Entroware Aura / Intel NUC 7i7BNH Review (Linux/Ubuntu)

Entroware Aura / Intel NUC 7i7BNH Review (Linux/Ubuntu)


This is a box from Entroware and first of all.. it wobbles? ..also this is not a sponsored video or a paid review. I got my hands on this device thanks to a lucky coincidence, because our friend and podcaster Diogo Constantino wanted to buy this from Entroware but he had to find out that Entroware isn’t shipping to Belgium or Portugal but since I’m seeing Diogo in a few days, I let him sent it to my address in Germany and he allowed me to take a look at the device. Here, in this box is Entroware’s version of an Intel NUC that has a cool codename which I totally forgot to write down.. right this is the Entroware Aura.. its just Entroware’s rebranding of the Intel NUC series but there are a lot of options for configuring the specs we will talk about the exact configuration that we got here, in a second but first, lets open it up this probably is the world’s worst unboxing knife there we go, wrapping material I’ve got no idea what could be in this box another box, this should be the NUC.. or the name that I keep forgetting.. Entroware Aura I promise this isn’t sponsored according to the weight, this should be the NUC and.. a few more meters of wrapping material I hit the camera. Great. Let’s start with this box, I guess this one contains all the cables.. thats another thing that Diogo told me about if you order from Entroware you can also choose to get a USB drive with Ubuntu preinstalled if you want to install Ubuntu yourself or if you ever have to reinstall your system. this should be the NUC then lets see.. I’ll probably open it on the wrong side anyway ..yup wrong side of the box.. I guess, that’s the front let’s open it up thats the NUC there’s more cables and the smell of Chinese plastic a VESA mount if you want to mount your NUC behind your display I guess we’re not gonna test that manuals it contains some useful information actually pictures that show you how to upgrade the hardware, in this case how to put in more RAM or an Intel Optane module or even how to add another m.2 drive and how to take it apart that’s some useful information, I like that. and the first thing I’d usually lose: a bag of screws and there is our power supply a 65 watt power supply I guess? yes, indeed 65 watt max. and you can use it with different adapters it should come with an US plug at least and even more, great! we don’t need that one not that one thats the one we need. If you happen to travel with your NUC to other countries you can power it at least. and I think thats it, no there’s something else of course, the most important thing: a sticker that says Intel Core i7, 7th Gen so that everyone who walks by your NUC knows what processor it’s running. usually I would get rid of all the paperwork but since I have to give this to Diogo, I’d better keep it. maybe we’ll talk about the Entroware stuff later, I don’t know yet. finally lets get to the NUC its just the right size so that it could fit behind a display for I/O this device has 4x USB-A 3.0 1x USB-C 3.1 1x RJ-45 ethernet port 1x HDMI out, power port on the front there’s a 3.5mm Headphone/Microphone combo port a Kensington lock port and a slot that can fit a Micro-SD card so before we’re gonna power this thing on and test it lets talk about it’s specs this NUC has an Intel Core i7 7567U that’s a 7th generation chip I think.. yeah it’s a Kabylake so 7th gen, 32GB of DDR4 RAM a 1 TB m.2 PCI Express SSD and another 1 TB SSD which is slightly slower but hey thats 2 TB of SSD storage we’ll talk about why this is the maxed-out version in a second Intel Iris Graphics, that’s the slightly improved version of Intel’s onboard graphic chip that you get with 7th gen chips. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, gigabit ethernet, the usual stuff you would expect and on Entroware’s USB drive you’d get Ubuntu 18.04 LTS I’m not sure yet if we’re gonna test it with this. Gnome hates me so lets see.. So this whole package, and I’ve compared this on Intels website and on other sites, it’s fairly inexpensive if you get it from Entroware, still, This exact configuration including the 2x 1 TB SSDs, including the 4 GHz i7 processor, including 32GB of RAM comes in, in this configuration, at ~ 1.700€ so now you could say “This is a lot of money for a mini PC” and I would agree, but the reason why Diogo bought the maxed-out version is, he wants to use this NUC as his main computer, for the next 5-7 years. Keeping this in mind, the maxed-out version makes sense for that. I’m asking myself, how’s the cooling performance/temperatures afaik this device has one or two fans, the NUC itself is one big heat spreader another thing we’re gonna find out is, how bad is thermal throttling on this these are just a few things, that I’m sceptical about if they can work in such a form factor so we are also gonna try some video editing on this lets go to testing So a few things that you haven’t seen over the last 20 minutes is that I couldn’t found an HDMI cable until I remembered that I had one, still sealed, in my Oculus Go box. The other thing is, that I already tried powering on the NUC I did that to make sure that my capture card works, so that I could use it to capture the setup process but for some reason, it only captures a black image. I dont know why, this could easily be a bug in OBS So we have to improvise a bit, thats why we are using a second camera to capture the screen Let’s power it on, as you can see, there are some blue LEDs, and, given that I plugged in the display again, something should happen. there was the Entroware bootlogo, and we choose “boot Ubuntu” this should boot into the OEM install process let’s ignore the error messages and there we are in the OEM installation process you can tell by the Entroware logo in the lower right corner this is Gnome in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS the OEM install is for vendors like Entroware to set their logos and they also set a few default settings Ubuntu itself is already installed more or less we just enter a few more details to finish the installation and a few packages will get updated let’s continue the OS is already installed, it’s just applying a few settings it should be done any second there we go, it’s just finishing up and looking for updates ..generating man-db.. that’s pretty much like installing updates and after that it’s rebooting? no, it’s launching the gnome-shell-session let’s check for updates before we’ll reboot again, even after an OEM installation you should reboot once again I’m pretty sure it couldn’t do all updates during the installation there are two interesting observations already 1. its using gb.archive.ubuntu.com for updates which is the package mirror for UK instead of using the main server as I would have expected let’s verify that while we’re on it, yup, there it is, “Server for United Kingdom” but we also don’t want to use the server for Germany because it is slower than the main server. “revert” wait. I thought I’ve selected German during the installation but this is in English okay, maybe let’s not rate the initial OEM/Entroware experience here that could be it’s own video. Let’s finally benchmark this NUC! while it’s downloading and installing the updates, let me explain something real quick: of course, I could use OBS Studio to capture the screen but since we are doing some performance benchmark tests next, we really don’t want to have something like that running on the CPU because it would have a negative impact on our benchmark results that’s why we have this setup with a camera running behind me here we will find a better solution for our next review. Updates just finished, let’s reboot. If I can find the reboot button in Gnome.. Since we have no idea yet about the performance of this device, lets start the benchmark using medium quality settings as expected we don’t have to run this benchmark it’s barely reaching 30 fps anyway, let’s run it to get actual results I got to say, I expected worse results It got an FPS score of 536 which doesn’t mean that much so lets ignore that, What we’ve got on our Full-HD benchmark running in fullscreen, using medium quality settings, we got an average score of 21.3 FPS you are not doing any competitive gaming on this CS:GO on low quality settings could work, but this is definitely not a gaming machine which we knew already. What surprises me is that it, our worst score was at around 10 fps and our best score was at almost 43 fps. that’s interesting lets check next for… well, I would if Gnome would let me tab out of this window let’s check the temperatures while our benchmark was running I’m still not allowed to tab out, nope, no super key, how do I exit this? Interesting. Right after the benchmark finished, it’s still sitting at around 70°C / 158°F I’m afraid you can’t really tell on camera, let me tell you instead, at the beginning our temperatur was sitting at around.. can I get any more details on this? no of course not. in the beginning we were looking at around 40°C / 104°F then it went up to around 70°C / 158°F and at around 75°C / 167°F it started ramping up the fans max. temp was 90°C / 194°F and as it looks like, at around 80°C / 176°F it started throttling the CPU that’s expected behavior since you don’t want it to overheat for too long. let’s check.. it’s noticeable if you touch it on the top but it’s not too bad it can definitely survive running a two minute benchmark it doesn’t throttle the CPU to much, we will come back to that when we do our video render test since we didn’t got too great results on medium settings, like not even getting close to 30 FPS, we won’t even try Unigine Superposition that would be a waste of time that’s still ok, we don’t expect this device to perform like a gaming machine let’s try Steam next, for a quick 3D test let’s start Steam.. let’s start Steam.. “Marius tries to start Steam” that could be it’s own video oh, that explains it there is a runtime error there is a problem with some 32bit drivers reads: “start Steam to complete..” .. interesting. did it setup most of the stuff in the backgound before showing me this window instead of saying it’s done when it’s actually done? start Steam, let’s see.. no it didn’t. It just opened the window. let’s try again, nope. we’ll skip the Steam benchmark, I have no time for this instead we will continue with Kdenlive! for everyone who ever asked why snaps are a great idea: I’m about to install more than 304 dependencies on my Gnome system just to launch Kdenlive We are just doing a quick rendering test let’s import our GPD Pocket review video I cannot move the mouse I wouldn’t blame the NUC for this but Kdenlive.. Did we really manage to lock up the system? no. we really managed to completely lock up the system. we can’t even get into a tty everything goes wrong in this review let’s try again in Kdenlive and hope that it won’t lock up again. importing file.. and it locked up again I’m really sorry about this but I guess.. I expected something like this to happen We can not do the Kdenlive test on Ubuntu so let’s install Solus real quick. I’m afraid something is not working right with Kdenlive on Ubuntu 18.04 I’ll skip the installation for you and we’ll be right back. This only took another 20 minutes.. since Kdenlive lead to a lock up of our Gnome-shell-session, every time I tried to import footage, I briefly debuged this, because it tried to do something using melt and ffmpeg, followed by some weird kernel messages, so I tried to boot Solus from a USB drive, and I could boot it but it wasn’t able to load the desktop, except for a flickering mouse pointer. So Solus didn’t work. Maybe because we are still waiting for Solus 4 and Solus 3’s base is too old for this NUC. So I had to install something else. I installed Ubuntu 16.04 LTS instead. we’re back in Kdenlive I hope I can import footage this time. it’s imported, can I put it in the timeline? yes! and my system doesn’t freeze. great I can work with this. Finally. this is a FullHD video I can skip through the video not too much waiting, no stuttering so none of the usual Kdenlive bugs none of the issues that I’m used to in Kdenlive.. timeline performance is looking good we won’t do 4K editing with this thing this is about 8 minutes of footage almost 9 minutes let’s try to export this, we will use psensors to monitor temps while exporting the video.. oh I shouldn’t minimize Kdenlive for this we will also monitor CPU usage but before we do that, we have to change the most important setting in Kdenlive change processing threads from 1 to 4 threads in our case otherwise, Kdenlive will export the video, using only one thread and that would take forever clicks “render to file” exporting finished in.. 12 minutes and 50 seconds, at first I expected something better because when it started calculating, the CPU was relatively cool because the fan was still running from the previous tasks that’s why I thought that it could export the video in less than the actual video playback time. obviously that wasn’t the case here. on the other hand, exporting a 9 minutes long video, in under 13 minutes is not too bad but also not that hard, because this wasn’t a complicated video edit, there were no effects, cuts no videos added, it just reencoded the video and exported it as a file this is not a competitive test but should do for this first impression of the NUC obviously, the more complicated you edit gets, the more demanding it get’s for your hardware. your CPU runs hotter and so on. so let’s do the conclusion then. We made it to the end of this first review of the NUC I got to say, I’m surprised about how good this device handle high temperatures as you’ve soon during the video exporting test, temps climbed up to 80/90°C / 176/194°F and the fans always cooled it back down to 70°C / 158°F but our average temperature during load was in the high 80°C / 176°F almost without experiencing thermal throttling for a device of this size that obviously has a harder job of cooling down the NUC itself is one big heat spreader I’m impressed with how good it performed in our tests. we have to talk about the fan noise tho even if I’d put it behind a display, as soon as it’s ramping up the fan, you can really hear it. hear for yourself from one of the camera mics that is too loud for me things that we haven’t tested here: we technically have tested video playback, photo editing, printing, of course you can do this on every device. we’ve skipped this for the NUC because it’s an overpowered PC in a really small form factor with 32GB of RAM and one of the latest Intel i7 processors there isn’t much you could do wrong with this specs. a few problems that we’ve run into and that’s a recurring issue in our reviews unfortunately, the preinstalled OS that comes with the device, is sometimes not optimized for the hardware that it’s shipping on, or too much was changed by the vendor, which wasn’t the case here with Entroware, they’ve changed the wallpaper, included a few drivers and settings, nothing wrong with that. What I was surprised by was that the region and language settings were not applied system-wide not everything was translated, maybe that was because of the new 18.04 LTS, I don’t know. but all that is not relevant in terms of hardware performance that’s all software, and software is fixable. also stuff like using a new kernel or a newer kernel like it is in 18.04, isn’t always the best idea and you can run into problems using ffmpeg and melt if you try importing files via drag’n’drop into a timeline in Kdenlive. this stuff can happen which is why we used Ubuntu 16.04 LTS which is still a great Ubuntu release and sometimes also works better on certain hardware. So I don’t think you can do too much wron with this device. on the other hand.. Even if I want 32 GB of RAM and a new i7 processor, and at least one, 1 TB SSD, 1.700€ is a bit too much. granted, this NUC has 2x 1TB SSDs and it came all assembled and preinstalled you have to ask yourself how much that is worth to you. Diogo’s idea of not buying a new PC for the next 5-7 years because his NUC should be sufficient.. I’m pretty sure that could work for him. If you got any questions about this device, you can, as always, comment down below or you can find us on telegram, twitter and google+ If you got any questions about the NUC but regarding software, I’ll happily pass them on to Diogo and hopefully he can or will answer them. let me know what you think about this slightly chaotic review comment your questions down below and I’ll see you next time! bye 🙂

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