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Tranquil PC Abel H2-5 NUC PC Review

Tranquil PC Abel H2-5 NUC PC Review

Manufacturer Tranquil PC
UK Price (as reviewed): £565 (inc. VAT) (basic model), £725.50 as reviewed with 128GB SSD, Diamond Gun Metal Paint, Media Centre Remote handset and NUC VESA / Wall plate
US Price (as reviewed): Approx $950 excluding shipping

Intel's NUC motherboards haven't exactly set the world on fire, perhaps due to the fact that early Celeron-equipped models were pretty lowly when it came to performance. Sure they were fine for the basics and could even playback HD video, thus making a reasonable base for a media PC, but even with an SSD it was clear there was a need for a little more power to prevent Windows from chugging along.

The Haswell-based D54250WYK showed just what a massive leap a Core i5-based NUC can be in terms of image editing, video encoding, multi-tasking and even 720p gaming. In fact, it bettered a Core i7-920 and came close to matching a desktop LGA1150 Core i3 too - not bad for a low-power laptop CPU.

Tranquil PC Abel H2-5 NUC PC Review Tranquil PC Abel H2-5 NUC PC Review
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Tranquil PC has used the D54250WYB as the base for its latest fanless PC, called the Abel H2-5, which makes a potent case for a low-power PC - after all, the NUC does nearly match a Core i3-2100 for performance in most situations. However, it's the case that's the really interesting feature with the Abel H2-5. It's Tranquil PC's latest fanless chassis and is made almost entirely of aluminium, acting as a large passive heatsink. Couple this with an SSD and you've got a silent PC.

Tranquil PC Abel H2-5 NUC PC Review Tranquil PC Abel H2-5 NUC PC Review
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At less than 170mm wide this is one of the smallest PC's we've ever reviewed and it's available direct from Tranquil PC for £99 in a range of colours too. Above you can see the optional VESA mount, which costs an extra £17, should you want to hook it up this way, but Tranquil PC provides plenty of rubber case feet for a more traditional sitting. The front offers two USB 3.0 ports plus a minijack for headphones or speakers although the primary audio out is likely to be the mini HDMI port at the rear.

Tranquil PC Abel H2-5 NUC PC Review
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Round the rear of the PC are all the main connectors and also the power button. This seemed like an odd place for it at first - after all, it's small, perfectly formed and wouldn't look out of place on the front section. However, it's illuminated so kudos to Tranquil PC for tucking it away so not to interrupt movie sessions if its sitting in your lounge. It's easily reachable too so we don't envisage too many issues here.

As well as a mini-HDMI port, there's also a mini-DP port - not exactly monitor friendly but thankfully there's a mini-HDMI to HDMI adaptor in the box too. The two rear USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit LAN port and WiFi aerial connector are all present. All told, the Abel H2-5 is a perfect starter for a modest server/NAS/media centre/PC/sound system or pretty much anything you want either.

Tranquil PC Abel H2-5 NUC PC Review Tranquil PC Abel H2-5 NUC PC Review
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While the board obviously includes the CPU, there are still plenty of options when it comes to what system builders have to play with. Tranquil has opted for a 128GB Toshiba mSATA SSD in the form of a THNSNH128GMCT plus, rather oddly, a 128GB OCZ Vertex 3 too, using the board's lone SATA port. We can only assume that these were going cheap seeing as we reviewed it two years ago nearly to the day. The extra storage is welcome, though, and we doubt any task you'll be encountering with the Abel H2-5 will see a blind bit of difference outside of benchmark bragging rights. Even so, an extra 100GB or so of formatted space is neither here not there as far as your average MP3 and video collections usually go, but thankfully you can opt for more value-friendly storage in Tranquil PC's configurator.

Tranquil PC Abel H2-5 NUC PC Review Tranquil PC Abel H2-5 NUC PC Review
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The WiFi antennas are split between an external high-gain aerial included with the PC, and being attached to a large mid-plate inside the case. The large grey blob on the right is actually a thermal pad that sits on top of the mSATA SSD. This might sound odd but these things get extremely hot and we've heard plenty of rumours about them dying - that's in general though, not the THNSNH128GMCT specifically. Even so, in a zero airflow case, and a cramped one at that, it's good to see Tranquil PC has taken steps to alleviate the issue. The WiFi module is a fairly standard 802.11n affair but does come as standard with the basic model, with it being absent from the D54250WYB motherboard kit.

Tranquil PC Abel H2-5 NUC PC Review Tranquil PC Abel H2-5 NUC PC Review
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Specifications
  • CPU Intel Core i5-4250U
  • Motherboard Intel D54250WYB
  • RAM 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3
  • CaseTranquil PC Abel H2
  • Size (W x D x H) (mm) 164 x 110 x 47
  • Storage 128GB Toshiba THNSNH128GMCT, 128GB OCZ Vertex 3
  • Operating system Windows 7 Professional
  • Warranty Five Year Limited