ASUS PN40-BB013M review

December 2020

Abstract

I was looking for a mini PC to replace my Raspberry Pi. Low power, passive cooled, affordable and reliable were the key points important for me in order to run my web server on.

Hardware options and comparison

Here is my research for suitable hardware comparing all devices I considered in a table for quick and easy overview.

Device M.2 2,5" USB wifi bluetooth ethernet Display CPU TDP Fan Cost
MAC mini A1347 ? 2 3x USB 3.0 802.11a/b/g/n ? Gb 1x HDMI 1x Mini Display Port 1920×1200 i5-3210M 35W yes ~150€ used
Gigabyte Brix GB-BACE-3160 1 1 4x USB 3.0 802.11a/​b/​g/​n/​ac 4.0 Gb 1x VGA 1x HDMI 1.4 J3160 6W no 95€
Gigabyte Brix GB-BXCEH-2955 1 1 4x USB 3.0 802.11b/​g/​n 4.0 Gb 1x HDMI 1.4 1x Mini Display Port 1.2 2955U 15W yes 100€
Gigabyte Brix GB-BLCE-4105 1 1 1x USB-C 3x USB 3.0 802.11a/​b/​g/​n/​ac 4.2 Gb 1x HDMI 2.0a 1x Mini Display Port 1.2a J4105 10W yes 130€
Intel NUC NUC7CJYH 0 1 4x USB 3.0 802.11a/​b/​g/​n/​ac 5.0 Gb 2x HDMI 2.0a J4005 10W yes 110€
MSI Cubi N 8GL-001BEU 1 1 4x USB 3.0 802.11a/​b/​g/​n/​ac 4.2 Gb 1x VGA 1x HDMI 1.4 N4000 6W no 100€
Asus PN40-BB009MC 1 1 1x USB-C 3x USB 3.0 1x USB 2.0 802.11a/​b/​g/​n/​ac 5.0 Gb 1x HDMI 1.4 1x Mini Display Port 1.2 N4000 6W no 130€
Asus PN40-BB013M 1 1 1x USB-C 3x USB 3.0 1x USB 2.0 802.11a/​b/​g/​n/​ac 5.0 Gb 1x VGA 1x HDMI 1.4 1x Mini Display Port 1.2 N4000 6W no 150€

I decided for the Asus PN40-BB013M because Asus claims that this one is rated for continuous use. Since I run my web server on it, this is important for me. I also like that it is among the less ugly ones from an aesthetic point of view. It offers modern hardware (apart from the VGA port) at reasonable cost.

Review

I'll spare you the ridiculous unboxing nonsense and get right to the point: This is what you get when you buy this Asus PN40:
The computer
Power supply
VESA mount
Some screws
The chassis is designed in a clever way with the 2,5" drive mounted to the lid. Memory installed is 2x4GB DDR4 RAM from Crucial since this is listed as compatible on the Asus website and is affordable (as the time of writing selling for roughly 32€).
Idle CPU temperature is roughly 39°C and after eight hours of memory testing, CPU temperature was 46°C. Debian installation on an old 500GB SSD went super easy. The only difference to Pi OS is that ssh, curl and sudo are missing from the default Debian installation and need to be installed manually. Also, SSMTP is missing from the Debian packages, but MSMTP is a better option anyway (glad I found out).

So far, the Asus PN40 makes a good first impression. How good it really is will be clear in one or two years. I'll write an update in a year or two.