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Posts Tagged ‘beelink’

Beelink GS1 Allwinner H6 TV Box Sells for $60

October 20th, 2017 2 comments

Allwinner H6 is the latest “Home Entertainment” SoC from the company. Designed for 4K HDR TV boxes and set-top boxes, it supports 6K/4K H.265, H.264 and VP9 hardware video decoding, HDR10 and HLG video processing, and features TS interfaces for digital TV tuners, and high speed interfaces such as USB 3.0 and PCIe.

So far only one device was equipped with the processor: Zidoo H6 Pro TV Box launched last August, and no other companies offers H6 based products. This may be about to change, as Beelink GS1 is now up for pre-order on GeatBest for $69.99 shipped. But if you read the fine prints on the product page, you’ll find a $10 coupon code: GBGS1. Beelink GS1 specifications:

  • SoC – AllWinner H6 quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor with Mali-T720MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB RAM
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC flash, micro SD card slot
  • Video Output – 1x HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60hz with HDR support
  • Video Playback Support
    • H.265/HEVC Main/Main10 profile @ level 5.2 high-tier up to 4K @ 60fps / 6K @ 30 fps
    • VP9 Profile 0/2, up to 4K @ 30fps
    • H264/AVC BP/MP/HP @ level5.1, MVC, up to 4Kx2K @ 30fps
    • SmartColor 3.0 image optimization engine
  • Audio I/F – HDMI, optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 port, 1x USB3.0 port
  • Misc – IR receiver
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 9.6 cm x 9.6 cm x 1.6 cm
  • Weight – 190 grams

The device runs Android 7.1, and ships with an IR remote control with IR learning function, a HDMI Cable, a power adapter for your country, and an English user manual.

The product is so new, Beelink has not even setup a product page on their website. GearBest expects shipments to start after October 31, 2017.

Via AndroidPC.es

Beelink AP34 Ultimate Fanless mini PC Review with Windows 10 and Ubuntu

The AP34 Ultimate combines the passive cooling of an Apollo Lake N3450 SoC with 8GB of RAM and 64GB of storage in a small box form-factor mini PC.

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Together with the device comes a pair of HDMI cables, a power adapter, VESA mount with screws, and a couple of leaflets covering basic information.

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Not only does this device have three USB 3.0 ports, full size SD card, Gigabit Ethernet, headphone jack and HDMI port, it also has a (vacant) M.2 slot allowing additional storage with the full specification being:
although there was no included remote control.
The device comes pre-loaded with activated Windows 10 Home 64-bit and plenty of available free space at (initially before updates) just over 43GB.

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The Windows performance is unremarkable and the reason for this is obvious looking at the basic benchmarks.

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The reason being that the eMMC is slow which is disappointing for an ‘ultimate’ device. The eMMC chip is a Toshiba THGBM5G9B8JBAIE 64GB eMMC version 4.41 which used the HS200 interface..

… compared with other devices like the Beelink AP42 whose eMMC (Samsung KLMCG4JENB-B041) is version 5.1 making use of the faster HS400 interface.
Installing Ubuntu as dual-boot is now much simpler as my updated ‘isorespin.sh’ script includes installing the rEFInd bootloader which enables booting on Apollo Lake devices when the BIOS doesn’t support Linux. Performance is again as expected given the limitation of the eMMC.

Apollo Lake Ubuntu Performance Comparison – Click to Enlarge

Ubuntu mini PCs’ Performance Comparison – Click to Enlarge

Looking a key features in more detail the first point to note is that the BIOS is simplified with no access to features you might want to control in an ‘ultimate’ device

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The CPU is a quad core Intel N3450:
and memory is dual-channel DDR3 1600MHz:
Networking is Gigabit Ethernet and Intel 3165 (ac) wireless:
and audio is available through HDMI and headphones

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Kodi plays 4k video but however 8K is unwatchable
Both internal and external temperatures are fine under load:

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So what are the advantages of having 8GB RAM? Well it means the device works better as a mini PC, as it means you can use more memory-hungry applications like browser tabs. As an example I fired up twenty Chrome tabs in Ubuntu

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I was going to fire up twenty more but while I was refreshing each tab to make sure I used the most memory Chrome crashed.
However as I hadn’t run out of memory I decided to try with Firefox. Having opened forty tabs in Firefox, I then refreshed the previous twenty Chrome tabs. Everything was now working fine and I was hovering around the 7GB RAM usage with the temperature stable at 61°C

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But what use is a device with slow storage? I re-read the license leaflet that came with the device:

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and checked the license using ‘slmgr -dli’ which confirmed I had an activated ‘RETAIL’ license. As the device has 8GB RAM and 64GB storage, I can only assume that the device has a full Windows 10 license which means I should be able to use the M.2 drive as the Windows drive. So in theory if I used a small M.2 drive and installed Windows it should then automatically activate as the product key is held in the BIOS.
First I had to install the M.2 drive. This involves prising off the four rubber feet on the base of the device, unscrewing the four screws that are revealed, and then forcing off the base plate which is somewhat stuck to the motherboard by a thermal pad.
Then unscrew the three screws that secure the motherboard to the case and gently lift out the motherboard being careful not to loose the power-button which is now loose and also not ripping off the two wifi antena wires.
You will need a 22mm wide and 42mm long M.2 (or 2242) with at least an “M” slot SSD. The socket is near the yellow battery which the SSD actually covers when installed.
Windows can then be installed using a Windows 10 Disc Image (ISO File) downloaded from Miscrosoftand written to USB.
Except that activation didn’t work. Research seemed to indicate that this was because the drive was seen as a removable device which apparently Windows doesn’t like.
So instead I installed Windows to the eMMC I had just wiped
which activates successfully
and after turning off hibernation and setting the paging file to the minimum the Windows partition can be shrunk
and moved to the M.2 SSD using an Ubuntu LiveUSB and the ‘dd’ command
after which the M.2 drive needs to be ‘fixed’ using ‘gdisk’
and the original eMMC wiped using ‘gparted’ to prevent conflicts
Once rebooted the M.2 should be resized

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and after performing updates the M.2 SSD is the C: drive with activated Windows

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Although fine as a proof of concept I only used a relatively slow and small capacity (16GB) M.2 SSD. The real question was whether the initially installed Windows could be moved to a larger and faster SSD? The answer is yes!

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And when using a 256GB M.2 SSD
an improvement in performance is seen

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The fundamental consideration in choosing this device is whether you have the need for 8GB RAM over 4GB as this is an USD 80 question. The slow eMMC whilst disappointing can be overcome through utilizing the M.2 slot. However, it is worth checking how readily available 2242 M.2 SSDs are as they are not common in Australia for example. The price vs specification still favors these type of mini PCs when compared to NUCs and similar. However the convergence point is close, especially when factoring warranty and support. Overall the Apollo Lake CPU offers a slight improvement to last year’s Cherry Trail devices and the passive cooling of this device are definite positives with HDMI 1.4 being the obvious negative, although the limited BIOS might also be too restrictive for some.
I’d like to thank GearBest for providing Beelink AP34 Ultimate for review. If you are interested, you can purchase the device on their website for $259 including shipping [Update: Coupon GBAP348 should lower the price to $239.99. Valid until October 31st.] You’ll also find the fanless mini PC on Aliexpress, just make sure you select the blue version if you want 8GB RAM, the gray version for 4GB RAM.

Beelink S1 Mini PC Comes with Up to 8GB RAM, Supports M.2 SSD & SATA Storage, and Cortana via a Built-in Microphone

July 26th, 2017 9 comments

While many Apollo Lake mini PCs are sold by Chinese manufacturers, few of come with up to 8GB RAM, and include an internal 2.5″ SATA bay. But Beelink S1 mini PC does, and it also include an M.2 SSD slot, so you can have fast storage for the operating system using an SSD, and cheap and larger storage for your data with the SATA bay. If you are a fan of voice commands, a built-in microphone working with Cortana is also included.

Beelink S1 mini PC specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron N3450 quad core Apollo Lake processor @ 1.10 GHz / 2.20 GHz (Burst frequency) with 12 EU Intel HD graphics 500 @ 200/700 MHz  (6W TDP)
  • System Memory – 4 or 8 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 64 GB eMMC flash, internal SATA bay, M.2 SSD slot up to 512 GB, micro SD card slot up to 128GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 up to 4K @ 30 Hz, VGA port
  • Audio – HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack, digital microphone
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0 (Intel 3165 WiFI chip)
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 host ports, 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x USB type C port (not indication of what it is capable of yet again…)
  • Misc – Power button, reset pinhole, Kensington lock
  • Power Supply – 12V/1.5A
  • Dimensions –  16 x 13.45 x 3.20 cm
  • Weight – 407 grams

The specifications are quite close to the ones of Beelink AP34 Ultimate, except for 2.5″ SATA drive support, the microphone, and it includes both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, as well as a USB type C port. As usual, the company did not use logo, nor did it find it necessary to explain the capability of the USB type C port. So it’s probably safe to assume video output is not supported for example.

The mini PC ships with a 12V/1.5A power supply, an 80 cm HDMI cable, a 20cm HDMI cable, a wall mount kit (VESA?), a user’s guide, and a Mini PC system activation instructions. The 4GB RAM version sells for $219, and the 8GB version for $299 on GearBest [Update: GBS14 / GBS18 coupons should lower the price by $20]. Both models do not complies with Microsoft’s hardware requirements for a discounted Windows 10 license, so I’m a bit surprised by the $80 price gap just for the extra memory, unless Microsoft recently changed the terms to allow for 64GB storage and 4GB RAM. I could not find the computer on other e-retailers yet.

Via AndroidPC.es

Beelink AP34 Ultimate Apollo Lake mini PC Comes with 8GB RAM

July 13th, 2017 20 comments

Most Apollo Lake mini PCs on the market ship with 4GB RAM, but if you find this limiting, Beelink AP34 Ultimate, powered by an Intel Celeron N3450 quad core processor, comes with 8GB DDR3 memory and 64GB eMMC flash.

Beelink AP34 Ultimate fanless mini PC specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron N3450 quad core Apollo Lake processor @ 1.10 GHz / 2.20 GHz (Burst frequency) with 12 EU Intel HD graphics 500 @ 200/700 MHz  (6W TDP)
  • System Memory – 8 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 64 GB eMMC flash, SD card slot, M.2 SSD slot up to 320 GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 up to 4K @ 30 Hz
  • Audio – 3.5mm headphone jack and HDMI
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 3x USB 3.0 host ports
  • Misc – Power button and LED, reset pinhole
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A
  • Dimensions –  11.90 x 11.90 x 2.00 cm
  • Weight – 337 grams

Beelink AP34 Ultimate runs Windows 10 Home 64-bit. That’s an update to the company’s Beelink AP34, and based on the same design as Beelink AP42 that we reviewed with Linux earlier this year.

The device is sold on Amazon US for $249.99, and they now have a promotion in Europe until July 16th, where the mini PC is sold for 239.99 Euros instead of 289.99 Euros on Amazon FR and Amazon DE. But a potentially cheaper way, depending on potential custom duties, is to get it on Aliexpress for around $216.99 shipped. Please note that they are two version of AP34:

  • AP34 with a gray case and 4GB RAM
  • AP34 Ultimate with a blue case and 8GB RAM

If you check some other Aliexpress sellers, they will sell AP34 with 8GB (title) for just $169, but the description shows everything with 4GB RAM, and the price does not change whether you select the Grey or Blue (Ultimate) version of the device, so it’s likely the price for the original A34 model only. So be careful, and ask the seller first in case of doubt.

Thanks to Linuxium for the tip.

Linux 4.11 Release – Main Changes, ARM & MIPS Architecture

May 1st, 2017 9 comments

Linus Torvalds has just released Linux 4.11:

So after that extra week with an rc8, things were pretty calm, and I’m much happier releasing a final 4.11 now.

We still had various smaller fixes the last week, but nothing that made me go “hmm..”. Shortlog appended for people who want to peruse the details, but it’s a mix all over, with about half being drivers (networking dominates, but some sound fixlets too), with the rest being some arch updates, generic networking, and filesystem (nfs[d]) fixes. But it’s all really small, which is what I like to see the last week of the release cycle.

And with this, the merge window is obviously open. I already have two pull request for 4.12 in my inbox, I expect that overnight I’ll get a lot more.

Linux 4.10 added Virtual GPU support, perf c2c’ tool, improved writeback management, a faster initial WiFi connection (802.11ai), and more.

Some notable changes for Linux 4.11 include:

  • Pluggable IO schedulers framework in the multiqueue block layer – The Linux block layer is know to have different IO schedulers (deadline, cfq, noop, etc). In Linux 3.13, the block layer added a new multiqueue design that performs better with modern hardware (eg. SSD, NVM). However, this new multiqueue design didn’t include support for pluggable IO schedulers. This release solves that problem with the merge of a multiqueue-ready IO scheduling framework. A port of the deadline scheduler has also been added (more IO schedulers will be added in the future)
  • Support for OPAL drives – The Opal Storage Specification is a set of specifications for features of data storage devices that enhance their security. For example, it defines a way of encrypting the stored data so that an unauthorized person who gains possession of the device cannot see the data. This release adds Linux support for Opal nvme enabled controllers. It enables users to setup/unlock/lock locking ranges for SED devices using the Opal protocol.
  • Support for the SMC-R protocol (RFC7609) – This release includes the initial part of the implementation of the “Shared Memory Communications-RDMA” (SMC-R) protocol as defined in RFC7609. SMC-R is an IBM protocol that provides RDMA capabilities over RoCE transparently for applications exploiting TCP sockets. While SMC-R does not aim to replace TCP, it taps a wealth of existing data center TCP socket applications to become more efficient without the need for rewriting them. A new socket protocol family PF_SMC is introduced. There are no changes required to applications using the sockets API for TCP stream sockets other than the specification of the new socket family AF_SMC. Unmodified applications can be used by means of a dynamic preload shared library.
  • Intel Bay Trail (and Cherry Trail) improvements – Intel HDMI audio support, patchsets for AXP288 PMIC, I2C driver, and C-state support to avoid freezes.

New features and bug fixes specific to ARM architecture:

  • Allwinner:
    • Allwinner A23 –  Audio codec device tree changes
    • Allwinner A31 – SPDIF output support
    • Allwinner A33 – cpufreq support, Audio codec support
    • Allwinner A64 – MMC Support, USB support
    • Allwinner A80 – sunxi-ng style clock support
    • Allwinner H2+ – New SoC variant, similar to H3 (mostly with a different, lower end VPU)
    • Allwinner H3 – Audio codec device tree changes, SPDIF output support
    • Allwinner V3s – New SoC support, USB PHY driver, pinctrl driver, CCU driver
    • New boards & devices – LicheePi One, Orange Pi Zero, LicheePi Zero, Banana Pi M64, Beelink X2
  • Rockchip:
    • Renamed RK1108 to RV1108
    • Clock drivers – New driver for RK3328, and non-critical fixes and clk id additions
    • Tweaks for Rockchip GRF (General Register File) usage (kitchensink misc register range on the SoCs)
    • thermal, eDP, pinctrl enhancements
    • PCI – add Rockchip system power management support
    • Add machine driver for RK3288 boards that use analog/HDMI audio
  • Amlogic
    • Add support for Amlogic Meson I2C controller
    • Add SAR ADC driver
    • Add ADC laddered keys to meson-gxbb-p200 board
    • Add configurable RGMII TX delay to fix/improve Gigabit Ethernet performance on some boards
    • Add pinctrl nodes for HDMI HPD and DDC pins modes for Amlogic Meson GXL and GXBB SoCs
    • New hardware: WeTek TV boxes
  • Samsung
    • Add USB 3.0 support in Exynos 5433
    • Removed clock driver for Samsung Exynos4415 SoCs
    • TM2 touchkey, Exynos5433 HDMI and power management improvements
    • Added Samsung Exynos4412 Prime SoC
    • Removed Samsung Exynos 4412 SoC
    • Added audio on Odroid-X board
    • Samsung Device Tree updates:
      • Add necessary initial configuration for clocks of display subsystem. Till now it worked mostly thanks to bootloader.
      • Use macro definitions instead of hard-coded values for pinctrl on Exynos7.
      • Enable USB 3.0 (DWC3) on Exynos7.
      • Add descriptive user-friendly label names for power domains. This  makes debugging easier
      • Use proper drive strengths on Exynos7.
      • Use bigger reserved memory region for Multi Format Codec on all Exynos chipsets so it could decode FullHD easily
      • Cleanup from old MACHs in s5pv210.
      • Enable IP_MULTICAST for libnss-mdns
      • Add bus frequency and voltage scalling on Exynos5433 TM2 device (along with  necessary bus nodes and Platform Performance Monitoring Unit on Exynos5433).
      • Use macros for pinctrl settings on Exynos5433.
      • Create common DTSI between Exynos5433 TM2E and TM2E.
  • Qualcomm
    • Added coresight, gyro/accelerometer, hdmi to Qualcomm MSM8916 SoC
    • Clock drivers – Updates to Qualcomm IPQ4019 CPU clks and general PLL support, Qualcomm MSM8974 RPM
    • Errata workarounds for Qualcomm’s Falkor CPU
    • Qualcomm L2 Cache PMU driver
    • Qualcomm SMCCC firmware quirk
    • Qualcomm PM8xxx ADC bindings
    • Add USB HSIC and HS phy driver for Qualcomm’s SoC
    • Device Tree Changes:
      • Add Coresight components for APQ8064
      • Fixup PM8058 nodes
      • Add APQ8060 gyro and accel support
      • Enable SD600 HDMI support
      • Add RIVA supprort for Sony Yuga and SD600
      • Add PM8821 support
      • Add MSM8974 ADSP, USB gadget, SMD, and SMP2P support
      • Fix IPQ8064 clock frequencies
      • Enable APQ8060 Dragonboard related devices
      • Add Vol+ support for DB820C and APQ8016
      • Add HDMI audio support for APQ8016
      • Fix DB820C GPIO pinctrl name
      • etc…
  • Mediatek
    • Mediatek MT2701 – Added clocks, iommu, spi, nand, adc, thermal
    • Added Mediatek MT8173 thermal
    • Added Mediatek IR remote receiver
  • GPU – Add Mali Utgard bindings;  the ARM Mali Utgard GPU family is embedded into a number of SoCs from Allwinner, Amlogic, Mediatek or Rockchip
  • Other new ARM hardware platforms and SoCs:
    • Marvell – SolidRun MACCHIATOBin board, Marvell Prestera DX packet processors
    • Broadcom – BCM958712DxXMC NorthStar2 reference board
    • HiSilicon – Kirin960/Hi3660 SoC, and HiKey960 development board
    • NXP – LS1012a SoC with three reference board; SoMs: Is.IoT MX6UL, SavageBoard, Engicam i.Core; Liebherr (LWN) monitor 6;
    • Microchip/Atmel – SAMA5d36ek Reference platform
    • Texas Instruments – Beaglebone Green Wireless and Black Wireless, phyCORE-AM335x System on Module
    • Lego Mindstorms EV3
    • “Romulus” baseboard management controller for OpenPower
    • Axentia TSE-850 Data Radio Channel (DARC) encoder
    • Luxul XAP-1410 and XWR-1200 wireless access points
    • New revision of “vf610-zii” Zodiac Inflight Innovations board

Finally here are some of the change made to MIPS architecture in Linux 4.11:

  • PCI: Register controllers in the right order to avoid a PCI error
  • KGDB: Use kernel context for sleeping threads
  • smp-cps: Fix potentially uninitialised value of core
  • KASLR: Fix build
  • ELF: Fix BUG() warning in arch_check_elf
  • Fix modversioning of _mcount symbol
  • fix out-of-tree defconfig target builds
  • cevt-r4k: Fix out-of-bounds array access
  • perf: fix deadlock
  • Malta: Fix i8259 irqchip setup
  • Lantiq – Fix adding xbar resoures causing a panic
  • Loongson3
    • Some Loongson 3A don’t identify themselves as having an FTLB so hardwire that knowledge into CPU probing.
    • Handle Loongson 3 TLB peculiarities in the fast path of the RDHWR  emulation.
    • Fix invalid FTLB entries with huge page on VTLB+FTLB platforms
    • Add missing calculation of S-cache and V-cache cache-way size
  • Ralink – Fix typos in rt3883 pinctrl data
  • Generic:
    • Force o32 fp64 support on 32bit MIPS64r6 kernels
    • Yet another build fix after the linux/sched.h changes
    • Wire up statx system call
    • Fix stack unwinding after introduction of IRQ stack
    • Fix spinlock code to build even for microMIPS with recent binutils
  • SMP-CPS: Fix retrieval of VPE mask on big endian CPUs”

Read Linux 4.11 changelog – with comments only – generated using git log v4.10..v4.11 --stat, to get the full list of changes. You may also want to checkout Linux 4.11 changelog on kernelnewbies.org.

Beelink AP42 Apollo Lake mini PC Linux Review with Ubuntu, KDE Neon, Elementary OS….

Beelink’s latest Intel mini PC offerings includes the AP34 and AP42 which are their first models using Intel Apollo Lake processors. The former uses an Intel Apollo Lake Celeron N3450 processor (burst frequency 2.2GHz, Intel HD Graphics 500 with Graphics Burst Frequency 700MHz and 12 Execution Units) while the latter uses the slightly more powerful Pentium N4200 (burst frequency 2.5GHz, Intel HD Graphics 505 with Graphics Burst Frequency 750MHz and 18 Execution Units). Both support Windows 10 (Home) and Beelink’s marketing claim they “support Linux system”. GearBest has given me the chance to review running Linux on the AP42 model so here are my findings.

Spot the difference!

Normally I first make a disk image before booting Windows or installing Linux. However initial attempts at booting a Live USB with a variety of Linux systems failed so both the reseller and manufacturer were contacted for comment. Interestingly there was no immediate reply but early indications that something was amiss was when the reseller’s advert (right) changed compared with the manufacturers advert (left).

As I’d previously had a comment on my website about using rEFInd boot manager when a system wouldn’t boot I gave it a try by manually building an Ubuntu Live USB which successfully booted. Unfortunately the ISO I had used was Ubuntu 16.04.2 and whilst it ran fine on the USB drive, it couldn’t ‘see’ the eMMC of the AP42. Further experimentation with Ubuntu 17.04 Beta 2 and a variety of kernels showed that a minimum 4.10 kernel was required in order to access the eMMC. Anyone wanting to boot an Ubuntu ISO can either manually add the rRFInd boot manager, or use the latest version of ‘isorespin.sh’ to respin the ISO with the rRFInd boot manager and optionally update the kernel.

Then having taken a disk image I booted Windows only to find that Windows was already set up with an ‘Admin’ account. Which of course gave me the opportunity to test a full Windows restore that fortunately worked.

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So with a nice clean and activated Windows system and 24 hours later due to all the updates download and installing I was able to run my usual Windows tests to given me a basic comparison with other Intel devices.

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As can be seen there is a performance increment over Cherry Trail devices including better graphics performance and the new Apollo Lake Pentium N4200 processor is overall slightly better than the earlier Celeron N3150 processor.

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​Being a passively cooled device I was interested to see whether temperature was an issue. I ran HWiNFO64’s Sensor Status utility before and after each test and rather unscientifically held the box to see how hot it was. Neither indicated that I had any reason to be concerned as whilst the box felt warm the temperature maxed out at around 70 °C and no thermal-throttling was encountered.

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Having put the device through its paces under Windows, it was time to look at Linux performance. For a comparison I was going to use the results from my Phoronix ‘mini PC’ test suite run on Intel Compute Sticks. However I initially had problems getting the ‘unpack-linux’ test to install so I decided to download the latest version directly from www.phoronix-test-suite.com rather than use the one provided through ‘apt’. And because comparing results across different versions of test software and different releases of OS is often meaningless I first had to reinstall Ubuntu 17.04 on the comparison hardware and then run the tests in parallel across each device. For those not familiar with the model names they decode as STCK1A32WFC is the Intel Compute Stick (Falls City), STK1AW32SC is the Intel Compute Stick (Sterling City) and STKM3W64CC is the Intel Compute Stick (Cedar City) with the specs listed in the above table. Unfortunately with the Phoronix Test Suite some tests give decidedly strange and confusing results even those they are the average of three runs. However, as per the Windows results there is a noticeable improvement as the power of the processor increases and the AP42 performance is as expected.

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I also ran the Octane 2 on Chrome which was also comparable with the Windows result albeit slightly lower which in iteself was slightly unusual given it is typically slightly higher in Ubuntu than with Windows normally. Interestingly Octane 2 has now been retired as it seems too many programs were cheating their scores (all too familiar).

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In terms of what works under Ubuntu it was nice to find that all the usual problem areas were fine, with working audio, WiFi, Bluetooth and SD cards (including Sandisk). I did encounter a problem with HDMI audio in that you must first select the audio device under Sound Settings before it works. And in Lubuntu this was impossible to do as only Headphones showed up until I plugged in some external speakers into the headphone jack and then after unplugging them the HDMI output option then appeared. But otherwise the device ran smoothly on Ubuntu.

Some specifics about the hardware.

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The memory is single channel and is 2x 2GB DDR3 1600 MHz…

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… and the eMMC storage is CJNB4R which is a Samsung 64GB storage chip…

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… with WiFi/Bluetooth provided by an Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165 chip with Bluetooth 4.2 as reported by inxi.

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Given the kernel limitation, I found running other Linuxes rather limiting. I did get OpenELEC to successfully boot and run from USB but installing would be an issue. I also tried Android-x86 and Chromium OS loaders but they were also impacted and not usable. My initial Remix attempts were unsuccessful and Phoenix took too long to download to be worth waiting for another failure. Other Ubuntu based distro ISOs worked as long as they were respun with a later kernel (I tested LinuxMint, Neon and Elementary with the latest v4.11-rc7 kernel). The only other Linux distro I tried was Debian but this was also unsuccessful due to the kernel issue, however other distros with rolling releases like Tumbleweed and Arch should be okay.

Linux Mint – Click to Enlarge

KDE Neon – Click to Enlarge

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In terms of support Beelink are somewhat lacking. Despite having released the device for nearly a month, there are still no download links for BIOS or Windows drivers. They have just added a download for the entire Windows OS, but have failed to create a forum for AP42 users. For the Linux issue, they did eventually respond with “Sorry for that we don’t allow the right of Linux now” which is a somewhat unexpected response given their advert.

So for a new device running Linux it is arguably hit and miss. Depending on what you want to run will rule out the device completely at this stage and if you are looking for flexibility it may also be too restrictive. It may be that a BIOS update addresses the current Linux limitations, but equally given Beelink’s response it could restrict Linux even further.

The price is also somewhat questionable given it has a range from US$180 to US$270 which is the current price on Amazon. In comparison a barebones Zotac ZBOX CI323 with Celeron N3150 is currently US $148 on Newegg and a barebones Intel NUC NUC6CAYS with Celeron J3455 is US $149 on Amazon so the value for money given the level of support and current Linux restrictions is worth considering before purchasing. GearBest – who sent Beelink AP42 mini PC for review – somewhat sweetens the deal, as they sell it for $179.99 including shipping with coupon GBAP42. Beside Amazon and GearBest, you can also purchase the mini PC on sites like Aliexpress and Banggood for $185 to $190.

How to Reinstall Android Firmware on Realtek RTD1295 TV Boxes

March 16th, 2017 16 comments

I started playing with Beelink SEA I TV box nearly two weeks ago, but I soon realized there was a big problem, while I could get an IP address with both Ethernet or WiFi, I could not access Internet, nor the local network with the box, and even ping would not work. So I contact Beelink to find a solution, and they believed I may have a problem with the firmware on my box, and recommended to re-flash it.

Great. I asked the firmware, and the company eventually provided me with two files:

Those are baidu link which may be slow to download outside of China, so the company also provided a mirror later. The customer representative told me those were “Lines brushes Pack” firmware, and after lots of email back and forth. I finally got proper instructions which should work for Beelink SEA I, but also other Realtek RTD1295 boxes such as Zidoo X9S or Eweat R9 Plus. Note that this method is only useful in case something really goes wrong, as the device normally support OTA firmware updates.

First you’ll need a Windows computer or laptop, and a USB male to USB male cable., before following the firmware recovery instructions they use at the factory.

  1. Download setup.exe
  2. Click on setup.exe to install Microsoft Visual C++ 2012 and .NET Framework 4.6.
  3. Now reboot as instructed, and right click on setup.exe to run it as an administrator, and install rtk_usb_mp_tool. If you don’t run it as Administrator you’ll run into permissions issues and the installation will fail.
    This will also install the USB drivers for “USB REDIRECTION” device. By default, this is install in {HOME}/rtk_usb_mp_tool directory
  4. Now you can start the program “rtumdfsample.exe”

    The window size is about 1300 x 900, and cannot be resized, so I allow you to curse or (gently) bang your head on the wall if you run this on a netbook or laptop with 1366×768 resolution or lower. You’ll feel better 🙂
  5. Now insert the USB cable between your computer and the USB 3.0 port of the device, and turn on the box. The display on the box should always show “boot”, and the top logo should change from the yellow fear to a green Android once you device is detected over USB.
  6. Now Click on “Open” button in the Install section of the user interface, to load the firmware file (in my case SEAI_101M0_16G_20170225.img).

    Click to Enlarge

    The top left icon will turn red, and update the firmware.

  7. Once it gets to 100%, you are done. Disconnect the USB cable, and restart the device into your freshly burned firmware.

The goods news is that networking works, I get the weather forecast within the launcher. The bad news is that the display turns off after 5 seconds, until I disconnect and reconnect the HDMI cable, and goes off again 5 seconds. At least the firmware update method worked…

Beelink AP42 Apollo Lake Mini PC Comes with a VESA Mount, an M.2 SSD Slot

March 2nd, 2017 13 comments

Beelink has launched an update to their Beelink BT7 Cherry Trail mini PC with Beelink AP42 using a similar mechanical design, but upgrading the processor to an Intel Pentium N4200 coupled with 4GB DDR3 memory, and a 64GB eMMC flash. Like the previous model it can be mounted behind a VESA compatible monitor or TV, and can also be upgraded with your own M.2 SSD.

Beelink AP42 specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Pentium N4200 quad core Apollo Lake processor @ 1.10 GHz (baseline) / 2.50 GHz (burst) with Intel Gen9 HD graphics @ 200/750 MHz with 18EU (6W TDP)
  • System Memory – 4 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 64 GB eMMC storage, SD card slot, M.2 SSD slot up to 320 GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 up to 4K @ 30 Hz
  • Audio – 3.5mm headphone jack and HDMI
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 3x USB 3.0 host ports
  • Misc – Power button and LED, reset pinhole
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A (TBC)
  • Dimensions –  11.90 x 11.90 x 2.00 cm
  • Weight – 337 grams

The current product page mentions that both Windows 10 and Linux are supported [Update: Linux is not supported, see comments section] . The mini PC will ship with a power adapter, and an user manual in English. Based on the pictures on GearBest, the VESA mount and fixtures should also be included, and looks to be the same as the one coming with Beelink BT7.

I’ve reviewed Beelink BT7 mini PC last year, and found that it would throttle from time to time, and while I found the fan to be quiet, some people commented that it was noisy. Beelink AP42 should also have a fan, but hopefully the company has done some work to improve thermal design, and fan noise.

Beelink AP42 is sold on GearBest for $210.47 including shipping with EU, UK, or US plug, and pre-loaded with Windows 10 [Update: GBAP42 coupon brings the price down to $179.99]. Delivery is scheduled for March 7 to 15, so you’d have to wait a few days to get it shipped. I could not find a Linux version, and maybe there’s none, you may just have to install your preferred distributions yourself.

Via AndroidPC.es