The Edge includes a 320GB hard disk, 4GB of memory and a dual-core AMD E350 processor, but comes without any peripherals
Sapphire is a company better known for its graphics cards than for its PCs. The Edge HD3 is the company’s latest mini PC and it’s small – around the size of a paperback book. It achieves this reduced size by using smaller laptop parts and omitting a built-in DVD drive. The matte-black design feels well-made and comes with a stand so it can be placed vertically on your desk.
The Edge is sold without any peripherals. Unusually, the Edge includes only the command-line Dos operating system pre-installed on its 320GB hard disk. If you want to install Windows then you will need to buy it and a USB DVD drive if you don’t already have them. Creating and using your own Windows USB install disk on another computer can be done, but it’s not always a fool-proof process so it’s not for the faint-hearted or impatient.
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Once Windows is installed, the drivers for components such as the onboard graphics processor, Wifi, Ethernet and USB3 ports also need to be installed. Unhelpfully, these are supplied on CD and not on a USB memory key so you will need that USB DVD drive or another computer and your own USB storage to finish setup.
You may also need a USB hub for your keyboard, mouse and storage, or a wireless keyboard and mouse, as the two front USB3 ports won’t work until the drivers are installed and there are just two USB2 ports at the rear.
Once up and running, the Edge works well enough. It comes equipped with 4GB of memory and a dual-core AMD E350 processor, so it’s roughly equivalent in performance to a modern netbook. It’s fast enough for office work, web browsing and basic image editing, but it’s not meant for more demanding tasks such as editing video or 3D gaming, so this PC won’t suit everyone. Such tasks either won’t work or will take a long time to complete and cause the cooling fans to become very loud.
The Radeon HD 6320 graphics chip is fast enough to play high-definition video clips, amd there is an HDMI port for connecting a TV so it’s tempting to use the Edge as a media centre PC in your living room. However, this can quickly become cluttered – because it can’t accommodate internal upgrades due to its small size, any peripherals such as TV tuners and receivers for remotes and wireless keyboards and mice will have to be connected via the USB ports.
The Sapphire Edge HD3 isn’t a bad choice if you just want a compact PC for basic tasks but, even then, there are better computers available. Netbooks are available for around the same price, while more flexible high-definition capable laptops cost only a little more.
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This paperback-sized PC is small, but is only of niche appeal
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