Sapphire Edge VS8 Mini PC Review

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The Sapphire Edge VS8 Mini PC is an attractively designed Mini PC which will fit comfortably into a bedroom or living room environment. The diminutive physical dimensions will ensure it won’t offend other family members either.

First impressions are positive – the bundle is excellent. Sapphire include a quality HDMI cable, VESA mount, Optical SPDIF cable, HDMI to DVI converter and all the necessary drivers for installation.

Build quality of the Edge VS8 is fantastic, it feels sturdy and will be able to deal with rough handling and less than ideal operating conditions. My only negative comment would be that the finish does attract fingerprints rather easily, although they are straightforward to remove with a cleaning cloth.

Sadly, for inexperienced users, the Edge VS8 may prove too much to handle. The lack of supplied operating system and optical drive will alienate the ‘PC World’ style end user who has little knowledge or interest in setting up his or her system.

Extra cost should therefore be factored in for the Windows Operating system and a USB powered optical drive. Advanced users will be able to install their operating system directly from a USB flash drive.

AMD’s A8 4555M APU is certainly no powerhouse, but it is a decent step up from their last generation ‘all in one’ chips. It is more than capable of handling general office duties, surfing, daily internet browsing and even light Photoshop work. It is also an excellent choice for high definition media playback as the image quality is at the same level as AMD’s more expensive discrete solutions. Hardware acceleration also ensures ultra smooth playback of Bluray and H264 contained video.

More serious duties such as 3D rendering and video editing may prove a little much, especially when paired up with the slow 2.5 inch, 5,400 rpm mechanical hard drive.

While the Sapphire Edge VS8 has limited gaming capabilities with the latest Direct X 11 titles, it has enough power under the hood to drive older titles such as Left4Dead2 at HD resolutions with good image quality settings. Our testing today has shown that it will be able to handle Direct X 9 and some Direct X 10 titles at 720p.

When I reviewed the Edge HD3 Mini PC in February this year, I commented on the poor choice of mechanical hard drive and unfortunately Sapphire have decided to adopt a similarly low end 5,400 rpm drive which struggles to handle even the most basic tasks.

This has a noticeable negative impact on overall system performance and may cause many people to blame the AMD A8 4555M. Waiting almost a minute for Windows 7 to boot into a responsive manner is not something I am happy to accept in 2012, even with a budget unit.

I can appreciate the need to meet specific price points and Sapphire have informed us that they will be selling a ‘bare bones’ version of the Edge VS unit, to allow the enthusiast user to fit their own memory and SSD drive. While this resolves one concern, it still doesn’t address the ‘mainstream’ audience who will want the machine shipped with Windows operating system and drivers already installed.

Even if Sapphire had to charge £500 for this ‘complete OS’ unit with SSD, I think it would be a worthy addition to the range. The lack of optical drive and operating system disc will surely alienate the average punter who won’t have the necessary background skills to get the machine up and running.

Due to time constraints and the need to circulate our Edge VS8 sample to other press, we didn’t get time to take the unit apart and replace the 5,400 rpm drive with a Solid State drive for further testing, however we are confident that this would address the majority of our concerns.

The Edge VS8 Mini PC’s biggest strengths are the low heat dissipation, tiny power drain and almost silent operation. Under most situations it is completely inaudible and will only be taking around 30-35 watts at the socket. This will barely have any impact on an electricity bill, even if left on 24/7. This is something we can’t ignore in this tough economic climate.

In closing, I have been impressed with the Sapphire Edge VS8 Mini PC, although I have some concerns which I feel Sapphire should address.

The lack of pre-installed operating system (and optical drive to install from) will cause problems for a wide audience. I know many people who would expect this system to boot to a Windows environment first time, without the need for additional purchases and manual OS/driver installation.

The choice of entry level 5,400 rpm mechanical drive seems somewhat of an oversight, and I am sure that people would be willing to pay a little extra for a smaller, but significantly faster Solid State unit. I did say this when I reviewed Sapphire’s Edge HD3 system in February and it is a little disappointing 10 months later to be reiterating the same point.

We don’t have confirmed pricing for this unit, but we have been told that it should be around the £300 inc vat point. I would advise our readers to get the ‘bare bones’ unit however, as a solid state drive could be fitted.

Pros:

  • extremely tiny.
  • almost silent.
  • very low power drain.
  • runs quite cool.
  • capable of handling a lot of everyday tasks.

Cons:

  • no operating system.
  • no optical disc support without extra cost (USB DVD drive).
  • poor choice of slow 5,400 rpm 2.5 inch drive. Why no 7,200 rpm unit?
  • a complex install for the ‘average punter’.

Kitguru says: We recommend you buy the ‘bare bones’ unit and fit your own memory and Solid State Drive.

WORTH BUYING1 300x300 Sapphire Edge VS8 Mini PC Review

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
Sapphire Edge VS8 Mini PC Review, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
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  • Leo

    fantastic read Zardon, I like this unit, very impressed with the size.

    I agree though, 60GB SSD is about same price now as 500GB Mechancial. why not offer one at least?

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  • Xtreme

    bare bones for me . ill be ordering this as I want to fit one behind my tv downstairs, but 120gb SSD I think for my unit.

    any pricing information on bare bones yet?

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  • Andrew

    This could be a nice device but for a few problems.

    1.) I doesn’t look that nice and even though you might be hiding it behind a TV it still should look nicer in case we do want to show it off because of it’s size

    2.) Give us the option of a 7200RPM mechanical drive with a small price difference or or pay a bit more and get an SSD even something like a 60GB would be better than the HDD in there at the moment

    3.) The option for a windows OS if required so basic users can have it running as soon as they get it open plus us enthusiast’s/Experienced people would get the option without OS so we could put whatever OS we want on it

    4.)Have a bundle with external dvd drive again for basic users.

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  • http://www.kitguru.net Zardon

    Hi Andrew, thanks for your views. That’s pretty much what we think too.

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  • Mannucuna

    Its a nice idea, but its a half assed approach from Sapphire.

    The version you reviewed would be ideal for joe bloggs, but there is no OS and no means to get it installed without buying an external drive. This is just not something a user going into PC world will ever be able to handle. They want to take it home, hit the power button and bam, all sorted.

    Enthusiast users won’t want a system with a 5,400 rpm 2.5 inch drive, thats 2008 technology and was poor even then.

    Barebones is the only way forward, but having to get memory, SSD and an OS is expensive.

    They should have been more honest in the marketing and released it at 450-500 with everything ready and installed (good quality SSD and 8GB of DDR3 memory – come on its £30 online now!).

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  • Warren

    Its a good review and honest in the conclusion, although the score is too high. I like the system, but id have scored this a point lower.

    5,400 rpm hard drive? The lack of OS and optical drive means this is firmly positioned at the enthusiast audience, NOT mainstream. Why insult us with a 5,400 rpm drive – every enthusiast reading this will be horrified? I wouldn’t even use that for backing up files now.

    its very poorly configured.

    Although I like the small unit, id be interested in barebones, depending on the price.

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  • Ian

    Any idea on barebones price? id like this as a home server system, but im not paying for a 5,400rpm drive.

    They dont need to charge more for SSD, a 60GB SSD is the same price as that 500GB slow ass unit they installed.

    I would have expected more from Sapphire, its a poor decision. I didnt even accept a 5,400 rpm drive in my old laptop, it grinds the whole system to a halt.

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  • signorRossi

    I couldn’t restrain myself ang ordered one in this configuration yesterday morning since it was readily available here in Italy (tracking even says it should be delivered today!), even though I also had reservations about the hard drive, which were founded it seems. ;) But it also seems that otherwise the box should suit my needs very well, as it draws little power and should be very silent during general usage(i don’t game btw). I will install Arch Linux on it, which should boot relatively fast compared to Win7 even on this slow hard drive (I don’t expect to boot it more than once a day anyway) and replace the HDD sooner or later with an SSD anyway. I wonder how much the barebone version will cost, though, and how much more I will have paid for in the end for being unable to wait a little longer. I paid 350€ delivered for this version, btw.

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  • Frank

    Sorry, for a test you have to look at points that are not specified. So is it HDMI 1.4(a) or the old 1.3 not capable of 3D. Is it 7.1 Sound or just 6. is it possible to change the drive or is it soldered…

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  • Frank

    @signorRossi. Can you look at your device for my asked points above please?

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