GIGABYTE J1900N-D3V Visual Inspection

The J1900N-D3V due to the 10W SoC under the hood uses a passive cooler with plenty of surface area to direct heat away. It is interesting that if we compare this cooler to some of the power delivery heatsinks on mainstream boards, this looks more like a cooler than they do, even though those power delivery heatsinks might actually cost more. Because these motherboards fall under the $100 bracket, little attention is paid to the presentation, although GIGABYTE has at least synchronized the heat sink and the slots to match the PCB. Also for cost reasons, the PCB looks very busy – if an engineer can replace a component with two components and still save money, this becomes the mentality for this sort of design. Every component on board is also surrounded by a white box so the automated machines can be guided onto where each IC or resistor should be.

GIGABYTE has placed the 24-pin ATX and 4-pin CPU power connectors at the edge of the motherboard making it easier to use this board in a case, something their mainstream Z77 and Z87 mini-ITX motherboards had trouble doing. At the top of the board with these connectors are the front panel header, an LPT header and a 4-pin SYS fan header. The motherboard has only two fan headers on board – one just above the SoC and a 3-pin to the left of the SoC, with this one labeled ‘CPU’. This is next to a USB 2.0 header in white.

On the right hand side we have a stacked SO-DIMM arrangement, with each module being placed the opposite way round to each other. As with upgradable laptop SO-DIMM slots, the slots have latches to fasten the modules in place. Below this is a mini-PCIe slot, suitable for a half-length WiFi module which is not included. We also get a built in speaker on the bottom right, something we tend not to see in $100+ products.

At the bottom of the board we have the PCI slot which comes from a PCIe to PCI bridge, with two SATA ports above it. This is a frustrating place to put the SATA ports, as it means a user with two devices will have to reach over the motherboard in order to connect them. The connectors also face the same direction, and if the user decides to have locking cables, the cable on the left needs to be removed before the one on the right can be taken out. To the left of these SATA ports is the front panel audio header.

The rear panel has separate PS/2 connectors for a mouse and keyboard, along with two COM ports, a VGA port and a DVI-D port. GIGABYTE has implemented four USB 3.0 ports by using a Renesas hub, and the two Realtek NICs provide an upgrade over the standard configuration. The 2.1 audio solution is provided by a Realtek ALC887 codec.

Board Features

Price Link
Size Mini-ITX
CPU Interface Soldered
Chipset Bay Trail-D Quad Core
Memory Slots Two DDR3/L SO-DIMM slots supporting up to 8GB
Up to Dual Channel, 1333 MHz
Video Outputs VGA (2560x1600)
DVI-D (1920x1080)
Onboard LAN 2 x Realtek
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC887
Expansion Slots 1 x PCI
1 x Mini-PCIe
Onboard SATA/RAID 2 x SATA 3 Gbps
USB 3.0 4 x USB 3.0 (Hub via SoC) [rear panel]
Onboard 2 x SATA
2 x Fan Header
1 x LPT Header
1 x USB 2.0 Header
1 x mini-PCIe
Front Panel Header
Front Audio Header
Power Connectors 1 x 24-pin ATX
1 x 4-pin CPU
Fan Headers 1 x CPU (4-pin)
1 x SYS (4-pin)
IO Panel 1 x PS/2 Mouse Port
1 x PS/2 Keyboard Port
2 x COM Ports
4 x USB 3.0
2 x Realtek Network Ports
Audio Jacks
Product Page Link

The GIGABYTE J1900N-D3V splits the four PCIe lanes from the chipset into a mini-PCIe slot, a PCIe to PCI bridge and two Realtek NICs. This is perhaps a good scenario for a machine that needs to be networked, although storage users miss out. Other configurations might have revolved around a SATA controller, a PCIe 2.0 x1 slot or a true USB 3.0 controller. But at the price point, users have to bring along their own WiFi and antenna bracket.

Bay Trail-D Overview GIGABYTE J1900N-D3V BIOS and Software
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  • KWIE - Monday, October 20, 2014 - link

    I actually love this little platform - I went for the ASRock Q1900-ITX as I needed four SATA headers to use it as the base for a FreeNAS box with Plex installed in a jail (FreeNAS booting from USB and 4-drive mirrored/striped with ZFS). It works absolutely wonderfully and the only thing I can hear is the drives. For around 200 euros I was able to buy this, BitFenix Prodigy case, 8GB RAM etc. etc. etc. and I was able to move the drives out of my main rig which now doesn't have to be on 24/7, saving more than the thing is worth a year in power (my main rig idles at around 100W - this idles at 14W. Going on a 24/7 calculation and with prices in Germany (25c per KWh) this means I'm saving around 184 a year). Can't complain in the slightest.
  • llisandro - Monday, October 20, 2014 - link

    Ian, I was really hoping to see Anandtech's usual "Decoding and Rendering Benchmarks" on these guys, bummer. I would assume people care more about HTPC-centric benchmarks than raw CPU power on these kinds of systems.
  • friikazoid - Monday, October 20, 2014 - link

    I have a question for those of you, who have experience building with these(/similar) boards.

    Would any of you be willing to post your complete builds with these? As in the case, memory, drives you chose? I've been building standard desktops for years, but would really like to try a small experiment with one of these. I'll be honest though, I don't have as much time on my hands now as I used to to do some research. So if anyone has suggestions on how to put a small cheap system together with these, I would appreciate it?

    For example, do you guys go for HTPC/mini-ITX type cases? Typical PSU or use extrenal brick? Any cases work better than others? Have any fun tricks with hardware, etc. to make things work?

    I was thinking something like this could be really fun with an immersion liquid cooled system. Not for performance obviously, just for the effect, haha.
  • abufrejoval - Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - link

    I used a M350 Universal Mini-ITX enclosure and an 80Watt Pico PSU, because that was the first one to include the required 12V connector. External brick is a 60Watt type. Both the Pico PSU and the brick are overspec'd but there is nothing lower available. For this board idle power is 10Watts the dual Core variant with a little less hardware did 6.3 Watts so the Pico PSU/Brick combination doesn't seem too bad. Certainly an onboard PSU with an 19V supply would be more elegant.
    I used 2 4GB Kingston Value RAM DIMMs, which need to be 1.35V low power.
    For storage I took an older C300 256GB from Crucial that was lying around, because the major aim was a silent desktop.

    The system is 100% silent and sufficiently fast enough for all desktop like activities. I've tried Windows 7 and 8, CentOS 6+7, Fedora 20 and Android x86 with good success and support.

    It's so uncomplicated and stable it's downright boring.
  • schizoide - Monday, October 20, 2014 - link

    Asus and HP Chromeboxes are regularly available for ~$135. They have Haswell celeron CPUs, which are much, much faster than these atoms. For that price you also get a case, 2GB RAM, a 16GB M2 SSD, and wifi. Oh, and it has a HDMI port. Out of the box they make amazing HTPCs-- install openELEC and you're good to go with XBMC or Plex.

    Everything is fully upgradable, if you want to replace the RAM and SSD you can do so. They work 100% fine in linux and can run windows too, although you do need USB audio for that as no drivers work. The chromeboxes aren't fanless, but they are very, very quiet.

    Given that the chromeboxes exist at that price point, I can't figure out what consumer need these atoms really fill.
  • Shiitaki - Monday, October 20, 2014 - link

    I happen to be using an quad core Atom for my HTPC, but only to get the Nvidia GPU that is part of the motherboard.

    In any other scenario it is better to buy the least expensive motherboard and desktop processor. For 20 or 30 bucks more you get far better performance, better connectivity, etc. The ITX is a great idea, but the premium on the parts, and practical considerations like connecting hard disks make it less useful than it would seem.

    If I am building a NAS, then I should use a motherboard with 6 SATA and a power supply with enough connectors. If I'm building a media center pc, software decode is still the best, most comapatible, and future proof. And that will take something better than an Atom.

    Between Intel holding the Atom back at the beginning, and the aggressive pricing of the core cpus, the Atom is hard to justify since the cost savings is so small when you consider the cost of the entire machine.
  • LoneWolf15 - Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - link

    Excellent article. This makes it clear that I wouldn't replace my Core i3-3225 in my home theater PC, but the Gigabyte board with its dual NICs would make an incredible platform for Sophos free home firewall appliance with UTM.

    It's limited to fifty IPs (fine for home) but something like this gives you a big boy's toy for experimenting with LAN configurations, using your home as a lab.
  • abufrejoval - Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - link

    Some additional data you may find useful:

    The nominal clock rates seem to be for marketing purposes mostly and might have been hard limits in the previous generation (J1850 and J1750): I've never seen them in practice.

    The J1900 and J1800 parts are officially listed as 2.41 or 2.58 Turbo frequencies, but contrary to Haswell U-type CPUs they hit and sustain that speed constantly under load and they drop to 1.3GHz on idle.

    Same with the GPU speeds, which will sustain the maximum specified speeds as J1900/J1800 parts.

    I've run Prime95 for hours on the J1900 without it ever dropping below 2.41 GHz. When I add FurMark for the GPU, it will start lowering down, once it reaches the throttling temperature configured in the BIOS (or the internal hard limit). That combination reached 28 Watts behind the PSUs (Pico-ATX & external 12V brick), while idle for was around 10 Watts for the GA-J1900N-D3V and 6.3 Watts for a GA-J1800N-D2H (maximum power there was 22 Watts).

    The J1800 couldn't be pushed to throttle nor any higher than 60°C with any combination of Prime95 and Furmark nor wourld it ever use any frequency below the "Turbo" setting.

    The J1900 reached the 80°C throttle I had configured in the BIOS after hours of running Prime95 and Furmark in combination inside a M350 Universal Mini-ITX enclosure by Mini-Box Black.

    No CPU or Graphics benchmark alone will ever get there, you'd need both so I'm confident it never throttles during normal use. Using the exact same passive cooler on both devices may not be optimal, but the 10 Watt TDP figure on both J1900 and J1800 is simply misleading: The two devices never use the same power under load or idle.

    At 2.41 GHz the J1900 reached about 80% of the speed of a Core2 based QX9100 at 2.4 GHz using 18 Watts instead of 58 Watts on POVray and CineBench 15 CPU (no GPU) loads: The IPC is pretty impressive and these are full CPU cores, not hyperthreads or partial clusters sharing FPUs or decoders.

    The DVI connector carries full audio signals and with an DVI to HDMI dongle you have full HDMI functionality including HDCP. 1980x1200 resolution works with DVI and VGA, but might not with HDMI.

    I found it hard to gauge, where the almost 4 Watts of idle power difference between the two Gigabyte boards came from (10 vs. 6.3).

    CPU-Z always reported similar power figures for the quad J1900 and the dual J1800 under load and idle, while the power meter behind the PSU showed twice the increase when the quad CPU was loaded vs. the dual.

    It leads me to believe that CPU-Z measures power figures only on one of the two J1900 dual clusters: No idea wether this is a software bug or and LPC bug.

    Apart from dual vs. quad CPU the J1900 hold the Renesas USB hub chip and the extra Ethernet port. Deactivating the second Ethernet port (or in fact both) mode no difference whatsoever on idle power which leaves either the USB hub itself or simply signals that the 2nd CPU complex doesn't shut down completely, while the system is idle.

    This review could have provided a clue with some careful idle power comparison between these boards: An opportunity missed!

    If the extra CPU complex is the culprit (hard to imagine, actually) a J1800 might be the better choice for desktop work, where the two extra cores of a J1900 won't find anything useful to do.

    I can't see too many people using a J1900 doing Linux kernel compiles or even Android builds, but there the two extra cores might actually be useful.

    I wanted a completely silent system first of all and worried somewhat less about the last Watt of idle power consumption. One use case other than (or in addition to) silent desktop would be a firewall, home server and SIP telephony appliance and in that case the extra CPU cores allow for a little more headroom.

    As would an extra 8GB of DRAM, which is not supposed to work according to Intel, but simply does if you buy an ASRock branded J1900, which simply support 16GB!

    Most likely it's an Intel market segmentation limitation and not a technical obstacle, but your BIOS most likely needs to support it, too.
  • artk2219 - Friday, October 24, 2014 - link

    I just wanted to post this here. Dualcore sandy bridge cpu, m-itx, m-pcie, it can run a laptop display, msata, runs off a 19v powersupply from a dell or hp, and uses sodimms in case you have any laptop memory around. For 52 dollars.
  • GlauberReis - Sunday, November 20, 2016 - link

    Does it j1900 it's good to development java, javascript, frameworks and database ?

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