This is where you can fast forward to the final section of the review, and get a quick recap and points on the ASRock N3700M.
Desktop Potential: The one thing that DIY PC builders value is that their desktop allows them to upgrade and expand when the need arises, and the N3700M provides this functionality. Even though it only has two SATA6G ports, it can handle three 1x PCI-E cards with varying degrees of functionality from extra SATA to wireless LAN. There are also three USB (2x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0) headers on the N3700M which can provide four more USB ports. Three different video outputs, RJ-45 LAN, and four USB ports on the back provide a starting point to a well-equipped PC.
Noiseless: Something that has become more valued recently are noiseless PCs for use as streaming machines. The N3700M has the option to use a fan, but there isn't any need. This makes it perfect for the bedroom or living room.
Decent SoC Performance compared to the N3000: Having reviewed an N3000 based SFF PC recently, I was able to tell the difference between the N3700 and N3000. There is a noticeable real-world difference between the two Braswell SoCs, and there is a pretty big benefit with going with the N3700 if the machine is going to be used for office productivity.
Legacy Support: These days it can be hard to find motherboards or systems with COM and LPT ports, but the N3700M has both as well as PS/2. This is especially important if the PC is to replace a printing terminal or hook up to some medical device that might only work on legacy COM or LPT connections. There is also the possibility that this product will be used in industry where many factories still rely on older legacy connectors.
Affordable?: ASRock hasn't released a price for the N3700M, but judging from their previous offerings, it should be priced competitively and it should be very affordable.
No built in Wireless: Since the N3700 SoC has no built-in networking capabilities, they have to be added after the fact to the N3700M. This means that ASRock had to basically choose between wired or wireless and they went with wired. Wireless can easily be added in through a PCI-E 1x add-in card or USB dongle, but that adds to the final price of the PC.
No M.2, mPCIe, or mSATA: While SATA is great, a lot of users want to use different types of drives and connectors. However, the limited scope of the N3700 SoC limits the amount of ports and slots that the system can have.
This isn't your typical product; the N3700M is a very specific product which has a very wide variety of uses. For starters, it is a great starting point for a HTPC, albeit a larger one than most SFF PCs. While it isn't fast enough to replace most desktops, it is faster than most PCs in schools and offices, so it does have its uses. I really like that ASRock took what is a mobile/SFF PC SoC and adapted it to a mATX sized desktop board.
These days many newer systems are overkill for the tasks they are assigned, and there is a growing need for low power computers to handle those tasks. ASRock definitely gets points for thinking outside the box, and producing a product that satisfies a niche market. If you want to build your own Braswell PC, then the N3700M (or N3700-ITX) is what you want. The N3700M is the missing link between the SFF PC and the PC, bridging that gap where CPU performance isn't very important compared to storage and connectivity.
Product Summary Breakdown
|Quality including Design and Build||90%|
|Bundle and Packaging||85%|
|Value for Money||N/A|
|Overall TweakTown Rating||89%|
The Bottom Line: ASRock's N3700M is the missing link between the SFF PC and the PC. If you want to build your own Braswell PC, then the N3700M (or even N3700-ITX) is what you want.
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