Kangaroo PC as Rise Vision Player

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This post is for general technical information on cooling issues with passively cooled players, specifically the low cost and well featured Kangaroo PC.

We at RPT love the Kangaroo PC as a Digital Signage Player, but there are issues you want to be aware of on the Kangaroo and for that matter any passively cooled Small format player mounted in an area that might get hot or in a demanding presentation.

For those not familiar with the Kangaroo PC, it's am InFocus product, a small flat dockable WIndows 10 Home 2GB Ram 32GB Storage with an Intel Atom x5-Z8500 running at 1.44 GHz with Burst mode to 2.23 GHz. It sells in the US, with Dock and Power supply for $99 so it's really pretty irresistible to take a look at a full ready to run Windows 10 player for $100.

The Kangaroo's small flat format is ideal for mounting behind a display, and the dock has an HDMI port, 1xUSB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0 and a power supply jack. WiFi and Bluetooth are integrated and in our experience the internal WiFi works extremely well. The flat, thin rectangular CPU module has a built in battery, stated to be good for 2-4 hours of moderate use. We think of that battery as a built in free UPS, and we regularly move Kangaroo PCs running Rise Vision from monitor to monitor or to a desktop in our demo area without ever shutting them down.

Pretty perfect, right? In a reasonably cool environment with a modest load the Kangaroo PC won't cause any problems with low to moderately demanding presentation with Rise Vision. When the heat rises, Intel throttles the Atom processor to protect it and performance drops very significantly( as low as 30% of rated). Video can get jerky or slow to load the next video.  We've only ever had one Kangaroo PC that needed to cool to reboot after we ran an extremely demanding extended load on a hot day (84F ambient) and on cooler it started perfectly and was not damaged.

Our core business for the past 35 years is industrial automation where reliability is critical and we own a CNC machine shop. Our solution to make the Kangaroo reliable in our signage applications actually delivers much higher performance than a base Kangaroo. You can't adjust the CPU Throttling, but if you cool the Atom enough it will run 100% of the time in 150% Burst mode, effectively giving you 150% of nominal rated performance full time. In our tests we regularly see a non cooled Kangaroo PC running demanding presentations in a warm area throttled at 45-55% of rated capacity. So in a hot environment and or a demanding presentation, a Cool Kangaroo runs roughly 3 times faster than a Hot Kangaroo.

Here's our test set-up:
On the right is RPT's prototype cooler with integrated fan and and mount for the Kangaroo Dock and Power Supply. On the left is same but without a fan for cooling.The production versions will be black anodized. The fan we've chosen is very quiet, but moves enough air to deliver high performance up to 85F-90F ambient environments.

Here's a picture of a running test with our Triple Video Torture Test running 3 scaled video placeholders on top of each other.

The cell phone picture of this test isn't great, but the top display is the uncooled Kangaroo PC and Task Manager reports 1.21 GHZ, which is actually maximum burst mode available at this point due to CPU Throttling. The bottom display is the Cooled Kangaroo PC and shows 2.23 GHz which is maximum burst mode. Same environment (83.4F 35% RH) and both have run for six hours or more. CPU throttling on an un-cooled Atom can start within about 10-20 seconds of full burst mode and maximum throttling usually happens at about 10 minutes or less.

1) A standard Kangaroo PC in a cool environment is a great $100 Rise Vision Player.

2) A standard Kangaroo PC with some airspace around the CPU in a moderately hot (80F-85F but not higher)  environment running simple presentations should work well, but it will run hot and there might be some performance issues but it will protect itself. We consider this a good application and we will be manufacturing a Kangaroo Dock mount to make it simple in less demanding uses.

3) A well Cooled Kangaroo PC will outperform a standard Kangaroo PC by 150%-300% depending on the ambient temperature and presentation CPU load required. 

RPT will be manufacturing a Fan Cooled Dock and power supply mount for these applications. That mount will bring a well cooled Kangaroo PC up to about $250-275 total cost mounted, but it delivers an easy to mount and service high performance (> 150% of a cold Intel Stick) and reliable Rise Vision Player for less than half the cost of a NUC to do the same job.

If you're considering a passively cooled Player, our advice is to net expect too much from it and watch the environment and you'll be OK. If you add adequate cooling a Kangaroo PC can make a great price/performance small Rise Vision Player at a significant savings over similar performance options.

At $99 ready to run the Kangaroo is worth a serious look for cost sensitive applications. 

We should be producing the RPT Kangaroo Mount and the RPT Kangaroo Cooler for our own applications within the next 6-8 weeks. If you have any interest in using these components for your applications  email me at info@digitalsignmount.com and we'll keep you advised.
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RPTDigital Signage

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Posted 2 years ago

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Thanks for posting this!

Just thought to also link to the aforementioned torture testing video presentation https://community.risevision.com/rise...
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RPTDigital Signage

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Sixteen-Nine Blog post about  RPT's  Kangaroo PC Fan and mount for a low cost medium performance Windows 10 Player also mentions Rise Vision.
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Robb, Official Rep

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We saw that as well. Pretty cool!
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RPTDigital Signage

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Pun intended I'm sure. The Cooler the Kangaroo the better it runs.
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Alex Mullins

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I have been doing some basic testing at TAP Publishing with our Kangaroo and a demo unit of the cooler mentioned above from RPT Motion. 

I ran three tests: A video test with risevision player, Prime 95 CPU testing, and Furmark video testing. Tests were conducted at room temperature in an office.

The kangaroo does well with risevision out of the box, but playing lots of 1080 video will eventually result in stuttering unless the environment is very cool with natural airflow.  When the stuttering happens, and the unit is moved to the dock with the fan provided by RPT Motion, the video becomes perfectly smooth after 10 seconds and ran for two days without a hickup.  The fan ducts air from a fan directly into the vent on the unit.  We put the cooler fan with kangaroo in a cardboard box, sealed it with tape, and after 30 minutes of HD video, the output was still smooth. The unit idles at 35 degrees celsius, peaks at about 55 for video streaming with the fan, or 75 without the fan. 

WITHOUT any cooling solution running prime 95 as a torture test on the kangaroo for 10 minutes results in temperatures of 82-84 degrees, and throttling down to 300-600mhz. With RPT's cooling solution the CPU will run at a pretty consistent 1.4Ghz, much better results, considering the intensity of the test. Boost appears to be staying mostly off. I would like to note that while doing less intensive tests that do not constantly load the CPU 100%, boost mode remains mostly on with RPT Motion's cooler.4

The third test that was ran on the Kangaroo is the Furmark graphics test.  
1 minute benchmark at 1920x1080 Min FPS |  Max FPS | Avg FPS
furmark w/o fan  :                  4 | 9  | 4
furmark with fan :                  4 | 10 |  4
furmark + prime 95 w/o fan:   3 | 9 | 4
furmark + prime 95 with fan: 4 | 10 |  4
Nothing surprising to note, except that the integrated graphics take priority over CPU tasks, and the overall CPU usage in task manager drops to 80 or even 60 percent while running prime and furmark together. (the rest of the CPU power is running graphics, but it's interesting to see task manager state that it is only running 65% usage.

In conclusion, the temperature during intensive tests hover at the throttling temp of 85 regardless of fan solution, however much deeper throttling is required without the fan and less work is being completed. This indicates that even with the fan cooler, the system is regulating temperature with throttling. That being said,  I would estimate that the fan doubles or triples the overall data crunching ability of the unit.  The fan is most obvious in it's necessity when displaying video content.

I must admit that RPT Motion's cooler is cooler, and looks awesome!
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RPTDigital Signage

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Hi Alex,

Thank you for your comments and testing. Your results are what we expect to see.

We test peak loads with HeavyLoad and 100% loading is rarely, if ever encountered in the real world. The Atom Processor has integrated Graphics on the CPU and we agree that the Graphics seem to get priority. We're tested two and three screen Kangaroo PC using Pluggable USB 3.0 adapter and the CPU stays very high on video, but the full nominal speed or better of the CPU remains available

The trap with integrated graphics on CPU is when hot and under high graphics load, WiFi and Network access get slowed down and without proper cooling that can lead to video placeholders stalling to dead locked up at times. A hot CPU can take multiple keystrokes to respond to stop the Rise Player and is generally very sluggish. We find peak heat soak on an uncooled unit happens at about 6 minutes, so your 1 minute tests don't fully reflect the speed degradation of uncooled units in a Benchmark type of test.

TaskManager in WIndows does not accurately report CPU load under throttling, we run CoreTest on one side and Task Manager on the other side to compare. Coretest doesn't accurately report burst mode and Task Manager calculates CPU load as a percentage o nominal, so a CPU throttled to 65% of nominal will show at 65% CPU load but actually be running flat out at 100% of available in Coretest.

In the real world applications, a properly cooled Kangaroo PC recovers CPU capacity much faster in every period of lower CPU demand, so the whole unit is snappier and more responsive.

If you're displaying a Presentation of text and/or full resolution JPG files, you can see the difference as new images snap to screen much faster with cooling than without.

Our two favorite features of the Kangaroo PC are the built in battery (think free UPS) which runs up to 4 hours and the dock which allows you to swap or move a running CPU to another dock without ever disconnecting any power or monitor cables.

There's also the life factor, a well cooled unit will be more reliable and last longer than a hot unit at any demand level.

Thank you gain for your comments and testing. We'll be the putting RPT Kangaroo Cooler into series production in the next few weeks and are happy to work with anyone interested in a great little Windows 10 player at a great installed cost.