Sapphire Edge HD4 Mini PC

Author
Aron Schatz
Posted
May 14, 2013
Manufacturer
Sapphire
Product Page
Edge HD4
Views
71895
Sapphire Edge HD4 Mini PC
The Sapphire Edge HD4 may not be a powerhouse computer, but it does what it needs to do in a small form factor.

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Page 1
Introduction

Sapphire is a well known manufacturer of AMD video cards. It is actually one of the top brands and we've reviewed a few of their products in the past. This latest product is a completely new category. Instead of focusing on the parts market, the Sapphire Edge HD4 is a mini-PC, fully complete. Mini-PCs are all the rage right now and most are a mixed bag between features, design, cooling effectiveness, and speed. The HD4 is a buy it and go type of product. No assembly required.

About Sapphire

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SAPPHIRE Technology was first formed as a manufacturer and global supplier of graphics cards when ATI (now a division of AMD) adopted the Add-in Board partner (AIB) model for delivering its technology to market. SAPPHIRE has consistently been the market leader with its graphics products. More recently the SAPPHIRE product range has been extended to include a broad range of mainboards and a number of solutions including the award-winning SAPPHIRE EDGE Series of Mini PCs.

This year, SAPPHIRE celebrates 10 years of trading, bringing our successful mix of innovation and customer satisfaction to the global market. During that time we have introduced a number of innovations to the graphics market that are still reflected in our product line-up today.

http://www.sapphiretech.com/presentation/company/?cid=1&psn=000301&lid=1


Packaging

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The retail packaging of the Edge HD4 is dark with blue accents. The front of the box shows some of the features it supports including HDMI and USB 3.

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The rear has a nice image of the back of the HD4 showing the available ports and additional product information.
Page 2
Specifications

  • Intel Celeron Processor 847
  • 4 GB DDR3 So-DIMM
  • 320 GB SATA 2.5'' Hard Driver
  • Intel® HD Graphics
  • 10/100/1000 Mbps Built-in Ethernet
  • 802.11b/g/n Built-in Wireless Network
  • 1 x HDMI Port
    1 x VGA(D-sub) Port
    1 x RJ-45 Gigabit Lan
    3 x USB 2.0 Port
    1 x Audio-in
    1 x Line-out
    1 x USB 3.0 Port
  • 65W W AC 100~240V 50/60Hz, DC 19V~3.42A
  • Dimensions - 19.3 x 14.8 x 2.2 cm (L / W / H)
    Weight 530 g net weight
  • Pre-installed Free DOS
  • Accessories - 1 x HDMI cable
    1 x HDMI to DVI adapter
    1 x Quick Installation Guide (QIG)
    1 x Chassis Stand
    1 x Power cord
    1 x Power Adapter
    1 x Driver CD


Marketing Summary

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The SAPPHIRE EDGE HD4 is a new model in the successful EDGE mini PC series, based on the latest mobile processor technology from Intel. It shares the same slim, stylish outline as the earlier models but delivers increased performance as a result of incorporating the latest Celeron 847 processor. The stylish design makes it a welcome replacement for a bulky traditional PC and it is equally at home next to a TV or a business monitor whilst occupying the minimum of desk or shelf space. Consuming less than 30W even under load, the members of the SAPPHIRE Mini PC family use around 10 times less power than a typical desktop PC, making them amongst the Greenest PC solutions available.

http://www.sapphiretech.com/presentation/product/?cid=6&gid=1054&sgid=1218&pid=1778&psn=&lid=1&leg=0#


Parts

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The Sapphire Edge HD4 comes with a few extras that set this apart from other products. Aside from the standard AC adapter and power cable, you get a HDMI cable and a HDMI to DVI adapter. Sapphire gets it when it comes to customer satisfaction. In many competing products, these additions are left out and you only realize it when it is time to connect everything for the first time.
Page 3
Edge HD4

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The Sapphire Edge HD4 is a relatively tiny PC. It comes with a stand that connects to the bottom of the unit. There is a button on the side that controls power and a HDD indicator. The Sapphire logo is silked on the bottom of the HD4.

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The HD4 is made to stand upright. This might be a design flaw as we would expect most applications to be resting on its side or mounted. There are no VESA mounts on the HD4, you'll have to rig something yourself if you want to mount it. The HD4 can easily lay on its side without the stand.

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Compared to a normal size DVD, the HD4 is relatively small. It is a fully functional PC, not one of those Android type of devices you see today.

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The opposite side contains the labeling and identification. On the top you can see air vents for cooling the HD4.

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Since this is a mini-PC, you shouldn't be expected a vast array of ports. There are two USB 2 ports on the back which we feel is just not enough. We would like to see the VGA port removed in favor of additional USB ports. HDMI, ethernet, power, and audio round out the rest of the ports.

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There are two additional USB ports on the front and one of them is the USB 3.0.
Page 4
Installation

When you connect the Edge HD4 for the first time and boot it up, you are greeted by a DOS prompt. The HD4 comes preloaded with FreeDOS. This is a curious move since Linux will work out of the box with all the hardware. We stripped the device of FreeDOS and loaded Kubuntu 13.04 for testing.

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The HD4 supports UEFI and that means you should be using the 64-bit version of whatever OS you pick to gain that type of boot. Sure, you can use the old BIOS type of bootup, but why? Make sure you have an EFI partition for boot and you're good to go. The 320GB drive has less than 300GB of usable space. We don't expect many people to be doing tons of storage duties directly on the HD4, but with USB3, you can connect some high speed drives and turn this into a quick and stable fileserver.

Use

First and foremost, this isn't a top of the line gaming PC. The target market for this type of product is more of a media center, browsing and very light gaming type of computer. In this respect, the HD4 performs well. We ran synthetic benchmarks to see how it performs, but we prefer to use more objective measurements by using the system for the tasks we mentioned.

We started with media center responsibilities. This includes playing various types of media files off of a DLNA source. VLC handles this task with ease. The HD4 had no trouble keeping up with content being thrown at it. The HD4 supports HDMI audio, meaning one less cable to worry about while using it with a TV. XBMC also works with this, if that it your thing.

Next, we tried how internet browsing handled on the HD4. Obviously, general browsing tasks are no problem for almost every computer today. What really taxes the HD4 is video playback in the browser. We went on Youtube and played a few videos which worked fine, even in high resolution. Full screen videos were good, for the most part. There are occasional stutters. We chalked this up to Flash, though. HTML5 playback will probably be much better. This probably depended on the codec of the file being played as it was hit or miss. One video we watched was really choppy in Flash. Others were fine.

Still, the HD4 manages the internet tasks just fine. Pair this with a good wireless keyboard and mouse and you're on your way to a really nice internet connected TV. It also serves well when you have guests over and don't have an extra computer laying around for them to use.

The last use case we tried was gaming. This is where the unit really starts to show the mini-PC mantra. You are giving up speed for the size. The bottleneck that we encountered wasn't the Intel graphics, it was the CPU. The Celeron 847 is a dual core 1.1GHz CPU. This is not close to a Core processor, but it does provide lower power and embedded graphics support. Sapphire is known to be an AMD technology company so it is interesting to see the use of Intel parts. You still get a generous 4GB of RAM.

A fairly popular game is Minecraft. Most people assume that the requirements are fairly light given its blocky look. This assumption is false as the game chews through CPU and RAM, even with decent graphics. Don't expect a smooth experience playing Minecraft on the HD4. Most of the time, we hovered around 20 FPS, but often there are times when the game became choppy and sluggish, even when connected to a server. It will get the job done for a kid, but someone that has played Minecraft on a speedier computer will moan at the performance. Obviously, disabling some features will help with performance, but you may want to think twice before purchasing this to play Minecraft (if that is your goal).

Flash games and other less CPU intensive games work absolutely fine. The term casual gaming system fits very well here. We don't expect that pure gaming will be the focus of someone purchasing the type of product.

Additional types of things we see the HD4 being good at: Information screens (using the HD4 as the driver of the screen), workstations (most people just use word processors and spreadsheets which work fine on the HD4), and lightweight back office server duties. Directory services and webpage serving isn't that demanding on a computer and we can see the HD4 being at home in this environment.

Power usage was good. At idle, the HD4 sips around 13 watts and at full load, it consumes around 33 watts. Compare this to a bigger desktop and this offers excellent performance per watt. The HD4 does have a cooling fan, but you'll be pressed to hear it farther than 5 feet away. It isn't whisper quiet, but it isn't the loudest small device we've heard.

One surprisingly absent feature is Bluetooth. Using Bluetooth input devices or headsets required one of those USB ports to be taken up by a dongle. We think Bluetooth would be a worthwhile addition to the HD4. We would also like to see a SSD instead of the 5400 RPM notebook drive in the unit.
Page 5
Video Review



Conclusion

The Sapphire Edge HD4 is an interesting product. It not only competes with normal HTPC computers, but you can't dismiss the competition of Android powered devices. Leaving Android devices for now, the HD4 is an good choice for HTPC duties. It plays media well, handles internet browsing well, but struggles on internet video in some cases. Don't expect long session of gaming on this unless you are into very casual games (think Flash-based or solitaire).

Where the HD4 really shines is in workstation duties. The HD4 will easily handle most typical type of word processing and spreadsheet applications and in a form factor that it easy to place directly on a desk. You may not think that not having an optical drive is a plus, but it is for workstations.

Look at the competition. You can buy an Android powered HDMI stick for pretty cheap. The HD4 is a full computer running any software you want while Android runs only that ecosystem. Linux works out of the box with the HD4 and we like having full computing experience on our TV.

The HD4 should be comparable to the older HD3 in price around $350 or so. You are paying for the form factor since you can easily buy a much more powerful computer for that price. The form factor sells the unit, though. It is small, easy to hide, and fits in most entertainment centers. If you're looking for a new entertainment PC that will fit in a tight space, the Edge HD4 is the product for you.

ASE Publishing would like to thank Sapphire for making this review possible.

Comments

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