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.
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!
- 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!
- Azulle Byte3 Mini PC (N3450/4GB/32GB/Win 10 Pro): $199.99 - Amazon.com
We'll start with a quick look inside the box:
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.
Cherry is one of the most well-known brands in the mechanical keyboard industry. The company, based in Germany, is best known for their MX key switches, which have become the gold standard in the premium keyboard market. As a result of their high standards, tight quality control, and even the occasional scarcity, “genuine Cherry key switches” has become a veritable marketing point on more than a few features lists.
Since they make their own switches, it should come as no surprise that Cherry also produces their own keyboards. Today, we’re looking at the G80-3494, a new entry in the G80-3000 line and one of the few keyboards in the United States to feature Cherry MX Silent Black key switches. Do their full-fledged boards live up to the lofty standards of their switches?
- MSRP: $149.99 (currently sale price: $111.56)
- Layout: ANSI, 104-key
- Key Switch: Cherry MX Silent Black (linear)
- Key Lifespan: 50M keystroke
- Actuation Force: 60cN
- N-Key Rollover: 14-key simultaneous
- Cable: 1.75m, non-detachable, PVC coated
- Dimensions: 470 x 195 x 44 mm
- Weight: 935g
Subject: Systems | February 14, 2018 - 01:49 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: small form factor, silent, SFF, nvidia, mini PC, Intel, Inferno, GTX 1080, gaming, fanless, core i7 7700k, compulab, Airtop2
Compulab, maker of mini systems such as the fitlet and Airtop is bringing the compact, fanless concept to a powerful gaming system - with no less than an Intel Core i7-7700K and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080. The catch? Is is not yet available, pending an upcoming Kickstarter campaign beginning February 24.
The teaser image of the upcoming Airtop2 Inferno fanless gaming system
The Airtop2 is already available for purchase in a fanless workstation version, built-to-order with up to an Intel Xeon E3-1275 v6 and NVIDIA Quadro P4000 (starting at $2575 for that configuration before adding memory/storage), and this new "Inferno" version of the Airtop2 promises to be very interesting to silent computing enthusiasts.
Front and rear views of the Inferno system
A fanless gaming system with high-end components is only going to be as effective as its cooling system, and here Compulab has a lot of experience on the industrial/embedded side of things.
Exploded view of the standard Airtop2 design (no images of the Airtop2 Inferno interior available yet)
Compulab lists these specs for the Airtop2 Inferno (along with the teaser, "and a little more..."):
- Unlocked Intel Core-i7 7700K
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080
- Up to 64 GB DDR4 2400 RAM
- 2x NVMe + 4x 2.5″ SSD / HDD
- 2x USB 3.1 + 7x USB 3.0 | dual LAN | front (and back) audio
Compulab has also provided some benchmark results to demonstrate how effective their fanless implementation of these components is, with results using 3DMark and Unigine Heaven available on the Inferno product page.
The company has set up a Q&A page for the Airtop2 Inferno, but pricing/availability info will probably have to wait until February 24th when the Kickstarter campaign is active.
Introduction and First Impressions
The Define R6 marks the sixth generation of the Define series, and Fractal Design’s flagship ATX case now sports a cleverly-designed tempered glass side panel and a redesigned interior. Does the new R6 again define the ATX mid-tower market? We’re about to find out!
Looking at the front panel alone it would be very difficult to tell the Define R6 from its predecessors, as it still has the trademark solid front door panel, nicely finished here with aluminum. 5.25-inch drive support is down to a single bay, but it is there if you need it for an optical drive or fan controller - though the Define R6 also includes a new PWM fan hub (more on that later on).
The most obvious change to the design is the tempered glass side panel, which makes sense considering that has been the biggest industry trend of the past couple of years. Fractal Design does it a little differently than you’ll see elsewhere, however, with a pop-in design that makes screws optional. The Define cases were already very clean and simple externally, and this implementation of a glass side panel fits that aesthetic perfectly.
Improvements such as the third-gen ModuVent top panel and additional storage and cooling capacity from the redesigned interior make this release a bigger upgrade than it might at first appear, and in this review we’ll go over the case inside and out to see how this latest Define enclosure stacks up in this ever-crowded market.
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 6, 2017 - 11:43 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: video card, silent, Passive, palit, nvidia, KalmX, GTX 1050 Ti, graphics card, gpu, geforce
Palit is offering a passively-cooled GTX 1050 Ti option with their new KalmX card, which features a large heatsink and (of course) zero fan noise.
"With passive cooler and the advanced powerful Pascal architecture, Palit GeForce GTX 1050 Ti KalmX - pursue the silent 0dB gaming environment. Palit GeForce GTX 1050 Ti gives you the gaming horsepower to take on today’s most demanding titles in full 1080p HD @ 60 FPS."
The specs are identical to a reference GTX 1050 Ti (4GB GDDR5 @ 7 Gb/s, Base 1290/Boost 1392 MHz, etc.), so expect the full performance of this GPU - with some moderate case airflow, no doubt.
We don't have specifics on pricing or availablity just yet.
Quiet, Efficient Gaming
The last few weeks have been dominated by talk about the memory controller of the Maxwell based GTX 970. There are some very strong opinions about that particular issue, and certainly NVIDIA was remiss on actually informing consumers about how it handles the memory functionality of that particular product. While that debate rages, we have somewhat lost track of other products in the Maxwell range. The GTX 960 was released during this particular firestorm and, while it also shared the outstanding power/performance qualities of the Maxwell architecture, it is considered a little overpriced when compared to other cards in its price class in terms of performance.
It is easy to forget that the original Maxwell based product to hit shelves was the GTX 750 series of cards. They were released a year ago to some very interesting reviews. The board is one of the first mainstream cards in recent memory to have a power draw that is under 75 watts, but can still play games with good quality settings at 1080P resolutions. Ryan covered this very well and it turned out to be a perfect gaming card for many pre-built systems that do not have extra power connectors (or a power supply that can support 125+ watt graphics cards). These are relatively inexpensive cards and very easy to install, producing a big jump in performance as compared to the integrated graphics components of modern CPUs and APUs.
The GTX 750 and GTX 750 Ti have proven to be popular cards due to their overall price, performance, and extremely low power consumption. They also tend to produce a relatively low amount of heat, due to solid cooling combined with that low power consumption. The Maxwell architecture has also introduced some new features, but the major changes are to the overall design of the architecture as compared to Kepler. Instead of 192 cores per SMK, there are now 128 cores per SMM. NVIDIA has done a lot of work to improve performance per core as well as lower power in a fairly dramatic way. An interesting side effect is that the CPU hit with Maxwell is a couple of percentage points higher than Kepler. NVIDIA does lean a bit more on the CPU to improve overall GPU power, but most of this performance hit is covered up by some really good realtime compiler work in the driver.
Asus has taken the GTX 750 Ti and applied their STRIX design and branding to it. While there are certainly faster GPUs on the market, there are none that exhibit the power characteristics of the GTX 750 Ti. The combination of this GPU and the STRIX design should result in an extremely efficient, cool, and silent card.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 17, 2014 - 03:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB, DirectCU II, silent, factory overclocked
The new ASUS STRIX series, which currently has only one member, is a custom built card designed for silent operation by not spinning up the fans until the GPU hits 65C. They've also doubled the RAM for the first model, the GTX 780 OC 6GB which should help with 4k gaming as well as putting a 52MHz overclock on the GPU out of the box. [H]ard|OCP had a chance to try out this new card and test it against the R9 290X and a standard GTX 780. Considering the price premium of $100 on this card it needs to do significantly better than the base GTX 780 and in line with the R9 290X which indeed it does do out of the box.
Of course the first thing you do with a silent card is attempt to overclock it until it screams which of course [H] did and managed to get GPU up to 1.215GHz on air which offered noticeable improvements. Stay tuned for 4k and SLI results in the near future.
"We take the new ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card and push it to its limits while overclocking. We will compare performance overclocked with a GeForce GTX 780 Ti, AMD Radeon R9 290X and find out what gameplay improvements overclocking allows. This card isn't just silent, its got overclocking prowess too."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- ASUS GTX 780 Ti Matrix Platinum Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Inno3D GeForce GTX 780 Ti iChill DHS 3072MB @ Kitguru
- 35-Way NVIDIA/AMD Proprietary Linux Graphics Driver Comparison @ Phoronix
- Let’s Do Some Math: AMD Radeon R9 295X2 2x4GB @ X-bit Labs
- HIS R9 290X iPower IceQ X² Turbo & R9 290 iPower IceQ X² OC @ Legion Hardware
- MSI R9 280 Gaming v PNY GTX760 XLR8 @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech, Systems | July 14, 2013 - 11:51 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: utilite, ubuntu, silent, SFF, linux, fanless, cortex-a9, compulab, arm, Android
CompuLab has announced a new fanless, small form factor PC called the Utilite. This new PC comes from the same company that engineered the MintBox, MintBox 2, and Fit PC series. The Utilite is a low-power desktop PC powered by a quad core ARM Cortex A9 processor and runs either Ubuntu Linux or Google’s Android operating system.
The upcoming Utilite measures 5.3” x 3.9” x 0.8”(135 x 100 x 21mm) and consumes anywhere between 3W and 8W of power depending on the particular hardware configuration. It is designed to be a quiet desktop replacement with plenty of IO.
CompuLab will provide single core, dual core, and quad core CPU SKUs. Specifically, the Utilite is powered by a Freescale i.MX6 ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor that is clocked at up to 1.2 GHz. Users will be able to further configure the system with up to 4GB of DDR3 1066 MHz memory and a 512GB mSATA SSD. Storage can be further expanded using Micro SD-XC cards (maximum of 128GB per card). The GPU in the SoC is compatible with OpenGL ES 1.1 and 2.0 as well as OpenVG 1.1 and OpenCL EP. It is capable of hardware decoding multi-stream 1080p video in a variety of common formats.
Wireless functionality includes an 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi card and Bluetooth 3.0.
The Utilite has a dark gray case with silver front and rear bezels.
The front of the Utilite PC features the following IO options in addition to the power button and indicator LEDs.
- 1 x USB OTG (Micro USB)
- 1 x RS232 (ultra mini serial connector)
- 1 x Micro SD card slot
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x 3.5mm audio jacks (line in, line out)
The rear of the PC hosts:
- 1 x DC power input
- 1 x Wi-Fi antenna
- 1 x RS232 (ultra mini serial connector)
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 jacks
- 2 x HDMI video outputs
According to fanless PC guru FanlessTech, CompuLab will be releasing the ARM-powered Utilite mini PC next month with a starting price of $99 and a variety of SKUs with varying amounts of CPU cores, memory, and storage. The Utilite PC is a bit on the expensive side, but this is a system for industrial and enterprise use as well as consumers, and Olivier from FanlessTech notes that build quality should be on par with those goals/industry aims.
Most IT workers or computer enthusiasts tend to ‘accumulate’ computer and electronics gear over time. Over the years it is easy to end up with piles of old and outdated computer parts, components and electronics–whether it’s an old Pentium machine that your work was throwing out, RAM chips you no longer needed after your last upgrade, or an old CRT monitor that your cousin wasn’t sure what to do with. Tossing the accumulated hardware out with the next trash pickup doesn’t even enter the equation, because there’s that slight possibility you might need it someday.
I myself have one (or two, and maybe half an attic…) closet full of old stuff ranging from my old Commodore 64/1541 Floppy disk drive with Zork 5.25” floppies, to a set of four 30 pin 1 MB/70ns SIMM chips that cost $100 each as upgrades to my first 486 DX2/50 Mhz Compudyne PC back in 1989. (Yes, you read that right, $100 for 1 MB of memory.) No matter if you have it all crammed into one closet or spread all over your house, you likely have a collection of gear dating back to the days of punch cards, single button joysticks, and InvisiClues guides.
Occasionally I’ll look into my own closet and lament all the ‘wasted’ technology that resides there. I’m convinced much of the hardware still has some sparks of life left. As a result, I am always looking for a reason to revive some of it from the dead. Since they’ve already been bought and paid for, it feels almost blasphemous to the technology gods not to do something with the hardware. In some cases, it might not be worth the effort, (Windows Vista on an old Micron Transport Trek2 PII-300 laptop doesn’t end well for anyone). In others cases, you can build something fun or useful using parts that you have sitting around and are waiting for a new lease on life.
Subject: Systems | April 24, 2012 - 06:51 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: silent, SFF, Lenovo, ThinkCentre M91p
Most people who want a small form factor PC at home are those who will build it themselves, but not everyone has the time or inclination to do so. That is where systems like the Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p come in handy. Powered by a 2.7GHz Core 5-2500S, a single 4GB DIMM of DDR3-1333 and a 500GB HDD it is not overwhelming in its abilities but certainly qualifies as a low heat and low noise machine. Silent PC Review thought that this machine would be better for an office PC than an HTPC as the Intel HD3000 struggles with playback in some cases but are very glad to see the rare 2500S in a system as it is hard to purchase as a seperate item but is quite nice with a turbo speed of 3.7GHz.
"The USFF version of Lenovo's ThinkCentre M91p packs a significant punch in a small package. Utilizing an Intel "S" low power processor and a 150W external AC power adapter, it's also incredibly energy efficient."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Dell Alienware X51 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Dell Precision T3600 Review: Dell's New Enterprise @ AnandTech
- QuietPC Nofan Icepipe A40-Z68 Silent PC @ OC3D
- ZOTAC ZBOX Nano XS AD11 Plus Mini PC Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Ars Technica system guide: Bargain Box April 2012