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Posts Tagged ‘vorke’

Vorke Z3 Rockchip RK3399 TV Box to Launch in February 2017

December 20th, 2016 16 comments

I was expecting devices based on Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core processor to launch by the end of this year, that is about right now, but finally it looks like products will only start the show by the end of Q1 2017, as Firefly-RK3399 development board is scheduled to ship to backers in March 2017, while GeekBuying has started teasing us with their Vorke Z3 TV box powered by Rockchip RK3399 with 4GB RAM slated to launch in February 2017. [Update: Vorke Z3 is now up for sale for $169.99 including shipping]

vorke-z3Vorke Z3 preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core processor with  2x ARM Cortex A72 cores at up to 2.0GHz, 4x Cortex A53 cores, and an ARM Mali-T860MP4 GPU
  • System Memory – 4GB LPDDR3
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC flash, external SATA interface (hopefully implemented via the PCIe interface), micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60 Hz
  • Video Decoder – 4K H.265 and VP9
  • Audio Output – HDMI, 3.5mm audio port, optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi up to 1200 Mbps (300 Mpbs + 867 Mbps)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 2.0 port, 1x USB type C port (for data and power external devices?)
  • Misc – IR receiver, mechanical power switch
  • Power Supply – TBD
  • Dimension & Weight – TBD

rockchip-rk3399-android-tv-boxThe box will run Android 6.0, and currently gets about 72,500 points in Antutu 6.x with 16,519 points for 3D graphics, 25,805 points for UX, 25,905 points for CPU, and 4254 points for RAM tests. There’s hope a good Linux support on Rockchip RK3399, as Google and Rockchip are working on RK3399 Chromebooks, actively committing code to mainline kernel, and Firefly has ported Ubuntu 16.04 to their RK3399 development board with 3D graphics acceleration, and hardware video decoding is coming.

rk3399-sataPrice has now been announced yet, but for reference, Firefly-RK3399 development board with 4GB RAM and 32GB storage is now offered with all accessories for $199 on Kickstarter, and Remix IO+ TV Box also sells with 4GB/32GB configuration sells for $139 shipped, so I’d expect Vorke Z3 to sell for about the same price.

Vorke Z1 Amlogic S912 Android TV Box Comes with 3GB DDR4 Memory

November 18th, 2016 7 comments

DDR4 memory is coming to one more TV box. We first discovered it in Yundoo Y7 TV box powered by Amlogic S905X processor, but now Vorke, which started with Vorke V1 Intel Braswell mini PC and then V2 Ultra earlier this year, has now launched Vorke Z1 TV box with an octa-core Amlogic S912 processor combined with 3 GB DDR4 memory with higher bandwidth than your typical DDR3(L) memory.

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Vorke Z1 specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S912 octo-core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ up to 1.5 GHz with ARM Mali-820MP3 GPU
  • System Memory – 3GB DDR4
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC flash + micro SD slot up to 32GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0a with HDR and CEC support up to 4K @ 60 fps, and 3.5mm AV jack for composite output
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV jack (stereo audio), and optical S/PDIF
  • Video codecs – VP9, 10-bit H.265 up to 4K 60 fps, H.264 AVC up to 4K 30 fps, H.264 MVC up to 1080p60, and many other codecs up to  1080p60
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Misc – IR receiver, power button
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 130 x 109 x 24 mm
  • Weight – 214 grams

vorke-z1-ddr4-tv-box

The TV box runs Android 6.0.1 with Kodi 17.0 (beta), and ships with an IR remote control, an HDMI cable, an power adapter for your country, and a user’s manual. While DDR4 should provide higher bandwidth (50% faster), it’s unclear how this impacts performance of apps used in TV boxes, and so far I have not seen any benchmarks, or actual apps comparison showing the user benefit of the faster RAM.

GeekBuying is now taking pre-order for Vorke Z1 for $99.99 shipped, with shipping scheduled in about 2 weeks.

Hardware Requirements for Discounted Windows 10 Licenses for Entry Level mini PCs, TV Sticks, Tablets, Notebooks, and AiO

September 2nd, 2016 6 comments

Even since the first low cost mini PCs and TV sticks started to come to market there was lots of confusion about Windows 8.1/10 licenses, because while small tablets could be shipped with Windows 8.1 with Bing/Windows 10 with a free license, mini PCs required  a different discounted NTE license costing between $15 and $30. Price differs depending who your ask… So while the cheapest devices normally shipped unactivated, some companies like PiPo decided to install Windows with the latest version to cut costs… Microsoft eventually noticed, and PiPo had to stopped the practise, instead making mini PCs with small displays

The exact hardware requirements were also unclear so far for either the free or discount tablet, but the following table dropped in my email Inbox recently… It explains which hardware is accepted for an Entry level license.

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OST means Online Service Terms, and the devices matching the hardware requirements above should be eligible for a discount. A Low End CPUs should be Intel Bay Trail, and Cherry Trail processor, and most likely Braswell and Apollo Lake too, plus some AMD processors. So if you buy a Intel Core iX processor, you should not get a free/cheap Windows license.

Windows 10 mini PCs like Beelink BT7 and Vorke V1 match most requirements of the “WW Entry Desktop/AiO” with a low end Atom X7-Z8700 and Celeron J3160 processor, 4GB RAM, no hard drive, and no optical drive. However, they fail the maximum storage requirements since they ship with at least 64GB internal flash. That means they should be paying the full Windows 10 license, and while they come activated, they are likely in breach of Windows OST. I’ve also been informed Microsoft has been taking legal action against at least one manufacturer of non-compliant devices.

Stress Testing Windows mini PCs with OCCT Overclock Checking Tool

July 1st, 2016 5 comments

I’m mostly a Linux user, but the marketplace has chosen Windows 10 as its preferred operating systems for mini PCs, so I’ve been reviewing fanless (or not) mini PCs running Windows 10 for around two years since Intel decided to provide low cost and low power processors. I normally run some benchmarks such as PCMark 8 or 3DMark, as well as typical user tasks, while monitoring CPU temperature and throttling using HWInfo64 utility, but those benchmarks are not really pushing the device to its limits. However, I’ve just learned out about OCCT “Overclock Checking Tool” that’s just doing that, and installed OCCT 4.4.2 on Vorke V1 to check it out.

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The tool has four taps: CPU: OCCT, CPU: Linpack, GPU: 3D, and Power Supply to stress test different part of the system. I just let it run for over 3 hours after pressing the ON buttons, and you can see all four cores of the Braswell processor at 100% CPU usage in turbo mode, the memory used, cores frequency, and CPU cores temperature in real-time.

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I also ran HWInfo64 at the same time to double check CPU temperature and throttling, but it turns out OCCT is also generating charts for CPU usage, bus frequency, CPU #0 frequency, memory usage, and temperature for all cores. You can access the charts by clicking on the icon in the right of “Monitoring” on the right part of the screen (first screenshot). I’ve included one of the charts showing CPU usage and temperature.

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This shows Vorke V1 appears to be handling high loads very well, and does not overheat. It’s not a fanless system though, so the included fan certainly helps.

OCCT is free for personal use, and costs $150 per year for commercial use, with the commercial version also supporting custom tests, CSV output, and other features.

Vorke V1 Braswell mini PC Unboxing and Teardown

June 18th, 2016 24 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 first need to remove the bottom cover, loosen three screws, before popping up the top cover with a sharp plastic tool, and working 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.