Power Consumption and Noise
Power for these was provided by a 120W power supply. This is a “Replacement AC Adapter” Generally, these have not been great over the years.
The power consumption was not what we expected. The 2x 10GbE and 4x 2.5GbE system with the Core i7 ended up being the lower power system of the two. In Proxmox VE we get 12-14W as idle. At 100% load, the system is usually in the 39-40W range.
We saw the package power for these hitting 35W on both systems and that was a bit shocking. We would have expected or liked to have seen a lower figure even at the cost of performance.
The noise on this one was also shocking. Under load in our 34dba studio, we were hitting 36-37.5dba under 100% load for noise. You might be able to hear it through a $1000 Sennheiser microphone in the video, but this is not a loud system. It feels like it is also a system that should be louder, and that might be because the entire time testing it I wanted to put a 40mm Noctua fan in it.
Key Lessons Learned
The first key lesson learned here is cooling. Here we have an attempt at a hybrid cooling setup, albeit with saving a few cents on the thermal paste that interfaces with the chassis. Since it is using the chassis as a cooling element, the chassis gets hot.
What feels like the big miss of the system is cooling for the other side of the chassis. Even 1-2 40mm fan mounting points and vents could make this way better. We did not see it fail, but, again, we feel like the bottom section has too many components to not have some sort of airflow.
On the CPU side, here is the interesting part. Even though it was only a $20-40 upgrade, we actually would not get the Core i7-10510U again. You can see the performance and our Geekbench 6 challenge in the performance section, but there is something not captured in raw throughput.
These two charts show the system with stress-ng running and if you look at the pink middle bars it should become apparent what is going on. The Core i7 above is thermally limited and keeps trying to boost clocks, albeit with perhaps a 100MHz-200MHz loaded advantage over the Core i5. What happens is that it is constantly running into limits and thus the cores have to change P-states. If you look at Intel’s higher-end networking processors, AMD EPYC Bergamo, or Arm chips, they tend to focus on minimizing clock speed transitions as that introduces jitter. The Core i5 is not ideal, but it is much more consistent under load and at only a slightly slower clock speed than the Core i7. Our pick therefore would be the Core i5 if we purchased another one.
The final key lesson learned is more of a “what the heck?” moment. This system may have ports that could make it a low-end Core i7 desktop, but it is using a NAS motherboard with custom form factor NICs and even six unused internal SATA ports. It was completely different than we were expecting. When we ordered the units, we thought perhaps they had a low-cost riser to a standard PCIe NIC or OCP NIC, but we were very wrong on that front.
Key lessons learned, this system has many of them.
At STH we get to see so many of these systems. Reviewing the next generation of a slightly faster system or one with an extra port is important for completeness. On the other hand, systems like this that have some crazy engineering are absolutely more fun.
The multiple 2.5GbE and dual SFP+ 10GbE port configuration are one that we have heard so many times in our other reviews makes us think that is exactly the market that they were targeting with this system. It is somewhat eye-opening that the easiest answer on how to build this system was to use a NAS motherboard with a custom NIC form factor, not just changing sheet metal to accept a standard NIC.
Overall, this is one that I think we liked the overall concept of, but it feels like it is going to have a refinement revision in the future, again hopefully with one or two fans added.
Where to Buy
We purchased units from AliExpress, but the team found a brand on Amazon with them. Generally, AliExpress’s brands like Topton are less expensive and pricing changes a lot. Here are affiliate links to both storefronts.
- AliExpress under Topton Core i5
- AliExpress under Topton Core i7
- Amazon under Moginsok Core i5
- Amazon under Moginsok Core i7
Note: We may earn a small commission if you purchase through these links. That is how we have the budget to purchase these units for reviews.