Earlier this year ASRock came out with their first ultra-compact form factor (UCFF) PC, the Beebox. Intel pioneered the UCFF PC scene with their Intel NUC product line, but lately we’ve seen some competition from Gigabyte and MSI. However, there haven’t been much differentiating factors between the various players out there. Let’s see if ASRock can break that trend with their Beebox.
The Beebox is essentially a product line and you can buy the PC in various configurations. All of them share the physical appearance and the external connectivity, but the bundled CPU, memory, SSD drive and the operating system vary. All of the CPUs are Intel Braswell Celeron models (N3000, N3050 and N3150) and the lowest powered model (N3000) is fanless. Asrock’s Beebox microsite offers a table with the various configuration options.
In some ways the fanless N3000 is the most interesting model, as there are already N3050 and N3150 based systems on the market, but none of them come fanless out-of-the-box. This is also the model I’m taking a look at today.
The reviewed unit has the following specifications:
- Intel Celeron N3000 Processor (dual-core 2.08GHz, fanless)
- 4GB DDR3L-1600MHz memory (2x2GB), Supports max. 16GB
- 128GB mSATA SSD
- 1 slot for 2.5″ drive
- Gigabit LAN
- 802.11ac WiFi adapter with Bluetooth 4.0 support
- 3 normal USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB 3.0 (Type-C)
- two HDMI 1.4 ports, one DisplayPort 1.1a port
Love it or hate it, but at least the design is something different. Personally, it reminds me of a Rimowa suitcase (excellent suitcases by the way). The Beebox even comes in black, gold and silver colours – just like the Rimowa!
The front of the unit sports a headphone jack, USB 3.0 port, a type C USB 3.0 port and the infra red receiver (for a remote controller) window. In the rear you will find power connector, two HDMI 1.4 connectors, gigabit LAN port, a DisplayPort 1.1a connector and two USB 3.0 ports.
The case opens after unfastening four screws in the bottom. The 2.5″ hard disk or SSD drive is mounted to the cover of the unit. SATA cables are supplied with the unit. Inside you have two slots for DDR3L memory (be sure to buy that 1.35V memory instead of 1.5V), mSATA/mPCIe slot for an SSD drive or other mPCIe device and a half-size mPCIe slot that comes prepopulated with a 802.11ac WiFi card.
Normally you would not look at the other side of the mainboard, but if you decide to do that you’ll find out that there’s the CPU and a heatsink as well as the CMOS battery.
The lower end Intel NUCs typically do not have a possibility to add mSATA/m.2 SSD disk and they often have just one memory slot thus making it impossible to enable dual-channel memory mode. It’s refreshing to see that ASRock did not go that way.
In part two of our ASRock Beebox review we look at the performance of the little Beebox and compare it with the Intel Braswell NUC.