So far, Cryo's impressive Nano remains the gaming PC with the best performance to size ratio that we've ever tested. However, it was just a tad too large to comfortably fit in the small form factor (SFF) category. On the flip side, the DinoPC Mini Carnivore was certainly small but lacked the graphical grunt to be considered a 'real' gaming machine. So all told we're understandably excited to be looking at the Nano's smaller brother, the Cryo Pico.
This compact gaming beast is based on the same mini-ITX form factor as the Mini Carnivore, but its larger case has made room for one impressive spec-list: an overclocked Core i5 CPU is joined by a Radeon HD 5870 graphics card (still one of the best-performing graphics cards around), 4GB of RAM and a 60GB SSD for the OS and applications, with a traditional 500GB hard drive thrown in for storage. That should be plenty of power to tear through any game now and in the near future.
First off, we would just like to complement Cryo on its naming scheme: short, snazzy and to the point. Likewise, packing its machines in strong wooden crates rather than cardboard boxes earns brownie points, though undoing the 16 screws that hold the lid closed is a bit of a pain.
Thankfully, Cryo listened to our few complaints about the Nano, and the Pico shows no sign of superfluous and ugly finishes or sharp logo plates. Instead, the Cryo logo can now be found on a bubble sticker on the front panel. It's not the most elegant design touch we've seen but thankfully is fairly easy to remove should you wish (we would – Ed.). If removed you're left with the Lian-Li Q08 case that houses the Pico in its original brushed black metal glory. Lian Li is known for its simple, smooth lines and the Q08 is no exception, making for quite an eye-pleaser.
The case's front is lit up by the blue LEDs embedded in the huge transparent 140mm front fan, nicely matching its blue-backlit power button. The smaller reset button doubles as a hard drive activity indicator, though here the intermittent backlighting is - somewhat jarringly - red rather than blue. Indeed, the Q08's looks are very similar to Lian Li's V351 which housed Cryo's Nano, though obviously it's a lot smaller at 227 x 272 x 345mm.
One of the advantages of the Q08 over other (smaller) mini-ITX chassis is that it uses standard-sized components. Thus it comes with a 5.25in optical drive (hidden behind an attractive and sturdy hinged metal bezel) rather than a slimline model, has plenty of room for a standard power supply, supports the biggest graphics cards and up to five 3.5in hard drives, all making it cheaper and easier to upgrade. As standard the optical drive fitted is a DVD-rewriter, though Cryo offers a Blu-ray upgrade for £76, which is reasonable value for a 10x drive.