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This wildly ambitious PC uses copper foam and custom engineering to pack big power in a small, silent package

Brad Chacos | Aug. 1, 2014
Your next ultra-powerful, ultra-tiny PC could look like a Brillo pad or copper-hued Chia pet, if a crowdfunding-slash-preorder campaign by Silent Power meets its goals--and then delivers on some ambitious engineering promises.

Ficht says that a deeply custom engineering design allows the team to stuff the Silent Power mini-PC with components that wouldn't normally fit into its scant 6.3-by-3.9-by-2.75-inch frame. For example, the machine will include Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 graphics, despite the fact that a GTX 760 normally measures in at more than 9 inches long.

"The GTX 760 is larger in form as a graphic card [but] most components are on one side," he told me. "But we use three boards/cards with several layers (e.g. you make your conducting-paths on the surface, then a isolating ceramic-layer, then the next conducting path... and on every path you can integrate some microelectronic-devices, e.g. you can make a resistance by make a conducting path thinner with lasered bottlenecks). And every mainboard level has an up- and down-side. So we have [plenty of room] to integrate the graphic card components."

Can Silent Power pull it off?

As awesome as Silent Power looks on paper, its wildly ambitious design raises some questions. The available photos of Silent Power are of renders or early prototypes, and the $60,000 the company is trying to raise doesn't seem like a ton of money considering the engineering hurdles that will have to be conquered to design a highly customized machine like this. Can Silent Power actually deliver on its promise?

Worryingly, this crowdfunding campaign isn't actually the first time the team behind Silent Power has tried raising money for its project. The previous attempts were unceremoniously canceled by Indiegogo, forcing the team to take this independent approach, as detailed on the Silent Power blog back in June.

"After we were deleted without warning and justification off Indiegogo twice (and you did not respond until today on our five e-mails), we have our project devoted an entire page."

Remember: Indiegogo is known for its largely hands-off approach to crowdfund hosting. That's not to say Silent Power isn't legit — far from it — but it does raise some warning flags for would-be early buyers.

The Silent Power mini-PC will roll into production in spring 2015 only if it reaches $60,000 in pre-order sales. The company promises to return all funds if that goal isn't met. Silent Power also offers a no-questions-asked, 60-day money-back guarantee after your payment in case you get cold feet, though the website doesn't specifically say whether you're eligible for a refund if the production hits snags. Prices range from about $930 to $1,550 — small, decently powerful, and passively cooled PCs don't come cheap, especially when they're not quite real yet.

 

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