Wintel Pro CX-W8 Cherry Trail mini PC Sells for $85

I reviewed Wintel W8 mini PC powered by an Intel Atom Z3735F last year, although since the model could dual boot Windows 8.1 and Android 4.4 I mostly focused my review on the Android part. There’s now an upgraded model running Windows 10 only, based on Intel Atom x5-Z8300 quad core Cherry Trail processor, and very much the same interfaces except one of the USB 2.0 ports has been upgraded to USB 3.0.

Wintel_Pro_mini_PC

Wintel Pro CX-W8 has very similar same specifications to other Cherry Trail mini PCs available on the market:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x5-Z8300 “Cherry Trail” quad core processor @ 1.44 GHz (Bust freq: 1.84 GHz) with Intel Gen8 HD graphics (2W SDP)
  • System Memory –  2 GB
  • Storage – 32 GB eMMC + micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, 3.5mm microphone jack
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0 (RTL8723 or AP6234)
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x micro USB port
  • Misc – Power button with LED
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 9.80 x 9.80 x 2.00 cm
  • Weight – 250 grams
The device is said to run Windows 10 Home, and ships with a power adapter, an HDMI Cable, and a user’s manual in English.

Cheap_Cherry_Trail_mini_PCThe most interesting point of this particular mini PC is the price, as GearBest sells it for $85.68 shipped, and it’s also sold on Banggood and Aliexpress but with a price around $100 [Update: At least one seller offers it for $84.99]. At this price, you can be sure Windows 10 is not activated, and while that could be an issue of you really want to run Windows 10, if you ever planned to run Linux, Android or Chromium OS that’s possibly an asset, provided it’s not confiscated by your customs. You can also find a recent review on AndroidTVBox.eu with some benchmarks, impressions, Kodi testing…, and a rather positive conclusion.

Update: And while I’m at it about good deals on Intel mini PCs: Onda M2 with Intel Celeron J1900, 4GB RAM, and 128GB SSD sells for $189 shipped.

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Andrius
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Andrius

I’m looking for an windows-less Intel mini-pc with VGA output. Can you recommend one?
I plan to use some Kodi distribution on it and I do not want to pay for Windows.
This box looks nice but sadly does not have VGA. I need it for my current installation.
Also I’d like it to be intel because I hope it would better support 800p resolution of my projector. Wouldn’t it?

Gabe
Guest
Gabe
RK
Guest
RK

There’s a company called “Wintel”?! Couldn’t they have at least googled the name first? Dang…

Oh, about the activation, my Meegopad T01 that came with an inactivate 8.1, go magically activated when I installed windows 10 on it…

RK
Guest
RK

@RK
Gets updates and everything: http://postimg.org/image/i6x1djzyh/

I had debian installed previously and the auto-start kernel. It gets regular updates and I’ve been using it as a desktop since I bought it a year or two ago. Though I only switched back to windows from linux a couple of month ago since I’m mostly using an ARM SBC for as my linux development workstation and desktop nowadays.

Anyhow, I’m saying all of this since they might have Win10 activated. It would seem to me Microsoft just doesn’t care.

Ron
Guest
Ron

@Andrius
Mele has mini PCs with VGA output.
PCG03 Plus: (now it’s being sold at full price – 179$ – so wait for a discount… I think that before Chinese new year its price was 149$)
http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Fanless-Intel-Mini-PC-StarCloud-PCG03-Plus-Windows-10-Quad-Core-Cherry-Trail-Atom-Z8300-2GB/715968_32580905881.html
and in these days there is going to be a new “PCG60 plus” model:
http://www.cnx-software.com/2016/01/19/mele-star-cloud-pcg60-plus-cherry-trail-mini-pc-comes-with-hdmi-and-vga-outputs-gigabit-ethernet-and-more/

@cnxsoft: I thought MS is giving Windows (with Bing) for free for these devices (at least when their RAM is not more than 2GB). So you say that in fact the Windows licence costs a few tens of dollars? So it’s rather not free, but at a reduced price?

Does someone here can elaborate on the quality/reliability of the Wintel brand?

shar
Guest
shar

@cnxsoft
considering 4k & price, what would be better, J1900 (most of your suggestions) or x5-Z8300?

Tutanchamount
Guest
Tutanchamount

how much watt this thing eat?

xxx
Guest
xxx

Does it support Remix OS?

Piper
Guest
Piper

For anyone interested: all USB ports are on the same bus (at least that’s how it looks on Linux), including Ethernet adapter (Realtek), WiFi/BT module is on SDIO. Windows is activated and can be reinstalled but… Windows can’t find drivers for HDMI audio and BT/WiFi module. Still GPU works flawlessly on both on Windows and Linux making it a nice alternative for arm based boxes. Power adapter (5v/3A) uses a smaller barrel then the (more or less) standard 5.5/2.1. Arch uefi iso/installer work well (don’t touch uefi shells, not even in the menu), grub uefi works fine but I wasn’t able to launch Ubuntu 15.10 64bit.

Martin
Guest
Martin

I have opened the device to see wether it’s possible to tune up the heat problem. It’s very tricky: There is a 2mm grey Thermal Pad between the cpu and the heat spreader. On the “mainboard”, many other chips and components are a little bit higher than the processer, so there is no way to use thermal paste, because it won’t fill the gap between cpu and heat spreader. In fact, there is one chip that lies so high, that the whole head spreader hasn’t the same distance to the board at all areas! And as it is not a cpu but a chipset heat spreader, it is only connected with two pins to the board. I had to abrade some material from the bottom of the heat spreader in order to have it lieing evenly on the board. So I see two solutions: Using a better thermal pad with higher conductivity or abrade the wohle bottom of the head spreader execpt the middle so that the highest point is where the cpu is and than using thermal paste :-O

One question to the software experts: Whats the combination to enter the bios? I tried del or F2 but didn’t work. I want to make a copy (clonezilla) of my Win10 partition and then delete erverything and install linux (maybe ubuntu or opensuse)

Gaetano
Guest
Gaetano

HDMI on Linux now works!!! And there’s also an Openelec image!
http://www.cnx-software.com/2016/04/19/hdmi-audio-in-linux-is-now-working-on-cherry-trail-mini-pcs-openelec-7-0-image-released/
Thank you Pierre-Louis Bossart !!!!!

Mark Maynard
Guest
Mark Maynard

Sorry to reply to an old thread bit I installed the openelec image you posted and the kodi seems locked I can’t install addons etc did you have the same issues if so did you find a work around?

niro
Guest
niro

@Martin
escape key, several times, no continous

niro
Guest
niro

@Martin
and take care editing bios parameter, I already bricked one W8; no tv signal

Tom
Guest
Tom

I have found that Geek Buying.com sells at least 3 different versions of the W8 Wintel. I bought 3 item number 363000’s and 1 came with windows 10 activated and 2 were not. I had no trouble activating them and they all updated no problem. The other 2 models are 343918 (dual Boot) with Android and windows and 366248 that is marked CX in front of the W8, I don’t know what the CX means. I was told they are made by different manufacturers and they have 3 different prices within $10.00. I love mine but I can’t find any documentation on how large of a micro-SD card I can get full use out of in this box? Does anyone know for sure? Where can I find this information? Windows 10 takes up almost half of the hard drive 32GB. I am told the other 2 models can also run dual boot if you choose I know they at least take Android, with Windows. They are very fast with Kodi TV program on Windows 10 compared to Android in my experience, time to load program guide is quite noticeable.

gencap
Guest
gencap

@Tom:

Beside the old Baytrail Z3735-based model (w8 without ‘pro’), there are *at least* two different ‘Wintel w8 pro’ devices:

i)
Label on the bottom of the case: WINTEL BOX MODEL CX-W8 Pro
Label on the top of the PCB: INET-T8-REV02 W8 PRO 2015-11-10
Realtek RTL8723BS Wireless LAN 802.11n SDIO Network Adapter
Coaxial wire WiFi/BT antenna
MAC address OUI: 20180e
Computer Brand Name: Insyde CherryTrail
BIOS Manufacturer: INSYDE Corp.
BIOS Version: Mx.WT8.NNNNREN02
BIOS Date: 11/25/2015

The WiFi of this model performs very well: full 54Mbps with a Cisco E4200 in the same room.

ii)
Label on the bottom of the case: WINTEL BOX MODEL W8 Pro (without “CX-“)
Label on the top of the PCB: CYX-T8_V2_0 20151221
Broadcom 802.11n Wireless SDIO Adapter (AMPAK)
Small PCB WiFi/BT antenna
MAC address OUI: C44EAC
Computer Brand Name: N/A CherryTrail
BIOS Manufacturer: N/A.
BIOS Version: YT8.2×64.001
BIOS Date: 01/06/2016

The WiFi of this model performs badly: from 2 to 20Mbps with the same Cisco E4200 in the same room.
In addition, the overall manufacturing quality of the second model, appears to be significantly lower.
A teardown of this specific model is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awT3pZxVV1Q

There is no way to know in advance if you are buying a cheap “W8 Pro” or a better “CX-W8 Pro”,
anyway both come with 64 bit UEFI and Windows 10. On some boxes, bought from the same vendor, there is a questionable “AutoKMS” that provides some black-magic out-of-the-box…

mitsarasss
Guest
mitsarasss

@gencap
I am trying to find a driver that works for Broadcom 802.11n Wireless SDIO Adapter. I tried all drivers I found on the net, but still no luck.
Can you help me out bro? Thanks

Eli Landes
Guest
Eli Landes

http://www.gearbest.com/tv-box-mini-pc/pp_324845.html
is this the better model (option I) ?

Fossxplorer
Guest
Fossxplorer

+@Eli Landes
I wonder the same @gencap
Are you saying this also comes with 64-bits BIOS so we can install Linux? ๐Ÿ™‚

SAS
Guest
SAS

Hi all ,
been trying to install ubuntu server ( 16.04 / 14.04 ), onboard fast ethernet not detect , are there any work around about this situation ? running well with ubuntu desktop … ๐Ÿ™

SAS
Guest
SAS

@cnxsoft
Will try once more , and trying to reset my router before installation , when same situation happen will reinstall desktop version and competly convert to server version …:(

Tom
Guest
Tom

Just an update on Geek’s Wintel W8 Pro. I ordered 10 more and they were seized by US Customs and Border Patrol. They could not find any illegal aliens so they are now checking all “TV BOXES” as declared on the shipping paperwork from China to US. 6 weeks later I got a 7 page letter from them saying they were seized not detained. The reason given was a trademark violation printed on the bottom of the box that is for Microsoft Windows 10. It is sworn to be an illegal trademark by Microsoft. They give you several options I gave the letter to my attorney. It sounds like I may still be fined some money on this side. The good thing is I paid with PayPal and got my money back. Geek offered to go Dutch on the loss and I said no. They are mad at me and won’t respond to me after I sent them a copy of the letter. The government determined the value to be 83.30 per unit and not a gift as packaged worth $50.00 per case. If you deal with Geek read the fine print, it talks about going Dutch when things go south. Customs said they are checking ALL boxes labeled “TV BOXES” many companies ship them like that. You may want to be more creative if you want them. No more Windows for me. After having trouble with one box with Kaspersky it said there was something bad in the Windows program I called and was told you cant run anti virus with that version of windows. I bought a different one. I believe in anti-virus’s reducing problems. Geek claims if the US sends the boxes back to China I will face shipping fees, importation fees, taxes and duties to the Chinese government. Maybe I can post the 7 page letter or email it to anyone who is thinking of buying these. I don’t know what the posting rules are on this. Delete any part that cant be printed. Just trying to save people time and money and having every package from China now being inspected 100% and taped back up with green US Customs and border patrol tape for routers and keyboards and things like that. This never happened until these 10 were seized. For the record Geek claims this has not happened to anyone else but I know a guy who bought 1 unit from a different reseller and his was also marked “TV BOX” and was seized.

Gennaro Capuozzo
Guest
Gennaro Capuozzo

@eli landers:
IMHO, the “I” (first) model has been designed more accurately and its WiFi performs way better than the other.
Gearbest answered my inquiry saying that they’re selling the “good” model (the one with the INET-T8 board).
Anyway, the bottom of the enclosure in their pictures seems to be the other one: the INET-T8 model has four rubber feed hiding the screws, while the “cheap” model has no screws at all and just one little hole. You can open the enclosure with a suction cup.

@fossexplorer:
The 2 models run a 64 bits UEFI which can run _signed_ EFI GRUB flawlessly.
I was able to run a stock “Clonezilla Server” (DRBL Live) by simply choosing the right UEFI device at boot.
Of course, you have to interrupt the default boot sequence. Press ESC (or F2, DEL? Can’t remember now).
I had no problems with the onboard ethernet (its ethusb module is supported) under that distro, but
audio and WiFi were both not working. It would be useful to gather all those patches laying around to build
a kernel with complete hardware support for CX8.

gencap
Guest
gencap

@eli landers:
IMHO, the “I” (first) model has been designed more accurately and its WiFi performs way better than the other.
Gearbest answered my inquiry saying that they’re selling the “good” model (the one with the INET-T8 board).
Anyway, the bottom of the enclosure in their pictures seems to be the other one: the INET-T8 model has four rubber feet hiding the screws, while the “cheap” model has no screws at all and just one little hole. You can open the enclosure with a suction cup.

@fossexplorer:
The 2 models run a 64 bits UEFI which can run _signed_ EFI GRUB flawlessly.
I was able to run a stock “Clonezilla Server” (DRBL Live) by simply choosing the right UEFI device at boot.
Of course, you have to interrupt the default boot sequence. Press ESC (or F2, DEL? Can’t remember now).
I had no problems with the onboard ethernet (its eth to usb module is supported) under that distro, but audio and WiFi were both not working. My only successful attempt to get a working audio was running the latest LibreELEC alpha 7.90.002 whose kernel includes the HDMI audio patch.
It would be useful to gather all those pieces of code laying around to build a kernel with complete hardware support for CX8 Pro.

Fossxplorer
Guest
Fossxplorer

In the comments section on Gearbest, they state both USB ports are 2.0 ๐Ÿ™
I find it strange.

kubik256
Guest
kubik256

One USB is 2.0 and the other is 3.0 ๐Ÿ˜‰

If you’ll get your Wintel MiniPC, don’t ever turn off “GOP driver” in BIOS setup!
I’ve bricked mine right this way …and now still searching for solution, BIOS reset and backup battery disconnect is not working as usual ๐Ÿ™

SAS
Guest
SAS

Dear all,
USB 3.0 onboard speed only as usb 2.0 on ubuntu 16.04 , been testing on windows 10 with crystaldisk my enternal ssd could run at full speed up to 470/450 MBps r/w … , are there any chance for ubuntu on usb 3.0 at full speed ๐Ÿ™
Regard’s

M
Guest
M

My keyboard is not working can anyone help I bought3 diff kinds

Ivo
Guest
Ivo

Wintel Pro CX-W8 board.
Please I broke one SMD component.
Please help!! What is this smd component. I will replace it, but I don’t know what is it?
Look pictures. Thx.

comment image
comment image
comment image

Ivo
Guest
Ivo

Thanks for replay. I also think that is a capacitor.
I send message to Sunchip. I am waiting to respond.

Davide
Guest
Davide

@kubik256
Did you find a solution? I have the pc with linux on board. I disabled the gop drivers and no more signal from hdmi, but I can reach the machine via ssh, so it is still alive. If i press f2 while booting i’m sure it will go in the bios, so if somebody can guide me as a blind a can pherhaps reset the bios.

Ivo
Guest
Ivo

@Davide
I read that we have to flash BIOS. So, I order USB programator to flash BIOS on board.
http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=CH341A+24+25+Series
http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=SOIC8+SOP8+Flash+Chip+IC+Test+Clip

So, I am waiting items from ebay to come.

But, when I remove heat-sink I broken one component on board.
Now I have a another problem. I don’t know what component is it and which value?

Please If someone can help with identify component on board?

comment image

kubik256
Guest
kubik256

@Davide
No luck for now… I’m searching for some BIOS screenshots coz I also prefer your “blind” way instead of flashing BIOS in programator ๐Ÿ˜‰

If somebody has screenshots of BIOS, please send it here!
Many thanks ๐Ÿ˜‰

Davide
Guest
Davide

Yes. If someone could give us some screenshots of the bios would be really great!

Davide
Guest
Davide

I don’t even remember which key I have used to enter the bios. F2? F11? Del? I don’t know. I remember i firse screen with few options then i touched something and i went in advanced options. Here if i remember we can press F9 to reset to defaults and then F10 to sve and exit. If this is true we must just jave to know the key to enter the bios and whick key we have to press to go to advanced.

gencap
Guest
gencap

@Davide:
@Kubik256:

1) To enter the firmware menues you have to hit ‘ESC’ at powerup (several times);
at this time, if you hit ‘ENTER’ you go straight to Win10 loader (“Continue”).
2) Press CURSOR-DOWN 5 times and press ENTER (Setup Utility);
you land in “Main” tab where you can change language and date/time.
3) Hit CURSOR-RIGHT to show “Advanced” tab (without hitting ‘ENTER’!).
4) Press CURSOR-DOWN to highlight “Video Configuration”, and hit ENTER to show that section.
5) You should have “GOP Driver” settings highlighted, so you could press ‘F5’ or ‘F6’ (Change) to re-enable it;
I didn’t ever try to modify that settings, honestly!
6) Press ‘F10’ to Save and exit.

I’m going to post some screenshots of my CX8 Pro (ampak version) firmware menues, so you will be able to double-check the previous steps.

http://postimg.org/gallery/32rae42ua/

GC

gencap
Guest
gencap

@Davide:
@Kubik256:

A nice shortcut or alternative:

1) ESC, ESC, ESC … ESC at powerup;
2) 5*CURSOR-DOWN + ENTER (Setup Utility)
3) 1*CURSOR-LEFT (without ENTER) (Exit tab)
4) 3*CURSOR-DOWN + ENTER (Load Optimal Defaults)
5) 3*CURSOR-UP + ENTER (Exit saving changes)

I think that the “Optimal Defaults” should have the “GOP Driver” enabled…

GC

Tom
Guest
Tom

A friend just had a mini pc from china taken at customs for trademark violation. “HDMI” THIS TIME, SO NOW THEY ARE TARGETTING anything with a HDMI tademark. This was clearly a mini computer not a tv box.

kubik256
Guest
kubik256

@gencap
Many many thanks for a great post… I’ve tried it about 10 times, but no luck for now ๐Ÿ™
Can you please look if there is YES/NO question prompt after you press F10? … and if is YES highlighted by default?

Good advice: Don’t ever try to turn it off!!! I’ve already disassembly whole box, and unlike the traditional PC, there is no BIOS reset jumper and remove CMOS battery and short the pins also not working. So there is absolutely no emergency way to fix critical settings in BIOS ๐Ÿ™

If you are wondering why I’ve disabled this… I tried to install custom ISO of WMware vSphere hypervisor on this box, but there is some settings in BIOS that is incompatible with vSphere kernel, so install ever failed. I thought that nobody should be so stupid to build PC without CMOS reset… obviously somebody should ๐Ÿ˜€

Davide
Guest
Davide

gencap :
@Davide:
@Kubik256:
A nice shortcut or alternative:
1) ESC, ESC, ESC โ€ฆ ESC at powerup;
2) 5*CURSOR-DOWN + ENTER (Setup Utility)
3) 1*CURSOR-LEFT (without ENTER) (Exit tab)
4) 3*CURSOR-DOWN + ENTER (Load Optimal Defaults)
5) 3*CURSOR-UP + ENTER (Exit saving changes)
I think that the โ€œOptimal Defaultsโ€ should have the โ€œGOP Driverโ€ enabledโ€ฆ
GC

Thnak you very much for the help, but…here I have the same situation as @kubik256 …! Can you check if there is some question prompt we have to answer?

Another question…I saw in a some screenshots on the web that pressing F9 will load default (optimal) settings. Is this true?

gencap
Guest
gencap

@Davide, @Kubik256:

Good news!

‘F9’ works as supposed: it loads the Optimal defaults and prompts with ‘YES’ highlighted;
‘F10’ prompts you for “Save and EXIT”; it highlights the ‘YES’ option too.

To wrap up, while in ‘Setup Utility’, ‘F9’+ENTER and ‘F10’+ENTER should be the right recipe.

Could you confirm that, please?

GC

kubik256
Guest
kubik256

@gencap
I’ve tried many times new steps with F9 and F10, but still no luck ๐Ÿ™

1) ESC, ESC, ESC โ€ฆ ESC at powerup;
2) 5*CURSOR-DOWN + ENTER (Setup Utility)
3) F9 + ENTER (Load Optimal Defaults)
4) F10 + ENTER (Exit saving changes)

Ivo
Guest
Ivo
kubik256
Guest
kubik256

@Ivo
Hi, I think that there is no help from any expert, because it is almost impossible to measure capacitor value while it is connected in circuit. However these capacitors are usually used as filters, so good idea is to try to replace it by some low capacity… I think it should work and it should be safe to test ๐Ÿ˜‰