Four cores, no fan

Introduction

So I've recently bought this Eggsnow Fanless Mini PC to be used as a silent, but powerful enough desktop. Most of the work I do on it is done remotely, so what I really need is something capable running browser, couple terminals and perhaps able to play a movie every now and then.

That's why I went with the lowest spec model:

Processor: Intel Quad Core J1900 2.0Ghz
Memory: 4GB (in one DDR3 Slot - Supports up to 8GB Memory with both slots populated)
Hard Drive: 64GB(mSATA SSD), there's another mSATA slot occupied by b/g/n capable WiFi card

You'll get 4 USB ports, the description says that there are three 2.0 ports and one 3.0, but it actually looks like the two in the front are both USB 3.0 - I need to test that. Besides that you get HDMI and VGA connector, gigabit LAN port and audio out at the back and mic, SIM slot and COM port at the front. The COM port seems to use the same interface as you can find on Cisco devices. I have no use for the SIM slot and honestly it's quite surprising to see such thing on a desktop PC, perhaps there are people using this as a router to access mobile network?

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Front-right side of the PC.

First impressions

Down the Bay Trail

Before I begin, there's one issue with Bay Trail devices on recent (~2yrs old) kernels. People experience random hangups with these devices - you can see the bug details in the kernel bugzilla. Until that's resolved, intel_idle.max_cstate=1 kernel parameter is required on Bay Trail devices to prevent crashes, which comes with increased power usage. (annoying on this device, but even more so on laptops and such)

Build quality

I was quite surprised with the build quality of the PC, it feels really solid and sturdy while at the same time it's easy to open and swap SSD/memory/wifi etc.. The port layout is OK, obviously you don't have much space to spread all the ports around, but it's definitely bearable. One thing that I really like is the fact that the device is completely silent. (besides annoying and loud boot beep that I was unable to turn off) There are no moving parts, so I guess that's expected, but still even after couple days I'm still sometimes surprised by complete absence of any noise.

Linux usage

I've ended up using Ubuntu Gnome (the 16.04 version, currently in Beta 1, but it's expected to be released in about a month, so I figured I might try that. I went with GNOME, because I find the environment working well (in terms of ergonomy and screen estate usage) with my LG ultrawide monitor. Besides the Bay Trail issue mentioned above, there are no problems at all. No driver issues to resolve, no config files to modify - all works out of the box. I haven't tested suspend to RAM, etc - with the small consumption and the fact that the thing is completely silent I found it's easier to just leave the PC running if there's something I don't want to close.

Performance

Overall the system is quite snappy. Obviously with 10W TPD, Intel Celeron J1900 isn't going to be used as gaming desktop, but for browsing web, some light office work, etc. it's powerful enough. What this device struggles a bit with is its built-in GPU. It's Intel® HD Graphics GPU and while it supports up to two screens (you can use HDMI and VGA at the same time), it feels like it's already struggling a bit with my 2560x1080 screen resolution. I can see some screen tearing (it's not bad, but definitely visible), the desktop environment effects aren't as fluid as they should be, etc.. Especially if there's a lot of movement on the screen. It will handle full HD screen without any issues, but I don't really see it being used with two of those. (unless, perhaps, with some more lightweight desktop environment) You might want to check out some mini PCs based on Broadwell architecture if GPU power might be a concern for you.

Final thoughts

I think I'll eventually replace this PC with something Broadwell based just because of the GPU performance, other than that I can't really complain - the price/value ratio is great, I like the design of it and it really is silent. If your plan is to attach this to a regular screen and use it as an office PC or perhaps as a thin client, I would definitely recommend this PC.