Subject: General Tech | November 15, 2015 - 01:44 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: msi, cubi n, SFF, fanless, Braswell, Intel Braswell
MSI will soon add a new small form factor PC to its Cubi lineup with the fanless Cubi N. Powered by an Intel “Braswell” SoC, the Cubi N is a silent PC capable of 4K video playback that fits in the palm of your hand.
Unlike the original Cubi bare-bones (which used a Broadwell Celeron), the Cubi N is fanless and uses a heatsink and a stylized wavy mesh case design for passive heat dissipation. The mini PC measures 116mm x 112mm x 44.47mm and is all black with rounded corners. The diagonal cut is gone from this model with the power button being in the front-left top corner instead.
Before diving into the internals, MSI has included two USB 3.0 ports and a combo headphone/mic audio jack on the front panel and HDMI, VGA, RJ45, and an additional two USB 3.0 ports on the back of the Cubi N.
Not bad, but not the most extensive I/O and the VGA output is a bit of an odd choice (though at this point it should be essentially free to add).
Internally, MSI is using an Intel “Braswell” Celeron N3150 SoC with Intel HD Graphics. This SoC (6W TDP) is a four core 1.6 GHz part that can boost up to 2.08 GHz with 2MB L2 cache and HD Graphics with 12 execution units. Users can add up to 8GB of DDR3L memory along with a single mSATA SSD and one 2.5” hard drive (though this makes the PC a bit taller at 55.5mm). The Cubi N comes with an Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi card plugged into an M.2 slot.
The Cubi N will come in black or white and will be generally available as a bare-bones system. According to FanlessTech, pre-configured models will also be available including a version with a 32GB mSATA SSD, 2GB RAM, and Windows 10 Home for $249. MSI is allegedly also working on bare-bones models based around the Braswell Pentium N3700 (2.4 GHz burst) and a cheaper Celeron N3000 processors.
The fanless SFF Cubi N is not yet available for purchase, but it should be coming soon for under $400 all-in (adding storage and memory, more if you want a non-Home version of Windows).
Subject: Systems | November 5, 2015 - 07:30 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ruggedized, fanless
FanlessTech was “salivating” over the PERFECTRON PC, which might be good for its cooling potential if the water doesn't short out the electronics. Logic Supply, designer of the fanless systems, specializes in ruggedized, industrial builds. Rugged, fanless, and high performance -- what's the downside?
So for businesses (and probably only businesses or governments) that can afford these systems, you're probably going to get the computer equivalent of a tank. They are rated to operate in ambient temperatures between -40C (-40F) and 70C (158F). To put that into perspective, NVIDIA controls their overclocks to maintain 80C on the GPU, which is, generally speaking, in a system with ~30C internal temperature. These systems are rated to operate in 70C ambient. Again, that is about 20C hotter than my CPU peaks at load with my Corsair H100i. Actually, the PERFECTRON SR-700 ($13,793 USD) model can operate at up to 75C ambient.
That is some serious heat for any PC to cope with, especially rugged, fanless models. I guess “you get what you pay for” scales up pretty high. From what I can tell, they are rated to pretty much run these fanless PCs in a beef jerky maker and be cool enough to operate.
Subject: Cases and Cooling, Systems | September 26, 2015 - 10:52 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: qotom, fanless, Broadwell, SFF
FanlessTech found quite a few models of small form factor PCs on Amazon and, while it's not listed in the specifications, some of the manufacturer Q&A responses state that they are fanless designs. Each of these devices are built around the Broadwell Core i7-5500U, but that might not even be the best part. Each PC has 4x USB 3.0, 2x HDMI, and 2x Gigabit Lan. Dual LAN and Dual HDMI opens up quite a few possibilities for a cheap, silent PC, especially since it has a relatively high-performance processor.
Prices range from $360 to $444 for 2GB of RAM and 8GB up to 256GB of SSD storage (with several models between). A single 8GB RAM model, with a 256 GB SSD, is also available for $483. They also found one with an i3 processor, but you need to bring your own RAM, SSD, and WiFi. It does have the same port layout, four USB 3.0, two HDMI, and two gigabit LAN, but might make more sense to grab the Core i7 versions unless you already have DDR3L RAM and an SSD hanging around (or 2GB is insufficient and the 8GB model is out of your price range). At $221 USD plus these components, you probably will not be saving much to compensate for the drop in performance. You can also find some Core i5 models, too.
Quite a bit to consider, but I think that many would benefit from the thought.
Subject: Cases and Cooling, Systems | September 19, 2015 - 05:34 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: arbor, fanless, ruggedized
This is an interesting product for a couple of reasons. First, it uses the fourth-generation Haswell processors, rather than the newer Skylake or Broadwell components. On the other hand, it uses LGA-1150 components up to the 45W Intel Core i7-4770TE, which explains the lack of Broadwell and Skylake, because only Core i3 Skylake processors fit both of those constraints currently.
The device is rated for -4F to 131F and an undisclosed amount of shock and vibration. They support 2.5” drives, but the site only lists Intel SSDs. You would probably not want a spinning hard drive in a PC that you are concerned about shock and vibration tolerances. It also supports up to 16GB of DDR3 (again, Haswell) RAM, which should give you a fairly robust system to leave running in the middle of nowhere.
Like other systems that we've seen earlier, the case itself acts as a heatsink, which brings the product's weight up to 14.1 pounds. When you deal with these types of cooling solutions, it's difficult to tell whether they are rated with still air, or a sufficient breeze to carry the heat away from the case fins. It's not something that's advertised.
No pricing or availability is listed.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 15, 2015 - 02:57 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: HDPLEX, h5, fanless
FanlessTech has another look at the HDPLEX H5. Their last preview did not have pictures of the case itself, so I needed to use a photo of the previous model when I wrote up our coverage of it. This time, seven whole months later, we have more details. It will weigh eight kilograms, its supported CPU cooling performance has been bumped up five watts to 95W TDP, and it will mini-ITX, microATX, and even full ATX motherboards.
Image Credit: FanlessTech
The chassis has 16 heat pipes connected from the case, which acts as a heatsink, to the internal components -- eight pipes to the CPU and eight to the discrete GPU (if installed). This makes it an effective home theater PC case, accepting CPUs up to the Intel Core i7-6700K (which is 95W). The same number of heat pipes go to the GPU, but that TDP is not listed. If it is similar to the CPU's 95W limit, that doesn't go too far in GPU land. Don't expect to passively cool a 980 Ti or anything. Still a discrete GPU of any magnitude is a nice addition to a fanless PC.
Image Credit: FanlessTech
One minor point before we close out, HDPLEX will apparently support custom aluminum power buttons and face plates. It's a small novelty but it could be nice if the system is in a visible location.
The HDPLEX H5 doesn't have a release date yet, but its price will apparently be under $300.
Subject: Motherboards | July 4, 2015 - 10:52 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, mini ITX, fanless, Braswell, Airmont, asus
Asus has introduced two new small form factor motherboards featuring soldered Intel “Braswell”-based Celeron processors. The Asus N3150I-C and N3050I-C are Mini ITX form factor boards with decent connectivity and lower power draw with the processor options topping out at 6 watts.
The two SFF motherboards are essentially the same, with the main difference being the bundled processor (see below). The boards have 24+4 pin ATX power inputs, two full-size DDR3 memory slots, two SATA 6 Gbps ports, a single PCI-E 2.0 x4 slot (open ended), and one mini PCI-E connector. The Intel processors on both boards are passively cooled by a large rectangular gold-colored aluminum heatsink.
The rear of the board includes the following I/O ports.
- 2 x PS/2
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x VGA
- 1 x RS232
- 3 x Audio outputs
The N3150I-C board uses an Intel Celeron N3150 while the N3050I-C uses an Intel Celeron N3050. Both chips are 14nm and based on the newer Airmont architecture. These “Braswell” chips have incremental improvements in CPU performance and more significant graphics performance boosts with the inclusion of up to 16 execution units.
Specifically, the N3150 is a quad core chip clocked at 1.6 GHz base to 2.08 GHz burst with Intel HD Graphics (12 EUs up to 640 MHz) and a 6W TDP. On the other hand, the Celeron N3050 is a dual core chip – also with a 6W TDP – clocked at 1.6 GHz base and 2.16 GHz burst paired with Intel HD Graphics (12 EUs) clocked at up to 600 MHz.
These new boards could be used as the base for a NAS box, home media server, or a router and wireless AP by using those PCI-E and mPCI-E slots. Pricing and availability have not yet been announced, however.
Introduction and First Impressions
The Zotac ZBOX CI321 nano is a mini PC kit in the vein of the Intel NUC, and this version features a completely fanless design with built-in wireless for silent integration into just about any location. So is it fast enough to be an HTPC or desktop productivity machine? We will find out here.
I have reviewed a couple of mini-PCs in the past few months, most recently the ECS LIVA X back in January. Though the LIVA X was not really fast enough to be used as a primary device it was small and inexpensive enough to be an viable product depending on a user’s needs. One attractive aspect of the LIVA designs, and any of the low-power computers introduced recently, is the passive nature of such systems. This has unfortunately resulted in the integration of some pretty low-performance CPUs to stay within thermal (and cost) limits, but this is beginning to change. The ZBOX nano we’re looking at today carries on the recent trend of incorporating slightly higher performance parts as its Intel Celeron processor (the 2961Y) is based on Haswell, and not the Atom cores at the heart of so many of these small systems.
Another parallel to the Intel NUC is the requirement to bring your own memory and storage, and the ZBOX CI321 nano accepts a pair of DDR3 SoDIMMs and 2.5” storage drives. The Intel Celeron 2961Y processor supports up to 1600 MHz dual-channel DDR3L which allows for much higher memory bandwidth than many other mini-PCs, and the storage controller supports SATA 6.0 Gbps which allows for higher performance than the eMMC storage found in a lot of mini-PCs, depending on the drive you choose to install. Of course your mileage will vary depending on the components selected to complete the build, but it shouldn’t be difficult to build a reasonably fast system.
Subject: Systems | June 2, 2015 - 09:30 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: mini PC, LIVA X2, LIVA Core, LIVA, intel core m, ECS, computex 2015, computex, fanless
ECS has announced two new LIVA fanless mini-PC models, including a new "Core" version with an Intel Broadwell Core M SoC.
Here are the full specs for the LIVA Core:
Platform: Intel Broadwell Core M-5Y10C SoC
Memory: DDR3L 4GB
Storage: 1x 80G/120G M.2 SSD
Audio: 1x Combo Jack, 2x D-MIC (internal)
LAN: 1x Gigabit LAN
USB: 4x USB 3.0 Ports
Video Output: 2x HDMI Ports
Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11ac & Bluetooth 4.0
Dimensions: 136 x 84 x 38 mm
Card Reader: Micro SD
Adapter Input: AC 100-240V,Output: DC 19V / 3.43A
OS Support: Windows 7 / 8.1 / 10
The LIVA X has been refreshed as well with a new design and updated Intel Braswell SoC.
Here are the specs for the LIVA X2:
Platform: Intel Braswell N3050 SoC
Memory: DDR3L 2GB/4GB
Expansion Slot: 1 x M.2 for SSD (Up to 1TB)
Storage: eMMC 64GB/32GB
Audio: 1x Combo Jack, 2x D-MIC (internal)
LAN: 1x Gigabit LAN
USB: 3x USB3.0 Ports
Video Output: 1x HDMI Port, 1x D-Sub Port
Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11ac & Bluetooth 4.0
Dimensions: 156 x 83 x 51 mm
Adapter Input: AC 100-240V, Output: DC 12V / 3A
OS Support: Windows 7 / 8.1 / 10 (Windows 7 supported by M.2)
These new LIVA models are listed on the ECS product pages and should be available soon through the usual retail channels.
Subject: Systems | May 26, 2015 - 02:37 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: shuttle, SFF, fanless, Broadwell, DS57U, Celeron 3205U
The Shuttle DS57U is powered by a dual core Celeron 3205U running at 1.5GHz and a nice and cool 15W TDP. The system supports up to 16GB of DDR3 at 1.35 V, no 1.5V DIMM that TechPowerUp tried would work and for add-in cards you have a single full sized mini-PCIE slot and a half sized mini-PCIE slot which is already occupied by a WLAN card. The system does have only one SATA 6Gbps port so external storage may be necessary, thankfully there are a pair of USB 3.0 ports and four USB 2.0 ports. This model is available for $250 currently, if you decide you need more power there are several versions going all the way up to the DS57U7 powered by an i7-5500U. If you are looking for an inexpensive SFF barebones system, Shuttle is not a bad choice overall and the DS57U is worthy of consideration.
"The Shuttle DS57U is a slim barebone PC that only needs RAM and a HDD or, even better, an SSD to boot. It comes with an Intel dual-core Celeron processor (Broadwell) and features lots of I/O ports, which make it suitable for a wide range of applications."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Asus VivoPC VM62B @ Kitguru
- MSI CUBI @ HardwareHeaven
- MSI Cubi @ KitGuru
- Gigabyte Brix S @ HardwareHeaven
- KitGuru Complete Guide to Buying a Workstation
- KitGuru Complete Guide to PC Workstations – Part 2
- BuyPower Noctis Intel Z97 @ eTeknix
- The making of Damagebox 2015 @ The Tech Report
Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 26, 2015 - 01:18 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, nuc, Intel, fanless, Cherry Trail, Braswell, asrock
Earlier this month, ASRock showed off a tiny fanless computer it is calling the Beebox. Powered by an Intel Braswell SoC, the new small form factor Beebox offers up a decent selection of I/O ports and general desktop performance while sipping power. The Beebox is approximately the size of Intel's NUC measuring 118.5mm x 110mm x 46mm x (4.67" x 4.33" x 1.81" -- WxDxH) and will come in three color options: black, gold, and white.
This compact PC has a fairly extensive set of ports on tap. The front panel includes a headphone jack, infrared port, one standard USB 3.0 port, and a USB 3.0 Type-C port which supports 5V/3A charging. The rear panel hosts the power jack, two HDMI outputs, one DisplayPort output, two USB 3.0 ports, a Realtek-powered Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Kensington lock slot. Not bad for a small form factor PC.
ASRock will be offering the Beebox in three configuration options including a barebones kit, a version with 32 GB internal storage, 2 GB of RAM, and Windows 10, and a Beebox SKU with 128 GB of internal storage and 4 GB of RAM (and no OS pre-installed). Each of the SKUs are powered by the same Intel Celeron N3000 Braswell SoC. From there, users can add a single 2.5" SATA drive and a Mini PCI-E card (although this slot is occupied by the included 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless module). The system uses two DDR3L SO-DIMMs and supports a maximum of 8 GB DDR3L at 1600 MHz.
The aspect that made the Beebox stand out to me was the inclusion of the Braswell-based Celeron N3000 processor. This 4W 14nm part features two Airmont CPU cores clocked at 1.04 GHz base and 2.08 GHz turbo paired with 2MB L2 cache and a Gen 8 Intel GPU clocked at up to 600 MHz. This is a desktop variant of the Cherry Trail chips being used in tablets, but it is the lowest TDP Braswell chip currently at a mere 4 watts. ASRock likely went with this chip to ensure they could passively cool it and still keep temperatures in check. As FanlessTech notes, the chassis ASRock is using leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to heat dissipation compared to other fanless cases on the market.
We will have to wait for reviews to see how well the Beebox and its Braswell processor perform, but so long as ASRock is able to keep thermals in check, the little PC should offer acceptable performance for general desktop tasks (browsing the internet, checking email, watching streaming videos, etc). Cherry Trail (and keep in mind Braswell is a higher power chip based on the same architectures) is promising noticeable improvements to graphics and at least slight improvements to CPU performance. According to ASRock, the Beebox is going to be priced aggressively at "very low" price points which should make it a good compromise between older Bay Trail-D systems and newer (and more expensive) Broadwell and Haswell systems.
The Beebox is slated for late June availability, with exact pricing to be announced at that time.