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Linutop 2 Mini PC review

Ardjuna Seghers



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Linutop 2 Mini PC
  • Linutop 2 Mini PC
  • Linutop 2 Mini PC
  • Linutop 2 Mini PC


Our Score:


Even in these times of the diminutive nettop, it's not everyday that a fully working PC measuring a mere 14 x 14 x 3.5cm (5.5 x 5.5 x 1.38in) arrives in the office. With its svelte dimensions and weighing only 562g, the Linutop 2 (yes, there was a Linutop 1) is one little box that truly deserves the tag of 'miniature PC'.

Despite the low weight, Linutop's little box is encased in a relatively thick aluminium shell, giving it build quality only somewhat less impressive than a Sherman tank. Though we didn't test it this time around, the Linutop 2 is another machine you could probably drive a car over and still leave it intact afterwards.

Only at the front and back of the machine do the recessed panels around the ports flex slightly when applying pressure, but we can't see many scenarios where this would be an issue. At its bottom are two thick rubber strips giving it a secure grip and also making sure the metal casing doesn't damage anything.

Another big ace up the Linutop's sleeve is that it has no moving parts, and therefore runs absolutely silently. Basically, the only way to tell if it's on are the LEDs at the front (or of course by checking your monitor). It also means you can put the unit anywhere and in any way you want, whether that's upside-down or diagonally, and it won't suffer from a dusty environment either because there are no vents.

The third factor differentiating the Linutop 2 from other miniature desktop PCs is its power usage: supposedly it never uses more than 8w. In our testing we actually found it to be more like 8.5w, though considering the tiny difference this could easily be due to variations in what keyboard we were using at the time. Also this is still less than half the drain of competing Atom-based nettops.

Of course it's a trade-off with less powerful components meaning the Linutop 2 can't run Windows, but we'll get to the internals in a bit. Also keep in mind that when turned 'off', the Linutop 2 still consumes up to 1.7w despite the USB ports not being powered, so if you're really serious about saving energy you'll want to switch it off at the mains. The power brick, meanwhile, takes a standard kettle lead just like a PC or monitor, and despite being quite small is still almost a third as large as the main unit itself.

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John Dann

May 9, 2009, 1:00 pm

I'd appreciate some further reviews on devices of this type - ie genuinely small form-factor, low-power PCs able to run eg Windows XPH and up to the size eg of the EeeBox. There are others around like the FitPC.

What I'm really curious to know is why the price is so high on such devices. You can get an Atom main board for not much more than £50 retail. Add in say 1GB RAM, a small/cheap HDD (but no CD/DVD) and a small/cheap case and surely the hardware cost shouldn't be more than £100ish (+VAT if you will). Then add in a copy of WinXPH and surely it should be possible to hit a retail price point of £149? So why aren't such PC devices around?


May 9, 2009, 1:42 pm

Good review, though this box is definitely little under-speced for the price. I think this will be the next "boom" area after netbooks - I look forward to a review of the "Fit PC2" which is a similar price, smaller, with DVI, Atom processor, WIFI and can handle HD content all at similar power usage. PLEASE review soon!!!

Matthew Hunt

May 9, 2009, 2:23 pm

so why can't it run XP?


May 9, 2009, 3:30 pm

I have worked with a Windows Embedded version of this chassis, which was the same apart from having a 40Gb hdd fitted, was impressed with it. http://www.cranberrynet.com/ for details, may be worth a review to compare


May 10, 2009, 12:50 am

fit-PC2 by compulab runs atom / 1gb / 160 gb / b / IR / HDMIup to 1920x1080 / h.264 1080p / aluminium / no vents / no fans /4" x 4.5" x 1.05"

The catch? Well, the price. It's $245-$396. Wait, what?


May 10, 2009, 4:38 pm

@ John Dann - this particular example is very expensive, but you've got to factor in the cost of the AMD board which is twice the cost of the Atom. Also, you don't get cheap cases at this price point. The engineering involved in the Linutop case, the expensive low draw processor and the relatively small number of units they'll sell will be responsible for the cost.

@ Matthew Hunt - XP requires more hard disk space. Remember the pains people went to to get XP running on the first Eee PCs? And they had 4gb.

I really admire the engineering that goes into products like this, but I'd still rather build my own if it were for personal use.

John Dann

May 10, 2009, 11:43 pm

@StephenW: I can sort of see why the Linutop case and custom engineering might add to its cost, what I was trying to say was that I can't quite make out why no PC maker is marketing a cheap generic EeeBox type PC at eg the £149 price point. The main components (M/B with Atom CPU in situ, HDD, small/basic case etc) are all readily available at low cost, but everyone seems to want more markup on the complete PC than is available on eg a cheap laptop/netbook - assembly costs on such a PC should be minimal and what other costs are there? I'm no conspiracy theorist, but I've got a theory that it's a conspiracy (ie between maker/distributor/retailer). No-one wants to first to let the market operate as it should and to offer a genuinely low cost Atom-based desktop.


May 11, 2009, 3:23 am

Consumers are not very knowledgable people overall when it comes to technology. Seeing an extremely cheap desktop, purchasing it, then realising it does not perform will simply alienate customers. As a retailer, you probably have to balance customers expectations with value for money. As a mainstream consumer knowing nothing much about technology purchasing a desktop pc. I would be annoyed if at work I could watch HD youtube videos, then finding when I got home, the pc was stuttering playing the same content and not having a clue it was down to the CPU.

Leander Quintelier

May 11, 2009, 3:24 am

I don't see why XP can not be installed on this kind of computer.

Neoware -now HP- used to sell Thin Clients with XP embedded on a 256 Mb flash disk. Near to impossible to install any extra software (or drivers for that matter, like HP printer drivers) on due to the disk being practically full from the start, but proofs it is possible to install XP on a very small footprint.

Processor was not the most powerfull either with a VIA C7@700 to 800 Mhz. It works but lags often while working with it.

The price would be even less competitive with XPe though.

Technology changes, and so sho

May 11, 2009, 4:13 am

@ John Dann

I can see where you're coming from, but the electronics market is too fragmented for any conspiracies.

I think you've missed the target market of this device (as was pointed out in the review). It is intended for presentation use in environments where processing power is not critical but power consumption is. It also helps in situations where a licence fee for the full Microsoft Office suite is not desirable (even though OpenOffice is a poor performer by comparison, cost is a highly important factor). Since the target market is small - and is definitely not the capricious end consumer - then the manufacturers have to go for high margin in order to recover their development costs and overheads (consumers ALWAYS ignore these as they expect then to be near zero, but aren't always).

If I was one of the target market for this, I'd be looking at giving my employees low power laptops. Many corporations give their employees laptops these days that can be taken to meetings, so in-built presenation computers are pointless. That coupled with the fact that deals with the likes of Dell or HP or whomever get you cut-price laptops with full installations of Windows AND _support_ for the devices and software (something the Linux community is famously bad at), and I am distinctly unsurprised by the mark up: with the limited number of sales this device will get, they're going to need to claw back all the money they can get off this.

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