Inexpensive mini computers with ARM-based chips have gotten a lot of attention this year. But if you’re willing to spend a few dollars more you can get a much more powerful and versatile system with an x86 processor.
Recently we took a look at the Asus C60M1-I mini-ITX motherboard with an AMD C-60 dual core CPU. It’s an $80 system that can be used as a full-fledged Windows or Linux computer when you add a power supply, storage, and memory (and optionally a case). But it’s hardly the only CPU+board combo in that price range.
Newegg has at least 2 dozen motherboard+CPU combo deals available at the moment, and many of them include low power processors and low price tags. Here are a few examples:
- ECS VX900-I 1.6 GHz VIA L2007 combo for $50 after rebate
- ASRock E35LM1 AMD E-240 combo for $55
- JetWay JTAE24G AMD E-240 combo for $70
- Foxconn D250S Intel Atom D2500 combo for $70
- Gigabyte GA-E350N AMD E-350 combo for $75
- ASRock AD2700B-ITX Intel Atom D2700 combo for $75
All of these systems feature mini ITX motherboards, which means they should fit into standard small form-factor PC cases. And they all have x86 processors, which means they should be able to handle a range of operating systems including Windows 7, Windows 8, Ubuntu, or other Linux-based operating systems (although some of the integrated graphics cards are better supported than others under Linux).
How does the TDP of these X86 boards compare to ARM boards though?
I need to build a 10 station internet cafe (not for gamers, just for internet, skype etc) that can largely run on the output of solar panels in a tropical area.
So far, I’m weighing the between a server with terminals vs individual ARM based stations running Ubuntu.
I have a feeling X86 will burn a load more power, unless I spend a load on Haswell i3-4010Y CPU’s, and even then, 11.5 Watt TDP is still higher than the ARM cores on many of these tiny boards.
I use an $80 quad core 1.6 ghz ARM, 2 GB RAM, Mali GPU Mini PC for what you’re looking for. It’s a good solution for browsing and HD video and very low heat and power. Right now it’s Android only but may have Linux at some point. MUCH lower heat and power than the above, tiny and much less expensive. The price above is misleading – the best price I could find on NewEgg was: Mobo $55, Power Supply $60 (there are cheaper but they die immediately), HDD $55, 2 GB memory $18, Case $40 (Silverstone SUGO – there are $15 cases but seems kind of nutty to put a miniITX in a full size case) for a total of $228 (plus keyboard and display for either). I dont think these systems will run any faster than the miniPC and might actually be slower. The only benefit they have is SATA and ability to put in more memory. The ARM miniPC is 2GB max, no SATA and only 1 USB port, but has wifi and BT built in.
New récent arm board l’île cubietruck have sata. But y ou won t d’un skype on traditionnal linux. Y ou LL be stuck on android
Buy an ECS Racing P1 box. Super cheap, comes ready to plug and play, works really well with Ubuntu, very low power.
Link to said product?
Which computer hardware did you end up using for the Internet cafe?
AMD E-450 cpu for the win. I LOVE my lil pc based off this chip. I leave it running constantly for two months now, and only one blue screen, which I caused. ECS makes a couple low-priced barebones boxes which just need ram and a hard drive installed, takes a few minutes, then you load the OS. I had mine running in under an hour, including loading Win7 Ultimate off a flash drive. I like that I can pull the drive out and drop in a 4tb 2.5 inch drive when they come out. I have an extra memory slot too, for when I decide to go up to 8gb of ram from 4.
Weird to use a 100€ os on these
Because the os cost more than the board?
Does that matter? I installed Windows 8.1 Enterprise for x86-32 on an SSD installed inside a Dell Latitude X1 model of fanless notebook computer introduced in year 2005; I bought the Latitude X1 used for approximately 50 CAD including shipping. The case that the price of the OS licence is greater than the price of the motherboard used to run the OS is probably common, especially with a server edition of the OS. If you need to or even only prefer to use Microsoft Windows (NT), the acquisition/licensing cost of other OSes is irrelevant. Acquisition cost is only part of the total cost of ownership.
I went the mini-itx route some 8 years ago starting with VIA’s c7 cpu and then with Dual core Atom some 3 years ago. I must say these are severely limited an capability. Playing even a 1.5 mbps 720p mkv files taxes the system, Some 3 months ago I graduated to a dual hdd, 8gb 3rd generation core i3-3220T. system on a H&& chipset mini-atx Intel motherboard. Unfortunately could not find a mini-itx motherboard here in India. It has replaced my AMD Phenom X4-9650 system perfectly in every sense. It consumes a mer 40 watts of power measured at the wall socket as compared to 120 of the previous system. It has more than twice the performance. Very often I have Handbrake, AviDeMux, uTorrent and a download manager running in the background connecting through 2 ISPs through 2 network interfaces getting aggregated download speed of 8 mbps. All this wghile I am watching a 2.5 mbps AVC+AAC 1080p mkv file on vlcplayer in the foreground. All this with absolutely no hitch whatsoever.
These boards use video hardware that is not fully supported in Linux . They are for win xp and win 7 only.
Not true – AMD Fusion devices (which use Radeon graphics) are well supported. I should know, as I’ve been using an AMD E-350 exclusively on Linux since more than an year now and it works great with the open-source graphics. I can even do light gaming on it (Quake III works fine, and I can even play Oblivion at 30FPS on low settings).
I was wondering how the linux support was for these E-350/450 chips, thanks for the info’s. I have a 450, and LOVE it. For the money, it’s a great value. Tough to decide which is a greater ‘deal’ this or my raspberry pi.
It’s comparing apples with oranges. Both are awesome and solve specific issues; but of course, there is some overlap in that they’re both general computing chips. I like the Pi because it’s like a small disposable computer you can just chuck it anywhere to solve any issue – which wasn’t possible or feasible until recently. For instance, printer doesn’t support WiFi or cloud printing? Just connect it to a Pi and save yourself from spending 100s of $$. Need an email alert when the laundry is done? Automatically reboot and remote control any cheapo router? Want to set a small and simple NAS that’s always on but uses very less power and makes no noise? Turn any old cheap TV into a DLNA capable smart TV? The possibilities are limitless.
You need to make sure you are using up to date linuxes. They just added support in 2013.
“All of these systems feature mini ITX cases…”
You mean ITX Motherboards or ITX formfactors 😉
You mean Mini-ITX motherboards or Mini-ITX form factors 😉
I actually use these in production. 8GB of RAM, six SATA 6 GBps connectors make these great fileservers running FreeBSD or Open Indiana with ZFS. You can host a 15 TB raid-Z with iSCSI/NFS for under $1000 including drives.
Google “FreeNAS mini-itx AMD” and you’ll find a lot of people with this set-up.
Which board are you using?
Likely the Asus C60M1-I since it offers the mentioned SIX sata ports.
we now need some $25 dollar cases for them
I ran my D510MO atom MB in the cardboard box it came in for months before I finally broke down and spent $40 for the M350 itx case. I already had a 90W picopsu I had paid $30 for. Back to the small motherboard for < $75. You can buy a G530 or an 1155 itx MB for less than $50 each from either Newegg or Amazon. ITX 1155 MB with HDMI and USB 3.0 cost a little more…. around $70. Wouldn't provide a silent solution like my atom itx, but it would be real fast and compatible with the way I run Puppy Linux in frugal mode from a USB flash.
Yes this is a better option. The C60 can’t support 1080p playback. I I know because I have one in my netbook and hate it.
if my C50 netbook can the a C60 based one can. I use mine as an XBMC media centre and it runs all 1080p video fine as it used the gfx hardware to do it, even for the MKV’s that won’t run well in the likes of Media Player Classic as they don’t support DXVA. With an SSD and 4GB of ram it runs extremely smooth.
That’s the setup I have – Acer Aspire One 522 w/ C50 APU, SSD, W7x64, 4GB RAM. The CPU side is a limiting factor in a lot of things I do with it, but I regularly run Photoshop and GIMP, plus I’ve played HL2, Oblivion, the Mass Effect trilogy, and Crysis 1, 2, and Warhead. They each had a few parts I had to stutter through a bit, but for the most part they were playable.
You probably have 1GB of memory in your netbook..?!
C50s are 64 bit processors w HW virtualization, so they should support at least 4GB Ram
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