Compulab fitlet-XA10-LAN Review: A Fanless AMD UCFF PC for Networking Applicationsby Ganesh T S on April 19, 2016 8:00 AM EST
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 Consumers are also stuck with the outdated mSATA SSD slot.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.