Building a tricked-out PC from scratch can be a satisfying experience. But it's not for everyone, which is why we have modular desktops like HP's new Elite Slice.
The Elite Slice is a mini-PC that lets users add features just by snapping external modules onto the main box. No more unscrewing the chassis just to add a component.
The modules stack up underneath the base unit. A proprietary connector based on the USB 3.1 protocol binds the PC with the modules.
Snapping modules onto the Elite Slice is as easy as joining two Lego parts. For HP, the modular desktop eases PC customization and reduces cable clutter.
The Elite Slice is targeted at business users who wants a desktop that's stylish. The mini-PC is priced starting at $699 and will ship this month. Audio, optical-drive and VESA mounting-plate modules will be sold separately for between $35 and $110.
There's also an option to add wireless charging to the Elite Slice.
To be sure, modular PCs aren't new. Razr's fancy Project Christine modular desktop drew a lot of eyeballs at CES 2014. Acer's Revo Build is already available, and modules for audio, graphics and storage can be snapped on.
But there aren't many modular desktops out there, so the Elite Slice is the first major rival to the Revo Build. The new system also adds to HP's growing lineup of style-conscious premium desktops like the Elite Slice, Pavilion Wave and Omen X.
The Elite Slice doesn't have as many modular options as the Revo Build. HP's mini-PC can be configured with Intel's Skylake processor, multiple hard drive and SSD storage options via NVMe and SATA ports, and up to 32GB of DDR4 memory.
Other features include one USB 3.1 Type-C port, two USB 3.1 Type-A ports, an Ethernet port, a DisplayPort and an HDMI port.
Another model, called the Elite Slice for Meeting Rooms -- which comes with the audio module -- has capacitive touch controls for calls and volume. It works with Skype for Business and Intel's Unite videoconferencing software, both of which make it easier for attendees to log in to meetings and share documents. It takes just one button to start a Skype for Business meeting, HP said.
The Elite Slice can also be powered via its USB Type-C port, provided the device that it's connected to can deliver enough power to the desktop.
(With additional reporting by PC World's Melissa Riofrio)