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Modular, rugged, fanless mini-PC runs Linux Mint on Apollo Lake

Nov 6, 2017 — by Eric Brown 5,631 views

Compulab’s Linux-ready, 112 x 84 x 34mm “Fitlet2” mini-PC features an Apollo Lake SoC, -40 to 85°C support, and M.2 and “FACET” expansion.

Compulab has upgraded its rugged Fitlet line of mini-PCs, switching from AMD to Intel Apollo Lake processors up to a quad-core Atom x7-E3950. The Fitlet2 is available with Linux Mint or Windows 10 IoT for $153 and up.

Fitlet2, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The Fitlet2 retains the SATA options and mini-PCIe based FACET expansion cards from earlier Fitlets, and adds M.2 expansion. You also get a new choice of eMMC storage in place of SATA, and this is the first Fitlet with up to 16GB RAM.

The fanless Fitlet2 supports up to -40 to 85°C temperatures, and offers shock, vibration, dust, and humidity resistance. It also features a wide-range power input of 9 to 36V DC.


The new model is touted for its improved cooling system and more modular, accessible design. Heat is dissipated by conduction via an industrial top cover. This allows direct coupling to a metal chassis such as a cabinet or vehicle for external conduction cooling independent on airflow.

Fitlet2 front and back detail views
(click images to enlarge)

There’s also a cooling plate specifically designed for M.2. With no airflow near internal components, corrosive reactions are avoided, says Compulab, which supports the computer with a 5-year warranty and 15-year availability. The modular system can be opened up and quickly reassembled using interlocking parts, making it easier to install RAM, storage, and extension cards. VESA and DIN-rail mounting are available.

Fitlet2 exploded view (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

At 112 x 84 x 34mm, the Fitlet2 is considerably smaller than some earlier models, but slightly larger than the most recent, 108 x 83 x 24mm Fitlet-RM-XA10-LAN, which arrived in June 2016. That model used the same quad-core AMD A10 Micro-6700T processor as an earlier, 160 x 160 x 25mm Fitlet-H. In between (in Dec. 2015) came a faster, 190 x 160 x 40mm Fitlet-T with a quad-core, 2.4GHz AMD G-Series “Steppe Eagle” GX-424CC. The original Fitlet-B, -I, and -X models launched in Jan. 2015 used older AMD E1 and A4 series processors.

Fitlet2 PCB from both sides
(click images to enlarge)

The new Fitlet2 is available in low profile (112 x 84 x 34mm) or industrial (112 x 112 x 25mm) housings for special volume orders. You can also buy the mainboard separately as an SBC, although no pricing was yet available.

Standard features include a microSD, M.2 M-key storage, two GbE ports, and four USB ports, including two USB 3.0 ports. One of the two previous HDMI ports has been switched to a mini-DisplayPort capable of 60Hz 4K video instead of the HDMI’s 30Hz 4K. A serial port and audio I/O is also available.

Fitlet2 with wireless options
(click image to enlarge)

WiFi-ac and 4G LTE are available via the M.2 E-key compatible FACET slot, and it appears you can have WiFi, 4G, and GbE all running at once. Other FACET options include two more GbE ports (for a total of four), a PoE port, four more USB ports (for a total of eight), and the aforementioned 2.5-inch SATA bay option. Additional FACET cards are in the works, and the expansion spec is “public,” enabling third parties to build their own cards.

Specifications listed for the Fitlet2 include:

  • Processor — Intel Apollo Lake:
    • Atom x7-E3950 — 4x cores @ 1.6GHz/2.0GHz; 12W TDP
    • Atom x5-E3940 — 4x cores @ 1.6GHz/1.8GHz; 9W TDP
    • Celeron J3355 — 2x 2.0/2.5GHz cores; 10W TDP
  • Memory — Up to 16GB DDR3L-1866 SDRAM via 1x SODIMM
  • Storage:
    • Optional eMMC or SATA 3.0 (6Gbps) for 2.5-inch HDD or SSD (requires special FACET card and raised bottom cover)
    • M.2 M-key 2260/2242 for SATA 3.0
    • MicroSD slot
  • Display — HDMI 1.4a (4K @ 30Hz) and mini-DP (4K @ 60Hz) ports, both with audio
  • Wireless — Optional 802.11ac dual antenna + BT 4.2 and 4G LTE cellular modules via M.2 E-key or FACET
  • Networking — 2x GbE (Intel I211) ports, expandable to 4x via FACET; optional PoE via FACET
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 3.0 ports
    • 2x USB 2.0 ports, expandable to 6x via 4x USB FACET card
    • S/PDIF 7.1 out interface
    • 3.5mm stereo audio line in and out/mic jacks
    • Mini RS232 port
  • Expansion:
    • FACET slot with M.2 E-key support and optional FACET cards: 4x USB, 2x GbE, 2.5-inch HDD bay; 4G LTE; PoE
  • Other features — Optional TPM; optional VESA and DIN-rail mounting
  • Operating temperature — up to -40 to 85°C
  • Power:
    • 9 to 36V DC input
    • 5W to 15W consumption
    • Automatic boot on power resume (auto-on)
    • Power button disable and remote power-button connector
    • Optional miniature UPS, medical-grade PSU, and pig-tail Y-cable with twist-lock DC plug
  • Weight — 350 g
  • Dimensions — 112 x 84 x 34mm; optional low profile (112 x 84 x 34mm) or industrial (112 x 112 x 25mm) housings for volume customers
  • Operating systems — Linux Mint; Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSB; other x86 compatible OSes

Further information

The Fitlet2 will be available in a few days from Compulab and Amazon starting at $153. More information may be found in the Fitlet2 announcement and Fitlet2 product page.

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