While the x86 architecture certainly isn’t going away anytime soon, it seems that each year more and more of our computing is done on ARM processors. It started with our smartphones, spread into low-cost Chromebooks, and now Apple’s gone all-in with their M1/M2 chips. But so far we haven’t seen too much movement in the desktop space, a fact which has arguably slowed the development of ARM-compatible software and operating systems.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t options out there, and no, we don’t mean using a Raspberry Pi. [Wooty-B] has been documenting their efforts to switch over to a ARM desktop, which makes for fascinating reading even if you’re currently comfortable with your architecture choices. The key is the HoneyComb LX2K, a Mini-ITX ARM development board that offers enough expansion and raw power to meet most daily computing needs…assuming you’re willing to put in the effort.
We often think of ARM boards as relatively monolithic single-board computers, but the LX2K is much more like a traditional desktop motherboard. It can take two banks of DDR4 RAM, has PCI Express and m.2 slots, plus SATA II, USB 3, and Gigabit Ethernet. That said, there’s at least one pretty major deficiency out of the box — [Wooty-B] notes that while the board’s meager heatsink is good enough if you’re just puttering around, when attempting to push the hardware as your daily driver, the thermal management system will need some upgrades.
The documentation [Wooty-B] has provided goes over setting up the HoneyComb LX2K and getting your operating system of choice installed. As you might expect, there’s a laundry list of patches and workarounds you’ll need to keep track of for the best possible experience. The guide also explains how to get packages like Box86/64 and WINE installed to greatly expand the amount of software you’ll be able to run on your new system, which includes the ability to play games such as Fallout 3, Crysis, and Skyrim with high graphical settings. While most of the information is about Linux, there are also some tips for the literally dozens of people who are excited about getting Windows running on ARM hardware.
The video after the break, from manufacturer SolidRun, goes over the HoneyComb LX2K for the trendsetters brave enough to venture outside of their x86 comfort zone. Though fair warning…it’s not cheap. If you want to join [Wooty-B] in ARM wonderland, you’ll need to fork over $800 USD for the privilege.