Minnowboard Turbot Review

I purchased a Minnowboard Turbot last month as, while I was very happy with my Raspberry Pi 2 and was looking at the 3, I wanted something that was significantly faster and, more to the point for me, used an x86 CPU. The Turbot is the 3rd iteration (that I’m aware of) of the Minnowboard, and the first one that I ever considered buying. Things like having the RTC battery holder soldered on already (although I am skilled at soldering), and improvements with HDMI output compatibility, along with performance improvements in both graphics and raw speed, garnered enough of my interest to warrant a purchase.

After putting it through its paces and installing a good half dozen Linux distros on it, I have to say that this would make an excellent low-end media center PC as, with a dual core CPU and 2GB of RAM, it can handle 1080p video without a problem, as well as low-end gaming & emulation. While Higan bounced between 10 -45 fps so often even SMW was unplayable, ZSNES (which I remember running SMW at playable speeds on my dad’s 486 SX 25mhz under DOS 6.22 18 years ago) offered a wonderful experience. Early MAME games were playable, but anything past 1989 is hit and miss.

Power usage is impressive, with idling watts as low as 2.9, though ~3.5 seems to be the norm under Lubuntu 16.04. Running the Nexiuz benchmark, I managed to get the power usage (as reported by EZ Watt at least) up to 10.1, although it was hovering in the high 9’s most of the time. I’m currently having it connect to my security camera via rtsp and it still hovers around the 4.5w mark.

When you factor in that this little unit makes no noise, and while it can get a bit warm, it could still be handled, even while compiling MAME, which took 12 – 18 hours (I fell asleep and it was finished when I checked after waking up).

While I am very impressed with the Turbot and have noticed the company behind them are coming out with faster (and quad core) versions, I am looking onward towards  the Intel Core M CPU’s, as they appear to offer remarkable performance, albeit at a higher price point than the Atom x64 CPU the Turbot uses.

I don’t regret getting the Turbot and enjoy having a computer that is always on and yet makes no noise and uses almost no power.

Turbot-Box-01 Turbot-Box-02 Turbot-AC_AdapterTurbot-In_the_Dark Turbot-Mighty_Mouse Turbot-Thumb_DriveTurbot_Mix_Power_Usage Turbot_Max_Power_Usage Turbot_Nexiuz

Linux Mint 18

I purchased a new Samsung 850 Pro SSD to use as a boot drive, and took the opportunity to install the newest version of Linux Mint while I was at it. This was roughly two weeks ago. It took me the better part of a day to install all of the various programs I use on a regular basis, though part of that was because I wasn’t rushing anything. Once I have Palemoon and Thunderbird setup with my profiles, everything else gets taken care of while I carry on my regular computer routine.

So far it is even nicer than the Linux Mint 17.x series, which was amazing all on its own. I am using the x64 MATE version with compiz as my window manager, and it actually feels even faster than before, even factoring in the newer, faster SSD, as it’s not just hard drive-related tasks that haven gotten faster. Bluetooth support is MUCH improved, and I have been able to pair and use several Bluetooth devices without a problem. I’m still putting it through its paces, but the thought that keeps running through my mind, is how smooth everything is, and how little has changed in a bullet point, “brand new features!” type of way from the user’s point of view. I know they have a list, but the lack of a dramatic change I consider a good thing.

4TB SSD’s coming out this month


Sure they’re $1500/ea, but the price will drop over the next few years. Hopefully they’ll be affordable in 3 – 4 years.