A peek inside AMD’s all-powerful, ultra-small PC, the Quantum

A peek inside AMD’s all-powerful, ultra-small PC, the Quantum

If you knew how much we talked about the AMD Quantum in the office… well, you’d call us nerds. But it’s because we’re indubitably, unequivocally nerds that we fancy AMD’s little, and we quite literally mean little, side project so much.

For the moment, the ultra-small AMD Quantum is a proof of concept, a bespoke PC built to dominate 4K resolution – we’re talking 60 fps at 3840 x 2160 with nary a hitch or hiccup.

That’s all down to some seriously powerful components, but there’s more to the AMD Quantum than just expensive hardware.

The lucky blighters over at PCWorld were given unfettered access to the Quantum and everything that made it tick, and we’re only too happy to share what they discovered.

AMD Quantum - Chassis and Power Supply

The AMD Quantum and its external PSU are things of beauty.

PCWorld’s Gordon Mah Ung was on the money when he called the Quantum, “freaking awesome!” It just is.

The Quantum comprises of two halves: the top half holds a 180mm radiator, pump and its custom built water cooling reservoir, which sucks air through the middle of the PC and blows it out of the top.

The liquid moves through the centre column to the components residing in the bottom half of the PC. It’s a pretty smart build, keeping the hot and cold modules away from one another for maximum efficiency but still connected as one.

AMD Quantum - Reservoir and cooling components

We can’t get enough of AMD’s ingenuity.

Not only does this ingenious design promote the best possible airflow for cooling the water returning from the smoking hot components via the radiator, but AMD 3D printed their own water reservoir so that they might make the best possible use of the space available.

It’s a beautiful piece of engineering and one of the reasons we love the AMD Quantum so much. It all just makes sense.

Even the hosing used in the top compartment of the Quantum, or a good portion of it, is 3D printed, likely to prevent crimping and cutting off the flow.

AMD Quantum - 3D Printed Reservoir

And you thought your water cooling solution was a good ‘un.

What’s inside the bottom half of the Quantum is even better.

Sandwiched between the CPU and GPU is a custom milled aluminium water block, cooling both components while saving space is a pretty ingenious use of space, particularly when it’s so beautifully integrated into the whole system.

AMD Quantum - Milled waterblock

Practically no space is wasted, which is why the Quantum is so darn tiny.

We’ve talked about the particular hardware components of the AMD Quantum before, but seeing everything so neatly put together is still rather exciting.

What you won’t see in the image of the bottom half, much as we’ve talked about it, is the CPU powering the AMD Quantum, Intel’s Core i7-4790K “Devilfish”. That’s why we thought we’d include it for you here:

Intel's Core i7-4790K 'Skylake'

Intel’s Core i7-4790K “Skylake” CPU.

In order to make all of this work, AMD had to use a somewhat custom built ASRock z97e-itx/ac motherboard, which is great, but it does mean an LGA 1150 socket.

ASRock's z97e-itx/ac motherboard

ASRock’s z97e-itx/ac motherboard.

It’s because of that, that the AMD Quantum cannot support Intel’s i7-6700K “Skylake” CPU, a more capable CPU, but which makes use of the all-new LGA 1151 socket.

Perhaps if AMD ever puts the Quantum into production, they’ll use a newer motherboard, thus allowing for a Skylake processor. The PC’s production will probably be handled by a third-party partner or two, who may well decide that they’d like to go that route anyway.

Moving away from the CPU, what you will see is an AMD branded SSD (what?) and the Radeon R9 Fury X.

The SSD is actually a rebranded OCZ, but we can’t help but wonder if AMD has tweaked it here and there, and what performance advantages that may offer.

AMD Quantum - Bottom half components

Good luck putting this back together after taking it apart PCWorld.

Now we know what you’re thinking. You remember AMD promising that the Quantum would be powered by their meaty Fury X dual card, the R9 Fury X2 – how else is it going to conquer 4K resolution so conclusively?

AMD Radeon R9 Fury X2's dual Fiji design

The Radeon R9 Fury X2’s dual Fiji XT design. Thanks Anandtech.

We suspect that more than one variant of the Quantum will be available, one of them being a cheaper R9 Fury X powered option. Also, and this is pretty key, there’s no way AMD would let the press dig into their PC if it was going to mean leaked access to their R9 Fury X2.

They’ve yet to finalise the card, so that’s probably staying with them until it is. Either way, the Quantum is no less amazing as a piece of engineering and design.

AMD Quantum - motherboard, RAM and CPU

A PC is only as strong as the sum of its parts, which is why the Quantum is strong indeed.

The back I/O plate of the AMD Quantum is all pretty standard, though the LiquidVR is a nice surprise, emphasising AMD’s interest in virtual reality technology.

AMD Quantum - I/O backplate

It could probably use a few more connectors, but we’re just nitpicking now.

Amazing as the AMD Quantum concept is, it really is just a concept for now. It’s a decidedly expensive and complicated piece of tech, presenting too significant a cost to be put into production.

That said, we want one; we want one bad.


Source: PCWorld

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