In the past few years, there has been a large spike in SFF PCs for desktop and HTPC use, and Intel has been constantly tweaking its offerings to provide high performance in a small power envelope. The Pentium N3700 is Intel's top Braswell SKU, three other Celeron Braswell SKUs also exist, and I reviewed ASRock's Beebox which features the Celeron N3000 a few weeks ago.
The N3700 is supposed to offer better performance, not only in the CPU, but also in the graphics when compared to Braswell Celeron offerings. It's also supposed to perform more like a desktop CPU, but within acceptable thermal thresholds, so that it won't require active cooling. On paper, this makes the N3700 perfect for HTPC or any other low-cost single-use machine.
ASRock was quick to jump on the Braswell train, and has come up with many offerings both in the pre-built and barebones markets. Today, I am going to look at a pretty interesting mATX version of Braswell, the N3700M, which fits somewhere between a SFF PC and a desktop. ASRock also has a mini-ITX offering, the N3700-ITX, which uses SO-DIMMs instead of full-sized DDR3 DIMMs and doesn't have any PCI-E slots like the N3700M. What is even more interesting is that ASRock decided to design its offerings to use an ATX power supply instead of a power brick, which would hint that the system is meant for a case. The N3700M isn't a SFF PC, instead it's a motherboard with a soldered CPU, perhaps what Broadwell was meant to be in the high-end desktop segment.
The ASRock N3700M is like the evolution of the concept of the motherboard. A modern Intel SoC is basically the CPU, GPU, and chipset all-in-one, which requires the motherboard to basically provide a physical fabric for all connections. The ASRock N3700M sticks close to the N3700's specifications in regards to port count. It is also closer to a desktop than a SFF PC in terms of the variety of ports and connectivity possibilities.
At this time there is no price yet for the N3700M, but I would venture a guess that it would be quite affordable compared to current SFF PCs like the Intel NUC as it requires many components to create a full system.
Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:33 pm CDT
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