Let’s analyze the ASRock Beebox, an ultra-compact PC kit, with an Intel Celeron N3000 CPU, two sockets for DDR3L memory modules, one 2.5-inch bay for a hard disk drive or SSD, HDMI and DisplayPort outputs, and four USB 3.0 ports, with one of them using the new type C connector.
Mini PCs are not something new: there are plenty of compact and ultra-compact desktop computers. However, the Beebox is, according to ASRock, the first one with a type C USB 3.0 port. This new connector type is amazing as it is reversible (you can be installed in any position) and supports up to 100 W, allowing faster battery charges for smartphones. The type C port was launched simultaneously with the USB 3.1 standard, so many people believe type C connectors are always USB 3.1, which is not true; on the Beebox, its type C port is USB 3.0.
The Beebox can be found as a ready-to-use computer (with SSD and memory modules installed, with or without an operating system installed) or as a barebone (without RAM and a storage unit), which is the model we analyzed.
It is avaliable also with a Celeron N3150 CPU (four cores, 1.6 GHz clock, 2.08 GHz turbo clock, 6 W TDP) or with a Celeron N3000 (two cores, 1.04 GHz clock, 2.08 GHz turbo clock, 4 W TDP), which is the one we are showing. The quad-core model uses a fan, but the dual-core model is fanless, which means it is completely quiet.
In Figure 1, you can see the box of the ASRock Beebox.
Figure 2 shows the accessories that come with the computer: an external 36 W power supply, manual, drivers disc, remote control, SATA adapter, screws, and a VESA mount for installing it behind your video monitor.
Figure 3 unveils the ASRock Beebox, which measures 1.8 x 4.3 x 4.7 inches (46 x 110 x 118.5 mm). The Beboox is available in three different colors: white, black, and gold.
In the following pages, we will look at the Beebox in detail.
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In Figure 4, you can check the front of the computer. It has a 3.5 mm audio connector for a headset, one type A USB 3.0 port, one type C USB 3.0 port, and the infrared receiver for the remote control.
At the rear of the case, you can see the power supply connector, an HDMI output, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a DisplayPort output, an opening for anti-theft devices from Kensington, and two USB 3.0 ports. The Beebox supports up to three video monitors simultaneously.
At the bottom of the Beebox, there are four screws that you must remove in order to open it.
In the next page, let’s see the inside of the Beebox.
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Removing four screws, you can remove the bottom panel. As shown in Figure 7, there is a 2.5-inch bay at this panel, where you can install an SSD or a hard drive.
You can also see the Beebox mainboard, with two SODIMM (i.e., “laptop memory”) sockets, compatible with DDR3L (1.35 V) modules.
There are two mini PCI Express slots, one with an WiFi/Bluetooth adapter compatible with the IEEE 802.11ac dual-band standard, using a Realtek RTL8821AE chip. The second mini PCI Express slot is empty and is also compatible with mSATA SSDs.
Removing the mainboard from the case, you can see its other side, where the CPU is located. Figure 8 shows the heatsink, which has a thermal adhesive (the light green rectangle) that allows the case to act as a heatsink.
Figure 9 shows the mainboard with the heatsink (at the left) removed, making the processor visible.
In the version we analyzed, the Beebox does not come with RAM or a storage unit installed. There is a version with 2 GiB of RAM, a 32 GiB mSATA SSD, and Windows 10 preinstalled, and another with 4 GiB of RAM, 128 GiB mSATA SSD, and no operating system.
The model we analyzed is interesting because you can install the amount of RAM and the storage unit (SSD or HD) accorging to your needs; this way, you can configure it differently for office tasks, security video recorder, as a multimedia center to watch movies on your living room TV, among several other options. The disadvantage of the barebone model is that you need to buy and install the components.
We missed an M.2 slot to use SSDs that use this form factor.
The analog audio is controlled by a Realtek ALC283 codec. It is a simple codec, with only two channels. However, this is not a limitation, since you will connect the Beebox to your home theater using the HDMI connection, which supports 5.1 and 7.1 audio with no hassle.
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The main specifications for the ASRock Beebox which we analyzed include:
- Dimensions: 1.8 x 4.3 x 4.7 inches (46 x 110 x 118.5 mm) (H x D x W)
- Weight: 1.1 lbs (505 g) net (i.e., without power supply, memory or hard drive)
- Processor: Intel Celeron N3000 (two cores, 1.06 GHz, 2.08 GHz turbo clock, 2 MiB cache)
- Chipset: embedded in the CPU
- Memory: maximum 16 GiB, DDR3-1600 DDR3L (1.35 V modules)
- Graphics chip: Intel HD (integrated in the CPU)
- Network: Realtek RTL8111GR Gigabit Ethernet
- Wireless network: Bluetooth 4.0, IEEE 802.11ac, Realtek RTL8821AE chip
- Audio: produced by the chipset together with a Realtek ALC283 codec
- Ports: Four USB 3.0 (one type C), two HDMI, DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet
- Memory card reader: No
- Other features: infrared sensor and remote control
- More information: http://www.asrock.com
- MSRP in the US: USD 140.00
The ASRock Beebox is an amazing product for several different applications. It is good for office use, because of its low price, low-power consumption, and small footprint. It can be also used at home, for text editing, internet browsing, and social media usage, or even at security (as a video recorder/server if you install a USB video capture device). It is also great as a web media player, since the manufacturer claims it can play 4K movies.
The type C USB 3.0 port is a highlight of the product, even if it should take a while to this connector to become more popular.
- Extremely compact for a desktop computer
- Low price
- Supports one mSATA SSD plus a 2.5-inch storage device
- Comes with a good Wi-Fi and Bluetooth interface
- Low consumption
- Fanless, which means it is absolutely quiet
- Supports up to three video monitors and 4K resolution
- Brings one type C USB 3.0 port
- Needs professional assembly, or at least an experienced user
- Could come with an M.2 slot instead of an mSATA slot