Tranquil ixLS review
With all the talk of Intel’s superfast Sandy Bridge processors, it almost escaped our attention that low-power models were incoming too. In fact, there are four Core i5 and i7 green alternatives, and we can think of no better PC to show off their capabilities than Tranquil’s ixLS – an update to the ixL that impressed us so highly last autumn.
With its near-silent operation, moody cooling fins and elegant design, the ixL was ostensibly just another media PC, yet it was far more flexible than most Atom-based rivals – all media PCs can play back Wall-E on your TV, but not many can also crunch numbers and edit video. That’s just as true of the new ixLS, which supports a selection of new processors with TDPs of 65W or lower to suit its passively cooled design.
Our review sample comes with a mid-range Core i5-2400S, which runs at 2.5GHz rather than the 3.1GHz of its full-power cousin. That isn’t a huge trade-off for the extra efficiency: when idle the system drew just 17W, rising to a peak of 62W and a meaty benchmark score of 2.15. To put that in context, this ixLS is five times faster than the average Atom-powered media PC, and a score of 2.54 in our multitasking test shows the four cores coping effortlessly with a high workload.
The i5-2400S also has Intel’s new HD Graphics 2000 chip onboard, so there’s a modicum of gaming ability. Don’t get too excited, though, since it managed just 24fps in Crysis at 1,024 x 768 and Low settings; that’s better than most Ion graphics, but for anything more than casual gaming and movie playback you’ll still want to fit a low-profile graphics card in the single PCI Express x16 slot.
Tranquil has made a few updates to keep up with the Joneses, with DVI and HDMI connectors now joined by the increasingly popular DisplayPort. And to add to the two front and four rear USB 2 ports, a pair of USB 3 ports stands out in blue at the back. The rest is unchanged, but plentiful: two eSATA ports, Gigabit Ethernet and both optical S/PDIF, and the full set of 3.5mm outputs for 5.1 audio.
|Total hard disk capacity||80GB|
|CPU family||Intel Core i5|
|CPU nominal frequency||2.50GHz|
|Processor socket||LGA 1155|
|HSF (heatsink-fan)||Custom passive cooler|
|PCI-E x16 slots free||1|
|PCI-E x16 slots total||1|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|Memory sockets free||0|
|Memory sockets total||2|
|Graphics card||Intel HD Graphics 2000|
|3D performance setting||Low|
|Graphics chipset||Intel HD Graphics 2000|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||0|
|Hard disk||Intel X25-M|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Case format||Mini ITX|
|Dimensions||240 x 250 x 110mm (WDH)|
|USB ports (downstream)||6|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||1|
|3.5mm audio jacks||5|
Mouse & Keyboard
|Mouse and keyboard||N/A|
Operating system and software
|OS family||Windows 7|
Noise and power
|Idle power consumption||17W|
|Peak power consumption||62W|
|Overall application benchmark score||2.15|
|Office application benchmark score||1.60|
|2D graphics application benchmark score||2.47|
|Encoding application benchmark score||2.00|
|Multitasking application benchmark score||2.54|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||24fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|