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Wireless connectivity. Default adapter above, third party USB adapter below.
While we were generally happy with the speed and capabilities of the barebones system considering its price and form factor, the box earns a black mark for its Atheros based WiFi adapter. We tested it with two separate routers in different locations and the signal strength was reported as only one bar by Windows, not enough to establish a stable connection. We did manage to get two bars and a solid connection to an Android phone acting as a WiFi hotspot, but it had to be placed mere inches away. The difference was staggering when we used a separate USB 802.11n adapter --- it delivered full signal strength, established a connection without issue, and detected various additional networks in the adapter's vicinity.
We've had experience in the past with a few fanless mini PCs similar in size to the Jetway JBC361F35W-T40E-B but they've been limited to slow, single core Atom processors with crummy graphics (even by IGP standards). While we wouldn't describe this Jetway barebones as "snappy," its G-T40E APU does offer a big step up in speed and overall usability. The dual core CPU delivers a smoother experience, on par with Intel's dual core Atom N2600, only slower when it comes to video encoding.
The integrated HD 6250 graphics chip is a substantial upgrade over the latest Atoms but only with regards to 3D performance. While the relative difference is huge, the overall performance level is still rather pitiful. The hardware is advanced enough to run some current titles but only at the pace of a slideshow. An acceptable level of playability can only be attained with older games at low resolutions with most of the eye candy turned off. Video playback was actually worse due to issues with Flash content. Locally stored 1080p H.264 movies in both MOV and MKV containers rendered without issue but the same could not be said of YouTube HD clips. 720p was doable but with high CPU utilization and 1080p stuttered so much it was unwatchable. Flash GPU hardware acceleration doesn't appear to be working at the moment.
Most of the previous fanless nettop cases we've encountered were simply shells housing slow but energy efficient hardware while the Jetway case was designed specifically to dissipate heat from the APU/chipset through a heatsink portion on the cover. The design works but only just, barely keeping the internal components adequately cool on full CPU and GPU load. Obviously this isn't a common use case but rather a worst case scenario test, but the box runs fairly toasty even when it's idle. The G-T40E makes for a more difficult challenge than single core Atom platforms even with a section of the case acting as a heatsink.
If this barebones is any indication, it appears the G-T40E is lacking in the energy efficiency department compared to the latest iteration of Atom. The Atom N2800 powered and fanless Logic Supply LGX AG150 used 3~6W less, a significant amount considering the Jetway barebones consumes between 15W and 20W during light use. Even if you take the LGX AG150's superior cooling into consideration and skew the results by a generous 2W, it still comes up a bit short.
The other issues we had with the machine are the connectivity options and the included mini PCI-E 802.11n adapter. This barebones seems to be geared toward industrial/commercial use, lacking HDMI and multi-channel sound even though these are now commonplace features, making it somewhat unsuitable for home users. Our sample's wireless NIC also seemed to be defective, only able to connect with access points comically close to the external antenna.
The Jetway JBC361F35W-T40E-B can currently be purchased for as little as US$199, a bargain considering the Atom N2800 powered Logic Supply LGX AG150 costs about double (after discounting the cost of configuring it with memory and a drive) and its case is twice the volume. The Jetway has its problems but it's hard to complain considering the price. You'd be hard pressed to find a machine with better performance in a similar form factor that generates no noise, let alone for US$199 (or ~US$300 fully configured). It should also be noted that if you prefer Intel's new Atom chip, which should have better energy efficiency and improved Flash playback, Jetway also has an N2600 barebones using the same case, the JBC362F36W-2600-B.
Our thanks to Jetway
for the JBC361F35W-T40E-B barebones sample.
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this article in the SPCR forums.
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