The case is familiar, otherwise almost everything is new: With the ASRock DeskMini B660, Intel’s Alder Lake platform has arrived in STX format. The small PC offers a lot of performance, a home that is more than sufficient in the (home) office. Storage options and I/O are also convincing. But the mini-PC in the test is not entirely without flaws.
ASRock DeskMini: Between NUC and Mini-ITX PC
For years, ASRock DeskMini has stood for a mini PC series that can offer a lot of performance in a small space. With the test of the DeskMini 110, the topic found its place on ComputerBase for the first time in 2016.
With its approach, the PC series is located between classic Intel NUCs with soldered notebook processor and full-fledged Mini-ITX desktop solutions, but combines the same socketable desktop CPUs as Mini-ITX computers in the STX format on a spartan board – it doesn’t work without compromise. But ASRock succeeds again very well with the DeskMini B660, as it can prove in the everyday test.
ASRock does not throw the well-known virtues of the DeskMini series overboard, which a look at the first model from 2016, but also at the DeskMini X300 (test) released in 2020, brings to mind again.
Larger CPU socket brings challenges
In order to accommodate the large new socket LGA 1700 for the processors of the Alder Lake aka Core i-12000 series and probably also Raptor Lake aka Core i-13000, ASRock had to create a little more space on the board. The two DIMM slots had to move a little further outwards, especially since the drill holes for the cooling had to be accommodated somewhere. They are slightly further apart in the new socket than in Intel’s previous LGA desktop solutions.
At the upper end, as usual, the chipset connects almost seamlessly and is now surpassed by the cooler to a small extent, which is not bad at all, since the chipset itself is completely *text muted* and does not have a passive cooling element. On the other side is the SSD slot. In the end, the chipset is almost “buried” under the two elements.
The base, on the other hand, has almost no influence on the height. In this generation, the boxed coolers from Intel fit into the DeskMini again. The new Alder Lake model with a copper core also does its job in the 65-watt test subjects. There is no PCI Express slot.
The two SO-DIMM slots work according to the DDR4 standard. This is a good choice for the mini PC, this memory is very cheap on the market. The supported standard of DDR4-3200, for example, is loaded without any problems via the XMP profile. Alder Lake also broadly supports the DDR5 standard and the prices have recently dropped significantly, but they are still in a significantly more expensive league than DDR4: around 50 percent more costs can be expected.
Support for M.2 SSD with PCI Express 5.0
Speaking of the SSD slot: “BLAZING M.2” is what ASRock calls the most important slot for mass storage, because for the first time it offers official support for a PCIe 5.0 SSD with 4 lanes, which can then theoretically transfer up to 128 Gbit/s (16 GB/s) – twice that of a PCIe 4.0 solution. Since the 16 PCI Express 5.0 lanes of the processor for the graphics card do not have to or cannot be used in the mini PC, ASRock frees them for the memory slot.
The manufacturer takes a similar approach with the Z690 PG Velocita, among others. There, when using the fastest standard for mass storage, the graphics card has to make do with only 8 lanes, as ASRock describes in the manual (PDF document):
PCIE1 (PCIe 5.0 x16 slot) is used for PCIe x16 lane width graphics cards. The Blazing M.2 Socket (M2_4, Key M) supports type 2260/2280 PCIe Gen5x4 (128 Gb/s) mode.
[…] If M2_4 is occupied, PCIE1 will downgrade to x8 mode.
ASRock on the Z690 PG Velocita
When asked by ComputerBase, the manufacturer confirmed that PCI Express 5.0 for M.2 SSDs works with Alder Lake processors without any problems. Now there is only the small obstacle that no suitable SSDs are available so far. But it’s not ASRock’s fault. The company has implemented it confidently, because the lanes are there and would otherwise always be unused. Now at least the option is there to pick them up at some point.
However, an SSD is not the end, although it is the only one that can be found on the top. On the back there is still space for a second M.2 SSD on the board, here now according to the classic PCIe 4.0 standard with four lanes. The mainboard tray was also designed in such a way that two 2.5-inch HDDs/SSDs can be accommodated on the underside. Two suitable mini-SATA interfaces can be found there. In the end, the system can thus accommodate four mass storage devices.
Wi-Fi still only optional
Some things in the equipment stand out – unfortunately also because they are only optional. As last time, Wi-Fi comes first here, which is only available as an option. Although not everyone prefers a WLAN connection, it is cumbersome to connect a thick LAN cable, especially with small PCs, especially if the computer can be stowed away in a small corner.
Inside, using the M.2 2230 port for the optional Wi-Fi module is rather a hindrance, because it’s big and takes up a lot of space on such a small board. The soldered variants used in NUCs and notebooks today are only a fraction as expansive. The hope dies last that ASRock will use it at some point, but Wi-Fi should no longer be an option. The manufacturer might then no longer have to banish the second M.2 slot for mass storage to the back. To get to him is currently very cumbersome.
In the past, small PCs almost always included a mounting kit so that the PC could be stowed directly behind the monitor. ASRock has also banished this to the “optional” department. However, since the PC is a bit larger anyway and can easily be positioned elsewhere on the desk, the circumstance weighs less heavily. In the end, market analyzes at ASRock should have shown that very few DeskMini users hang the PC behind the screen.
In the end, that makes some things easier too. The I/O panel offers almost the same connections as a regular desktop PC, four small ports are also easily accessible via the front.
side 1/3 Next page Equipment, everyday tests and power consumption
EMINeM, the cybercriminal behind the alliance between the ‘malware’ GuLoader and Remcos
MADRID, September 23 (Portaltic/EP) –
Researchers at Check Point Research have identified a relationship between the GuLoader and Remcos malicious programs, which are sold as legitimate tools, behind which lies the same cybercriminal, EMINeM.
Remcos Remote Access Trojan and GuLoader (also known as CloudEyE and TheProtect) are advertised as legitimate tools, but are used in cyberattacks and are among the most common malicious programs.
Although its sellers They claim that its use is legalCheck Point Research has detected a connection between these tools and cybercrime: while Remcos struggles to evade antivirus detection, GuLoader acts as your ally, helping you bypass protection measuresas detailed in a press release.
Researchers have discovered that GuLoader is rebranded and sold as a crypter, ensuring that the Remcos payload remains completely undetectable to antiviruses. AND the same administrator manages the platformselling both tools at the same time operates the official website and Telegram channels for Remcos.
As Check Point Research points out, compelling evidence has been found that this individual also uses GuLoader to protect himself from detection. Domain names and IP addresses associated with the Remcos and GuLoader vendor appear in malware analyst reports.
Going deeper into this, Check Point Research researchers have discovered a clear connection between a individual known as EMINeM and two websites: BreakingSecurity and VgoStore. Remcos and GuLoader, rebranded as TheProtect, are openly sold there.
Likewise, they assure that there is evidence of the involvement of EMINeM in the distribution of harmful ‘malware’, such as FormBook info stealer and Amadey Loader. This cybercriminal leverages TheProtect to evade antivirus detection for its own malicious activities.
THE FINANCE AND EDUCATION SECTORS AS KEY OBJECTIVES
According to intelligence from Check Point ThreatCloud AI, GuLoader directs its threat mainly against organizations in the finance and banking sector. According to their data, an average of 2.4 percent of companies globally were affected monthly (equivalent to one in every 41 organizations).
Its most substantial impact has been in the EMEA region, with an average monthly impact of 4.7 percent (equivalent to one in every 21 companies).
For its part, Remcos targets the education and research sectorwith an average of 2.8 percent of organizations globally affected monthly (equivalent to one in 35 organizations).
In this case, they point out that it has the greatest impact in the APAC region, with a monthly average of 2 percent (one in every 50 organizations).
Spotify plans to offer 24-bit lossless music and advanced mixing tools in future ‘Supremium’ version
MADRID, September 22 (Portaltic/EP) –
The Spotify version with high quality audio ‘Supremium’which the company has planned launch in the futurewill include 24-bit lossless music, plus advanced mixing toolsamong other new features, for a price of around $20.
The music platform has been working since 2021 on a version with high quality audio initiallyknown as HiFi, in which a CD-quality, lossless audio format. During this time, said feature has been delayed indefinitely, however, the Spotify co-president Gustav Söderströmassured in March that “it will come at some point.”
Likewise, as was learned last June, this high-quality version will arrive in a new subscription level called ‘Supremium’ –leaving behind the term HiFi– and it will be hemore expensive than the company will offer.
Now, as Reddit user hiplixeli has discovered, Spotify app internal code samplesome specific features that the company plans to introduce with the ‘Supremium’ version, such as the 24 bit lossless music and advanced mixing tools. In addition, it will have a price of $19.99 (approximately 18.77 euros at the exchange rate).
As specified, in addition to the high quality, this version will allow users automatically create playlists powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Following this line, users will be able to enjoy 30 hours of listening to audiobooks every month and you can also filter through the music stored in your library, choosing tags depending on your mood, activity or musical genre.
On the other hand, as for advanced mixing tools, the Spotify code reveals that it is allowed customize the order of a playlist in relation to the beats per minute of a song or its danceability. Another option is enable ‘Smart Order’ mode with which the most appropriate song sequence will be created based on the time of each song.
Likewise, other functions will also enable a “smooth transitions” mode between songswith which reference points established between the end of one song and the beginning of the next are chosen to establish transitions.
In addition to all this, the ‘Supremium’ version will integrate sound tests to inform users about their listening habits and help discover which sound mix works best for each user.
The code notes that Spotify plans to release this version with a price of 19.99 eurosalthough the Reddit user has pointed out that this figure could be “just a placeholder.”
For the moment, as transmitted by the Spotify spokesperson CJ Stanley to The Verge, the company does not comment on “speculation of possible new features.” “We have nothing new to share at this time”it is finished.
Spotify currently has a subscription service, Spotify Premium which can be purchased depending on the number of accounts to be created or if you are a student, with prices ranging from 4.99 euros up to 15.99 euros, and with different additional functions.
Amazon will also have a subscription with ads on Prime Video
MADRID, September 22 (Portaltic/EP) –
Amazon plans to incorporate the advertisements in its streaming content service Prime Video, a change that is expected at the beginning of next year, following the example of platforms such as Netflix and Disney+.
The subscription plans of services like Netflix and Disney+ They have been expanded with a more economical modality supported by advertising, since it shows advertisements between the reproduction of its content to reduce the price that users pay.
Netflix introduced a standard ad-supported plan in November last year, removing some of the most viewed titles from its catalogue. Initially it offered a lower playback quality but in April they decided to raise the resolution to 1,080p to include support for two simultaneous broadcasts.
This summer, Disney shared its plans to introduce a similar ad-based subscription to its Disney+ platform. This is expected to be available from November 1 in several countries in Europe and Canada, for about 5.99 euros per month (compared to the 8.99 euros it currently costs).
This trend of incorporating ads has also caught the attention of Amazon, which plans to launch it early 2024 on Prime Video, as reported in Variety. He would initially arrive at United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Canada and at the end of the year to other countries, among which would be Spain.
The company has explained to this medium that it will show fewer ads than traditional channels and other rival streaming platforms. He has also noted that he has chosen this option to “continue investing in attractive content and continue increasing that investment over a long period of time.”