Final Words

AMD APUs are usually competitive on price, but, not on performance, when compared with Intel solutions. Consumers looking at the AMD A10 Micro-6700T in the Compulab fitlet-XA10-LAN might be disappointed at first glance. Surprisingly, the Compulab fitlet-XA10-LAN packs a lot of punch for its size. Compulab's ability to unlock the TDP with its thermal design gives a great performance boost to the system. In fact, the fitlet-XA10-LAN manages to surpass all equivalent Bay Trail and Braswell systems in almost all benchmarks.

The four gigabit LAN ports of the unit are the real attraction. The FC-LAN FACET module enables the fitlet-X to transform into a compact, yet powerful network appliance. We tested out the unit with an installation of VyOS and configured it as a router. Cursory benchmarking indicated a NAT throughput of more than 840 Mbps.

The two kits provided by Compulab gave us the opportunity to evaluate different thermal solutions for industrial PCs. The heat-sink lid was created by Compulab to make the thermal performance of the fitlet-XA10-LAN better under heavy stress. However, it does increase the height of the unit and negates the compactness aspect. Compulab's new solution of having a different coating for the original aluminum top panel maintains the original dimensions of the unit. Even though the thermal performance suffers a bit compared to the heat-sink lid, it does prevent the unit from getting thermally throttled.

Prospective consumers need to keep in mind that this is an industrial PC, and the SoC and motherboard configuration mandate that only one DDR3 1333 MHz SO-DIMM can be used. Consumers are also stuck with the outdated mSATA SSD slot. That said, mSATA will probably continue to be supported for some time to come in the industrial PC market.

Compulab has an interesting suite of solutions for various industrial computing applications, and the fit-Uptime UPS targets a niche within that. The UPS seems like an attractive option for small-scale industrial PC rollouts. Addition of intelligence (either via network or USB connectivity) would help widen the appeal of the UPS.

Coming to the business end of the review, Compulab's fitlet-XA10-LAN is a unique computing platform. Consumers looking for a compact x86 PC with more than two LAN ports do not have any other options without sacrificing quite a bit on the form factor. If size is not a concern, Compulab has more powerful passively-cooled platforms with support for multi-LAN cards. These include the fitlet-T (AMD Steppe Eage GX-424) with support for up to 5 gigabit LAN ports, the IPC2 (Haswell/Broadwell Core-i7 U-Series) with support for up to 6 LAN ports, and the Airtop (up to Xeon E3 v4) with up to 6 gigabit LAN ports and an option to add 4-6 more with a PCIe card. For specialized applications, Compulab also provides FACE modules with quad PoE 802.3af ports and dual SFP+ optical networking ports. These FACE modules are compatible only with the fitlet-H and fitlet-T.

Given the usual premium associated with industrial PCs, the $315 price point for the barebones configuration of the fitlet-XA10-LAN is quite reasonable. That said, we would like Compulab to explore options to make the thermal performance even better while maintaining the current dimensions.

Power Consumption and Thermal Performance
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  • Pissedoffyouth - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - link

    Why such an old CPU Reply
  • BurntMyBacon - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - link

    Does AMD have something newer in this category? J/K

    Seemed to compare pretty well against its newer counterparts, though.
    Reply
  • Qwertilot - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - link

    Why not? It hardly seems to be holding it back for its intended uses. Reply
  • Flunk - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - link

    Cost, obviously. Reply
  • jardows2 - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - link

    Looks very attractive for a router. The throughput is adequate for pretty much anything but gigabit connections (lucky dogs who have that available!). Can use the microSD slot for the OS, and not mess with mSATA for most use cases. Do they have a "less featured" package - say without the wireless card or battery backup? Reply
  • freeskier93 - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - link

    With a different/better configuration I'd bet you could break 900 Mbps with this box. Ars just did a homebrew router and they were breaking 900 Mbps with iperf. The box Ars used was a Celeron with Intel NICs. The Intel NICs are comparable which is why I'd bet you could break 900 Mbps with this AMD box.

    The problem is price, makes no sense. It's even harder to justify these homebrews when you can buy a Ubiquity EdgeRouter for less than $100 and it will handle gigabit very well. There's a lot of other things to consider with a gigabit connection to get full speed. We used to have a gigabit connection (with the Ubiquity EdgeRouter) and would speed test at about 970 Mbps up/down. Real world test downloading a Steam game I'd top out at about 800 Mbps, but the limit appeared to be disk IO related (even with a Samsung 850 EVO). Honestly gigabit connection is a waste for 99% of internet usage, we only had it because we were living in Longmont, CO, who rolled out their own fiber network and it was dirt cheap (cheaper than Comcast).
    Reply
  • Gray05 - Thursday, April 21, 2016 - link

    What is the OpenVPN performance like on a Ubiquity EdgeRouter? Can it match what these x86 builds do?

    For me, the whole purpose of a homebrew router/firewall is for the OpenVPN performance. The advanced features made available by using pfSense is a nice bonus, but that's just icing.
    Reply
  • WorBlux - Thursday, March 09, 2017 - link

    I'm not sure if the Ubiquity EdgeRouter has hardware acceleration for AES. It has a dual core 500 MHz MIPS router, with packet acceleration hardware.

    The Compulab Fitlet on the other hand definitely does the sort of AES acceleration that can easily saturate it's network controller with OpenVPN encrypted traffic (assuming you using an AES tunnel)

    However where theFitlet falls short is in processing a lot of packets. Where it shines is that it's and x86 system with excellent support for Linux distributions, letting you do a little more that just routing.
    Reply
  • Stuka87 - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - link

    Fore purely networking use cases, I prefer the PCEngines APU2c4. It doesnt have all the video and extra ports that you will never ever use. It also cost a lot less. Reply
  • jardows2 - Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - link

    I see those are now released. I hadn't checked for a while, and last time I looked they were still in testing phase. On the price side, I reckon that without the "extras" the price would be dropped a fair bit. PCEngines would still be cheaper, but how does the GX-412TC processor in it compare to the A10 Micro-6700T for networking tasks? Reply

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