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Tranquil PC ixL
Tranquil isn't just a name: this company is serious about silence. Where possible it will cool its PCs without the need for fans, making them near silent - as we found with the T7-HSA Home Server and T2.e we've looked at previously. However, while both those systems were relatively modest in their performance, the machine we're looking at today is rather more powerful.
The mini-ITX Tranquil PC ixL is based on an Intel Core i3 processor running at close to 3GHz, while even Core i5 versions are available. With this much grunt the ixL is more than powerful enough to be used for the vast majority of everyday computing tasks. Configure this little beast with an SSD and it will not only be 100 per cent free of noisy moving parts but also a very fast and modern PC that's just right for being turned into a Home Theatre PC (HTPC). At least that’s the theory, so let's see how it holds up.
From the moment you take it out of its box and remove the black cloth protecting it, it's obvious that Tranquil PC's ixL is on a whole other level to most small chassis, such as that used by the recently reviewed DinoPC Mini Carnivore. For starters, it's more compact than any other system this powerful that we can think of, measuring just 240 x 250 x 110mm. There are smaller PCs available, but they tend to be underpowered machines such as the Atom-based Acer Aspire Revo or the AMD-based Dell Inspiron Zino HD.
It's not just in its dimensions that the ixL impresses either. Despite sporting a few prominent grilles and vents for heat dissipation, it still looks great thanks to its brushed black metal construction, with subtly integrated ports and a slot-loading DVD drive. In fact, it's probably the closest we've seen a proper PC come to challenging the Mac Mini on the design front, though comparing the two is somewhat of an apples and oranges endeavour.
Because of the sheer amount of metal utilized in its construction, Tranquil PC's ixL is also one of the most solid PCs we've come across, sharing its 'most rugged' title with the Linutop 2 Mini. Though we didn't put this to the test (and wouldn't recommend you do either), we're fairly sure you could jump up and down on the ixL without making a dent. Obviously, this solidity also means it's rather heavy for its diminutive size, coming in at 6kg – but don't worry, four high-quality rubber feet mean it won't scratch anything you put it on. The power and optical drive eject buttons also feel reassuringly solid.