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CompuLab Utilite: A Tiny, Low-Power, Low-Cost, ARM Linux Desktop

Michael Larabel

Published on 3 February 2014
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 4 - 28 Comments

When it comes to Linux-friendly hardware vendors one of my favorite companies to deal with at Phoronix is CompuLab. The Israeli PC vendor isn't just rebadging some OEM systems and slapping on a Tux sticker nor are they assembling some x86 systems that individuals could easily build at a lower cost. We have reviewed several interesting low-power Linux PCs from them in the past and today may be one of their most interesting products yet, the Freescale i.MX6-based Utilite. In this review is a look at the Utilite Pro, which is my new favorite pre-assembled ARM Linux desktop.

CompuLab's Utilite is designed to offer powerful multimedia and graphics capabilities while having "unlimited connectivity in a tiny form-factor." The Utilite is roughly the same size as the previously reviewed Atom-based Fit-PC2 and Trim-Slice, a dual-core Tegra 2 platform. For this latest tiny PC the designers at CompuLab turned to Freescale to use their new i.MX6 SoC.

The top-end Utilite model is the "Pro" version that uses the Freescale i.MX6 quad-core Cortex-A9 at 1.2GHz and has 2GB of DDR3-1066MHz memory with a SATA 32GB SSD. The standard model meanwhile has an i.MX6 dual-core 1GHz CPU with 2GB of RAM and a 8GB micro-SD card. CompuLab's Utilite Value edition is a single-core i.MX6 with 512MB of DDR3 memory and 4GB micro-SD storage. Pricing is $219 for the Utilite Pro, $159 for the Utilite Standard, and $99 for the Utilite Value. Being the benchmarking and performance junkies that we are, CompuLab sent over the Utilite Pro as a review sample to Phoronix.

Besides the i.MX6 SoC and having an actual Serial ATA solid-state drive on this tiny ARM computer, making the Utilite Pro exciting is that it boasts dual Gigabit Ethernet and supports dual-head HDMI/DVI displays! There's also Bluetooth 3.0 and WiFi 802.11 b/g/n connectivity. When it comes to USB support there's four USB 2.0 ports and USB OTG.

Among the use-cases that CompuLab advertises for the Utilite include digital signage, IPTV, media players, gateway/router, network servers, industrial/outdoor installations, thin-client, and even a desktop replacement. This ARM Cortex-A9 desktop works with both Ubuntu ARM and Android operating systems.

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