The Partaker B16 HTPC will go down very well with a particular group of computer enthusiasts, those looking for a practical device that can deliver plenty of oomph without sending fans whirling or emptying your wallet. We’d love to have a faster Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, an actual operating system and a card reader.
- Very well designed
- Good expansion capabilities
- Aluminum alloy chassis
- No 802.11ac
- No Bluetooth
- No card reader
- USB 2.0 ports
- Runs quite hot under load
If there’s one category of computers that are shielded from the onslaught of laptops, it is powerful silent computers. Notebooks need to dissipate heat somehow and powerful processors produce a lot of heat. On top of that, these CPUs consume a lot of power so much so that battery life on laptops sporting these components tends to be quite low.
All this brings us to the product we’re reviewing today, the Partaker B16 fanless Mini PC which is manufactured by Inctel Technology company. This is a totally silent brick that’s an industrial take on Intel’s next unit of computing. The unit we’re testing today is based on an Intel Core i7-8565U CPU and costs $501.39 with 16GB RAM and a 256GB SSD. Various other models exist with the cheapest available without memory, storage or Wi-Fi.
This is an industrial computer (without the screw-down side brackets) which means that Inctel has adopted a pragmatic design language for the Partaker PC. There’s no plush front facia, only a minimalist panel with four screws, a status LED, a power button and four USB ports. At 22.5*18.5*4.8cm, it’s about the size of a thick book and can either be used vertically, horizontally or at the back of a monitor or display unit via a VESA mount.
Its back has two antenna screw ends, four USB 3.0 ports, two audio connectors, a GBe LAN port, a DisplayPort connector, a HDMI port and a proprietary power connector; there’s no card reader.
The bottom plate is locked using six screws and there’s four rubber feet to keep it elevated. About 20 slits can be found at the bottom to improve air circulation.
As expected, it is made of aluminum and the whole body of the computer is covered with radiator fins to help dissipate the heat. Note that the 90W power supply unit is external to the body of the device which some might see as an inconvenience especially in an industrial setting.
The Intel Core i7-8565U processor is a 14nm part with a TDP of 15W; its four cores (and eight threads) have a based frequency of 1.8GHz and a Turbo frequency of 4.6GHz (although not on all cores at the same time). It supports dual channel configuration but the Partaker PC takes advantage of this; only one memory slot is populated with a lonely Samsung 16GB DDR4 SODIMM.
The rest of the configuration includes a 256GB mSATA SSD from a company that we thought no longer existed. Indilinx disappeared at the beginning of the last decade when it was liquidated and absorbed by OCZ, then Toshiba. We traced the manufacturer of the drive on Alibaba.com, China’s biggest online marketplace but it seems that it has no real link with the original Indilinx brand.
The radio (Bluetooth and Wi-Fi) is handled by the Intel WiFiLink 5100, a rather old chip that does not support 802.11ac or 802.11ax protocols and there’s no Bluetooth as well. That’s a shame especially as any upgrade would have added only a few dollars to the bill of materials.
There’s a free SATA port and the appropriate screw holes to safely secure a 2.5-inch storage device to the lid but that would probably require rearranging the cables to the USB headers. That might be a bit of a tight fit.
The onboard graphics subsystem on the Partaker B16, the Intel UHD Graphics 620, will be able to power both the DP and HDMI outputs up to 4K resolutions. Note that you won’t get any operating system which is a hidden cost one has to consider when evaluating the unit against the competition.
During our benchmarks, the 8565U delivered the sort of performance we’d come to expect from an 8th generation Core i7 CPU firing on all four cores. The storage subsystem was fast but constrained by the now-ageing SATA protocol but this is plenty speedy for most tasks.
One thing worth mentioning is that the Partaker does run hot when running under load and we are not sure what the long term reliability of the B16 is.
The Partaker B16 mini PC is an interesting product; it targets a niche audience that knows exactly what they want but its appeal is far wider given its affordability. It has a few issues that are minor in the grander scheme of things: there’s no card reader, a bunch of USB were of the older ilk, the Wi-Fi was only 802.11n and there’s no Bluetooth.
An upgraded version of the B16 called the B7 exists and costs about 20% more than its predecessor. It features a faster Core i7-10510U CPU, an NVMe SSD slot but still the old Wi-Fi card which is fortunately, easy to swap. Things are likely to get a bit more interesting once vendors like Partaker start to explore what AMD has to offer with its Ryzen and Athlon processors; they dissipate far less heat thanks to a more advanced manufacturing technology and usually cost less.