Jetway Mini-Top JBC700C9JG
We’ve tested Jetway’s Mini-Top family in the past; however, last time we were looking at a humble nettop powered by Intel’s D525 Atom CPU mated to Nvidia’s Ion 2 graphics chipset. The company's JBC700 shares a similar aesthetic, but offers much more capable hardware under its hood. Based on Intel's Sugar Bay platform, this is the only PC in our round-up able to accept LGA 1155 CPUs intended for the desktop (instead of mobile processors).
Be aware, though: the Mini-Top limited to 35 W low-voltage chips, and the JBC700 is only sold as a barebones platform. Its processor, drives, and memory aren't included. The JBC700C9JG we’re testing today does come equipped with an integrated GeForce GT 520M GPU and it's available from itxdepot.com for $273. There is also a version available without Nvidia’s GPU (JBC700C9J), and that sells for $180 on Newegg.com. Of course, because we have the barebones version, its final cost will be a lot higher once we fold in the prices for requisite hardware.
The GeForce GT 520M does allow Jetway's Mini-Top to use Nvidia’s Synergy technology (known as Optimus in the mobile space). This allows the system to automatically switch over to Intel's power-friendly HD Graphics engine when the performance of a discrete GPU isn’t needed. It then engages the GeForce chip when a graphics load is detected. Although that isn't as much of a benefit in the desktop space, it does let you manually choose the graphics subsystem you want to use on a per-application basis. That means specifying HD Graphics in Quick Sync-optimized apps and GeForce in games. We like the flexibility enabled there.
The Mini-Top enclosure consists of glossy plastic on the sides with brushed metal-colored plastic around the perimeter. It would be easy to miss perched on a desk, except for the odd angle it sits at on its metal mount. At 9.5” x 7.5” x 1.75”, Jetway's Mini-Top is the longest PC in our round-up, but it's not the thickest and certainly not large by any measure.
Around back we find HDMI and DVI video outputs, a Wi-Fi antenna connector, two USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA/USB combo port, gigabit Ethernet, a TV antenna connector (for the models with the optional tuner, not included in our sample), and the power supply interface.
Up front, and behind a swing-down door, there's a memory card reader, two USB 3.0 ports, the power button, an infrared remote sensor, and the commonly-found speaker output and microphone input jacks. The speaker jack also doubles as a digital S/PDIF output.
Jetway's bundle includes an external power supply, a wireless antenna, an installation guide, a driver disk, a VESA mounting bracket, a DVI-to-VGA adapter, and various internal accessories (a fan, the processor heat sink, and mounting hardware, for example).
While there is no remote in the package, the JBC700 is equipped with an IR reader. So, any MCE-compatible remote should work. We tested this with a unit we had on-hand and found them to work well together, achieving 170 degrees of arc and about 14 feet of range. As a barebones system, we weren't surprised to find the Mini-Top lacking an operating system license.
The enclosure is opened without any tools by simply pushing back its side cover. The motherboard hosts a familiar LGA 1155 interface and two SO-DIMM memory slots able to accommodate 8 GB of DDR3-1333. Underneath the board, there’s room for a 2.5” drive and slimline optical drive.
Because this setup doesn't include a processor, memory, hard disk, or optical drive, we populated it with two 2 GB DDR3-1333 module and a Western Digital Scorpio Black with 500 GB of space. As for the processor, well, that gets a little complicated.
While the Mini-Top accepts LGA 1155-based CPUs, it’s only designed for 35 W Sandy Bridge models. Right now, that leaves us with a handful of T-series line-up, such as the Core i5-2390T, Core i3-2100T and -2120T, Pentium 630T and 620T, and single-core Celeron G440. We would have liked to show you this platform's best performance using a Core i5-2390T, which may have been able to match the Core i5-2120M in ASRock's machine thanks to a 2.7 GHz base clock rate. Unfortunately, T-series SKUs are often special-order models, and we weren’t able to get one in time for this piece.
Our back-up plan was to underclock and undervolt a Core i3-2100 to the -2120T's specifications, allowing it to fit within the 35 W TDP. Jetway isn't as flexible with its BIOS settings, though, and we didn't have access to the voltage and clock adjustments needed to pull that off. The system booted with the Core i3-2100 installed, but we didn't want to push the 65 W chip too hard.
Eventually, we settled on a dual-core Celeron G540 processor at 2.5 GHz. Yes, it's listed as a 65 W chip, but we've measured its consumption far lower in the past. The G540 has 1 MB less cache, doesn't support Hyper-Threading, and doesn't support Quick Sync. It also fares pretty well against the Core i3-2120T in most applications (unless they're heavily threaded), though. With no other option available, it'll have to do.
Although the Mini-Top officially supports a 666 MHz memory clock, ours defaulted to 533 MHz thanks to a limitation of the Celeron G540 despite the fact that we used modules capable of the faster setting.