Your Own 3CX PBX Appliance – Run 3CX on a $150 MiniPC

So you want to run a professional PBX in your office but don’t have the server for it? Well, we have a solution, a machine that runs 3CX , fits in the palm of your hand and costs less than $150. Let me introduce you to “The miniPC”.

The New Generation of miniPC’s

Run 3CX on a miniPC that costs less than $100

MiniPCs run on Intel architecture. The main benefit of using a MiniPC is that they consume 60% less power than a desktop with a total consumption of below 30 Watts. This means a yearly saving of $150 on energy compared to a laptop or a desktop. Now that’s something noteworthy, especially for small businesses! Obviously, the smaller the device the less power it consumes.

MiniPCs are available from several manufacturers such as Nexbox, Wintel etc. and have different specs. Before purchasing look out for these specs:

  • Processor Intel Example Z8300 4-core 1.84GHz
  • 64 bit
  • 2GB RAM or higher
  • For now, Windows 10
  • Minimum 64GB HDD

One of our favorites is the Nexbox – A little sleek black box which is the size of an Apple TV. It houses Intel’s Latest 14nm Quad Core Intel Cherry Trail Z8300 Processor, 64 bit architecture and includes Windows 10 Home. 4GB Ram, and 64GB flash drive with a slot where you can insert an SSD Drive at the bottom by just unscrewing 2 little screws – ideal for expansion purposes.

Optimizing Windows: Preliminary Tweaks Before Installing 3CX

The first thing to do is optimize Windows to disable unnecessary startup processes, in an effort to leave all the power available for 3CX to run on.

  • Disable Startup processes: Default Windows Home comes with a lot of functions running in the background – things that you would not normally find on a server OS, for example: Onedrive, Skype etc. Disable these completely from the Task manager. (Control+Shift+Escape > startup)
  • Disable Shadows and animations: We don’t need any eye candy here. We want performance. (Type sysdm.cpl > Advanced > Performance and enable the option “Adjust for Best Performance”)
  • Perform >report – this will give you a performance report of your system.
  • Click on system > Notifications and actions and disable notifications, news feed etc.
  • Power and sleep: Turn off screen after 1 hour and set the pc to never go to sleep.
  • Offline maps – OFF
  • Devices > Bluetooth – disable
  • Update and security: Perform all available Windows updates.

Installation of 3CX

All 3CX installation prerequisites installed like a charm. This was more time consuming than installing 3CX itself. Once Windows is updated, and .NET Framework installed together with a couple of Visual C++ redist, the main 3CX install took 2 minutes to install and show the 3CX PBX Configuration Command line tool.

After that it takes another 5 minutes to configure 3CX and the management console was displayed on the screen.

So What Can This Device Do? (Some performance data)

We have tested this device by running a series of automated tests. In this test we made normal calls, IVR Calls, Calls to queues and ring groups and also connected clients to make this more realistic.

  • 32 sim calls were initiated at random. Some direct, others to a queue, ring group and IVR.
  • Call scenarios were initiated and remained connected for a random time between 3 mins and 15 mins, dropped and automatically restarted again.
  • Clients were also logged in with different rights. The amount of rights have an impact on the amount of packets that are sent and requested. A queue manager will have more load than a normal group user.

When IDLE the NEXBOX took up 10% CPU Usage

CPU performance when using a MiniPC IDLE
During operation, CPU rose to 56%

CPU performance when using a MiniPC - During operation
A 1 hour performance test looks like this

CPU performance when using a MiniPC - 1 hour performance
As we can see the spikes are under control and there are no sudden high rises – everything is below 60 %. This means that the NEXBOX handled this load smoothly and had 40% CPU unused for Windows OS. That 40 % is important in case, for example, you want to perform an unexpected operation that consumes more CPU; such as generating a report.

MiniPC performance table when used for 3CX
Plus you can plugin in the SSD by unscrewing 2 little screws at the back. The NexBOX is perfect for a small office of 25 users that want a PBX and 1-2 VoIP Trunks and it can also be used to connect to the main HQ.

How Can I Get my Hands on One of These?

You can also download this catalog which includes the devices that are recommended by 3CX, basic specs and contact information.
We really liked the performance of this device.

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  1. Hi Nicky

    I bought the T11 NEXBOX but there is only windows 10 home this is not supported bij 3CX?

    October 11, 2016 at 10:42 am
    • @Jean-Marie Windows 10 home is ok.. You can install 3CX on it. It will work.

      October 11, 2016 at 11:36 am
  2. Mark Turner

    where can I get one to buy?

    October 19, 2016 at 6:21 pm
    • Google is your friend :)

      October 19, 2016 at 9:11 pm