This new PC from specialist Logic Systems is based around the recently released Intel DN2800MT “Marshalltown” mini-ITX Atom board, a long-awaited follow-up to the original “Thin ITX” board, the Intel D945GSEJT. Super low energy consumption, 1080P video capability and a tiny 1.2 liter form factor should be compelling for Mini PC enthusiasts.
March 28, 2012 by Mike Chin
|Product|| Logic Supply LGX AG150
Fanless Mini-ITX PC
|MSRP|| US$453.00 (base price)
US$716.70 (as tested)
An announcement in early March by Logic Supply about their new, small, Atom-based, fanless, mini-ITX system was hardly breathtaking news for most of the industry. This US Vermont-based specialist has offered small fanless PCs for industrial and commercial applications for years, going back to VIA mini-ITX products in pre-Atom days.
What is new and exciting about Logic Supply’s LGX AG150 is the use of the Intel DN2800MT "Marshalltown" board, a product eagerly anticipated by mini-ITX enthusiasts. The new Intel board is a refresh of the popular D945GSEJT ("Johnstown") board that launched "Thin mini-ITX" — a mini-ITX board that has an extremely low profile (or height). Both CPU and graphics have been substantially upgraded over the earlier board. Logic Supply’s LGX ML200 fanlessly-cooled casing is designed expressly for the DN2800MT and has a total volume of just 1.24 liters. It follows in the footsteps of Logic Supply’s SLFJT-01 fanless case, designed specifically for the Intel D945GSEJT board.
Logic Supply sent over a complete sample LGX AG150 system for review. As you can imagine, the sample system did not require a large shipping carton.
The AG150 sample system arrived in a small box, just after the rain stopped.
Logic Supply’s description of their new offering sums it up nicely:
"The LGX AG150 is a compact, low-profile, and fanless system featuring Intel’s Cedarview Atom processor, the dual-core 1.86 GHz N2800. Combined with integrated GMA 3650 graphics, this system is natively HD playback-capable, all with a system TDP of less than 15 watts. An ideal embedded platform, its small footprint and sub-1.5" height make it great for secure mounting in applications where space is limited. Its completely fanless design protects against dust and dirt while improving reliability by eliminating the need for a fan and reducing the number of moving parts. Wide-input 8~19-volt power means that the AG150 can tolerate power fluctuations or operate in a variety of usage environments.
"The AG150 offers HDMI and VGA, six USB 2.0 ports (including two high-current ports for faster charging of peripherals), two RS-232 COM ports, and Gb LAN. Inside, the system provides expansion in the form of two PCI Express Mini Card slots, one half-height and one full-height; the latter of which can be used as an mSATA slot for a separate boot drive.
"Versatile, durable, and cost-effective, the AG150 is well-suited to a broad range of applications, from commercial nettops, web kiosks, and set-top boxes, to more industrial solutions including manufacturing, industrial automation, and data collection. Its small size and included mounting brackets make it easy to mount securely or in custom enclosures."
Logic Supply specializes in energy efficient, small footprint computer hardware optimized for the industrial and commercial markets. This system, with its RS-232 ports, is obviously not optimized for consumers, but its tiny size, silent operation and low energy consumption still makes it interesting for home users. You may recall the last Logic Supply system we tested was also fanlessly cooled and small, though not nearly as small as this: The Montevina GS-L10 featured a discrete CPU, the mobile Celeron T3100, in a 3.5 liters box.
The listed $465 base price is a near-barebones system comprising 1GB RAM, 160GB 5400RPM 2.5" drive, and 60W power adapter. No OS is included. The $716 review system is far more complete.
Review Logic Supply LGX AG150 sample:
– Motherboard: Intel DN2800MT
– Memory: 2x 204-pin DDR3 1333 SO-DIMM 2GB (4GB Total)
– HDD: Intel 320 Series 2.5" SATA SSD, 40 GB (MLC)
– AC Adapter (brick): AC Power Adapter 60W, 12V (PW-12V5A-L5)
– Wireless: Intel 6230 Wi-Fi/BT PCIe Mini Card w/ Pigtail, Adapter
– Wireless Antenna: 2.4GHz/5.8GHz Wireless Antenna, 108mm (4") w/ Pigtail Cable [KDBv0A-PC250]
– Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
– Build and Test: Expedited Assembly & Validation Service (2 working days) -FSR
– Warranty: 1 Year Warranty (Standard)
– Cable: 2x DB9-ATEV COM Cables [2xDB9-ATEV]
– Dimensions: 206 x 32.5 x 185 mm or 8.1" x 1.3" x 7.3"
– Weight: 1.33 kg or 2 lbs 15 oz (w/o antennae or PSU)
INTEL DN2800MT MAINBOARD
The Intel DN2800MT board defines almost every aspect of the system’s performance and capabilities. Its Atom CPU is a 1.86 GHz dual-core with hyperthreading, so the performance should be reasonably snappy. It is nicely featured with six USB 2.0 connectors (two onboard headers are unused), two PCI Express Mini Card expansion slots (one accepts only a half height card), and onboard connector for embedded DisplayPort in case the back panel HDMI and VGA ports are not enough. One of the most important features is the built-in DC power converter, which accept inputs of 8V~19V, making it very versatile. Audio aficionados should note that even though the board has a S/PDIF header, the system is not equipped with either optical or coax connection for it on the back panel. The board is normally equipped with a low profile passive heatsink for the CPU, but this heatsink is not used in the LGX AG150 system.
Intel DN2800MT Specifications
|Processor||1.86 GHz Intel Atom N2800 (dual core)|
|System Memory||2 DDR3 800/1066 SO-DIMM; Up to 4 GB|
|Graphics||Integrated Intel GMA 3650 (640 MHz)|
|Expansion Slots||PCI Express x1
PCI Express Mini Card (full height – can be used as mSATA)
PCI Express Mini Card (half height)
|Onboard Serial ATA||2 SATA (3 Gb/sec.) connectors (one multiplexed with mSATA)|
|Onboard USB||8 USB 2.0 (2 high-current/fast-charging)|
|Onboard LAN||Intel 82574 10/100/1000|
|Onboard Audio||Intel HD Audio (2+2 channel)|
|Back Panel I/O||
2 USB 2.0 high current ports
2 USB 2.0 ports
1 VGA port
1 HDMI port
1 LAN port
2 Audio jacks
1 12-volt DC jack (8 V to 19 V)
|Onboard I/O Connectors||4 USB 2.0 via 2 pin headers
2 SATA connectors
2 RS-232 COM pin headers (AT/Everex)
1 LPT pin header
1 Front panel audio pin header
1 Front panel pin header
1 Embedded DisplayPort (eDP)
1 Fan pin header
1 LVDS connector (18/24-bit, single-/dual-channel)
1 LVDS inverter
1 SATA power connector
1 S/PDIF output
1 In-chassis stereo speakers output
1 DMIC digital microphone input
1 Front panel HD Audio/AC’97
|BIOS||8 Mb Flash with Intel Platform Innovation Framework for EFI PnP|
|System Monitoring & Management||Power Management, Wake on USB, Wake on keyboard, Wake on mouse, Wake on LAN, Wake on serial port, Fan speed control, Voltage range monitoring|
|Operating Temperature||0ºC ~ 50ºC|
|Form Factor||Thin Mini-ITX (17 x 17 cm, <20 mm z-height)|
2 Backplates (one ATX full height, one ATX half height)
2 SATA cables
Quick reference guide
You may recall our recent review of the Jetway NF9C-2600, another mini-ITX board that uses a Cedar Trail Atom CPU and the NM10 chipset, like the DN2800MT. A key aspect of the Cedar Trail Atom is an integrated GPU, a PowerVR SGX 545 from Imagination Technologies. Intel claims the new graphics performance is twice that of the previous Atom, Pine Trail, but driver development seems to be lagging. The platform currently supports only 32-bit version operating systems, and we experienced a lot of screen flickering with the Jetway running Windows 7 32-bit, at least with the late-2011 drivers available at the time. This is an issue we’ll investigate here.
LGX AG150 DETAILS
Accessories included with the sample system included the Windows 7 disc, two antennae for WiFi, a pair of bolt-in brackets for permanent secure mounting with necessary screws, four stick-on rubber feet, and a Seasonic external 60W AC/DC adapter with AC cable. The Seasonic SSA-0601D-12 runs on 100~240VAC, outputs 12VDC, and is rated for Level 5 efficiency as per the International Efficiency Marking Protocol (rev. Oct. 2008, PDF), referenced by Energy Star. This rating describes efficiency at 49~250W output to be at least 87%. Figuring out what the efficiency for such a device is at <49W load requires a more mathematically inclined mind than mine; the formula is there in the linked PDF. It’s obviously going to be lower than 87% as the load is reduced. In any case, this is the most efficient class of external AC/DC adapters available to consumers today.
Almost all small fanless cases utilize heatpipes to
funnel the heat from components to heatsinks integrated into the case exterior. In the ML200 case, no heatpipes are used. The original CPU heatsink is replaced with a solid block of aluminum, sized so that it just touches the underside of the cover when the cover is secured. A small, thin piece of rubbery thermal interface material goes between the heat block and ribbed aluminum cover. When the cover is secured, the rubbery TIM gets compressed, allowing good transfer of heat from the CPU into the casing, which enables convection cooling. The ribbed casing top does most of the heat disspation, but as the U-shaped cover is also firmly screwed to the u-shaped bottom half, the entire aluminum casing helps with cooling.
The range of real world, practical peforming testing done for most systems was skipped here for the simple reason that the results will be virtually identical to those already recorded for the Jetway NF9C-2600, a similar board which uses the same chipset and a CPU clocked slightly slower. Please check the results on page 5 of our recent Jetway review. Some differences will show up due to the use of the Intel SSD in the Logic Supply compared to the 2.5" HDD with the Jetway board.
Measurement and Analysis Tools
Video Test Clips
Rush Hour 3 Trailer 1 is a H.264 encoded clip inside an
Apple Quicktime container.
H.264: Space is a 1080p x264 clip encoded from
Real-world Benchmark Test Details
Our first test procedure is designed to determine the overall system power
consumption at various states (measured using a Seasonic Power Angel). To stress
CPUs we use either Prime95 (large FFTs setting) or CPUBurn depending on which
produces higher system power consumption. To stress the GPU, we use ATITool
or FurMark, which ever application is more power demanding.
Our second test procedure is to run the system through a video test suite featuring
a variety of high definition clips. During playback, a CPU usage graph is created
by the Windows Task Manger for analysis to determine the average CPU usage.
High CPU usage is indicative of poor video decoding ability. If the video (and/or
audio) skips or freezes, we conclude the GPU (in conjunction with the processor)
is inadequate to decompress the clip properly. Power consumption during playback
of high definition video is also recorded.
Lastly, we run a short series of performance benchmarks — a few real-world
applications as well as synthetic tests.
All nonessential pre-installed software is removed prior to testing, and certain
services and features like Superfetch and System Restore are disabled to prevent
them from affecting our results. Aero glass is left enabled if supported. We
also make note if energy saving features like Cool’n’Quiet and SpeedStep do
not function properly.
GENERAL USE NOTES
First use impressions out-of-the-box was not positive. While the physical unit was tidily assembled and reassuringly solid, general performance in Windows was hampered by a lot of glitchy screen flickering. It was so bad that rapid changes between screens and programs almost caused vertigo or dizziness. This was with a video driver dated late 2011. The first tasks undertaken on the Logic Supply LGX AG150 system was updating of Windows 7. A complete Windows 7 update did not change the video driver, and the flickering continued. The issue did not seem to affect performance in other ways, for example, HD video play did not suffer from any flickering as long as windows were not switched mid-stream.
A search for updated video drivers on the Intel site bore fruit. Installing the video driver 184.108.40.2065 (dated 8 March 2012) finally eliminated the flickering problem, pretty much completely. That was a big relief. All further testing was done with the updated video driver and Windows 7 completely updated (as of 20 March 2012).
In general, while overall performance is decent, especially with the SSD, the system is still an Atom, it isn’t a speed demon.
System Power Consumption
The Logic Supply LGX AG150 with its Intel DN2800MT board sets new standards for energy efficiency. In idle, only a minimalist system with the predecessor D945GSEJT board matches the low 12W draw. In HD video play, nothing comes close to its 13W draw; every other system in the comparison pulls 18W or more. Even full CPU + GPU stress testing only managed to reach peaks of 18W. Average power under such conditions was usually 16~17W. If the high efficiency Seasonic power adapter had been available for the D945GSEJT, it might have come closer to the AG150 power levels, but its performance was definitely not competitive. Even with the Broadcom video decoder, HD playback was not always prisitine.
The quality of HD 720p and 1080p video playback was consistently good, even with clips that sometimes reached 30 Mbps peaks. The 13W typical power draw during HD playback is unmatched by any other system or board/CPU we’ve tried. CPU utilization was very low, not higher than 18% with any of our standard clips.
The system was left at various activity states for 45~60 minutes to allow temperatures
to stabilize. The average CPU core temperature was recorded using RealTemp and
SpeedFan. Exterior temperatures were measured with an infrared thermometer;
the highest measurement recorded on each panel are reported.
CPU + GPU Load
Ambient temperature: 21°C.
Even with very little heat to disspiate, electronic component can get very hot without effective cooling. A hard drive in open air, for example, can easily reach 50°C, doing little but idleing at <8W. The ML200 case is thermally sound for the Logic Supply LGX AG150 system, keeping the CPU and external
temperatures very modest even under heavy load. There is easily 20°C of headroom. The exterior never felt more than warm, unsurprising, as it barely rose above normal body temperature. This is proof that heatpipes are not mandatory for every fanless system.
This is the shortest acoustics analysis ever in an SPCR review: There simply isn’t any noise. None from the main unit itself, and none from the power adapter.
The LGX AG150 works exactly as intended by Logic Supply: Fanlessly, silently, with enough computing power for the vast majority of desktop users, while merely sipping at electrical energy in a size and form that allows it to be installed just about anywhere. With excellent cooling, the system is an easy choice for commercial or industrial applications in tight, poorly ventilated spaces and minimum maintenance (preferably with an OS that requires fewer updates than Windows).
For the DIY mini PC enthusiast, the Logic Supply AG150 case, Intel DN2800MT motherboard and Seasonic >87% efficient power brick represent a compelling combination. This system competes with the tiny 1~2 liter mini PCs such as the Asus Eee Box, the Zotac Zbox, Sapphire Edge, Mac Mini or Acer Revo products, but goes one better: It has fanless, silent cooling. In contrast, all the other mini PCs run with fans, and if you press them hard, those fans spin up and make noise. That noise is plainly audible if you set the cute little things on your desktop, because they’re so close to you. OK, the Logic Supply lacks niceties like a built in memory card reader or swish styling, but it has functional, industrial appeal, and it can be tucked away just about anywhere. Its performance is certainly good enough to be a HTPC or audio-only PC (though you will probably want to add a SPDIF jack). Unlike Intel’s first "Thin mini-ITX" board, the DN2800MT has enough video muscle to do HD video smoothly without any additional help, and it is even stingier with energy consumption; in fact, as noted earlier, it’s clearly our energy champ.
One downside is the lack of support for Windows 7 64-bit. It’s not a major hiccup, as Windows 7 32-bit is perfectly fine for most desktop users. There is still a chance that 64-bit versions of Windows will be supported in future, but 64-bit support for Atom has been inconsistent throughout its history, with some chips having it and others not, so it’s not really anything new. When you look through the fine details of Intel drivers for the board, there are some 64-bit drivers for some components; the main glaring absence is the chipset and graphics drivers. It is possible they could come in the future.
The current base price of $453 for the LGX AG150 covers the board, case, Seasonic power adapter, 160GB 2.5" drive and just 1GB RAM, but the 3-5 days cited for assembly includes 2 days of testing and validation by LS, so the markup doesn’t appear onerous. Stepping up for $35 more to an Intel 320 series 40GB SSD and using network storage (which every PC geek has these days) seems well worthwhile. Two 2GB pieces of RAM costs $40 more — a bit steep by current market prices but not bad as it is tested for 2 days. Add a Intel 6230 Wi-Fi/BT PCIe mini card adapter and antennae, and the hardware total comes to $581. Buying all the parts separately can save you a bit, and assembly should be a cinch, but the most valuable part of having LS put it together is their 3-5 days of testing. (Our sample system’s $716.70 price includes the cost of the front RS232 ports and Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit.)
The LGX AG150 excels for specialized
applications where silence, dust-resistance, zero maintenance or no airflow
to disturb the environment are important. For home and business users without heavy computational demands and a yen for zero noise, low heat and minimal energy usage, it is also a winner.
Logic Supply LGX AG150
* Completely silent
* No Windows 7 64-bit support
Our thanks to Logic
Supply for the Logic Supply LGX AG150 sample.
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Logic Supply LGX AG150 receives the SPCR Editor‘s Choice Award
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