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Linux ready mini-PCs step up to faster AMD and Intel chips

Dec 22, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 3,194 views

Compulab launched its fastest Fitlet mini-PC yet with a quad-core, 2.4GHz AMD G-Series “Fitlet-T,” plus two Intense PC mini-PCs using Intel’s 5th Gen Cores.

Compulab added to two of its Linux-ready mini-PC families with a Fitlet-T starting at $386, and two new Intense PC (IPC) models starting at $638. Compulab launched its first Fitlet-X, -I, and -B models less than a year ago, billed as more affordable, 30 percent smaller alternatives to its mainstream Fit-PC. It then added a Fitlet-H. Like all these models, the new Fitlet-T runs Linux or Windows on AMD SoCs, but instead of using A-Series models, it adopts the faster 2.4GHz, quad-core GX-424CC, one of its AMD’s Steppe Eagle generation of G-Series SoCs from 2014.

Compulab Fitlet-T
(click image to enlarge)

The Fitlet-T’s top-of-the-line GX-424CC SoC has 2MB cache, and a faster, 497MHz Radeon graphics engine than other Steppe Eagles. It also has the highest TDP at 25 Watts. According to Compulab, this makes the Fitlet-T 40 percent faster than the Fitlet-H, and 15 percent faster than Fit-PC4 Pro. It’s even 8 percent faster than the IPC2 i3, which runs on an Intel Core-i3 4010U, and costs 30 percent less, claims the company.

Tiny Green PC, which first started selling the Fitlet-T in November for £345.00 ($513) for a barebones model, refers to it as a successor to Fit-PC4 Pro. The latter runs a quad-core, 2GHz AMD G-Series GX-420CA, the previous generation G-Series flagship.

Fitlet-T block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

Except for the faster processor, the feature set of the Fitlet-T appears to be identical to the Fitlet-H. However, the die-cast aluminum case now offers an external heatsink, and is both larger (19 x 16 x 4cm), and heavier (1.1kg) than the Fitlet-H.

You can load up to 16GB of DDR3L RAM, and add a 2.5-inch HDD or SSD to the SATA 3.0 bay. There are also mSATA and microSD connections, dual HDMI ports, and dual GbE ports. As with the Fitlet-H, the Fitlet-T offers eight USB ports, two of which are USB 3.0, and S/PDIF and analog audio connections are available. Other features include an RS232 connector and Compulab’s homegrown FACE expansion interface with optional FACE modules.

WiFi-ac and Bluetooth 4.0 are standard, and there’s a SIM slot for adding a cellular modem via the half- and full-size mini-PCIe slots. As usual with Fitlets, there’s a 10 to 15VDC input, and a range of operating temperatures up to -40 to 70°C.

Fitlet-T detail views
(click image to enlarge)

The Fitlet-T can be bought barebones or else with Windows or Linux Mint 17.2 (Cinnamon), and it ships with a 5-year warranty. For more details with spec sheets, see our earlier Fitlet-H coverage, as well as this Compulab comparison page between the -H and -T models.

New Intense PCs go Broadwell

The previous generation of Compulab’s high-end Intense PC (IPC) mini-PCs, such as the IPC2 Pro from early 2014, ran on 4th Generation (Haswell) Intel Core processors. The two new IPC2 models move up to Intel’s 5th Generation Broadwell Cores, the tick release to the more recent tock release of the similarly 14nm fabricated 6th Gen Skylake Cores.

Compulab IPC2
(click image to enlarge)

The IPC2 i7B offers a 2.6GHz Core i7-5600U with 4MB cache, and the IP2 i5B supplies a 2.2GHz Core i5-5200U with 3MB cache. Both processor models are dual-core, with 15W TDPs, and feature Intel HD Graphics 5500, which is far superior to the Intel graphics on the Haswell chips. In addition to offering speed and power consumption improvements, the new Intel Broadwell processors and chipsets have enabled to the new IPC2 models to support up to 32GB DDR3L RAM, as well as 4K displays.

IPC2 mainboard and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Thanks to the fact that Intel’s 4th Generation (Haswell) and 5th Generation (Broadwell) U-Series Core processors share a common BGA-1168 pinout, the new IPC2 models use the same mainboard design as the earlier systems. As on the earlier IPC2 models, there’s a SATA bay and dual mSATA ports, dual GbE ports, 802.11ac and Bluetooth wireless, dual HDMI ports plus a DisplayPort, and both S/PDIF and analog audio support. Other features include four USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, and three RS232 ports.

The new IPC2 mini-PCs are also identical physically to the earlier models, including I/O port arrangement, enclosure dimensions (19 x 16 x 4cm), input power (10-15VDC), and optional industrial temperature ranges (up to -40 to 70°C).

Further information

The Fitlet-T is now available, starting at $386 for a barebones model, says Compulab. More information may be found in the Fitlet-T announcement and on the Fitlet-T product page. The only shopping page we’re seeing, however, is at Tiny Green PC, starting at £345.00 ($513).

The IPC2 i7B and IP2 i5B are available starting at $638 for a barebones IP2 i5B model, says Compulab. More information may be found in the IPC2 i7B and IP2 i5B announcement.

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