Aerofara Aero 2 Pro Review – A Celeron N5105 mini PC tested with Windows 11, Ubuntu 20.04

aerofara aero 2 pro mini pc

Aerofara’s Aero 2 Pro is an Intel Jasper Lake mini PC and one of the very few new mini PCs to include a VGA port. Aerofara kindly sent one for review and I’ve looked at performance running both Windows and Ubuntu.

Aero 2 Pro Hardware Overview

The Aero 2 Pro physically consists of a 120 x 120 x 23mm (4.72 x 4.72 x 0.91 inches) rectangular metal case with inset front and back plastic panels. As an actively cooled mini PC, it uses Intel’s 10 nm Jasper Lake N5105 processor which is a quad-core 4-thread 2.00 GHz Celeron processor boosting to 2.90 GHz with Intel’s UHD Graphics.

The front panel is bereft of anything save a pinhole which is illuminated blue when the device is powered on. The rear panel includes the power jack, a USB 3.1 port, an HDMI port, an Ethernet port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a reset CMOS pinhole. The left side includes a VGA port and an air intake vent. Finally, the right side includes a full-sized SD card slot which is underneath a hot air exhaust vent, a USB 3.0 port, a further USB 3.1 port, and the power button.

Internally there is soldered-on 8GB DDR4 2933MHz memory operating in dual-channel:

windows 11 memory

and a soldered-on Intel Wireless-AC 3165 chip together with an M.2 2242 SATA drive (the review model included a 256GB Netac drive complete with Windows 10 Pro installed) and is accessed by removing the front and rear panels and then sliding out the motherboard from the aluminum case:

aero 2 pro mptherboard

The specifications state:

aerofara aero 2 pro specifications

and lists the three USB ports as 3.0 so I tested them using a Samsung 980 PRO PCle 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD housed in an ‘USB to M.2 NVMe adapter’ (ORICO M2PAC3-G20 M.2 NVMe SSD Enclosure) which showed that the rear and second of the side USB ports were actually 3.1 (USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 i.e. 10 Gbit/s):

areo 2 pro windows fast usb aero 2 pro ubuntu fast usb

and only the first of the side USB ports was 3.0 (USB 3.2 Gen 1×1 i.e. 5 Gbit/s):

windows slow 5Gbps usb ubuntu slow 5Gbps usb

Box contents

In the box, you get a power adapter with a cord, an HDMI cable, and a multilingual user manual. Noticeably absent is a VESA mounting bracket and the device itself does not have any mounting screw holes.

Aerofara mini pc user manual

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. Where possible I review using Windows 11 version 21H2 and Ubuntu 20.04.3 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

Running the benchmarks went smoothly with the exception of the ‘Selenium’ test from the ‘Phoronix Test Suite’. When running the test with ‘Chrome’ selected it errored with the message ‘The test quit with a non-zero exit status’. This is typically caused by the benchmark driver used by the test not supporting the newest Chrome release and has been encountered before. As a result, the Octane tests were run manually and edited into the final results.

On Ubuntu 20.04.3 there was no audio, neither from HDMI nor when attaching an external speaker or headphones to the 3.5mm audio jack:

jasper lake ubuntu audio issue

and the ‘dmesg’ included errors:

ubuntu dmesg hdmi issue-sof-audio-pci-intel-icl cl_copy_fw timeout
cl_copy_fw: timeout

HDMI audio could be successfully fixed by adding either ‘snd_hda_intel.dmic_detect=0’ or ‘snd_intel_dspcfg.dsp_driver=1’ as a GRUB2 kernel boot parameter:

ubuntu grub hdmi fix ubuntu hdmi audio fix

however this did not resolve the headphone issue.

There are also some BIOS errors being reported in the ‘dmesg’ although the significance of which has not been determined:

Jasper Lake ACPI BIOS Errors ubuntu

Aero 2 Pro Windows Performance

Initially, the Aero 2 Pro came installed with a licensed copy of Windows 10 Pro version 21H1 build 19043.1083 and when booting Microsoft encourages you to upgrade to Windows 11:

Windows 10 to Windows 11 upgrade

Once booted, you are met with an Aerofara personalized desktop background:

windows 11 aerofara

Although I had previously selected Windows 11, it took some time before it was finally ready to install and upgrade as Windows first decided to apply all the outstanding Windows 10 updates:

Windows 10 upgrades

Eventually, I was finally upgraded to Windows 11 Pro 21H2 build 22000.527 and a quick look at the hardware information showed it is aligned to the specification noting the USB bump above:

 

18-windows-configuration 19-windows-disk-management 20-windows-info

Similar to when I reviewed a mini PC with Intel’s Jasper Lake N5095 processor, the iGPU showed limited details in HWiNFO and was unknown to GPU-Z:

21-windows-hwinfo 22-windows-gpu-z

A brief check showed working audio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet. I also confirmed that the SD card was working as this could be used as a form of storage expansion albeit rather slow:

windows 11 sd card

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

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

AERO 2 Pro windows pts overview

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

windows mini pc comparision aero 2 pro feb 2022

The iGPU results are significantly better as a result of the increased number of execution units.

Ubuntu Performance

After shrinking the Windows partition in half and creating a new partition, I installed Ubuntu 20.04.3 as dual boot. After installation, updates, and the fix mentioned above, a brief check showed working HDMI audio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet but non-working headphone audio. I also confirmed that the SD card was working as this has previously been known to be problematic in Ubuntu on other mini PCs:

jasper lake ubuntu sd card

The key hardware information under Ubuntu 20.04.3 is as follows:

aeorafa aero 2 pro ubuntu info

 


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:

Shenzhen Wangang Technology AERO 2 Pro ubuntu geekbench 5 cpu aero 2 pro ubuntu heaven benchmark

I also ran PassMark PerformanceTest Linux:

Jasper Lake mini pc ubuntu cpu passmark

which similarly can be directly compared to the results from when it was run on Windows:

Windows passmark cpu memory

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

Celeron N5105 ubuntu pts overview

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

linux mini pc comparison feb 2022

Video playback in browsers & Kodi

Video playback was good however whilst the iGPU on Jasper Lake supports hardware decoding of VP9 and HEVC, unfortunately, AV1 is not supported. So when Edge uses AV1 decoding rather than VP9 the playback typically results in frames being dropped:

Aero 2 Pro windows 11 edge 1440p 60fps

On Windows with VP9, both Edge and Chrome only very occasionally dropped frames with 4K 60 FPS videos with 4K 30 FPS playing perfectly.

However on Ubuntu both Firefox and Chrome continuously stalled while playing 4K 60 FPS videos and required 1440p to just occasionally drop frames:

aero 2 pro ubuntu 1440p 60fps firefox

4K 30 FPS videos also dropped the occasional frame with Chrome again being slightly worse than Firefox:

ubuntu 1440p 30fps chrome

Finally, I played some videos in Kodi of various formats all of which played without issue until I tried 8K 60 FPS which resulted in some frame skipping and stuttering.

Aero 2 Pro mini PC’s thermals

The Aero 2 Pro uses active cooling and running a stress test on Ubuntu saw the CPU temperature rise to a peak of 70°C with an average around 68°C for the latter duration of the test:

Aero 2 Pro ubuntu stress test
During the stress test at an ambient room temperature of 25.4°C, the top of the device did not get hot to touch and measured 37.6°C. With the device under load the fan is audible and measured around 41 dBA on my sound meter next to the device compared to 36 dBA at idle.

If the CPU frequency is monitored during the stress test it can be seen that during the first part of the test whilst the temperature was climbing it averaged 2515 MHz which then dropped slightly to an average of 2476 MHz for the remaining duration of the test:

ubuntu cpu frequency-aero 2 pro jasper lake mini pc

Networking

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

Aero 2 Pro network throughput

Power consumption

The power consumption was measured as follows:

  • Powered off (shutdown) – 0.0 Watts
  • BIOS* – 10.2 Watts
  • GRUB boot menu – 9.6 Watts
  • Idle – 9.8 Watts (Windows) and 4.5 Watts (Ubuntu)
  • CPU stressed – 18.2 Watts (Windows ‘cinebench’) and 16.5 Watts (Ubuntu ‘stress’)
  • Video playback** – 18.2 Watts (Windows Edge 4K 60 FPS) and 16.2 Watts (Ubuntu Chrome 1440p 60 FPS)

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

Aero 2 Pro BIOS

Powering up the mini PC and hitting the F7 key results in a boot menu that includes access to the BIOS. The BIOS is extremely restricted and contains only a single configurable option ‘S5 RTC Wake Settings’ which is disabled by default.

Final Observations

We’ve already seen that Jasper Lake offers improved CPU performance over Gemini Lake and earlier processors. The Aero 2 Pro’s N5101 Jasper Lake processor uses a slightly more powerful Intel UHD Graphics iGPU which ups the number of execution units resulting in significantly improved graphical performance compared to the N5095.

The inclusion of a VGA port, perhaps at the cost of an extra USB, HDMI, or Ethernet port, may be useful for both home and commercial usage, for example in connecting peripherals like projectors, however the lack of a VESA mount may be an issue for some. The fact that the BIOS does not include a ‘Power On’ setting suggests that ease of access to the device was assumed.

HighlightsLimitations
Generational improvement of CPU and iGPU
No BIOS setting for ‘Power On’
VGA portLack of VESA mount
SD card for storage expandabilityHeadphones not working in Ubuntu

I’d like to thank Aerofara for providing the Aero 2 Pro for review. It is available from Amazon starting at $249 and $269 for the current (8GB/256GB) configuration.

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3 Comments
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Arnold Benedict
Arnold Benedict
2 months ago

WiFi is “old” 802.11ac and Bluetooth is “old” 4.2

In the same price band is the GMK NucBox5 also with a Celeron N5105 but this comes with the newer WiFi 6 (802.11ax) and newer Bluetooth 5.2as well as 2 x HDMI 2.0 ([email protected]) and 3 x USB 3.2 Type-A

You should do a comparison review and check if the BIOS is also severely restricted.

Dewi Jones
2 months ago

Thanks for the great review
Can you tell me please:
Do you know if it supports Restore on AC/Power Loss in the bios?

thanks

linuxium
2 months ago

No. Only ‘S5 RTC Wake Settings’ is supported in the BIOS.

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