Intel ‘Braswell’ Celeron N3050 & Pentium N3700 Evaluate

When Intel announced an accelerated roadmap for its Atom SoC series in May 2011, the company's 22nm Silvermont microarchitecture was slated for 2013 and should receive a 14nm chip shrinkage code-named Airmont in 2014. However, setbacks in the development of the 14 nm process delayed the arrival of Broadwell parts, especially the high-performance variants.

Although it was introduced in 2013, we didn't get our hands on the desktop Bay Trail D variants until August 2014, when Asrock started selling its Bay Trail motherboards. At that time we were testing the Asrock D1800M (Celeron J1800), the Q1900M (Celeron J1900) and the Q2900 (Pentium J2900).

In summary, the Celeron J1800 was a dual-core part that was clocked at 2.58 GHz and a tiny 1 MB L2 cache, while the J1900 had four cores at 2.41 GHz and doubled the cache. The included GPU was a heavily thinned HD graphics engine with only four execution units, which helped Intel keep the performance requirements for Bay Trail-D to a minimum.

Like the J1900, the Pentium J2900 had four cores clocked at 2.41 GHz with a 2 MB L2 cache and the same garbage four EU GPU. The only difference is that the J2900 can overclock itself during operation with a maximum burst speed of 2.67 GHz, which enables an average of 6% more performance.

We have found the Celeron J1900 to be a better value than the J2900 as it offers a similar level of performance at a much lower price. Overall, the J1900 was the way to go for extreme budget builders in everything not 3D, while AMD's AM1 platform was better equipped for 3D rendering.

Now we have Intel's new Braswell SoCs that are faster across the board while using less power. A few months ago, Intel quietly launched its first desktop Braswell SoC solutions that offer dual-core and quad-core Celeron models along a single quad-core pentium.

The new chips are designed for entry-level laptops and desktops and are manufactured by Intel using the 14 nm process. These include the mobile Celeron N3000, N3050, N3150 and Pentium N3700. The last three are made in versions for desktop systems and today we have the N3050 and N3700 in hand.

model Cores /
subjects
Frequency /
turbo
L2
Cache
GPU base / boost memory TDP Price
Celeron N3000 2/2 1.04 / 2.08 GHz 1 MB 320 MHz / 600 MHz DDR3-1600 4W $ 107
Celeron N3050 2/2 1.60 / 2.16 GHz 1 MB 320 MHz / 600 MHz DDR3-1600 6W $ 107
Celeron J1800 2/2 2.41 / 2.58 GHz 1 MB 688 MHz / 792 MHz DDR3-1333 10W $ 72
Celeron N3150 4/4 1.60 / 2.08 GHz 2 MB 320 MHz / 640 MHz DDR3-1600 6W $ 107
Pentium N3700 4/4 1.60 / 2.40 GHz 2 MB 400 MHz / 700 MHz DDR3-1600 6W $ 161
Pentium J2900 4/4 2.41 / 2.67 GHz 2 MB 688 MHz / 792 MHz DDR3-1333 10W $ 94

As you can see above, Braswell's basic operating frequencies are much lower than Bay Trail-D's. Braswell's desktop models start at just 1.6 GHz, while the J1800 and J2900 have been clocked 50% faster, not to mention that the turbo frequency of the new Pentium N3700 only matches the base clock of the Pentium J2900.

While the number of cores and the cache remain the same for comparable models, the DDR3 memory support has been updated from 1333 MHz to 1600 MHz. The TDP power was also reduced from 10 watts to only six watts.

In addition to the new Airmont CPU cores, the HD graphics engine has been updated to the generation 8 LP architecture and has up to 16 execution units with a clock rate of up to 700 MHz. It will be interesting to see how Intel's updated IGP is compared to the R3 (Radeon HD 8400) in AMD's Athlon 5350 APU.

Asrocks Mini-ITX Braswell boards

Asrock already offers over half a dozen Intel Braswell motherboards, including a range of MicroATX and Mini-ITX boards.

The Mini-ITX models are the preferred choice for computers with low power consumption. Therefore, we will look at the N3700-ITX and N3050B-ITX, the most expensive and cheapest versions.

In the middle is also the N3150-ITX, which is probably the best option, but we don't have this model for testing.

Asrock N3700-ITX

For a budget motherboard, the Asrock N3700-ITX is better equipped than expected. In addition to HDMI and DVI, Asrock has four SATA 6Gb / s connections, six USB 3.0 connections, 7.1-channel audio, Gigabit Ethernet and a DisplayPort output.

Unfortunately, there is no full-length PCIe x16 slot. To do this, you need to take a look at the MicroATX N3700M, which supports standard desktop memory instead of SO-DIMM like the N3700-ITX.

However, the N3700M does not have a mini PCIe slot, while the N3700-ITX has a WiFi / Bluetooth module.

Like the Asrock Q2900-ITX before, the N3700-ITX also has a passively cooled, low-profile heatsink over the processor.

Compared to the Q2900-ITX, the N3700-ITX not only has the updated Pentium N3700 processor, but also offers two additional USB 3.0 ports, two additional SATA ports and a DisplayPort output. All around, the N3700-ITX is a nice upgrade.

Asrock N3050B-ITX

The N3050B-ITX is really a simple motherboard designed for extremely limited budgets. However, the list of functions is similar to the flagship of the previous generation and offers four USB 3.0 ports and two SATA 6 Gbit / s ports.

DisplayPort is missing from the list of display connectivity, but the cheaper VGA output (D-Sub) is used, while HDMI is still included.

Supported 7.1-channel audio has been downgraded from the Realtek ALC892 codec used by the N3700-ITX to the more price-conscious ALC887. Legacy support is common here because the N3050B-ITX has a parallel port, a COM port, and two PS / 2 ports on the I / O panel.

We find the same passive heat sink on board, this time for the dual-core Celeron N3050.

There are two SO-DIMM slots that support up to 16 GB DDR3 / DDR3L 1600 memory.

Unfortunately, while the single PCIe 2.0 x1 slot remains, the mini PCIe slot is missing, which means that WiFi support needs to be added in a different way.

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