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Tiny, 4-Inch Motherboard Can Run a Xeon W Workstation CPU

The Aaeon TGH7
(Image credit: Aaeon)

Lately, we're seeing a slew of small systems with with big processors (opens in new tab) seem, so we were weren't too surprised to see the Aaeon EPIC-TGH7 SBC (opens in new tab) reported in the pages of CNX Software (opens in new tab). This four-inch (165 x 115mm) board has a list of compatible processors that begins with the Intel Celeron 6600HE, but which makes its way through the i-numbers to the mighty Xeon W 11865MRE. 

None of these processors would make our list of the best CPUs for gaming. However, the config with the Xeon W 11865MRE promises workstation class power on a motherboard that's significantly smaller than a mini ITX motherboard (170 x 170 mm), the smallest mainstream size.

The TGH7 appears to come with the Tiger Lake H CPU+GPU combo soldered to the board; only the i3 and i7 models are listed on Aaeon’s site, and they’re both out of stock at the time of writing. But theoretically you could get one with a Xeon W installed, and run ECC memory with it too. This appears to be the only benefit of the workstation chip, which in every other way is identical to the i7 11850HE.

These two hot chips (their temperature rating tops out at 100°C or 212°F) both run to eight cores and 16 threads, with a top boost speed of 4.7 GHz, two memory channels, and identical integrated graphics. They both draw the same 45W, and don't appear to come with any cooling solutions, though holes for a CPU fan are visible on the board.

Elsewhere on the board, you’ll find a lot of ports crammed into the small space. There are two DisplayPorts and an HDMI port, four USB 3.2 Type-A sockets, a pair of Ethernet ports - one gigabit, the other 2.5Gb - a pair of SATA ports, a PCIe 4.0 x8 slot supplying a maximum of 25W, and two M.2 slots, one of which can take NVMe storage, while the other is for optional modules such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, or a cellular modem. 

Drivers for Windows 10 are available, raising hopes it will work under Windows 11 as well, while a single ‘peripheral’ driver exists for Ubuntu 20.04.2. 

Assuming availability picks up a bit, you should be able to get the boards direct from Aaeon’s eshop, with pages online for the i3 ($812) (opens in new tab) and i7 ($1,167) (opens in new tab) boards. 

Ian Evenden
Freelance News Writer

Ian Evenden is a UK-based news writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He’ll write about anything, but stories about Raspberry Pi and DIY robots seem to find their way to him.

  • bit_user
    Wow, with that PCIe 4.0 x8 slot, it's actually cuter than I expected!

    Tiger Lake, FWIW. And good look cooling some of its higher-wattage options. If you need such a small board, chances are you're not putting it in a big case that can accommodate a big CPU cooler.
    Reply
  • escksu
    bit_user said:
    Wow, with that PCIe 4.0 x8 slot, it's actually cuter than I expected!

    Tiger Lake, FWIW. And good look cooling some of its higher-wattage options. If you need such a small board, chances are you're not putting it in a big case that can accommodate a big CPU cooler.

    I think they are good for embedded applications like machinery/equipment where noise is not that big of a concern.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    escksu said:
    I think they are good for embedded applications like machinery/equipment where noise is not that big of a concern.
    The large complement of unusual pin headers for PC motherboards gives away that this board must be intended for specialty embedded applications.
    Reply