution is 1,920 by 1,200. The machine also claims to be able to display 1080p video, although this is only true with H.264, MPEG2 and WMV9 formats for which the GPU provides hardware acceleration. HD Flash video proved troublesome, and even trying to view QuickTime trailers in 720p was too much for the Fit-PC2i Turbo.
Although the machine performs fine with basic workloads, it wasn't too comfortable juggling multiple applications at once — for example, it ground to a halt when browsing the internet in Mozilla Firefox and creating a document in Microsoft Word 2007 at the same time.
There's obvious potential for use as a small server, and while you could get a competent NAS box for less money the Fit-PC2i Turbo could be very useful for anyone looking to set up a server while retaining some of the features of a desktop PC.
As far as Pico-ITX machines go, the Fit-PC2i Turbo is the current champion. Its closest competitor — the VIA Artigo — is larger, slower and more expensive than the regular Fit-PC2i, although it does offer much more customisation options than the rigid three-tier specification of the Fit-PC2i.