Logic Supply LGX AG150 Fanless System Review: Cedar Trail or Cedar Trial?by Dustin Sklavos on May 28, 2012 11:30 PM EST
- Posted in
- Cedar Trail
Introducing the Logic Supply LGX AG150
Every so often we have a vendor come to us with a unique product, something that may or may not have an immediately evident purpose, or may not be suited strictly to end consumers. Such is the case with the LGX AG150 system we received for review from Logic Supply, a totally enclosed and fanless system geared almost exclusively for commercial and industrial applications. The LGX AG150 is also our first serious hands on experience with Intel's Cedar Trail Atom refresh.
This system is for all intents and purposes a fairly complete PC capable of running Windows 7, featuring both wireless and wired connectivity, an HDMI port that supports 1080p video, and even high current USB ports...all in a sleek aluminum casing. Logic Supply has given us an opportunity to review two products together: the Cedar Trail-based dual core Atom N2800, and the LGX AG150 system itself. One of these has a future, but the other seems to be stuck squarely in the past.
While you could reasonably argue that the netbook bubble has essentially popped with casual content consumption being handled more ably by tablets, while ultrabooks and ultraportables become both more prevalent and less expensive for actual computing needs (to say nothing of AMD's very capable Zacate platform), Atom still fundamentally has a future. Medfield proved Intel was both serious about breaking into the smartphone market and capable of doing so, as we observed in our review of the Lava Xolo X900. There are other applications for relatively higher wattage Atom parts, though, and the fanless Logic Supply LGX AG150 handily demonstrates that.
Just so we're absolutely clear before we move on, though, the LGX AG150 is not intended for the end consumer. A system like this is designed for industrial applications as well as commercial applications, like powering kiosks. It's for situations where an x86 platform is needed, but power consumption and heat have to be kept to a minimum. Specialized? Certainly, but let's see what it offers for the target market.
|Logic Supply LGX AG150 Specifications|
|Chassis||Logic Supply Custom|
Intel Atom N2800
(2x1.86GHz + HTT, 32nm, 1MB L2, 6.5W)
|Motherboard||Intel DN2800MT with NM10 Chipset|
|Memory||2x2GB Samsung DDR3-1333|
|Graphics||Intel GMA 3650 (640MHz, based on PowerVR SGX 545)|
|Hard Drive(s)||Intel 320 40GB SATA 3Gbps SSD|
|Power Supply||Seasonic 60W External PSU|
Intel 82574L Gigabit Ethernet
Intel Centrino 6230-N 802.11a/b/g/n
Speaker and mic/line-in jacks
2x USB 2.0
4x USB 2.0 (2x High Current)
Speaker and mic/line-in jacks
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit SP1|
Completely fanless operation
Starting at $434
Price as configured: $678
Anand has already done a fairly detailed breakdown of the new Cedar Trail Atom N2800 (and corresponding Cedarview platform) here. Despite being the third generation of Atom processor from Intel, performance per core and per clock has essentially stood still since the very first Atom was introduced, and it continues to do so. Other than the single-core and dual-core models, Atom is about making a very small, inexpensive, low power x86 chip. The 32nm shrink that the N2800 represents is all about reducing power consumption further still, which is how we can get two x86-based cores with a combined TDP of just 6.5 watts.
While there are no real performance improvements under the CPU's hood, the GPU has been essentially gutted and replaced. Gone is the GMA 950-based GMA 3150 that "powered" the last generation of Atom graphics, replaced instead with an SGX 545 core licensed from PowerVR under the heading "GMA 3650". DirectX support remains at 9.0, but the GPU has been clocked all the way up to 640MHz and theoretically H.264 can now be decoded in hardware.
Unfortunately, there's a rub. The rumor mill was running rampant around the beginning of the new year that Intel was having problems getting the GMA 3650 working properly in Windows. Indeed, current drivers only support 32-bit Windows despite the N2800 itself being able to handle 64-bit. That's not a tremendous loss since Atom was never more than barely adequate in the first place, but with that said, there's apparently more than a grain of truth to those rumors.
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JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - linkThis is an industrial kiosk-style nettop, so it's not really intended for mainstream use. We were mostly interested in it to see how it would perform and handle Windows in practice, and it's been a disappointment for Dustin.
I've got an ASUS 1025C netbook that's a bit better, but while local H.264 content seems to play back well enough, even at 1080p, the CPU is still a dog. MPC-HC can play a 1080p video fine...until you start trying to use the UI for something, at which point it becomes choppy. Internet video on the other hand is pretty much out: HD Netflix completely fails to keep A/V sync; Hulu is okay at SD resolutions, but the UI is still slow when used; and YouTube is pretty much dropping a few frames at 720p and dropping a lot of frames at 1080p, leaving only 480p or lower as "working properly".
Metaluna - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - linkFor that I would take a look at Supermicro's Atom D525-based server board. Dual NICs and IPMI for around $220, IIRC. That's still kind of pricey, but coming in under $678 isn't too tough :). You do give up the nice form factor, but you can probably get close with some of the smaller mITX cases.
rs2 - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - linkI agree 100%. I put together a similar Atom build (4 GB RAM, SSD, fanless) over a year ago for less than half of the "price as configured". Granted my case wasn't as small and fancy looking, but even allowing for that Logic Supply is charging a ridiculous markup, possibly approaching 100% of the actual build cost.
A 20% markup would be more reasonable, and would see these devices selling in the $275 to $400 range. At that price point I might consider one. Otherwise forget it, it's more cost effective to just build a comparable machine myself.
name99 - Saturday, June 2, 2012 - linkIt's worth pointing out that a Mac mini ($599 for low-end model) is also 13W idle power.
Of course it uses more when it's actually working, but it also does more.
If your usage model has the machine mostly idle, it's probably competitive.
I'm not saying this as a "rah rah Apple" comment --- add in the cost of Windows, and the fact that Windows probably won't do as good a job conserving power, and you're not that competitive anymore.
My point was, rather, that this is just not that impressive. Crappy, supposedly low-power CPU, and industrial box vs computer with working graphics at much the same price and (for at least some usage models) much the same power usage.
I mean seriously --- as others have said --- ridiculously overpriced.
Alyx - Thursday, June 7, 2012 - linkI also dropped in here to see if this could be an upgrade to our current firewall. I think most of these things end up super expensive for some reason, but for their target market the price isn't too high really because its competing with desktops rather than netbooks.
Sadly without multi-nic this unit isn't much use in pfsense. We have a number of these little guys and they are pretty rock solid and the 7 nics is rare for fan-less units like this (our company has multiple secured LANs).
Impulses - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - linkIntel entered the netbook market just to avoid ceding it to AMD/VIA, but they never wanted it to thrive. The whole ultrabook initiative was a way of driving costumers to spend more on the average system (admittedly for improved build quality at times). Atom cannibalized Intel's bottom offerings and they'd happily let it linger even longer if they could. They've clearly left a hole others should be able to exploit... Now, where's Trinity?
JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - linkRight now? Trinity A10 is in $700+ laptops is all. I'm not sure if there's anything preventing someone from using mobile Trinity in a desktop/nettop, but I suspect it will be a couple months before we see anything.
zeo - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - linkIntel did not enter the market to avoid ceding anything to AMD or VIA. Besides, which only VIA was ever anywhere near doing so at the time.
AMD didn't have anything to compete in that range until they came out with the Fusion series in the beginning of 2011, well after the netbook market had been established.
Netbooks were just a inevitable result of the desire for Mini-Laptops that goes back over thirty years now. While the OLPC project is primarily credited for accelerating this process and applying the actual pressure on Intel. Thus why Intel already had the ATOM ready for production when the netbook market established itself, but it wasn't their first try at making lower cost and more energy efficient processors.
The very first netbook in fact was released with a Intel Celeron M 353 ULV processor.
You are right that Intel didn't want the netbook market to spread, but it was because of the low profit margins of the netbook market and they accomplished that by setting restrictions and guidelines on netbook design. Though in large part many of those policies helped lower the cost of netbooks and made them even more affordable over time.
However, they relaxed those limitations over the years and Cedar Trail is actually the last of the old 5 year product cycle of the ATOM. So starting with the 22nm Silvermont update the ATOM will go on the same 2 year product cycle as the Intel Core i-Series.
Intel is even on record stating they will start developing the ATOM at faster than Moore's Law for at least the next two years to catch it up. Since Intel wants to seriously get into the mobile market and the ATOM is their best bet at doing so.
While they may have waited too long because ARM has finally reached the point that they can offer solutions to rival the ATOM and so Intel faces challenges in both making its way into the Mobile market and holding on to the low end PC market as well.
For AMD the focus is mainly on graphical performance, so that's where they shine in comparison to Intel's offerings, and they're sticking mainly to the traditional PC market. However, the rate of progress seems more or less lock step with Intel's and we shouldn't expect too much from either until next years updates.
Like for example AMD's Tamesh will probably be their first offering that can go fan-less and compete in the tablet market but it won't be out till next year.
While Trinity is basically just a update to Llano and more intended to compete with Intel's mid range offerings but should provide a alternative for Intel's Ultrabooks.
Mugur - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link... afterall. Judging by the 2 serial ports. For a pfSense router a second NIC would have been nice.
No home use for this one.
JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - linkUm, which part of the "industrial kiosk" target market did you not get? Such stations might very well need two COM ports. Granted, there are plenty of other markets that would not need this configuration (like pfSense routers, home users, etc.), but it's designed for a very specific niche. Now, is Cedar Trail a good fit for that niche -- better than say AMD's Brazos/Ontario? I guess Cedar Trail is lower power at 6.5W TDP, and it's totally fanless, but wow I have a hard time believing an extra 10W would matter that much for a kiosk location with a probably 50W display and various other lights and such that use another 100W+.