This is my review for the NEO N42C-4, Intel Pentium Mini PC, with Windows 10 Pro. (64-bit) 4GB Ram. 32GB eMMC. Upgradeable. Dual-Band Wi-Fi. Gigabit Ethernet. 4K @ 60Hz can handle Triple Display. Sold Directly by MINIX® Technology Limited. An FBA item.

The item was delivered in a Brown Cardboard Box. Within was the Retail Packaging. All of which is recyclable.

Let’s see what we’re getting

In the Box
The MINIX® NEO N42C-4
A VESA Mounting Frame (including Fixing Screws)
The 240 Volt AC to 12 Volt – 3Amp DC Mains Adapter Block (c/w  3 Plug Adaptors for varying countries)
An HDMI™ 1.4 Cable (1 meter in length)
The User Guide
A MINIX Product Leaflet
Small bag of spares accessories (rubber feet, base screws, SSD Stand off mounting Peg, SSD Securing Screw for Peg and an S/PDIF Adaptor for TOSLINK Cables)

Here are the Specifications


Curtesy of MINIX©

Let’s look a bit further into those features

The Processor

The Processor is an Intel® Pentium® Quad Core N4200 (Formerly in the Apollo Lake Family) This is a 64-bit architecture which operates on a 1.10 GHz Base  and 2.5 GHz Burst Frequency. Within, we have 2MB of L2 cache. Furthermore, it can support up to 8 GB of DDR3L memory on 2 channels. Released by Intel® in the 3rd quarter of 2016, the N4200 also comes with multi-threading capabilities.

The Graphics

The graphics processing circuitry integrated into the processor itself, is the Intel® HD Graphics 505. It will carry out 18 Executions @ 200 – 750MHz and utilises the installed DDR3L RAM to do this. So in theory the more RAM installed, the better the PC will work. As there will be more spare memory for processes running in software. You can configure up to 8GB of Memory as discussed below.

The Memory

The MINIX® N42C-4 comes with 1 x 4GB of DDR3L, SODIMM Memory. There are however, 2 Slots under the hood. These can be populated with up to 8GB in each. MINIX® has included a set of accessories to assist you with this task (should you choose to perform an upgrade). Suitable SODIMM Memory can be found on the MINIX® Forum

The Storage

There is 32GB of eMMC 5.1 (MLC) [Embedded MultiMedia Card, is an advanced, managed Multilevel Cell, or NAND, flash memory] built-in. The word “Managed” here, means that we have a solution consisting of not only NAND flash memory, but also controller/interface circuits, which help to sort out processes and improve the performance. eMMC 5.1 has Read/Write speeds of 250MB/s & 125MB/s and a data input/output response of 11,000IO/s & 13,000IO/s  respectively.

Wireless Connectivity

Bluetooth 4.1
The Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group), released Bluetooth 4.1 as an incremental software update to Bluetooth 4.0 on 4 December 2013. This update incorporated the Bluetooth Core Specification Addenda (CSA 1, 2, 3 & 4) in this, new features were added that improve consumer usability. Including increased co-existence support for LTE and bulk data exchange rates.

802.11ac Dual Band Wi-Fi
Our MINIX® N42C-4 uses the newest generation of Wi-Fi signalling, which is 802.11ac. It utilizes dual-band wireless technology, supporting simultaneous connections on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi bands. The 802.11ac standard offers backward compatibility to 802.11b/g/n and bandwidth, rated up to 1300 Mbps on the 5 GHz band with up to 450 Mbps on 2.4 GHz..

The Operating System

Windows 10 Pro is just the solution for small businesses looking to update their OS. It offers increased functionality and features you can’t find on the Home Edition. There’s everything from an easy migration process to increased security and loads of extras in between.

Video Output

You are able to drive 3 Screens through the video output ports.. HDMI™ 1.4 (4K @ 30Hz), Mini Display Port (4K @ 60Hz) and USB-C (4K @ 60Hz), for a Mini PC this is excellent.

Audio Output

Digital Audio Out
HDIM™ 1.4, Mini Display Port and Optical S/PDIF (using the TOSLINK Cable) all output a Digital Audio signal.

HDMI™
HDMI will pass the highest resolution audio. This includes the formats found on Blu-ray: Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio. These formats can’t get transmitted across optical. … So if you want just a single cable between two devices, HDMI is your pick. 

Mini Display Port
This carries High quality Audio Signal too. You will need an Active Adapter to connect to an HDMI™ or DVI cable.

Optical S/PDIF
S/PDIF can carry two channels of uncompressed PCM audio or compressed 5.1/7.1 surround sound (such as DTS audio codec); it cannot support lossless formats (other than 2ch LPCM) such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, that require greater bandwidth  like that available with HDMI or DisplayPort. (Wikipedia)

Analogue Audio Input/Output
Both of these are achieved via the 3.5mm socket. Varying  devices can be connected to this, including Headphones, Gaming Headphones c/w microphone, portable audio speaker (through aux socket on the speaker) or a microphone.

Peripheral Interfaces

RJ45 or Ethernet
A connection to the network which is much more stable in larger client networks. a cable is ran between the router and the PC – creating a direct connection with no external interference (from other networks nearby). The bandwidth of this connection-depending on cable used can be up to 10Gb/s. Much faster than Wi-Fi.

3 x USB 3.0 Ports
USB 3.0 is the third major version of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) standard for interfacing computers and electronic devices. Among other improvements, USB 3.0 adds the new transfer rate referred to as SuperSpeed USB (SS) that can transfer data at up to 5 Gbit/s (625 MB/s), which is about ten times as fast as the USB 2.0 standard. Manufacturers are recommended to distinguish USB 3.0 connectors from their USB 2.0 counterparts by blue color-coding of the Standard-A receptacles and plugs, and by the initials SS. (Wikipedia)

1 x USB-C Port
Technically known as USB Type-C is capable of carrying data at the rate of 10Gb/s, double that of USB 3.0. It’s specifications were formerly announced in August 2014, during this timeframe USB 3.1 was also under development. When this standard was developed, the idea was that it would be future proof. With each cable being terminated with the same connector.

Kensington Slot
This is a Small Hole found in most laptops and Portable Computer Devices. Although a lock for it is typically not included. The Kensington slot may be marked with a small icon that looks like a padlock with a capital “K”, or the slot may be unlabelled.

Power

This Mini PC uses only a fraction of the energy that a regular desktop PC would use. (Even a thin client). The Power Adaptor supplied is 12Volt, 3Amp. The Neo N42C-4 uses an average of 11 Watts. Hence, the potential savings on energy costs will run into thousands over it’s lifetime. It will pay for itself in the first 6 months of use. Used for 9 hours a day for 5 days a week, gives a total energy usage of 495 Watts, that’s less than half a unit of electricity. Looking at it another way 1 years worth of energy would be 25.750 Kw. So at 15p per unit, that works out at only £3.86p a year to run. WOW, just think of the savings. an office running 30 telesales desks would use just £115.83p per year.

A new Dell OptiPlex 7050 Micro costs more than twice the price and uses at least 65 Watts. So for a year of those 30 PC’s it would cost £684.45. Thats a saving of £568.62 a year.

So, what do i think of it?

First of all, i think this is a Fantastic piece of kit. Building a Mini PC with an in-built fan is a first for MINIX’®. But a step i’m sure, that will bring it’s rewards. As with fans, there comes an increase in the machines power and ability.

The main unit is made from a type of ABS plastic. Engraved in the centre on top is the MINIX® logo. It looks sleek, stylish and of the moment. It offers loads of connectivity as mentioned above and has done away with the attached Wi-Fi antenna. This does not seem to have affected it’s ability to have a strong signal to the network. I achieved speeds of 195Mb/s on my 200Mb connection.

The ability to upgrade the memory and the on board storage is a real step forward in terms of usability. Many more memory intensive tasks are able to be carried out with ease. You can upgrade up to 16GB, I chose 8GB. I also fitted an M.2 SSD of 240GB, but this too; is expandable to 512GB. Both of these sizes is more than adequate for a Mini PC. Switching to use the SSD i installed was easy and i will show you; in the attached video, how to install Windows 10 Pro onto it.

Using the SSD i installed, rather than a USB attached storage device, gave a much improved performance level. Although it was the right choice for me, you may prefer to use the option of the larger storage device, either USB or networked. Not being a games person, i don’t go in for the up to the minute fighting games. But if you’re looking to play these types of games, then this is not the PC for you. It’s processor will not handle the intensive graphics computations needed to run such these.

What is it’s ideal use?

This would make an excellent Thin Client for a commercial venture, maybe a POS or warehouse receiving station with bar code reader. Order processing and general admin. For a multi-national company, this is an ideal machine for connection to a head office mainframe. I will be using mine as a second PC, for my wife’s use on accounts for the household. This will be letters, spread sheets, bill keeping and records of all household transactions.

This would make a great PC for the children to do homework on, a connection can easily be set up to the school network for receiving and submitting assignments or tutorial tasks. As for research on the web, this is great for speed, works well with a home networked printer and loves to use the NAS drives on our network too.

In Conclusion

What can i say. This is a shear delight to use. It’s speedy, user friendly and easily upgradeable. Suitable for anyone all  environments. Solidly built with loads of up to the minute connectivity. It even has a Kensington Lock position. Would i recommend it, hell yes 100%. It gets 5 out of 5 from me.

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