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January 9, 2018

Digital Storm packs plenty of Nvidia GTX punch in its tiny Project Spark PC

by John_A

Digital Storm revealed a new miniature gaming desktop PC dubbed as Project Spark during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It’s based on the Micro STX platform, meaning it only measures a mere 12 inches in height. But that small size doesn’t mean Project Spark is short in performance, as it’s capable of packing up to an eighth-generation Intel Core i7 processor, up to a GeForce GTX 1080 discrete chip, and up to four storage drives. The TARDIS it’s not, but there’s enough room inside for a few other goodies as well. 

The secret behind Project Spark is the motherboard. We suspect it is the same one used in the updated Z370 DeskMini GTX desktop manufactured by ASRock making its debut at CES 2018 as well. The board is roughly 5 by 7 inches in size, fitting between solutions found in NUCs, and those in standard Mini ITX systems. Outside their compact size, another standout feature on Micro STX boards is a slot for Mobile PCI Express Modules (MXM). 

This connector is typically provided in notebooks with discrete graphics chips. Nvidia spearheaded a movement to create a standard that would make upgrading the graphics easy for laptop owners so they weren’t forced to purchase a new device. These GPU modules simply plug in and out of the MXM slot, and are used in many laptops on the market today including Alienware-branded laptops manufactured by Dell, and GT and GX series laptops from MSI. 

Given Project Spark is a compact desktop form factor, having the MXM compatibility is a good thing. According to Digital Storm, you can upgrade the processor, memory, and storage options in the upcoming PC in addition to swapping out graphics modules. Here’s what you’ll find on the Project Spark menu: 

Processor: 

Up to Intel Core i7-8700K 

Chipset: 

Intel Z370 

Graphics: 

Up to GeForce GTX 1080 

Memory: 

Up to 32GB DDR4 @ 2,666MHz 

Storage: 

3x M.2 NVMe SSDs
*Up to 500GB Samsung 960 Pro each
1x SATA SSD
*Up to 2TB Samsung 850 Evo 

Connectivity: 

TBD 

Ports: 

TBD 

Power supply: 

TBD 

Dimensions: 

6 (L) x 4 (w) x 12 (H) inches 

Weight: 

TBD 

Release date: 

Q2 2018 

Starting price: 

$1,299 

 According to Digital Storm, the starting configuration is based on the GeForce GTX 1060 module. The model on display at CES 2018 will be packed with everything you can cram into the compact system, including the Core i7-8700K chip, the GTX 1080, 32GB of system memory, three 500GB M.2 NVMe SSDs from Samsung, and the 2TB Samsung SATA-based solid-state drive. 

“We’ve always wanted to design and build a PC that raises the bar in terms of performance-per-square-inch and cooling,”Harjit Chana, Digital Storm’s founder, said in a statement. “Advances in motherboard design have finally allowed us to make this goal a reality for our customers.” 

To put its size in perspective, check out how Project Spark compares with Digital Storm’s other mid-tower and small form factor gaming PCs: 

 

Height(in inches) 

Length(in inches) 

Width(in inches) 

Velox 

22 

20 

9 

Slade 

21 

18 

10 

Lumos 

20 

19 

9 

Bolt 

20 

16 

6 

Vanquish 

18 

17 

9 

Spark 

12 

6 

4 

 Digital Storm’s Project Spark will be highly customizable when it goes live in the second quarter of 2018. 

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