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The AOOSTAR R1 is a small and affordable desktop computer with a 6-watt Intel N100 quad-core processor based on Intel’s Alder Lake-N architecture. But we’ve seen a lot of those in recent months. This model has a few things that make it stand out, including room for up to two 3.5 inch hard drives and two 2.5 GbE Ethernet ports, making this little computer a practical solution for folks looking to build their own network-attached-storage (NAS) device or media server, among other things.
First teased earlier this month, the AOOSTAR R1 is now available for pre-order from Amazon and the AOOSTAR website. Prices start at $269 (when you apply an on-page coupon), and the computer should begin shipping by November 10.
The starting price represents $50 off the list price of $319, and gets you a model with 16GB of DDR4-3200 memory and a 512GB PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD. It’s possible we could see lower-cost barebones configurations in the future, but users can also bring their own memory and storage: the system has a user replaceable M.2 2280 SSD and a single SODIMM slot for memory.
You can also remove the top cover to access the computer’s two 3.5 inch drive bays, which make it easy to add up to two high-capacity hard drives or SSDs.
Other features include dual fans for cooling, support for up to three 4K displays, courtesy of HDMI, DisplayPort, and USB Type-C ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, and two USB 3.x ports as well as two USB 2.0 ports and a microSD card reader.
The dual 2.5 GbE Ethernet ports have Intel I226-V controllers, and the system also supports WiFi 6.
According to the Amazon product page, the AOOSTAR R1 will launch October 26th, but it will take 7-15 days for the computer to ship from China. Faster shipping should be available starting in mid-November or early December, after the computer reaches US warehouses.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this design: last year Chinese companies including Topton began selling a similar system called the NAS N1, and earlier this year we saw companies including Topton and AOOSTAR introduce a higher-performance model called the NAS N1 Pro. But all of those models were powered by AMD processors (with early models featuring AMD Athlon Silver 3050e or Athlon 300U chips, and newer models available with Ryzen 5 5500U or Ryzen 7 5700U processor options).
The new AOOSTAR R1 is the first I’ve seen to feature an Intel Alder Lake-N processor. These chips, which feature 12th-gen Intel Efficiency cores, but no Intel Performance cores, are designed to be low-cost, energy-efficient processors that offer significantly better performance than previous-gen Intel Celeron and Pentium chips based on Intel Atom architecture.
Meanwhile folks who are looking for a more powerful mini PC or storage device might want to consider the AOOSTAR R7 with an AMD Ryzen 7 5700U processor. With a list price of $459 (and a sale price of $419 at the moment), it’s about $150 more expensive than the AOOSTAR R1 with an Intel N100 processor. But you the AMD processor should deliver significantly better performance, and the AMD version has two SODIMM slots for memory and two M.2 2280 slots for solid state storage, while the cheaper Intel model has just one of each.
That said, the new Intel N100 model might be more attractive for folks looking for a cheaper, more energy-efficient solution, as it has a 6 watt processor rather than the 15-watt chip powering the AMD model. And that could come in handy for a home server that you may plan to run 24/7.
This article was first published October 23, 2023 and most recently updated October 23 with the latest pricing and availability details.