A Next Big Thing From Intel

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The Intel Compute Card CD1M3128MK and its companion Compute Card Dock DK132EPJ were introduced by Intel in 2017. The Compute Card takes over for Intel’s Compute Stick.

Specifications

According to Intel’s product specifications page, the Compute Card has a storage capacity of 128 GB and a maximum memory of 4 GB, and supports DC input voltage of 12V. It includes an Intel Core m3-7Y30 processor with 4M cache and 2.60 GHz. It has integrated graphics and supports 2 displays. It has audio digital display interface, and integrated Intel Wireless-AC 8265 with Bluetooth 4.2. It includes Intel Remote Wake Technology, HD Audio Technology, Virtualization Technology, and Platform Trust Technology. It comes with a warranty period of 3 years. The suggested retail price is $330.

The Compute Card Dock is 152mm x 145mm x 23mm in size. It supports DC input voltage of 19V. It has 3 USB ports, and includes HDMI type A and Mini Display Port connections. It has integrated LAN 10/100/1000, and supports 2 displays. It includes Intel Virtualization Technology, Platform Trust Technology, and Trusted Platform Module. It comes with a warranty period of 1 year. No suggested retail price is specified, but it should run you about $150. So, since you need the Dock if you’re going to get the Compute Card, you’re probably looking at spending somewhere in the $400s for both.

Components and Set-Up

In addition to the Compute Card and Compute Card Dock, you’ll receive in the packaging an AC/DC power supply, four plug adapters, a VESA mounting bracket, screws, and product manuals.

The unit has a rubberized front, and is protected by an aluminum enclosure, which also serves as a heat transfer medium. The top of the dock clearly identifies the ports. There is a USB 3.0 port in front, and in the back are two more USB 3.0 ports along with an HDMI 1.4, Mini DisplayPort 1.2, 1 GB LAN, DC input jack, and Kensington lock slot. The bottom sits on four rubber legs and has the VESA mounting holes. There is in intake vent on the left side, an exhaust vent on the right side, and another vent on the bottom.

The card locks into the dock’s cartridge slot. Removing the card requires using the eject button or opening the dock. You can use a Kensington lock to prevent ejection.

Assessment

The Next Big Thing editorial team examined and tested the Intel Compute Card and Dock at some length to determine how well they do the job. Our overall conclusions are mostly positive.

Speed is good to very good. The unit performed well in terms of read and write speeds, sequential speed, and networking speed. The SSD (SSDPEBKF128G7) is of good quality, and it shows. The Intel Compute Sticks seem decidedly sluggish in comparison.

We were quite happy with the power consumption and the thermal performance of the unit.

We like the plethora of options and features provided by the dock. You get 4 USB ports, Ethernet, all those display outputs, Kensington lock, etc. It’s a step up from what you would normally find with a miniature PC.

The WIFI controller, which is integrated into the Computer Card, is Intel’s Wireless AC 8625, which is something we’ve previously seen in more high-end products. This is a very good WIFI card.

One of the best things about the Compute Card is how it facilitates upgrades. Without having to mess with wires or mounting, whenever you need more power or something goes bad with the card, you can easily and affordably switch it out. That’s the beauty of having everything integrated in one card. When you want to upgrade to a future generation card, you just pop this one out and pop the new one in, and if you want you can always use the older card elsewhere where you don’t need the newest and most powerful.

There are some things about the Computer Card and Dock that could be seen as negatives, however.

While it’s nice to be able to upgrade everything all at once by simply switching out cards, there are situations where you might want to upgrade just one or two components, and this doesn’t give you that flexibility.

The audio output is only available through the unit’s Mini DisplayPort or HDMI connections, which means that if you’re using a monitor that lacks audio, you’ll have to connect to another external device to have audio.

We found the 3D performance less than satisfactory. This really isn’t a unit that’s appropriate for any kind of complex, non-webpage based, games.

Some users will find the fan distractingly noisy. It needs to constantly spin up in order to cool the unit, and the noise is quite noticeable.

But on the whole, the Intel Computer Card and Port are quality products that performed well to very well for us, and we believe the price is more than reasonable for what you get.