Product Reviews

Azulle Byte Plus Mini PC Review

Kannon Yamada 07-10-2016

Azulle, formerly known as Quantum Suppliers, just released the $170–280 Byte Plus mini PC. The Byte Plus upgrades several components on the already winning design of the Quantum Byte — but how does it compare to its competitors?


In short, pretty good. Azulle’s Byte Plus won’t stream 4K video or play modern games — but it’s everything you’d want from a compact and efficient mini PC What Makes Mini PCs so Small? And, the Best Mini PCs You Can Buy Today A new generation of mini PCs is making its way into our homes and offices now. Read More . And on top of that, there’s no fan!


Specifications and Appearance

  • Intel Cherry Trail processor with 1.6GHz and 1.85GHz boost speed
  • 2–4 GB of RAM
  • 32–64 GB of Storage (eMMC module)
  • microSD card expansion (up to 128 GB of expandable storage)
  • VGA and HDMI video outputs
  • Linux or Windows 10 operating system
  • Passive cooling system
  • 802.11ac dual channel wireless connection (Intel 3160 1×1 mini-PCIe card)
  • 2 USB 3.0 and 1 USB 2.0

Azulle Byte Plus Mini PC -- Rear Ports

The Atom x5 Processor

The hardware profile of the Byte Plus doesn’t differ from a stick PC (what’s a stick PC? What Is An Android Stick Computer, And How Can You Use It? Miniaturization has been a computing trend for decades, but it seems to have accelerated over the past five years. Even Intel’s NUC (Next Unit of Computing), a hockey-puck sized PC, looks large compared to ARM... Read More ), aside from its form factor and superior cooling solution. While snappy under average computing loads, like streaming music, the Atom x5 processor can stutter and freeze when confronted with ad-ridden websites or running multiple tabs in Google Chrome.

The Atom x5 System-on-a-chip (SoC) inside of the Byte Plus doesn’t compare with mainstream Intel Core Intel Core i3 vs. i5 vs. i7: Which CPU Should You Buy? Confused by the differences between Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 processors? Here's what you need to know in layman's terms and which CPU to buy. Read More (or even AMD A10) processors in performance. While the modern Atom x5 processor combines features from Intel’s mainstream processors, such as hyperthreading and 3D transistors, benchmarks indicate weak processing capabilities. In synthetic testing, it performs about on par with chips from around ten years ago. However, in real world scenarios, the Atom x5 runs all apps fluidly and with speed.


The eMMC Storage Drive

The real issue with the Byte Plus’s base model is that it employs 2 GB of RAM and eMMC solid state drive (what’s an SSD? How Do Solid-State Drives Work? In this article, you'll learn exactly what SSDs are, how SSDs actually work and operate, why SSDs are so useful, and the one major downside to SSDs. Read More ). That’s not acceptable on a Windows 10 machine. Other systems do fine with 2 GB, mainly Linux and Android — or even the astounding Remix OS A Real, Android-Based Alternative to Windows: Remix OS 2.0 Read More . For multi-tabbed browsing and other tasks expected of Windows users, 2 GB of RAM causes frequent stuttering during multitasking, disk wear, and other performance problems. On top of that, Windows takes up a whopping 20 GB of space on a hard drive — that leaves less than 12 GB of space free on a 32 GB drive.

Unlike SATA and NVMe SSDs, eMMC modules just aren’t built for performance. While they’re mostly faster than regular Hard Disc Drives, they can perform worse (or about the same) in sequential writes with deep queue depths. Here’s how the eMMC module inside of the Byte Plus benchmarked on CrystalDiskMark (tools for benchmarking CrystalDiskMark & CrystalDiskInfo - Valuable Disk Diagnostics For Free [Windows] There was once a time when I was a naive kid on a desktop who never even considered that I'd have to keep up with the health of my hard drive. Jumping from the world... Read More ).

Azulle Byte Plus Mini PC -- Benchmark eMMC

The Competition

Within the mini-PC market, there’s a disturbing lack of diversity in processors, RAM, and storage capacity. That’s because Intel insists that the Atom platform use no more than 4 GB of RAM. The majority of devices in this price segment could, in theory, perform at a much higher level with faster storage options and larger amounts of RAM. Unfortunately, that would cannibalize sales of Intel’s mainstream Core series processors. At present, the sort of devices available on the mini-PC market tend to look almost identical to one another — except the cooling system. In general, if you’re buying a fanless mini-PC, the cooling system is the most critical component. An efficient heatsink allows a Cherry Trail processor to maintain its performance for longer periods of time. On top of increased snappiness, a better cooling system can improve system durability.


Azulle Byte Plus Mini PC -- Top Down

So within the $200 market, how many other mini-PCs compete with the Azulle Byte Plus? The best known is the ASRock Beebox, which offers a unit with similar specifications, and barebones options, at a higher price. A smaller competitor is the Kangaroo Moble Desktop Pro, which costs about the same as the Byte Plus and offers almost identical specs. Of the two, neither really rivals the cooling system of the Byte. However, the Beebox is user-serviceable.


A sane person wouldn’t use a mini-PC for complex rendering or video-editing projects. For the most part, users of the Byte Plus might find themselves web-browsing, visiting social media sites, streaming media, or even running wireless presentations. In all these roles, the Byte Plus functions in the same fashion as a $1,000 desktop computer. Provided the user stays within its performance confines, the Byte Plus makes a tantalizing value proposition on the grounds of its portability, reliable performance, and low cost.

Computing Tasks: Social Media, Chat, Office, and Browsing

The mini-PC’s performance — in real terms — for general computing feels fluid and snappy. Users can run virtually all Windows 10 applications without much stutter or lag, such as Skype or Microsoft Office. For web surfing, it won’t open a hundred tabs without being bogged down under the weight of advertisements and poorly crafted Javascript — but it will browse a few web pages at a time, without much issue. Even so, I would recommend that prospective buyers look very carefully at the 4 GB Byte Plus version rather than the 2 GB starter model.


Media PC: Streaming Media, Gaming, and Playback

The mini-PC excels as an HTPC or light gaming rig. Most mobile games, such as Minecraft and Asphalt 8, run great. It also streams 1080p media with ease and it plays 4K content without issue.

As far as gaming goes, the Byte Plus handles all mobile games you could throw at it. Asphalt 8 on Extreme settings runs fluidly and with a maximum temperature of 73 degrees Celsius after several hours of continuous use. Minecraft runs just as smoothly — even so, don’t expect to play the latest non-mobile games on an Atom processor. Not that you would want to install the Steam client, with only around 12 GB of free storage capacity.

Azulle Byte Plus Mini PC -- HWMonitor

On the downside, the Byte Plus doesn’t stream 4K media, although it streams 1080p. Part of the reason it may suffer problems streaming 4K stems from its single-stream Wi-Fi card, the Intel 3160. The 3160 hits about half the speed of a wireless-AC 2×2 card and is about as fast as a dual-band 802.11n card. That’s fast, but not blazing fast for internal network speeds or streaming 4K video.


I couldn’t test the Byte Plus’s performance in 4K playback. However, the Cherry Trail processor inside of the Byte possesses more than enough horsepower.

Power Consumption

The Byte Plus, like most Cherry Trail-based systems-on-a-chip (what’s an SoC? Jargon Buster: The Guide to Understanding Mobile Processors In this guide, we'll cut through the jargon to explain what you need to know about smartphone processors. Read More ), offers extraordinary power efficiency. Not only does it sip energy, but it also drains a remarkable zero watts while turned off. Its power consumption compares favorably with even the European standard for energy consumption, which sets the bar at a half watt of power consumed while turned off. I believe that this has to do with some of Cherry Trail’s newly introduced power saving features, rather than any unique hardware customizations by Azulle. Here’re a few energy consumption readings that I took with a wattage meter How Much Power Is Your PC Using? Computer power consumption can be estimated. Most of the components inside a PC have specific minimum and maximum power draw figures and, because quality control is so tight, it’s rare of a part to break... Read More :

  • Power consumption at load: 13–15 watts
  • Power consumption while idle: 7–8 watts
  • Power consumption while powered off: 0 watts

Azulle Byte Plus Mini PC -- Wattage Meter

What’s Missing in the Byte Plus?

A strange omission concerning the Byte Plus is the lack of a USB Type-C port (what’s USB Type-C? What Is USB Type-C? Ah, the USB plug. It is as ubiquitous now as it is notorious for never being able to be plugged in right the first time. Read More ). At present, few desktop computers include the technology. Even so, USB-C would have given the Byte Plus an added degree of future-proofing. I’m not sure why Azulle chose to leave it out.

Another feature lacking in the Byte Plus is user-serviceability. There doesn’t appear to be any means of dismantling the device or replacing parts. Compounding issues, users can access the BIOS (what’s a BIOS? Why Does My Motherboard Have a Battery? Did you know there is a battery on your computer's motherboard? Here's what the CMOS motherboard battery does and why you need it. Read More ), which means the system can be rendered unbootable through accidental misconfiguration. If that happens, there’s no method of resetting the BIOS, which translates into a hard brick (that means a broken device).

However, these problems aren’t deal-breaking in the slightest. Overall, the Azulle Byte Plus offers few vices and a lot of virtues.

Should You Buy the Azulle Byte Plus?

At around $200 the Azulle Byte Plus compares on equal footing to many of its small form factor competitors. In its niche, the Byte excels within several roles for two reasons. First, it can deliver unthrottled performance for a longer period than any stick PC with similar specifications. Second, it includes more ports, ethernet capabilities, and versatility than its competitors, which make it useful in a range of roles. For most users, it’s one of the best Cherry Trail mini-PCs around.

Byte Plus (Fanless Windows 10 Home (64 bit) Mini Desktop PC - Intel CherryTrail T3 Z8300 Quad-Core, 1.44 GHz (up to 1.84 GHz) 4GB RAM+32GB storage) Byte Plus (Fanless Windows 10 Home (64 bit) Mini Desktop PC - Intel CherryTrail T3 Z8300 Quad-Core, 1.44 GHz (up to 1.84 GHz) 4GB RAM+32GB storage) Buy Now On Amazon

If you need Windows 10 and a small, efficient PC, then Azulle’s device should satisfy your needs. On the other hand, it packs in similar specifications as a Chromebook, at the same price — and a Chromebook can fulfill most of the things that the Byte Plus can.

Our verdict of the Azulle Byte Plus:
Buy it if you need a mini-PC with Windows 10. Otherwise, you might be better off with a Chromebook.
8 10

Related topics: MakeUseOf Giveaway, Mini PC.

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  1. mike mcelwain
    August 16, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    Wow that's really cool I want my having one neat

  2. mike mcelwain
    August 16, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    Wow thats really cool ,wouldnt mind having one

  3. mike mcelwain
    August 16, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Wow thats really cool

  4. The VDI guy
    January 9, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Great device to run Linux and use in a VDI environment to give a full windows experience.

  5. Herbert Tjiong
    January 8, 2017 at 3:12 am

    I just bought the Azulle Byte plus with 2Gb Ram & 32 Gb Storage,
    The Kingston 128Gb Micro SD XC I Class 10 is compatible to Azulle Byte Plus ? for microSD card expansion (up to 128 GB of expandable storage)?

    • Kannon Y
      January 9, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      Supposedly it can handle UP TO 128GB microSD cards. I never was able to check this. The microSD card capacity and transfer speeds should be determined by the chipset. We've since given away the device, but I believe it was either handled by the Intel Cherry Trail SoC or by Realtek. In either case, that means 128GB capacity but unknown data transfer speeds. The Kingston 128GB SHOULD work but we don't know exactly how fast it will transfer data.

  6. Paul Rhodes
    October 17, 2016 at 1:35 am

    The small computer is Ideal for people who do not have a lot of room , helping to keep in touch with the world.

  7. Alfred C
    October 13, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    Size but great. :)

  8. Ritesh
    October 8, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    IT is looking good. There is definitely space for Mini PC's. The ones that are in market, are either too costly(mini mac) or not-so-reliable. A decent budget-mini pc has huge potential in market.

  9. Heman Adams
    October 8, 2016 at 11:06 am

    I can only imagine how convenient life could get with this PC

  10. Toma
    October 7, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    LOL. I want it. It would be a good media player.

  11. Christopher
    October 7, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    LOL. I don't want it even for free.