The ASRock N3150B-ITX is a Mini-ITX motherboard that comes with a Pentium N3150 “Braswell” quad-core CPU soldered on it. It has four USB 3.0 and two SATA-600 ports, but its highlights are actually its low power consumption, low cost, and, of course, its small size.
The Pentium N3150 is an SoC (System on a Chip), meaning it has the CPU, GPU, memory controller, and chipset in the same chip. Actually, Braswell CPUs are an evolution of the Bay Trail-D processor, manufactured under 14 nm process, and with a TDP of only 4W or 6W. Besides that, Braswell processors come with a “generation 8” GPU, more powerful that the Bay Trail-D video engine, and two SATA-600 ports (earlier generation processors come only with SATA-300 ports).
Related: ASRock N3700-ITX Motherboard Review
The Pentium N3150 is targeted to desktop computers, has four cores running at 1.6 GHz (maximum clock of 2.08 GHz), and has 2 MiB of L2 cache. The Braswell family has other three CPUs, the Celeron N3700 (four cores, 2.4 GHz turbo clock), Celeron N3050 (two cores, 2.16 GHz maximum clock), and Celeron N3000 (two cores, 2.08 GHz maximum clock). All the models have a TDP of 6 W, except for the Celeron N3000, which has a TDP of 4 W.
You can see the ASRock N3150B-ITX motherboard in Figure 1. It uses the Mini-ITX form factor, measuring 6.7” x 6.7” (170 x 170 mm).
Figure 1: ASRock N3150B-ITX motherboard
The ASRock N3150B-ITX comes with only one PCI Express 2.0 x1 slot.
We missed a Mini PCI Express slot (to install a Wi-Fi card) and an M.2 slot (that would allow you to install an SSD module on the motherboard).
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The Pentium N3150 CPU can access DDR3L (low voltage) 1,600 MHz memory, in dual-channel mode. According to ASRock, the N3150B-ITX supports 1,066 MHz or 1,600 MHz memories, but not 1,333 MHz modules.
The motherboard has two SODIMM (“laptop memory”) sockets, being compatible with both low voltage (1.35 V) and standard (1.5 V) memory modules.
You can install up to 16 GiB on this motherboard if you use two 8 GiB modules.
Obviously, you have to install two memory modules in order to enable dual-channel access, which is recommended if you want to achieve the best performance possible.
Figure 3: memory sockets; install two modules for the best performance
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The Pentium N3150 CPU supports two SATA-600 ports, and the ASRock N3150B-ITX motherboard brings only those two ports, seen in Figure 4.
The ASRock N3150B-ITX offers six USB 2.0 ports, two at the rear panel and four available through two headers located on the motherboard, and four USB 3.0 ports, two at the rear panel and two available through a header.
The motherboard does not support FireWire or Thunderbolt ports.
A highlight of this motherboard is the presence of one legacy serial port and one legacy parallel port at the rear panel, along with a second serial port through a header at the motherboard (you need to purchase an adapter separately to use it).
The motherboard supports 7.1 audio format, generated by the processor with the aid of a Realtek ALC887 codec, which is a decent codec for the average user, offering a signal/noise ratio (SNR) of 97 dB for the analog outputs and 90 dB SNR for the analog inputs, with 24 bit resolution and up to 192 kHz sampling rate.
The analog audio outputs are shared, which means if you want to install a 5.1 analog speakers set, you will not be able to use line in and microphone inputs. There is no optical SPDIF output, and no header to install a coaxial SPDIF connector.
The ASRock N3150B-ITX uses Japanese audio capacitors from the brand ELNA, which reduces the noise, according to the manufacturer.
The portrayed motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by a Realtek RTL8111GR chip.
In Figure 6, you can see the motherboard rear panel with PS/2 connectors for keyboard and mouse, legacy parallel and serial ports, VGA output, HDMI output, two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet port, and the shared analog audio jacks.
Figure 5: motherboard rear panel
Figure 6 shows the accessories that come with the motherboard.
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In Figure 7, you can see the Pentium N3150 chip without its passive cooler, and the voltage regulator of the ASRock N3150B-ITX, which uses only two phases. Since the TDP of the CPU is only 6 W and there are no overclocking options, the voltage regulator circuit is not really critical on this motherboard.
Figure 7: CPU and voltage regulator circuit
The ASRock N3150B-ITX uses only solid capacitors, and all coils on this motherboard are SMD ones.
If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.
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The main specifications for the ASRock N3150B-ITX include:
- Socket: FCBGA1170 (Pentium N3150 1.6 GHz/2.4 GHz quad-core CPU soldered on the motherboard)
- Chipset: embedded in the CPU
- Super I/O: Nuvoton NCT6792D
- Parallel ATA: none
- Serial ATA: two SATA-600 ports, controlled by the CPU
- External SATA: none
- USB 2.0: six USB 2.0 ports, two at the rear panel and four available through two headers on the motherboard
- USB 3.0: four USB 3.0 port, two the motherboard rear panel and two available through one header on the motherboard
- FireWire (IEEE 1394): none
- Thunderbolt: none
- On-board video: Intel HD, embedded in the CPU; one VGA and one HDMI connectors
- On-board audio: produced by the chipset together with a Realtek ALC887 codec (7.1 channels, 24-bit resolution, 192 kHz sampling rate, 97 dB SNR for the outputs, and 90 dB SNR for the inputs)
- On-board LAN: one Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by an Realtek RTL8111GR chip
- Buzzer: no
- Infrared interface: no
- Power supply required: ATX
- Slots: one PCI Express 2.0 x1 slot
- Memory: two DDR3-SODIMM sockets (up to DDR3-1600, 16 GiB maximum)
- Fan connectors: one three-pin connector for the CPU cooler, and one three-pin connector for an auxiliary fan
- Extra features: one legacy parallel port and two legacy serial ports
- Number of CDs/DVDs provided: one
- Programs included: motherboard utilities and drivers
- More Information: https://www.asrock.com/
- Average Price in the U.S.*: USD 70.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this First Look article.
Unlike the ASRock N3700-ITX, which has an excellent option for home and media applications, the ASRock N3150B-ITX has its purpose aimed on commercial and industrial applications.
Bringing a quad-core CPU with very low power consumption, and using the Mini-ITX form factor, this tiny motherboard is an excellent option for applications where it is necessary to control older equipment that uses legacy serial or parallel ports, like industrial equipment and business printers.
So, if you need to build a compact PC, with low cost and low power consumption for this kind of application, mostly where it is necessary to use a serial or parallel port, or even for a simple office computer, the ASRock N3150B-ITX is a great option.
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