Despite the forecasts of skeptics and the gradual decline in sales, “traditional” personal computers are by no means going to finally become history. Having ceded a significant part of the market to a variety of mobile devices, such as tablets and laptops, according to research by the analytical company IDC, the share of “desktops” in 2018 was 22.4%, with a gradual decrease in the next four years by only 1%. And all because in many areas it is not economically feasible to replace classic PCs with mobile ones, especially where minimum dimensions and autonomous power supply are not required. However, this fact does not mean the absence of progress, far from it! Continuous improvement in technology has made such devices powerful enough, compact and economical, which allows them to be successfully used as stationary workstations in offices and educational institutions, for automating industrial processes, as well as in the field of displaying digital content, for example, as part of information kiosks or media screens. In one of the previous articles, we got acquainted with a miniature personal computer ASUS Mini PC PN40 based on Intel Gemini Lake, which proved to be very good, demonstrating a good combination of performance and low cost. And today we bring to your attention its close relative – ASUS Mini PC PB40, focused primarily on professional use.
Unlike a fellow newcomer has a different form factor and a number of features that make it useful in a business environment. What are these features – we will figure it out during the review process, but now let’s take a look at the characteristics of the product.
|Model||ASUS Mini PC PB40-BC063MC|
|Official product page||asus.com|
|Processor||Intel Celeron N4000 1.1GHz (TDP 6W, 2 cores, 2 threads)|
|Motherboard||ASUS Mini PC PB40|
|RAM||1x SO-DIMM DDR4 SDRAM 2 GB 2400 MHz (8 GB maximum)|
|Video card||Intel HD Graphics 600|
|Video connectors||1x DisplayPort, 1 x D-Sub|
|Disk subsystem||32 GB eMMC, 1x SATA 6 Gb/s|
|I/O ports||1x USB 3.1 Type-C, 5x USB 3.1, 1x USB 2.0, 1x RJ-45, 1x COM, 2x analog audio jacks|
|Sound subsystem||Realtek ALC255|
|Communications||1х Intel i211 (Gigabit Ethernet), 1х Intel Wireless-AC 9461 (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n+ac, Bluetooth 5.0)|
|Power Supply||External (19V, 65W)|
|Dimensions, mm||175 x 175 x 34,2|
|Preinstalled OS||Microsoft Windows 10 Pro|
|Additional features||Intel TPM, VESA mount|
|Recommended cost, $||n/a|
Contents of delivery
ASUS Mini PC PB40 comes in a small cardboard box, almost devoid of identification marks, but equipped with a convenient carrying handle. On the one hand, the lack of printing simplifies the recycling of packaging, and the main buyers – corporate clients – are much less interested in a bright wrapper than the optimal purchase price. On the other hand, the contents of the box are neatly arranged and well protected from surprises that often happen during transportation. In addition to the personal computer itself, there was a place in the box for:
- network power supply;
- power cord with CEE 7/4 plug;
- stands for installing the device in a vertical position;
- a set for mounting a personal computer on a VEAS bracket behind the monitor;
- Wi-Fi antennas with SMA connector (not shown in the photo);
- user manual.
Among the features, one can note a stand for installing the case in a vertical position, as well as a powerful 65-watt complete power supply ADP-65GD manufactured by Delta Electronics, which provides an output voltage of 19 V at a current of 3.42 A. Taking into account the energy-efficient platform, this should be more enough to power numerous peripherals that can be connected to a miniature system unit.
Unlike most of the compact PCs we have reviewed earlier, made in the UCFF (Ultra Compact Form Factor) form factor with a 4”x4” motherboard, ASUS Mini PC PB40 has a metal case measuring 175x175x34.2 mm, which occupies a usable volume of about 1 dm3 , and the mass of the device is almost 0.7 kg. The front panel is plastic, on it are located (from left to right): a USB3.1 Type C port, four USB 3.1 Type A ports, a pair of 3.5 mm analog audio jacks, and a power button with a built-in power indicator. The back of the device boasts an SMA connector for a wireless antenna, a socket for an external power supply, a DisplayPort digital video output, USB 2.0 and USB 3.1 connectors, as well as an outdated but still widely used COM port, D-Sub analog video output, network an RJ-45 socket and finally a Kensington lock hole.
Thus, the design of a small-sized personal computer hardly claims to be “refined”, but, a beginner allows you to simultaneously connect up to seven peripheral devices with a USB interface, is equipped with an external antenna for confident work in conditions of poor Wi-Fi coverage and can offer a COM port, which can be used to connect specific equipment or integrate into automation systems.
Approximately a quarter of the surface of the top cover of the case is occupied by the ventilation grill of the cooling system, and next to the front panel you can find two threaded holes designed for stationary mounting of the device.
On the bottom of the case, ASUS Mini PC PB40 has a plastic sticker with service information, four rubber feet in the corners, and holes for attaching a metal adapter frame, which is mounted on a standard VESA bracket, are located approximately in the center.
To gain access to the insides of a personal computer, it is enough to unscrew the screw at the back of the case and slide the top cover along with the front panel. After these simple manipulations, we see a motherboard with a large passive cooling system heatsink, a free SO-DIMM slot and a seat for a 2.5” disk or solid state drive with a SATA 6 Gb / s interface. There are modifications of the ASUS PB40 with an M.2 connector for installing an SSD, but our today’s hero turned out to be deprived of such an option. However, the motherboard has a SanDisk DF4032 eMMC flash memory chip with a capacity of 32 GB, which can be quite enough for many use cases. The network subsystem is represented by a powerful Gigabit Ethernet Intel i211 controller, and the Intel Wireless-AC 9461 adapter with Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n+ac and Bluetooth 5.0 is responsible for wireless communications. Finally, the “sound” is based on the Realtek ACL255 HD audio codec.
On the back of the motherboard, you can see a steel reinforcing plate that serves as a component of the cooling system, and a second SO-DIMM slot, this time occupied by a 2 GB DDR4 RAM module from SKHynix with a clock frequency of 2400 MHz. In addition, it should be noted that the ASUS Mini PC PB40 has a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) module, which is used to generate, store and manage encryption keys, which is a very popular feature in a corporate environment.
Like the previously reviewed ASUS Mini PC PN40, the newcomer is based on the Intel Celeron N4000 single-chip system. This chip belongs to the 14nm Gemini Lake family, it is equipped with two processing cores with a frequency of up to 2600 MHz inclusive in Turbo Boost mode, has 4 MB of L2 cache and supports modern SE4.1 and SSE4.2 SIMD instructions, as well as SHA hashing and hardware-accelerated AES encryption. In addition, the SoC (System-on-Chip) has a dual-channel DDR4 / LPDDR4 RAM controller, which ensures the operation of modules with a frequency of up to 2400 MHz and a total capacity of up to 8 GB inclusive.
The economical microarchitecture and advanced power management capabilities allow the Intel Celeron N4000 to fit into a 6 W TDP, which makes active cooling unnecessary. In fact, the heatsink that ASUS Mini PC PB40 is equipped with turned out to be absolutely sufficient in all operating modes. Even at maximum load, the temperature did not exceed 67 ° C, however, this was given at the cost of reducing the clock frequency of the computing cores to 1500 MHz.
As for the graphics component of the Celeron N4000, users get at their disposal a modern Intel UHD Graphics 600 graphics core, operating at a maximum frequency of 650 MHz and compatible with API DirectX 12.1, OpenGL 4.5 and OpenCL 2.0.
The graphics accelerator supports displaying images simultaneously on two screens, moreover, when using the “numbers” – in 4K resolution, and the built-in Quick Sync 2.0 unit provides hardware acceleration for video processing of most modern formats in 4K and even 8K resolution. So, neither with the playback of the test video clip in 3840×2160 resolution at 60 frames / s, nor with viewing YouTube content, no problems were noticed.