Back in 2012, Intel launched an innovative product on the market — NUC (Next Unit of Computing), which marked the beginning of the class of devices of the same name. Their distinguishing feature was a compact — only 4″x4″ — form factor of the motherboard, which made it possible to fit a full-fledged personal computer in a case with a volume of just over 0.5 dm3. Such a small size required the use of energy-efficient components commonly found in laptops. At that time, the indisputable favorites in the segment of mobile devices were Intel CPUs, which became the basis for both the NUCs themselves and numerous analogues from ASUSTek, Gigabyte and MSI. Despite AMD’s low-cost solutions, such as the Zacate or Kabini APUs, they never became a popular platform for miniature PCs. As an exception, one can only recall the Zotac ZBox nano based on energy-efficient AMD processors, which did not become mass-produced Gigabyte Brix Gaming, which was based on a combination of a quad-core APU AMD A8-5557M (Richland, 2.1 / 3.1 GHz) and mobile video card AMD Radeon R9 M275X with 2 GB of GDDR5 memory on board. Meanwhile, the triumphant return of the Reds to the processor market with the successful Zen architecture forced manufacturers to announce their plans to release compact PCs based on mobile versions of Ryzen. In this regard, ASUS’ offer to test the Mini PC PN30 seemed very tempting to us, especially since the new product is almost the only model of the Mini PC family, where the manufacturer refused to use Intel processors. What is hidden inside the hero of today’s review — we will find out a little later, and now is the time to look at his appearance.
ASUS Mini PC PN30
The first thing that catches your eye is the striking similarity of the product with the previously reviewed Mini PC PN40, which, however, does not cause much surprise, given that they belong to the same model range. The positioning of the device is identical: both of them are aimed at corporate customers who can use the Mini PC as entry-level workstations, as part of multimedia systems or information kiosks. But, as they say, «the devil is in the details», so it makes sense to study the characteristics of the Mini PC PN30.
|Model||ASUS Mini PC PN30|
|Official product page||asus.com|
|Processor||AMD E2-7015 1.5GHz (TDP 10W, 2 cores, 2 threads)|
|Motherboard||ASUS Mini PC PN30|
|RAM||2x SO-DIMM DDR3 SDRAM 1333 MHz, 8 GB maximum|
|Video card||AMD Radeon R2|
|Video connectors||1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort (Combo with USB 3.1 Type-C), 1 x D-Sub|
|Disk subsystem||64 GB eMMC, 1x M.2 (2280), 1x SATA 6Gb/s|
|I/O ports||2x USB 3.1 Type-C, 3x USB 3.1, 1x USB 2.0, 1x RJ-45, 1x analog audio combo jack|
|Communications||1х Realtek (Gigabit Ethernet), 1х Intel Wireless-AC 9260NGW (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n+ac, Bluetooth V5)|
|Power Supply||External (19V, 65W)|
|Dimensions, mm||115 x 115 x 49|
|Preinstalled OS||Microsoft Windows 10 Pro х64|
|Additional features||AMD TPM, VESA mount|
|Recommended cost, $||250 (120 barebones)|
Scope of delivery, design
Since a pre-sale copy of ASUS Mini PC PN30 was tested, we will not judge the design of its retail package, but will immediately proceed to consider the delivery kit, which consists of a 65 W (19 V, 3.42 A) AC adapter, a power cable with a CEE 7/4 plug, a metal adapter plate for mounting the device on a VESA bracket and a set of screws.
As already mentioned, the newcomer looks like the twin brother of ASUS Mini PC PN40, and this applies not only to the appearance, but also to the design and materials of the case. The dimensions of the product are 115x115x49 mm and weigh about 0.7 kg. The case is made of black matte plastic, which makes the device immune to fingerprints and dust. On the top cover, there is a not too neat sticker with service information, which gives out an engineering sample. On the front panel there was a place for a 3.5 mm analog audio jack, two USB 3.1 ports (one Type-C, and the second Type-A with support for Battery Charging 1.2) and one USB 2.0, a small disk subsystem activity indicator and power buttons.
The side faces of the case are unremarkable except for the ventilation grilles and the hole for the Kensington lock on one of them. At the same time, on the rear panel there are HDMI and D-Sub video outputs, a USB 3.1 Type-C connector combined with a Display Port digital video output, an RJ-45 network socket, two USB 3.0 ports and a connector for connecting an external power supply.
The bottom cover of the Mini PC PN30 is made of metal and, in addition to its direct function, also serves as a chassis for installing a 2.5” drive up to 9 mm high.
After dismantling the cover, access to the insides of the device opens. The entire internal space of the case is occupied by the motherboard, on which there are two SO-DIMM DDR3 slots, in this case occupied by a pair of SK Hynix HMT425S6CFR6A-PB modules with an operating frequency of 1600 MHz and a capacity of 2 GB each. In addition, the board is equipped with two M.2 connectors, one of which is occupied by the Intel 9260NGW wireless adapter based on the Intel Wireless-AC 9260 chipset, compatible with Bluetooth version 5.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n/ac, and for the latter a bandwidth of 160 MHz is supported, which, together with the MIMO 2T2R mode, gives a maximum speed of up to 1.73 Gb / s inclusive. The second M.2 port is designed to install a 2280 format SSD with a SATA or NVME interface, in addition to it, it is possible to use another 2.5 ”drive and, finally, a 64 GB flash memory chip is soldered directly on the motherboard. As for the wired network, the Realtek chipset provides Gigabit Ethernet support, and the Realtek ALC3236 HDA codec is responsible for audio output.
The ASUS Mini PC PN30 is based on the mysterious AMD E2-7015 chip. And it is “mysterious” because there is no information about it even on the manufacturer’s website, so we had to turn to diagnostic utilities such as AIDA64. With its help, we found out that our mysterious E2-7015 is actually a “system-on-a-chip” of the Beema family, which replaced the economical Kabini APU from back in 2013. As a result, our hopes to see a chip with the latest Ryzen architecture inside the Mini PC PN30 did not come true this time. Nevertheless, the E2-7015, despite its venerable age, is not hopeless, it is produced using 28-nm process standards, it includes two Puma processor cores with support for SIMD SSE4.1, AVX and AES hardware acceleration, as well as a cache — memory of the second level of 1 MB. A distinctive feature of SoC Beema is the presence of a hardware TrustZone security module. The processor part operates at 1500 MHz, and in the absence of load, the frequency decreases to 1000 MHz.
In addition to processor cores, the E2-7015 includes a single-channel DDR3 PC3-10600 memory controller, a southbridge with support for two USB 3.0 ports and eight USB 2.0 interfaces, as well as a pair of SATA 6 Gb / s channels. Finally, the SoC boasts a Radeon R2 graphics core with 128 GCN architecture stream processors, eight texture units, and four ROPs. The graphics card runs at 400 MHz and supports the DirectX 12 API, Vulcan, and OpenCL non-graphics computing.
The AMD Radeon R2 video core includes VCE (Video Codec Engine) and UVD (Unified Video Decoder) blocks for hardware processing of the video stream. However, the resolution is limited to Full HD, and the popular HEVC and VP9 formats are not among the supported formats, which can make it difficult to play high-definition video.