Tronsmart Ara X5 is one of the first Intel Atom X5 mini PCs available on the market, and should provide a decent update to the many Intel Atom Z3735F based devices with its Atom x5-Z8300 quad core processor. GeekBuying sent me one sample for review, and today I’ll take a few pictures, and take it apart to find out more about the components used and its thermal design, before doing a review in the next few days.
I received the fanless computer by DHL in the following package together with a EU to US plug adapter.
Ara X5 ships with a 5V/3A power adapter, an HDMI cable, and a user’s manual in English.
The front panel has two USB 2.0 host ports, a 3.5mm headset jack, and the power button, while the rear panel features the power jack, a Fast Ethernet RJ45 port, HDMI output, a USB 3.0 host port, and a micro SD slot.
The main improvement compared to previous generation boxes based on Atom Z3735F is support for USB 3.0 host port, so it would have been extra nice to have a Gigabit Ethernet port too. Maybe with other models.
I’ve struggled a little more than usual to open the box, but the teardown procedure is quite standard: removing four stiky rubber pad on the bottom of the case, loosening four screws, and take out the bottom cover. It’s held with clips so I had to use my dissassembly toolset to pop it out.
There’s a CR2032 battery for the RTC, something you won’t find in most Android TV boxes, as well as AP6330 wireless module for dual band WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, as well as COTOP C1602NS chip for Ethernet. One of the serial code is a MAC Address starting with 30:F7:07 prefix that looks up to Shenzhen Thread Technology Co, which could also be VX2 mini PC manufacturer.
Let’s carry on the teardown, by removing two more screws in order to take out the board from the case.
There’s a thick metal plate covering all components.
It can be easily removed after loosening the three screws holding it with the rest of the board.
Interestingly there seems to be a CPU module covered by a metallic shield. You’ll have notice the name of the baseboard is Ara X3 VERA, so an Atom X3 model may be in the work, or it was canceled, and instead they leveraged the baseboard to fit it with a more powerful Atom X5 processor.
The metal shield shield is very easy to take out, but they must have made sure thermal dissipation was optimal, and we can find two more pink thermal pads on the PMIC and Intel processor.There are two names on the system-on-module silkscreen: MS-M1E198407 and CI_CTCR_SI Rev 1.2. Beside Intel x5-Z8300 processor in the middle of the module, other main chips are AXP288C PMIC, a 32GB Sandisk SDINBDE4-32G eMMC flash, and four Samsung K4B4G1646Q-HYK0 DDR3 chips for 2GB RAM.
I’d like to thanks Geekbuying for providing the device for review. You can buy it for $149.99 including shipping, but possibly less if you are lucky, as they have a lottery for coupons. It can also be purchased on Ebay for $159.99 and more online sellers should soon list it too. These are actually pre-orders as shipping is scheduled for August 31.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.
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