An updated version of the MintBox mini-PC from a collaboration between the Linux Mint project and CompuLab has begun shipping for $599 with Linux Mint 15 “Olivia” pre-installed. Based on CompuLab’s rugged, fanless Intense PC computer, the MintBox 2 advances to a 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, doubles storage to a 500GB HDD, and adds a second gigabit Ethernet port, among other enhancements.
The Linux Mint project and its hardware partner, CompuLab, announced the MintBox 2 in late July, but did not offer a full list of specs. The 7.5 x 6.3 x 1.6-inch (190 x 160 x 40mm) mini-PC is now available for $599 and has been thoroughly documented (see specs below). Both partners claim to have narrowed their profit margins, and CompuLab gives 5 percent of revenues to the Mint project, down from 10 percent with the original MintBox.
Mint Box 2 runs Linux Mint 15 on an Intel Core i5 processor
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Whereas the earlier MintBox Basic and Pro were based on CompuLab’s Fit PC, the MintBox 2 moves up to the company’s Intense PC. As it turns out, the computers are almost identical right down to Intel’s 3rd Generation “Ivy Bridge” processors, except that while the Intense PC is available with Celeron, Core i3, and Core i7 processors, the MintBox2 opts for the Intel Core i5-3337U.
Block diagrams: MintBox 2; Intel Core i5 “Panther Point” platform
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The processor offers dual cores clocked at 1.8GHz, with 2.7GHz possible in turbo mode. The 17 Watt TDP processor enables the fanless MintBox 2 to consume between 10 and 26 Watts, according to CompuLab. The Core i5-3337U integrates Intel HD 4000 graphics capable of driving up to 2560 x 1600-pixel resolution via the MintBox 2’s DisplayPort or 1920 x 1200 via the HDMI port. Dual display support is also available.
Like the Intense PC Value model, the MintBox 2 ships with 4GB of DDR3 RAM, expandable to 16GB. A 2.5-inch 500GB hard disk drive is available, but can be swapped out for a solid-state drive, which is required for the extended and industrial temperature versions of the computer. Additional storage is available via an mSATA socket and dual eSATA ports.
Mint Box 2 front and rear panel connections
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Full- and half-sized mini-PCI Express expansion slots are available, as well as a position for a CompuLab FACE (Function And Connectivity Extension) module. FACE modules enable I/O to be configured according to an application’s requirement. The MintBox 2 comes with a FM-4U FACE module preinstalled, resulting in a total of six USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports.
Networking services are provided via dual gigabit Ethernet ports, as well as WiFi and Bluetooth. An ultra-mini serial port and S/PDIF I/O are also said to be available.
The MintBox 2 ships with Linux Mint 15 “Olivia”, which was released at the end of May. The Ubuntu based Mint 15 includes two alternative desktop interfaces for those who want to avoid GNOME 3.x. MATE 1.6 emulates the traditional GNOME 2.x interface, while the more future-looking Cinnamon is a fork of GNOME 3.0’s GNOME Shell foundation. Cinnamon 1.8 adds a screensaver and a unified control center.
Specifications listed for the MintBox 2 include:
- Intel Core i5-3337U (3rd Gen. “Ivy Bridge”) — 64-bit, 2x cores, 4x threads @ 1.8GHz (turbo boost up to 2.7GHz)
- 17W TDP, 3MB cache
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 at up to 1.1GHz
- Intel HM76 chipset (“Panther Point” platform)
- Memory — 4GB DDR3 (1333/1600) via 2x 204-pin SODIMMs, expandable to 16GB
- 2.5-inch 500GB internal SATA HDD or optional SDD
- mSATA 2.0 slot up to 3Gbps
- 2x eSATA 2.0 ports up to3Gbps
- HDMI 1.4a up to 1920 x 1200 @ 60Hz
- DisplayPort 1.1a up to 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz
- Dual display support
- CODEC — Realtek ALC888-VC2 HD
- Output — Analog stereo audio out (3.5mm jack); Digital 7.1+2 input via S/PDIF
- Input — Analog stereo in (3.5mm jack); Digital input via S/PDIF
- Wireless — 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz Qcom Q802XRN5B) with antennas (some models); Bluetooth 4.0
- Networking — 2x gigabit Ethernet (Intel 82579 and Realtek RTL8111F-CG)
- Other I/O:
- 6x USB 2.0 (4x front-facing)
- 2x USB 3.0
- RS232 (ultra mini connector)
- Half-size mini-PCIe
- Full-size mini-PCIe (shared with mSATA)
- CompuLab FACE Module for 4-port USB 2.0 hub
- Power — 10-15VDC input (nominal 12V); 10W to 26W consumption
- Operating temperature:
- Commercial — with HDD 0 to 50°C; SSD 0 to 70°C
- Extended (TE) — SSD only -20 to 70°C
- Industrial (TI) — SSD only -40 to 70°C
- Passive cooling, fanless
- Dimensions — 190 x 160 x 40mm (7.5 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches); die-cast aluminum with ribbing
- Weight — 1.15kg
- Operating system — Linux Mint 15 “Olivia” 64-bit pre-installed; supports 32- and 64-bit Linux and Windows XP/7/8, plus other embedded OSes
The MintBox 2 is available now from CompuLab for $599, and will be at Amazon in North America by the end of September. Sales in Europe through Amazon.de are expected to take place in October. More information and links to direct sales may be found at CompuLab’s MintBox 2 site. The earlier MintBox Pro 2012 model, featuring a 1.65GHz, dual-core AMD G-T56N processor, is now on clearance sale for $439.