REVIEW: ACEPC AK1 a compact mini PC with Intel Celeron J3455 and 2.5″ disk dock

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We have today thanks to the collaboration of the Gearbest store we bring you the review of the new ACEPC AK1 mini PC, a model that has attracted our attention since its launch for the price adjusted to which we found it and for its “inspired” design in the HP Elite Slice. As a core we have an Intel Celeron J3455 Quad Core processor from the Apollo Lake family designed for desktop use and manufactured in 14nm. In this mini PC has integrated 4GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage that can be extended thanks to the fact that it allows to mount a 2.5″ disk in its removable bottom dock o using a mSATA drive.A miniPC with a careful design that you can see now in our usual detailed review.

SPECIFICATIONS

ModelACEPC AK1
CPUIntel Celeron J3455 Quad core @ 1.5 / 2.3 GHz
GPUIntel HD Graphics 500 @ 250 MHz / 750 MHz
OSWindows 10
ChipsetIntel Apollo Lake
BIOSAMI BIOS
FormatminiPC
RAM4 GB LPDDR3 1600 MHz Dual Channel
Storage32 GB eMMC Samsung
1x mSATA (internal – optional)
1x 2,5″ SATA3 disk (optional)
WiFiSi, Intel Dual Band AC 3165
(2x internal antenna)
EthernetRealtek Gigabit Ethernet
Bluetooth4.0
AudioIntel Broxton
Ports2x USB 3.0
1x USB 3.0 Type-C
2x USB 2.0
DC-IN
Audio jack in/out
HDMI 1.4 / 4K@30fps
microSD reader
Kensington lock
OthersManual
Transformador 12V 2.5A (30W)
VESA support
Weight: 2.2 lb
Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 2.1 / 1.4 inches

CONTENT DESCRIPTION

Package content

The ACEPC AK1 mini PC comes in a cardboard box with the image of the model in the foreground and the main specifications, in the upper part we have the mini PC, in a separate compartment we have the power adapter of 12V 2.5A with the Adapter of our region, we also have the VESA support plate with its screws and a manual of first steps.

Product Details

The ACEPC AK1 mini PC chassis is made of plastic completely, the upper area has a striking ventilation slots that light up with a blue LED when starting up, if it is at rest it is red, we have not seen any way to turn it off.

 

In one of the sides we have the power button, microSD card reader, we have two USB 3.0 ports and another USB 2.0 far away enough to place any device, something that is appreciated.

On the back we find the rest of the connectors, DC-IN port, USB 2.0, USB 3.0 Type-C, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 1.4 video connector that allows 4K@30fps video output, Gigabit Ethernet, audio jack and a Kensington lock.

In the lower area of ACEPC AK1 we have four rubber feet, holes to hang the miniPC on the vesa support, a trapdoor that hides the bay of 2.5″ discs and two closures that liberalize the lower dock block as we will see.

We open the lid after removing the two screws of the lower hatch and we see the rack to position the 2.5″ SATA3 disk, you just have to slide the disk and fit it, is a little bit complicated to remove it because we have to force them a bit given its position.

We move the two levers from the lower part of the face to the unlocked position, we can extract the lower base that, as we see, has a type C connector to connect each part, that connector respects the SATA 3 speeds.

Without the lower dock the ACEPC AK1 has very low dimensions as we can see (2.1 to 1.4 inches), if we are going to use it for office work and little else this configuration can be useful.

 

If we open the ACEPC AK1 chassis we can see the motherboard with the blower type fan that extracts the air to the side, the Wi-Fi card has two antennas stuck to one side and by surprise we found a slot for mSATA disks in the upper area. The bottom does not have any remarkable hardware, the golden outer shell has a led strip around the perimeter

CONNECTING THE DEVICE

Startup

To start ACEPC AK1 we press the power button, in a few seconds we see the Windows configuration wizard, we only have English and Chinese as default languages.

  • Startup time: 18 seconds

As we see the installed system is Windows 10 Home 64bit properly activated and perfectly detects the Intel Celeron J3455 Quad Core with its speed of 1.5 GHz, the system comes with the previous version of Creators update with what we need to wait almost one hour to be updated completely, a process that has not give us any problem.

User Experience

The ACEPC AK1 mini PC during our analysis moves quickly the Windows 10 Home 64bit system using the Intel Celeron J3455 Quad core processor, we only notice how it is logical a drop on the performance in very heavy applications or when browsing many websites at once. For normal desktop use, browsing the internet, watching videos and using office applications, this hardware is sufficient for the vast majority of users.

BIOS

We can boot the system BIOS by repeatedly pressing the ESC or SUP key while restarting the miniPC, the system BIOS is the classic AMI with the text mode menus by which we can navigate using the keyboard, the advanced settings give us few options of control.

Brand Support

This brand seems to have an official website ACEPC with several products but apart from its own advertising we do not find any type of support file for this model, a classic in these brands.

Remote control

To remotely control the ACEPC AK1 we can install Intel Remote Keyboard Host on the the mini PC, and then we can use our mobile or tablet to control it installing the Android or iOS app. We can use tactile gestures, virtual mouse or remote keyboard, we just have to have both devices on the same Wi-Fi network.

Linux

From a USB we tried to boot Ubuntu x64 using the ISO of this system but the system hangs before running the boot menu, a pity but surely in the long term we have a compatible distribution available.

Hardware specifications

Processor

Installed in the ACEPC AK1 Mini PC we have the Intel Celeron J3455 Quad core processor manufactured at 14nm working at 1.5 GHz speed and 2.0 GHz turbo mode, with a consumption of 10W TPD. Integrated in the processor we have an Intel HD Graphics GPU 500 witch has 12 EU (execution engines) that allows us to run simple 3D games.

RAM

Integrated in the ACEPC AK1 has welded 4 GB of LPDDR3 RAM at 1600 MHz configured in Dual Channel, the figures we have are correct for that speed but it is a shame that it is not at 1866 MHz.

As we see the speed in Dual Channel configuration give us a correct figures and we reached up to 1600 MHz, certainly in this aspect could have risked more and set up slightly better speeds to match it to other models of the same brand.

Storage and ports

Within the mini PC ACPC AK1 we has an internal memory of 32 GB eMMC that defends well to move the OS. If we want it is possible to improve the overall performance by installing another M.2 unit or SSD 2.5″ with better performance but this is optional.

As we can see in the comparison of the eMMC memory against an SSD disk the SATA dock produces higher figures. To change the system unit we can use Clonezilla and then change the boot unit in the BIOS.

eMMC internaSSD disk on dock SATA 3

If we put an M.2 2280 disk the results are much better as it is logical, in our case we have mounted a ADATA ASX7000NP-128GT-C that gives us the maximum values.

Temperatures and noise levels

We perform our usual battery of thermal tests on the ACEPC AK1 and verify that the temperatures are correct. In our test we have discovered that we are facing a semi-passive device, this causes the internal fan to be stopped in a low use for example watching movies but it activates quite fast in a medium use when navigating.

  • The fan start running at 50ºC at a somewhat slow slow speed and returns to stop at 42ºC, then at 60ºC it accelerates and is noisier.

Temperature and noise level

We performed a series of thermal tests on the ACEPC AK1 and verified that the unique thermal design of this model continues to work perfectly with the new Intel Apollo Lake SoCs. As we see the numbers are kept at values much lower than those of the competition, something that in the long run surely involves less problems.

  • Average measurement temperature 25°C

In our extreme performance tests with CPU and GPU at 100% and the system rises the temperature to 68 ºC, the processor is maintained at a maximum speed of 1.68 GHz which is normal since in these devices when a benchmark tool is detected the CPU and GPU speeds are greatly limited.

In those kind mini PCs we usually do thermal test using games, as we have proven are the best performance tests that exist since in this type of processors of low consumption push them to the maximum performance in use of CPU as in GPU. As we see in the data playing DOTA 2 we arrive until the 70 ºC and we do not rise of that temperature, the turbo mode jumps to 2.2 GHz punctually.

Power consumption

As we see in the test of consumption the ACEPC AK1 we have quite low values in the line of similar models, in a normal use the systems are kept very contained and only we reach a maximum of 15.2 W when we put the GPU to work to the maximum, values that also depend on the connected components.

Wi-Fi, Ethernet and Bluetooth

We ran our tests to check the network performance on the ACEPC AK1 mini PC, we found that for the wireless connection we have an Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165 chip that also integrates the 4.0 Bluetooth adapter. With this Wi-Fi chip we get a speed of 36 Mbps in the 2,4 GHz band and 210 Mbps in the 5 GHz band. The Realtek Gigabit Ethernet connector gives us results of 614 Mbps, which are good figures to transfer files in Windows networks. The Wi-Fi coverage is correct thanks to the two internal antennas assembled in this model. This device also have Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity with which we have no major problems when it comes to detecting other devices in general.

We also ran tests on the network adapters for streaming using the iPerf measurement tool with which we have the maximum connection speed in each type of network. With this figure we have how far we can reach using the available connections, the final performance will depend on our internet provider, the contracted speed, the distance of our Wi-Fi network and other factors. The results are good for this kind of hardware, we recommend to use the 5HGz band if is wifi needed.

PERFORMANCE TEST

On the performed side this mini PC0 ACEPC AK1 have a correct results thanks to the Intel Celeron J3455 processor, some of those values could be better if the RAM worked faster but at 1600 MHz we can’t get 100% performance that could give us this CPU. On the other hand the graphic performance as we see is quite similar to other products that mount the GPU Intel HD Graphics 500.

Benchmarks

PCMark 8

With this test we can see the performance of the device in an office environment and common desktop use.

3DMark

Graphic performance test where we can see the gross performance capabilities in this environment and compare the performance of GPU’s historically.

Geekbench 4

This benchmark in SoC offers a fairly reliable numbers of CPU’s working in a single core or multiple cores ate the same time, it also has a section of GPU computing that gives us an overall result of the processing capacity.

Cinebench

A brute force tests on both CPU and GPU, this benchmark always help us to see a very clear reference of power.

Games

As you can see in our tests on the ACEPC AK1 the results are the usual in this type of products, we can use the miniPC for titles with simple 3D effects like those we have in Android or several previous generations of PC, although it is possible that some modern games surprise us as a rule we can not use titles that require modern 3D effects.

Test environment

  • GTA V, Low settings, 720p resolution
  • Overwatch, Low settings, 720p resolution
  • DOTA 2, Low settings, 1080p resolution
  • Minecraft, Medium settings, 1080p resolution
  • World of Tanks, Medium settings, 1080p resolution

We performed our special test with DOTA 2 o with a screen resolution of 1920×1080, on the lowest settings, the system stays at only 27 fps which is a normal value for this processor. As we see this hardware is quite limited in 3D games but as we said it is not the main purpose of such device, luckily temperatures are very low.

As we see, with this hardware it is advisable to play simple titles such as those found on Android phones by downloading them from the Microsoft Store. Also indie 2D titles or have a basic load in 3D, emulators are also feasible but at most we are in some simple Wii titles.

VIDEO AND AUDIO TEST

Video format test

Regarding the video playback the ACEPC AK1 mini PC gives us positive results, the integrated Intel HD Graphics 500 GPU offers us an excellent playback quality for H.264 video with 1080p resolution, and we also have video acceleration for codecs HVEC / H265 but as we see in some HDR files we have some frame skips. In this model we have HDMI 1.4 video output with the maximum resolution of 4K@30fps, as we have seen it works very well with any video at 1080p or 4K resolution, the only limitation is in content with HDR information in some cases.

Test results

H.264 formatDefault playerKODI
BBB – H.264 8bit – 1080p@25fps – 7 MbpsCorrectCorrect
Birds – H.264 8bit – 1080p@24fps – 40 MbpsCorrectCorrect
Samsung Oceanic Life – H.264  8bit– 1080p@30fps – 40 MbpsCorrectCorrect
Anime – H.264 10bit – 1080p@24fps – 10 MbpsArtifactsFrame skip
Skyfall – H.264  8 bit – 4K@24fps – 10 MbpsCorrectCorrect
Timelapse – H.264 8bit – 4K@24fps – 43 MbpsCorrectCorrect
H.265 format
Tears of steel – HVEC 8bit – 1080p@24fps – 17 MbpsCorrectCorrect
Beauty – HVEC 8bit – 4K@120fps – 12 MbpsCorrectCorrect
Anime – HVEC 10bit – 1080p@24fps – 21 MbpsCorrectCorrect
Samsung UHD Dubai – HVEC 10bit – 4K@24fps – 51 MbpsCorrectCorrect
HDR format
Life of Pi HDR –  HVEC – 4K@24fps – 45 MbpsCorrectCorrect
TravelXP HDR HLG – HVEC – 4K@24fps – 20 MbpsArtifactsFrame skip
Planet Earth II – HDR HLG – HVEC 10L5 – 4K@25fps – 31 MbpsCorrectCorrect
  • The MKV, Blu-ray ISO and BDRemux formats are only containers, inside we can have different codecs, resolutions, audio channels, chapters or subtitles. To play the Blu-ray format menus we need KODI or a compatible program.

Audio format test

We test the audio adapter built into the ACEPC AK1 using a Yamaha RXV-577 AV receiver and we checked that this mini PC supports 7.1 DD and DTS pass through sound. We recommend as always update to the latest all drivers with Windows Update before connecting the device to our AV receiver. In the ACEPC AK1 like the other Apollo Lake products we need to use directshow filters like the LAV to have multi-channel audio like for example with MPC-HC, the normal KODI version will not work we need to use KODI DSPlayer.

Test results

Formato audioHDMISalida óptica
Dolby Digital 5.1OK
Dolby Digital Plus 7.1Core
Dolby True HD 7.1OK
Dolby Atmos 7.1OK*
DTS 5.1OK
DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1OK
DTS-HD High Resolution 7.1OK
DTS-X 7.1OK*
  • PCM – Stereo downmix from DD or DTS
  • Core – Only the core of the format Dolby / DTS is played
  • * Our AV receiver does not support these native formats but we check that it does downmix fine

STREAMING

Youtube

In our test we play streaming content on the ACEPC AK1 in the usual channels like YouTube or other sources and we verified that we have no problems when playing videos. In YouTube we can play content with the VP9 codec quite correctly up to 4K with a 50% CPU usage, although if we look for better performance it is best to use another codec.

Streaming services with subscription

We check the most common streaming services playback various contents and we verified that all work properly, the power of this device is more than enough to see any kind of content with them. In Netflix we get to FullHD quality without complications, in the rest of services we get the maximum resolution possible.

ServiceVideoAudio
NetflixFullHD (1080p)5.1
HBOFullHD (1080p)Stereo
Amazon Prime VideoHD (720p)Stereo

CONCLUSIONS

Opinion

After performing all the test for our review on the ACEPC AK1 mini PC we can say that we are before an interesting device for his price. In general this hardware fulfills perfectly as a small desktop computer and the addition of the semi-passive system is an interesting point as a silent multimedia player if we do not exceed the activation temperature of the fan. For normal desktop use, we may always have fan noise because it is activated with a basic job such as browsing Internet.

On the other hand in ACEPC AK1 we have a fairly fast serial eMMC memory and the possibility of adding an SSD disk or an mSATA drive that does not appear documented. The network adapters also work correctly and as we have seen the USB 3.0 Type-C port works to allow it to be used as a video output for example. On the other hand as we say the fan is somewhat annoying in high performance scenarios and we only have HDMI 1.4 video output that allows video 4K@30fps. In general an interesting model that for its price that comes to compete with the MeLE PCG35 Apo that has perhaps more interesting specifications, although at a higher price.

Where to buy

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