Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chinese mini pc review

Story behind this post

On these days all electronics is made in China.
Didn't see any good reason to pay anything for middlemans so I decide order my next PC directly from China.

My employer offers me laptop I didn't needed another one and I didn't wanted any full ATX to my living room anymore so I decide to order mini pc.

This is review about that device.

Mini PC

Selection

After some research I decided to order this device.
My version is with i5-4200U CPU so it was little bit more expensive than on that link.

Other parts are:

  • G.Skill DDR3 1600 MHz SO-DIMM 4GB x 2
  • Samsung 850 Pro 120GB

Installation

Hardware installation

Hardware installation is very simple.
Just put memories ja HDD/SDD inside to device.

Package contains cables for one harddisk but there is enough space and free cable slots for another harddisk too.

Operating System installation

Reseller says on they page that this device is tested with Windows 7 but it works fine with Windows 8.1 too and actually I tested that Windows 10 preview also can be installed to it.

Important note on this point is that device is sold without Windows OEM license so if you want run Windows on that you need buy retail license. Myself are using this with MSDN licensed version of Windows 8.1 because this is my test machine.


What comes to operating system installation you need create USB media which supports UEFI. I used Rufus for that.

Installation from USB can be started by following these steps:

  • Connect USB stick/etc to USB port.
  • Press power button
  • Press ESC on system start. UEFI BIOS will be loaded.
  • Move to "Save & Exit" screen.
  • Select "Launch EFI Shell from filesystem device", operating system installation will be loaded if your USB media is valid.

About drivers

Windows founds drivers all the devices by default but them are not best for this device. There also isn't any device manufacture's page where you would download correct ones so you need find them one by one.

Here is most important ones:

WLAN works with driver what comes with Windows but time to time it losts connection.

Solution to this problem was manually "update" driver to Broadcom 802.11 Multiband Network Adapter driver even if Windows thinks that it is not good one for this device.




Windows tuning

I also found from Windows event log that hibernate and fast boot after that didn't worked correctly.



I don't know reason for that but because normal from boot power button press to status when Windows is up and running and user is logged in (using automatic login) only takes about 10 seconds so I just totally disabled hibernate using command:
powercfg.exe /hibernate off

Currently device still gives warning like this on every boot for every CPU core. I haven't found any reason for that one but device works without any problems so I assume that it is false even.


Performance tests

Windows 8.1 doesn't contain anymore graphical version of experience index tool but you still can get it using this tool.

Result about that test:

Highest rate comes from SDD so here is also more detailed informations from it:


Because device is totally passive cooled I was also interested to see what happens when device is running under full load longer time. On this picture it have under full load over one hour:

No problems found on that test.

Review summary

Because these devices comes without operating system license and there is no official and tested drivers available them are not best choise for end users.

Possible use cases like I see it are:

  • Companies who have are volume license contract with Microsoft can use these on workstations. Price/performance ratio is very good to that use case because they don't need buy douple licenses (OEM + volume).
  • Universities and companies which are using Linux workstations can use these devices without need buy Windows license.
  • Companies who needs PCs to industry hall(s) would be interested because device didn't contain any moving parts so dust not easily broke that one and it is very cheap keep couple spares on storage. Device is also very small and provided with wirelss connection so it would work fine example on storage trucks.
  • It nerds like me can use these on test machines or example on HTPC.

Anyway, if you know what you are looking for I can recommend to try one of these too. If you are not sure about all device details you can ask from reseller. They reply very fast.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks, please check the link for more information: http://www.aliexpress.com/store/1202411

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the review. Useful information. Well, there is a photo inside.

    ReplyDelete