At IFA 2016 today, HP announced the new Elite Slice modular PC. No, it’s not the first modular PC system. But thanks to its cable-less USB-C connectivity and stellar design, this new small form factor PC could very well trigger a rethinking of the desktop PC market.
Premium members can check out my high-level take on HP’s recent innovations in HP is Reinventing the PC. Here, I’ll dive into this specific product, which I hope to review more fully in the weeks ahead.
You can probably understand why I’m excited by this product. I’m a huge fan of the Intel NUC mini-PC, and have been using one as my primary desktop PC for most of this year. What draws me to the NUC is equal parts logic and emotion: I love the small form factor, and this tiny PC really does meet my needs.
But the Elite Slice appears to improve on the NUC design—which is admittedly very basic—in several important ways.
First and most obviously, the Elite Slice is a stunner: This is a professional looking PC that features HP’s new premium design cues. It’s just gorgeous.
And as hinted at by the name, the Elite Slice in modular. Other PC makers—notably Lenovo, last year—have dipped their toes in this sub-market, but with only limited success. What puts the Slice over the top, I think, is its use of USB-C for connectivity. This provides for a cable-less design, which mates nicely with the form factor. But it also provides the most modern of connectivity technology.
And, what the heck. The Elite Slice is even better looking when you start adding modules, or slices. It’s like the Moto X, but for desktop PCs instead of phones.
HP is providing the following modules at launch:
ODD Module. This curiously-named module—ODD stands for optical disc drive—provides DVD/CD capabilities and supports virtually every disc format imaginable. Right. It’s a DVD drive.
Audio Module. This module transforms the Elite Slice into a combination speaker phone and media player, thanks to Bang & Olufsen-tuned 360 degree speakers and a dual-microphone array with a 15 foot range and noise cancellation capabilities.
Meeting Rooms Module. This offering turns your Elite Slice into a collaboration workhorse, with Skype for Business-compatible hardware buttons, immersive 360 degree sound, noise cancellation capabilties, and a 15 foot range.
VESA Plate. Not a module per se, but this add-on lets you mount your Elite Slice—and connected modules—to the back of your display using standard a VESA 100 x 100 connection.
Wireless Charging Cover. Shipping in early 2017, this module will wirelessly charge compatible phones. I assume that includes the HP Elite x3. (This one can only be configured at the factory; you can’t buy it later and add it to the PC, HP says.)
The modules are super-interesting, of course. But it is the PC itself that has me hooked. Here are the specs.
Processor. You have your choice of 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7-6700T, 2.7 GHz Intel Core i5-6600T, 2.5 GHz Intel Core™ i5-6500T, 3.3 GHz Intel Core i3-6300T, and 3.2 GHz Intel Core i3-6100T processors, all with the Intel Q170 chipset.
Graphics. Intel HD Graphics 5306.
RAM. Up to 32 GB, two slots.
Storage. Many choices here, from 7200 RPM SATA HDD to 512 GB HP Turbo Drive G2 (M.2 NVMe). There are two M.2 adapters inside, but only one for storage.
Networking. Integrated GbE LAN, 802.11ac (up to 2×2) with Bluetooth.
Ports/expandability. 1 USB 3.1 Type-C for charging), 1 USB 3.1 Type-C (alternate mode DP), 2 USB 3.1 Type-A, DisplayPort, HDMI, comboo headphone-out/microphone, and of course the HP Slice Connector (USB-C data).
Prices start at $669 and the PC and most slices will start shipping in September.