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 Post subject: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 8:10 pm 
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This NUC sized PC looked interesting when I first read about it. My Baytrail based Zbox CI320 was dropping frames/occasionally freezing on flash-based network TV video sites, so I was looking for another low power alternative. I found the Cubi's Broadwell Pentium version for $160 ($10 more than I paid for the Zbox) and filled out the order with 4GB of RAM and a 120GB Samsung 850 EVO.


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 Post subject: Re: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 8:20 pm 
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I used a P4400 Kill-a-Watt for power measurements. A no frills device that I'm guessing truncates rather than rounds to integer value and is probably a little iffy on accuracy in the <10W area. Temperature measurements and fan speed were done using OCCT. OS is Windows 7 Home Premium.

Power Use: (Win 10 differences in red)
Off: <1W (reads 0 for both watts and VA)
Sleep: <1W (reads 0W and 3VA)
Idle: 8-9W. Disabling WLAN and BT drops it to 7-8W.
YouTube: Firefox 1080P(Flash) 11-12W; Chrome 720P (HTML5) 11-13W (10W), 1080p (11-12W)
Netflix 720P (3Mbps): Firefox (couldn’t get it to work in Silverlight); Chrome (HTML5 CPU 60%) 12-16W; Win10 app 720p 9-10W (CPU 10%), 1080p (5.8Mbps) 9-10W (CPU 10%).
Hulu: Firefox (Flash) windowed 10W (30% CPU), full screen 11-12W (35%); Chrome windowed 12-13W (40%), fs 12-13W (40%)
Prime95 (Large FFT): 17W

Time Tests:
Off to "Starting Windows" screen: 15 sec (9 sec with MSI Fast Boot, same in Win 10)
Off to Windows Password screen: 23 sec (17 sec with MSI Fast Boot, 16 sec in Win10)
On to Sleep: 4 sec
Sleep to On: 3.5 sec
On to Off: 8 sec
Time for Netflix to buffer/play at 720P: 20 sec

Thermals and fan noise:
At Windows desktop, the CPU idles at 52C and the system draws 7-8W (AC). The fan runs at ~1000 rpm and is really quiet - a barely audible whoosh with my ear next to the case and inaudible at 1 meter. The box is lukewarm to the touch.

I streamed a Netflix episode of National Geographic's Amazing Planet (720p) under Chrome/HTML5 for 20 minutes to get a feel for how hot the CPU will get under normal use (16W at the wall). It reached steady state temp of 60-64C in a short time as the fan quickly ramps up to 2400-2700rpm. At this speed, the fan is noticeable from 1m away (my desktop). It’s not loud, just noticeable. The tone is more of a whirr/buzz due to the frequency and there is fairly frequent movement in this 300rpm range – which makes it more noticeable. There is a bit of case resonance that can be muted with my fingertips. The case is just slightly warm to the touch.

On the couch / 10’ away: It’s silent at idle/browsing. In muted video scenes I can barely hear the 2700rpm in a quiet house.
Killing the instance dropped the temps to 55C in 15 seconds and fan speed to 1500rpm, and then the temp decayed to steady state idle temp (53-54C) after a minute. Fan rpm dropped to 1000 after 40sec.

Under the Windows 10 app, with CPU use down to 10% and power use down to 9-10W, it's a different story. The fan starts at 1300rpm, ramps up to a fairly stable 1500 rpm and is very quiet from 1m away. It should be silent from 10' away.

I ran Prime95 (Large FFT, 16W load) immediately following the Netflix cool down. Temps were 67C at 1 minute with fan at 3040 +/- 40rpm. The steady state fan sounded better here than when streaming :). Stopping the instance, temps dropped to 56C after 5 sec with the fan ramping down almost as fast.

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 Post subject: Re: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 7:32 am 
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Hey steve,

Pretty nice small box you build =)

Btw since you are into this type of PCs, i wanted to ask you, I have a TV that its not a SmarTV, so i want to add Netflix, Hulu, playing on lan movies, and the ability to monitor my IP cameras, so was thinking on adding your the Celeron MSI Cubi, specially for $150 seems like a great buy, already have msata from the laptop upgrade and i do have some 2.5 hitachi 500gb, so i think i just need the ram and it should be running.

The only thing that im a little worried is running mkv movies, do you think the Intel HD Graphics is good enough for H264/MKV? if it is i think ill buy it, else im considering the bigger brother MSI Computer PC Barebone System Components CUBI-001BUS (936-B09611-001), but its $120 more, wondering if i will gain anything over the celeron for my situation, all i see is the Intel® HD Graphics 5500 + Faster CPU, so i wanted your POV on my situation into which cubi to go for (no gaming will be involve here).

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 Post subject: Re: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 9:45 am 
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Heya, I haven't messed with MKVs as I don't rip movies. Point me toward an example MKV that I can download and I'll let you know (Monday-ish). I'm assuming VLC will be good for playback?

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 Post subject: Re: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:11 am 
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Abula wrote:
Hey steve,

Pretty nice small box you build =)

Btw since you are into this type of PCs, i wanted to ask you, I have a TV that its not a SmarTV, so i want to add Netflix, Hulu, playing on lan movies, and the ability to monitor my IP cameras, so was thinking on adding your the Celeron MSI Cubi, specially for $150 seems like a great buy, already have msata from the laptop upgrade and i do have some 2.5 hitachi 500gb, so i think i just need the ram and it should be running.

The only thing that im a little worried is running mkv movies, do you think the Intel HD Graphics is good enough for H264/MKV? if it is i think ill buy it, else im considering the bigger brother MSI Computer PC Barebone System Components CUBI-001BUS (936-B09611-001), but its $120 more, wondering if i will gain anything over the celeron for my situation, all i see is the Intel® HD Graphics 5500 + Faster CPU, so i wanted your POV on my situation into which cubi to go for (no gaming will be involve here).

I wouldn't worry about this. My main PC doubles as my HTPC and I run xbmc/kodi on it to my projector as my main viewing device. I do rip to mkv (usually just DVD resolution though) and sometimes download h264/mkv files (720 and 1080p), and my 5 year-old Athlon x2 240e with integrated graphics has never had an issue playing any file. Sometimes (when comparing two files) I will run side-by-side movies simultaneously, one in VLC and one in Windows media player, and if they are both 1080p files, then it will start stuttering and dropping frames. It's usually ok if one is 720p and the other 1080p. It's fine if they are both 720p. But it's never had an issue playing a single file at a time. So I would expect a much newer Celeron with the latest integrated gpu would perform significantly better.

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 Post subject: Re: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2015 9:39 am 
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Abula wrote:
The only thing that im a little worried is running mkv movies, do you think the Intel HD Graphics is good enough for H264/MKV?

Pretty much all "Intel HD Graphics" can decode h264 natively, including the low end Pentiums/Celerons. As long as you don't do any intensive post processing then anything up to 1080P should be fine. I've had no problems with h264 hardware decode on first and second generation i-series Celerons, a fifth generation chip should have no issues.

Even without hardware decode support, broadwell cores should have no problems decoding h264 in software at the cost of power/heat/noise.


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 Post subject: Re: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2015 11:33 am 
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I i build up on MSI Cubi this weekend, and its impressive this little box, has played everything i threw at it, all high bitrate mkvs/mp4 with no problem, runs kodi without issues, youtube and Netflix runs fine also.

Its a very nice box, specially for what it sells now ($125), noise wise, i can hear it on bios a lot, under windows i can bearly hear it at 1mt, further than that its i cant perceive any noise at all.

This small pcs imo are changing a lot into how i see PCs from now on, specially for the price, very capable setup, it can work well for an office, for me its hard to justify building PC, unless there is a specific need like server or dedicated gaming setup, but for normal pcs this MSI cubis are really amazing. Btw my bother in law and my sister already ordered one =)

I do have an issue, when i reboot the system goes into the bios always, if i save/exit it boots normal again, or if i turn it off and on (instead of restarting) it works fine every single time, its just when i reset that i have this issue, do you have this issue steve?

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 Post subject: Re: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2015 2:43 pm 
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Yeah, good CPU capability at low power levels and mfgrs willing to make inaudible systems is awesome.

I don't have the restart-causes-boot-into-bios issue. Didn't think I did and just checked again. If yours always did it, I'd lean toward a malfunctioning component*...that it only does it with Restart....is odd.

* booting into bios is the universal signal for your PC saying "something changed".

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 Post subject: Re: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2015 5:30 pm 
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CA_Steve wrote:
Yeah, good CPU capability at low power levels and mfgrs willing to make inaudible systems is awesome.

I don't have the restart-causes-boot-into-bios issue. Didn't think I did and just checked again. If yours always did it, I'd lean toward a malfunctioning component*...that it only does it with Restart....is odd.

* booting into bios is the universal signal for your PC saying "something changed".
Thanks for the feedback Steve, its not a big deal for me either, its more an annoyance, i just do shutdown and push the power button again, and in theory its for my Mom, and she never restarts, i found the issue more because of windows updates when it prompts to restart the pc, i never was able to return to windows, but it always works from powerup.

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 Post subject: Re: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2015 1:51 pm 
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I'm just wondering if either of you would have any feedback on how suitable these little systems might be for the following:

1) FLAC storage & local streaming via Plex; in the short-medium term I'd consider just popping a 1-2 TB 2.5 HDD in as the secondary drive.

2) A box for streaming Netflix / Amazon Instant Video @ 1080p on Win7 (or 10 if needed).

In real terms, I don't really need to do both simultaneously. I can use my main PC for ripping CDs etc, but it's quite hard to determine whether on not the Celeron or Pentium would suffice, or if either of the two iSeries would be a safer bet for any reason... any thoughts appreciated.

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 Post subject: Re: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2015 2:24 pm 
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I'm using mine for streaming Netflix, Amazon Prime and TV browser content (Hulu, network sites). Works fine. Fan is quiet for both HTML and Flash...ok everything but the incredibly poor ad servers used by network sites. Holy crap, get your act together! :)

Audio streaming takes very little in the way of CPU horsepower (heck, look at all the ARM based NAS' out there).

Also, if you want Netflix to push 1080p content rather than 720p, you have to use the Win8/10 app and not a browser.

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 Post subject: Re: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2015 12:04 am 
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CA_Steve wrote:
Fan is quiet for both HTML and Flash...ok everything but the incredibly poor ad servers used by network sites. Holy crap, get your act together! :)

yet 'they' complain about adblockers being so prevalent ....

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 Post subject: Re: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2015 3:32 am 
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Thanks Steve, good to know. If I'm honest with myself, a conventional HTPC build may well be overkill for my needs, so the MSI Cubi with the option of adding an HDD is looking mighty tempting, and not to mention cost-effective.

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 Post subject: Re: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 8:13 am 
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Hey steve, i wanted to ask you about the front USB (the one that has the charging symbol), do your work when the Cubi is off?

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 Post subject: Re: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 8:20 am 
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Don't know. I'll check it out....this mode might require a driver or uefi setting...

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 Post subject: Re: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 1:51 pm 
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500mA supplied to the USB charging port (left front) when in Sleep (as measured by my phone and Ammeter app). None supplied when off. Note, I have Win8/8.1 features disabled in the UEFI..don't know if that affects it.

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 Post subject: Re: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 5:43 pm 
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CA_Steve wrote:
500mA supplied to the USB charging port (left front) when in Sleep (as measured by my phone and Ammeter app). None supplied when off. Note, I have Win8/8.1 features disabled in the UEFI..don't know if that affects it.
Thanks steve for testing it, thats exactly how mine is also, kinda sad though, i though off it would still pass through the PSU voltage.

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 Post subject: Re: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 8:49 pm 
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It uses less than 1W in sleep, so I never turn mine off.

Here's info from the manual:
Quote:
USB 3.0 Port (with MSI SuperCharger Technology) (Optional)
With MSI SuperCharger Technology, not only does it function as normal
USB 3.0 port, but it also enables users to charge USB devices even
when the system is turned off.


I'm guessing there's a driver that needs to be installed.

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 Post subject: Re: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 11:03 pm 
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CA_Steve wrote:
I'm guessing there's a driver that needs to be installed.
Well drivers wont be loaded with the system turn off, so im guessing its a BIOS/UEFI setting, kinda like when you power up from lan.

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 Post subject: Re: MSI Cubi
PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2015 6:26 am 
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Maybe it's a double secret driver that only runs with no power. :)

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