Different Types of Edge Computers (Infographic)




Premio manufactures custom, highly reliable, world-class edge computer solutions for enterprises with highly specialized requirements. Before purchasing your edge computer hardware, you should first familiarize yourself with the different types of edge computers.

The kind of edge computer that you need will greatly depend on the task you want it to perform as well as the environment where the edge computer system will be placed. Our customers have deployed our edge computers in a multitude of locations that include manufacturing plants, oil-refining facilities, surface and underground mining, intelligent transportation, and other environments with extreme temperatures.

What are the Different Types of Edge Computers?

The three different major types of edge computers are: air cooled edge computers, fanless edge computers, and rugged edge computers. The type of edge computer that’s suitable for you will depend on the tasks that you require the system to perform, as well as the environment in which the edge computer will be placed.

Here are the different kinds of edge computers in more detail:

Type 1: Air-Cooled Edge Computers

Air-cooled edge computers are computer systems that are designed for industrial use and are cooled using fans that draw hot air out of the system. Our industrial edge computer systems are designed and built in-house. They are extremely reliable and highly capable of running specific controlled applications for business operations in a variety of compute intense scenarios.

We have designed and built our edge computing systems to the highest mechanical engineering standards. That said, not only is our hardware top-notch, our edge computers are housed in functional yet hardened aluminum cases.

We stress test all of our edge systems before shipping them out to you to ensure that they are functioning reliably and performing optimally.

The only drawback of using an air-cooled edge computer is that it does not offer protection from dust, dirt, and debris as do our other rugged fanless edge computers. Air-cooled edge computers are more practical in that they use fans to move heat away from the system’s internal components.

Our air-cooled edge PCs come in a variety of different configurations, including different processors, graphics cards, storage options, and connectors.


Air-cooled edge computer using a fan

The only drawback to deploying an air-cooled edge computer system is that it must be in a clean and temperature-controlled environment. This is so because the chassis has openings that enable the system to draw air into the case to cool down the internal components.

That said, many of our clients have used our air-cooled edge computers for indoor applications, such as kiosk systems and surveillance and security systems. Our clients have had tremendous success with our solutions shipping in volume.

Type 2: Fanless Edge Computer Systems

Fanless edge computers are great for deployment in environments that can be unfriendly to regular computers and electronics. Many of our clients have deployed our fanless edge computer systems indoors and outdoors to serve as digital media players and data monitoring devices for IoT deployments.

Our fanless edge PCs are custom designed and built to the highest mechanical engineering standards and are capable of withstanding extremely hot and cold temperatures.

For example, our fanless edge computer solutions are capable of operating at a wide temperature range of -40°C to 85°C. Also, our cable-less design ensures that there are no moving parts in our systems, especially since we integrate SSDs (solid state drives) in all of our configurations. This improves the reliability of our edge systems, as well as reduces the downtime that you would normally encounter with hard drives as they tend to fail at a much higher rate than do SSDs.


Heat sinks are used to shift heat away from critical components towards the exterior chassis where it is dissipated through natural air convection. 

Many of our fanless edge computers have a small footprint, enabling you to install them in a variety of small locations. That said, some of the higher-performing models that Premio offers are larger in size to make room for the additional components inside the case. That said, if you are space-constrained, ask us about our small-footprint options, and we will be thrilled to provide the perfect computing solution for you and your IoT projects.

Type 3: Rugged Edge Computers

Our rugged edge line of edge computer systems are the toughest and most durable edge computing solutions that we provide. These systems are great for deployment in intense environments that experience extreme heat or extreme cold. Also, they are great for placement in environments where you would expect a lot of dust, debris, vibration, and movement.

Premio Rugged Edge Computers 


Our rugged edge computers are able to perform in such environments because we have built them using a strong aluminum chassis that allows us to passively cool the system without the use of any fans or moving parts. Also, we are using a cableless design that allows our edge computers to withstand tremendous amounts of shock and vibration without any cables coming loose or components being unseated from their connections.

Our rugged edge PCs can withstand frequent vibrations, as well as up to 50Gs of shock, as well as 5 GRMs of vibrations, tested in compliance with the MIL-STD 810 Standard.

Additionally, our rugged edge computers can operate in almost any environment since they are built to withstand a wide temperature range between -40°C to 85°C.

At Premio, we know that our customers need different amounts of computing power, and that’s why we offer a wide variety of different configurations for our rugged line of edge computers. For example, you can configure a system with an Intel Celeron Process J1900 or a more powerful 9th Generation Intel Core i7, i5, or i3.

That said, if you want to add a GPU to your system, we have you covered, but since GPUs tend to produce a lot of heat, you will have to switch to an air-cooled solution. Our mechanical and systems reliability engineers apply their decades of industrial-grade computing designs, as well as an understanding of thermal dynamics into our solutions, enabling us to deliver proven edge computers for harsh IoT deployments.

Many of our customers have deployed our rugged edge computers for different uses, such as vehicles, outdoor kiosk machines, railways, manufacturing plants, and other outdoor deployments, such as surface and underground mining.



Our rugged edge systems can be used for many different applications. We often get asked whether our rugged edge PCs can be used in vehicles? The answer is yes; they can. In fact, they support CAN Bus, ignition sensing, automotive power, programmable DIO, as well as specialty I/Os for a range of data telemetry within a vehicle’s “smart” ecosystem.

That said, our rugged PCs are more expensive than regular PC systems because we invest a ton of engineering resources into designing, building, and testing our rugged systems, however, if you invest in one of our rugged edge computers, your total cost of ownership will be less in the long run because our systems are purpose-built for industrial applications and will therefore have better reliability in comparison to regular consumer computers.

Choosing the Right Edge Computer From Among the Different Types of Edge Computers



Choosing the right edge PC from among the various types of edge computers is vital to your system’s survival and longevity. Premio offers a plethora of different solutions that are suitable for most edge computing tasks and environments.

That said, before choosing the solution that is right for you should consider the following factors:

  • Pollutants in the edge computer environment
  • The temperature of the edge PCs environment
  • The shocks and vibrations that your edge computer may be exposed to
  • The electromagnetic waves that your edge computer may be exposed to
  • The size of the area that will house your edge computer
  • The amount of performance and computer power that you require for data processing

    We will now discuss each of these factors in more detail below:

    1. Pollutants in the Environment

    The most important factor that you should consider when choosing the appropriate edge computer is the environment in which the edge pc will be placed. For example, environments that have a lot of pollutants, dust, and debris can easily destroy a computer, so you need an edge PC that can survive such a harsh environment, a growing requirement as rugged computers shift into the edge landscape.

    At Premio, we pride ourselves on offering a wide variety of edge computers that range from air-cooled edge computers systems to rugged fanless edge computers that are dust, vibration, and shock-resistant, which makes them perfect for deployment in dusty and debris-filled environments that are often exposed to vibrations and shocks.

    So, you might be asking yourself: how are our fanless industrial PCs cooled? Our fanless edge PCs are passively cooled, with the computer system’s case serving as a large heat sink dissipating the heat generated from the CPU and internal heat-generating components.

    Having said that, although our edge computer systems can handle dusty environments, they are not indestructible. To ensure that the system can survive in the environment in which you are placing it, you should stress test it to ensure that it performs reliably.

    Additionally, our process systems reliability engineers test our edge system via in-house validation labs. Our systems are tested by subjecting them to thermal shock chambers, humidity chambers, shock and vibration testing, and electromagnetic interference testing. Our environmental test lab then provides us with benchmarks and results for our rugged edge computers.


    2. Temperature of the Environment

    The second factor that you should consider when choosing from among the different types of edge computers is the edge computer’s ability to withstand extremely hot and cold environments.

    Heat is a computer system’s number one enemy and is the leading cause of the premature death of many computer systems. For this reason, we have developed a series of rugged fanless edge computers that are passively cooled and do not require fans. By eliminating the use of fans and using the computer systems casing to dissipate heat, we have eliminated the downtime that you may experience as a result of a damaged fan or from the introduction of debris and foreign objects into the computer system.

    Our fanless rugged PCs are able to cool themselves passively via a heat spreader that has one end attached to the CPU and heat-generating components and the other end making contact with the aluminum case, thus transferring the heat from these components and dissipating it through the case, which has heat dispersing fins designed for maximum cooling.

    Our passively cooled PCs are capable of operating at wide temperatures that range from -40°C to 85°C, while actively air-cooled PCs can still operate in industrial-grade environments but at temperatures that range from -25°C to 60°C.

    Also, we have designed our fanless industrial PCs to withstand extremely cold temperatures. Regular computers are not capable of withstanding extremely cold temperatures for prolonged periods of time because condensation can accumulate on the inner components causing them to fail.

    That said, at Premio, we have designed our rugged series of fanless edge computers to endure extremely low temperatures up to -40°C, so if you’re looking to place a fanless industrial computer in a cold environment, Premio has you covered with a variety of great options.

    3. Shocks & Vibrations

    At Premio, we understand that some of our customers are looking for edge computers that can withstand shocks and vibrations, so that’s why we have developed our rugged edge PCs to be able to operate in environments where they can withstand continuous shocks and vibrations. We have done this by designing an extremely rugged enclosure that houses the internal components.

    As far as internal components go, we have adopted a cableless design, which ensures that none of the internal components becomes loose or disconnects from its connector.

    Additionally, we have adopted a fanless design, support for SSDs (Solid States Drives), clamping systems that ensure all internal components remain connected to the board, and we have manufactured our motherboards to maintain their stiffness and shape regardless of the amount of shock and vibrations they’re exposed to.

    Since we are using SSDs and NVME SSD drives in our systems, there are no moving parts that can get damaged, increasing the lifespan and reliability of our edge computing systems.

    So, if you want to deploy edge computer hardware in a vehicle or location that experiences a high level of shock and vibrations, look no further than Premio’s Rugged Series of Edge computing hardware.

    4. Electromagnetics Compatibility (EMC)

    When choosing from among the different types of edge computers, you should also consider the EMC compatibility of such a system. Both our fanless and air-cooled edge computing systems are built with EMC in mind. That is, our equipment is able to properly operate in an electromagnetic environment.

    So, if your industrial fanless computer is exposed to any electromagnetic emissions, rest assured that it will continue to function as our engineers have properly shielded our systems from any interference they may be exposed to. Also, they have created RF pathways into the grounded chassis of our edge computers. Without protecting our rugged computer systems, they would be susceptible to static discharge, power outages, and voltage loopbacks.

    The power supplies that we have incorporated into our rugged series of edge computers provide significant Electromagnetic protection. Although many manufacturers tend to skimp on the power supply, at Premio, we’ve chosen to use industrial-grade power supplies to ensure that our systems are always operational no matter the environment they’re deployed in.

    The power supplies that are in our systems stabilize and filter the power to protect sensitive components from being damaged. So, if you are looking for an edge computer that has excellent EMC reliability, look no further than Premio for your edge computing needs.



    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Now that we have discussed the different types of edge computers and computer hardware, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions that we get.

    1. What is an edge computing device? 

    Edge computing brings computing power closer to the source of data, such as an IoT device. An IoT device is any device that is connected to the internet, sharing and collecting data. There are billions of IoT devices in the world. If you need an edge computer to collect and analyze data collected from your IoT devices prior to offloading the data into the cloud, look no further than Premio for an edge computing solution.

    2. Is edge computing new?

    No, edge computing is not new. In fact, it has been around since the early 1990s when Akami placed nodes at nodes that were geographically closer to the ensure user to enable them to retrieve content, such as pictures and videos. That said, there have been significant advantages in the speed and reliability of edge computing hardware over the past three decades. The major shift that is now occurring involves shifting processing power closer to where data is being generated. This provides the machine learning inference and intelligence that benefits edge computing.

    3. Where is edge computing used?

    Edge computers can be used in a ton of different ways. Some use case scenarios include: kiosk machines, autonomous vehicles, plant monitor, automation, machine maintenance monitoring, hospital patient monitoring, content delivery, and smart homes. Newer industry 4.0 demands are requiring necessary computer hardware that can withstand scenarios in rugged, mobile, and remote environments.