Can I get a drum roll? Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to announce a breakthrough for mankind. It might be right up there with the Great Wall of China. It is the all new, high performance, SolidLogic Core 2 Duo GS-L10 FANLESS Mini-ITX System for Logic Supply. Ok, ok, I might be going overboard with the intro, but it has been a long time coming for this machine and I am truly pumped to add it to our arsenal.
Let me give you a little history.
We started offering fanless Mini-ITX PCs in late ’04 (not sure the exact date…) with VIA boards, back when the C3 CPU was a cutting-edge, low-power offering. Unfortunately, though, it definitely left something to be desired in terms of horsepower. That VIA CPU architecture, however, conveniently lent itself (and still does) to a fanless design, with most of the CPUs in 9–10W TDP range. At the same time, the Pentium M was king and the Pentium 4 was still having its heyday, and we integrated them into some fanless barebone systems that were coming from overseas. Stability and overheating were always an issue, unless our mainboards or systems were paired with Celeron chips. So, we eventually ended up parting ways with these fanless Pentium-based configurations.
Through ’06 we continued to broaden our fanless VIA-based offerings, which had ample performance for most all embedded applications. These systems utilized an aluminum case with a fairly simple heat pipe design that would draw heat from the CPU (and sometimes northbridge, depending on the setup) and passively release it through aluminum heat sink fins on external side of the case. We’ve dubbed these “side cooled” over the years and it is agreed that these were the simplest designs to tweak in order to add more offerings. Just alter the aluminum block on the end of the heat pipe to fit the board and, voila, you have a fanless system! We searched high and wide for a Pentium M board that would allow us to squeeze in a side-cooling heat pipe (most boards have components in the way) and we eventually engineered a nice Pentium M offering. This was a jump from the 10W TDP to a roughly 25W TDP with essentially the fanless “side cooling” design, but that was about as far as we could take it.
In Jan ’07, the Serener GS-L05 chassis arrived on the scene with a heat pipe design that was sandwiched between a finned lid and the CPU. This design offered more surface area for the system to cool by making the lid the conductive material. We were using it in conjunction with VIA C7 boards in the sub 15W TDP range and one of our engineers thought this “over-the-board” heat pipe design would integrate nicely with the MSI MS-7265 Intel Core 2 Duo-based mainboard. Although it did fit together well, the board produced too much heat and could not be sufficiently cooled, so we went “Frankenstein” on it and drilled holes. This improved the cooling significantly and with our feedback, Serener introduced the GS-L06, a similar design to the GS-L05 with deeper fins to increase the surface area of the lid and with additional holes to facilitate cooling.
We thought we had the Golden Ticket, the 1st small form factor, Core 2 Duo system that was passively cooled. As I mentioned before, the VIA systems usually did the trick, but there was a significant, growing demand for higher-end fanless computing, especially from the digital signage market that was finally pushing into the world of HD content. Well as it turned out, these systems, when paired with Intel’s higher clock speed, dual-core chips, generated a lot of heat and the chassis couldn’t disperse it quickly enough. Shoot! Back to the drawing board we had to go. Not all was lost, though. We still had a fanless Core Duo solution—it just wasn’t 100% ideal.
So here we are today, a year later, with a newly designed chassis—the GS-L10—with fins on every external surface but the bottom of the box, and multiple heat pipes to keep that heat moving out and away from the system. We’ve been testing it for weeks on end and it runs cool as a cucumber with an Intel 2 GHz, dual-core mobile CPU. The enclosure’s footprint measures less than 9” x 8” and just a smidgen over 3” in height. It can be paired with off-the-shelf 2.5” notebook drives; however we strongly recommend extreme environment hard drives. If you really want to make it a “set it and forget it” system, pair it up with a solid state disk (2.5” form factor) or a 40-pin IDE flash module to create a completely solid state system.
MSI is introducing a Montevina-based, Socket P mainboard shortly, the MS-9818, which will ensure long term availability and the latest Intel mobile chipset. We hope to feature that board in the GS-L10 later this year. Stay tuned!