This Core i7 mini PC has plenty of ports and a fair amount of processing power, but it's too expensive for what's inside
1.9GHz Intel Core i7-3517U, 16GB RAM, N/A display, Windows 8
The last VeryPC Nano Sketch we reviewed was a modest Intel Core i3 system, but this small mini PC is also available in meatier specifications, such as the Core i7 model reviewed here. Its dual-core Intel Core i7-3517U Ivy Bridge processor is showing its age compared to newer Haswell chips, but it still performed well in our multimedia benchmarks, scoring 51 overall.
The PC handled the multitasking section of our test particularly well, but its overall performance, even with a huge 16GB of RAM, pales in comparison to that of some of the quad-core Core i7 mini PCs we’ve tested recently. For example, the similarly-sized Zotac Zbox IQ01 Plus, which is almost half the price of the Core i7 Nano Sketch, scored 83, thanks to its desktop Haswell processor. The Nano Sketch is still perfectly fast enough for everyday computing, but there are much faster mini PCs available for this price.
The Nano Sketch’s Intel HD Graphics 4000 chip also lagged behind more modern integrated graphics chipsets, as it failed to produce 15fps in the laptop version of our Dirt Showdown test, which we run at 1,280×720 with High quality settings and 4x anti-aliasing. Even when we disabled the AA and turned detail down to Low, the chip was still only able to produce a stuttering average of 19.4fps. This isn’t wholly unexpected, as we’ve seen plenty of laptops with this chip give similar levels of performance, but it’s nevertheless slightly disappointing considering the Nano Sketch’s high price.
Unsurprisingly, gaming at Full HD is out of the question, but even less demanding 3D games were relatively jerky at 1,280×720. We only managed a mere 22.7fps in the platform game Trine 2 at Low quality settings with the anti-aliasing turned off.
The Nano Sketch does look good, though. Its Foxconn AT-7300 NanoPC chassis is by far one of the smarter mini PC cases we’ve seen. Measuring 135x38x190mm, it’s roughly the same size as a paperback novel. It looks great lying flat, but it also comes with a stand and a VESA mount so you can mount it to the back of your monitor.
On the front, you’ll find two USB3 ports, a multi-format card reader and separate headphone and microphone jacks. There’s also an IR receiver so you can use a remote to turn it on instead of the power button, but you’ll need to enable the CIR Controller Configuration option in the PC’s basic BIOS to take advantage of this feature. This is particularly handy, as there isn’t an option to wake the PC from LAN in the BIOS, so you can’t wake the PC over your network with a smartphone or tablet app.
On the back of the PC, there are another two USB3 and two USB2 ports, HDMI and DVI video outputs and a Gigabit Ethernet port. The Nano Sketch also has built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi adaptor, making it easy to get on your home network. It doesn’t have Bluetooth built-in, though.
|Processor||Intel Core i7-3517U|
|Processor external bus||100MHz|
|Processor clock speed||1.9GHz|
|Processor socket||Socket 988B rPGA|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel ID1E59|
|USB2 ports (front/rear)||2/4|
|eSATA ports (front/rear)||0/0|
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100/1000|
|Wireless networking support||802.11n|
|PCI slots (free)||0|
|PCI-E x1 slots (free)||0|
|PCI-E x16 slots (free)||0|
|Free Serial ATA ports||0|
|Free memory slots||0|
|Free 3.5in drive bays||0|
|Hard disk model(s)||Western Digital Caviar (WD1001X06X-0SCSI)|
|Graphics card(s)||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Graphics/video ports||HDMI, DVI|
|Sound||Realtek HD Audio|
|Supported memory cards||SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro|
|Optical drive type(s)||none|
|Operating system||Windows 8|
|Operating system restore option||none|
|Warranty||two years collect and return|