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ASRock N3700-ITX Braswell SoC Motherboard Review



/ 1 year ago

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Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


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There comes a time for every enthusiasts when someone asks them to build a computer that is quiet, efficient, small and cheap. I know most of us would tend to go straight for an Intel i3/AMD APU and a mini-ITX motherboard, but sometimes even those options are too costly. So what do we decide on? We could look on the second-hand market or look at SoC options.

SoC options have been around for years; inside some netbooks with the Intel Atom range or even some NAS options in recent years. What we tend to think of when considering these options is how poor they are when trying to do medium workloads such as word processing, image processing and web browsing at the same time.

When used correctly, a SoC option can make perfect sense. Many consumers tend to buy them for HTPC (Home Theatre PC) or home-built NAS options; which is exactly what they’re designed for. These are extremely low power options, which can handle basic tasks such a 1080p video playback; although in today’s market, 4K playback is becoming the norm.

How much does something like this cost? It can be as low as £50 for a no fuss model, when it would cost roughly that much for just a CPU in most cases. Along with it being seriously cheap, they are seriously low power, drawing as little as 15W, so even the most budget of power supplies could run it (although we wouldn’t recommend buying cheap power supplies).

The sole purpose for SoC options like this is for simple media playback and simple web browsing, but just how much different are they from the current top dog enthusiast CPU, the Intel Core i7-4770k? Let’s find out.

specs

Key Features

Despite these Braswell based motherboards being at the lower end of the spectrum, they do include some nice features.

  • 6 USB 3.0 ports
  • 4k video playback
  • Power gear
  • Power Spike Protection

For more information on these functions, please visit the N3700-ITX product pages.


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  • alsosavagemike

    It would be interesting to see the power consumption tests on units like this using something realistic like a pico psu unit. The unit you’re using here is complete overkill and I’m a little dubious about the efficiency at these demands. It’s only pulling about 3.3% of peak output. The efficiency isn’t measured at anything below 20% I think for this classification.
    I can understand wanting to standardize the test rig as much as possible but question how much sense that really makes with such disparity in the platforms themselves. Nobody in the real world is going to use a $200 800+ watt PSU for an n3700 board. The attraction is in the low power and for many in the silence. I suppose if you have it in a closet as a NAS you might use some larger power supply you had on hand. But for htpc duty almost everyone is going to go for a pico psu unit.

  • alsosavagemike

    It would be interesting to see the power consumption tests on units like this using something realistic like a pico psu unit. The unit you’re using here is complete overkill and I’m a little dubious about the efficiency at these demands. It’s only pulling about 3.3% of peak output. The efficiency isn’t measured at anything below 20% I think for this classification.
    I can understand wanting to standardize the test rig as much as possible but question how much sense that really makes with such disparity in the platforms themselves. Nobody in the real world is going to use a $200 800+ watt PSU for an n3700 board. The attraction is in the low power and for many in the silence. I suppose if you have it in a closet as a NAS you might use some larger power supply you had on hand. But for htpc duty almost everyone is going to go for a pico psu unit.

  • alsosavagemike

    It would be interesting to see the power consumption tests on units like this using something realistic like a pico psu unit. The unit you’re using here is complete overkill and I’m a little dubious about the efficiency at these demands. It’s only pulling about 3.3% of peak output. The efficiency isn’t measured at anything below 20% I think for this classification.
    I can understand wanting to standardize the test rig as much as possible but question how much sense that really makes with such disparity in the platforms themselves. Nobody in the real world is going to use a $200 800+ watt PSU for an n3700 board. The attraction is in the low power and for many in the silence. I suppose if you have it in a closet as a NAS you might use some larger power supply you had on hand. But for htpc duty almost everyone is going to go for a pico psu unit.