Smaller form factor PCs such as HTPCs are on the rise, as evidenced by our interview with Steiger CEO Martin Gossner in March. They seem to fulfill the need of an all-in-one living room entertainment system while still providing the same functions as a regular PC. ASRock, which is mainly known for its motherboards, has its own lineup of mini PCs and is adding a NUC device called the Beebox to its roster.
The Beebox comes in two "L10" models. Another model, the L6, is a barebones device for enthusiasts. It features some of the same specs as the L10 but doesn't include a processor, memory or an operating system.
|Header Cell - Column 0||L6 (Barebone)||L10 (Full System 1)||L10 (Full System 2)|
|CPU||Intel N3000 (up to 2.08 GHz)||Intel N3000 (up to 2.08 GHz)||Intel N3000 (up to 2.08 GHz)|
|RAM||N/ASupports DDR3L 1600 MHz, 2 x SO-DIMM slots, Max. 16 GB||2 GB DDR3L1600 MHzSupports DDR3L 1600 MHz, 2 x SO-DIMM slots, Max. 16 GB||4 GB DDR3L1600 MHz (2x2 GB)Supports DDR3L 1600 MHz, 2 x SO-DIMM slots, Max. 16 GB|
|Storage||N/ASupports 1 x mSATA SSD & 1 x 2.5" SATA HDD||32 GB mSATA SSDSupports 1 x 2.5" SATA HDD||128 GB mSATA SSDSupports 1 x 2.5" SATA HDD|
|Connection||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0GigabitLAN||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0Gigabit LAN||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0Gigabit LAN|
|Audio||Realtek ALC283||Realtek ALC283||Realtek ALC283|
|I/O||Front: 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.0 (Type C), 1 x IR, 1 x Audio-Out with MIC-InRear: 2 x HDMI, 1 x DP, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x LAN, 1 x Kensington lock||Front: 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.0 (Type C), 1 x IR, 1 x Audio-Out with MIC-InRear: 2 x HDMI, 1 x DP, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x LAN, 1 x Kensington lock||Front: 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.0 (Type C), 1 x IR, 1 x Audio-Out with MIC-InRear: 2 x HDMI, 1 x DP, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x LAN, 1 x Kensington lock|
One of the more notable aspects of the Beebox is the addition of a USB Type-C port. The new connector was recently added to some of ASRock's motherboards in an effort to meet early demand of the rising USB standard. Placing it on the Beebox is another step in that plan.
For such a small device, the Beebox has the ability to perform just as well as its larger counterparts, at least in terms of display output. Two HDMI ports and a DisplayPort onboard means that you can use the Beebox across three screens at the same time, and it can display in 2K and 4K resolutions for each output.
Aside from functioning as a living room PC, it can also act as another access point with its 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ Wi-Fi connection. Bluetooth 4.0 also allows connection of wireless devices such as a mouse and keyboard. All models also come with a handy remote in case you don't want to use other peripherals.
ASRock also included its own software called Power Gear. Just like a sports car, the Beebox will have three different performance modes: Sport, Normal, and Eco. Sport is used during heavy use such as gaming, while Normal can be utilized for daily activities such as browsing the Internet or using a word processor. Eco is more suited for less intensive applications such as downloading updates.
The Beebox comes in black, white and gold. There is no word yet on a release date or price, but with the specs finalized, the Beebox should be arriving soon. The Beebox might yet be another SFF PC on the market, but features such as a USB Type-C connector, ASRock's Power Gear modes and triple-screen capabilities with up to 4K resolution support have the potential to make it stand out from the rest.
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It's fine for what it's there to do. Remember, this isn't supposed to replace your desktop or even your laptop. They are more for public access computers in libraries and universities where the average user will only log on for a few minutes to print something off or check what books they need. AV capabilities are there because some people are going to want to sit and work and even relax a bit too but that's just not a priority especially since almost every machine that even uses the sound chip will be used with cheap crappy headphones. Also, almost no normal people could even recognize the difference between good and bad in this area, let alone appreciate the improved cost.
Like anything, these devices are for specific use cases. They're still interesting as devices, but don't judge them by the same standards as other machines. Of course they could use a better sound chip but that would push the price up and make NUCs less accessible and few if any customers would ever appreciate it.
What are you talking about? This thing comes with a remote. It's obviously designed to work as a HTPC and/or living room entertainment device.
Nevermind anyone that is really worried about SQ isn't even going to bother with the on board if they're piping it to speakers. DACs be cheep breh.
Good point, and you are correct. I just stated my question incorrectly.
I should have asked "If this box has USB Type-C ports for "future" compatibility, then why don't they support USB 3.1 instead of 3.0?"
I would not seek out USB 3.1 until chipsets gain native support with appropriately beefed up interconnect between the chipset and CPU.
Another problem with USB 3.1 is that the complexity behind USB 3.0 is already making most chip designers implement only the minimum number of ports they can get away with. This can only get worse with the full 3.1 implementation. Type-C also adds a fair amount of complexity of its own, which means tons of devices will likely end up supporting only a subset of alternate modes, if any at all.