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Posts Tagged ‘mini pc’

Dreamcade Replay is a Retro Gaming Console Powered by Intel Braswell or Cherry Trail Processor (Crowdfunding)

June 24th, 2016 No comments

If you are old enough to have played with Sega or Atari game console, and feel nostalgic about playing retro games, Dream Arcades Inc. plans to launch a vintage gaming console powered by Intel Braswell or Cherry Trail processor, running Windows 10 and preloaded with licensed retro games such as Pacman, Asteroids, Canyon Bomber, Slot Machine, Warlords, and many other. The console also has Sega/Atari ports to be used with your old game controllers.

Dreamcade_Replay_ConsolesThree main products will be offered: Wireless Arcade Controller, Replay Classic game console, and Replay Mobile arcade machine, with the last two using the same hardware with the following preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x7-Z8700 Cherry Trail quad core processor, or Intel Celeron J3160 (or other) Braswell quad core processor with Intel HD graphics
  • System Memory – 4GB
  • Storage – 64GB eMMC flash + micro SD and SD slots
  • Video Output – HDMI
  • Display (Arcade edition only) – 8 display IPS screen
  • Audio Out – HDMI, and 3.5mm audio jack
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Connectivity – Ethernet, WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • Game controller ports – 2x Atari/Sega ports
  • Misc – Controller button, and joystick (arcade only)

Hardware specifications are not completely frozen, as I’ve been told the company is working with several company to produce the mainboard matching those requirements. Both the game console and arcade machine will be pre-loaded with games that used to run on Atari 2600, NES, Genesis, Intellivision, Atari 7800, Super NES, Atari 5200, ColecoVision, Master System, Playstation, Sega 32X, Nintendo 64, Game Gear, Gameboy Color and Advance, and since it’s a Windows 10 mini PC, you’d be able to run any games you want, provided the processor and GPU are fast enough. But that means any old Windows game would run on it.

Windows_10_mini_PC_Atari_Sega_PortsA dozen type of game controllers are supported, and 4 players can play together at the same time. The project has now launched on Kickstarter, where you can get Replay Classic with a standard wireless controller for as low as $259 (early bird), or the Replay Mobile for $599. Shipping is not included, and the campaign appears to the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom only, and adds a significant amount, especially for the 7kg+ Replay Mobile. Delivery is scheduled for December 2016.

TVPRO HD6 is an Intel Bay Trail mini PC Designed for Video Conference

June 23rd, 2016 3 comments

Intel Atom Z3735F processor has been one of the most popular low power Intel Atom processor, and has been found in tablets, mini PCs, TV sticks running Windows, Android or Linux operating systems. TVPRO HD6 is still marketed as a mini PC, but the form factor is a little different as it includes a high-definition camera, and has been designed to be placed on top of the television to be used as a video conferencing system with Skype, Google Hangout, or other similar applications.

TVPRO_HD6_Video_Conference_mini_PCTVPRO HD6 specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom Z3735F “Bay Trail” quad core processor @ 1.33 GHz / 1.83 GHz with Intel HD graphics
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 32 GB eMMC flash + micro SD card slot up to 128GB
  • Video Output – 2x HDMI output
  • Audio – 2x HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack, 3.5mm microphone jack, dual microphone up to 5 meters range, dual speakers
  • Camera – 1080p @ 30 fps wide view camera for video conference
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – Power Button, power LED
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 200 x 48 x 36 mm
  • Weight – N/A

The system runs Windows 10, and ships with a power supply, a 90 deg. HDMI adapter, an HDMI cable, a 2.4 GHz air mouse with QWERTY keyboard, charging cable and RF nano key, a warranty card, and a user’s manual. The dual HDMI output can be used to show presentation slides on one monitor, and your face while you are explaining your thing on the other monitor.

TVPRO_HD6_mini_PC

TVPRO HD6 can be purchased for $146.05 shipped on Aliexpress. I could also find a reseller in the UK called Mag Technology, where you’ll find a few more picture, including the air mouse, and use cases. The manufacturer could be WeDo Century Industrial, and beside the Bay Trial version, they also claim to have an Android 5.0 model with Rockchip RK3288 quad core Cortex A17 processor. However, if you want an Android system with camera, there are more low end choices, including MX HD23 TV box.

Intel_Mini_PC_Camera_Board

Via AndroidPC.es

Partaker B4 Intel Celeron N3150 Barebone mini PC Sells for $131

June 20th, 2016 2 comments

This week-end I received Vorke V1 mini PC powered by Intel Celeron J3160 processor, and with upgradable memory, storage and WiFi as explaining in the first part of the review, and with a $160 price tag after coupon I found it to be pretty good value (Normal price is $200). But still, one person commented that it was too expensive, while another mentioned that some people may prefer to buy extra components such as SO-DIMM RAM, mSATA SSD, and wireless modules locally in order to benefit from a local warranty. So I went on aliexpress to find barebone mini PCs based on Intel Celeron J3160 processor, and I had no luck probably because the processor is relatively recent, so I refocused my search on Intel Celeron N3150 processor which has roughly the same performance, and the one of the cheapest options I could find was Partaker B4 mini PC selling for $131.49 in barebone configure with shipping by DHL.

Partaker_B4Inctel Partaker B4 barebone specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron N3150 quad core processor @ 1.6/2.08 GHz with Intel HD graphics GPU @ 320/640MHz – 6W TDP
  • System Memory – 1x (or 2x?) SO-DIMM slot for up to 8GB RAM
  • Storage – 1x mSATA 3.0 connector for SSD. 1x SATA 3.0 connector for HDD
  • Video Output – HDMI and VGA
  • Audio Output – HDMI, 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks; ALC662 chip
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi (150 Mbps) with two external WiFi antennas.
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports, 4x USB 3.0 ports
  • Misc – Power button & LED
  • Power Supply – 12V/3A to 6A
  • Dimensions – 16 x 12 x 4 cm
  • Weight – 2.5 kg ???

Partaker_B4_4x_USB_3.0_mini_PCThe system is said to be fanless. Sadly Inctel, the company behind the product, did not feel it necessary to post image of the motherboard in Aliexpress or the product page. I could only find the picture below on a Russian blog for the Core i3 version of Partaker B4.

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You’ll need to add your own storage and memory, as well as install your favorite operating system, to get a working system. The Aliexpress page have memory and storage options too, and if you add 4GB RAM and 64GB SSD, the price becomes $193.64, or quite close to the standard price for Vorke V1, minus an 802.11ac module and a Windows 10 license, but with more USB 3.0 ports. I have tried to find sellers of Partaker B4 mini PC with China post airmail to get a cheaper price, but all seem to be using DHL or Fedex.

Vorke V1 Braswell mini PC Unboxing and Teardown

June 18th, 2016 18 comments

Vorke V1 is a Braswell mini PC pre-loaded with Windows 10, powered by an Intel Celeron J3160 quad core with 4GB RAM, 64 GB internal storage, and two important features if you want to use it as a desktop PC: support for internal 2.5″ hard drive, and dual display support via HDMI and VGA ports. GeekBuying sent me a sample for review, and I’ll do a two part review, starting with pictures of the device, and its internal, before publishing the second part testing the performance, stability and features of the mini PC.

Vorke V1 Unboxing

There’s not much to say about the package, as it’s just a bland carton box with a sticker with Vorke V1 name, processor and memory info.

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The mini PC ships with a 19V/2.1A power supply and a power cord, as well as a mounting bracket and 5 screws for 2.5″ SATA SSD or HDD.

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The top cover is quite glossy and features a large power button.

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The front panel exposes two USB 2.0 ports, a micro SD slot, and a small window for an infrared receiver, not commonly found on Intel mini PCs. The two side has large ventilation holes, and the rear panel features the power jack, HDMI and VGA output, Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 3.0 ports, and a 3.5mm headphone / Line out jack.

Vorke_V1_Beelink_BT7_Raspberry_Pi_2I found Vorke V1 to be larger than most devices I’ve received, so I took a picture with Beelink BT7 and a Raspberry Pi 2 board for comparison.

Normally I’d go to the teardown part now, but with Vorke V1 I have one more step to do, as I can install a 2.5″ hard drive or SSD.

Vorke_V1_Bottom_CoverTo do so, I had to loosen one screw on the bottom of the case, and turn the lid anti-clockwise to open it.

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We can see the bottom of the board with a black protection sheet where you are supposed to install the drive. While I’m here, components of interest include CO-TOP C2417NS (probably Gigabit Ethernet magnetics), ITE IT6513FN DisplayPort to VGA controller, and ENE KB9029Q C embedded / keyboard controller with 8051 MCU, 128KB flash.

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I used a thin 128GB SSD drive first, and the first step is to install the drive inside the mounting bracket with the four screws, before inserting the drive into the SATA interface, and tightening the remaining black screw in the location close to the CO-TOP IC. You can then put back the lid, making sure the two arrows are aligned as shown in the picture of the bottom of the case, before turning it clockwise, and tightening it the screw.

But for the next part of the review, I decided to scavenge a 1TB hard drive from another device, namely a Toshiba MQ01BD100.

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The drive is 9.5mm thick, while the SSD was 7 mm thick, and while I could still close the lid, there was a small gap as shown below. So it might be better to use 7mm drives with Vorke V1.
Vorke_V1_HDD_Case_GapThat’s just a minor issue, and it should not affect the performance.

Vorke V1 Teardown

In order to access the top of the main board, you’ll need to pop up the top cover with a sharp plastic tool, and work your way around.
Vorke_V1_TeardownThe first thing that came to mind is that this mini PC is modular with removable memory, storage and Wireless module. Let’s check the board in more details.

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The mainboard takes ADATA ADDS1600W4G11-8 SO-DIMM module with 4GB DDR3L RAM, Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3160 module with 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi and Bluetooth, and FORESEE FSSSDBABAC-064G mSATA SSD (See pic below). We can also find an RTC battery, Realtek RTL8111GN PCIe Gigabit transceiver, ALC265 audio codec, RT5067A (not sure what it is), and Realtek RTS5159 USB card reader.

Foresee_SSDSo overall, the system has similar features to an Intel NUC, but a lower price point. The Braswell processor is cooling with a thick metal plate and a fan controller via 3 pins.

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There are also a few unused headers that would allow for some hardware hacking with UART, USB, LPC, and microphone headers.

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I found the hardware quite interesting to study, and it’s the most module low cost low power mini PC I’ve reviewed so far, with no soldered memory, storage or wireless module. We’ll have to see how well it performs under load, as apart from the fan and “heatsink” on the processor, not much else has been done for cooling. GeekBuying claims Windows 10 Home is activated in the device, and they also quickly and successfully tested Ubuntu 16.04, so I asked them whether they planned to sell a cheaper version without Windows 10 license, but there only answer was people could install the OS they wanted…

I’d like to thank GeekBuying for provide the device, and they sell it for $199.99 including shipping, but you can get that down $159.99 to with coupon VORKEV1. The  only other seller I could find is Banggood where it goes for for $199.

Vensmile U1 Quad Core Remix OS mini PC Comes with 2GB RAM, 32GB Storage

June 16th, 2016 18 comments

I see more and more devices based on Remix OS, an operating system based on Android with desktop improvements, and the latest is Vensmile U1 powered by Amlogic S905 processor with 2GB RAM, and 32GB storage, and which strongly looks like Unuiga S905+ TV box, also running Remix OS, and launched via an ultimately unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign.

Vensmile_U1Vensmile U1 specifications:

  • SoC –  Amlogic S905 quad core ARM Cortex-A53 @ up to 2.0GHz with penta-core Mali-450MP GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB RAM
  • Storage – 32GB flash + micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0, AV
  • Audio – HDMI, AV, optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n (ac?) WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – IR receiver, touch button for power on/off and standby
  • Power Supply –  5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 11.2 x 11.2 x 2 cm

Vensmile_U1_Remix_OS_mini_PCSo the specs are indeed exactly the same as for Unuiga S905+, possibly with a small difference for the wireless module. The product will ship with one IR remote control, a HDMI Cable, a power adapter, and a manual in English.

Vensmile U1 is sold on GearBest for $60.99 including shipping with GBVU1 coupon, or about $6 extra compared to the crowdfunding campaign. It could also find it on eBay for $71.99, and Banggood for $79.99.

Via Hometheatrelife

MeegoPad A02 Remix OS TV Stick Has Now Launched on Indiegogo for $39 and Up

June 10th, 2016 2 comments

MeegoPad A02 octa-core Remix OS first launched in China for as low as 199 CNY ($30), and the company has raised around 107,000 RMB (~$16,300 US) so far. In the meantime, they’ve also launched the product on Indiegogo for a ~25% markup for cheapest pledge as the 1GB RAM/16GB Flash is offered for $39 + shipping, instead of $30 + shipping in China.

MeegoPad_A02_Remix_OS_TV-StickThe specifications have not changed much (some features have been clarified), and there are still two models with different memory and storage capacities:

  • SoC – Allwinner A83T octa-core ARM Cortex-A7 @ 1.6 GHz with  PowerVR SGX544MP1 GPU
  • System Memory / Storage
    • 1GB DDR3L + 16 GB eMMC flash, and micro SD slot up to 128GB OR
    • 2GB DDR3L + 32 GB eMMC flash, and micro SD slot up to 128GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 up to 1080p60
  • Audio Output – HDMI, 3,5 mm headphone jack
  • Connetivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB port for power
  • Misc – Power button
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via micro USB
  • Dimensions – 124 x 46 x 8 mm
  • Weight – 48 grams

The stick is said to run Remix OS 2.0 with the Google Play store, despite Google having asked Jide to remove the Play Store from their own Remix OS devices.

MeegoPad_A02_ports

The 2GB RAM/32GB storage version goes for $49 + shipping, and is now the most popular option. The stick will ship with a power adapter, a USB cable, and a HDMI extension cable. Shipping is free to most of the Western world (North America and Europe), but adds to $5 to other countries. Delivery is scheduled for 30 days after the campaign completes, so perks should ship around August 2016. Alternatively, you could also try your luck to with MeegoPad A02 through their Facebook giveaway.

$66 I5 Intel Mini PC Features 2GB RAM, 32GB Storage, HDMI & VGA Ports (Promo)

June 8th, 2016 28 comments

It would have been unthinkable a few years ago, but you can now buy a computer capable of running Windows or Linux and shipped to your door for just $65.99 (with coupon GBi5) thanks to i5 mini PC based on Bay Trail processor (not Core i5 as the name may have implied), and the usual 2GB RAM and 32GB storage combination.
i5_mini-PC
i5 mini PC specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom Z3735F “Bay Trail” quad core processor @ 1.33 GHz / 1.83 GHz with Intel HD graphics
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3L
  • Storage – 32 GB eMMC + micro SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4, and VGA
  • Audio I/F – HDMI, 3.5mm earphone jack
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Misc – Power Button, power LED
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 13.00 x 7.50 x 2.00 cm
  • Weight – 348 grams
The device ships with a power adapter, and an external WiFi antenna, and is said to run Windows 8. You can be sure it’s not activated, or that they used a non-approved tablet license. It’s not a problem if you’re going to install your own OS however.

Cheap_Bay_Trail_mini_PCi5 mini PC is not the first Intel platform below $70, but the others I have in mind use the TV stick form factors such as MeegoPad T02 or the more recent Star Cloud PCG02U running Ubuntu 14.04.

Beelink BT7 Review – Windows 10 mini PC Based on Intel Atom x7-Z8700 Processor

June 5th, 2016 15 comments

Beelink BT7 mini PC powered by Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor offers an interesting alternative to the fanless Voyo V3 mini PC, as it is actively cooled by a small fan, supports (Gigabit) Ethernet, and comes with three full USB 3.0 ports. There are three versions with either 64, 128 (64+64) or 320 (64+256) GB stortage, and I got Beelink BT7 128GB to play with. Since I’ve already checkout the hardware, I’ll focus on the performance and stability of the device on Windows 10 in the second part of the review.

Setup and System Information

I placed the mini PC on my desk, made use of the three USB 3.0 ports with a USB keyboard, a USB mouse, and a Seagate USB 3.0 hard drive, and connected Ethernet, HDMI and the power cable.
Beelink_BT7_desktop_mode

However, if you happen to own a TV or monitor that supports VESA mounts, you can use the include VESA bracket and screws, as well as the short HDMI cable to hook Beelink BT7 right behind the display.

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This is definitely a plus if you are short on space, or just want a cleaner desk. Press the red button on the side to start the computer. The boot will typically take 20 seconds, but the very first time you’ll go through Windows 10 setup starting by language selection between German, English, Spanish, Russian, and simplified Chinese. I assume other languages might also be available, but I’m unclear if it can be selected here.

Beelink_BT7_Windows_10_SetupThe rest of the usual Windows setup includes EULA agreement, Custom or Express settings selection (I went with Express), and account creation. Contrary to the pre-installed version of Windows 10 on Voyo V3 which lacks account support, Windows 10 on Beelink BT7 appears to be “clean”.

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As indicated in my unboxing and teardown post, I was confused at first because while I had been sent a 128GB version, all I got was a 64GB SSD in the device. But as you can see from the screenshot above, leaving apart the NTFS and exFAT partition from my USB hard drive, there are two storage devices with the C: “Windows” drive (eMMC flash) with 58.9 GB in total, and E: “New Volume” drive (SSD) with 57.5 GB.

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We can check some of the info in Control Panel->System and Security->System to find out an activated version (i.e. properly licensed) of 64-bit Windows 10 Home is installed, and the processor is indeed an Intel Atom x7-Z8700 CPU coupled with 4GB RAM.

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The Device Manager confirms the two hardware storage devices with “PowerSSD” and “Toshiba 064G70”, Bleutooth and WiFI connectivity, Gigabit Ethernet, etc…

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HWiNFO64 information is mostly the same as for Voyo V3 for CPU, GPU, and Operating System, but the reported memory is a little higher (4010MB vs 3882 MB), and the BIOS and storage info are obviously different.

Since many people did not trust the Windows 10 version installed on Voyo V3, they reinstalled Windows 10 themselves, but met a roadblock while finding the drivers. The company did release the complete firmware image (5GB+), so people extracted the drivers and provided a much smaller download link. Even though the issue was resolved after a while, many users went through the unnecessary steps of finding the drivers. With Beelink BT7, fewer people are likely to re-install Windows 10 since the security features are still enabled, and if you still do, the company provide  CD in the package with all Windows 10 drivers for Beelink BT7.

CD Content

CD Content

List of drivers available in the CD.

Vendor Driver or Utility name Driver Version Released date WHQL’d
Intel Intel(R) HD Graphics 20.19.15.4308 04/11/15 Y
Intel I2C Controller 604.10146.2654.7394 04/11/15 Y
Intel GPIO Controller 604.10146.2652.3930 04/11/15 Y
Realtek Realtek I2S Audio Codec 6.4.10147.4327 04/11/15 Y
Intel Intel SST Audio Device 604.10135.2664.5232 04/11/15 Y
Microsoft HID-compliant System control 10.0.10586.0 04/11/15 Y
Realtek Realtek PCle GBE Family Controller 9.1.402.2015 04/11/15 Y
Broadcom Broadcom 802.11abgn Wireless SDIO Adapter 5.93.102.19 04/11/15 Y
Microsoft Intel SD Host Controller 10.0.10586.0 04/11/15 Y

So when it comes to Windows 10 integration, and driver availability, Beelink BT7 clearly comes ahead of Voyo V3.

Beelink BT7 Benchmarks

Let’s run first run PCMARK 8 HOME accelerated and conventional benchmarks.

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Both scores are slightly higher than on Voyo V3. The PCMARK 8 Home Accelerated score is 1,509 points (vs 1,428), and PCMARK 8 Home Conventional is 1,211 points (vs. 1,066). Please note that the graphics driver on Voyo V3 would often crash, so I had to repeat the test a few times. Beelink BT7 had no such issues.

Something changed in 3DMark benchmark, and you now need to run each tests individually. I could run Sky Diver 1.0, Ice Storm 1.2 and Cloud Gate 1.1 successfully, while in Voyo V3 Skydiver would not run at all.

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However the two benchmark that went through on both mini PCs have vastly different scores in favor of Voyo V3. Cloud Gate 1.1: 1,664 vs 2,065 points; Ice Storm 1.2: 9,599 vs 20,853 points. A side by side comparison of the two Ice Storm 1.2 scores only show a different UI version, and strangely the width and height for Voyo V3 is not reported. The maximum CPU frequency was also only 1,760 MHz on BT7 against 2,319 MHz on Voyo V3, so maybe some throttling was happening.

So I ran the Ice Storm 1.2 and Cloud Gate 1.1 benchmarks again another day, and the results became much better with respectively 23,999 and 2,185 points.

Beelink_BT7_3DMark

Passmark 8 benchmark results ended being nearly the score as Voyo V3 with 845.9 points (vs 839.9 pts).

Beelink_BT7_Passmark-8CrystalDiskMark was used to test performance of the internal flash (C:), the SSD (E:), and the NTFS partition on my USB drive (D:).

Beelink_BT7_CrystalDiskMark_eMMC_FlashSequential read is excellent, sequential write not that much, with random write and read speeds roughly equivalent to the storage devices in Voyo V3 and MINIX NGC-1. Random I/Os are quite important when you’re going to run the operating systems, and there are many small read and write operation.

Beelink_BT7_CrystalDiskMark_SSDThe SSD does not perform quite as well, but should still be OK for data and programs. I’d still recommend installing programs on, and set the caches’ paths to, the eMMC flash (C:) for better performance.
Beelink_BT7_CrystalDiskMark_USB-3.0_NTFSUSS 3.0 performance was basically the same as on Voyo V3. The first run however had a very low 20 MB/s sequential write speed, which improved to 80MB/s+ in my second attempt. The random I/Os (4K Q32T1 and 4K) are quite slow, but it’s normal for a mechanical drive.

Finally, I installed iperf-2.x to test Gigabit Ethernet and WiFi performance.

Gigabit Ethernet dual duplex transfer with “iperf.exe -t 60 -c -d“:

That’s actually the best device I’ve tested when it comes to Ethernet performance.

iperf Full duplex Transfer over Ethernet (Mbps)

iperf Full duplex Transfer over Ethernet (Mbps)

The Wireless module is supposed to support 2.4 and 5.0 GHz WiFi, but only 2.4 GHz access points were detected in Windows. I repeated the same test with WiFi @ 802.11n:

Results were a bit disappointing but similar to the WiFi performance I got with Voyo V3. Since WiFi is not really designed for full duplex, I repeat the test in one direction only.

Again the results is about the same as I had with Voyo V3’s WiFi.

I’ve created a comparison chart between Beelink BT7 against Voyo V3, MINIX NGC-1, Tronsmart Ara X5, Intel NUC, Intel Core-M compute stick, abd Kangaroo mobile desktop in order to have a better feel of the relative performance of those systems. 3DMark Ice Storm results are divided by 20 to get a more readable chart.

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While the more expensive Core m3 stick is clearly ahead, Beelink BT7 is pretty good, and overall slightly better than Voyo V3 expect for sequential write speed.

Beelink BT7 User Experience and Usability Testing

Beelink BT7 passed the benchmark test almost flawlessly, with the main worry being the low 3D graphics performance during my first run of 3Dmark possibly due to some throttling, but the most important of course is how the system perform in real-life tasks. I perform the following using 1080p59 resolution, except for Kodi were I set the resolution to 3840×2160 @ 30 Hz:

  • Multi-tasking – Using Microsoft Edge, Thunderbird, LibreOffice, and Gimp at the same time
  • Web Browsing with Microsoft Edge
    • Loading multiple tab with CNX Software
    • Playing a 1080p YouTube Videos
    • Playing a flash game  (Candy Crush Saga)
  • Gaming with Asphalt 8
  • Kodi 16.1 @ 4K resolution with 4K videos using H.265 or H.264 codecs, and HDMI audio pass-through

Note that I’m using Microsoft Edge browser, instead of Chrome or Firefox, because the last two simply do not work very well in YouTube. It could be because Edge uses MP4, and the other two VP9, and Cherry Trail processors are not quite powerful enough to handle this without dropped frames.

Overall, Beelink BT7 did very well in all those tasks, although I would have wished higher frame rates in Asphalt 8, but the GPU is just not powerful enough to achieve optimal performance. Kodi could play 4K video using XVDA2 hardware decoding for H.265 and H.264 videos, but 4K 10-bit H.264 and H.265 videos could not be played smoothly, as Kodi fell back to software decoding. HDMI audio pass-through works but is limited to Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1, and TrueHD and DTS HD is not supported (Kodi can transcode TrueHD to DD 5.1).

I also ran HWiNFO64 in the background during my tests, including benchmark to check whether the system would throttle.
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One core did throttle on average, but nothing too bad, and Voyo V3 had two cores throttling on average for the same set of tests.

However, I normally also test playing a 1080p YouTube video for over one hour in Microsoft Edge in full screen mode, and when I came back to check out the status,  the video was buffering, which could happen due to poor connectivity to the YouTube servers unrelated to the device itself, but I soon found out that something else was wrong.

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The CPU was shown to be stuck at 0.13 to 0.26 GHz (in Task Manager) and 480 MHz (6x) in HWiNFO64, without any of the core overheating at the time, and the frequency would not go up whatever I did with the computer. It’s very similar to what happened with my first MINIX NGC-1, except the temperature was perfectly under control. So I turned the mini PC off, waited a few minutes, before starting it again, and playing the video for one more hour.

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The video only had 5 dropped frames out of over 100,000, which happened when I switched between full screen and windowed mode. So no problem at all here, and I have not explanation for what happened, unless there some bug with Windows 10, UEFI, or the drivers.

If you think that I should have used Chrome browser instead, I have a screenshot for you 🙂

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Power consumption in idle mode is normally around 5 to 7 watts, playing a 4K is around 10 to 12 watts, and in power off mode my meter reported 0.0 watt. The power consumption in sleep mode is a little odd, as after one minute the consumption varied between 5 and 10 watts, and after 30 minutes it was still 7 to 7.4 watts, ore greater than in idle mode. The fan turns all the time, but it’s really not that noisy. I can’t hear it when my main PC (which I reckon is quite noisy) or aircon is running. In a quiet room (PC and aircon off), I’m able to hear the fan at around 2 meters away, but the noise is very low.

Conclusion

Beelink BT7 is a good mini PC. The hardware build is of good quality, Windows 10 is activated and without some strange hacks like in Voyo V3, but if you want to reinstall Windows 10 anyway, the drivers are provided. Performance is very slightly better than Voyo V3, except for networking thanks to the Gigabit Ethernet interface. I still found some downsides, such as 5 GHZ WiFi access points are not detected, and in some rare & random cases the performance did suffer a lot (3Dmark benchmark and  one hour 1080p YouTube video). I have not good explanation for the latter issue, as the CPU did not overheat when it happened, and a reboot would apparently fix the issues. I have not tried Linux on the platform, yet but thanks to recent work, you should be able to run a fully working Ubuntu firmware (HDMI audio, and maybe WiFi and Bluetooth) using Ubuntu 16.04 ISO by linuxium.

Price is also an important factor in a purchase decision, and considering both Voyo V3 and Beelink BT7 (128GB) are about the same price (when using coupons), it’s likely a no-brainer to go with Beelink BT7, unless you don’t want a fan at all. The cheapest way to current buy Beelink BT7 is via GearBest for respectively $168.99 (64 GB – coupon: GBBT76), $195.99 (128 GB – coupon: GBBT72), and $249.99 (320 GB – coupon: GBBT73), but it can also be found on Banggood, Amazon UK, and Beelink themselves sell it directly on Amazon US.