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Airtop Q&A

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No. For extended temperature Airtop is built the same and tested under load at extreme temperatures, including power-up / power down cycles.
The natural airflow cooling and structure is the same.

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Yes. Airtop has a standard BIOS with UEFI and legacy mode support. Most operating systems (Windows, Windows Server, most flavors of Linux, BSD) can be installed.

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Airtop motherboard was designed by Compulab together with the housing for perfect match. It is not possible to achieve the unique natural airflow cooling and serviceability with a standard motherboard and Airtop cannot be retrofitted with a mini-ITX.

For example – in Airtop motherboard RAM and storage are on the opposite side (print side) of the motherboard – unlike standard motherboards.

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Compulab products have been popular in the professional video surveillance market for several years, and Airtop was designed with consideration of the concrete requirements of the surveillance market, namely:

  • Reliability: Airtop has a unique fanless design based on natural airflow with no moving parts and comes with a 5 year warranty.
  • Storage: Airtop can accomodate up to 6 storage devices with a total capacity of over 10 TB.
  • Networking: Airtop supports up to 6 native Gbit Ethernet ports with an option for Power over Ethernet on 4 ports. Additional Ethernet ports can be added through PCI Express card. Airtop also supports WLAN and cellular data communication.
  • Display: Airtop supports 3 to 7 4K displays. Enough for monitoring any amount of surveillance cameras.
  • Processing power: Airtop supports Xeon E3 and up to 32 GB RAM.
  • Ease of deployment: Airtop works very well in extreme temperature range and in dusty and humid environments.
  • Serviceability: It is very easy to replace disks, RAM and extension cards in the field.

 

 

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Yes. Airtop is very flexible in that respect. You can change displays on the fly between integrated Intel HD ones and discrete graphics ones.
You can even operate Intel / Nvidia displays together.

See graphics and display for more info.

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GeForce GTX 950 is installed fanless in Airtop.

The installation procedure is as follows:

  1. Testing that the card is functional
  2. Remove fan and heatsink
  3. Remove tall (2nd slot) DVI connector (needed because Airtop graphics is single slot). There are still 3x DP and 1x HDMI left on the card.
  4. Rework power connector
  5. Attach to a specially made copper plate and install inside Airtop
  6. Stress test to ensure electrical and thermal performance

Compulab provides full 5 year warranty on Airtop including the fanless GTX 950.

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Airtop has many storage options – multiple 2.5″ HDD/SSD, M.2 and mSATA.

To learn more about storage options see Product-tour | Storage

See also specifications

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Airtop Barebone models require installing RAM.

  • Airtop with Core CPU accepts two modules of DDR3 1600 (DIMM 240).
  • Airtop with Xeon (Airtop-W, Airtop-S) accepts up to DDR3 1866 ECC/non-ECC.

Important note: Airtop does not support registered memory (RDIMM) a.k.a buffered memory. Airtop will not boot with RDIMM installed.

See also specifications

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Yes. Airtop with Xeon CPU supports ECC RAM.

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Power consumption is dependent on configuration and workload.

It can be 10W when Airtop is at idle and reach 200W or even more when incorporating a graphics card and is fully loaded.

See also specifications

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Yes, Airtop supports FM-XTDM2.

This adds two mini-PCIe ports instead of the front USBs.

FMXTDM2

All other SSDs and internal devices function as usual with FM-XTDM2 installed.

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PCs do not have an established standard qualifying them for gaming. Instead, each game has declared system requirements.

  • NVIDIA considers GTX 950 a gaming GPU.
  • GTX 950 meets system requirements of most recent games.
  • The CPU, memory and other system elements in Airtop meet system requirements of most games.

Airtop was not designed to break any FPS record. It can provide good gaming experience with no background noise.

 

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Airtop online shop now details price, shipping and tax (per country).

Please visit Airtop online shop for more details.

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Actually Airtop was designed for GTX 750 TI, and the pilot production run is with GTX 750 TI.

We found that the cooling capacity of Airtop is higher than initially estimated and that a more powerful graphics card can be incorporated so we switched to GTX 950.

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Airtop-DIY

This is a kit without CPU and graphics. It includes housing, motherboard power supply and accessories.
The buyer should install:

  • An LGA1150 compatible CPU (Intel Haswell or Broadwell).
  • RAM (DDR3 240 DIMM, up to two)
  • Storage (up to 4 hard disks / mSATA / M.2)

Discrete graphics card cannot be installed.

Price: $1128

Airtop-S Barebone

This is Airtop server. It comes with Xeon E3-1285L and 6 Gbit Ethernet ports.

The buyer should install:

  • RAM (DDR3 240 DIMM, up to two)
  • Storage (up to 4 hard disks / mSATA / M.2)

Discrete graphics card cannot be installed but the buyer can install a PCIe card (e.g. networking card).

Price: $1810

Airtop-G Barebone

This is Airtop for gaming. It comes with Core-i7 5775C and GTX 950 graphics.

The buyer should install:

  • RAM (DDR3 240 DIMM, up to two)
  • Storage (up to 4 hard disks / mSATA / M.2)

Price: $1968

Airtop-W Barebone

This is Airtop workstation. It comes with Xeon E3-1285L and Quadro M4000 graphics.

The buyer should install:

  • RAM (DDR3 240 DIMM, up to two)
  • Storage (up to 4 hard disks / mSATA / M.2)

Price: $2999

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Yes, Airtop works very well in summer.

Convection cooling keeps constant delta-T between hot-spot and ambient air for given power (actually deltaT slightly decreases as temperature is rising due to improved radiation).

Furthermore, both CPU and GPU in Airtop do an excellent job in autonomous thermal management.

Example:

Assuming ambient temperature of 400C in summer rather than 250C in winter.
CPU thermal headroom in winter: 1000C-250C=750C
CPU thermal headroom in summer: 100C-400C=600C

We can see in the example that in summer the thermal headroom of Airtop is 80% of what it was in winter.

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There is no native PCIe M.2 socket in Airtop.

The PCIe x16 slot can host adapters for PCIe storage. We have not validated boot from PCIe.

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The majority of users would find Airtop silent.

In special cases like recording studios, audiophiles, ultra sensitive acoustic instrumentation users are advised:

  • Choose an SSD known to be quiet
  • Use integrated graphics and not a discrete graphics card
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The natural Airflow cooling of Airtop is totally silent.

High power electronics system usually has some acoustic side effect commonly known as “coil whine” caused by mechanical vibrations in coils and capacitors amplified by the PCB.
In the design of Airtop motherboard special attention was given to make it inaudible.
The power supply is also silent.

The overall noise level of Airtop depends on the devices installed in it. SSDs, hard disks and graphics cards are not always silent. Airtop housing muffles sounds inside but since sound level varies with configuration and work profile and users vary in their sensitivity we cannot guarantee that everybody will find Airtop in every scenario silent.

We can guarantee that Airtop is orders of magnitude more quiet than any active cooling computer.

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The user sets the target temperature of the GPU.
Then regardless of the conditions the GPU will not exceed this temperature. If nearing that temperature the GPU will adjust its power to stay below it.

Airtop has sufficient thermal headroom to allow the GPU to consume 90W continuously when the Airtop is at room temperature.

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The air-tubes do not clog and Airtop has no filters.

  • The air-tubes are wide – they have a cross section of 15mm x 15mm.
  • Air flows through the air-tubes upwards very slowly. It does not have the force to lift debris and hair and heavy particles into the air-tubes. The air-tubes have a clearance of 43mm from the ground.
  • The surface of the air-tubes is smooth extruded aluminium. Dirt does not clog to it easily.
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Yes. The WiFi is a standard mini PCI express module that can be easily removed in favor of a different WiFi module, cellular module or any other mini PCI express card.

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Yes. Airtop-D is the desktop version of Airtop without a discrete graphics card. It has 2 HDMI ports and a DisplayPort with Intel Iris Pro Graphic.

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A lot of thought was given to the features of Airtop to make it balanced and useful. Obviously, not every emerging technology can find its way into the design in a timely manner.
The set of features in Airtop is as listed in the specifications

In some cases a technically inclined user can install an extension card in Airtop to provide extra functionality. e.g. – use internal graphics and utilize the PCIe card for USB 3.1, Thunderbolt, special audio cards etc.

Skylake is not compatible with Airtop’s motherboard.

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It is technically possible but makes little sense.

Can I install another GeForce card?

Most GeForce cards are dual-slot at the connector level. The card would require some major warranty-voiding rework to fit into Airtop.
Compulab ships Airtop with the GeForce cards that fit best thermally, mechanically and electrically. If there isn’t more powerful card in Airtop – it’s for a reason.

Can I install GTX 970 / Titan / another higher end graphics card

These cards would not fit in Airtop mechanical thermal and electrical envelope.

Can I install an AMD graphics card?

AMD graphics cards are not mechanically compatible with NVIDIA cards. Airtop has specially designed copper plate for the graphics card compatible with some GeForce and Quadro cards.

If we decide to offer Airtop with AMD graphics card we will announce so.

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In hot environment the long term reliability of Airtop would be higher than that of an active cooling computer.

Dust adhesion in humid climate

Dust adhesion increases significantly with humidity. In an active cooling system this results in filter clogging, dirt build-up on fan-blades and dust between heat-sink fins.

In Airtop the air flows slowly upwards through the wide air-tubes. Dust accumulation is negligible.

Dust clogging in dry climate

Hot and dry climate often involves high concentration of dust in the air. Active cooling systems suffer twice – once from inhaling dust that settles on the filters, on the fan blades and in the narrow airways of the heatsinks, and second because the hot ambient air requires increased airflow for cooling which in turn requires the fans to spin faster and increase airflow and dust accumulation.

Airtop passive cooling principle is not affected by ambient temperature. The components have a given delta-T above ambient for a given workload. If ambient is 350C instead of 250C and the CPU under the give load is 300C above ambient, it will work at 650C (550C at 250C ambient) and will keep working indefinitely.

 

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The graphics card is positioned in parallel to the motherboard using a flexible printed circuit.

The circuit is flexible to allow the graphics card to move together with the hinged lid when opening the case.

GPU flex socket

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We applied for patents for 3 reasons
1) We invested significant time and effort in researching and developing the technology we call natural airflow (NAF).
2) NAF works very well so competitors may be tempted to copy it.
3) We prefer competitors to license NAF technology rather than copying it.

If I build and publish a DIY fanless system do you see it as a patent violation?

We are engineers, not lawyers. We don’t know if it’s a patent violation and we would not care even if it is.
We encourage users to make the best DIY systems they can and share it with the community.

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Airtop is an abbreviation for Airflow-desktop.

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