The chassis feels quite sturdy. Unlike most vendors, Sapphire did not use cheap, glossy plastics in the Edge HD3. Instead, it went for a rubberized matte finish.
One of the first things you will have to do when setting up the Edge HD3 is to attach the desktop stand. The desktop stand has a hole in the middle and you feed the thumb screw provided through the hole, align the stand with the base of the mini PC, and screw firmly into place. Once installed on the stand, the nettop ends up in vertical position, but the whole rig feels pretty stable.
The Edge HD3 ships without a VESA mount, while the new Edge VS series features a VESA mount in the bundle, so it can easily be placed on the back of a TV. Sadly, with the transition to thin and stylish monitors with LED backlighting, VESA mounts are about to die a quiet death. Most monitors no longer support them due to their thin design.
The power button, power indicator light and HDD activity indicator are placed at the left side, or we can call it the top side when it’s not mounted on the desktop stand. There is no reset switch, which is the case with most other nettops as well.
The right mirrors the left side and the only difference are the buttons, which are not present on this side.
You will notice that there are no air vents on either side, so the HD3 relies on a few openings at the bottom and top to ensure airflow. This also means that it needs to be mounted upright to provide proper cooling, as hot air will naturally circulate to the top of the chassis and out. However, we expected the HD3 to be a bit quieter. Under load, things can get rather noisy. Luckily, most nettops rarely experience plenty of load, but we’ve seen quieter systems.
On the rear of the unit you will find the majority of ports, including video outs, one RJ-45 Gigabit Lan, two USB 2.0 ports, one Line-in (3.5mm jack), one Audio-out (3.5mm jack), and DC In connector. We appreciate the fact that Sapphire decided to place all audio connectors at the back. This is not always the case with nettops, and although some users like to have easy access to audio jacks up front, for headphones and whatnot, placing the jacks at the back is a much better choice for HTPCs with 5.1 speakers. Let’s not forget about aesthetics, nobody wants to see their new toy behind a bunch of cables.
Sapphire opted for one HDMI and one VGA output. DVI displays can be connected using the HDMI to DVI adapter and HDMI cable (you connect DVI monitor to the female DVI port on the adapter). The bundled HDMI cable is about two meter long, and the HDMI to DVI adapter is also provided.
The HD3 features USB 3.0 ports that will be quite handy for extra storage and you collection of HD movies. Built in wireless (802.11n) is another welcome addition.
The USB 3.0 ports are not visible. They are hidden under a little protective flat on the front of the unit. The cover is held in place with a rubber catch so it will not be lost. Since it features the same matte finish, it should stand up to punishment well.