Introducing the Intel NUC 9 Compute Elements, Mini PC Kits, and 3rd-Party Ecosystem

Intel NUC 9 Mini PC

Intel’s NUC mini PC range is familiar to anyone who has looked for a very small compact and functional PC. But they, and similarly sized mini PCs in general, have a notable limitation when compared to desktops and also many high-end laptops in that the graphics performance is somewhat restricted because it is typically provided by the processor’s integrated graphics. Whilst these integrated graphics are suitable for browsing, video playback, and the office style applications that the devices have been marketed towards, they are normally insufficient for gaming as only low framerates are obtainable. Intel initially tried to address this gaming shortfall through the introduction of the Intel Skull Canyon (NUC6i7KYK) NUC which came with a 6th-gen Skylake Core i7-6770HQ that included Iris Pro Graphics 580 and at the time with their 72 EUs (Executions Units) was Intel’s most powerful integrated GPU. Additionally, the Skull Canyon also featured a (USB-C) Thunderbolt 3 port which created the possibility of connecting an …

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Beelink BT4 Mini PC Review – Slow, Buggy, Fan-cooled, and Overheating

Beelink T4 Review

Intel’s low-cost chip shortage has been so bad that Beelink has had to demothball some Atom chips when creating their new mini PC the Beelink BT4. This is one of the cheapest new mini PCs recently launched and uses the somewhat now old Cherry Trail Intel Atom x5-Z8500 CPU which was launched at the start of 2015 and is a quad-core 4-thread 1.44 GHz processor boosting to 2.24 GHz with Intel’s HD Graphics. The BT4 is the same form factor as the more recent Beelink mini PCs being a half-thick ‘NUC’ style device physically consisting of a 120 x 120 x 22 mm (4.72 x 4.72 x 0.87 inches) plastic rectangular case. This is not a passive device as it contains a small fan that stays on after the device has been shut down. The front panel has only a blue ‘power’ LED and the rear panel includes the power button, power jack, VGA port, HDMI port, a gigabit Ethernet …

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Beelink T45 Review with Windows and Linux, and Tweaking BIOS Power Limits

beelink t45 temperature

[Update December 23, 2019: We’ve been informed by Beelink that the T45 has been updated to the 6W Celeron N4200 processor instead, and the system is now cooled with a fan. The model reviewed in this post is the fanless version with a 10W Intel J4250 processor, which was never sold] Beelink have further extended their ‘Gemini’ range of mini PCs by adding the T45. This is a passively cooled mini PC that is effectively a companion to the J45 as it again uses the slightly older Apollo Lake Intel Pentium J4205 CPU which is a quad-core 4-thread 1.50 GHz processor boosting to 2.60 GHz with Intel’s HD Graphics 505. Although the T45 is a ‘NUC’ style mini PC physically consisting of a 119 x 119 x 17.7 mm (4.69 x 4.69 x 0.70 inches) all-metal (and surprisingly quite heavy) rectangular case, it is just under half the thickness of the J45 and is very similar in size to the …

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Ubuntu 18.04 on Beelink Gemini J45 Mini PC (Fix and Review)

Windows Mini PC Benchmarks Comparison

When I recently reviewed the Beelink J45 (aka Beelink Gemini J), a mini PC that uses the slightly older Intel Apollo Lake Pentium J4205 processor, whilst Windows 10 Pro ran fine it was unsuitable for Ubuntu because after installation the system became unstable and problems were encountered when running anything that loaded the system. The main issue was that when connected via wired-ethernet performing a command like ‘sudo apt upgrade’ would cause the ethernet to drop after which only a reboot would restore the connection. At the time it, was unclear what the cause was however a solution to the issue was posted by ‘gambetta’ on the Beelink forum. Basically it consists of installing the r8168 module which is the Linux device driver released for RealTek RTL8168B/8111B, RTL8168C/8111C, RTL8168CP/8111CP, RTL8168D/8111D, RTL8168DP/8111DP and RTL8168E/8111E Gigabit Ethernet controllers with PCI-Express interface. To paraphrase the ‘README.Debian’ file, you use ‘r8168-dkms because the in-kernel r8169 does not support your NIC or is not working …

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A Look at Ubuntu on MINIX NEO G41V-4 and J50C-4 Mini PCs

Mini PC Comparison

MINIX Technology Limited recently released two new Gemini Lake mini PCs running Windows 10 Pro namely the MINIX NEO J50C-4 actively-cooled mini PC with an Intel Pentium Silver J5005 processor and the MINIX NEO G41V-4 fanless mini PC powered by an Intel Celeron N4100 processor. Whilst each mini PC comes with 64GB of eMMC with pre-installed Windows 10 Pro together with 4GB of RAM they also support the addition of an optional 2280 M.2 drive and the MINIX NEO J50C-4 allows optional memory upgrades. Prior to testing their performance under Ubuntu, I established a comparison baseline by updating Windows to version 1903 and then running my standard set of benchmarking tools first with the default configuration of each mini PC and then repeated having installed the official MINIX 2280 M.2 240GB drives for each device together with adding an extra 4GB RAM to the MINIX NEO J50C-4. The results can then compared them with other Intel mini PCs: Then for …

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Beelink J45 Mini PC Review – Windows 10 Works as Expected, but Linux is Unstable

Beelink J45 Windows 10 OK, Linux Fails

[Update December 14, 2019: We’ve now found out that Ubuntu 18.04 can work fine on Beelink J45, but the Realtek Ethernet driver needs to be manually installed] Beelink has added a new mini PC to their ‘Gemini’ range (X45 and X55) namely the Beelink J45 (aka Beelink Gemini J45). What is rather unusual about the naming of this mini PC is that it uses the slightly older Intel Apollo Lake Pentium J4205 CPU which is a quad-core 4-thread 1.50 GHz processor boosting to 2.60 GHz with Intel’s HD Graphics 505. The J45 is another ‘NUC’ style mini PC and physically consists of a 115 x 102 x 43 mm (4.53 x 4.02 x 1.69 inches) box case with a front panel that includes the power button, a headphone jack and a couple of USB 3.0 ports and then on the rear, two more USB 3.0 ports, two HDMI (1.4)ports up to 4K @ 30 Hz, and a gigabit Ethernet port. …

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CHUWI GBOX Pro Review – Intel Atom x7-E3950 mini PC Tested with Windows 10 & Ubuntu 18.04

CHUWI Gbox Pro Review

CHUWI has released a new mini PC called the GBox Pro. This is a passively cooled mini PC that uses the slightly older Apollo Lake Intel Atom x7-E3950 CPU which is a quad core 4-thread 1.60 GHz processor boosting to 2.00 GHz with Intel’s HD Graphics 505. The GBox Pro is somewhat physically larger than typical recent mini PCs and consists of a 189 x 139 x 39 mm (7.44 x 5.47 x 1.54 inches) rectangular case with a front panel that includes the power button, micro SD slot, a couple of USB 3.0 ports and a Type-C USB port and then on the rear, a headphone jack, two USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit ethernet port, an HDMI (2.0) port and a VGA interface. The full specifications include: The GBox Pro comes with 64GB of eMMC with pre-installed Windows 10 Home (version 1809 OS build 17763.316) together with 4GB of soldered LPDDR4 RAM. The GBox Pro also supports the addition …

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Intel Mini PCs Linux Performance Comparison

Intel mini PC side-by-side comparison table

Recent vulnerabilities in Intel x86 microprocessors (Meltdown, Spectre, Foreshadow, RIDL, Fallout, ZombieLoad, etc.) are now addressed with mitigation patches for the Linux kernel although have resulted in some performance degradation. As a consequence, my previous comparison benchmarks could be somewhat misleading when compared with new results given the different versions of software at the time of execution. So I’ve repeated running my standard Phoronix Test Suite benchmarks on several of the latest mini PCs each running the latest updated Ubuntu 18.04.2 software with the same Ubuntu 4.15.0-54 kernel. Specifically, the mini PCs I’ve used are as follows: Intel NUC NUC7CJYSAL (Celeron J4005 Gemini Lake) Pepper JobsGLK-UC2X (Celeron N4100 Gemini Lake) Beelink Gemini X X45 (Celeron J4105 Gemini Lake) Beelink Gemini X X55 (Pentium Silver J5005 Gemini Lake) with updated BIOS Intel NUC NUC7PJYH (Pentium Silver J5005 Gemini Lake) Beelink L55 (i3-5005U Broadwell) On each mini PC, I’ve also run sbc-bench which is a small set of different CPU performance tests focusing on …

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