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Beelink AP34 Ultimate Mini PC Review: Much More than a TV Box

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  • Beelink AP34 Ultimate Mini PC Review: Much More than a TV Box



    Beelink is best known for its Android TV boxes, but their newly-released Beelink AP34 Ultimate, which comes with an Intel Celeron N3450 quad core Apollo Lake processor, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, and Windows 10 OS, is definitely not just another regular TV box. How does this device fit into our daily life? We will try to answer this question in this review.


    Main specs of the Beelink AP34 Ultimate

    Operating System: Authorized Windows 10 Home
    Processor: Intel Celeron N3450 quad core Apollo Lake processor
    CPU Frequency: 1.10 GHz (base) to 2.20 GHz (turbo)
    GPU: Intel HD 500 graphics
    RAM: 8 GB DDR3
    Storage: 64 GB eMMC flash, SD card slot, M.2 SSD slot up to 320 GB
    Video Output: HDMI 1.4
    Audio: 3.5mm audio jack
    Internet: Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, & Bluetooth 4.0
    USB Ports: 3 x USB 3.0 Type-A ports
    Button: Power Button, Reset Hole
    Power Supply: 12V/2A
    Shell: Cool Blue Metal Case


    Unboxing



    The Beelink AP34 Ultimate ships with very compact retail package.



    Inside the retail package we have the Beelink AP34 mini PC, a 24Watt power brick, 2 HDMI cables of different lengths, a wall mount bracket, some screws and some documentation.


    Design and build



    The Beelink AP34 looks like a regular TV box at first glance, thanks to its small size. In fact, it is even smaller than most of the Android TV boxes we have reviewed, including the Jide Remix IO. The cool blue metal case gives the device a chic and premium feel.



    You can find the Beelink logo on the top surface of the device. The font side plays host to an LED indicator, which will light up when the device is booted.



    The right side hosts two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a SD card reader, and some vents.



    The back side of the device is the busiest, it contains a power button, a 3.5mm DC port, a USB 3.0 Type-A port, an HDMI 1.4 port, An RJ45 network port, an audio jack, and a reset hole.



    The left side sports a Wi-Fi antenna and also some vents.



    On the bottom side of the device you will find four rubber feet and more vents.

    The build quality of this device is great, it feels extremely robust and sturdy, no matter how hard I try to squeeze it with my hands, it stays the way it is. Also, the cool blue coating on the surface is very resistant to scratches. After 4 weeks of reviewing the device and moving it around constantly, I still havenít found any marks on its surface.


    System & Apps



    Setting the AP34 up is as easy as any TV box, connecting the device to a socket, a display and input devices (a mouse and a keyboard) and you are good to go. After some first-boot settings (language, Wi-Fi, PIN) and you will enter the familiar Windows lock screen. Unlock it and there is the desktop.



    The AP34 Ultimate ships with a clean version of stock Windows 10 Home OS, there are no preinstalled 3rd party applications and bloatware, which is good news for the majority of users.



    There are thousands of apps available in the Windows Store, if they are not enough, you can also install traditional PC apps on the AP34. Not only can the device serve as a media center in your living room, it can also get some lightweight productivity tasks done.



    You can install the mobile versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint from the Windows Store for free, and use them to browse your documents or do some simple editing. If you find their functions too limited, you can also buy the PC version of Office 365.



    We connected the AP34 to my 65-inch HDTV, and did a lot of media consumption, web-browsing, social networking. Everything looked amazing on the 65-inch display. We feel like we can never really go back to our old Android TV box, as there are too many things which the AP34 can offer but average Android TV boxes canít.


    Performance

    The Beelink AP34 Ultimate is powered by an Intel Celeron N3450 quad core Apollo Lake processor (1.1GHz Ė 2.2GHz) and 8GB RAM. It wonít match those powerhouse laptops and desktops PCs when it comes to horsepower, but it is very capable of handling those basic everyday tasks.







    Like always, we ran some benchmarks on the device, and compared the points to the scores of similar products we have reviewed.





    In the Antutu V6 Benchmark, the AP34 Ultimate scored 112,567, ranking behind the Core-i3 powered ASUS Vivomini UN62 and the Pentium N4200 powered Voyo VMAC-V1.



    In the Cinebench R10 test, the Beelink AP34 Ultimate scored in 1,846 Single core, 5,470 in multi-core, and 2782CB in OpenGL.



    In the Cinebench R15 test, the AP34 was returned in 119cb CPU performance and 11.50 fps in OpenGL.



    The Fritz Chess benchmark returned a score of 3,411, which even beats the 3,177 snatched by the Pentium N4200 powered Voyo VMAC-V1.



    In the PCMark 8 Work Accelerated 3.0 test, the AP34 scored 1,614.



    Although the device is capable of outputting 4K resolution (3840*2160px), we wonít recommend people to set this resolution as default on the AP34. As there is no discrete graphics card under the hood, 4K will be too much for the integrated Intel HD 500 to handle sometimes, 1080P is still a more reliable choice on most occasions.



    The AP34 Ultimate was capable of handling all the media files we threw at it, including some 4k clips. We also had no problem streaming full HD and 4K YouTube videos with Google Chrome. Thanks to the 8GB of RAM on board, the AP34 can even handle some serious multi-tasking. We did feel the heat coming out of the vents when the AP34 was under heavy loads, but it still didn't get loud, thanks to the fanless design, and the CPU temperature never got too high to trigger a warning from Ludashi.



    We also did some gaming on the device, games installed from the Windows store generally worked fine, with decent frame rates and responsiveness. Lightweight desktop games such as Plant vs Zombies, Chicken Shoot and Stealth Bastard also ran smoothly on the AP34. However, the device is definitely not built for graphic-intense titles such as the Metro 2033, GTA 4 and StarCraft, as it took forever to load, and the frame rates were totally unacceptable during gameplay.

    The good news is, the AP34 Ultimate is upgradable. Opening the device with a screwdriver is quite easy, inside the shell you will find A M.2 slot, which is available for up to 10Gbit/s data transfer rates with a maximum capacity of 320GB.


    Connectivity



    The AP34 Ultimate has dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 on board. Placed in our living room, the AP34 was able to find more hotspots than the Remix Mini and Remix IO could. Wi-Fi connection was pretty solid as well. We put the both AP34 and Remix Mini on the TV cabinet (the WiFi router was positioned in another room), the AP34 was able to download files at the speed of 6MB/s, but the Remix Miniís download speed was only around 300KB/s.

    The AP34 can be connected to a mouse, a keyboard or external sound systems (headphones or speakers) wirelessly via Bluetooth. We connected the AP34 with my Bang & Olufsen S3 speakers and enjoyed a lot of music and movies, the connection remained uninterrupted most of the time. Unfortunately, the AP34ís Bluetooth doesnít support AptX, listening to lossless music with wireless headphones and you will notice the difference.

    There are 3 full USB 3.0 ports on board, but one thing I need to mention is that, when we plugged in a mobile drive and a mouse at the same time, the AP34 sometimes failed to output enough power supply to the receiver of the mouse, and there were lags and delays while we were moving the mouse on the screen. This is one of the few issues that have been constantly bothering us, and we really hope that it can be solved with some software patches.

    The SD card reader on the right side is also a nice touch, as you can browse photos and videos taken by your digital camera easily. And if you want to get access to files in a micro SD card, all you need is just an adapter.


    Verdict

    Beelink has done a pretty good job with the AP34 Ultimate. We really like its size and overall look, which make it well suited for any situation. The hardware is also pretty up-to-date and you can expect to get lots of things done - that is to say office productivity, media playback, surfing the Web, and playing light games. With a wireless keyboard and mouse, this could be a very neat home theatre PC.

    Priced at $269.00, the AP34 is affordable to the majority of consumers, and is certainly better investment than the ASUS VIVOPC-VM40B-04, which comes with a weaker processor (Intel Celeron 1007U Processor 1.5 GHz) but a higher price tag ($319.00).

  • #2
    I would not say that this is more than a TV box because it has always been advertised as a Mini PC and therefore rather a different beast altogether.

    I'm pretty sure that the M.2 slot will only support SATA 3 speeds.
    MXIII-G II, Chuwi Hibox, Nvidia Shield, NUC6CAYH

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