Disclosure: (0) None
I purchased this with my own money, because it was cool. Read the review to find out why.
This is a review of the Nexcom NDiS B533. It’s a somewhat rare unit, with few examples available online. It was originally billed as a digital signage box, designed to drive 3x1080p large format displays. Despite its intended use, it makes for an excellent turn-key pfSense/OpenSenese router, Roon endpoint (fanless operation for those of you who are audiophiles, also has optical output), Parsec client, and more.
The seller I purchased it from is located in Canada, with only a handful of units in stock at time of writing. It was about $143 USD total including shipping from CA, with shipping actually being the bulk of the cost. Despite the high shipping rates, I still think it’s a pretty good deal.
The Nexcom NDiS B533 I purchased includes the following:
- Zero moving parts, completely fanless operation
- Intel i5-4570TE Dual-Core CPU
- 2x2GB DDR3 1600 MHz by Apacer
- Supports up to 16GB total (2x8GB maximum)
- 64GB Sandisk X110 SATA SSD
- Nexcom NDiS B533 motherboard
- 80 Watt laptop-style PSU
Packaging & Shipping
This was the most disappointing part of this purchase. The seller made no effort in cleaning up the unit externally, as shown in the photos. The PSU is wrapped in Scotch tape for literally no reason, as it’s not splitting or broken.
The box was also very poorly packaged, but the unit arrived intact without any damage. I suspect this is due to the absolute heft of the unit, as you’ll see later. For as much as I paid in shipping, I expected bubble wrap or some sort of protection. To my disdain, the unit was “raw dogged” into a recycled Amazon Prime box. That’s it.
Thankfully ebay/PayPal has your back if your unit arrives damaged or broken, but it’s still an annoyance I’d rather not deal with.
NDiS B533 pictured with the included 80 watt PSU, Scotch tape and all.
Keyed 4 pin plug on the 80W PSU
PSU label and specifications
Front of the unit featuring power, reset, LEDs, USB 3.0, and COM ports
Rear of the unit featuring audio, dual LAN, USB 3.0, 3 x HDMI, power plug, and antenna plugs.
The top of the case is steel, which is the main heatsink for the CPU.
The bottom is missing the rubber feet, I suggest picking up some on Amazon to prevent surface scratches.
Both sides of the unit have pass through vents to allow for some passive cooling of the interior components.
All of the screws in this disassembly use a #2 Philips head. It’s handy to have the magnetic mat to keep track of the removed screws.
Remove the 4 screws on the bottom, two on each side.
No need to remove the 3 screws in line at the bottom near the rear panel, but you must remove the two shorter screws on the rear panel near the DC power and audio ports.
Before we get into the guts, let’s take a look at the top panel - the main heatsink.
It’s a very sturdy 4+ pounds. Very cool to see the dual copper heat pipes embedded into the top of the case.
Here you can see the airflow passthrough holes.
The lower part of the unit is where the motherboard and the rest of the hardware lives.
Dual Mini-PCIe/mSATA slots with 3G/4G/LTE support
SanDisk X110 SSD, 2 screws on one side, 4 screws and metal spacer on the other.
A single 6Gbps SATA III port, with support for SATA DOM.
CMOS battery, a CR2032. Standard fare aside from the battery lead extension, which is somewhat typical on smaller form factor units like this.
2x2GB Apacer DDR3 1600 SO-DIMM RAM
A few standard 4 pin fan headers on the motherboard, although not sure where you’d put the fans…
Reverse view of the 3 x HDMI ports
Alas, a look at the glorious heatsink slug and thermal pad that makes contatct with the upper part of the case.
The desktop socket is peeking out from underneath.
The chipset is also cooled by this heatsink, although it’s only partially covered.
The heatsink slug is held in place by 4 #2 Philips screws with crush washers.
Wow, that’s a lot of old, dry thermal paste.
Let’s clean off the CPU and see what we have… an Intel i5-4570TE. Very low power.
Repasting with trusty Gelid GC Extreme. I’ll be keeping the chipset thermal paste as-is.
With the heatsink reassembled onto the motherboard, let’s see what the bottom piece weighs in at.
Combined, we’re looking at over 7 pounds! That’s a lot of thermal mass.
- Why: dual Intel GbE LAN, CPU has AES-NI for enhanced VPN support. Preconfigured with enough RAM and storage, as well as a low power CPU makes it perfect for a home router. Also, LTE support for backup connections is pretty handy.
- Roon endpoint
- Why: Specifications are plenty for endpoint use, although it’s missing Wi-Fi if you need it to be wireless. Fanless operation and multiple audio outputs through SPDIF, onboard, and USB provide many options.
- Parsec client
- Why: CPU is powerful enough to CPU decode a 1080p 60FPS stream without relying on the outdated quicksync. Small footprint and fanless operation make it easy to find a place to stash it away.
- Car/RV PC
- Why: CPU is powerful enough to run some common apps on the go, low power usage means low impact on Car/RV’s electrical system. Fanless operation and no moving parts means it won’t be harmed if it’s in use while driving.
Overall, the Nexcom NDiS B533 is a good value. Sure, it’s an older unit with minimal specifications, but it’s pretty easy to think of as a very beefy x86 Raspberry Pi. It has a decent upgrade path, multiple use-cases, and enough options where it can be flexible. If you decommission it from a role, it’s pretty easy to find another spot for it. Unfortunately the pricing is a little weird, with most of the cost going toward the completely inadequate shipping. Due to its design however, it should arrive at your doorstep with nary a scratch (that wasn’t already there), and be ready to provide you a lifetime of service.
Purchase one here.