Aliexpress Mini-Computer Revolution: Surprising Quality and Electrifying Encounters Unveiled in Test

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Aliexpress Mini-Computer Revolution: Surprising Quality and Electrifying Encounters Unveiled in Test

During our test of the Raspberry Pi 5, multiple mentions popped up in our forum suggesting that on Aliexpress, for just a little extra money, mini-computers were available that posed a real alternative. Specifically, one could get a complete system with a quad-core Intel N100 processor, RAM, and an SSD for 130 euros. Initially, we, like some commentators, were skeptical, but indeed, we found one at the mentioned price. So, we ordered one of these mini-computers to see what we would get.

We placed an order for the Firebat T8 Pro, although there are various similarly appearing offers. We opted for the least expensive model with 8 gigabytes of RAM and a 256-gigabyte SSD. The product description doesn’t specify the RAM’s exact standard, which has caused some surprise.

When ordering, it’s crucial to pay attention to the selection: among all the offers we’ve seen, alongside the N100, an Alder Lake-N processor, there’s also a model with an older Jasper Lake CPU being sold. These are a bit cheaper but are also less powerful, as we’ll soon discover.

The specs look promising: it includes two Gbit LAN ports, a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth module (Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.2), and supports connecting up to three monitors via HDMI 2.1 outputs, capable of 4K at 60Hz refresh rate according to Intel. For device connections, there are three USB 3.0 ports. Additionally, we are supposed to receive a suitable 12-volt power supply delivering 30 watts, an HDMI cable, and a VESA mount that allows the computer to be mounted on the back of a screen.

Decent Build Quality

Six days after ordering, we hold a simple black cardboard box with a white lid labeled “Mini-PC”. The contents are well-packed, and all the promised components are included. The device inside, measuring 87 x 87 mm and 44 mm tall, looks decent at first glance, though not particularly high-end.

Considering the price, the quality is better than expected. The casing is sturdy, and the screws holding it together don’t just dig into the plastic but grip into embedded nuts. The VESA mount is quite thoughtful; it screws onto the monitor, allowing the PC to be easily removed without tools. The included manual, however, is fairly basic.

An Electrifying Experience

The first surprise comes when we plug it into the monitor: while trying to find the correct monitor input with the HDMI cable in hand, we suddenly feel a tingling sensation in our fingers—definitely not from the anticipation of the new computer. It seems the metallic ports are under some sort of voltage.

After a quick test akin to the style of the YouTube channel Electroboom, it turns out the culprit is the power supply. We measure an alternating voltage of about 26 volts between the power supply’s ground and earth—nothing life-threatening, but certainly uncomfortable. We opt to test with a different power supply instead.

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Ronald Peart
As an AI and machine learning aficionado, Ronald Peart unravels the complexities of artificial intelligence, offering comprehensive insights and updates on the tech landscape.