Polywell Nano i3-Q7 review

The Polywell Nano i3-Q7 is a small-form-factor PC with more power than you'd expect.
Photo of Polywell Nano i3-Q7

The Polywell Nano i3-Q7 is a small-form-factor PC with a business focus. It’s a good system for business uses like static displays, POS terminals, customer information terminals, and in vehicles. It uses a SSD drive for speed and durability. Its metal shell protects the system from day to day use, and its ultrabook-class processor means that it’s quick in day-to-day performance, even at somewhat strenuous multimedia tasks. It’s a versatile system for the business user in extreme environments, and comes highly recommended for certain niche areas.

Design and Features
The Nano i3-Q7 is a tiny black metal box, measuring just 2 by 4.75 by 4.25 inches (HWD). The chassis is heavily vented to keep the Intel Core i3-3217U processor cool, but even under load you probably won’t hear the internal cooling fan unless your ear is right next to the system. It’s designed for business use, like in kiosks, ATMs, POS terminals, and in vehicle installations. It’s not hard to imagine this system in those situations, since it can virtually hide under a desk or behind a screen. The system has three USB 2.0 ports, two in the back and one in the front. There’s also an old school serial port for card readers and the like. The Nano i3-Q7 also somehow includes two HDMI ports, which means that the system can support multiple monitors (for example, one for the sales clerk with a another display for the customer).

The Nano i3-Q7 comes with a mounting bracket, and since the PC has no moving parts aside from the fans, you could theoretically mount the system on a moving platform or inside a vehicle. The system uses an mSATA SSD card for storage. The system we reviewed came with a 64GB SSD, which is somewhat small for a user system but would be sufficient for a single-use system like a POS terminal. In any case, you can connect an external USB 2.0 port if you need more storage, or order a larger SSD for the system. The Nano i3-Q7 can connect to your network via a built in Gigabit Ethernet port, which is more secure than Wi-Fi, which isn’t included. IT folks can install a half-size miniPCIe card for WiFi inside the tiny chassis or use an external USB key.

The Nano i3-Q7 has an external power supply, keeping the box itself small. Audio duties are handled by HDMI, which means that you can’t use external speakers unless connectors are built into your monitor (you also can’t connect a pair of headphones to the system). The system will support Windows 7, 8, XP, Linux, and FreeBSD, but the our review unit came with Windows 7 Home Premium (and not much else).


The Nano i3-Q7 comes with an ultrabook-class Intel Core i3-3217U processor with built-in Intel HD Graphics 4000, 8GB of system memory, and that 64GB mSATA SSD we mentioned above. The combination results in a PCMark 7 score of 3,344 points. PCMark 7 measures the system’s day-to-day performance. The Core i3 processor and SSD mean that the system has over double the points of the Atom-powered Lenovo IdeaCentre Q190 ($400) and over 1,000 points over the similarly positioned Zotac Zbox ID83 Plus ($473). In fact, the system even (barely) outscores a mainstream full tower with discrete graphics, the Acer Aspire AT3-600-UR11 ($600). Other benchmarks are good, with a very short Handbrake time of 45 seconds, matching the Acer. The Lenovo takes three minutes flat on the same test. Essentially, the system works well, and should serve its users well over the 5 to 7 years it’s expected to last.

The Polywell Nano i3-Q7 is a very good system for the niche market of small systems that serve as an in-between among customers and your workers. It’s certainly powerful enough to serve single-purpose tasks like cash registers, ATMs, and customer info terminals. However, systems like the entry-level business desktop Editors’ Choice Lenovo ThinkCentre M92p Tiny ($580) are a better choice for workers that do varied tasks in an office setting, so it holds on to its EC. If you need a tiny system that does one thing well, day in and day out however, the Nano i3-Q7 should be on your short list.

Processor Family Intel Core i3
Storage Type SSD
Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics 4000
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
Type Value, Small Business, Nettop
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 64 GB

The Polywell Nano i3-Q7 brings Intel Core i3 power to the small-form-factor PC business market. It's a durable, quiet PC that will help your entry-level workers do their jobs and service their customers.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc