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Sapphire EDGE VS8 Barebones Model Review (8GB/SSD)

When I initially reviewed the Sapphire EDGE VS8 back in December 2012 I left feeling very positive about the diminutive PC. There was no doubt in my mind that it was the most capable EDGE system, thanks to the fantastic all round performance generated by the power sipping AMD A8-4555M APU.

It wasn’t all peaches and cream however, because while I praised the EDGE VS8 it exhibited a rather major and inexcusable performance concern. Sapphire crippled the overall performance of the system by installing a nasty 5,400 rpm 2.5 inch hard disk drive. This had the negative effect of slowing down absolutely everything, from booting the system, to even opening a basic application.

If I blindfolded an enthusiast user and sat them in front of two screens, one running the EDGE VS8 as we reviewed it last year, and the barebones system I tested today with the Solid State drive and ram enhancement, I am confident they would feel one of them was probably an entry level Core i5 system for day to day tasks. The differences really are that colossal that it rams home the point I always make in reviews … a solid state drive is one of the most worthy upgrades available on the market today. The boot time was reduced by almost 500% and applications loaded in a fraction of the time.

As I detailed before, the AMD A8 4555M is not a powerhouse chip design, but it is a step up from the last generation and leaves the ATOM and Celeron processors for dead. 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.

There are limitations with such a system, and while they seem obvious to me, it is worth pointing them out again. The EDGE VS8 is not designed for gamers who want to play the latest Direct X 11 games at high resolution. It will struggle with intensive duties such as 3D rendering and video editing. That said, we did notice that our video encoding task was reduced by almost two and a half minutes because of the wider memory bandwidth and Solid State performance, when paging the data.

While the main selling point will be the tiny physical dimensions of the EDGE VS8, it also produces very little heat and noise. Under most situations you would be hard pressed to hear the fan spinning and demands under 30 watts most of the time. You could leave the VS8 on all day and it would barely impact an electricity bill over the course of a year.

The Barebones VS8 is without question the EDGE you want to buy. At time of publication we don’t have confirmed pricing in the United Kingdom, although we have been told that it will cost around $120 less than the ‘complete’ VS8. Right now, the EDGE VS8 costs £399.95 from Overclockers UK, if they can get the price down to around £330 for the Barebones unit, then it will make sense.

Obviously you need to factor in the price of the Solid State Drive and the memory, but we proved today that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. For £115, we were able to get a 120GB SATA 3Gbps Solid State drive and 8GB of high grade dual channel SO-DIMM memory from Kingston. With the cost of a Windows operating system factored in, the total cost would be around the £500 mark. If you already have an operating system license at hand and opt for a cheaper, smaller 64GB Solid State Drive such as this, then the price would drop closer to the £400 mark.

The VS8 barebones is clearly designed for the enthusiast user with modest knowledge of system building. We fear installing an SSD/HDD, memory and then an operating system with drivers may prove to much for the ‘average punter’, alienating a large portion of the potential audience.

We still believe Sapphire should release a VS8 ‘Ultimate’ edition complete with Solid State drive, 8GB of memory and Windows 7 with all the drivers pre-installed. We think it would sell like hotcakes to an inexperienced audience who yearn for something different.

This page will update with availability and pricing, when the Sapphire EDGE VS8 ‘Barebones’ becomes available.

Pros:

  • extremely tiny.
  • almost silent.
  • very low power drain.
  • runs quite cool.
  • capable of handling a lot of everyday tasks.
  • BareBones unit is the one to get – just budget extra for a Solid State Drive!

Cons:

  • need to budget for an operating system.
  • no optical disc support without extra cost (USB pen drive or DVD drive).
  • a complex install for the ‘average punter’.

Kitguru says: An extremely capable, attractively designed system that really shines when partnered up with a good Solid State Drive.

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Rating: 9.0.

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