Beelink Gemini T45 Pentium N4200 Mini PC Review

No sooner had I written ‘Beelink T45 Review with Windows and Linux, and Tweaking BIOS Power Limits’ than Beelink announce they wouldn’t in fact sell that configuration but an ‘updated’ version. And it is significantly different because this new version is now actively cooled and uses an Apollo Lake N4200 processor. It also still has the same name: the Beelink Gemini T45.

I’ve now reviewed this new version and you may experience déjà vu on reading the following as in keeping with Beelink’s philosophy I’ve basically reused the same text as before and just updated where appropriate.

Beelink have further extended their ‘Gemini’ range of mini PCs by adding the T45. This is an actively cooled mini PC that uses the slightly older Apollo Lake Intel Pentium N4200 CPU which is a quad-core 4-thread 1.10 GHz processor boosting to 2.50 GHz with Intel’s HD Graphics 505.

The T45 is a ‘NUC’ style mini PC physically consisting of a 119 x 119 x 17.9 mm (4.69 x 4.69 x 0.70 inches) all-metal (and surprisingly quite heavy) rectangular case and is very similar in size to the earlier AP34 and AP42 models from Beelink. The front panel has only a blue ‘power’ LED as it is the rear panel that includes the power button, power jack, dual HDMI ports, a gigabit ethernet port, and a headphone jack. On the right side there are a couple of 3.0 USBs and on the left side are a couple more 3.0 USB ports and a full-sized SD slot. The full specifications include:

The T45 comes with a 2242 M.2 SSD (256GB in this reviewed device) with pre-installed Windows 10 Home (version 1903 OS build 18362.356) together with 8GB of soldered DDR3 RAM.

In the box you get a mounting bracket with screws for attaching the device to behind a monitor together with a couple of HDMI cables, a power adapter, a manual and a service card:

Starting with a quick look at the hardware information shows it is aligned to the specification:

Click to Enlarge

After fully updating Windows to version 1909 OS build 18363.592 I ran my standard set of benchmarking tools to look at performance under Windows:

and to compare with other Intel mini PCs:

Click to Enlarge

The results need interpreting carefully otherwise they could be misleading because mini PC benchmarks are heavily influenced by the quantity and type of memory and storage installed.

The Beelink T45 results using the Pentium N4200 mobile processor are very similar to but just slightly lower than the Beelink J45 which uses the desktop Pentium J4205 processor. So the change of processor arising from the ‘updated’ version (it previously had the same Pentium J4205 processor) does not look to have made a significant performance difference now that the TDP and cooling issues have been addressed.

Additionally, I also tested with Geekbench 4 and got a single-core score of 1,502, a multi-core score of 4,644 and an OpenGL score of 11,258:

Next, I shrunk the Windows partition and created a new 100GB partition so I could install and dual boot Ubuntu using an Ubuntu 18.04.3 ISO:

After installation and updates, a brief check showed everything working including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, audio, and Ethernet. I then ran some basic commands to look at the hardware in more detail:


Interestingly, the Ethernet driver is similar to the J45 in that the T45 uses the default r8169 module. However, it uses a different ‘mac version’ with the ‘rtl8168g-2_0.0.1’ firmware and therefore does not have the same problems as the J45 and works as expected.

I next ran my standard Phoronix Test Suite benchmarks and the results can be compared with those from the previous testing on other mini PCs:

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

As the full results might be a little confusing because, for some tests, higher is better, whereas for others, lower is better, the following bar chart may be easier to understand:

Click to Enlarge

Next, I’ve run ‘sbc-bench’ which is a small set of different CPU performance tests focusing on server performance, ‘glmark2’ from the standard repositories which is a benchmark for OpenGL (ES) 2.0, some real-world timing tests for the compilation, zipping and unzipping of the Linux mainline v5.2 kernel, ‘iozone’ also from the standard repositories which is a filesystem benchmark tool and finally ‘Octane 2’ which is a JavaScript benchmark and was run in Chrome.

A summary of the results from each of the above benchmark tests was compared with previously tested mini PCs as follows:

Click to Enlarge

The iozone test produced some anomalies for both ‘Seq Write’ and ‘Random Write’ over multiple runs. Any run with a ‘Seq Write’ anomaly was excluded and the remaining runs were averaged to provide the sequential read/write and random read results.  The ‘Random Write’ result of 444.2 was calculated as an average from running the command just with a record length of 16384k because when it was run with multiple record lengths the specific result for a record length of 16384k dropped to 70.8. Otherwise, the overall Linux results mirror the Windows performance and are comparable to the J45.

For a direct comparison with Windows I also tested Geekbench 4:

with the Ubuntu results being slightly better than those for Windows (1563 vs 1502 and 5044 vs 4644).

For real-world testing, I played videos in Edge, Chrome, and Kodi in Windows and in Firefox, Chrome, and Kodi in Ubuntu. The following tables summarise the tests and results for each of web browsing, Kodi in general and Kodi playing specific videos:

*Playing [email protected] videos in Chrome in Windows initially played okay just with the occasional dropped frame however later when the same videos were played again many more dropped frames were encountered. As the CPU usage was high when playing these video there was evidently some form of throttling in play which affected the processing because the CPU frequency dropped from 2.37GHz to 1.59GHz for the same video:

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

I’ve also included the ‘codec’ for the videos played in a web browser which is of particular relevance to Ubuntu given the issues playing ‘vp9’ and lack of hardware acceleration. Using the extension ‘h264ify’ in Chrome would not help as it removes the 4K and 1440p options and presents 1080p as the maximum resolution using the ‘avc1’ codec.

Finally, on both OS I also installed and ran the UNIGINE Heaven benchmark:

Windows (Left) vs Linux (Right) – Click to Enlarge

and the results show that the T45 will offer limited gaming performance.

That being said I went and installed Steam in both Windows and Ubuntu and briefly looked at gaming performance by installing and playing CS:GO. On Windows with the default settings resulted in a frame rate average of a rather low 10fps. Changing the video settings to low and dropping the resolution to 720p and the frame rate average improved to a playable 20fps:

Click to Enlarge

For CS:GO on Ubuntu, the default frame rate was slightly lower at an estimated average of around 8fps. Changing the video settings to low and resolution to 720p the frame rate average only slightly improved to an estimated 11fps:

Click to Enlarge

Network connectivity throughput was measured on Ubuntu using ‘iperf’:

Power consumption was measured as follows and is similar to other comparable mini PCs:

  • Powered off – 0.6 Watts
  • Shutdown – 0.7 Watts (Windows) and 0.6 Watts (Ubuntu)
  • BIOS*  – 12.5 Watts
  • Boot menu – 12.5 Watts
  • Idle – 10.6 Watts (Windows) and 8.2 Watts (Ubuntu)
  • CPU stressed – 24.6 Watts then drops to 23.3 Watts (Ubuntu)
  • Video playback** – 18.2 Watts (4K in Windows) and 16.5 Watts (1080p in Ubuntu)

* BIOS (see below)
** The power figures fluctuate so the value is the average of the median high and median low power readings.

Finally, the BIOS settings are partly visible and unlocked and a brief overview is available in the following video::

As previously mentioned the updated T45 now uses a fan to assist with heat dissipation. It has a large heatsink that covers nearly the entire board with a cutout for the fan:

Note that this heatsink also covers the M.2 SSD drive meaning that it will need to be removed and thermal paste reapplied if accessing the M.2 SSD for any reason.

The fan creates airflow over the heatsink and also utilizes the all-metal case to further dissipate the heat.

Whilst there is a warning on the underside of the case:

it only gets warm. During benchmarking the maximum temperature I recorded on the top of the device was 41.8°C with an ambient room temperature of 29.8°C:

and the device was okay to handle when holding it to insert/remove USBs etc..

The fan is not overtly loud (the 35.5 dBA as seen in the photograph is about average) however it does make a high-pitched whining noise which is noticeable in a quiet environment.

The fan and heatsink are effective as the maximum CPU core temperature recorded during testing was 57°C during a stress test in Ubuntu:

Also in Ubuntu, I ran a VP9 video in Kodi for 20 minutes and the internal temperature remained manageable during the playback peaking at 55°C:

Beelink was right to revisit the T45’s original specification as this updated version performs well. Going from the desktop J4205 processor to the mobile N4200 processor has seen just a slight drop in performance whilst the addition of a small fan has addressed the cooling concerns previously noted.

I’d like to thank Beelink for providing the T45 for review. It currently retails at around $240-$250 for the tested configuration from the various mini PC resellers on  AliexpressGeekBuying, and others.

Note: With the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) in China, supply chains, manufacturing, and logistics may all get affected which may create delays in receiving orders of mini PCs.

Support CNX Software - Donate via PayPal or become a Patron on Patreon
Advertisements
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
4 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
theguyuk
theguyuk
5 months ago

Over price crap
if can put up with 4gb, 64gb storage and N4100. The GL2 basic is only $133 inc p&p

theguyuk
theguyuk
5 months ago

Also if you dont mind a cooler running but 15w a 2 hdmi T 12 AMD A4 720 8gb 1000m win10 is only $135 inc p&p

add the recently reviewed Kingchuxing PCM28NV 2280 256gb ( 3 year warranty ) only $39 inc p&p

f-s-e
f-s-e
5 months ago

Thanks for the excellent review, f-s-e

ianc14
5 months ago

A 2016 CPU in 2020.

Advertisements