According to recent analytical reports and opinions, the market of traditional personal computers has been shrinking or, at the very least, just stagnating under the pressure from mobile devices. Those analysts spare no colors to depict terrifyingly vivid pictures of how the numbers of PCs will be dwindling as more and more users will switch over to tablets, smartphones and other gadgets. We don’t think the overall situation is as gloomy as it seems, though. The decline in PC sales has been due to users losing their interest in notebooks and entry-level desktops but when we look at high-performance desktop sales, we don’t see any negative trends. And gaming machines for enthusiasts have been even getting more popular over the last few years.
Our hopes about the bright future of desktop PCs are also based on the fact that there are a lot of new form-factors now, particularly all-in-one PCs and compact/low-power desktops. These form-factors enjoy a rising popularity not only because users are interested in desktops which take little space and have home-friendly design, but also because of the changing priorities among hardware manufacturers as is especially clearly illustrated by the CPU market. In the recent years, CPU developers have shifted their focus from sheer performance to such factors as the speed of the integrated graphics core, heat dissipation and power consumption, so the latest CPUs, particularly from the Haswell series, suit the new form-factors just perfectly. They can be easily installed into compact computers like Intel’s NUCs or into all-in-one PCs where all the hardware components are housed in a monitor’s case.
The manufacturers of such ready-made compact computers often use processors which are originally designed for notebooks or subnotebooks although that’s not the only choice available. The alternative way is to stuff today’s compact desktops with components similar to those of classic desktops. For example, there are many high-performance all-in-one PCs with conventional CPU sockets. As for building tiny mini-ITX desktops out of traditional components, the opportunities are virtually limitless. In fact, with today’s high integration level, you should have no problems assembling very small computers because the bulk of I/O features are implemented in a single chip (even though it is called a chipset). Today’s CPUs come with an integrated voltage regulator and graphics core whereas memory modules and storage devices have been getting smaller, too. The only problem that needs solving in this case is that of cooling, especially with such hot components as a CPU. But here the CPU makers themselves come to rescue. They have long been offering low-TDP solutions similar to full-featured desktop CPUs and especially designed for compact and quiet computers.
For example, the desktop Haswell-based CPU series consists of quad-core models with a specified TDP of 84 watts and dual-core models with a TDP of 54 watts. Additionally, it includes energy-efficient models with a TDP of 65, 45 and 35 watts. Like regular CPUs, they are Socket LGA1150 compatible but work at lower voltage and clock rates. Intel says that such CPUs should be the first choice when building a compact computer of a new form-factor. Following the manufacturer’s recommendation, we want to check out such energy-efficient solutions in this review. To be specific, we will test two Haswell-based processors with a TDP of 65 and 45 watts, Core 5-4670S and Core i5-4670T, and compare them with a regular Core i5-4670.