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This year we’ve seen a handful of companies release tiny desktop computers measuring just 2.8″ x 2.8″ x 1.8″ and housing a 10-watt Intel Celeron N5105 quad-core processor, typically with prices in the $200 to $300 range at launch.
But there are a growing number of products in this category, and some previously launched models are getting cheaper. These days it’s not hard to find one selling for as little as $165.
I started to notice this trend after spotting an AndroidPC.es article about a new model called the GK3V that’s available from AliExpress with prices starting under $200. Then I noticed that the nearly identical GMK NucBox5 that hit the streets earlier this year is now selling for as little as $185 at Amazon or $190 at the GMK store. And the ZX01 is even cheaper at AliExpress.
One thing that could set the new GK3V apart is that the AliExpress product page suggests it may eventually be available with 16GB of RAM, although there’s no option to buy a model with that much memory yet.
All of the other 2.8 inch mini PCs with Celeron N5105 chips that I’ve seen so far have 8GB of LPDDR4-2933 RAM and 128GB to 1TB of storage. The RAM is not user upgradeable, but the storage is, since the little PCs have an M.2 2242 slot for a SSD.
In fact, if you already have an SSD and don’t mind installing your own operating system, the cheapest model I’ve seen so far is a $145 ZX01 that comes with 8GB of RAM but no storage.
These 2.8 inch mini PCs all feature dual HDMI 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, 3.5mm audio jack, and USB 3.0 Type-A ports on the back, along with a USB-C port for charging (it doesn’t appear to support data).
On the front there are two more USB Type-A ports and a power button. And there’s a microSD card reader on one side.
Wireless capabilities typically include support for WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 4.2, although it’s possible that this could vary from model to model. The GK3V product listing includes marketing material that says the mini PC supports WiFi 6, but the text of the product description mentions 802.11ac wireless support, which would actually be WiFi 5.
full function usb-c port with display out and power in will be great.
I have hands on experience with these tiny cubes and the N5105.
Nice basic machine for basic computing. The quad core cpu does a good job despite sipping juice and the gpu has 24 execution units vs the usual 16 for a celeron, so they WILL decode vp9 and play a 4k/60 youtube video without dropping frames.
But I don’t recommend the small cubes for two reasons vs a box around 3-4x larger. Among N5105 boxes I’ve evaluated, the little ones like this will overheat and thermal throttle, and the cpu is barely enough as it is. The ones like the aerofara with a big box and a fan don’t throttle.
The other reason is that you’ll end up with the cables you attach to it dragging it off the table. I’ve had to velcro these to the table or the back of a tv.
As far as passive cooling goes, check out passively cooled n5105 appliances made to be used as routers. They’re MUCH larger and have a heavy metal case.
It’s a low power cpu, but it DOES make heat.
Chrome OS Flex is a dream on a device like this where 8GB is more than enough. Check to see if it supports nvme instead of m.2 sata, many of these are sata only.
The N5015 and its follow on N6xxx chips are good stuff for basic unit of computing, from kids to a media device to a daily driver for browsing/email/social media. I never said that about cpu’s like the N4020 or 3020. Those were awful.
I just want a barebones Celeron board for around $100. I already have RAM and an m.2 SSD.
I saw something like that for $99. I think it was an N5105 or N6xxx cpu but it had 8gb or 16gb soldered, and it was $99. ETA Prime did a video of it around 2-3 months ago?
Getting the barebones boards is tough right now because people are wondering why they’re paying $300 for a rPi when they can get an x86 board for less. It’s pushing the prices on things like the RK3588 and celeron device prices up.
Would a used Wyse 5070 fit what you want?
I wonder how this would perform compared to a Rockchip 3588 mini PC.
Race to the bottom, ho!
Quad A53 for $37 shipped here:
If you’re gonna, you probably want a fanless version. YMMV, of course, but that’s my experience.
It suprising no one has added a GPIO etc to one of these, it would create a second market.
x86 CPUs don’t have unused IO pins generally, so there aren’t any that could be used for GPIO.
x86 machines that have GPIO usually do so by integrating an extra microcontroller on the board (like an Atmega chip), and connecting it through USB. I’m not sure there is an opportunity to do that on a PC this small.
AVR chips are rather primitive in design, so they aren’t very small. You need like 1″x1″ of space just for the components and the chip, nevermind the IO pins.
If you need GPIO, just connect any kind of AVR project board to the PC through USB.