Polywell B8500 review

The Polywell B8500 small form factor desktop is a great choice for the time-critical, multi-tasking, multi-monitor business user, particularly in a SMB environment.
Photo of Polywell B8500

The Polywell B8500 ($899 direct) form factor desktop has the chops to provide time-critical control or business info where plain business desktops would fear to tread. It’s a good choice for the factory control desk, prepress proof desk, or the broker’s workspace. It has one of the latest 4th generation Intel Core processors, multi-monitor support built in, and a SSD so you don’t have to worry about system crashes from vibration or someone pounding on his desk in frustration at the market swings. It’s our latest Editors’ Choice for business desktops.

Design and Features
The B8500 is built into a simple black painted perforated metal chassis. It looks very much like the big brother to the Polywell Nano i3-Q7 ($595). The B8500 measures about 2.5 by 8 by 8 inches (HWD), which puts it in the same size class as the Apple Mac Mini (Late 2012) ($1,049) and Lenovo ThinkCentre M92p Tiny ($580), both Editors’ Choice winners for small-form-factor PCs. Like those PCs, the B8500 has no internal expansion worth speaking of, though it is very well equipped from the factory.

The B8500 comes with an Intel Core i7-4770T, which is one of six quad-core 4th-generation Intel Core i7 processors with the model number i7-4770 (the others being the i7-4770TE, i7-4770S, i7-4770R, i7-4770K, and the i7-4770). The i7-4770 processors sit near the top of Intel’s desktop CPU line, so we’d expect very good performance from this system.

The B8500 comes with a 256GB SSD, for quick boots and app launches. This isn’t a lot of space for a multimedia creation user, but there are quite a few I/O ports to keep that type of user happy. There are six USB 2.0 ports (for peripherals like keyboard, mouse, and drawing tablet), two USB 3.0 ports (for hard drives), an eSATA/USB combo port, and a HDMI port, DVI port, and VGA port for connecting up to three monitors. This is beneficial for multimedia creation and general business users, since more monitors can help you multitask or share data among disparate programs. The eSATA and USB 3.0 ports will let your users expand their local data storage (if needed), though 256GB is plenty for a general business user.

The system comes free of bloatware and pre-installed utilities. The only thing on the system is Windows 7 Home Premium and the drivers for the internal components. There are a few quirks in the B8500 that keep it from gaining a wider audience, like the lack of internal Wi-Fi, non-standard power brick connector, and most of all the loud cooling fan. While this won’t be an issue in noisy environments like in a retail shop, trading floor, or on a factory control desk, the cooling fan for the Core i7 processor was loud enough to annoy people in our relatively quiet test lab. It’s no deal breaker to be sure, but if you’re looking for a system for, say, music production, look at other choices.

Performance

The B8500 comes with an Intel Core i7-4770T processor, 8GB of DDR3 memory, 256GB SSD, and Intel HD Graphics 4600. This translates into a very high-performing system, particularly on our multimedia benchmark tests like Handbrake and Photoshop CS6. The B8500 finished the Handbrake test in a blazing 35 seconds, and the Photoshop test in just over three minutes (3:06). To put that into perspective, the Atom-powered Lenovo IdeaCentre Q190 ($400) took three minutes for Handbrake and over 12 minutes for Photoshop. Between those two scores and the CineBench result, you can be assured that the B8500 is ready to work where time critical calculations are important. The system even has a modicum of 3D rendering power, thanks to the Intel HD Graphics 4600 built into the processor. You certainly get the extra performance you’re looking for with the B8500.

The Polywell B8500 is an excellent choice for SMB users, particularly the space constrained users in a time-critical environment. The system will equally be at home on the trading floor or the desk controlling a 20-foot-tall column still at a distillery. All this earns the B8500 our Editors’ Choice for business desktops.

Specifications
Processor Family Intel Core i7
Storage Type SSD
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
RAM 8 GB
Type Business, Small Business
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 256 GB

Verdict
The Polywell B8500 is a small form factor PC that's primed for multi-tasking, multi-monitor equipped business users. It's a great pick for SMB users, particularly in niche fields like retail and manufacturing.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc