Though it has plenty of power to be an excellent media centre and for most other tasks, the ixL is not a gaming machine. The Core i3’s integrated graphics chip doesn’t offer improved performance over Intel’s previous efforts where intensive 3D is concerned, and even casual gamers should probably steer clear of Intel’s integrated graphics, as with an old and undemanding title like Call of Duty 4 you’ll be lucky to get beyond 10fps.
One other potentially major limitation, especially for HTPC enthusiasts, is that Tranquil PC doesn’t offer a Blu-ray option. Slot-loading slim-line Blu-ray drives might not be cheap but they are available, and we’re certain there will be consumers willing to pay the extra to get the best out of what is, after all, already a premium-priced system. You can, however, add a low-profile TV tuner and remote for £80 (analogue) or £110 (digital).
While on the topic of price, you do pay a premium for the ixL’s tank-like build quality and stealth-bomber silence but we think it’s a price worth paying. Indeed, even if you’re into building a PC yourself, we recommend you consider the barebones unit, which comes with a CPU pre-installed for £457.
However, the main problem with this system isn’t that you’re paying a premium for the build quality or even that it doesn’t have a Blu-ray option, but that it isn’t the ideal candidate for any particular purpose that we can think of. If you simply want an HTPC then the Core i3 CPU is arguably overkill and instead something like the even smaller Dell Inspiron Zino HD makes more sense, especially as it has a Blu-ray option and is far cheaper. Conversely, if you want a more powerful PC that could also do for gaming, then the lack of decent graphics options severely limits you. You could theoretically add a low profile card as found in the DinoPC Mini Carnivore, but with no air circulating round the ixL it is likely to overheat.
Lastly, if you just want a small and attractive general purpose PC, you can actually get a Mac Mini for the same price as this system, and although it’s not quite as powerful and is more limited in terms of upgrade potential, it is even smaller and better-looking. Obviously none of the above solutions are silent, though, so if that is your main consideration then the ixL is still well worth considering.
With Tranquil PC’s ixL you’re paying a premium price for a premium product. Barring machines based on Intel’s underpowered Atom processor, we can’t think of another PC that runs absolutely silently and offers the potential for no moving parts, all in a small and attractive chassis. Build quality is also second to none, but the ixL’s lack of a Blu-ray drive option may limit its appeal even for those who can afford it.