Compulab Airtop3 Linux Mint mini computer has fanless Intel Core i9 9900K and NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000

The whir of a fan. This is a sound many computer enthusiasts know all too well. Whether it is a single fan in a laptop, or 12 fans in a gaming desktop, the noise can be distracting. While some folks learn to tune out fan noise (and some even end up liking it!), let's be honest, a silent PC is preferable for most. Unfortunately, passively cooled computers are often under-powered, meaning you must decide between performance and silence.

But what if you didn't have to pick? What if I told you a company is selling a mini computer with a passively cooled Intel Core i9 9900K? Yeah, you would probably think I am telling lies, but actually, it is the truth! The Compulab "Airtop3," as it is called, features that high-end processor (plus others) and does not have a fan! In addition, the edge server can be configured with an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000 (or GeForce GTX 1660 Ti) and is loaded to the gills with connectivity options. Not to mention, the diminutive computer looks very beautiful too. Best of all, it can be configured to ship with Linux Mint!

"Airtop3 supports 9th Generation Intel Core i9 Processors and future Intel Xeon E Processors, including the highest power 95W Core i9-9900K. The maximum RAM capacity is 128 GB DDR4-2666. Standard storage is comprised of 6 devices -- two NVMe SSDs -- up to 2 TB each and four 2.5-inch SATA 3 HDD/SSD with RAID support. Standard networking includes two GbE ports and support for Wi-Fi 802.11ac and 4G modem. Standard I/O includes 3 4K displays, 6 USB 3.1 ports, 3 RS232 and audio. This feature set may be satisfactory in some cases, but IoT has many specialized applications -- deep learning may require a discrete GPU, automotive applications often require high capacity of high-speed storage, machine vision usually utilizes integrated PoE ports," says Compulab.

The computer-maker further says, "Airtop3 cooling is based on Compulab’s Natural Airflow technology that stimulates airflow without moving parts – by the waste heat of the 3 major heat sources (CPU, GPU and storage devices) each having a dedicated thermal zone. The 7.5 liter housing is all-aluminium made of die-cast and extruded parts with precision machining for seamless fit, shock and vibration resistance. Airtop3 has a PCIe x16 (PEG) slot with Natural Airflow passive cooling that supports up to 160W Quadro RTX 4000 graphics card. This powerful CPU + GPU setup is effective for low latency edge analytics workloads involving image recognition, machine learning or inferencing."

Irad Stavi, Chief product officer at Compulab offers the below statement.

Apparently, the appetite for performance at the IoT edge knows no boundaries. We are seeing remarkable performance gains in the latest generation of CPUs and GPUs, but with great power comes greater power consumption. However, our engineers were able to improve the thermal headroom of Airtop3’s Natural Airflow cooling by over 30 percent so there was no need to settle for low power chips. This makes Airtop3 a small-form-factor fanless IoT edge server with unprecedented performance.

Compulab shares the following specifications and configurations.

CPU

  • 8-core Intel Core i9-9900K Processor
  • Future Intel Xeon E Processor
  • 8-core Intel Core i7-9700 Processor
  • Intel Celeron G4900 Processor

Chipset

  • Intel C246 Chipset

Memory

  • Dual channel unbuffered DDR4-2666 ECC/non ECC up to 128 GB (4x DIMM slots)

Graphics & display

  • Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630 -- 2x DisplayPort 1.2 (4K @ 60 Hz) + HDMI 1.4 (4K @ 24 Hz)
  • Optional NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000 8 GB GDDR6 -- 3x DisplayPort 1.4 + 1x Virtual link (HDR 5K @ 60 Hz | HDR 4K @ 120 Hz)
  • Optional GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6 GB GDDR6 -- 3x DisplayPort 1.4 (4K @ 120 Hz) + HDMI 2.0b (4K @ 60 Hz)

Storage

  • 2x NVMe – M.2 key M 2280 | 2260 | 2242 | 2230 -- PCIe x4
  • 4x 2.5" SATA 3.0 HDD/SSD with RAID support
  • Optional NVM3 card with 3x NVMe -- 3x NVME M.2 key M up to 22110 / NF1 30110

LAN

  • 2x Gbit Ethernet (Intel i219 + Intel i210)
  • 2x 10 Gbit Ethernet (optional, Intel X550-T2)
  • 4x Gbit Ethernet (optional, using FACE Module)

Wireless

  • Wi-Fi 802.11ac + BT 4.2 (M.2 key E)
  • 4G/LTE modem (M.2 key B) + micro-SIM socket
  • 4x SMA antennas

USB

  • 6x USB 3.1 gen 1 type-A (rear panel)
  • 2x USB 3.1 gen 2 (type-C + type-A) + 1x USB 3.1 gen 1 type-A (front panel, on FM-AT3 FACE Module)

Audio

  • Realtek ALC1150 audio codec
  • Optical S/PDIF output (Toslink)
  • HDMI audio
  • Line-out
  • Mic-in
  • Extra ALC1150 audio codec (on FM-AT3 FACE Module)
  • Line-out (front panel)
  • Mic-in (front panel)
  • 3x RS232 ports full UART

Extension cards

  • 1x PCIe x16 Gen 3 PEG (shared with graphics card)
  • 1x M.2 key E (normally used for Wi-Fi adapter)
  • 1x M.2 key B (normally used for 4G modem)
  • Compulab Function And Connectivity Extension Module (FACE Module)  (normally used for FM-AT3, other FACE Modules available)

Natural airflow (NAF) cooling

  • Fanless natural convection cooling with no moving parts

Redundant power

  • 2x DC inputs with load sharing and automatic failover

Trusted platform module 2.0

  • Discrete TPM

I3M (integrated interactive information monitor)

  • An integrated OLED display with navigation keypad for displaying real time power consumption, temperatures and system information

Clamshell opening | tool-free service

  • Case opens by pressing the top-bar. RAM modules and HDD-cartridge require no tools for installation

System diagnostics LEDs (on FM-AT3)

  • Discrete LED indicators of RAM detection, BIOS post HDMI and DisplayPort detection for quick field diagnostics in case of booting issues

Operating systems

  • Linux Mint
  • Windows 10 Professional
  • Compatible with other Windows 10 variants
  • Compatible with other Linux variants
  • Compatible with other hypervisors and operating systems (e.g. ESXi, FreeBSD)

Power consumption

  • 8W – 300W

Power consumption depends on

  • CPU and graphics card
  • System load
  • Installed devices
  • Connected peripherals

Operating temperature range

  • Standard: 0°C – 45°C
  • Extended: -20°C – 70°C
  • Industrial: -40°C – 70°C

Housing

  • All aluminum case, passive cooling
  • Tool-free clamshell opening with Kensington lock

Dimensions

  • 10 cm (w) x 30 cm (h) x 25.5 cm (d) – 4” (w) x 12” (h) x 10” (d)
  • Weight: 4.5 – 7.5 kg (depending on configuration)

Wow. The Compulab Airtop3 reminds me of an Intel NUC... on steroids! Seriously, folks, the specs found here are incredible, and I just adore the front panel OLED screen. To have this much power in a silent machine is just amazing. While this corporate-focused computer really isn't intended for home users, there's really no reason why an enthusiast can't buy one.

If you want to configure and buy your own, you can do so here. Pricing with the Core i9-9900K starts at $1559 and goes up from there based on the components you choose. Even though my operating system pick would be the Ubuntu-based Linux Mint, you can also opt for Windows 10 (or no OS) -- if you prefer. The Linux Mint option costs just $2.10, while Win 10 Pro is $161!

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