Tronsmart Ara X5 Plus mini PC Comes with Faster Storage, 802.11ac WiFi, and Higher USB 3.0 Speeds

Tronsmart Ara X5 was one of the first Intel Atom Cherry Trail mini PCs to launch on the market. It came with an Intel Atom x5-Z8300, and the now typical 2GB RAM combined with 32GB flash. But in my review of Tronsmart Ara X5, I found out that the flash was quite slower than other Windows mini PC I tested, and the USB 3.0 port would not recognize my 1TB Seagate USB 3.0 hard drive. The company has now introduced an upgraded model simply called Tronsmart Ara X5 Plus with a faster Samsung eMMC 5.0 flash, faster USB 3.0 read and write speeds (and hopefully better compatibility), 802.11ac WiFi support by replacing Ampak AP6330 module by Intel Wireless-AC 3160 and adding an external antenna, as well as fixed some micro SD card compatibility issues, and an updated UEFI binary that should reduce blue screen of death appearances in Windows.

Tronsmart_Ara_X5_PlusThe main specifications have not really changed however:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x5-Z8300 “Cherry Trail” quad core processor @ 1.44 GHz / 1.84 GHz) with Intel Gen8 HD graphics (2W SDP)
  • System Memory –  2 GB DDR3L
  • Storage – 32 GB Samsung eMMC 5.0 flash + micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, 3.5mm earphone jack
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0 (via Intel WiFi module)
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x USB 3.0 port
  • Misc – Power button and LED, RTC battery
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A
  • Dimensions – 11.81 x 11.4 x 2.7 cm
  • Weight – 210 grams

As we’ve seen in Ara X5 teardown, the board had been designed with a baseboard and a CPU module, so they may have kept the same CPU module (only replacing Sandisk by Samsung eMMC), and updated the baseboard.

Tronsmart_Ara_X5_Plus_ConnectorsThe mini PC still comes pre-loaded with Windows 10 Home (activated), and ships with the power adapter, an HDMI cable, and a user’s manual.

The company appears to have deprecated Tronsmart Ara X5, as it’s not for sale anymore on GeekBuying, with the new model selling for $139.99 including shipping.

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shar
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shar

what’s up with 10/100M Ethernet upgrade, why are they always ignored in many devices?

ToniCipriani
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ToniCipriani

@shar
I don’t care so much about the Ethernet, rather why did they kept it at 2GB? Even the Pipo X6S has 4GB now.

Ron
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Ron

1. Again, why Z8300 and not its update – Z8350?! The new stepping version should already appear in new models.

2. I hope that the passive cooling solution that Tronsmart uses is good enough. I heard that the one in the previous model was not good enough…

3. It’s good that they improved the model! Added the external antenna + better WiFi chip, and changed the eMMC.

Fossxplorer
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Fossxplorer

@ToniCipriani
Gbit Ethernet is quite important to me as well as the RAM. But when i see devices with just 10/100 Ethernet, i ignore them…

eric
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z8300 DON’T support 4GB RAM in the intel specification, please check on intel site, only Z8700 support 4GB.

Those brand who use 4GB in z8300 is just marketing skills.

Jibril
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Jibril

eric :
z8300 DON’T support 4GB RAM in the intel specification, please check on intel site, only Z8700 support 4GB.

Intel® Atom™ x5-Z8500 / x7-Z8700 = RAM up to 8 GB LPDDR3 1600 on 2 memory channel

Ron
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Ron

cnx-soft, could you please tell us whether the new model’s passive cooling element seems better than the one in the original model? (only by its appearance – of course you haven’t tested the new model).

here are the pictures of the two:

http://www.cnx-software.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Ara_X5_Metallic_Shield.jpg

http://image3.geekbuying.com/content_pic/201510/IMG_4603(1).jpg
– copy the link I gave. your site didn’t covert the link I gave correctly ( the “.jpg” got left out).

Steve
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Steve

@eric

This has been discussed a bit. For some reason Intel claim 2GB, but manufacturers are building 4GB devices : http://liliputing.com/2015/11/intels-cheapest-atom-x5-chip-supports-4gb-of-ram-after-all.html

eric
Guest

@Jibril
Yes, 8500 and 8700 should support 4GB ram, but not on 8300.

eric
Guest

@Steve

Yes, i read this before. I have heard in z8300 , even use 4gb ram, the performance won’t change double, or, you can not see improvement. but yes, the system read 4GB, but if performance is not changed, why we need to pay and get 4G?

eric
Guest

http://ark.intel.com/products/87383/Intel-Atom-x5-Z8300-Processor-2M-Cache-up-to-1_84-GHz

here is the official information about z8300 in intel site.

Max Memory Size 2 GB

Techy
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Techy

No hdmi 2.0 so no real [email protected] output. This is another sh*t from piracy company Tronsmart

Tore
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Tore

A version with the Z8500/8700 + 4GB of ram is the only thing that would be really interesting for most I guess…

Ron
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Ron

@Techy
Non of Intel’s chips, at any level (not even Core i7) supports Hdmi 2.0.
(Hopefully) Only the next gen chip – Kaby Lake, with Gen10 GPU, would enable support for this.
And for low-power chips (Atoms), it would probably happen only within two generations from now (the current Cherry-Trail Atoms have Gen8 GPU).
So it’s not Tronsmart’s fault.

Thank you, cnx-soft!

ToniCipriani
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ToniCipriani

eric :
http://ark.intel.com/products/87383/Intel-Atom-x5-Z8300-Processor-2M-Cache-up-to-1_84-GHz
here is the official information about z8300 in intel site.
Max Memory Size 2 GB

I’m confused. So are you saying systems actually list 4GB in the OS, but the processor won’t address it? I would imagine if it’s not addressable even the OS wouldn’t be able to detect it.

http://techtablets.com/2015/10/intel-atom-x5-z8300-can-run-4gb-of-ram-it-seems/

Even HP has one that is equipped with 4GB. If it’s not usable why would they actually make separate 2GB and 4GB models?

http://www8.hp.com/ca/en/products/laptops/product-detail.html?oid=8741507#!tab=specs

Ron
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Ron

@ToniCipriani
Intel doesn’t support 4GB on Z8300. Only 2GB at a single channel RAM interface.
But some OEMs made a modification to the original specification, that implements 4GB using a dual-channel RAM interface. That brings size and speed to the RAM interface. So these systems are better.

ToniCipriani
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ToniCipriani

@Ron
That’s the weird part. Single Channel is also listed as a spec on the ARK page. Unless it’s like the BIOS modification of the old days plus deactivated silicon in the Z8300, I can’t imagine how it could be done, because the memory controller would be part of the SoC.

Rober
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Rober

No more X5, I bought 5 and 3 of them broken.

hmayle
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hmayle

Here’s a new one from VOYO using the Z8700 with 4gb ram & 128 gb rom :

http://www.gearbest.com/tv-box-mini-pc/pp_292915.html

Rober
Guest
Rober

@cnxsoft
box died…the power LED only blinks
It randomly reset itself while I was using it, and then when it powered up again the power LED just blinks

ToniCipriani
Guest
ToniCipriani

hmayle :
Here’s a new one from VOYO using the Z8700 with 4gb ram & 128 gb rom :
http://www.gearbest.com/tv-box-mini-pc/pp_292915.html

Would’ve considered this if it had Ethernet.