Compact Computing Revolution: ASRock NUC BOX-N97 vs GMKtec NucBox G2

Compact Computing Revolution: Intel has been in the fore in the rapidly changing world of technology, influencing the direction of computing with advancements in microarchitecture. The Tremont Micro Architecture’s debut, which paved the way for x86 devices with great performance and low power consumption, was a significant turning point in this path. This microarchitecture has evolved over time, resulting in the development of Gracemont and ultimately the Alder Lake-N (ADL-N) CPUs. The small computer market has undergone a revolution as a result of this transformation, which also has an impact on Intel’s product line.

The Evolution of Intel’s Microarchitecture

Intel’s venture into low-power x86 systems began in 2008 with the Silverthorne Atom processors, each utilizing specific microarchitectures tailored for diverse product families. This strategic variation allowed Intel to achieve a remarkable balance between performance and power efficiency. However, the game-changer came with the introduction of hybrid processors, like the Lakefield series, combining cores from different microarchitectures within a single processor vessel.

Tremont Micro Architecture, initially a part of the Atom family, made its debut in Lakefield, later gaining prominence through Jasper Lake and Elkhart Lake. Its successor, Gracemont, underwent refinement in Alder Lake (ADL) and Raptor Lake (RPL). The hybrid processors from these families merged Gracemont efficiency cores with Golden Cove (ADL) / Raptor Cove (RPL) performance cores, setting the stage for Intel’s new line of processors – Alder Lake-N (ADL-N). ADL-N exclusively integrates Gracemont cores, omitting the integrated GPU and focusing on premium connectivity. This shift has positioned ADL-N as a replacement for Tremont-based Jasper Lake SoCs, finding applications in entry-level computing systems like notebooks and compact desktops.

The Compact Computing Revolution

ASRock Industrial, a pioneer in ultra-compact form factor (UCFF) systems, has consistently delivered cutting-edge solutions through its NUC BOX series. These systems, based on Intel’s low-power microarchitecture, have paved the way for compact computing systems, proving powerful enough to replace traditional desktops. The 4×4 form factor, a standard introduced by Intel, has become the hallmark of these systems, accommodating 2.5-inch drives and SODIMM kits. Over time, advancements in storage and memory technologies have led to the rise of microcomputers with 4×4 footprints, exemplified by ASRock Industrial’s NUC BOX-N97.

In contrast, GMKtec’s NucBox G2 represents the culmination of innovative design, featuring a compact 3.4 x 3.4-inch form factor. With soldered LPDDR5 RAM and an M.2 2242 SATA SSD, this micro-computer combines performance and portability, making it a standout choice in the competitive compact computing market.

ASRock Industrial NUC BOX-N97: A Glimpse into Excellence

ASRock Industrial’s NUC BOX-N97 showcases the brand’s commitment to quality and innovation. Utilizing the ADL-N Intel processor N97, this system boasts a powerful quad-core configuration, reaching up to 3.6 GHz. The inclusion of Intel UHD graphics, coupled with a high-speed network interface and a comprehensive array of I/O ports, positions the NUC BOX-N97 as a top-tier choice for compact desktop enthusiasts.

The package includes essential components like a VESA mount, DDR4-3200 SODIMM slot, and support for both SATA and NVMe SSDs, ensuring flexibility and future-proofing for users. ASRock Industrial’s expertise in thermal solutions is evident through the notebook-style cooler, guaranteeing efficient heat dissipation without compromising performance.

GMKtec NucBox G2: Where Innovation Meets Portability

GMKtec’s NucBox G2 stands as a testament to the brand’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of compact computing. Powered by the Intel processor N100, this micro-computer operates at up to 3.4 GHz, offering a seamless user experience. The system’s compact footprint accommodates a 1TB SATA SSD, providing ample storage for various applications.

One of the standout features of the NucBox G2 is its port scheme, reminiscent of the ACEMAGIC T8 Plus, ensuring connectivity options are never limited. The inclusion of LPDDR5 RAM and an innovative cooling solution showcases GMKtec’s commitment to delivering high-performance devices in a compact form factor.

System Specifications: A Comparative Analysis

Specifications ASRock NUC BOX-N97 GMKtec NucBox G2
Processor Intel processor N97<br/>Alder Lake-N 4C/4T, up to 3.6 GHz<br/>Intel 7, 6MB L3, 12W Intel processor N100<br/>Alder Lake-N 4C/4T, up to 3.4 GHz<br/>Intel 7, 6MB L3, 6W
Memory Crucial CT16G4SFRA32A.C16FR DDR4-3200 SODIMM, 1×16 GB Micron LPDDR5-4800 (single channel, 4 x16), 12 GB
Graphics Intel UHD graphics (24EU @ 1200 MHz) Intel UHD graphics (24EU @ 750 MHz)
Disk Drive SK hynix Gold P31 SHGP31-1000GM-2 (1TB NVMe SSD) Futurepath S4GXH02TV6A01T0 (1TB SATA SSD)
Network 2x 2.5 GbE RJ-45 (Realtek RTL8125)<br/>Wi-Fi 6E (2×2 802.11ax – 1.2 Gbps) 2x GbE RJ-45 (Realtek RTL8168/8111)<br/>Wi-Fi 6/Bluetooth 5 (2×2 802.11ax – 1.2 Gbps)
Operating System Windows 11 Enterprise (22000.2416) Windows 11 Enterprise (22000.2360)
Price $260 (as of October 5, 2023) $230 (as of October 5, 2023)

System Setup and Platform Analysis

In the next section, we delve into the detailed setup and conduct a comprehensive analysis of the ASRock Industrial NUC BOX-N97 and GMKtec NucBox G2 systems. Stay tuned for an in-depth exploration of their performance, features, and value proposition.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What is the Tremont Micro Architecture, and how has it evolved over the years?

A1: Tremont Micro Architecture is a low-power x86 system introduced by Intel. It evolved through Lakefield, Jasper Lake, and Elkhart Lake, leading to hybrid processors like Alder Lake (ADL) and Raptor Lake (RPL) which combined Gracemont efficiency cores with performance cores, culminating in the Alder Lake-N (ADL-N) processors.

Q2: What are the key features of ASRock Industrial’s NUC BOX-N97?

A2: ASRock Industrial’s NUC BOX-N97 features an Intel N97 processor, quad-core configuration up to 3.6 GHz, Intel UHD graphics, 2x 2.5 GbE RJ-45, Wi-Fi 6E, Windows 11 Enterprise, and a price of $260 (as of October 5, 2023).

Q3: What distinguishes GMKtec’s NucBox G2 in terms of specifications and design?

A3: GMKtec’s NucBox G2 operates with an Intel N100 processor up to 3.4 GHz, 1TB SATA SSD storage, LPDDR5 RAM, 2x GbE RJ-45, Wi-Fi 6/Bluetooth 5, Windows 11 Enterprise, and is priced at $230 (as of October 5, 2023). Its standout feature is the compact 3.4 x 3.4-inch form factor.

Q4: How do the graphics specifications of ASRock NUC BOX-N97 and GMKtec NucBox G2 differ?

A4: Both systems feature Intel UHD graphics, but ASRock NUC BOX-N97 has 24EU @ 1200 MHz, while GMKtec NucBox G2 has 24EU @ 750 MHz.

Q5: What is the operating system pre-installed in ASRock NUC BOX-N97 and GMKtec NucBox G2?

A5: Both ASRock NUC BOX-N97 and GMKtec NucBox G2 come pre-installed with Windows 11 Enterprise (versions 22000.2416 and 22000.2360 respectively).

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