Core i/Core M (possibly fanless) mini PC, better value than $500, 2014 Mac Mini?

virtuality

Member
Mar 22, 2013
138
0
71
Here's the specs for the $499 Mac Mini from 2014: https://www.apple.com/mac-mini/specs/
(Let's forget it only comes with 4 GB RAM, mentally replace it to 8 GB, like the base model 13" MacBook Air was upgraded to 8 GB this spring for the same price which previously gave you only 4 GB, a similar refresh is expected to come to the Mini some time later this year.)

I'm less looking for CPU performance, more on low power consumption, but it has to be an Intel Core i (minimum Core i3) or Core M (minimum Core m3), because of Hackintosh power.

If I can accomplish a fanless build, it's a plus, but it's not necessary.

I went on to the Dell home page (a decent PC brand, with also a reputation to possibly work as a Hackintosh) and I have found that a similar build to the $499 Mini actually costs more. Or, if I would build from a Gigabyte barebone, which is the most solid brand for Hackintoshes, it would also cost me more.

But the point of this thread is not that the machine has to be necessarily Hackintosh-compatible, just and decent mini PC with Core i or Core M with low power consumption, preferably fanless, better value and cost less than the 2014, $500 Mac Mini ($450 on Amazon), I don't want to spend more than $500, in fact, I would spend less than $500. That's it.

Edited for clarity: I'm asking to compare MSRP/suggested retail prices of machines, just for the sake of comparison. Sure, I could get various machines at fire sale price, including the Mac Mini.
 
Last edited:

virtuality

Member
Mar 22, 2013
138
0
71
@fralexandr

Nice find!

Oops. I added to the OP for clarity, that for the sake of comparison, I want to compare MSRP prices, just for the sake of comparison. I could get a sale price even on the Mac Mini.

Though, your find is a nice fine, for anyone who wants to pull the trigger on such a machine right now. :thumbsup:

Meanwhile, I further researched the topic and found other, similar machines for the Mac Mini do not retail for any less (so no "Apple tax" on the Mini), your Shuttle offer retailed for something like $525 (the deal is no longer available).
 

Darknite39

Senior member
May 18, 2004
252
0
76
Consider a used Thinkcentre M92p or M93p Tiny from ebay. I just got one of the former for my dad, and it's great. It's not fanless, but it's very quiet, even under sustained load (and it doesn't appear to throttle, either, which was surprising). mine came with 8GB RAM and a 500GB WD Black drive for about $190 shipped.
 

heymrdj

Diamond Member
May 28, 2007
3,998
63
91
We sell alot of the Mxx tiny PCs at work. Hard not to recommend them for 90% of situations given their price/size. As long as a discreet GPU or any other card is needed, they perform all tasks amazingly for their size.
 

jaydee

Diamond Member
May 6, 2000
4,491
2
81
Consider a used Thinkcentre M92p or M93p Tiny from ebay. I just got one of the former for my dad, and it's great. It's not fanless, but it's very quiet, even under sustained load (and it doesn't appear to throttle, either, which was surprising). mine came with 8GB RAM and a 500GB WD Black drive for about $190 shipped.
Haven't received it yet, but I just pulled the trigger at ebay on the HP business equivalent, EliteDesk 800 G2. i5-6500T/4GB/500GB HD/Win7Pro in a 7" x 7" x 1.3" package for $350.

I'll add 8 GB RAM for $28 and swap in an SSD eventually, but even without those things, it's hard to go wrong.
 

virtuality

Member
Mar 22, 2013
138
0
71
Consider a used Thinkcentre M92p or M93p Tiny from ebay. I just got one of the former for my dad, and it's great. It's not fanless, but it's very quiet, even under sustained load (and it doesn't appear to throttle, either, which was surprising). mine came with 8GB RAM and a 500GB WD Black drive for about $190 shipped.
Thanks, I'll look into this! I hope they have some good deals shipped to Yurop as well.
 

AnitaPeterson

Diamond Member
Apr 24, 2001
5,817
205
106
I got a HYSTOU FMP03 from gearbest.

(I plan to post a review in the coming days, but I'll just say the i3-5005U is impressive.)

$180 barebones.

Add your choice of SSD (SATA or M.2) and up to 16 GB dual-channel low-power RAM, and you've got a completely fanless, "zero decibel" machine that can run 4k video.
 
Last edited:

virtuality

Member
Mar 22, 2013
138
0
71
I got a HYSTOU FMP03 from gearbest.

(I plan to post a review in the coming days, but I'll just say the i3-5005U is impressive.)

$180 barebones.

Add your choice of SSD (SATA or M.2) and up to 16 GB dual-channel low-power RAM, and you've got a completely fanless, "zero decibel" machine that can run 4k video.
Looking good!

I just wanted to ask which second hand machine to buy, which ships from Europe, but this Hystou with free shipping from China (and no tax, this is how the Chinese do), looks even better than any used models!
 

virtuality

Member
Mar 22, 2013
138
0
71
Looking good!

I just wanted to ask which second hand machine to buy, which ships from Europe, but this Hystou with free shipping from China (and no tax, this is how the Chinese do), looks even better than any used models!
Or not. ;(

I gave myself some time over this...

First, I'm looking forward to your review, as there isn't much out the on the Internet. Suspicious?

Second, all PC companies operate on very thin margins, including major brands. This one is still so much cheaper than the competition. Suspicious? Where do they save on materials and components? I need a system that is reliable, which 'just works.'

As a plan B, if we examine what's available from more established brands (can be a Chinese brand, I'm not against them!) available in Europe (the main point is, even if it's an established Chinese brand, it should have a European presence), either brand new or used, what do we have?
 

AnitaPeterson

Diamond Member
Apr 24, 2001
5,817
205
106
Sorry for being MIA over the last couple of weeks. Aside from having a few things popping out at work and cutting out into my spare time, I must also admit that I find the new AT look absolutely repulsive, so I haven't been tempted to spend time here.

Here's my quick review.

1) The machine is housed in a solid aluminium box, and has a bottom held together quite precisely with screws. The four plastic feet are basic, but appear solid (not glued). Once you remove the screws, you have access to the motherboard, which has two RAM slots (low-power laptop memory is perfect), two regular SATA ports and one empty mSATA slot (the other one is taken by a Wifi + BT card).

2) I haven't tried to remove the motherboard, but it's rather clear that the CPU is using the entirety of the box as a heatsink. Despite playing extensively with the machine, I didn't feel the case getting warmer than room temperature.

3) There are two power ports (small size, two-pin each, similar to old audio headers) on the motherboard, but the package only comes with a single adapter from one of these ports to a regular SATA power. So if you want to put two SSDs in there, you have plenty of space, but you'll need to get another adapter cable. Strangely enough, the machine didn't like to have the boot drive connected to SATA 2, but it worked perfectly on SATA 1. This doesn't mean that the second port is disabled - I just suspect there's some weird setting somewhere in the BIOS.

4) The BIOS itself is nothing to write home about. Although it displays an AMIBIOS logo during boot, I suspect it's a modified older version - not too many options, and I even spotted some mispelled words. This makes me think that the motherboard is a Chinese brand (probably a knock-off of something else).

5) The drivers come on a CD-R, but they work and there's no problem with them. The downside is that they're only for Windows 7 and 8.

6) My machine's Wifi+BT card was defective - it kept intermittently losing connection (as in no longer seeing any of the available networks in the area). Luckily, I had a few spare cards available, so I replaced it with no trouble.

7) There are four USB 3 ports on one side, two more USB 2.0 on another side, one VGA port, one Ethernet and one HDMI. Plus the inevitable "mic" and "headphone" jacks. The antennas are removable; one is reserved for the WiFi, the other for Bluetooth.

8) The power brick is basic (and ugly), but it does the job.

9) The makers seem to be enamored with LEDs - there are two blue LEDs near power button, and one very bright red LED on the motherboard. Together, they combine to produce an ugly purple/violet hue inside the box, which escapes through the ventilation grilles. And the blue LED indicating "power on" is really bright. Fortunately, the blue LEDs can be disconnected from power, and the red LED can be covered with a bit of tape (not high-tech, but effective).

10) You can choose to screw one of the SSDs onto the bottom cover, but really there's no need for that :D

As I said, it's surprisingly fast and completely quiet. With the LEDs out of commission, you really can't tell whether it's running or not, which can be really surprising at first.

All in all, worth the buy IMHO. I'm recommending it without reservation as a HTPC. As for the low price, considering that the motherboard is really no-name and the box is machine-milled aluminium, it really can't cost very much to produce - the most expensive part must be the CPU (which is pure Intel).

Last, but not least, here's the product page, directly from the manufacturer:

http://hystou.com/products/fanless-mini-pc/5th-gen-core-i3-mini-pc/mini-computer-itx-htpc-fanless-pc-i3-with-intel-broadwell-5005u-20ghz-vga-dual-display-2251.html
 
Last edited:

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
54,059
8,268
126
I bought an Onda M3 (complete, pre-configured, not the bare-bones one). I formatted the SATA 2.5' SSD and put Win7 64-bit on. Sadly, it died in under a month. Chassis was VERY warm, the last time it was operating, which was suspicious. Fan may have died.

Edit: Or, maybe there was some sort of ACPI / driver / fan glitch. Who knows.
 

AnitaPeterson

Diamond Member
Apr 24, 2001
5,817
205
106
I bought an Onda M3 (complete, pre-configured, not the bare-bones one). I formatted the SATA 2.5' SSD and put Win7 64-bit on. Sadly, it died in under a month. Chassis was VERY warm, the last time it was operating, which was suspicious. Fan may have died.

Edit: Or, maybe there was some sort of ACPI / driver / fan glitch. Who knows.
Actually... I saw your original thread about the Onda, which was what led me to Gearbest, and then to this Hystou machine.

It was precisely the fact that the Onda had a fan that made me stay away from it. Loved the finish, detested the idea of a fan. Also, this one has more USB 3.0 ports...
 

virtuality

Member
Mar 22, 2013
138
0
71
5) The drivers come on a CD-R, but they work and there's no problem with them.
I guess, the drivers are for Windows, and that's the only OS you can expect the machine to work with. Oh, I didn't explicitly mention in the first post, but I'm also looking for hardware more suitable running various open source distros as well, such as popular Linuxes. For that, a more popular, widespread hardware would be more suitable, I guess.

Thanks for your review!
 

AnitaPeterson

Diamond Member
Apr 24, 2001
5,817
205
106
Ah, OK.

I checked the disc again, and indeed, it only contains drivers for Windows 7 and 8 (the machine now runs Windows 10).

These being said, the components (audio, video, ethernet and storage) seem to be generic enough. I haven't tried to install any Linux version on my machine, but I see no reason why this wouldn't work.
 
Last edited:

jaydee

Diamond Member
May 6, 2000
4,491
2
81
Have you pushed the CPU/GPU yet? I can't really imagine that form-factor (~8"x8"x1") fan-less can keep that CPU cool enough without serious throttling. But if you're not pushing it, you should be fine.

I'd be interested to see some internal temps and CPU speeds during a benchmark test...
 

virtuality

Member
Mar 22, 2013
138
0
71
Seeing the Skylake mobile CPU lineup reveals the "Core M" Pentium 4405Y with a 6W TDP. I could live with that in a fanless mini PC. More established PC makers, are you listening?

The only fanless, Core M mini PC from an established brand I'm aware of, is the ECS Liva Core. Which starts at a Core m5 CPU, but maxes out at 4 GB of RAM. Not exactly my setup. The Intel Core M Compute Stick ditto, and it even has a fan.
 
Last edited:

AnitaPeterson

Diamond Member
Apr 24, 2001
5,817
205
106
If you have any specific testing suggestions, fire away.
I'll be curious to run them as well :)
 

virtuality

Member
Mar 22, 2013
138
0
71
Ney Apollo Lake Celeron and Pentium processors with 6W TDP, via Liliputing suggest cool, fanless future mini PCs possible:
  • Celeron N3350: 1.1 GHz/2.4 GHz dual-core 6 watt CPU with Intel HD 500 graphics (200MHz/650MHz
  • Celeron N3450: 1.1 GHz/2.2 GHz quad-core 6 watt CPU with Intel HD 500 (200 MHz/700MHz)
  • Pentium N4200: 1.1 GHz/2.5 GHz quad-core 6 watt CPU with Intel HD 505 (200 MHz/750 MHz)
Do you have an idea why are mainstream PC makers (outside Apple) are behind a year in schedule from Intel CPU announcements, when it comes to shipping PCs with said Intel CPUs? The Gigabyte BRIX with a year old Skylake Celeron was just introduced, the Shuttle mini PC with a year old Skylake Celeron was introduced maybe a montha ago (though, that one is fanless).
 

AnitaPeterson

Diamond Member
Apr 24, 2001
5,817
205
106
Ney Apollo Lake Celeron and Pentium processors with 6W TDP, via Liliputing suggest cool, fanless future mini PCs possible:
  • Celeron N3350: 1.1 GHz/2.4 GHz dual-core 6 watt CPU with Intel HD 500 graphics (200MHz/650MHz
  • Celeron N3450: 1.1 GHz/2.2 GHz quad-core 6 watt CPU with Intel HD 500 (200 MHz/700MHz)
  • Pentium N4200: 1.1 GHz/2.5 GHz quad-core 6 watt CPU with Intel HD 505 (200 MHz/750 MHz)
Do you have an idea why are mainstream PC makers (outside Apple) are behind a year in schedule from Intel CPU announcements, when it comes to shipping PCs with said Intel CPUs? The Gigabyte BRIX with a year old Skylake Celeron was just introduced, the Shuttle mini PC with a year old Skylake Celeron was introduced maybe a montha ago (though, that one is fanless).
But... but... Celeron? Versus an i3?
Apple get their computer CPUs exclusively from Intel, so there must be some benefit to their arrangement. Everyone else in the industry can at least claim (albeit not too convincingly) that they can use processors from other makers.
 

virtuality

Member
Mar 22, 2013
138
0
71
But... but... Celeron? Versus an i3?
Apple get their computer CPUs exclusively from Intel, so there must be some benefit to their arrangement. Everyone else in the industry can at least claim (albeit not too convincingly) that they can use processors from other makers.
It all comes down to Geekbench scores to me. This year's Celeron or Pentium scores comparably to an i3 from years ago. As an added bonus (for me), they are already designed for fanless operation.

@AnitaPeterson: I'd truly appreciate if you rated Hystou as a brand over there: https://forums.anandtech.com/threads/how-would-you-rate-mini-pc-barebone-manufacturers-on-a-5-scale-extra-with-internal-psus.2486586/
Thank you!
 

AnitaPeterson

Diamond Member
Apr 24, 2001
5,817
205
106
Time for an update:

The machine has finally died. Pressing the power button will make the LEDs flicker for one second, then nothing.
Earlier this year, it refused to load the operating system. So I replaced the mSATA SSD, and it seemed everything was OK for a while.
But now it's completely dead. And I know that the power supply is good, because I verified it with a voltmeter.

I suppose one could argue that a useful lifetime of about six years was sufficient for such a machine, and that no manufacturer is likely to provide tech support after this period. But then again, I have a 2011 Sandy Bridge machine that keeps running like clockwork... So what's wrong here?

While looking for solutions, I came across a blog which is supposed to provide technical support.
Unfortunately, the search function is useless, and the only advice I could find was about making sure the thermal grease from the CPU didn't smear and short other components: https://support.hystou.com/fanless-mini-pc-dont-turn-on-after-using-several-days/

And that's it... No other advice or suggestions, just "Wipe the grease and hope it works".

Obviously, I opened the machine, but the grease was OK. There was no smearing outside the heat exchange area.

I emailed the company, and they provided the exact same inane advice as a response. After contacting them for a second time, to let them know that the procedure didn't do anything, they went completely silent. It's like throwing rocks in a bottomless well - not even an echo comes back.

So I started to dig deeper. And during my research, I found something that confirmed my worst fears:


- https://forums.tomsguide.com/threads/mini-pc-hystou-warranty-ssd.194975/
- https://community.intel.com/t5/Intel-Desktop-Boards/Bios-File/m-p/1229810/highlight/true

I also discovered that a few years ago Hystou used to have a dedicated user support forum: "topminipc.com - End user forums for HYSTOU Mini PC"

Today, the domain is listed for sale (!!!)
But thanks to the Internet Wayback Machine I was able to see the "Asking for Help" section of the forum was full of posts like "Hystou MiniPC doesn't turn on after Power off" or "New industrial PC will not boot".

There is only one explanation: Hystou just doesn't give a **** about its products and customers.

Since they stopped caring for their own forums, any troubleshooting solutions and suggestions offered by other users have now been lost.
That fact that Hystou allowed the forum to expire doesn't strike me as being end-user friendly. And certainly it doesn't look like the actions of a responsible company, who cares about its customers.
Particularly since they are still in the business of building and selling PCs: if you check out Alibaba, Gearbest - or heck, even Amazon! - they continue to build small computers.


So... it's time for me to draw a final conclusion, even though it goes against my initial impression:

The device was an interesting experiment, but the QA was terrible, and the company is not to be trusted. In fact, I would avoid Hystou like the plague in the future.
 
Last edited:

ASK THE COMMUNITY