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MintBox 3 debuts with 9th Gen Core CPUs, NVMe and Mint 19.3

Jan 28, 2020 — by Eric Brown — 2513 views

CompuLab and the Linux Mint project have launched a “MintBox 3” version of CompuLab’s fanless Airtop3 mini-tower loaded with Linux Mint 19.3 and a choice of Intel 9th Gen CPUs: a hexa-core i5-9500 for $1,399 and an octa-core i9-9900K with GeForce GTX 1660 graphics for $2,499.

For years, the Linux Mint project and CompuLab have collaborated on CompuLab mini-PCs pre-loaded with the Mint distro, most recently with its $299-and-up, MintBox Mini 2 based on an Apollo Lake based Fitlet2 mini-PC. Back in 2013 there was a $599-and-up MintBox 2 built around an Intense PC driven by a 3rd Gen Ivy Bridge Core processor. Now, the partners have teamed up on a much more powerful — and expensive — MintBox3 that showcases CompuLab’s recent Airtop3 mini-tower based on Intel’s 9th Gen Core “Coffee Lake Refresh” processors.



MintBox3 Pro, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The Linux Mint project usually announces its MintBoxes with some fanfare, but in this case we found out via a FanlessTech item that pointed to Amazon shopping pages for a $1,399 MintBox3 Basic and a $2,499 MintBox3 Pro. FanlessTech is not far off the mark when it states: “Here’s simply the most powerful, most feature-rich, most integrated, most Linux-friendly, most mind-blowing fanless PC in the world.”

Although not mentioned in the story or the shopping pages, the MintBox3 is based on the Airtop3, which launched in April starting with an 8th Gen Coffee Lake, dual-core Celeron G4900 selling for $999 with no RAM or other extras. The high-end model with a 9th Gen octa-core, 16-thread Core i9-9900K clocked at 3.5GHz with a 5GHz Turbo boost speed, debuted at $1,639 with 8GB RAM and no extras.



MintBox3 Basic, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The MintBox3 Pro has the same, gamer-oriented, 95W TDP i9-9900K CPU while the Basic version offers a much faster CPU than the Celeron: a hexa-core, 6-thread 9th Gen Core i5-9500 clocked at 3GHz/4.4GHz with 65W TDP. The MintBox3 Pro also features Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB graphics.


Airtop3

Thanks to the latest version of CompuLab’s Natural Airflow technology, which is claimed to improve the thermal headroom by over 30 percent, the MintBox3 and Airtop3 can passively dissipate up to 300W. The technology dedicates separate thermal zones for the CPU, GPU, and storage.

The fanless MintBox3 is enclosed in a 7.5-liter, 300 x 250 x 100mm aluminum case that weighs 4.5 to 7.5 Kg depending on options. There’s also a 17-24V DC input.

The MintBox3 Basic ships with 16GB DDR4 and has a 256GB Samsung NVMe SSD. Other features include 802.11ac with Bluetooth 4.2, 2x GbE, 2x 10Gbps USB 3.1 Gen2, and 7x 5Gbps USB 3.1 ports. This configuration appears to use one of CompuLab’s FACE add-ons to provide the additional USB ports.

Triple [email protected] displays are enabled via dual DisplayPort 1.2 ports and a single, audio-enabled HDMI 1.4 port. Analog audio jacks and an S/PDIF audio output feed off a Realtek ALC1150 codec.



MintBox3 Pro (left) and MintBox3 Basic detail views
(click images to enlarge)

The MintBox3 Pro doubles the RAM to 32GB and advances to a 1TB Samsung NVMe SSD. The other listed addition is the addition of four more 4K display ports for 7x overall. The additional four ports — HDMI and 3x DP — are linked directly to the GTX1600 Ti GPU.

Otherwise, the Pro specs appear to match those of the Basic model. The detail views for the two devices show many more features including 3x serial ports, M.2 and mini-PCIe slots, a microSD slot, an OLED display, and more.

Both models also offer RAM and NVMe upgrades, although it’s unclear if you can take the same a la carte approach for other features that CompuLab provides for its Airtop3, such as the extended and industrial temperature versions. (For more details, see our earlier Airtop3 report.)

 
Linux Mint 19.3

Linux Mint 19.3 “Tricia” Xfce Edition was released in December. Built around Linux kernel 5.0 and an Ubuntu 18.04 package base, Tricia offers new features include reminders about new packages via “system reports. Package replacements include Celluloid for the earlier Xplayer, Gnote for Tomboy, and a simple package called Drawing that replaces the venerable Gimp.



Linux Mint 19.3 “Tricia” Xfce Edition
(click image to enlarge)

The distro ships with the Xfce 4.14 desktop environment, which brings improved HiDPI support and much more. Tricia is a long-term support (LTS) release that will be supported until 2023.

 
Further information

The $1,399 MintBox3 Basic and a $2,499 MintBox3 Pro are available now on Amazon. More information may be found on Amazon’s MintBox3 Basic and MintBox3 Pro shopping pages. More should eventually appear on the Linux Mint and/or CompuLab websites.

 

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