While there are still full-size desktop computers around, tablets and smartphones have proven that the technology is advanced enough to pack a fully functional computer into a space that is convenient for your pocket, wallet, or small backpack. This idea of downsizing hardware has not been overlooked by manufacturers as some are now offering space-saving designs based on mobile hardware.
This is the case with the new Edge VS8 mini PC from Sapphire, which runs on the A8 APU from AMD. The system is barely larger than an external optical drive and measures 19.7 x 18.2 x 3.1 cm. The net weight for the mini PC is only 660 g.
The Edge VS8 comes with AMD's quad-core A8-4555M with 1.6 GHz, 4 GB DDR3 memory, AMD Radeon HD 7600G graphics and a 500 GB 2.5-inch SATA hard drive. The Edge VS8 has built-in support for Bluetooth 3.0 as well as 802.11 b / g / n wireless and a variety of rear I / O connections. Windows 7 was installed in our test device, but Sapphire will also configure these systems with Windows 8 if you wish.
The scope of delivery includes the computer itself, an HDMI cable, an HDMI-to-DVI adapter, a power cord and a 65 W power supply unit, a case stand, a driver CD with a quick installation guide, an optical SPDIF cable and a VESA mount. As an added incentive, Sapphire also included a cross pen and a carrying case.
The system does not come with additional amenities such as speakers, keyboard, mouse or monitor. So keep in mind that you will need to take these into account when budgeting the system or simply reuse equipment you may already have. At the time of this review, we could find the VS8 here for a little over $ 500 on Amazon.
Sapphire Edge VS8 – $ 505
- AMD A8 1.6 GHz Quad Core APU
- AMD Radeon HD 7600G graphics
- 4 GB DDR3 So-DIMM
- 500 GB SATA 2.5-inch hard drive
- 1 x mini display connection, 1 x HDMI, Gigabit Lan, 4 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0 connection, SD card reader
- 1 x audio input, 1 x line-out, 1 x optical SPDIF
- 802.11b / g / n, Bluetooth 3.0
- 11.5 x 4.25 x 10 inches, 1.3 pounds
Aesthetically, the VS8 is more like a cable modem or router than a full-fledged computer. The case is coated with a smooth black rubber material with a row of activity LEDs, a microSD card slot and two USB 3.0 ports on the front bezel. The latter are hidden behind a removable access cover that you need to pry open from below.
The system's power button is located on the left side of the device and may be hard to miss as it blends into the design of the cooling slots on top. The sapphire nameplate is clearly located on the left in a vertical orientation.
On the back we find from top to bottom: a pin-hole reset button, a Mini DisplayPort connector, an HDMI connector, four USB 2.0 connectors, an Ethernet socket, a DC-in connector, an audio Socket, an optical SPDIF and a locking slot. There are three Phillips head screws on the back that we assume will give access to the interior. Aside from swapping out the hard drive for an SSD or swapping out the storage, there's not much you can do with upgrades.
The right side of the PC is a mirror image of the left, except for the power button. You can also find the system identification stickers and the Windows product key on a separate sticker. There are ventilation slots both at the top and at the bottom, with the difference that the hole for the fastening screw is at the bottom.
Software and performance
The VS8 came with an extremely clean installation of Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit. Note that the 32-bit version of Windows limits the effective amount of RAM you might be able to add to the system, as anything over 4 GB will not be used unless you are using a 64-bit operating system.
Other than that, there were only a couple of programs I would get rid of: Moovida Media Player and Cyberlink PowerDVD 12. The latter is an odd addition since the VS8 doesn't include an optical drive, but I digress. The lack of software means there is no signature software that we normally find on other major brand name desktops or notebooks. Either way, you should turn to Sapphire to get such a decent operating system installed.
|Synthetic tests||Sapphire Edge VS8||Aspire S7||Yoga 13||Aspire S5|
|3DMark Score||4910 3DMarks||5000 3DMarks||4393 3DMarks||5263 3DMarks|
|PCMark Suite||4584 PCMarks||N / A||N / A||13643 PCMarks|
|Application tests||Sapphire Edge VS8||Aspire S7||Yoga 13||Aspire S5|
|iTunes coding test||2 min 30 sec||1 min 20 sec||1 min 25 sec||1 min 15 sec|
|File transfer test|
|Small files||1 min 30 sec||16 sec||24 sec||10 sec|
|Big file||1 min 1 sec||17 sec||22 sec||10 sec|
The iTunes encoding tests consist of converting 14 MP3s (119 MB) to 128 kbps ACC files and measuring the operating time in seconds. In file transfers, we measure the time it takes to copy two groups of files from one location to another on the same hard drive. In the test with small files, we transferred 557 MP3s with a total of 2.56 GB. For the large file, the same MP3s were compressed into a single file that was 2.52 GB in size.
|Gaming performance||Sapphire Edge VS8||Aspire S7||Yoga 13||Aspire S5|
|Far Cry 2|
|1024 x 768, medium quality||30 fps||26 fps||23.5 fps||35.2 fps|
|1680×1050 or native res, high quality||19.4 fps||11 fps||15.3 fps||21.9 fps|
|1024 x 768, medium quality||16.7 fps||19 fps||16.9 fps||21.8 fps|
|1680×1050 or native res, high quality||12.7 fps||11 fps||10.8 fps||15.2 fps|
Usage impressions, conclusion
I found it remarkable that Sapphire sent us the VS8 with Windows 7. While they also offer the system with Microsoft's latest operating system, I would suspect that most people are even more familiar with Windows 7 on the desktop.
The connectivity options of the VS8 were plentiful, especially given the small size of the system. Of notable interest were the two USB 3.0 ports, Mini DisplayPort and HDMI port. Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are also a plus as you don't have to run an Ethernet cable to the system to get online.
A clean OEM Windows installation. A rarity these days.
AMD's quad-core A8 APU was able to handle most daily tasks such as surfing the Internet with little effort, although our informal video test with 4K resolution on YouTube got the CPU down to 99 percent and a nervous one, didn't observable experience.
Additionally, the AMD Radeon HD 7600G graphics can play some older titles with moderate settings, but don't expect miracles, especially if you increase the resolution. Far Cry 2 and StarCraft 2 are a far cry from last-gen titles, and these were mostly unplayable on the Edge VS8 at decent settings. In fact, the performance was similar to the Intel HD 4000 built-in graphics used on most laptops these days.
The good news here is that none of the internal hardware uses a ton of electricity, which means less heat, less noise, and ultimately a lower electricity bill.
If there was anything I could change about this system, I'd swap the 2.5-inch SATA 500GB hard drive for a faster solid-state drive. I feel like I'm really waking up the system and putting the bottleneck firmly on the CPU / GPU instead of the storage system. I also found it a bit strange that Sapphire shipped the driver package on a CD rather than a flash drive as the system does not include an optical drive.
Such a system will most likely appeal to someone with limited desk space, someone who needs a secondary computer for basic tasks like surfing the internet, email, and keeping friends and family on social media, or someone who needs a real computer as an HTPC use.
With a price tag of just over $ 500 at the time of this review, one could make a solid argument that the same amount of money could be invested in a high performance notebook computer that would take up even less space and would have a display, keyboard, etc. contains. However, this is not an option unless you are interested in a notebook. However, as a small form factor computer, the Sapphire VS8 stands out in a number of categories.
Advantages: Small and quiet, lots of ports, solid GPU performance for the price. No bloatware.
Disadvantage: Slow hard drive. $ 500 not that cheap after taking into account the monitor and peripherals.