A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
A gaming PC is the single most important device of a gamer. The hardware and software technologies of gaming keep improving at a dramatic rate, but the design of the computer itself hardly does. For some reason, the majority of gaming computers in 2018 are still bulky and noisy.
From time to time an attempt is made to design a gaming PC that is small and quiet. Unfortunately the first thing these designs sacrifice is usability - these PCs are notoriously hard to service and often next-to-impossible to upgrade.
Many would consider the holy grail of gaming PC to have the following properties:
Easy to upgrade
These are exactly the design goals Compulab set for Airtop2 Inferno. Note: As for reliability, that design goal goes without saying. All Compulab PCs ship with 5 year warranty, and Airtop2 Inferno is no exception.
What is Airtop2 Inferno?
Inferno is a compact, high-performance gaming PC with silent cooling.
High-performance means Core-i7 7700K (91W) + desktop GeForce GTX 1080 (180W). Both working at full performance, they are not underclocked, in fact both are unlocked. Inferno also has up to 64 GB RAM and 2x NVMe.
Silent cooling means 0dB - not "quiet, specially designed fans". There are simply no fans at all in Inferno, no CPU and GPU fans, no case fans and no PSU fan. There is no water cooling either. The graphics card has its fans removed. Both CPU and graphics card are cooled by Natural Airflow.
About Natural Airflow technology
Compulab is a pioneer in fanless computing and has been designing and making miniature fanless PCs for 12 years, mostly for industrial use (where fanless PCs are widely recognized as more reliable). In 2013 Compulab started researching how to cool a high-performance PC without fans, which resulted in Natural Airflow technology - an effective method for harnessing the stack effect to generate sufficient airflow for cooling a 200W small-form-factor PC. That's the principle behind Airtop (a field proven product shipping for 2 years) and Airtop2 on which Inferno is based.
Integrated OLED display (I3M) for showing real-time temperatures, power, system load and system information.
(See complete specifications below)
Benchmarking was conducted on Inferno's motherboard with final CPU and graphics card. See gallery for a picture of the test system. The only difference from final Inferno is that the hardware was spread on a table with active cooling and not installed into the final housing (that will go to production only after this campaign succeeds).
Installing / upgrading RAM and storage is extremely simple in Inferno thanks to the tool-free clamshell opening.
Inferno and Airtop2 share identical inside structure. This video demonstrates installation of RAM and disks in Airtop2. The procedure is identical in Inferno.
Upgrading graphics card
When new and better graphics cards become available Compulab will adapt to Inferno the best compatible one and will offer it as an upgrade kit where graphics card is already installed on the replaceable door. Upgrading should take no more than 5 minutes:
Open clamshell door
Disconnect PCIe adapter and power cable
Pull-out the door with attached graphics card
Repeat steps in reverse with the new door+graphics card
In order for a graphics card to be supported by Inferno it has to be 17 cm (mini-ITX) or shorter.
Compulab validates certain graphics cards and does the adaptation to Inferno. This is an involving process that cannot be accomplished by the user.
Compulab may be offering in the future a motherboard with a new CPU. In that case the new motherboard will be offered as a kit.
Please note that replacing the motherboard is a more involving process which is not recommended for users who do not have previous experience in assembling a PC (including attaching a heatsink to the CPU).
Inferno half life
A barenone system with CPU but no graphics-card.
The owner has to add the RAM, storage and operating system to achieve a functional system.
What is it good for? Anything but immediate gaming. Namely:
1. Silent high performance home-theater PC. As Ganesh T S from Anandtech points out: "I spent a lot of
time in the last few months of 2017 attempting to figure out a good
configuration for a high-end home theater PC (a market that the
Inferno targets) :
https://www.anandtech.com/print/12171/a-budget-home-theater-pc-setup-4k-hdr-uhd-bluray-and-more I came to the conclusion that
the integrated graphics is more capable when it comes to 4K
home-theater tasks - for example, UltraHD Blu-ray playback (with
attached USB Blu-ray drive) is possible only when the Kaby Lake
integrated graphics is used to drive the display."
2. A next generation gaming PC. Wait for the next generation graphics card and buy it once available.
3. A silent home-PC for non-gamers. Plenty of performance, plenty of storage, small footprint, silent, 3 displays. Think writing code / documents / high performance compiling etc.
4. A PC for audio. Silent. high-performance, plenty of storage, digital audio ports, available PCIe x16 slot.
A barenone system with CPU and graphics-card.
The owner has to add the RAM, storage and operating system to achieve a functional system.
RAM and storage are expensive in 2018.
With Skeletal you can reuse RAM and disks you already have, buy them elsewhere piece by piece or wait for Black Friday to make a major upgrade.
Inferno makes a convenient barebone system for the following reasons:
- Very easy installation of RAM and storage (see video above)
- Built-in diagnostics:
The most frustrating step in installation is when you plug in everything, turn on the computer and it does not start. Normally that leaves you guessing what's wrong, but Inferno has the following indicator LEDs:
- Detecting RAM --> detected
- BIOS passed POST --> booting
- Display detected on integrated HDMI port
- Display detected on one of the integrated DP ports
This makes troubleshooting much easier.
Demonic is a ready to use high-performance Inferno. It has the same CPU and graphics like all other models. Demonic would provide the same frame-rate as more expensive models and will score the same in most gaming benchmarks.
You can add RAM and storage any time to promote Demonic to Diabolic or better.
Some gamers want more, better and faster (or so we heard).
Diabolic tries to address that by adding:
- Samsung 960 EVO NVMe (extremely fast, shortens loading time)
- Double the RAM to 32 GB
- Double the storage 2x 1 TB (possible to configure in RAID)
- Adding 802.11AC WiFi + BT (Intel 8260AC, Skeletal and Demonic owners can order the WiFi separately)
Diabolic can be upgraded further (RAM, storage, 2nd NVMe...)
We just put there everything Inferno can take.
We guess every yacht needs one.
fit-statUSB is a smart RGB LED with a micro-controller that implements a simple serial-over-USB protocol. It allows running an application on the host to set the LED color and brightness according to host's state.
In Inferno it is useful for running a daemon that polls the CPU temperature and sets the color of the LED accordingly.
Compulab will provide such a daemon for Windows and Linux.
Development status and plans
Technically, Airtop2 Inferno is an enhanced variation of Airtop2 which is a shipping product. Furthermore, Inferno is booting, running stable and was benchmarked with the 7700K CPU and GTX 1080 graphics card. The thermal design, industrial design and validation of the new parts with the manufacturer have all been completed successfully.
This means there is no pending research and development to carry out, only execution of manufacturing the exterior air-tubes, stress testing and tuning.
In parallel Compulab intends to design a new FACE Module for Inferno adding dual USB 3.1 gen 2 (10 Gbps). This FACE Module is straightforward to design and will not delay the roll-out of Inferno.
Airtop2 Inferno is unique by being small, fanless and high performance, but it is far from being the lowest-cost gaming PC on the market. We are certain that we can manufacture Airtop2 Inferno and that it will work well, but we can do it only if there is interest in the product, and we believe Kickstarter is the right place to find that out.
Milestones on the road to Inferno
About the Inferno creators team
Risks and challenges
We are doing our best to help you back the project with confidence. This is our return and refund policy:
1. Before the project is funded you can cancel your pledge directly with Kickstarter.
2. After the project is funded, if you do not want the product anymore you can contact Compulab fit-iot sales firstname.lastname@example.org and inform us that you decided to cancel. Compulab will refund in full (except for Kickstarter fee).
3. If Compulab fails to deliver Inferno due to Compulab fault or force majeure, Compulab will refund in full (except for Kickstarter fee).
4. After Inferno ships, if you are not satisfied with it for any reason you can return it within 30 days. Unless Inferno is damaged, Compulab will refund it in full (except for Kickstarter fee, shipping expenses, storage devices and operating system license).
5. Later you have 5 year warranty on the product.
There are technical and logistic risks that a backer should consider.
- Airtop2 Inferno might not function (negligible risk):
Inferno is based on Airtop2 motherboard that has been tested extensively and is in production. The motherboard, PSU and BIOS has been tested and benchmarked using Inferno-designated CPU and graphics card. The risk that a functional error will be discovered at this stage is minimal.
- Airtop2 Inferno might be thermally unbalanced (minimal risk):
Airtop1 & Airtop2 are 200W+ Natural Airflow PCs. They are perfectly balanced thermally. This has been proven by extensive testing at Compulab (incl. operating Airtop2 at 94°C ambient under load) and by numerous independent reviews.
Inferno has the exact same hardware design like Airtop2 but power is extended to 300W+. To address the extra power, Inferno doubles Natural Aiflow air-tubes on each side. Our thermal analysis and simulations show that it should actually run cooler than Airtop2.
In the unlikely case that the thermal analysis of Compulab for Inferno proves inaccurate, Compulab will do the needed modifications in the housing to ensure Inferno works reliably under full load.
- USB 3.1 might require an additional revision (small risk):
A new FACE Module with ASMedia USB 3.1 controller is being designed for Inferno. This is the only new electronics board being designed.
In case the first revision does not work as intended, Compulab will revise the design. This might incur some delay on Inferno availability. In that case backers can wait until the revision is ready or receive Inferno earlier with USB 3.0
- A critical component may become unavailable (small risk):
Some components - in particular graphics cards - may become unavailable without prior notice. If that happens Compulab will do every effort to qualify an alternative component with identical or better performance. If this proves impossible, backers will have the option to either receive a refund or opt for the best component available.
- Delivery might be delayed due to production allocation constraints (small risk):
Compulab manufactures its product in-house to ensure best possible quality control. Airtop2 Inferno production is labor intensive. In case that Compulab's production capacity is maxed-out at the relevant time frame, production rate of Inferno might be reduced and supplies might be delayed until production capacity is resumed. A backer that does not receive Inferno by the promised due date has the right to cancel the order for a full refund.
fit-statUSB (developed by Compulab) is a fingernail-size programmable RGB LED that plugs into a USB port. It is useful for providing real-time indication by color of CPU/GPU temperature in Inferno, but can be used in any other PC and many non-PC devices.