This is a weekly blog chronicling my experiences of running the AWOW AK41 Mini Desktop PC on Linux.
The small-form-factor revolution began in the 2000s. Many desktops have reduced from half-size towers to compact cubes to, in their most extreme reduction, sticks not much larger than a USB flash drive. How’s that been viable? A significant factor has been graphics acceleration and other essential features being subsumed under the CPU.
AWOW has sent us their AK41 Mini Desktop PC. It’s essentially a tiny full-featured computer. It retails at $239.99 / £239.99 and available to purchase from Amazon.
Mini PCs typically ship with Windows 10. The AWOW AK41 is no exception. And there’s no option to have a different operating system pre-installed on this machine. That’s commonplace. There’s often a paucity of information available as to whether small-form-factor machines have any hardware issues running the machine on a different operating system. Sometimes, issues can take a while to surface, which often aren’t identified in a standard review. Rather than carrying out a typical review, this series aims to be an in-depth examination of the Mini PC purely from a Linux perspective.
To kick off the series, I’ll briefly look at what you get in the box, the specifications of the machine, provide a few initial observations, and describe whether installing and configuring Linux on the machine was plain sailing.
The AK41 is housed in a miniature box with dimensions of 125 x 112 x 43mm. It’s a fairly squat box made almost entirely of plastic. It has a power button, a blue status light, 4 USB ports two of which are USB 3.0, a Type-C connector, a headphone jack, MicroSD card slot, LAN port, and two HDMI connectors that supports 4K resolution @ 60Hz. What’s really intriguing for a mini PC is that the AK41 can drive 3 4K monitors @ 60Hz — the Type-C connector is full function and carries a digital video signal together with the two HDMI connectors.
There’s gaps in the chassis to facilitate air circulation. There’s a fan in the machine which is very quiet in operation although it ramps up a bit when the machine is under load.
The AK41 comes with a power supply. It connects to a dedicated power input, rather than the Type-C connector. There’s also an HDMI cable included (which is fairly short), a bracket to attach the PC to a monitor, and a quick guide.
Why purchase this Mini PC? First, there’s its inexpensive price for a computer. Then there’s the low power requirements which can be a significant saving in the long run. The machine consumes 14w under idle. Running under full load (all 4 cores at 100%) the power consumption rises to 22w. That’ll be pretty cheap to leave the Mini PC on all day. And a Mini PC has a tiny physical footprint, great for the lounge or a small room where space is limited.
Let’s take a gander at the hardware specs.
Complete list of articles in this series:
|AWOW AK41 Mini PC|
|Week 11||Video consoles: SNES emulation|
|Week 10||Running TeamViewer with AWOW AK41 as the host|
|Week 9||Astronomy on the AK41 including Celestia, Stellarium, Skychart, and more|
|Week 8||Recording video with OBS Studio|
|Week 7||Home computer emulators: FS-UAE, ZEsaurUX, Hatari, Clock Signal|
|Week 6||Web browsing with Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Vivaldi|
|Week 5||Gaming: SuperTuxKart, AwesomeNauts, Retrocycles, Robocraft, DOTA 2, and more|
|Week 4||Run multiple operating systems on the AK41|
|Week 3||Video and audio playback looking at hardware acceleration|
|Week 2||Benchmarking the AK41 with 3 other low power machines|
|Week 1||Introduction to the series including wiping Windows and installing Manjaro|
This blog is written on the AWOW AK41 Mini PC.