Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: Azulle

Introduction and Design

Azulle might not be a familiar name unless you have been browsing for mini PCs lately, as the company offers various small form-factor computers and accessories on Amazon.

Byte3_Main.jpg

Today we will take a close look at their Intel Apollo Lake-powered Byte3 mini PC which starts at $179.99 (and goes up to $337.99 depending on configuration), and provides another fanless solution to this category. Does our $199.99 quad-core version, which includes Windows 10 Pro, stand out? Read on to find out!


Specifications:

  • Processor: Quad-core Intel Apollo Lake N3450
  • RAM: 4 GB / 8 GB
  • Storage: eMMC 32 GB / 2.5" SSD or M.2 SSD Supported
  • M.2 Slot: AHCI (SATA)
  • GPU: Intel HD Graphics 500
  • Wi-Fi: Dual-Band 2.4 GHz / 5.0 GHz
  • Ethernet: 1 Gigabit
  • Bluetooth: 4.0
  • Display Output: 1x HDMI (4K @60Hz), 1x VGA
  • USB Ports: 3x USB 3.0 / 1x USB 2.0 / 1x USB Type-C
  • SD Slot: Up to 256 GB
  • BIOS: Wake on LAN / PXE / BIO Reset
  • IR: IR Control
  • Audio Output: 3.5 mm jack
  • OS Support: Windows 10 Pro / Ubuntu Linux
  • Power Supply: 12V
  • Dimensions: 5.6 x 4 x 1.5 inches

Thanks to Azulle for providing the Byte3 for our review!

We'll start with a quick look inside the box:

DSC_0151-4.jpg

The Byte3 has a small, rectangular form-factor of some 5.6 inches wide and 4 inches deep, with a height of 1.5 inches.

DSC_0156-5.jpg

Continue reading our review of the Azulle Byte3 Fanless Mini PC!

Linux Mint Launching SFF MintBox Mini 2 and Mini 2 Pro PCs Running Linux Mint 19

Subject: General Tech | April 7, 2018 - 10:34 PM |
Tagged: SFF, linux mint, linux, j3455, Intel, fanless, atom, apollo lake

The Linux Mint development team recently announced the MintBox Mini 2 and MintBox Mini 2 Pro small form factor PCs which will ship with Linux Mint 19 this summer. The tiny passively cooled computers are based on Compulab’s Fitlet2 SFF barebones PC and comes in two flavors: the base Mini 2 with Intel Celeron J3455, 4GB DDR3L, and 64GB SATA SSD and the Mini 2 Pro with J3455 processor, 8GB RAM, and 120GB solid state drive. The MintBox Mini 2 PCs measure 4.4” x 3.3” x 1.3” and weighs approximately 12 ounces.

MintBox Mini 2 SFF Fanless PC.png

The SFF systems come in all black and feature a row of fins along the top of the case to assist in passively cooling the processor and other components (there is a heat transfer plate above the M.2 slot as well). The fins are larger than the previous MinitBox Mini and Compulab is rating the updated hardware at an improved temperature range of -40°C to 85°C. Enthusiasts will further be able to tweak the thermal throttle and thermal shutoff safeties.

The front of the MintBox Mini 2 features a Mint logo, two USB 3.0 ports, two audio jacks, a micro SD card slot, and two LEDs that are controlled by GPIO and can be user-programed. There are two WI-Fi antenna ports on the right side and around back there are two USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI 1.4, one mini DisplayPort 1.2, a proprietary COM port, power input jack, and two Intel i211 powered Gigabit Ethernet ports.

While the previous generation devices were AMD based, the MintBox Mini 2 and Mini 2 Pro are based around an Intel Celeron J3455 which is a 14nm Apollo Lake desktop processor with 10W TDP that features four cores clocked at 1.5 GHz base and up to 2.3 GHz boost with 2MB cache and HD Graphics 500. While the systems come configured with RAM and storage, users can swap that out for up to 16 GB of DDR3L (there is only one SO-DIMM slot) and a single SSD drive in the M.2 2260 slot (SATA 6 Gbps based). Wireless has been refreshed on the new models to include 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 which is a nice upgrade over the 802.11n wireless on the MintBox Mini and the 802.11ac+BT4.0 on the Mini Pro.

Linux Mint 19 MintBox Mini 2 Rear IO.png

Users can extend the functionality and add additional external I/O or even a 2.5” drive with FACET expansion cards (the 2.5” drive option also requires a different bottom cover that makes the PC taller). For example, there are FACET cards that can add an additional two Gigabit Ethernet ports with the ports coming out the left side of the PC or Power Over Ethernet (PoE) support which is reportedly in the works with a PoE FACET card slated for availability by the time the MintBox Mini 2 launches in June.

The compact and fan-less PC seems perfect for a router or IoT gateway as well as a handy tool for penetration testers and IT admins to troubleshoot and monitor networks. Its intended purpose is as a lower cost silent desktop or thin client for home users and Linux Mint fans.

The MintBox Mini 2 and MintBox Mini 2 Pro will be available in June pre-loaded with Linux Mint 19 for $299 and $349 respectively. The MintBox Mini 2 is based on the barebones Fitlet2 PC ($176) which comes sans memory or storage, so they do not seem like a bad deal especially considering a part of that premium you are paying for the MintBox is in the support and validation of compatibility with the Linux OS.

If you are curious about the state of the project and the hardware, the Mint developers have been answering questions and running benchmarks for people using an alpha build of the Mint OS in the comments section of this blog post.

Also read:

Source: Fanless Tech

Chuwi made a lot of friends, see if the SurBook 2 might convince you to count yourself among them

Subject: Mobile | March 5, 2018 - 05:06 PM |
Tagged: chuwi, surbook, convertible, apollo lake

You may not have heard of Chuwi but they are not a new player, they have been around since 2004 and have been partnering with Huawei, Google, Microsoft and Intel to try to make it onto the world stage.  This recently cumulated in a successful IndieGoGo campaign and the release of the SurBook convertible laptop. Inside is an Intel Celeron N3450 with 6GB DDR3-1600 and 128 GB eMMC flash storage with a 2736x1824 IPS touchscreen.  The design which TechPowerUp tested cost a hair under $500, which is just about perfect for what you get.  It won't win any benchmarking awards but for what it is intended for it seems to do well; check it out for yourself.

title.jpg

"Chuwi looks to conquer the convertible 2-in-1 market with their new SurBook. Featuring an all-aluminum shell and a rather large battery, it has the looks and specifications to turn a few heads, which may have something to do with its successful Indiegogo campaign in mid-2017."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

More Mobile Articles

 

Source: TechPowerUp

Acer Launches Updated Chromebook Spin 11 Starting at $349

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 25, 2018 - 12:12 AM |
Tagged: wacom, convertible tablet, Chromebook, chrome os, apollo lake, Android, acer

Acer is bringing an updated convertible Chromebook to market in March with the Chromebook Spin 11 being available to consumers and not just through educational channels like the previous models. The 2.75-pound notebook with 360-degree hinge and 11.6” IPS display (1366x768) runs Chrome OS, supports Android apps, and is powered by “all day” battery life and Apollo Lake processors. Unfortunately, Acer is not using Intel’s latest Gemini Lake chips, but the Chromebooks do hit more budget friendly MSRPs as a result with the Chromebook Spin 11 starting at $349.

Acer Chromebook Spin 11.jpg

Acer’s updated silver colored Chromebook features a 360-degree hinge allowing it to be used in tablet mode, laptop mode, or anything in between. The hinge connects the top half with the 11.6” touchscreen and 1MP webcam to the bottom half which holds the keyboard, trackpad, I/O ports, and 5MP camera (intended to be used in tablet mode) along with all the internal battery and processing hardware. External I/O is fairly modern and includes two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C ports, two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a headphone jack, and one micro SD card reader. Users can also opt for a Wacom EMR stylus to get pen input on the touchscreen display.

Internal hardware includes an Intel Apollo Lake processor of dual or quad core varieties that sit at 6W TDPs, either 4GB or 8GB DDR4 memory, and 32GB or 64GB of eMMC storage. The processor options include the dual core Intel Celeron N3350 (2.4 GHz), Intel Celeron N3450 (4 core / 4 thread at up to 2.2 GHz), and quad core Intel Pentium N4200 at up to 2.5 GHz.

The keys look fairly large and well-spaced for an 11.6” device save for the arrow keys which are squished into the bottom right corner. There appear to be two bottom firing stereo speakers as well. I am curious how much travel the keys have though.

The updated Chromebook Spin 11 is slated for availability in March for North America starting at $349 and in April at €379 for the EMEA market (Europe, Middle East, Africa).

Also read:

Source: Ars Technica

All I want for Christmas ... is an Intel firmware patch

Subject: General Tech | November 24, 2017 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: Intel, 7th generation core, 6th generation core, 8th generation core, apollo lake, xeon, security

The issue with Intel's processors is widespread and a fix will not be available for some time yet.  The flaws in their security features are present in 6-8th gen Core chips, as well as a variety of Xeons, Celerons and Apollo Lake CPUs which accounts for a wide variety of systems, from gaming machines to NAS devices.  All suffer from the vulnerability which allows compromised code to run a system invisibly, as it will be executed below the OS on the actual chip.  From what The Register gleaned from various manufacturers, only Dell will release a patch before 2018 and even that will only offer a solution for a very limited number of machines.  The end of 2017 is going to be a little too interesting for many sysadmins.

Capture.PNG

"As Intel admitted on Monday, multiple flaws in its Management Engine, Server Platform Services, and Trusted Execution Engine make it possible to run code that operating systems – and therefore sysadmins and users – just can't see."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Podcast #453 - More Computex, WWDC, 3D Xpoint, and more

Subject: General Tech | June 8, 2017 - 11:22 AM |
Tagged: X399, x370, x299, wwdc, video, shield, podcast, plex, pixel, macbook, Mac Pro, Logitech G413, Lian-Li, gigabyte, computex, asus, asrock, apollo lake, 3D XPoint

PC Perspective Podcast #453 - 06/07/17

Join us for talk about continued Computex 2017 coverage, WWDC '17, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Ken Addison

Program length: 1:33:54
 
Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. Computex Continued
  3. WWDC 2017:
  4. News items of interest:
  5. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  6. Closing/outro
 

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Source:
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction and First Impressions

The LIVA family of mini PCs has been refreshed regularly since its introduction in 2014, and the LIVA Z represents a change to sleek industrial design as well as the expected updates to the internal hardware.

DSC_0542.jpg

The LIVA Z we have for review today is powered by an Intel Apollo Lake SoC, and the product family includes SKUs with both Celeron and Pentium processors. Our review unit is the entry-level model with a Celeron N3350 processor, 4GB memory, and 32GB storage. Memory and storage support are improved compared to past LIVAs, as this is really more of a mini-PC kit like an Intel NUC, as the LIVA Z includes an M.2 slot (SATA 6.0 Gbps) for storage expansion, and a pair of SODIMM slots support up to 8 GB of DDR3L memory (a single 4GB SODIMM is installed by default).

The LIVA Z is a very small device, just a bit bigger than your typical set-top streaming box, and like all LIVAs it is fanless; making it totally silent in operation. This is important for many people in applications such as media consumption in a living room, and like previous LIVA models the Z includes a VESA mount for installation on the back of a TV or monitor. So how does it perform? We will find out!

Continue reading our review of the ECS LIVA Z fanless mini PC!

Details on Intel's Gemini Lake SoC Leak: A Refined Apollo Lake Coming Soon

Subject: Processors | May 31, 2017 - 02:33 PM |
Tagged: Intel, goldmont+, gemini lake, apollo lake, 14nm

Information recently leaked on the successor to Intel’s low power Apollo Lake SoCs dubbed Gemini Lake. Several sites via FanlessTech claim that Gemini Lake will launch by the end of the year and will be the dual and quad core processors used to power low cost notebooks, tablets, 2-in-1 convertibles, and SFF desktop and portable PCS.

Intel-2016-2017-Processor-Roadmap-Kaby-Lake-Coffee-Lake-Cannonlake.jpg

A leaked Intel roadmap.

Gemini Lake appears to be more tick than tock in that it uses a similar microarchitecture as Apollo Lake and relies mainly on process node improvements with the refined 14nm+ process to increase power efficiency and performance per watt. On the CPU side of things, Gemini Lake utilizes the Goldmont+ microarchitecture and features two or four cores paired with 4MB of L2 cache. Intel has managed to wring higher clockspeeds while lowering power draw out of the 14nm process. A doubling of the L2 cache versus Apollo Lake will certainly give the chip a performance boost. The SoC will use Intel Gem9 graphics with up to 18 Execution Units (similar to Apollo Lake) but the GPU will presumably run at higher clocks. Additionally, the Gemini Lake SoC will integrate a new single channel DDR4 memory controller that will support higher memory speeds, s WLAN controller (a separate radio PHY is still required on the motherboard) supporting 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.

Should the leaked information turn out to be true, he new Gemini Lake chips are shaping up to be a good bit faster than their predecessor while sipping power with TDPs of up to 6W for mobile devices and 10W for SFF desktop.

The lower power should help improve battery life a bit which is always a good thing. And if they can pull off higher performance as well all the better!

Unfortunately, it is sounding like Gemini Lake will not be ready in te for the back to school or holiday shopping seasons this year. I expect to see a ton of announcements on devices using the new SoCs at CES though!

Also read:

 

Source:

HP Launches Ruggedized Apollo Lake Powered Convertible Tablet For Students

Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2016 - 02:34 AM |
Tagged: x360, Intel, hp, convertible tablet, apollo lake, 2-in-1

HP recently introduced a new convertible tablet for students. Built to be a bit more ruggedized than the consumer Pavilion model, the new HP ProBook X360 11G Education Edition is an 11” 2-in-1 laptop weighing in at 3.19 pounds, 0.78 inches thick, and designed to pass the MIL-STD 810G specification test with a spill resistant keyboard, shock and minor drop tolerance, and keyboard keys that are difficult to rip off (heh).

HP’s new convertible uses the same 360-degree hinge design as the existing Pavilion x360 notebooks which allows the user to bend the display all the way back so that it can be used as a tablet with the keyboard on the underside. Unlike the older consumer versions though, it appears HP has slightly upgraded things.

HP ProBook X360 11 G1 Education Edition.jpg

On the outside the notebook is dark gray with black around the display and has a more business aesthetic while keeping the curves of the consumer model. The display is an 11” SVA panel with LED backlighting that is protected by Gorilla Glass 4. There is a 720p front facing webcam above the display and a 1080p camera on the keyboard that can be used while in tablet or tent modes while using the display as a viewfinder. Further, HP managed to cram what looks like a decent sized keyboard sans numpad and a trackpad that supports multi touch gestures 

The display supports both multi touch and digitizer input using the optional Active Pen which is nice to see and a feature I had wanted to see on the Pavilion x360 when i was looking for a replacement for my old convertible (I'm still looking heh).

Along the edges HP has included HDMI 1.4b, Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 (USB 3.0) Type A, one USB Type-C, one 3.5mm audio jack, and a Micro SDXC card slot for expansion.

Internally, the ProBook X360 11G EE is powered by one of two possible Apollo Lake SoCs: a dual core Celeron N3350 running at 1.1GHz and up to 2.4GHz boost and HD Graphics 500 or a quad core Pentium N4200 clocked at 1.1GHz base and up to 2.5GHz with an Intel HD 505 GPU. Regardless of the processor choice, the convertible also includes 8GB of DDR3L-1600 memory and a 64GB eMMC drive that can be upgraded to a 128GB ot 256GB M.2 SSD for better performance. Ditching the 500GB spinning rust drive of the consumer version is a good thing and is likely what helped HP get the ruggedized specifications.

Networking is handled by Intel dual band 2x2 MIMO 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.2, and Realtek-powered Gigabit Ethernet. HP claims up to 11 hours of battery life.

The ProBook X360 11G Education Edition comes with a 3 year warranty and starts at $329 with availability expected in January. Unfortunately, the convertible will initially only be available to educational institutions and HP partners though eventually you should be able to pick one up through a reseller. Another possible wrinkle is that the notebooks come preloaded with HP’s School Pack software which has software for students that lets a teacher do lesson planning, desktop sharing, and a student social network among other things. Of course if your school does not use this platform it is just more pre-installed software taking up resources. On the other hand, they do come with Windows 10 Pro rather than Home so that is something at least.

I wouldn't mind getting my hands on one to see how it feels as it sounds like it is more solidly built than the non education edition version.

 

Source: Tech Report

Love upgrading memory on your laptop? Double check any Apollo Lake machines you like.

Subject: General Tech | August 24, 2016 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: ultraportable, LPDDR4, Intel, apollo lake

A report from DigiTimes is bad news for those who like to upgrade their ultraportable laptops.  To cut down on production costs companies like Acer, Lenovo, Asustek Computer, HP and Dell will use on-board memory as opposed to DIMMs on their Apollo Lake based machines.  This should help keep the costs of flipbooks, 2 in 1's and other small machines stable or even lower them by a small amount but does mean that they cannot easily be upgraded. Many larger notebooks will also switch to this style of memory so be sure to do your research before purchasing a new mobile system.

industry’s-first-8-gigabit-Gb-low-power-double-data-rate-4-LPDDR4-mobile-DRAM.jpg

"Notebook vendors have mostly adopted on-board memory designs in place of DIMMs to make their Intel Apollo Lake-based notebooks as slim as possible, according to sources from Taiwan's notebook supply chain"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes