MintBox Mini Preview
by clem 59

I’d like to thank CompuLab for sending the development team three MintBox Mini. I just received mine :)

The box mimics the unit itself:

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You’ll even find screws at the back :)

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Our great relationship with CompuLab is illustrated on the side. Along with the unit specs, it’s great to see our two logos there. We’ve been working together for a very long time now, so that feels very nice.

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Inside the box there’s:

  • the MintBox Mini
  • a power adapter with removable extensions for (in my case) US and EU sockets
  • a wireless adapter (which will take one of your 5 USB ports to give you Wifi connectivity)
  • a DVI / HDMI adapter
  • a com / serial adapter
  • a jack / cinch cable
  • a manual for the Fitlet (which is the same unit as the MintBox Mini but without the Mint branding)

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The power adapter is much smaller than the one used in the MintBox 2. Its cable still has that screw-on system to ensure the connection with the unit doesn’t get loose.

As the name suggests, the Mini is minuscule. I knew it was small, I knew it was pocketable (and it does indeed easily fit in my jean’s pocket, although with the cable, mouse and all you’ll probably use a bag anyway) but it’s even tinier than I realized.

Here’s the Mini beside a tennis ball and a 13″ Macbook Pro:

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From the top:

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Here’s the Mini compared to a Dell mouse.. roughly the same dimensions and they both weight more or less the same.

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The green casing is made of metal and feels cold to the touch. It will feel hot when powered on as it is used as a heat sink (the Mini has no fans inside and should be completely silent).

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As usual, the unit packs a lot of connectivity options:

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The quality of the materials is very good and the unit looks very nice.

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The size though… I just can’t get over it :)

I look forward to testing the unit and seeing how it runs. If I manage to find some time between the Cinnamon 2.6 feature-freeze in 4 days, MATE 1.10, and the Betsy upgrade path I need to open, I’ll share my impressions on a more in-depth review.

Allez, back to work! :)

59 thoughts on “MintBox Mini Preview

  1. Will Brokenbourgh May 11,2015 16:31

    Very nice! It sure would be nice to have one of these. Looking forward to a more in-depth review. :-D

  2. Herr Dierk May 11,2015 20:30

    Well what a cute little thing .-p

  3. Gus May 12,2015 05:08

    I want one!

  4. Tom McLoughlin May 12,2015 05:12

    Reminds me of a Thin-Client ;)

  5. Rufus May 12,2015 07:20

    It’s great to have screws for opening up easily.

    • clem May 12,2015 09:04

      hehe :)

      The unit itself has 4 screws at the bottom to open the case. Once open you can access the SSD which is held by another two screws. You can also slide the top of the unit off to access the RAM. Although it’s pretty simple and you only need a screwdriver, the user manual explains how to do this, with pictures and details on the type of RAM, the supported size you can upgrade to etc..

      I also talked to CompuLab about power and performance. By default the unit uses 4.5W but that’s configurable in the BIOS. I’m experimenting with 10W atm to see if performance is improved. I’ll detail all that in a review eventually.

  6. JMH May 12,2015 10:30

    I don’t think the laptop in the comparison pics is actually a 13′ Macbook Pro. That would be an enormous screen. You probably meant 13″. Inches, not feet. :) (Spinal Tap, anyone?)

    Oh, but yes, the Mini does seem like a sweet little thing.

  7. lm-user-de May 12,2015 12:58

    Wieviel soll das kleine Maschinchen kosten?

    What will cost the small machine?

    • clem May 12,2015 15:02

      Hi, it should be $295 shipped in the US and €295 shipped in Europe (including VAT/duty/shipping) afaik.

  8. Estêvão May 12,2015 13:09

    Fantastic! Just waiting for this little box! :D

  9. Gaetano Arena May 12,2015 15:10

    It looks great!. But whath does id do ?.
    Gaetano Arena

    • clem May 12,2015 18:33

      It’s a computer. You plug it to a TV or monitor, keyboard, mouse, network etc.

      In terms of spec and what it “can” do, I’ll go more in the details in a review. It’s aimed at office, internet and multimedia usage though. Not adapted for heavy duty or gaming, but it’s optimized for smooth HD media playback.

  10. Jung-Kyu Park May 12,2015 15:12

    So Cute and Tiny Computer!
    I hope I can get this MintBox Mini easily in Korea.

  11. peter May 12,2015 19:04

    Looking forward to seeing the specs. the size is very appealing.

  12. Kev May 12,2015 19:12

    How soon will it be on the market, on sale?

    • clem May 12,2015 20:25

      Hi Kev. It’s already on the market but I think it’s sold out at the moment. http://www.fit-pc.com/web/purchasing/order-mintbox/ indicates 7 weeks delays, also if you’re interested in it and you’re in the US or EU, I would strongly recommend you wait for a batch to reach your local Amazon store, so you don’t pay shipping/customs/etc.. According to CompuLab the Mini “currently sells better than MintBox 2 did at launch and better than any other fitlet model”. This isn’t a budget computer for everybody though. For many people who don’t care about form factor, power consumption and versatility, this isn’t interesting in terms of price/performance when compared to a traditional desktop or a laptop computer. For the targeted audience though, it’s highly successful. For this reason (and this was the same with previous models of the MintBox), the production and stocks are small but they sell fast.. and so it’s often out of stock :) The best thing is to ask CompuLab directly about availability and distribution.

  13. lol May 13,2015 03:20

    ..why put the devices on the grass? is a table inside not good enough?

    • clem May 13,2015 07:10

      Afaik there’s two ways to take nice pictures, with a good camera and photographer’s lights/area/equipment, or if you’re like me, that you use your phone to take pictures and that you don’t have any photo gear, simply to go outside and benefit from natural sun light.

      Also I didn’t want to get into a full review, my office is messy (as always).. I don’t know.. I’m sure I can find more reasons :)

      • Keith May 13,2015 07:36

        Those pics are really good, I like it. I’m going to buy one, install Kodi on it and let it run 24/7.

        • clem May 13,2015 09:06

          We’re working with CompuLab at the moment to fine tune the OS for it. Kodi/XBMC is already installed in the version of Mint that is currently shipping with it though.

  14. Ruben May 13,2015 08:30

    I don’t understand… This is made in Israel and you are supporting them?

    • clem May 13,2015 09:44

      Ruben, if you were to join the team I wouldn’t ask you where you’re from, or what religion(s) and/or political opinions you enjoy. We’d have an issue if you told me you like torturing cats at the week-end, or if you kept going on about political/religious stuff all the time, cause we couldn’t be friends at a personal level :) Other than that, the minute you show passion about stuff we like, Linux in particular, everyone here wants to work with you*.

      The guys at CompuLab we really enjoy working with. We’re very good friends with them and we love what they do. They’re indeed based in Israel and so that’s where the unit is produced. As far as I know they don’t torture cats at the week-end and they certainly don’t shove political ideas down our throat.

      I know a lot of people like to interpret my opinion about Israel. I’ll be clear. I don’t care about political/religious debates or anything that wastes time and isn’t constructive. I’m sensitive to cruelty and I find it really hard to witness it when it touches civilian populations. That being said, I really enjoy working with people who like what I like and don’t care about what I don’t care about, and that includes where they’re from, what religion they might have, and whatnot.

      * two exceptions: for me, if you’re into test-driven development, and for mtwebster if you’re a nazi (he hates them, punches them in the face…). Nazis are quite rare these days fortunately, test-driven fanatics much more common.. :(

  15. Mike May 13,2015 12:37

    Clem,
    In your opinion how decent would these little guys be for outfitting a high school science computer lab?
    I am the science department coordinator and am looking replace our dell optiplex 620’s running mint right now with a little more robust machine. (yep that’s right optiplex 620’s our school is still computing in the early 2000’s.) So far mint runs flawlessly, but as we add more complex programs to our science curriculum that require more oomph we are need of upgrading. Would you recommend a mintbox or mintbox mini for a science computer lab? Here is a short list of some of the programs we attempt to use on these machines. Some of it runs well, some of it lags big time, but works. We use a lot of sensory equipment using Vernier’s Logger Pro software, GRASS, gpsbabel, Google Earth, Avogadro, Sketch-up running under WINE, Kerbal Space Program, Minecraft, Scratch, ArcGIS, Stellarium, audacity, openshot, blender, and mostly use chromium as our browser.
    Again, do you think outfitting a 25 station computer lab is viable with these mintbox minis? With school budgets we are always looking for the cheapest, and best solution. We already have monitors, keyboards, and mice. If we go with some type of laptop we now have a lot of extra equipment to deal with, if we use some other type of desktop we are looking at spending more money than we can access. However, these mini’s are within our price range. Do you have any thoughts you might be able to share?

    Thanks in advance.

    • clem May 13,2015 13:07

      Hi Mike,

      The pros of a mini-PC shine in open-spaces, in cybercafe, in labs mostly because the unit is small (less space used), because it takes very little power (for big installations with many units that makes a significant different in electricity costs), because it has a kesington lock and because it’s silent. Imagine a room with 30 desktop computers… replace them with fanless mini-PCs.. all of sudden all the noise is gone, you’ve reduced your power bills, it’s all locked nicely and doesn’t gather dust or take space underneath the tables :)

      So the first question you need to ask yourself is whether these are important factors to you and weight that against performance itself. For the same price as a mini-PC you can get much better performance with a desktop computer… but of course they’re big, they make noise and they suck power :)

      If you decide to go with mini-PCs, the advantage of the MintBox is that it’s cute (most miniPCs are made of plastic, the MintBox units feel much better in hand) and that it has a lot more connectivity. Again, that might be an important factor for you, or it might not.

      I’ll review the performance in a dedicated article. It’s a small machine and the specs are light but it’s optimized for media playback and uses an SSD. It’s also upgradeable to 8GB RAM and many aspects (such as power input) are configurable in the BIOS so there’s that to test as well.

      From experience also, there are certain tasks which should dictate certain choices. Gaming, compilation, video rendering, virtualization for instance need as much power as you can get. If these are important for you then you should forget about miniPCs, or even laptops and opt for desktop computers.

    • clem May 13,2015 13:09

      By the way.. Kerbal Space Program… multi-player Minecraft..? that sounds like a cool school :)

      • Mike May 13,2015 15:08

        Thanks for the info Clem. That is very helpful.
        We try to make school as interesting as possible for our students. I mean they are here all day, they might as well have some fun while they learn.
        Thanks again. I’ll keep an eye out for your review.

        • clem May 14,2015 01:01

          They’ll certainly be impressed by the unit, I manipulate many different gadgets and I’m very impressed with this one. I’ll review the specs and assess the performance. I know for sure some people will love it but that doesn’t meant it’s for everybody. Stay tuned for an in-depth review.

    • kneekoo May 21,2015 14:40

      Hi, Mike!

      Your question and details made me curios so I did a little research. Right now there are some tech specifications for the MintBox Mini PC and they look good enough compared to Dell OptiPlex GX620. Take a look at this comparison:

      Dell OptiPlex GX620 /// MintBox Mini
      CPU: 1 core @ 3 GHz /// 4 cores @ 1.0 GHz -> 1.6 GHz with boost
      CPU: 1 MB Level 2 cache /// 4 MB Level 2 cache (512KB per core)
      CPU: TDP 84W /// TDP 4.5W
      CPU Lithography: 90nm /// 28nm
      RAM: 512 MB DDR2 RAM @ 533 MHz /// 4GB DDR3 RAM @ 1333 MHz
      Storage: 80 GB HDD @ 7200 rpm /// 64 GB SSD (speed unknown but surely faster)
      GPU: 4 pixels per clock @ 400 MHz) /// 128 shaders @ 350 MHz

      The 10-year difference in the technologies really makes MintBox Mini a lot better than what you currently use. The lower noise in the lab will make it easier to talk to your students and the huge difference in power consumption will save some money on electricity bills. I won’t dare to say that you can safely use these PCs for everything you mentioned but I can easily say that you will notice a significant increase in performance compared to your current hardware.

      A VESA mounting bracket would be welcome for this model (there’s no mention about it anywhere) but you would also have to have VESA mounting holes on your monitors. I hope we will find out more about this.

      MintBox Mini specifications > http://goo.gl/TGg9LK
      CPU comparison on game-debate.com > http://goo.gl/qhdbNK

      Please note that the original links are long, so I shortened them with goo.gl. If you want to make sure they are safe you can check them at unshorten.it or urlex.org or any similar site that you trust.

    • CyberMonkeyLab Jun 2,2015 01:37

      mike:
      your dell optiplex gx620’s can be upgraded to the dual core
      socket LGA775 pentium D 820 and more ram for about $20 each.

  16. Anand May 14,2015 04:58

    Clem, you would already know that am a happy Mint Box II user (replaced with SSD now) but am sure I will buy this as well. Mint Green looks so awesome:D Size Comparison with mouse made me imagine the dimensions right. Good thinking there! Also, am interested to see heat levels on your detailed review, Mint Box 2 touches 60 deg at times. (I live in Chennai, India so hot weather all the time)
    Am only wondering what my Dad would relate to, he already things of Mint Box as wi-fi router. He is used to the huge boxes as PC’s.

  17. Torin May 16,2015 15:02

    Kudos to Clem and the makers of the MintBox series.

    The MintBox Mini looks great. However I’d rather wait for a larger one and hope a MintBox 3 materializes and has at least a 1GB SSD, 8+GB RAM by default, and a better graphics card.

    Cheers.

  18. Jordan S. May 16,2015 16:30

    Hi Clem,

    You said “We’re working with CompuLab at the moment to fine tune the OS for it.”

    That made me curious. What specifically (without giving away any trade secrets ;-)) are you fine tuning?

    Thanks!

    • clem May 16,2015 16:51

      Hi Jordan,

      CompuLab customizes the OEM installation slightly. XBMC is installed, but the codecs aren’t (that’s for licensing reasons but we’re talking with CompuLab to give more guidance on this). VLC is the default mime handler for media playback (that’s to push people to use GPU acceleration by default). Fglrx is installed also but not amdccle, we’re looking into all of that and assisting CompuLab into making the best choices. The default login screen theme is a bit heavy on the CPU, we’re looking to see if we can switch it, or even optimize it on our side, or make it use GPU accel. The default power input is 4.5W but the unit shows much better performance when the BIOS option is set to 10W… maybe that can be set by default as well. As you can see there’s a lot of fine-tuning involved because the audience is slightly different. There’s tuning going on with compositing as well.. it gets in the way of ideal performance, but in Cinnamon we’re able to unredirect full screen windows while leveraging GPU accel for the desktop itself… so we might get the best of both worlds here… we need to test, to talk with CompuLab, to make decisions together on how we can improve things with each new batch. It’s already a great little unit. Our feedback is precious to them and since it’s running our OS we’re also able to adapt things for it, so there’s empowerment on both sides here.

  19. gogo May 23,2015 13:36

    You said … but in Cinnamon we’re able …

    I thought it’s gonna have Mate preinstalled?

    Since the box was announced I knew: I’ll buy my first computer with linux preinstalled AND I knew the first thing to do will be to kill the Mate-OS and install Mint-Cinnamon :X

    btw.1 I now recognised, that it’s now possible to order the box on the fit-pc website
    btw.2 it’s: $295 * Shipping,duty & VAT ” N O T ” included !!!

  20. Subash May 27,2015 06:32

    Hi Clem,

    I am much obsessed with FitPC and especially mint box. I have ordered one from USA. I am residing in India and I have huge plans of importing 50 boxes directly to India. Kindly guide me with the formalities. Thanks in advance.

    Regards,
    Subash V

    • clem May 27,2015 07:06

      Hi Subash,

      The best thing to do is to get in touch with CompuLab directly. They’ll be able to tell you more about stock, orders and shipping to India.

  21. technomancer May 28,2015 02:29

    It looks great but the price point is way too high for me, it’s more of a $150 box in my opinion. If it had dedicated graphics(GPU) the price would be OK.
    But I also am not interested in supporting Israel in any way, I’m an atheist so no religious opinion on them, but they are just to violent and racist to put any money into that economy. Can’t the MintBox be made in UE or US ?

    • clem May 28,2015 07:53

      We partner with people we like to work with. We love the guys at CompuLab and we really enjoy what they do. They happen to live in Israel and so that’s where the MintBox is produced. It might be relevant to some people, we all have opinions, I do too, and I hope none of us enjoy witnessing violence, but it certainly has nothing to do with individuals, especially when these individuals share the same passion as we do. Within our dev. team, among other countries, we’ve people from the USA, France, China and Russia. We don’t talk about Guantanamo Bay, the NSA, African ingerence, weapon selling, censorship and Ukraine all day. We’re just happy to enjoy doing the same thing and doing it together. We’ve much more in common than any nationalities.

      Incidentally, let me ask you this also: How can you point at an entire population of people, in general, and call them racist? You can certainly discriminate and dislike all of them without exceptions, but that in itself would be quite racist. There’s a contradiction here. I can name quite a lot of people working at CompuLab and assure you that they certainly aren’t violent or racist. Yet you included them in your statement.

  22. stats May 28,2015 18:47

    CPU: AMD A4 Micro-6400T (Quad core 1.0-1.6 GHz + Radeon R3)
    RAM: 4 GB DDR3
    SSD: 64 GB mSATA
    OS: Linux Mint
    Wireless: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n

  23. MysticGold04 May 28,2015 23:36

    I want one too!! Looks awesome. Need any people to test the unit?? I suppose you’ve already done that if its made it to market.

  24. Taffman Jun 5,2015 15:33

    This looks great for us Radio Hams, the all metal high quality case means little chance of any stray RF getting into the box. Cant wait to get my hands on one!

  25. Matt Jun 7,2015 12:28

    This is pretty cool!

  26. nathan penafiel Jun 10,2015 10:22

    looks nice! I like one, is this on beta stage? how can I purchase I’m from Philippines

  27. Luis Mercado Jun 12,2015 09:01

    Clem, I’m commend you for understanding you work with people and you stick with them. Some comments here strike me as, although not racist, extremely ignorant and immature. I’d support these guys by buying their product, but as I live in Mexico I can’t imagine how much the shipping and importing taxes would cost me, but still, my respect goes to you and to CompuLab, class act.

    Does it have Bluetooth. Maybe someday I could save enough to import this baby.

  28. Heleen Jun 14,2015 15:30

    Hi Clem,

    First of all, I like Linux Mint a lot! I am using it on very
    old Windows computers, but it works perfectly!

    I am not a donator, but when the possibility exists,
    I would tell people about the greatness of this system (OS)

    Question:

    Do you earn money from equipments like Mint Box(es)

    I am curious about this because I don’t donate, but when
    I need to buy some stuff – such as fysical devices –
    maybe I choose then for Linux Mint (Box-es)

    • clem Jun 15,2015 00:00

      Hello,

      Not really. The reason we do the MintBox with CompuLab is because it’s special, it’s something unique we enjoy doing, people enjoy seeing us do and it’s something we’re proud of and enthusiastic about. As you can tell, it’s not a unit for everybody. It targets a very particular audience. If our motivation was to make money out of it we wouldn’t do something cool, we’d do something lucrative. Most people aren’t into uniqueness, they’re into a high cost/performance ratio, so if we followed that logic we’d probably produce mass-market low-cost desktops/laptops with as much CPU/RAM as possible in as cheap a price as you can get… of course that would mean a very boring unit, probably something you’d find anywhere else already. There’s many reasons why we don’t do that: First, we’re not interested in doing that, it’s boring :) Second, we’re not good at it.. it’s not our market.. let Dell, HP and all corner these markets, they’re able to produce for extremely cheap and they’re very good at it. Third, our business plan is to be funded by our audience and the main reason why people donate to us or sponsor us is so that we can focus entirely on what we do best: Linux Mint itself… so it would make no sense for us to spend time in commercial activities, to sell support, or to engage in derivative products. The Mintbox has to sell simply for it to be profitable enough that it continues to be interesting and sustainable for CompuLab. So far it’s doing really well. On our side, we get a margin as well, but if you look at our funding, this isn’t something we depend on. We depend mostly on people being happy with Linux Mint, we benefit from donations, advertising and traffic. The Mintbox and partnerships in general bring us a little extra, it’s great.. but it isn’t the reason we’re into these partnerships in the first place. Our job is very simple: The better Linux Mint is, the more people use it and the less we need to care about funding.

      Bottom line: Please don’t choose the MintBox as a way to fund us. Choose it if you think you’ll enjoy it. If you’re hesitating between two similar units, of course go and choose CompuLab’s as their relationship with us can be a deciding factor. Also, you don’t need to donate to us. We rely on donations, but collectively. That doesn’t mean everyone has to donate. People contribute in very different ways. The simple fact that you enjoy what we do and tell us gives us motivation, you start telling other people around you and that benefits us as well as promotion… many people help us in very different ways :)

      • Heleen Jun 16,2015 15:35

        Hi Clem,

        Thank’s a lot of your reply

        I will choose for the system what the best is for me at this moment,

        but i dreamt last night from that amazing cute little green thing!

        I am looking forward to the specs

  29. azbacks Jun 18,2015 05:00

    Love the Mini, Clem. You can’t beat sunlight for taking pictures, and the grass was a nice surface to show the mint color of the Mini.

  30. Albert Jun 30,2015 13:39

    Would love to get the mini. I am in R&D and regular user of linuxmint for years. It would be great if the linuxmint team & Clem can make the mini & the linuxmint distro DVD available through PCconnection/Govconnection. I will be more than happy to pay for it.

  31. Adam K. Jul 14,2015 15:45

    I would like to see a email update option for when this product will become available. I would really like to have two or three of these.

  32. Luc Jul 22,2015 15:47

    I am a great fan of Linux Mint and have bought two MintBox 2 soon after they became available. I have been very pleased with these, so I ordered a MintBox Mini mainly because of its very low power consumption. It has been delivered a week or two ago (6 weeks delivery time). It is clearly slower than the MintBox 2 but that is no surprise given the specs. The only serious problem is with power management. I had to disable sleep mode because it locks up completely on wake-up and the only way to revive it is by pulling the power supply. This obviously largely defeats its low power consumption as a reason for buying it. I wonder if Clem or anybody else has any idea how to solve this problem.

    • clem Jul 22,2015 21:04

      Hi Luc,

      The mini is about half the specs of the MintBox2 for about half the price. With that said, you can boost the power from 4.5W to 10W (in the BIOS) and from my experience with the box that makes a huge difference in performance. I’m not aware of any issues with sleep though.. do you mean suspend or hibernate or some other mode? I let mine run all day usually, or just shut it off when I don’t use it for a while (it’s used a media player hooked onto the TV here) :)

  33. Luc Jul 22,2015 23:07

    Hi Clem,
    Thanks a lot for your swift reaction to my post.
    I am talking of the suspend mode which can be entered either through Menu > Quit > Suspend or by shortly pressing the power button. In both cases the unit seems to enter the suspend mode correctly: the light on the power button changes colour and the screen goes black. However, when touching the keyboard or shortly pressing the power button to bring it back, the light on the power button changes colour again but the screen stays black (no HDMI signal). The unit does not react to holding the power button to switch it off as it normally does either, so I have to unplug the power supply to restart it. I am running Linux Mint 17.1 Mate.
    Thanks for any help/suggestions and keep up the good work!

  34. prostolinux Aug 3,2015 08:44

    Лично мне очень нравятся миникомпьютеры, жалко, что чаще всего они очень слабые внутри, только для офисных задач.

  35. sarah Aug 7,2015 11:26

    how much is this sm. computer is it released in the usa n can i get one with the gnome desk top i just like gnome better …..

  36. Bill Jordan May 15,2016 14:23

    Clem, I love my Mintbox Mini, but can’t get a Bluetooth adapter to work with it. Any suggestions?

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