(Intel® Celeron® N3150 Braswell CPU with Pre-Installed Windows® 10)
The MINIX NGC-1 has attracted a lot of discussion about its price more so than its form. And a lot of reviews start by listing all the hardware seemingly to justify the cost and then tail off without really highlighting what the device is capable of. So I've decided to use the device and write about what I did.
First off, if you are paying for a Windows license, and this really is the case in this instance as Microsoft do not offer OEMs the 'OS for free' once you've got useable RAM and storage, the last thing you'll probably do is nuke the hard drive and go nuts installing FOSS. So given there's a whole 128GB SSD to play with, I started by updating Windows and installing all my performance testing software.
Being fan-less, the first metric I wanted to know was the CPU temperature:
The four cores were stable at 44/44/32/32 degrees centrigrade.
Initially I ran CrystalDiskMark to look at the performance of the SSD:
Not only was the SSD fast, the temperatures were unaffected after running the test. A good start.
Then after running each standard performance tests of 3DMark, PCMark, Passmark 8 and Octane 2 checking the temperatures showed the highest oness recorded were 51/50/38/38 after 3DMark but they all quickly returned to the initial values.
A comparison of the results against other mini PCs is posted here.
Because the recently released Remix OS Beta included a Windows dual-boot installer which only supported Windows, it seemed logical to try this first.
Critically, sound didn't work over HDMI however I was able to have audio using a cable plugged in to the 3.5mm jack and the line-in on my monitor proving this was not a device issue but an OS limitation at this stage.
Next up was Ubuntu. Rather than risk any corruption of my Windows partition I chose to shrink it first and then install Ubuntu along side Windows using the free space I'd created.
I used a Live USB created from Canonical's Ubuntu 14.04.4 ISO and all the usual suspects worked: audio, wifi, bluetooth etc.
Whilst Kodi runs under Windows I thought I'd try installing OpenELEC. This time rather than use an automatic installer I performed a manual dual-boot installation having first created space for the two dedicated partitions.
My usual suite of test videos ran fine with the exception of Jockey (which runs under Kodi on Ubuntu - see later) and I had no problem getting sound and wifi to work.
As I've recently just compiled the latest source for Chromium OS I thought I'd try it out on an USB.
With everything working I tried Ubuntu under Crouton.
Crouton on Chromium OS
Installing Crouton targets takes time. So I copied a recent Crouton chroot I'd prepared for another Intel device onto my Chromium boot USB and again everything worked great.
Kodi on Ubuntu
Finally if you've got Ubuntu then you'll most likely install Kodi directly as an application.
For testing purposes I just mounted my Kodi partition created from installing OpenELEC which allowed me to confirm everything worked, including the 'Jockey' video.
Octane performance comparison
In an earlier post I compared the scores for Octane as run under different OS. So for comparison I've run Octane on the various OS now running on my MINIX NGC-1:
I've also made a video of booting through each of these OS and briefly running the same YouTube video to give a first hand experience of the MINIX NGC-1. Because the video I'm using (Man of Steel - Official Trailer HD) is copyrighted, as a condition of the claimant allowing their content to be used in my video some ads will appear (which are monetised by the claimant, MC for Warner Bros.). Interestingly, the audio-visual content that they are claiming is from 6:03 to 6:47 which is when the video was played on Remix OS.
Finally it is worth noting that this mini PC is a complete system and whose specs are not minimalistic. It comes with 64-bit Windows 10 pre-installed on the 128GB M2 SSD, and the quad core Intel Celeron N3150 CPU gets 4GB of RAM plus there's dual-band wifi, bluetooth, gigabit ethernet, USB3.0 ports and audio options that should satisfy most immediate requirements. It is silent; because it is fan-less. And everything works out of the box which is a first.