As the world and their virtual wives get all giddy about a couple of new AMD-based mini-PCs from Sony and Microsoft, Nvidia has set themselves up to compete with the new console generation for the Christmas holidays. In partnership with a bunch of system building folk Nvidia wants to push small form factor gaming PCs, with serious graphics power, into the mainstream. It's called the Art of Gaming .
DinoPC's Mini Ultimate is one such system and, while the £1,500 sticker price is more expensive than three new consoles together, it's a mighty fine gaming rig for the money. This is a seriously high-end machine in a snug little chassis.
The Aerocool Dead Silence Cube isn't quite in the same league as the impressive EVGA Hadron Air, but this mATX case will happily house the Corsair H100 liquid CPU chiller made to keep the overclocked i5-4670K in check. The best thing in the box is the mighty Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti , arguably one of the finest graphics cards around. Certainly a lot cooler and quieter than the top AMD cards right now.
DinoPC's Mini Ultimate is on its way to PCGamer Towers right now, so we'll be able to deliver judgement soon. This is the top-end right now, but you'll be able to find small form factor machines for much less than this beast of a machine.
To try extra-hard and entice folk into picking these systems Nvidia has backtracked on its previous bundling strategy . This time they're following AMD in offering full games free with their graphics cards rather than the free-to-play freebies they were giving out before.
With a qualifying small form factor machine housing a GTX 660 or above, you'll get the Pirates, Heroes and Spies bundle with Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist going head-to-head for the longest title in your gaming catalogue. If you opt for a GTX 770 or above though you'll also get Batman: Arkham Origins, putting the hero in Pirates, Heroes and Spies.
I've got to say I'm a big fan of the small form factor machine - personally I prefer the mini-ITX if we're really going small - but I think it's going to be once the Steam Machine prototype spawns the really small chassis that things will start to get interesting.
Right now, from talking to manufacturers and sellers, these tiny PCs aren't shifting massive volumes. Priced side-by-side your average punter is going to go for the larger machine - there's a certain sense of value still attached to a beefy rig and the SFF PCs still retain a bit of a price premium. Fingers crossed though, with these sorts of initiatives getting widespread support within the industry, they could start making up a significant number of the gaming rigs sold.