ASRock Releases Cherry Trail Mini-PC: The Beeboxby Ian Cutress on May 15, 2015 10:55 AM EST
The mini-PC revolution has passed a lot of regular computer users as something that happened but might not be that interesting, especially if you are used to the lights and flashier elements of the industry. Despite this, sales of mini-PCs and the development of the platform has been a nice money earner for several companies, and as a result we have Intel’s NUC, GIGABYTE’s BRIX models, Zotac’s mini-PCs, ECS’ Liva and many others tackling this market. Technically this market has two main differentiators – whether the box uses an Atom SoC or something a bit more powerful. For the latter ASRock has had the Vision range of mini-PCs which have been interesting to look at (read Ganesh’s review of the VisionX here), but the mini-PC range they had with Bay Trail gets a new name, a new look and a new upgrade with the ‘Beebox’.
The Beebox is a 0.6 liter chassis design featuring the Intel Celeron N3000, a dual core 14nm Airmont (Braswell) SoC from the Cherry Trail line with a base frequency at 1.04 GHz with turbo up to 2.08 GHz. Due to the 4W TDP these are fanless designs supporting both an mSATA and 2.5” SATA drive with gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac WiFi, a Realtek audio codce, dual HDMI and a single DP video output as well as both USB 3.0 Type-A and USB 3.0 Type-C.
There will be two full system variations – one with Windows 8.1/10, 1x2GB of DDR3L-1600 and a 32GB mSATA SSD, and one with no OS but 2x2GB of DDR3L-1600 and a 128GB mSATA SSD. There will also be a barebones chassis requiring users to supply their own DRAM and storage.
It’s worth noting that the Celeron N3000 integrated graphics uses the same Gen-8 graphics as Broadwell but in a low power configuration, which means for this SKU we get 12 execution units but running at a maximum of 600 MHz. This should be suitable for light gaming. Given the two SO-DIMM DDR3 slots, normally I would assume the SoC would support 8GB and 16GB modules, if you would happen to need them, but according to official specification sheets the SoC is only rated to 8GB maximum. ASRock is telling me it at least supports a 2x8GB configuration however.
ASRock is promoting its Beebox due to the connectivity, supporting three screens from the three video outputs all in one go including 4K from the DisplayPort, and the Type-C port which allows for 15W fast charging modes. The 802.11ac is welcome, although it should be noted that it is only a single stream implementation.
The Beebox will be available in three colors (black, white and gold), and measures approximately 11cm x 12cm x 4.5cm. Pricing is yet to be announced, but it should start appearing on shelves in the US at the end of June.
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Flunk - Friday, May 15, 2015 - linkThis could be interesting if it's really really cheap, otherwise it's just yet another competitor in a crowded market.
hughlle - Friday, May 15, 2015 - linkYup. I see all these great looking little boxes that would be ideal, and then they go and whack an eye-watering price tag on it. No thanks.
chizow - Friday, May 15, 2015 - linkYep, and right now there's really no competitor for the Alienware Alpha at around $400. There's some features the Alpha is missing compared to some of these NUC-type boxes (multi-monitor, HEVC, HDMI 2.0), but in terms of performance, upgradability, and overall bang for the buck, the Alpha is the one to beat in the Ultra-SFF segment.
bug77 - Friday, May 15, 2015 - linkThe thing is, HEVC and HDMI 2.0 is all these boxes are about. They're HTPCs after all.
chizow - Friday, May 15, 2015 - linkThere's not enough 4K content out there to make these HTPCs all about 4K, and everyone's definition of HTPC is going to be slightly different. For example, for someone who is more interested in some solid PC gaming, the Alpha is going to be far better for that vision of HTPC.
shompa - Saturday, May 16, 2015 - linkHEVC is interesting for anyone with a digital library. H265 uses 50% of the datarate of H264. People with all-online libraries like me need this to continue to add stuff to the library without having to get petabyte storage. BTW upscaling to 4K is something that PC is really good at using a good scaler program.
LedHed - Friday, May 15, 2015 - linkThis is ASRock, of course it is going to be affordable. Ever since they released the ASRock Dual-SATA2 (PCIe & AGP) this company has been making waves. I'm really excited to see where they go in the next 10-20 years.
creed3020 - Friday, May 15, 2015 - linkAh yes the ASRock 775DUAL-VSTA, I loved that motherboard. It carried through the dark ages of AGP into the light of PCIE and beyond. Also helped me bridge from IDE HDD to a SATA HDD.
So many good upgrades went through that mobo!
ASRock really helped with such an innovative product there.
I like the look of these as drop-in HTPCs.
V900 - Friday, May 15, 2015 - linkThose specs and the remote control doesn't exavtly scream budget box, unfortunately...
shadarlo - Friday, May 15, 2015 - linkThat remote screams $1 max lol