MeLE Quieter2 Review – Windows 10, Ubuntu 20.04, and eGPU

Mele Quieter2 review

MeLE has recently released a passive mini PC called the Quieter2. What is particularly interesting is that whilst it only has a low-powered Intel Celeron CPU it also supports an M.2 2280 NVMe SSD drive which theoretically makes using an eGPU possible. MeLE provided a 99% discount coupon so that I could purchase one for review and the results from various testing are detailed below.

Hardware Overview

The Quieter2 physically consists of a 131 x 81 x 18.3mm (5.16 x 3.19 x 0.72 inches) rectangular plastic case with a metal base plate. The top half of the case is finely grooved to mimic the fins of a heat spreader but is made of plastic rather than metal to allow reception to the WiFi antennas as one is directly connected to it. As a passively cooled mini PC, it uses Intel’s 14 nm J4125 Gemini Lake Refresh processor which is a quad-core 4-thread 2.00 GHz processor boosting to 2.70 GHz with Intel’s UHD Graphics 600.

The front panel has just the power button whilst the rear panel includes a USB 3.0 port, a headphone jack, a micro-SD card slot, two HDMI ports, a Type-C USB port for power, and a gigabit Ethernet port. The left panel has a Kensington security slot and the right panel has three more USB 3.0 ports.

The review model included a soldered-on 128GB eMMC drive and soldered-on 8GB DDR4 2133MHz memory:

Additionally, there is soldered-on WiFi 5 (or 802.11ac) as well as the ability to add an additional M.2 2280 SATA or NVMe SSD drive:

The box specifications state:

Box contents

In the box, you get a power adapter and cord together with a plug adapter appropriate for your country, a quick start guide, and a thermal pad for applying to an M.2 drive. Optionally available for purchase is a VESA mounting bracket.

Review Methodology

When reviewing mini PCs, I typically look at their performance under both Windows and Linux (Ubuntu) and compare them against some of the more recently released mini PCs. Since the start of 2021, I review using Windows 10 version 20H2 and Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and test with a selection of commonly used Windows benchmarks and/or equivalents for Linux together with Thomas Kaiser’s ‘sbc-bench’ which is a small set of different CPU performance tests focusing on server performance when run on Ubuntu. I also use ‘Phoronix Test Suite’ and benchmark with the same set of tests on both Windows and Ubuntu for comparison purposes. On Ubuntu, I also compile the v5.4 Linux kernel using the default config as a test of performance using a real-world scenario.

Prior to benchmarking, I perform all necessary installations and updates to run the latest versions of both OSes. I also capture some basic details of the device for each OS.

Installation Issues

After installing and booting Ubuntu the ‘dmesg’ shows the error ‘ACPI Error: No handler for Region [ECF2]’ and the implications of this are unknown at this stage:

However also on Ubuntu, the audio did not work from the 3.5 mm headphone jack. Only HDMI was available as a sound option and nothing was detected or consequently changed when headphones were connected including nothing in ‘dmesg’ when connecting/disconnecting headphones:

Finally, in order to get WiFi working it is necessary to install an additional driver for the RTL8821CE module provided by Ubuntu’s ‘rtl8821ce-dkms’ package:

Also of note is that not all 5GHz frequencies are supported and those that can be used may be checked with the ‘iwlist frequency’ command:

Therefore, in order to connect to a 5GHz network, you might have to reconfigure your router to use one of the supported frequencies.

MeLE Quieter2 Review – Windows Performance

Initially, the Quieter2 comes installed with a licensed copy of Windows 10 Pro version 20H2 build 19042.685. After upgrading to version 20H2 build 19042.985 a quick look at the hardware information shows it is aligned to the specification:

A brief check showed working audio, micro-SD, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Ethernet.

I then set the power mode to ‘High performance’ and ran my (2021) standard set of benchmarking tools to look at performance under Windows:

For my specific set of Phoronix Test Suite tests the results were:

All these results can then be compared with other recent mini PCs:

The results are slightly lower when compared with other mini PCs using the same J4125 CPU. This is likely due to CPU throttling which is discussed further in the ‘Thermals’ section below.

MeLE Quieter2 Review – Ubuntu Performance

After shrinking the Windows partition in half and creating a new partition I installed Ubuntu using an Ubuntu 20.04.2 ISO as dual boot. After installation and updates a brief check showed working micro-SD, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet however audio did not work from the 3.5 mm headphone jack as mentioned above.

The key hardware information under Ubuntu 20.04.2 is as follows:



I then set the CPU Scaling Governor to ‘performance’ and ran my Linux benchmarks for which the majority of the results are text-based but the graphical ones included:

I also ran Passmark PerformanceTest Linux:

which can be directly compared to the results from running the CPU test in Windows:

For the same set of Phoronix Test Suite tests the results were:

The complete results together with a comparison against other recent mini PCs are:

again showing that the processor is throttling to prevent overheating.

Browsers & Kodi

For real-world testing, I played some videos in Edge, Chrome and Kodi on Windows and in Firefox, Chrome and Kodi on Ubuntu. The following tables summarise the tests and results for each:

eGPU Gaming with MeLE Quieter2

As can be seen from the above Unigine Heaven scores the Quieter2 will only offer limited gaming performance using the iGPU:

However, as mentioned in the introduction this mini PC also supports an M.2 2280 NVMe SSD drive so I decided to test using an eGPU. The eGPU configuration has been discussed before, see Using an eGPU with a mini PC,  and I used a GTX 1650 Super installed in ADT-Link’s R43SG ‘PCIe x16 to M.2 NVMe adapter’ together with a DELL DA-2 8PIN 12V/18A/220W PSU (aka Dell D220P-01) power supply:

Before revealing the results it is worth understanding the technical constraints of using an eGPU with MeLE Quieter2 mini PC. First, looking at the specification of the Intel J4125 Gemini Lake Refresh CPU shows that there are six PCIe lanes available for configuration however the PCIe revision is only 2.0:

Looking at how the Quieter2 has implemented the PCIe lanes shows that two single lanes are used for networking (Ethernet and WiFi) resulting in only a dual-lane being available for use as an M.2 slot:

This can be confirmed after connecting the eGPU:

and after installing the latest Nvidia driver shows it connected via ‘PCI Express x2 Gen2’:

and similarly in GPU-Z:

Running CUDA-Z gives an indication of the performance to expect:

I then ran a few graphical-orientated benchmarks including:

which showed promising performance so I then ran the in-game benchmark for Shadow Of The Tomb Raider (SOTTR) with low graphics settings:

which resulted in a somewhat disappointing 31 FPS.

I then tried Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) at default (i.e. very high) settings and achieved around 52 FPS:

and also Grand Theft Auto V on default settings and got 49 FPS in the final benchmark scene:

with both being playable.

The reason for the poor performance in SOTTR is due to CPU bottlenecking. This can clearly be seen when monitoring CPU usage during the SOTTR benchmark:

when compared to during the CS:GO benchmarking:

and given that the device only uses a Celeron J4125 processor this isn’t really surprising.

Adding an eGPU is therefore possible and will increase the gaming potential for the device but bear in mind the limitations and impact of the CPU on individual gaming performance.

NVMe Performance

Installing a Kingston A2000 1TB NVMe SSD showed up in HWiNFO as connected via PCIe 3.0 although with the correct link width of x2 and link speed of 5.0 GT/s:

However, in Ubuntu, it correctly showed up as PCIe 2.0

PCIe 2.0 has a transfer rate of 5.0 GT/s and the maximum theoretical throughput for x2 is 1.000 GB/s so the actual performance obtained was as expected:

Windows vs Ubuntu

Whilst a detailed comparison between the two operating systems is beyond the scope of this review, it is worth noting some of the key findings I observed. Looking at the performance tools common between the two OS showed that they were reasonably evenly matched.

However, video playback on Windows runs much better than on Ubuntu and given the price includes a Windows 10 Pro license it probably doesn’t make too much sense to use the device as a Linux HTPC.

Thermals

The Quieter2 uses passive cooling and during benchmarking the maximum temperature I recorded on the top of the device was around 44.3°C in an ambient room temperature of 15.7°C and the device was not too hot to touch.

Running a stress test on Ubuntu saw the CPU temperature rise quickly to 51°C and then drop to 43°C before slowly climbing to a maximum temperature of 65°C:

The top of the device reached a maximum of 47.8°C during the stress test and the ambient room temperature was 14.1°C.

If the CPU frequency is monitored during the stress test it can be seen that the initial temperature peak is caused by the CPU running at 2600 MHz for the eight-second ‘PL1’ duration after which it drops to a consistent frequency averaging 2121 MHz to obviously prevent overheating:

Incidentally, the couple of temperature spikes during cooling were the result of two screenshots being taken with the first of which shown above.

Networking

Network connectivity throughput was measured on Ubuntu using ‘iperf’:

Power Consumption

Power consumption was measured as follows:

  • Initially plugged in – 0.5 Watts
  • Powered off (shutdown) – 0.0 Watts (Windows) and 0.0 Watts (Ubuntu)
  • BIOS* – 3.5 Watts
  • GRUB boot menu – 3.3 Watts
  • Idle – 2.3 Watts (Windows) and 1.7 Watts (Ubuntu)
  • CPU stressed – 7.9 Watts (Windows ‘cinebench’) and 8.4 Watts (Ubuntu ‘stress’)
  • Video playback** – 5.6 Watts (Windows Edge 4K30fps) and 8.3 Watts (Ubuntu Chrome 1080p30fps)

*BIOS (see below)
**The power figures fluctuate so the value is the average of the median high and median low power readings.

As can be seen when looking at the Windows configuration the values for PL1 (8W) and PL2 (15W) are lower than similar but actively cooled J4125 mini PCs (10W and 25W respectively). The power limits can be adjusted either directly in the BIOS:

or using an application like ThrottleStop:

Rerunning some performance tests using the slightly higher values for PL1 and 2 showed only a marginal increase:

and the SOTTR benchmark frame rate improved by only one frame to 32 FPS:

Quieter2 Drivers

On the MeLE website, there is a download link for all the required Windows drivers together with a modified Windows ISO which includes the drivers.

With my Kingston A2000 1TB NVMe SSD drive installed I used a standard Windows ISO and the MeLE drivers to make a clean installation to the M.2 drive using ‘Deployment Image Servicing and Management’ (dism.exe).

All devices were successfully identified:

and Windows was correctly activated:

Quieter2 BIOS

After powering up the Quieter2 hitting the F7 key results in a boot menu which includes access to the BIOS. The BIOS is unrestricted:

Final Observations

Overall this mini PC is very good value for money and performs very well. It includes a Windows 10 Pro license, passive cooling, the inclusion of an NVMe M.2 slot (subject to technical limitations) and MeLE provides driver support.

HighlightsLimitations
NVMe slotOnly PCIe x2 Gen 2
Passively cooled (fanless)CPU throttling

I’d like to thank MeLE for providing the discounted Quieter2 for review. It currently retails at around $250 on AliExpress.

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23 Replies to “MeLE Quieter2 Review – Windows 10, Ubuntu 20.04, and eGPU”

  1. Can the Quieter2 be powered by USB-C charger with with USB PD (I assume it needs to support 12V voltage)?

  2. What did you do for BIOS settings to get the Quieter2 to boot from USB for your Ubuntu install? I’ve tried every BIOS setting imaginable. Also, I’ve created various bootable USBs using Rufus and Etcher with different settings with no luck. The USB stick will flash for a second when I try to boot from it and that’s it. No boot. I’m wanting to install Ubuntu on a separtate 256GB Sabrent 2280 SSD drive (I installed as soon as I received the Quieter2) and keep Windows 10 on the 128GB drive.

    Thanks Much.

    1. Initially my Ubuntu 20.04.2 LiveUSB created by simply ‘dd’ the ISO to USB didn’t boot properly as after displaying the GRUB menu selecting Ubuntu resulted in a black screen. I then changed the BIOS settings under ‘Chipset’ -> ‘Common Function’ -> ‘OS Selection’ from ‘Windows’ to ‘Linux’ and the LiveUSB booted without issue. However after that I changed the ‘OS Selection’ back to ‘Windows’ and my Ubuntu 20.04.2 LiveUSB still booted without issue so I assumed it was a one-off glitch. Try setting ‘OS Selection’ to ‘Linux’ and see if that helps.

    2. What pc are you trying to install it on?
      on Beelink J4125 i had to disable fastboot from win10 setting, then disable fastboot and secureboot on bios, enable USB boot.

      on another mini PC i had to use linuxium isorespin script. google it.

      on others there is a linux boot option in the bios.

      1. I’m using the the Quieter2 mini PC. BINGO. It was the Common Functions Linux setting that opened the door. All is well. Now I just need to get it to see my WiFi. Thanks much!

          1. How is the quality of wifi signal? I want to buy Mele Quieter2 as NAS server and since I watch movies in HD it will need streams of 60Mbps and my NAS Server is not in the same room with my WiFi router. So far I was able to achieve that only on 5Ghz network. In your experience so far is the WiFi signal strong and constant enough on Mele device?

    1. There are four memory slots and up to two memory channels are supported however only one channel is active (wired with slot 0 and 1) so it is running in single-channel mode – visually confirmed by HWiNFO64 picture.

      1. I see. Thanks. So if they had put the two 4 GB modules on Slots 0 and 2, then it would have been dual channel. Pitty they chose to do it this way, but probably made most sense from design/cost point of view.

  3. Thank you for this complete review! I have just got my Quieter2 today and played a little with it.

    With your article dated from June, did you get any news observations about it if you continued to use it? I was wondering if you did find an option in the bios to disable the eMMC drive if you use an NVMe drive? Did you have specific to do for installing the official Windows 10 OS with their drivers from USB?

    1. I’ve nothing more to add to the review at this stage having further tested with eGPUs. Also I don’t disable the eMMC when using the NVMe drive and I installed Windows with their drivers using a script I’ve developed which uses DISM simply because I install Windows so often.

  4. Does Quieter2 support auto power-on after power loss? I would like to use it as a mini server for home automation.

      1. I did look at your video and the closest option I could find is “Auto power-on” under the Chipset tab. But I’m not sure if it’s related to power loss or some sort of remote power-on. When you highlighted that option, the description on the right doesn’t provide any additional info. On my computer’s BIOS it’s called “Power loss recovery”.

        1. It is my understanding that if power is lost and ‘auto power on’ is set then the device will start. However the success of a restart would be dependant on there being no corruption caused by the initial power failure.

          1. Thanks, I think you are correct. In their marketing material they list “auto power on” as one of the features. So, it must be power loss restart.

  5. I was planning to ditch the Win 10 that came with this machine and just run Kodi in Ubuntu.

    Perhaps the most important tip I got from this:

    “However, video playback on Windows runs much better than on Ubuntu and given the price includes a Windows 10 Pro license it probably doesn’t make too much sense to use the device as a Linux HTPC.”

    Thanks heaps.

  6. Hey man, would you be able to help out… Got the same setup but running pfsense. Used the m2 adapter to add in an intel82576 dual network card and it doesn’t seem to be recognizing it on the bios or on pfsense. The card does light up, any tips on setting the BIOS settings for it to work?

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