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CHUWI Lapbook 12.3 is a Windows 10 / Ubuntu Apollo Lake Laptop with a 2K Display, 6GB RAM, Up to 256 GB SSD Storage

April 27th, 2017 4 comments

I’ve reviewed CHUWI LapBook 14.1 laptop earlier this year with an Intel Celeron N3450 Apollo Lake processor, 14.1″ Full HD display and 4GB RAM, and found it to work reasonably well for the price in Windows 10, as well as Ubuntu 17.04. The company has been working on another model called CHUWI LapBook 12.3 with the same processor, but a smaller yet higher resolution 12.3″ 2K display, more memory (6GB RAM), 64GB eMMC flash, and support for M.2 SSDs up to 256 GB.

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CHUWI LapBook 12.3 specifications with highlight in bold showing differences against LapBook 14.1 model:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron N3450 quad core “Apollo Lake” processor @ 1.1 GHz / 2.2 GHz (Burst frequency) and 12 EU Intel HD graphics 500 @ 200 MHz / 700 MHz (Burst freq.); 6W TDP
  • System Memory – 6GB DDR3
  • Storage – 64 GB eMMC flash + micro SD slot up to 128 GB + M.2 SSD up to 256 GB
  • Display – 12.3″ display with 2736 x 1824 (2K) resolution; 3:2 aspect ratio
  • Video Output – 1x micro HDMI port
  • Audio – HDMI, 3.5mm audio jack, built-in stereo speakers and microphone
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0. (Intel Wireless AC-3165 module)
  • Camera – 2.0MP front-facing camera
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x USB 3.0 port
  • Power Supply – TBD
  • Battery – 8,000mAh / 7.6V (60.8 Wh) Polymer Li-ion battery
  • Dimensions – 300 x 223 x 16.7 mm
  • Weight – 1.44 kg (vs 1.74 kg for 14.1 model); all metal body

So apart from the extra memory, different display, a smaller battery, and of course, dimensions  and weight both laptops are pretty similar. CHUWI LapBook 12.3 will first sell with Windows 10, and later the company plans to offer an Ubuntu version.

 

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The laptop will be released in May for $349 which you can compare to the $260 for CHUWI LapBook 14.1. GearBest has already listed the laptop on their website, where you can register to get an arrival notice, once it is up for sale or pre-order.

Beelink AP42 Apollo Lake mini PC Linux Review with Ubuntu, KDE Neon, Elementary OS….

Beelink’s latest Intel mini PC offerings includes the AP34 and AP42 which are their first models using Intel Apollo Lake processors. The former uses an Intel Apollo Lake Celeron N3450 processor (burst frequency 2.2GHz, Intel HD Graphics 500 with Graphics Burst Frequency 700MHz and 12 Execution Units) while the latter uses the slightly more powerful Pentium N4200 (burst frequency 2.5GHz, Intel HD Graphics 505 with Graphics Burst Frequency 750MHz and 18 Execution Units). Both support Windows 10 (Home) and Beelink’s marketing claim they “support Linux system”. GearBest has given me the chance to review running Linux on the AP42 model so here are my findings.

Spot the difference!

Normally I first make a disk image before booting Windows or installing Linux. However initial attempts at booting a Live USB with a variety of Linux systems failed so both the reseller and manufacturer were contacted for comment. Interestingly there was no immediate reply but early indications that something was amiss was when the reseller’s advert (right) changed compared with the manufacturers advert (left).

As I’d previously had a comment on my website about using rEFInd boot manager when a system wouldn’t boot I gave it a try by manually building an Ubuntu Live USB which successfully booted. Unfortunately the ISO I had used was Ubuntu 16.04.2 and whilst it ran fine on the USB drive, it couldn’t ‘see’ the eMMC of the AP42. Further experimentation with Ubuntu 17.04 Beta 2 and a variety of kernels showed that a minimum 4.10 kernel was required in order to access the eMMC. Anyone wanting to boot an Ubuntu ISO can either manually add the rRFInd boot manager, or use the latest version of ‘isorespin.sh’ to respin the ISO with the rRFInd boot manager and optionally update the kernel.

Then having taken a disk image I booted Windows only to find that Windows was already set up with an ‘Admin’ account. Which of course gave me the opportunity to test a full Windows restore that fortunately worked.

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So with a nice clean and activated Windows system and 24 hours later due to all the updates download and installing I was able to run my usual Windows tests to given me a basic comparison with other Intel devices.

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As can be seen there is a performance increment over Cherry Trail devices including better graphics performance and the new Apollo Lake Pentium N4200 processor is overall slightly better than the earlier Celeron N3150 processor.

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​Being a passively cooled device I was interested to see whether temperature was an issue. I ran HWiNFO64’s Sensor Status utility before and after each test and rather unscientifically held the box to see how hot it was. Neither indicated that I had any reason to be concerned as whilst the box felt warm the temperature maxed out at around 70 °C and no thermal-throttling was encountered.

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Having put the device through its paces under Windows, it was time to look at Linux performance. For a comparison I was going to use the results from my Phoronix ‘mini PC’ test suite run on Intel Compute Sticks. However I initially had problems getting the ‘unpack-linux’ test to install so I decided to download the latest version directly from www.phoronix-test-suite.com rather than use the one provided through ‘apt’. And because comparing results across different versions of test software and different releases of OS is often meaningless I first had to reinstall Ubuntu 17.04 on the comparison hardware and then run the tests in parallel across each device. For those not familiar with the model names they decode as STCK1A32WFC is the Intel Compute Stick (Falls City), STK1AW32SC is the Intel Compute Stick (Sterling City) and STKM3W64CC is the Intel Compute Stick (Cedar City) with the specs listed in the above table. Unfortunately with the Phoronix Test Suite some tests give decidedly strange and confusing results even those they are the average of three runs. However, as per the Windows results there is a noticeable improvement as the power of the processor increases and the AP42 performance is as expected.

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I also ran the Octane 2 on Chrome which was also comparable with the Windows result albeit slightly lower which in iteself was slightly unusual given it is typically slightly higher in Ubuntu than with Windows normally. Interestingly Octane 2 has now been retired as it seems too many programs were cheating their scores (all too familiar).

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In terms of what works under Ubuntu it was nice to find that all the usual problem areas were fine, with working audio, WiFi, Bluetooth and SD cards (including Sandisk). I did encounter a problem with HDMI audio in that you must first select the audio device under Sound Settings before it works. And in Lubuntu this was impossible to do as only Headphones showed up until I plugged in some external speakers into the headphone jack and then after unplugging them the HDMI output option then appeared. But otherwise the device ran smoothly on Ubuntu.

Some specifics about the hardware.

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The memory is single channel and is 2x 2GB DDR3 1600 MHz…

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… and the eMMC storage is CJNB4R which is a Samsung 64GB storage chip…

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… with WiFi/Bluetooth provided by an Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165 chip with Bluetooth 4.2 as reported by inxi.

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Given the kernel limitation, I found running other Linuxes rather limiting. I did get OpenELEC to successfully boot and run from USB but installing would be an issue. I also tried Android-x86 and Chromium OS loaders but they were also impacted and not usable. My initial Remix attempts were unsuccessful and Phoenix took too long to download to be worth waiting for another failure. Other Ubuntu based distro ISOs worked as long as they were respun with a later kernel (I tested LinuxMint, Neon and Elementary with the latest v4.11-rc7 kernel). The only other Linux distro I tried was Debian but this was also unsuccessful due to the kernel issue, however other distros with rolling releases like Tumbleweed and Arch should be okay.

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KDE Neon – Click to Enlarge

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In terms of support Beelink are somewhat lacking. Despite having released the device for nearly a month, there are still no download links for BIOS or Windows drivers. They have just added a download for the entire Windows OS, but have failed to create a forum for AP42 users. For the Linux issue, they did eventually respond with “Sorry for that we don’t allow the right of Linux now” which is a somewhat unexpected response given their advert.

So for a new device running Linux it is arguably hit and miss. Depending on what you want to run will rule out the device completely at this stage and if you are looking for flexibility it may also be too restrictive. It may be that a BIOS update addresses the current Linux limitations, but equally given Beelink’s response it could restrict Linux even further.

The price is also somewhat questionable given it has a range from US$180 to US$270 which is the current price on Amazon. In comparison a barebones Zotac ZBOX CI323 with Celeron N3150 is currently US $148 on Newegg and a barebones Intel NUC NUC6CAYS with Celeron J3455 is US $149 on Amazon so the value for money given the level of support and current Linux restrictions is worth considering before purchasing. GearBest – who sent Beelink AP42 mini PC for review – somewhat sweetens the deal, as they sell it for $179.99 including shipping with coupon GBAP42. Beside Amazon and GearBest, you can also purchase the mini PC on sites like Aliexpress and Banggood for $185 to $190.

Zotac CI327 Nano Apollo Lake Fanless mini PC Features HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2, and VGA Video Outputs

April 23rd, 2017 7 comments

While many Apollo Lake mini PCs have been launched, few support 4K @ 60 Hz video output, but Zotac CI327 Nano mini PC does even better than that thanks to HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2 outputs allowing for dual 4K UHD @ 60 Hz setups, and it also adds an extra VGA port to enable triple display setups.

The rest of the specifications are not too bad either with three models CI327 Nano (windows / no windows) and CI327 Nano Plus with slightly different hardware specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron N3450 quad-core  processor @ 1.1GHz / 2.2GHz with Intel HD Graphics 500
  • System Memory
    • Nano with Windows and Nano PLUS – 4GB DDR3L (one slot occupied, up to 8GB)
    • Nano – 2x 204-pin DDR3L-1866 SO-DIMM slots (up to 8GB)
  • Storage – 1x 2.5″ SATA 6.0 Gbps SSD/HDD slot; 3-in-1 (SD/SDHC/SDXC); Nano with WINDOWS only: 32GB M.2 on-board SATA SSD
  • Video Output
    • HDMI 2.0 up to 3840×2160 @ 60 Hz
    • DisplayPort 1.2 up to 4096×2160 @ 60 Hz
    • VGA up to 1920×1080 @ 60 Hz
  • Audio – 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks, lossless bitstream via HDMI
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 type C port, 2x USB 3.0 ports, 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Connectivity – Dual Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 ac WiFi + Bluetooth 4.2
  • Misc – Power button, Kensington lock, Power/HDD/WiFi LEDs, VESA mount
  • Power Supply – 19V/40W AC adapter
  • Dimensions – 127 .8 x 126.8 x 56.8 mm

The mini PC ships with a WiFi antenna, an AC adapter with power cord, a warranty card, a user manual, a quick install guide, a driver disc, and a VESA monitor mount (with 4 screws). Nano with Windows version also comes with a O/S recovery DVD. The only operating system listed as supported is Windows 10 Home 64-bit, so it’s unclear whether you’d be able to install Linux distributions.

The barebone version – Zotac CI327 Nano – sells for as low as 172.13 Euros in Germany. You’ll find a comparison of the three models on Zotac website.

Via FanlessTech

Bben to Launch an Apollo Lake HDMI TV Stick Powered by Intel Celeron N3450 Processor

April 17th, 2017 3 comments

Intel is planning to launch “Michigan City” Apollo Lake Compute Sticks sometimes with year, but Bben, after launching MN17A Apollo Lake mini PC, may be able to launch their own Celeron N3450 TV stick before Intel does, as Netbook Italia reports the company showcased such product at the Hong Kong Global Sources Electronics Fair.

Bben Applo Lake “Micro Computer” (foreground) vs Cherry Trail Stick (background)

Bben Micro computer  specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron N3450 quad core processor @ 1.1 GHz / 2.2 GHz, 12 EU Intel HD graphics 500 @ 200 MHz / 700 MHz; 6W TDP
  • System Memory – 2 to 4GB DDR3
  • Storage – 32 or 64 GB eMMC flash + micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI port (likely limited to 1.4 version with 4K @ 30 Hz max resolution/framerate)
  • Audio – HDMI + 3.5mm audio jack
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.2
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • Misc – Fan and ventilation holes
  • Power Supply – TBD via power barrel
  • Dimensions & Weight – TBD (Metal housing)

The stick, whose name is still to be decided, will run Windows 10 or Android (version TBD), including a dual boot version. The first part of the video below introduced the Cherry Trail TV sticks, before a short description of the Apollo Lake one, and other products.

The new TV stick should be released this summer for a yet-to-be-determined price. You’ll likely be able to purchase it from Bben Official Aliexpress store once it comes out.

MeLE PCG03 Apo is a Fanless Apollo Lake mini PC with HDMI 2.0 Output

April 10th, 2017 13 comments

Many Apollo Lake mini PCs have come to market, but it’s still pretty hard to find a fanless consumer mini PC based on Intel Apollo Lake processor, and even harder if you also want  HDMI 2.0 output for 4K @ 60 Hz support. MeLE has been working on an upgrade of their PCG03 mini PC that brings all those features. PCG03 Apo fanless mini PC is powered by an Intel Celeron N3350 dual core processor with 4GB RAM, 32GB storage, and features HDMI 2.0 and VGA ports.

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MeLE PCG03 Apo mini PC specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron N3450 quad core “Apollo Lake” processor @ 1.10 / 2.20 GHz with 12 EU Intel HD Graphics 500 (6W TDP)
  • System Memory – 4GB DDRL3L (soldered)
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC 5.0 flash (soldered), 1x M.2 SSD slot, 1x SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60 Hz, and VGA
  • Audio – Via HDMI, 3.5mm audio combo jack
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 ac WiFi & Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 3x USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB 2.0 port, 1x USB3.0 Type-C port
  • Misc – Power button, Kensington Lock, 75x75mm VESA mount support, BIOS features: PXE boot, Wake-on-LAN, BIOS reset button, auto power-on after power loss
  • Power Supply  – Input: AC 100-240V, Output: DC 12V / 2A with UL, UK, GS, and SAA plugs
  • Dimensions – 150 x 103 x 37 mm
  • Weight – 500 grams

The mini PC will run Windows 10 Home (64-bit) with English, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Polish, Chinese Traditional, Chinese Simplified, Russian and Arabic languages pre-installed. Linux support is not a given on Apollo Lake mini PCs, as I’ve recently found out with Beelink AP42 whose BIOS does not support Linux, despite being advertised with Linux support. Maybe there’s a better chance of Linux support with MeLE, since they’ve sold Ubuntu mini PCs in the past.

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MeLE PCG03 Apo is now listed for $199 on Aliexpress, but I’ve been told it will be on sale for $159 with free shipping by DHL to the US, Canada, Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Via AndroidPC.es

GIGABYTE BRIX IoT Apollo Lake Fanless mini PC is Designed for the Internet of Things, Digital Signage, Thin Clients

April 7th, 2017 11 comments

GIGABYTE has unveiled BRIX IoT mini PC powered by either Intel Celeron N3450 or Pentium N4200 processor both part of Intel’s Apollo Lake family, and as the name implied the devices target Internet of Things applications.

GIGABYTE BRIX IoT specifications:

  • SoC (one or the other)
    • Intel Celeron  N3450 quad core processor @ up to 2.2GHz with Intel HD graphics 500 (6W TDP)
    • Intel Pentium N4200 quad core processor @ up to 2.5GHz with Intel HD graphics 505 (6W TDP)
  • System Memory – 2x SO-DIMM DDR3L slots @ 1333/1600/1866 MHz up to 8GB
  • Storage – 1x M.2 slot, 1x micro SD slot, optional 32 or 64GB eMMC flash
  • Connectivity
    • Dual Gigabit Ethernet via Realtek RTL8111HS
    • Intel Dual band Wireless-AC 3165 module with two SMA antenna connectors
    • 3G via mini PCIe slot and SIM card slot with one SMA antenna connector
  • Video Output – Dual HDMI 1.4b up to 3840×2160 @ 30 Hz
  • Audio – Realtek ALC255 audio codec; microphone/headphone jack, via HDMI ports
  • USB – 4x USB 3.0 (2x front, 2x rear)
  • Serial – 1x COM port (RS232/422/485) via RJ45 connector (ring indicator not supported)
  • Expansion
    • 1x M.2 slot (2280_storage) SATA
    • 1x M.2 NGFF 2230 A-E key slot occupied by WiFi+BT card
    • 1x Half-size mini-PCIe slot for 3G module
    • 1x Micro SIM card connector
  • Misc – Power button, Kensington lock slot, TPM header
  • Power Supply – 19 or 12V DC (shipped with 19V/65W power supply)
  • Dimensions  – 165 x 105 x 27mm; motherboard: 150 x 100 mm
  • Temperature Range – Operating: 0°C to +50°C; storage:: -20°C to +60°C

The fanless IoT gateway ships with a power supply, 75×75 and 100×100 VESA brackets, and is said to support Windows 10 64-bit. The company also expects the mini PC to be used in thin clients, POS solutions, and digital signage.

Price and availability information could not be found, but you may be able to find more details on GIGABYTE GB-EAPD-4200 and GB-EACE-3450 product pages.

Via FanlessTech

Shenzhen Xunlong Releases Two Orange Pi Boards with 64-Bit ARM Processor, 2GB RAM

April 4th, 2017 21 comments

Shenzhen Xunlong has already been selling 64-bit ARM development board with their Orange Pi PC 2 & Orange Pi Zero Plus 2 H5 boards based on Allwinner H5, as well as Orange Pi Win board powered by Allwinner A64 processor. However, so far none of them are equipped with much memory, with the only options being 512MB or 1GB RAM. The company has recently launched  two new boards with 2GB RAM, namely Orange Pi Win Plus featuring Allwinner A64 SoC, and Orange Pi Prime equipped with Allwinner H5 SoC.

Orange Pi Win Plus

That board is just an update to Orange Pi Win board with the only difference I could find being the 2GB RAM:

  • SoC – Allwinner A64 quad core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ 1.2 GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 2MB SPI flash, micro SD slot up to 64GB, footprint for optional eMMC flash
  • Video Output / Display interface – HDMI 1.4 up to 4K @ 30 Hz with CEC, 3D and HDCP; MIPI LCD interface
  • Audio – HDMI, 3.5 mm headphone jack, built-in microphone
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet + 802.11 b/g/n WiFi & Bluetooth 4.2 (AP6212)
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Camera – MIPI CSI interface up to 5MP camera, up to [email protected] fps video capture
  • Expansion – 40-pin Raspberry Pi somewhat-compatible header
  • Debugging – 3-pin UART header
  • Misc – IR receiver; reset and power buttons; power and status LEDs;
  • Power
    • 5V via power barrel or micro USB port
    • Lithium battery header
    • Power selection jumper (4-pin header)
    • AXP803 PMIC
  • Dimensions – 93 x 60 mm
  • Weight – 48 grams

The company has released Android, Ubuntu 16.04 “Xenial” Server & Desktop, and Debian Jessie Server & Desktop images for the board on the resources page. Windows 10 IoT support is coming later thanks to a partnership between Allwinner and Microsoft. It’s also possible community images will also become available.

Orange Pi Prime

Orange Pi Prime required a new PCB layout, but it still shares many of the features found in Orange Pi PC 2 (changes highlighted in bold):

  • SoC – Allwinner H5 quad core Cortex A53 processor with an ARM Mali-450MP4 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – micro SD card slot up to 64GB, optional 8Mbit SPI NOR flash
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 with CEC support, AV port
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, AV port, on-board microphone
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi + Bluetooth 4.0 with u.FL antenna
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Camera – MIPI CSI Interface for up to 5 MP camera sensor
  • Expansions – 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible header
  • Debugging – 3-pin UART header for serial console
  • Misc – IR receiver; Power & reset buttons; Power and status LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via barrel jack or micro USB port
  • Dimensions – 98 x 60 mm (Orange Pi PC 2 was 85 x 55 mm)
  • Weight – 48 grams (38 grams for Orange Pi PC 2)

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Xunlong has released four OS images on their resources page: Android, Ubuntu Desktop, Arch Desktop, and Debian Desktop. Since the board is so similar to Orange Pi PC 2, except for the extra memory, wireless module, and reset button!, and Orange Pi PC 2’s Armbian Ubuntu Xenial server & desktop nightly build images with Linux 4.10 are available, I’d expect an Orange Pi Prime build soonish. Note that while Armbian image with mainline Linux may have improved security and potentially better performance, a few things like GPIOs may not be working yet.

Orange Pi Win Plus is sold on Aliexpress for $29.99 shipping, and Orange Pi Prime for the exact same price.

$100 Qotom Q1900G4-M Nano-ITX Board Powered by Intel Celeron J1900 SoC is Equipped with Four Gigabit Ethernet Ports

March 30th, 2017 22 comments

Qotom Q1900G4-M is a motherboard designed for networking applications thanks to four Gigabit Ethernet ports connected to an Intel Celeron J1900 quad core “Bay Trail” processor. The board supports up to 8GB DDR3 RAM via a SO-DIMM slot, storage through a SATA port and an mSATA connector, and WiFi or cellular connectivity through a mini PCIe slot and SIM card slot.

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Qotom Q1900G4-M board specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron J1900 quad core “Bay Trail” processor  @ 2.0 GHz / 2.41 GHz (Burst) with Intel HD graphics (10W TDP)
  • System Memory – 1x SO-DIMM sockets for up to 8GB DDR3 memory
  • Storage – 1x SATA 3.0 port + power (14 & 15), 1x mini PCIe connector for mSATA SSD (16)
  • Video Output – VGA (5)
  • Connectivity
    • 4x Gigabit Ethernet ports (3) with Wake-on-LAN support
    • SIM card socket (17)
    • USB only mini PCIe connector for WiFi, 3G or 4G (18)
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x USB 3.0 port (4)
  • Expansion
    • Front panel audio header (6)
    • RS232 header (10)
    • USB header (12)
  • Misc – HDD LEDs (2); power LED (7); power button (8); CPU fan header (9); automatic boot jumper (11)
  • Power Supply – 12V DC (1)
  • Dimensions – 120mm x 120mm (Nano-ITX form factor)
  • Temperature Range – -10°C to 50°C

The board comes with a heatsink by default. You’ll find some details about the hardware in the user manual. The board is said to run Windows 7/8/10 and Linux distributions, especially now that Linux 4.11 is almost out with several fixes for Bay Trail processors.

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Since the board is supposed to comply with Nano-ITX form factor, you should be able to find a case for it, but if not, Qotom also sells Q190G4 mini PC based on the board. It reminds me of X29 mini PC, except it comes with four Gigabit Ethernet ports instead of just two, and lacks HDMI and audio ports, as it targets networking applications.

Qotom Q1900G4-M board sells for $99.90 + shipping, while Q190G4 barebone mini PC goes for $120 plus shipping with a 12V/3A power supply and free VESA brackets, and you can optionally add WiFi, memory (up to 8GB RAM), and/or storage (up to 64GB SSD) to your order. I could also find Q1900G2-M motherboard still with 4 Gigabit Ethernet port – contrary to what the name implies – and selling for $91 + shipping. I have not been able to find a difference between Q1900G2-M and G1900G4-M. If you do, let me know.