REVIEW: MeLE PCG35 Apo a fanless mini PC with Intel Apollo Lake J3455


Today we present the review of the new fanless mini PC MeLE PCG35 Apo of the brand MeLE. This model has an innovative external design compared to the previous model MeLE PCG03 Apo and improves the heat dissipation. As core we have an Intel Celeron J3455 Quad Core processor from the Apollo Lake family designed for desktop use and which is manufactured in 14nm. This mini PC also integrates 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage that can be extended thanks to a 2.5″ disk and also a M.2 drive. This computer has a HDMI 2.0 connector that allows us to playback 4K@60fps video and at the same time we have VGA output. Undoubtedly this is one of the most interesting models on this sector and we will seen in detail in the following review.

SPECIFICATIONS

ModelMeLE PCG35 Apo
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 M.2 2280 disk (optional)
1x 2,5″ SATA3 disk (optional)
WiFiSi, Intel Dual Band AC 3165
(1 internal antenna + 1 external)
EthernetRealtek Gigabit Ethernet
Bluetooth4.0
AudioIntel HDMI + Realtek ALC269 jack audio
Ports3x USB 3.0
1x USB 3.0 Type-C
1x USB 2.0
DC-IN
Audio jack in/out
HDMI 2.0a / 4K@60fps
VGA
SD reader
Kensington lock
ContentManual
Transformador 12V 2A (24W)
OthersVESA 100 x 100 compatible
PXE boot
Wake on Lan
Weight: 1,1 lb
Dimensions: 7.68 x 4.92 x 1.5 inches

CONTENT DESCRIPTION

Package content

The mini PC MeLE PCG35 Apo is presented in a cardboard box with the model image in the foreground and the main specifications, in the foreground we have the mini PC, in a separate compartment we have the 12V-2A power adapter with international adapters among them the EEUU, we also have screws to mount the internal disks and a manual of first steps.

Product Details

The chassis of the MeLE PCG35 Apo mini PC is made of plastic and aluminium, in the outer shell we have a series of slots to improve the thermal, in the front we see the brand logo, the power button and an IR receiver but unfortunately is not functional.

 

At the top we can see the new passive cooling system, the CPU is in contact with the piece of aluminium that is seen between the slots of the plastic housing and sends the heat through the channels of its design towards the back or irradiates it directly.

On one side we have a SD card reader, next to it we have a USB 2.0 port and another USB 3.0 far enough to place any device connector, something that is appreciated.

At the rear we find the rest of the connectors, two USB 3.0 port, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 2.0 video connector that allows 4K@60fps video output, VGA video output giving us the option to connect two screen at a time, 12V connector, USB 3.0 Type-C port, Kensington lock, on the side we can see the external wifi antenna and at the top we see the air outlet of the aluminum heatsink.

In the lower area of the MeLE PCG35 Apo we have four rubber feet that raise the device minimally, we can see the screws for the VESA bracket and the four holes to mount a 2.5″ disk on the inside. The four screws that fix the lid are problematic because they are not well centered and when they are inserted they do not fit well, besides they are not of good quality.

We open the cover after removing the four screws from the bottom and we can see the motherboard of this device, on one of the sides we have the hole to position the disk 2.5″, we also have a slot M.2 2280 and on the right side the BIOS reset button. The Wifi ac adapter is integrated in the board just like the 4 GB of RAM and the 32 GB of Samsung eMMC storage, on plate we can also see the chip Parade PS175 that converts the signal DP 1.2 to HDMI 2.0a On the front side we also have an internal Wifi antenna.

CONNECTING THE DEVICE

Startup

To start the MeLE PCG35 Apo we press the power button, in a first boot we get the installation wizard of Windows 10 Home 64 bit (1703 Creators update), the system is properly activated. We also checked the list of devices and all the systems have the proper drivers installed.

  • Startup time: 18 seconds

User Experience

The mini PC MeLE PCG35 Apo throughout our review works fast on desktop using Windows 10 Home 64bit thanks to the Intel Celeron J3455 Quad core processor, we only notice how a drop down on performance in very heavy applications or when surfing many webs at a time. 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. With the F7 key we have the option to choose the boot drive without having to enter the BIOS.

In the BIOS options we have in the Advanced mode the power-on control, but in this case we only have the option to boot the system with the internal clock of the device.

You can activate auto power-on follow this steps in the BIOS.

Brand Support

From the MeLE forums we have available to download all drivers and BIOS for this model, we also have a complete image of Windows 10 with all the pre-installed drivers. Alternatively we can always install Windows 10 from a USB stick and then install the drivers manually if necessary.

Remote control

To remotely control the MeLE PCG35 Apo 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

Integrated in the MeLE PCG35 Apo 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

Inside the MeLE PCG35 Apo 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.

The speed in Dual Channel as we see in the figures are correct 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

Inside the mini PC MeLE PCG35 Apo we have 32 GB of internal memory eMMC Samsung that performs well in the use of the system, it is possible to improve the overall performance by installing another M.2 or SSD 2.5″ unit with better figures but this is something optional.To change the drive we can use Clonezilla Ubuntu and then change the boot drive in the BIOS.

  • In USB 3.0 ports we have a reading of 123 MB/s and a write of 64 MB/s
  • On the M.2 and SATA 3 connectors we get a correct speed of up to 550 MB/s using an SSD disk

The results that gives us the installed eMMC 32 GB memory are correct, we have fairly balanced results in all aspects as we can see in the test CrystalDiskMark.

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.

Consumption and temperatures

We pass our usual battery of thermal tests on the MeLE PCG35 Apo and we verified that the temperatures are quite good in general use and in performance scenarios, it is noticed that this processor has a higher consumption than the N family of Intel but we also get more performance.

Temperature and noise

We performed a series of thermal tests on the MeLE PCG35 Apo 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 67ºC, the processor is maintained at a maximum speed of 1.58 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 67 ºC and we do not rise of that temperature, the turbo mode jumps to 2 GHz punctually.

Power consumption

As we see in the test of consumption the MeLE PCG35 Apo 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 19 W when we put the GPU to work to the maximum, values that also depend on the connected components.

Wi-Fi, Ethernet and Bluetooth

In our review we ran our tests to check the network performance on the MeLE PCG35 Apo 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 38 Mbps in the 2,4 GHz band and 204 Mbps in the 5 GHz band. The Realtek Gigabit Ethernet connector gives us results of 641 Mbps, which are good figures to transfer files in Windows networks. The Wi-Fi coverage is correct thanks to the two 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 and we help us to view all streaming sources available.

PERFORMANCE TEST

As we see in the tests performed with the MeLE PCG35 Apo mini PC we have a correct performance 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

We performed several performance tests on the MeLE PCG35 Apo, 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 17 fps which is quite low 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

In the video playback section the MeLE PCG35 Apo mini PC gives us good results, the integrated Intel HD Graphics 500 GPU offers excellent playback quality for H.264 video with 1080p resolution, and we also have video acceleration for codecs HVEC/H.265 but as we see in some HDR files we have some frame skip. In this model we have HDMI 2.0a video output with the maximum resolution of 4K@60fps and we also have VGA that allows us to connect two monitors at the same time. This miniPC as we have tested works very well with any video at 1080p or 4K resolution, the only limitation is on content with HDR information in certain formats.

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 MeLE PCG35 Apo 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 MeLE PCG35 Apo 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

We play streaming content on the MeLE PCG35 Apo 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

On our series of tests on the most common streaming services we 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

MeLE PCG35 Apo

8.5

DESIGN AND CONNECTIVITY

9.0/10

HARDWARE

8.0/10

SOFTWARE

8.0/10

SUPPORT

8.5/10

PRICE/QUALITY

9.0/10

Pros

  • HDMI 2.0 and VGA
  • Careful and fanless design
  • Many storage options
  • Good Wifi performance
  • Brand support

Cons

  • eMMC and RAM can be better

Opinion

As we have seen in our review of MeLE PCG35 Apo this is a fanless mini PC with good performance that perfectly meets its purpose in general terms. It is necessary to emphasize the thermal performance that is always controlled and the good performance that gives its adapter Wifi AC with the two mounted antennas. The Intel Celeron J3455 gives us enough performance for a correct desktop use, it is possible to use office and multimedia software without problems, the limitation is on to playing powerful 3D games that are out of the range of this device.

On the other hand in the MeLE PCG35 Apo we have detected that we have lost some performance in the 32 GB eMMC installed as default and the memory stays at 1600 MHz, but are two points not critical to the user experience in basic use. On the other hand are missing some power control options that we had in the previous Mele PCG03 Apo. Of course we must note that we can mount an M.2 disk at the same time as another 2,5″ SSD, we also have video outputs HDMI 2.0 and VGA that allows us to connect two monitors at a time. In short as we has seen in our review we are before a very good device for our desktop or multimediacenter.

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Dave Speed

Sounded like an alternative to an Intel NUC for streaming TV. Touted (elsewhere) to stream 4K, it fails – very choppy.

The current vesion comes w Win10Pro. Updates (required) are very slow (hours). Instructions non-existant. Bluetooth iffy..

All in all, a very marginal piece of kit.