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Devices: Airtop3 With Linux Mint and Debian's Jonathan McDowell Studies a PCB

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  • Airtop3 Manages A Passively-Cooled Core i9 9900K + Quadro RTX 4000

    CompuLab today announced the Airtop3, the latest in their series of industrial-grade, excellently built fanless PCs. The CompuLab Airtop we benchmarked back in 2016 while showing its age now with the Core i7 5775C Broadwell processor is still running strong with its original design and even after what's been hundreds if not thousands of hours of benchmarking workloads still is running strong. Then again, that isn't too surprising as we continue to be improved by their build quality now after benchmarking their systems with Linux for the past decade.

  • Fanless mini-tower runs Linux Mint on up to 5GHz octa-core i9-9900K

    Compulab’s passively cooled, Linux-friendly “Airtop3” mini-tower builds on a 9th Gen, octa-core Intel Core i9-9900K with Quadro RTX 4000 graphics plus up to 128GB DDR4, NVMe and SATA storage, triple displays, 2x GbE, 6x USB 3.1, and -40 to 70°C support.

    Compulab has launched a redesigned Airtop IoT edge server that accomplishes the challenging task of passively cooling Intel’s high-end, 9th Gen Core i9-9900K processor. The Airtop3 is “nearly” twice as powerful as the 7th Gen Kaby Lake based Airtop2 mini-tower while maintaining the fanless, embedded-oriented design, says Compulab. Linux Mint and Windows 10 Pro are available.

  • Jonathan McDowell: Making my first PCB

    I then started to notice I was getting JLCPCB ads while web browsing, offering 10 PCBs for $2. That seemed like a good deal, and I thought if I did things right I could find the right case and then make sure the PCB fitted in it. I found a small vented white case available from CPC. This allows me to put a temperature sensor inside for some devices. KiCad seemed like a good option for trying to design my basic schematic and lay it out, so I installed it and set to work trying to figure out what I wanted to put on the board, and how to actually drive KiCad.

    As the core I chose an ESP-07 ESP8266 module. I’ve used a few of them before and they’re cheap and convenient. I added an LDO voltage regulator (LD1117) so I could use a 5V PSU (and I’m hoping with a heatsink I can get away with a 12V supply as well, even if it’s more inefficient). That gave enough to get a basic schematic once I’d added the necessary pull-up/down resistors for the ESP8266 and decoupling capacitors. I included a DC barrel jack for the PSU, and pin headers for the serial port, SPI pins and GPIO0 for boot selection. One of my use cases is to make an LED strip controller, so I threw in a screw terminal block for power + control - the board is laid out to allow a MOSFET for a simple white 12V LED strip, or the same GPIO taken straight to the terminal block for controlling a WS2812 strip. By including a couple of extra pull-up resistors I added the option of I2C for further expansion.

    After I had the basic schematic I moved to layout. Luckily Hammond provide 2D CAD files for the case, so I figured I would import them into KiCad’s PCB layout tool to make sure things would fit. That took a little bit of effort to go from DWG to DXF and trim it down (I found a web tool to do the initial conversion and then had to strip out the bits of the case that weren’t related to the PCB size + mounting points). I wasn’t confident enough that the edge cuts layer would include the mounting holes, so I manually placed some from KiCad over the right spots.

Compulab Airtop3 Linux Mint mini computer has fanless Intel Core

  • Compulab Airtop3 Linux Mint mini computer has fanless Intel Core i9 9900K and NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000

    The whir of a fan. This is a sound many computer enthusiasts know all too well. Whether it is a single fan in a laptop, or 12 fans in a gaming desktop, the noise can be distracting. While some folks learn to tune out fan noise (and some even end up liking it!), let's be honest, a silent PC is preferable for most. Unfortunately, passively cooled computers are often under-powered, meaning you must decide between performance and silence.

    But what if you didn't have to pick? What if I told you a company is selling a mini computer with a passively cooled Intel Core i9 9900K? Yeah, you would probably think I am telling lies, but actually, it is the truth! The Compulab "Airtop3," as it is called, features that high-end processor (plus others) and does not have a fan! In addition, the edge server can be configured with an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000 (or GeForce GTX 1660 Ti) and is loaded to the gills with connectivity options. Not to mention, the diminutive computer looks very beautiful too. Best of all, it can be configured to ship with Linux Mint!

Linux Mint-running Airtop3 Mini PC...

  • Linux Mint-running Airtop3 Mini PC Is Powered By Intel i9-9900K

    In 2016, Israel’s CompuLab and Linux Mint team partnered to release the Pro version of the Mintbox Mini. This palm-sized Mintbox device comes pre-installed with Linux Mint, but one can also install other Linux distros or Windows.

    Fast forward to 2019 and the folks at CompuLab are here with the 3rd generation of their fanless and rugged Airtop mini-PC. Named Airtop3, this computer lets you choose Linux Mint or Windows 10 Pro for an out-of-the-box experience. It goes without saying that you can install other desktop distros on this Linux-friendly machine.

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