Mini PC MoreFine M10 (N100 processor)

MoreFine M10 mini pc based on the N100 processor
Intel or AMD mini PC's like the Intel NUC or the Quieter 3.

Item details

Item cost: 159.99
Where purchased: Amazon
Intro

This is an N100 processor based unit from MoreFine. MoreFine appears to be another one of those mass producers of mini PCs that are now so prevalent.

This unit ships with Windows 11 Pro.

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It measures 5.5x2.5x7/8 inches in size.
This is the MoreFine M10 beside an Intel NUC 11 for size comparison.

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It has a plastic case and as stated, a very small footprint. At initial glance as a new, untouched unit, the plastic does not appear overly brittle or soft as some plastic cases do. The top has a very attractive angled line imprint on it.
There is no room for an additional drive other than the NVME that it comes equipped with unlike with some larger mini pc offerings.

The unit (as shipped) has the following specs:
12th Generation Alder Lake N100 mobile processor
12GB 4800Mhz LPDDR5 RAM soldered to the board (non-upgradable)
512 GB NVMe SSD (supports up to 2TB) - M.2 2280
3 USB 3.2 ports
2 HDMI 2.0 ports
1 USB-C power port
audio jack
RJ-45 port (Gigabit speed)
WiFi 6 (Intel AX201 chipset)
BlueTooth 5.2
Weight: 5.3 ounces/151 grams

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Also in the box is a USB C wall power port, VESA mount for the unit and an HDMI cable.

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This unit can be ordered with 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB of storage.
The M10 looks a lot like MoreFines recently released M6 mini computer in size and appearance.

This unit has an MSRP of $279.00 direct from MoreFine but was purchased from Amazon for $159.99.
This unit is also rebranded and sold under other names from vendors.

Personal Observations

I purchased this unit primarily to use as a Windows 11 Pro machine for my astrophotography captures, using N.I.N.A. on it so I could get some exposure to it and other Windows based solutions without affecting my existing capture computers. I primarily use a Linux based solution for this, and found I had to be careful with what WiFi chipsets were on the mini PC. With Windows, this is not as prevalent an issue because most vendors ship Windows drivers for the WiFi chipsets.

The case is plastic and the top is very attractively done.
The problem with the plastic is it appears to be very soft, having developed major scratches on that lined top shortly after exposing it to the telescope rig.

The first thing I noticed is I would really have liked one more USB port for use in case I use a rig that does not have a Pegasus Powerbox Advanced (or similar) attached to it. When using my BeeLink U59 and my Apertura rig (which has a PowerBox micro attached) I find myself using 3 of the 4 USB ports on it, and when StellarMate was not supporting the Intel AX201 WiFI chipset and I was having to use a USB WiFi adapter, the lack of a 4th port would have been a deal killer in this unit.

One thing I found when I took the back off is a replaceable CMOS battery. Not sure if covered under that yellow tape is a carrier, or if the battery is a solid unit . I did not want to start cutting into what is going to be a unit for evaluation.

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Also the board layout looks fairly clean. One thing I also noticed that there was no cooling material on the top of the NVMe SSD like there was on some of the other mini PC's I have purchased.
As you can also see, the Intel AX201 WiFi chipset is soldered to the board. I prefer this to be able to be replaced easily from being installed in an M2 slot, which from what I understood this chipset was only offered in. This is what I would consider a weakness as if that chipset ever goes bad, you then are reliant upon a USB adapter, and you only have the 3 USB ports to use unless you attach a hub.
** Update **
Even though the Intel AX201 WiFi chipset is somewhat weak under Linux, the Windows drivers appear to be decent for this unit. Where I normally set my StellarMate X units and get 4 bars on signal strength indicated, I'm getting full bars on the MicroFine M10. This was not mounted on any equipment, simply sitting on a table.


One review I read prior to purchase stated that there was another M2 slot for storage in addition to the default one. As you can see in the image above, unless it's hidden under the board where the cooling system is located it's not easily found since the shipped drive is sitting in the middle of the board.
** Update **
I fully did not find anywhere that another M2 NVMe drive could mount on this unit after removing the board from the case. The top side is taken up by the cooling fan and related.


The RAM is soldered on and is most likely located on the other side of the board (which I did not want to fully remove) as is the CPU.

You can see that the drive is shown as a NVMe and doing some basic shopping I found them on AliBaba for $37, so it's priced at the lower end of the spectrum for that size drive.


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During setup and installing updates this unit became quite warm, with the top of the case temp of 167°F (75°C) measured while running and installing updates. The bottom of the case ran between 179°F-181°F (81.6°C-82.7°C). This was with an ambient room temperature of 75°F.

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While sitting idle, the CPU temp (according to CoreTemp) is reasonable, but at the upper end of what I would like to see with an "idle" Windows 11 install.

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The fan is noticeable when running under load (which during setup it was always going full speed).
As mentioned at idle the heat is not significant with the top and bottom only being warm to the touch. But you can still feel some vibration from the cooling fan. This is not a unit I'd personally want to place on top of the scope (unless you have large rings and scope to dampen it) or on a mount near the optical train. It would probably work fine hanging from the dovetail mount (most of mine are extended well past the mount). With the dovetail attached directly to the mount, it should help dampen any vibration.

On average, the startup of N.I.N.A. after initial install (with no devices attached) was 4.8 seconds.

I haven't got to run this through it's paces yet, and plan to run some software tests on it in the near future and will update this review once I do.
I also still need to do testing on how well the AX201 WiFi chipset does for signal strength as I understand it's a very lower end chipset that is somewhat lacking in power.
I also purchased a 5.5x2.1mm->USB-C cable that so far powers it direct from the 5.5x2.1mm power outlet on my home built battery box, and it should also power it from the Pegasus PowerBoxes I have on my equipment. The one concern I have with this cable is it was designed to provide power from a USB-C PD supply to the 5.5x2.1mm plug and not reverse. I have read of some instances of similar cables catching fire because they are designed to only transmit the power one way and sending it the other can overload the wiring in the USB-C plug end.
I am still looking for a pure straight-thru USB-C to 5.5x2.1mm plug.
**** I hooked the M10 up to my 50amp LiFePO4 battery setup using this cable and it ran for 27 hours before the battery dropped to 12.9 volts. There was no other draw on the battery, so this unit will easily run off my battery based system for a full night along with the other equipment.

For those interested in using the VESA mounting holes on the back, the following will be important.
The mounting holes on the back that are used for the VESA mount are spaced 50mm apart. I contacted MoreFine and they advised that these screws are 3*3mm.

Overall, this looks like it may be a fairly nice unit. I need to do some testing for fan noise once I can get to a quiet location and also see if I can test how much vibration the fan induces when it is running under normal loads. I still cannot fully recommend it until I can do some additional testing with it mounted to my rigs.
I ran stress test on the unit overnight and other than the warm case, there were no system failures noted.
I have not done any "how fast is the CPU" related tests as I am honestly more concerned with real world work and does it do what it needs to or not.


One nice thing I noticed is the power button light is a subdued blue, which should not be overpowering when used at night, unlike some of the other units I have that have required a piece of painters tape being placed over the button LED.


This unit is a fairly new production line for MoreFine, so there are no drivers nor reinstall packages of the OS available from their support links.
System files - Folder MOREFINE Mini PC System
Driver files - Folder MOREFINE Mini PC Driver


Update (03/25/2024)
I installed one of the spare NVMe drives (1TB Western Digital Black) in this unit. I then used the USB install of StellarMate X OS 1.7.8 on this drive. The install was noticeably faster than on my other units I use in the field.
First impressions of this unit when running StellarMate X OS... it boots up into KStars much faster than the N5105 based systems I have been using. It's amazingly fast when compared to the N5105 based units. Then you add in the fact that this unit uses less power... in for the win.
This unit also had WiFi capability enabled with the StellarMate X OS version 1.7.8 install. I was honestly astounded that it did, and it bodes well for it being a very good unit for use in additional ways. The bad thing... WiFi is MUCH slower than it is with the Windows install. Ultimately this is all down to the drivers. Usually the chipset drivers are developed by the chipset manufacturer, but many times with Linux, they have to be developed by third parties. The Intel based line of WiFi 6 chipsets seem to be lagging behind, but that is not ultimately a MoreFine issue as it is also present in my other units, both of which use Intel WiFi chipsets and one of which is the older WiFi 5 and has had drivers out for a while.
To note, the Windows drivers on this system for internet access provided a maximum of 350 Mbps throughput. The Linux drivers are doing good to provide 15 Mbps on the default install, but I found that editing /etc/modprobe.d/iwlopts.conf and changing options iwlwifi 11n_disable=1 to options iwlwifi 11n_disabled=8 increased the download speed to 1.1 Gbps on the internet according to fast.com.

Pre change

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Post change

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One thing I did find when I set this while running StellarMate X OS when compared to my other units. From the same location that the others give me around 85% WiFi signal strength, the M10 is giving me 61% signal strength.

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This could be due to the metal cover on one side of the case and the other side being against an aluminum bar that covers almost the entire width of the nut and the entire length.

This is from my BeeLink U59 which has the Intel AX201 WiFi chipset and is sitting a little further away from the WiFi mesh unit.

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If you notice, the M10 connection speed is higher than the U59 even with a weaker signal.


UPDATE:
Just some specs and disk performance reports for this unit.

General info:

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Video system information:

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Memory information:

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NVMe drive information:

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* Note the drive temp... this is inside the house with an ambient temperature of 74°F.

WiFi 6 chipset information:

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Ethernet card information:

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USB Port information:

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Sensor stats:

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Three sets of CrystalDiskMark results using different file sizes.

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Cinebench results:

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Final thoughts

This is a very promising unit for use as a capture device. It is very light weight and small in size for what the package offers.
I had a spare NVMe drive and had loaded StellarMate X OS v1.8.1 onto it to do some evaluation of to add to this review but had not gotten around to doing that testing yet.
I upgraded one of my normal capture devices to StellarMate X OS v1.8.2 and discovered that there was an apparent bug in the Pegasus Falcon rotator that caused it to be in constant motion. This happened on one of those few "perfect" nights for capturing and I didn't want to waste the time reinstalling StellarMate X on that device so I simply switched the M10s NVMe out to the one with StellarMate X OS on it and then used zip ties to secure it to the mount dovetail (I have one that is extra long just for this reason).
I had to rebalance the rig of course since the M10 is so much lighter than my Intel NUC 11 Essential (I use Buckeye Stargazer mounts) that I normally use on this rig.
The little M10 performed admirably, and there was no sense of vibration from the fan present in the captures for that night that I have processed.
I had adequate USB ports available thanks to the rig having a Pegasus PowerBox Advanced mounted on it. If I had to rely simply on the USB ports from the M10 itself, I would have been in trouble as I have to have 4 ports available.

Item information

Category
Hardware
Added by
Tracy
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Last update

Additional information

Pro:
Small and lightweight
The N100 processor seems to be slightly faster than the N5105 in the NUC 11 Essential
WiFi was directly supported by StellarMate X OS 1.7.8.
The price is VERY reasonable considering you get a fairly new processor (albeit a lower end Celeron level). But for most simply using the device to do captures with, this will not be an issue.

Con:
Generates quite a bit of heat even with active cooling
Fan is quite loud
Fan vibration is noticeable when running
Intel AX201 WiFi chipset soldered to the board instead of using an M2 slotted version
Only equipped with 3 USB-A 3.x ports
This device will not be the best choice for EAA solutions due to memory limits (soldered 12GB RAM).

Would recommend:  Yes

Rating: 4.00 star(s)
Vendor Evaluation Unit: No

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