Platform Analysis and vPro Capabilities

The Cubi 2 Plus is based on the H110 chipset, while the vPro model is based on the Q170 chipset. Another important difference in the motherboards is the presence of the Intel I219-LM Gigabit Ethernet Controller on the vPro model (compared to the Intel I219-V on the regular one). The LM SKU supports Intel vPro features, while the V does not.

The differences between the H110 and Q170 can be seen in the table below. Intel is able to price the H110 low because it loses many interesting features such as support for PCIe 3.0 (all PCIe lanes are Gen 2 only).

The H110 chipset also doesn't support Intel RST (Rapid Storage Technology) for setting up SATA drives in a RAID configuration.

Despite the extra hardware capabilities of the Q170 chipset, MSI has decided to focus solely on the vPro capabilities in that model. The PCIe lanes are used in a similar manner in both the models (probably done to simplify board design efforts).

  • PCIe 2.0 x1 for the Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165 AC HMC WiFi Adapter
  • PCIe 2.0 x1 for the Realtek PCIe CardReader
  • PCIe 2.0 x4 for the M.2 PCIe SSD (if one is present)

Moving on to the vPro capabilities, we already looked at the various BIOS extensions available for the Intel Active Management Technology (AMT). AMT is particularly useful for IT administrators in business settings. They can remotely manage, support and maintain compatible PCs in the company network. AMT involves both hardware and firmware features. In the review of the Logic Supply ML100G-30, I had described how the BIOS extensions for AMT can be configured to enable out-of-band management of the PC over a particular network interface. Coupled with AMT, remote KVM allows control of even the boot process over that network interface.

Intel AMT status can also be monitored from within Windows.

Gallery: Intel AMT

Intel's Small Business Advantage (SBA) is a boon for small IT groups. It allows an administrator to be in touch with all the computers in the network for support purposes as well as to restrict usage of, say, USB ports on the PCs.

Skylake vPro brings more features of use to IT administrators. Intel Authenticate is obviously the biggest, though we didn't get a chance to test that out with the Cubi 2 Plus vPro.

Introduction and Setup Impressions Performance Metrics - I
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  • close - Wednesday, April 27, 2016 - link

    So Cubi 2 Plus vPro barebones costs under $300 with Intel Core i5-6500T? It looks like it's blowing any barebones NUC out of the water. Am I missing something?
    NUC5i5RYKis ~$350 on Amazon.
  • cfenton - Wednesday, April 27, 2016 - link

    It sounds like 'barebones' in this case means it doesn't come with the CPU. The final page of the review says "In the North American market, MSI plans to offer only the barebones version (no CPU / hard drive / memory)."

    So, unlike a NUC, it sounds like you have to supply the CPU.
  • Ratman6161 - Wednesday, April 27, 2016 - link

    On their previous models the CPU was included and I assume the same will be true with these (as is typical in this form factor). See:
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, April 27, 2016 - link

    No, CPU is not included in the $210 / $270 cost.

    The difference is that this is a socketed system, while the Cubi-Mini uses BGA processors (Broadwell-U) that are soldered.

    Think of the Cubi 2 Plus vPro as a motherboard + chassis + power supply combo.
  • close - Thursday, April 28, 2016 - link

    Ok, I get it now. So add $250 for the CPU (if you want the vPro).
  • Ethos Evoss - Friday, April 29, 2016 - link

    that's bullsht mini pc's always must come with cpu ..
  • Ian Cutress - Wednesday, April 27, 2016 - link

    From the final page:

    Final Page:

    "In the North American market, MSI plans to offer only the barebones version (no CPU / hard drive / memory). The Cubi 2 Plus will be sold to the channels and have an approximate MSRP of $210 with a 2-year warranty. The vPro model will be a build-to-order one, priced at (from) $270 with a 2-year warranty. "

    Typically a 'barebones' system means chassis, motherboard, integrated WiFi and power supply only. If the 6500T is $247 alone, the whole unit plus CPU won't be $270 for sure. The unit as tested was $683, so $270 for the barebones, $247 for CPU, some for 2x8GB SO-DIMM and some for 250GB SSD, comes to $683 total.

    For volume sales, the vPro model is most likely going to be sold through system integrators who will kit the units out as per the customer specifications and provide a support package on top.
  • close - Thursday, April 28, 2016 - link

    I missed the "No CPU" part. It sounded like a killer deal with basically a $250 CPU that comes bundled with free MoBo , case and PSU :D.
  • Ethos Evoss - Friday, April 29, 2016 - link

    I have Msi Cubi celeron 128gb 8gb and am happy.. just for 250$
  • BrokenCrayons - Wednesday, April 27, 2016 - link

    The load power consumption is rather high. Isn't the PSU only rated at 90W?

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