Popular mini PC vendor Zotac has launched the ZBox PI430AJ, the first device we’ve come across that uses the AirJet, a solid-state active cooler, from Frore Systems. The tiny PC, which was unveiled at Computex, has a retail price of $499 and uses two AirJet Mini cooling chips to cool an Intel Core i3-N300MHz CPU with a 7W TDP (and eight efficiency cores), 8GB of LPDDR5 RAM but no SSD; this is a barebone system aimed squarely at businesses.
The chip should not suffer from any throttling, the sudden drop in performance due to lowering speeds caused by rising chip temperatures, despite the tiny size (115 x 76 x 22 mm) of the chassis. This makes it a great choice for edge-case scenarios (e.g. digital signage, electronics POS, embedded).
The Pro version can dissipate up to 10.5W while consuming 1.75W while the Mini version offers a bit less performance (which is probably why Zotac needed two of them). The final product is not only near silent (rated 25dbA at 50cm), it is also light and thin (less than 3mm thick), allowing for faster processors to work without throttling in thinner form factors. It is also less prone to mechanical failure due to dust due to its intrinsic properties.
Better than a heatsink fan
Unlike its predecessors, the PI430AJ resembles a traditional mini PC with plenty of connectors (USB 3.2, USB-C, an audio jack, DisplayPort, HDMI and Ethernet port) plus a microSD card slot and a VESA mount. There’s no passive heatsink fins protruding; Zotac says that the device can be configured with up to 16GB memory and a 1TB NVMe SSD. Check out the extra coverage at The Verge with pictures of the AirJet mini in action and this video from PCWorld’s Gordon Mah with a quick hands-on with the Zotac PI430AJ.
Frore Systems has received more than $100 million from a flurry of technology giants including the likes of Intel and Qualcomm to help develop cooling technology for components that are dissipating more heat than ever before. There’s a pretty descriptive document (PDF) that explains how the technology – which has been explored since the 1990’s – works. The surface of the chip essentially vibrates at super high frequencies in one direction in such a way that it moves air from one direction to another.