Mini PC

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
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You could just tape the smaller drive in place, LM. Electrical tape is your friend. But most systems with m.2 ports have a provision for moving the retention screw to a proper placement for your drive as well.
 

LunarMist

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Have you done that successfully? I read somewhere that the post is supposed to be grounded, but maybe it doesn't matter in practice.
There appeared to be only the one post at 42mm in the video though the image angle may be misleading.
 

Mercutio

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Have you done that successfully?

I have! In fact, my oldest X99 desktop has been running with a taped-down m.2 drive for probably over a decade, since I dropped and lost that tiny screw at some point and I never bothered to put in a replacement. It's currently someone's gaming PC and I know it's still operating.
 

LunarMist

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I did not have an M.2 SSD on an X99 (XP741) until January of 2015 and I had to get the 512GB SM951 from Australia in May. After 5 years it had a number of reallocated sectors.
What were you using over ten years ago?
 

LunarMist

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I'm not sure who is deserved of blame, since there are numbnuts in enignereing, marketing, and manufacturing. I have desecrated too much to return.
 

LunarMist

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It's no big deal, just an 8040U mini-computer. Not only that is not so good, but I damaged the iNtel NUC also. The whole point is that would be my primary computer on the internets as the main machine must become Windows 11 with the AIr Gap in 2025.

1) I practically had to destroy the back because the screws are held in place with blue Loctite! Who does that to a box with no components? The screws also have a tiny head so only a JIS fit decently. I finally used a Vise Grip on a JIS 0 to get some leverage. I'm sure there a proper Chinese tool, but I did not have one.

2) There is a place for a 2.5' drive, but no power or SATA, so that is useless.

3) The BIOS is absolutely garbages, with no controls separate for the FAN and CPU. Either it is in low power mode, which defeats the point of performance or it is at 4000RPM fan mode that sounds like a jet engine, even at idle when the CPU is in the high 30s or low 40s. I can hear it from the toilet.

4) It does not accept the fast RAM, so those are a goner. It does work with DD5-5600 @46CL. Again the BOIS is useless. It looks like a 20+ year-old screen and has no mouse support.

5) The USB Type A ports are upside down.

I cannot seem to reactivate the Windows, which is a different issue. It also took some time to get rid of the crapware in the drivers, but I've got that fixed finally. The SSD needs to be replaced because, although there is 80mm of length just barely, there is some useless header that goes straight up. I was testing it without the top on.
 
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Mercutio

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LM, why not just customize your windows 11 install to remove the parts you don't like?

What brand of device did you get?
 

LunarMist

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It's an AMD 4x4-BOX-8840U. Win 11 is suffering for later on.
I think I need a new Windows 10 license. The old one was Win 10 upgraded from Win 7.

The old NUC v.11 had a 15W CPU, yet the software indicted up to 50W under Burntest. At that point the temps are right at the limits and fan on high. At least the fan and power are automatic so it is nearly silent when idle. The AMD is basically only good for 28W period, unless you want 42-45W which produces a loud sound like a turbine or Hoover.
 
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LunarMist

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Here is the preliminary Passmark 10 data from the website and actuals from my machines. I'm not sure if I should be using 11 for the AMD.

SFF-NUC-PassMark-1.png

It's pretty obvious that the iNtel far exceeds the average reported data, probably because most data is from laptops rather than NUCs at high power levels. OTOH, the AMD is only about 10% better due to the wimpy 28W TDP setting.

The graphics results are at least double for the most part. That's quote noticable visually and according to the reviews the performance mode also helps the videos.

I suspect that an NUC 14 155H with Windows 11 would be similar or maybe even better than the 88040U if it had enough boost and auto cooling.
Of course it's quite amazing that the mobile 8840U CPU is as good as a desktop 5700g CPU from just 3 years ago.
 
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Mercutio

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It's an AMD 4x4-BOX-8840U. Win 11 is suffering for later on.

Asrock?

I think I need a new Windows 10 license. The old one was Win 10 upgraded from Win 7.

Microsoft stopped allowing Windows 7 and 8.x licenses from being used for Windows activations at the end of 2023. If you have updated to 10 or 11 prior to that, the license should still be available and should still re-activate. Microsoft doesn't lose the licenses once they've been activated at least once.
The old NUC v.11 had a 15W CPU, yet the software indicted up to 50W under Burntest. At that point the temps are right at the limits and fan on high. At least the fan and power are automatic so it is nearly silent when idle. The AMD is basically only good for 28W period, unless you want 42-45W which produces a loud sound like a turbine or Hoover.

Sounds like it would need aftermarket work to get in a good state, either using a better fan or a bigger heat sink. Seems like a great reason to talk to makerspace types though. Here's a whackadoo Audiophile chassis for a 13th gen NUC motherboard.
 

LunarMist

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It just needs a BIOS that allows auto-fan speed in the higher power mode. I could live with the fan being loud under load, just not all the time.
Another strange thing is that the ventilation is just a 9*80mm opening of the larger perforated grille on one side and the opposite side grille is closed off. It's like the late 70s cars with fake hood scoops. The heat exhaust is directly out of the copper heatsink and you can feel it. The power supply is a huge 120W brick, longer than the computer. I wonder if this AsRock Industrial gear is conservatively engineered due to being industrial?
 

ddrueding

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All you need is a machinist and 10kg of copper!
I've been wanting to do this for so long.

1. Put Motherboard (already populated with CPU, M.2, RAM) and GPU (laying next to each other connected by PCIe cable) in CNC machine and use the digital indicator to precisely map out the location and height of every component.
2. Design and machine a single copper plate that the components screw directly to on one side with water channels directly on the other. The goal is that the copper follows the contours of every component with coolant right behind that.
3. Do the same with the other side of the case, mounting to the back of the components. Make both sides seal together with a gasket, with proper glands isolating each cable you need for I/O.

Taking it this far would have a PC case only as thick as your PSU. Use a 1U PSU and the whole thing is <2" thick. This doesn't include the radiator/pump/reservoir, but that can go anywhere. In the other dimensions it would also resemble a 1U server, so mounting behind a large monitor would work fairly well. It would also be absurdly durable and protect your components from dust, moisture, etc.

The next step would be to have valves that allow you to flush the air inside for something more stable that doesn't contain moisture (Nitrogen would probably be fine). This should allow you to run very sub-zero for long periods of time without worrying about condensation on the components.

I don't yet have access to a CnC of sufficient size, but I'm quite tempted to contact Roman "Der8auer" Hartung and propose it. He has the equipment and interest.
 

LunarMist

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I've noticed two more levels of foolishness in the 4x4-BOX. There is no drive activity LED and the two LAN ethernets are not identitifed as to which is 1 GbE and which is 2.5 GbE. The latter is less important as we have the BROTHER.

Is there any reason that the unit cannot be used upside down with some large rubber feet? The normal position of power, ports and cables is undesirable. I hear the same weird sounds in each orientation. It's like a tiny rodent in there, perhaps punk width modulation of the fan? It is never really silent, but only audible at close range.
 

LunarMist

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The more I listen, the more it seems like a power supply switching sound inside the case. It's not changing with the fan speed. The huge brick of a 120VAC-19VDC supply is barely warm and not making any sound. I think the PSU is overdone unless the 4x4-BOX is set to the CPU performance mode, which I've abandoned due to the 4000 RPM fan noise.
 

LunarMist

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For this purpose the NUC FF is just fine as it sits on top of the large mid-tower.
Years ago I used a laptop in a tray underneath a table. Unfortunately that's no longer allowed as there has been no Ethernet in the small laptops for years.

I've seen some displays where the display does NOT move in 3 dimensions and rotate, but never owned one that could attach to a SFF computer and also the stand at the same time.
 

LunarMist

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250GB SM951. It's still in use, still tests healthy and works just fine.
I found the 512GB SM851 from Q2 2015 and installed it into the 2280 slot. According to the Samsung Magical app it has 99 Critical errors (marked red) and 4 reallocation events (marked yellow). Apparently that's why I stopped using it in 2020 after disbanding the hexacored Hasbros E.

I never expected to be using a pair of 1TB WD and 1TB Crucial SSDs in the Mini-PC, but there you go. 🇸🇧 At least they are both TLC.
 

LunarMist

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I'm not sure if it was the re-installation of the UEFI (what AMD calls the AMI BIOS?) or something in my sequence, but the 4x4 BOX is able to operate at TDP-up 42-45W mode with the fan in Auto. The CPU does throttle a bit more than fan in Full On , but it's better than operating in the purely 28-30W standard mode. After reading many reviews of the PRC mini-PCs overheating and/or dying prematurely I think that the ASrOck Industrials have the right idea of giving it some boost, but not overdoing it.

It's really weird, but a light went off in my head that a puny little computer like the octo-cored Hawk Point can do most everything that doesn't need high performance and good graphics/AI accrelrations. Does this mean I'm just getting old or are computers getting better?
 

jtr1962

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Does this mean I'm just getting old or are computers getting better?
Both. Generally for most people their needs haven't kept pace with the advances in CPU speed or efficiency. As a result, a tiny bare-bones machine might be enough for the majority.

You're old in that you're old enough to remember when a slightly complex Excel spreadsheet bought a 386 without a math co-processor to its knees. Or at least I remember that. Most of today's computer users weren't even around when those machines were first made.

Also, if you remember when HDD sizes were measured in MB, or RAM in KB*, then you're old.

* The exception to that is anyone who deals with microcontrollers for a living. I still use the PIC16F628A for quite a few projects. That only has 224 bytes of RAM. Some of the more recent microcontrollers I use actually have 2 or 3 KB. You can do a surprising amount of stuff with such small amounts of RAM, especially if you get proficient coding in assembly.
 
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LunarMist

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We used LOotus 1-2-3 and Wordperfect in the mid-1980s, running on bulky desktop machines.

Most people have limited computing needs or interests but SF is not for typical users. :) My computing needs have increased over time so that for many purposes there has not been a net gain. Prior to the 4x4 BOX I only bought about a dozen laptops and two SFF units (NUC style) in the last ~25 years, but they were always too weak to be my daily driver. However, I did not intend them to be and limited the weight and budget to concentrate on the desktops. I probably would have been satisfied performance-wise in 2023 with a 50W+ 13th gen iNtel and mobile nVidia in a 5+ lbs. big pig of a laptop.
 
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jtr1962

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The CPU on this board can actually run Linux. If a person has fairly basic needs, a nanocomputer based on this might be just the ticket. You can easily stick the entire thing inside a keyboard, for example.
 

LunarMist

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But it cannot process a RAW file like a 155H or 8840U?

It's amazing that the NUC v.11 seems more sluggish after using the new 4x4 for a week or so. I did not reuse any parts, so maybe I'll find a future use for it. I believe the 11th gen qualifies for Win 11 eventually, but I'm not sure about the activitations.
 

sedrosken

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Lunar, jtr qualified that as being for normal people with basic needs. We are not that. Normal people don't even know what a RAW file is, much less how to process one.

That said, jtr, I don't think that'll catch on until you can make the same thing run regular x64 Windows. Maybe if the ARM translation layer gets better. Who knows.
 

jtr1962

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I'm sure it'll happen eventually. As it is that little board has the computing power of a high-end desktop c. 2005 or so while consuming a fraction of the power.
 

LunarMist

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