Azulle Byte3 Review —

Azulle Byte3 Review — A Mini PC that strives for both entertainment and efficiencyByVaidyanathan Subramaniam-January 20, 2019 ‘ 3/3.247.jpg ‘ The Byte3 Mini PC is in many ways functionally similar to the Access3 Mini PC Stick but is based on the Intel NUC package lines. In terms of better thermal performance and better port selection, this gives the Byte3 advantages. The Byte3 isn’t a powerful Mini PC but it does get a lot of things right that make it a good companion for those looking for a cheap HTPC system that can also be used for occasional productivity or even light gaming tasks. Does the Byte3 offer the required performance for being a versatile all-rounder given the low-power specifications? In this analysis let us find out. Until we move on here is a quick rundown of the specifications of the Byte3. What’s in the box? “3/3.248.jpg” Azulle Byte3 Fanless Mini Desktop PC Remote Quick Start Guide Ports: 3x USB 3.0 1x USB Type-C 1x Gigabit Ethernet 1x 3.5 mm stereo audio jack 1x HDMI-out 1x VGA-out 1x microSD card slot (up to 250 GB) 1x I.R. Wireless receiver: Bluetooth 4.2 Dual-band Wi-Fi Operating System: Windows 10 Pro Dimensions (W x H x D): 5.6 x 1.5 x 4 in $250.99We’ve got the power button at the front and an IR receiver slot. There is a blue stripe running along the middle but illuminated is only the power button. “3/3.250.jpg” Figure 2 Grill for ventilation to the left. On the left is a refrigeration fan. While fanless PCs are great owing to their zero operating noise, we feel that Azulle could have made good use of the vent by including a fan for the CPU so that it can withstand longer periods of boosting clocks. “3/3.251.jpg” We have a SD card slot to the right, which can carry cards up to 250 GB of USB 3.0 port and USB 2.0 port. “3/3.252.jpg” Figure 4 Offers reasonable port selection at the back of the device. The back of the device offers a very good selection of ports including two USB 3.0 ports, one USB Type-C port, one VGA-out one HDMI-out port, a 3.5 mm combination audio jack and a Kensington Lock slot which makes this device very flexible when it comes to connectivity. “3/3.253.jpg” Couch potatoes will be pleased with the included IR remote which can control basic tasks such as the power menu volume settings etc. The remote is awkward to use for regular Windows tasks but is useful when using entertainment programs like Plex or Kodi. “3/3.254.jpg” Figure 6 PCB with spare M.2 slot SATA power and data cables, and Intel Wi-Fi card solder. The Byte3 can afford a bit of modularity unlike the Access3. The CPU and RAM are soldered onto the PCB but there is a spare M.2 slot and a SATA port that contains the requisite cables. It allows to add increasingly higher and faster capacity. Keep in mind that the M.2 is not a NVMe PCIe slot so you will only get SATA velocities. If required, you can also connect a conventional 2,5-inch SATA SSD / HDD and Azulle has included the requisite power and data cables inside the system itself. The back cover has a holder underneath which the 2.5-inch SATA HDD or SSD can grip securely. Overall the Byte3 style is clean minimalist and practical. The top part of the unit has concentrated striations which look good and give the design a sense of sophistication which should complement any decoration. The best part is that you can also potentially add a backplate compatible with VESA to mount the Mini PC to the back of your monitor and to shield it from sight. Power

The Azulle Byte3 Mini PC comes with Windows 10 Pro pre-installed. Our test device came with the April 2018 Update to Windows 10 Pro (1803). Azulle has yet to offer the Windows 10 Pro 1809 image on the website, so we manually updated the device to the latest Windows 10 Pro October 2018 Update (1809) using Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool before running the benchmarks. We also ensured that all device drivers including those for Wi-Fi Bluetooth and LAN graphics are up-to-date. At the time of this writing there were no new BIOS updates available at Azulle. The Byte3 is powered by the quad-core CPU of Intel Celeron J3455 which comes under the family Apollo Lake. The Celeron J3455 is ideal for low-cost, simple workflow-oriented devices and is manufactured on a 14nm-FinFET process similar to the Intel Skylake and Kaby Lake CPU families. The Celeron J3455 works at a base clock of 1.5 GHz, and under load can boost up to 2.3 GHz. The low 10W TDP means that OEMs can use this CPU in fanless designs but, due to passive cooling, plan to throttle under the load. The Celeron J3455 generation comes with the built-in Intel HD Graphics 500 GPU featuring 12 execution units and a clock up to 700 MHz. The Intel HD Graphics 500 offers native 8-bit color depth video support for H.265 decoding, and can connect up to three displays via HDMI or DisplayPort. The Byte3 Mini PC comes with only 32 GB of onboard storage, only about 18 GB of which is available to end users. Thus not many applications can be enabled simultaneously. There is no bloatware on the system but the low storage alert can pop up quickly after installing a few programs. We assessed the device’s CPU GPU and storage performance using a set of selected benchmarks to get an idea of what the Byte3 really is capable of. We have compared the scores wherever possible to see how these two Mini PCs match up with the ones in our Access3 analysis. CPU Performance — Cinebench R15

Cinebench is a good benchmark for measuring the performance of single and multicore CPUs. The Celeron J3455 scored 49 points in the single-core, and 173 points in the multi-core test in the Byte3. This is lower than the Azulle Access3 Celeron N4100, which scored 67 and 205 points respectively in the single-core and multicore tests. The scores are similar to what is expected from this chip and are comparable to a 2013 Core i3-4010U CPU, which scores about 65 points in single core and about 163 points in multi-core. “3/3.255.png” It means you’ll have enough power for the end-user to do some light multitasking with productivity apps like Office and email. Also you shouldn’t have problems running multimedia apps like Hulu Netflix Plex or Kodi. Pushing the device any further will induce a perceptible delay. Also, the Byte3 is not suitable for running applications such as Photoshop or complex video / audio editing software. Ice Storm Extreme scores were good and the Intel HD Graphics 500 managed to score 19484 in graphics and physics tests with good FPS scores. Overall we see that the Intel HD Graphics 500 in the Access3 seemed to have scored better than the UHD Graphics 600, despite the fact that the latter was a much improved GPU. This could be due to improvements in the new drivers at the time of this review and we expect similar score increases to be seen with the UHD Graphics 600 and revised drivers as well. The graphics integrated into the Byte3 can do a fine job of decoding 4K60 video without stutters. Nevertheless, if the 4 K video has a very high bitrate, or if it is encoded with multi-channel HD audio, during video encoding it expects to see some frame loss. But if you’re more into video streaming than local file playback, this shouldn’t be a concern. Games are out of the question unless you’re really ready to play with low graphic detail at low resolutions. Nonetheless, simple games from the Windows Store and Steam or AAA titles from quite a couple of years ago should be able to work.

Home and Office Performance — PCMark 10 PCMark is a popular benchmark for simulating common productivity workloads and assessing device performance to effectively handle them. It is categorized into Essentials Productivity and Digital Content Creation tests and runs a suite of programs to mimic daily tasks such as photo video conferencing retouching spreadsheet data from word processing and more. Scores for each category are calculated, and an overall score is reached. “3/3.257.png” In PCMark 10 the Byte3 managed to get a total score of 1355. In contrast, the Access3 was better at scored 1624 points. The Byte3 achieved 3624 points in Productivity in Essentials 1894 points in individual categories, and 986 points in Digital Content Production. We think the lower scores might also be due to the CPU being passively cooled and being able to throttle easily under load. A provision for a simple heatsink-fan assembly could probably have helped the Celeron J3455 to post somewhat better results. That said the scores aren’t too shabby for a class CPU and daily workflows like browsing the web or Office work shouldn’t have any serious obstacles. However, since the RAM in our unit is limited to only 4 GB, the lags become apparent as soon as you begin opening multiple browser tabs or multitasking with memory-heavy programs. Hence we recommend that you opt for the 8 GB RAM variant if your budget allows. Disk Performance — CrystalDiskMark

Our Byte3 unit came with 32 GB of onboard eMMC storage. If required, you can also upgrade it to 64 GB of ram. Even though eMMC is flash-based, it is still not as good as a conventional SSD and is proven by the score below. The eMMC in the Access3 sports sequential read speeds up to 131 MBps, and write speeds up to 111 MBps sequentially. “3/3.258.png” Thee scores are somewhat lower than the Access3 scores we saw, but this is expected to be the case. Not all flash storage is made equal and even those in the same class tend to show read and write speed variations. The speeds for file copying are fairly fine. There’s one advantage in Byte3 that we recommend that every user make use of — the ability to add extra storage. You can add a 2.5-inch SSD to the SATA port or an M.2 stick SSD to the M.2 port, or even a high-capacity laptop HDD. Doing so will provide you with an immediate boost in overall productivity in tasks not too CPU-reliant. Figure 7 Additional SATA SSD or HDD may be added to Byte3. Failure to add additional storage can quickly prove irksome as the free space on the eMMC storage is paltry. It will also pose problems when you fill in the main RAM because Windows writes the paging file to the disk and because of the low eMMC speeds, accessing the page file will be slower. So we strongly recommend opting for an M.2 or SATA SSD (or even both) and setting the position of the page file to that drive for peace of mind and fast results.

Overall Experience

The Azulle Byte3 provides a very good experience for casual home users who lack powerful computing needs. The Byte3 is perfect for those who want an HTPC setup without having to configure a bulky rig with the inclusion of the sparsely featured but handy remote. Full Windows 10 Pro is available providing a PC’s versatility whenever you need to get some quick work done. Gaming isn’t the forte of the Byte3 but it takes care of the casual gamer. Windows Store games like Asphalt 9 and Modern Combat work well and games like Age of Empires do likewise:Verdict

The Azulle Byte3 Mini PC provides a versatile solution for home entertainment that gets the basics right without breaking bank. That said, it’s important that you decide whether it fits in with your use case. We assume this is a fantastic video streaming tool from a NAS, or even web services. If you add extra storage, it can even serve as a thin client for running programs on the network, or as a download box. The good port selection is a welcome aspect, which further enhances the connectivity of the Byte3. Is there scope to improve? Sure. For one we felt that given its fairly spacious interiors, Azulle should have used a much more capable CPU in the Byte3. A passively refrigerated Core M would have been far more useful than a Celeron. A cooling solution with the thermals would have been extremely helpful too. The remote control might have been capable of Bluetooth, rather than the aging IR standard. That would have eased the requirement for line-of-sight and also made it more versatile, such as the ability to process voice commands. As stated in our review of Access3 Azulle should explore the possibility of offering ARM-based devices. This will further reduce the device’s overall footprint and also make it significantly more energy efficient. Pros: Great for HTPC use Good enough for daily productivity Excellent port selection Fast Wi-Fi compact and durable External antenna IR Remote Expandable storage Cons: Slow CPU Bundled Remote could have been compatible with Bluetooth Average eMMC performance Not suitable for gaming Support pages can be a bit more detailed final score: 8/10 That wraps up our review If you have any questions please let us know in the comments below and as soon as possible we will get back to you. REVIEW OVERVIEW CPU Performance7 GPU Performance8 Productivity Performance8 Disk Performance7 SUMMARY 8 OVERAL SCOREVerdict

The Azulle Byte3 Mini PC provides a versatile solution for home entertainment that gets the basics right without breaking bank. That said, it’s important that you decide whether it fits in with your use case. We assume this is a fantastic video streaming tool from a NAS, or even web services. If you add extra storage, it can even serve as a thin client for running programs on the network, or as a download box. The good port selection is a welcome aspect, which further enhances the connectivity of the Byte3. Is there scope to improve? Sure. For one we felt that given its fairly spacious interiors, Azulle should have used a much more capable CPU in the Byte3. A passively refrigerated Core M would have been far more useful than a Celeron. A cooling solution with the thermals would have been extremely helpful too. The remote control might have been capable of Bluetooth, rather than the aging IR standard. That would have eased the requirement for line-of-sight and also made it more versatile, such as the ability to process voice commands. As stated in our review of Access3 Azulle should explore the possibility of offering ARM-based devices. This will further reduce the device’s overall footprint and also make it significantly more energy efficient. Pros: Great for HTPC use Good enough for daily productivity Excellent port selection Fast Wi-Fi compact and durable External antenna IR Remote Expandable storage Cons: Slow CPU Bundled Remote could have been compatible with Bluetooth Average eMMC performance Not suitable for gaming Support pages can be a bit more detailed final score: 8/10 That wraps up our review If you have any questions please let us know in the comments below and as soon as possible we will get back to you. REVIEW OVERVIEW CPU Performance7 GPU Performance8 Productivity Performance8 Disk Performance7 SUMMARY 8 OVERAL SCORE