The miniaturization trend triggered by the ultra-compact form factor NUCs from Intel has emerged as a key driver in the growth of the PC market. Processor power efficiency is of paramount importance in this space, and AMD had been caught napping when the NUCs began to take flight. The introduction of the Zen microarchitecture in the Ryzen processors has scripted a remarkable turnaround for AMD. With leading core counts, the Ryzen processors have taken the HEDT market by storm. UCFF PC manufacturers, however, opted to play the wait and watch game, and it took a while before the embedded SoC versions of the first-generation Ryzens started appearing in the PC market. Last year, ASRock Industrial introduced one of the first Ryzen UCFF systems in the form of the 4X4 BOX-V1000M. This review attempts to figure out how the unit fares against the entrenched incumbents.

Introduction and Product Impressions

Small form-factor (SFF) PCs and gaming systems have represented the bulk of the growing segment in the PC market over the last few years. Intel's NUC line-up has enjoyed unprecedented success. Despite the introduction of notebook processors using the first-generation Zen microarchitecture, AMD's power efficiency was not good enough for vendors (and even AMD themselves) to make a dent in Intel's success in the NUC space. The equation changed slightly with the launch of the AMD Ryzen Embedded processors in early 2018. Starting as a trickle with a mini-STX board from with Sapphire, the uptake of the Ryzen Embedded series became a veritable deluge late last year with UCFF systems from ASRock Industrial, EEPD, OnLogic, and SimplyNUC.

ASRock Industrial has been at the forefront of AMD-based UCFF PCs, being one of the first to bring out UCFF systems based on the Ryzen Embedded APUs in mid-2019. In fact, their boards have been adopted by vendors such as OnLogic in their ML100G-40 systems. The company offers three different 4X4 BOX configurations - the dual-core R1505G and R1606G variants in the R1000M and R1000V, and the flagship quad-core V1605B-based V1000M. The last of the three is the one we are looking at today.

The 4X4 BOX-V1000M is ASRock Industrial's flagship AMD Ryzen Embedded offering with a 104mm x 102mm main-board housed in a 110mm x 118.5mm x 67.3mm plastic chassis. The system matches the Intel NUCs in the footprint department. The board comes with a soldered processor - the V1605B belonging to the AMD Ryzen Embedded V-Series. It is a quad-core processor with SMT enabled (4C/8T). It can operate with a TDP configurable between 12W and 25W.

Switching to peripherals and networking, the board's WLAN component is M.2 card - the Intel AC3168. The system is otherwise barebones, providing with the flexibility to choose their own storage device and RAM. For best performance, a PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD can be used, and DDR4-2400 SODIMMs are supported. However, it must be noted that the system does NOT support M.2 2280 SSDs. Only M.2 2242 and 2260 Key M SSDs (both SATA and NVMe) are supported. We installed a Transcend MTS600 SATA SSD (one of the few M.2 2260 SSDs that we had access to during our testing process) along with vanilla DDR4 SODIMMs from the Team Group brand.

The specifications of our ASRock 4X4 BOX-V1000M review configuration are summarized in the table below.

ASRock Industrial 4X4 BOX-V1000M Specifications
Processor AMD Ryzen Embedded V1605B
Ryzen Embedded V-Series, 4C/8T, 2.0 (3.6) GHz
2MB L2 + 4MB L3, 14nm, 12-25W TDP
Memory Team Group TEAMGROUP-SD4-2666 DDR4 SODIMM
16-16-16-39 @ 2400 MHz
2x8 GB
Graphics AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics
Disk Drive(s) Transcend MTS600 TS256GMTS600
(256 GB; M.2 Type 2260 SATA III; Micron 20nm MLC)
(Silicon Motion SM2246EN Controller)
Networking Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3168
(1x1 802.11ac - 433 Mbps)
2x Realtek RTL8111G Gigabit Ethernet Controller
Audio 3.5mm Headphone Jack
Capable of 5.1/7.1 digital output with HD audio bitstreaming (HDMI)
Miscellaneous I/O Ports 2x USB 2.0
3x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A
Operating System Retail unit is barebones, but we installed Windows 10 Enterprise x64 (1909)
Pricing (As configured) $390 ( $561 )
Full Specifications ASRock Industrial 4X4 BOX-V1000M Specifications

The ASRock Industrial 4X4 BOX-V1000M kit doesn't come with any pre-installed OS, but does come with a CD containing the drivers. In any case, we ended up installing the latest drivers downloaded off the product support page. In addition to the main unit, the other components of the package include a 96 W (12V @ 8A) adapter, a US power cord, a VESA mount (along with the necessary screws), a M.2 SSD heat-sink, a driver CD, user's manual and a quick-start guide.

The gallery below takes us around the hardware in the main unit.

In the table below, we have an overview of the various systems that we are comparing the ASRock 4X4 BOX-V1000M against. Note that they may not belong to the same market segment. The relevant configuration details of the machines are provided so that readers have an understanding of why some benchmark numbers are skewed for or against the ASRock 4X4 BOX-V1000M when we come to those sections.

Comparative PC Configurations
Aspect ASRock 4X4 BOX-V1000M
CPU AMD Ryzen Embedded V1605B AMD Ryzen Embedded V1605B
GPU AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics
RAM Team Group TEAMGROUP-SD4-2666 DDR4 SODIMM
16-16-16-39 @ 2400 MHz
2x8 GB
Team Group TEAMGROUP-SD4-2666 DDR4 SODIMM
16-16-16-39 @ 2400 MHz
2x8 GB
Storage Transcend MTS600 TS256GMTS600
(256 GB; M.2 Type 2260 SATA III; Micron 20nm MLC)
(Silicon Motion SM2246EN Controller)
Transcend MTS600 TS256GMTS600
(256 GB; M.2 Type 2260 SATA III; Micron 20nm MLC)
(Silicon Motion SM2246EN Controller)
Wi-Fi Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3168
(1x1 802.11ac - 433 Mbps)
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3168
(1x1 802.11ac - 433 Mbps)
Price (in USD, when built) $390 (barebones)
$561 (as configured)
$390 (barebones)
$561 (as configured)
Hardware Setup and Platform Analysis
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  • nagi603 - Monday, September 28, 2020 - link

    I wish those were intel NICs instead of Realtek, but you can't win all. Reply
  • webdoctors - Monday, September 28, 2020 - link

    Love the title, haha.

    I like the TDP specs of this as I built a low power home nas machine for storing surveillance videos and home automation scripts. But the pricing on this is TERRIBLE. I built a tiny SFF machine for ~$130! It was like $60 for the mobo+CPU, $50 case+PS, $20 RAM etc.

    What niche is this thing trying to fulfill?
    Reply
  • eastcoast_pete - Monday, September 28, 2020 - link

    Thanks for the review, although I would have really liked to see a review of that unit with the 4800u Renoir chip. The long-term support of this unit is, of course, interesting if one deploys them in actual "industrial" settings. However, I strongly assume that most readers here would use a small format PC like this as HTPC at home, and would gladly trade the superior performance of an 8 core Renoir for the "long-term support". So, any chance of seeing that review here? Reply
  • GreenReaper - Monday, September 28, 2020 - link

    Why doesn't it use the 10GbE provided by the CPU, even at 1Gbps? Is it a question of power usage? Cost of transceivers? Reliability? Reply
  • eastcoast_pete - Monday, September 28, 2020 - link

    10 GbE requires additional hardware (e.g. from Aquantia, or others); the situation is similar for many Intel-based systems. A number of current CPUs are capable of supporting 10 GbE, but all need the additional hardware. In contrast, 2.5 GbE can be implemented w/o adding much to the BOM, so more systems now ship with 2.5 GbE instead of just 1 GbE. Reply
  • GreenReaper - Monday, September 28, 2020 - link

    Also, AMD is playing silly buggers with links to its specifications; the one in the article on the model number just leads to a menu page for me. This link has a V1000-series product brief:
    https://www.amd.com/en/media/42701/download
    Reply
  • nicolaim - Monday, September 28, 2020 - link

    No USB-C ports on something that's supposed to last up to ten years? Reply
  • PyroHoltz - Monday, September 28, 2020 - link

    Good point. Maybe asrock knows something that we don't and usb-c is going to be replaced in the next 5? Reply
  • Lord of the Bored - Wednesday, September 30, 2020 - link

    I doubt the target market is going to be plugging any USB-C... whatevers. I think the only things that actually ship with a USB-C connectors are laptop "docks" and USB-grownup-connector adapters.

    There's literally no benefit to USB-C in this segment.
    Reply
  • PeterEvans - Monday, September 28, 2020 - link

    Well I guess this is one way to get rid of the three year old laptop parts. Just put them together into a shoebox and call it "innovative". I am surprised it doesn't come with Windows XP. Reply

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