As I await delivery of the DDR3L low-voltage RAM module, I did some more digging about this ultra compact personal computer, for which there is sparse information available:
More About UCPC
"UCPC" is an Intel initiative for making ultra small desktop computers -- akin to Intel's ultrabook specs for making ultra thin laptop computers. UCPCs are meant as zero-footprint desktops (because they can be attached to the back of LCD monitors) and as media servers.
Best as I can tell, there are just two vendors of the current Haswell CPU lineup, Intel's "Next Unit of Computing" and Gigabyte's BRIX. The Gigabyte one is the better deal, as it includes WiFi; Intel's does not and so you have to pay extra for the WiFi module.
More About BRIX
Being from Taiwan, Gigabyte may not know that BRIX is an unfortunate name for a computer.
My Gigabyte model includes Bluetooth v4, and I hope it will work with the spare Bluetooth keyboard-trackpad I have.
This UCPC lacks two ports that would make it more useful as a media server:
- It has no SD card slot; this can be overcome by inserting an SD card reader into one of the four USB ports.
- It has no remote control capability, as there is no infra-red receiver; this can be overcome by using a WiFi remote, such as through an Android phone or tablet. A suggestion I've read is to get a USB remote control receiver. I have found with other similar PCs that a wireless keyboard-trackpad can be better than a regular remote.
More About the CPU
This UCPC is driven by an Intel i3-4010U CPU; other models from Gigabyte use i5 or i7 CPUs, which are much more expensive (twice the cost, in the case of the i7). This 64-bit CPU came out in Q3, is dual-core, and runs at 1.7GHz.
Other specs for the CPU:
- 16GB maximum RAM (I'm installing 4GB for now)
- Intel HD-4400 graphics (good for movie playback)
- Supports wireless displays (I'll have to try this out at some point)
- Supports up to three displays (but BRIX has just two display ports externally)
- Supports four USB 3.0 ports (BRIX has all four USB ports)
- Supports four SATA 6GB/sec ports (found three on the BRIX, so far)
See ark.intel.com/products/75107 for full specs.
Maximum power consumption is 15W -- about as much as an LED lightbulb. Idle consumption is about half that.
Choosing the Operating System
I've downloaded the 64-bit Xfce edition of Linux Mint 16 from http://mirror.csclub.uwaterloo.ca/linuxmint//testing/linuxmint-16-xfce-dvd-64bit-rc.iso and burned a DVD of the file. Xfce is a slimmed down version of Linux that runs on minimal hardware specs. (XFCE was short for "XForms Common Environment" and is now nicknamed "Cholesterol Free Desktop Environment.")
If Xfce doesn't suit the job, then I'll just switch to the full-feature Mate edition -- no biggie.
In addition, I'm investigating XMBC, the open source media center software that runs on most operating systems: xmbc.org. Pulse-Eight makes a device that works with XMBC and PCs and HDMI tvs: www.pulse-eight.com.