Chillblast’s powerful-yet-compact Vacuum Mini 2 is a media centre PC that is a significant update to the original Vacuum Mini. It’s faster, offers better connectivity and for the most part operates silently.
The Vacuum Mini 2’s compact good looks come courtesy of the Streacom FC-8 EVO fanless chassis. Made from smart black extruded aluminium with a matt sandblast texture, the system case looks classy and expensive. Its built-in passive cooling system utilises a row of external fins, rather like high-end audio power amplifiers. This heatsink is connected internally to the CPU cooler via four heat pipes and it’s specified as capable of cooling processors rated at up to 95W TDP without needing a fan. Go to Group test: What's the best media centre PC?
A slot-loading Blu-ray reader is included along with a pair of front-facing USB 3.0 ports, so you can readily plug external drives without fumbling around the back. At 240 by 250 by 100mm, it may be larger than a double-stack of Mac minis, but it remains one of the smaller PC cases around. Take a look at Chillblast Fusion Galaxy review.
Chillblast has selected a powerful Intel Core i7-3770T processor for this system, a low-power version of a 2.5GHz quad-core chip with Hyperthreading which usefully also includes Intel HD 4000 graphics.
The Vacuum Mini 2 delivered excellent performance in lab tests, just a few points behind Quiet PC’s identical-looking Mini PC based on the same processor and chassis. Scoring 5749 points in PCMark 7, it followed with a good Entertainment sub-score of 5070 points, and is only likely to be outperformed when playing big-screen game by AMD-based systems.
There’s no hard disk inside, but a large 240GB Intel SSD which should provide ample storage for the computer’s operating system and software, along with a decent music collection, for example. A larger media library could be stored on your network and hooked up via the built-in 802.11n WiFi or gigabit ethernet.
The lack of spinning hard drive or cooling fans means the Vacuum Mini 2 has no noise-making components except when the BD drive is in use. A dual-tuner Freeview HD card means you can watch one channel while recording another.
Chillblast hasn’t gone for the usual remote control, but opted instead for a kidney-bean-shaped Xebec htpc Bluetooth mini keyboard. This incorporates a multi-touch touchpad and thumb-friendly cursor and media transport controls.