Beelink SER3 Review – A good AMD Ryzen 7 mini PC… after tweaks

Beelink SER3 ReviewBeelink has just launched a new mini PC called the SER3. It is another ‘new’ mini PC using an older CPU, in this case, an AMD mobile processor. However, the performance is surprisingly good once a few tweaks are made to the stock configuration. Beelink kindly sent one for review and I’ve looked at performance running both Windows and Ubuntu together with using an eGPU.

Hardware Overview

The SER3 physically consists of a 126 x 113 x 40mm (4.96 x 4.45 x 1.57 inches) square metal case. As an actively cooled mini PC, it uses AMD’s older 12 nm Zen+ Ryzen 7 3750H Picasso processor which is a quad-core 8-thread 2.3 GHz mobile processor boosting to 4.0 GHz with Radeon RX Vega 10 Graphics.

The front panel has an illuminated power button, dual USB 3.0 ports, a Type-C USB 3.0 port with Alternate Mode, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a reset pin-hole ‘CLR CMOS’. The rear panel includes a gigabit Ethernet port, dual USB 3.0 ports, dual HDMI (assumed to be 2.0) ports, and the power jack.

The review model included a 512GB M.2 2280 NVMe SSD drive with Windows 10 Pro installed and a single stick of 16GB DDR4 2666 MHz memory occupying one of the SO-DIMM slots which was configured in the BIOS to run at 2400 MHz:

Beelink SER3 windows memory speedAdditionally, there is a replaceable M.2 2230 WiFi 5 (or 802.11ac) Intel Wireless-AC 7265 card under the M.2 2280:

AMD Ryzen 7 mini PC motherboard

and the ability to add an additional 2.5” SATA drive to the lid which is connected to the motherboard via a short ZIF cable:

SSD thermal pad

The specifications state:

Beelink SER3 specifications

Box contents

In the box, you get a power adapter and cord, both a short and a longer HDMI cable, a VESA mounting bracket together with a small packet of miscellaneous screws. Also included is a multilingual user manual:

Beelink SER user manual power supply

Review Methodology

When reviewing mini PCs, I typically look at their performance under both Windows and Linux (Ubuntu) and compare them against some of the more recently released mini PCs. I am now reviewing using Windows 10 version 21H1 and Ubuntu 20.04.3 LTS and test with a selection of commonly used Windows benchmarks and/or equivalents for Linux together with Thomas Kaiser’s ‘sbc-bench’ which is a small set of different CPU performance tests focusing on server performance when run on Ubuntu. I also use ‘Phoronix Test Suite’ and benchmark with the same set of tests on both Windows and Ubuntu for comparison purposes. On Ubuntu, I also compile the v5.4 Linux kernel using the default config as a test of performance using a real-world scenario.

Prior to benchmarking, I perform all necessary installations and updates to run the latest versions of both OSes. I also capture some basic details of the device for each OS.

Initially, the SER3 comes installed with a licensed copy of Windows 10 Pro version 21H1 build 19043.1083. After upgrading to build 19043.1237 a quick look at the hardware information shows it is aligned to the specification:

A brief check showed working audio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet.

I then set the power mode to ‘High performance’ and ran my standard set of benchmarking tools to look at performance under Windows:

For my specific set of Phoronix Test Suite tests the results were:

minipc SER windows phoronix overview

All these results can then be compared with other recent mini PCs:

windows 10 mini pc comparison october 2021

The results are actually lower than those for the GT-R which uses the slightly inferior AMD Ryzen 3550H and this is due to a couple of reasons discussed below, namely the lack of dual-channel memory and the choice of a low power scheme configuration.

Ubuntu Performance

After shrinking the Windows partition in half and creating a new partition I installed Ubuntu using an Ubuntu 20.04.3 ISO as dual boot. After installation and updates a brief check showed working audio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Ethernet.

The key hardware information under Ubuntu 20.04.3 is as follows:

ubuntu disk management Beelink SER3 Linux


I then set the CPU Scaling Governor to ‘performance’ and ran my Linux benchmarks for which the majority of the results are text-based but the graphical ones included:

azw ser ubuntu geekbench 5 cpu AMD Ryzen 7 3750H ubuntu Unigine heaven

I also ran PassMark PerformanceTest Linux:

ubuntu cpu passmark performancetest

which can be directly compared to the results from when it was run on Windows:

Beelink SER30 windows 10 cpu passmark

AMD Ryzen 7 3750H-windows 10 memory passmark

For the same set of Phoronix Test Suite tests the results were:

Ryzen 3750H ubuntu phoronix overview

The complete results together with a comparison against other recent mini PCs are:

linux mini pc comparison october 2021

and again showed that the processor is under-performing due to the stock memory and power constraints.

Video playback in browsers & Kodi

For real-world testing, I played some videos in Edge, Chrome and Kodi on Windows and in Firefox, Chrome and Kodi on Ubuntu. Whilst no issues were encountered playing up to 4K 60 FPS videos on Windows, this highest quality played on Ubuntu but continually dropped frames and 1440p yielded better results.

I also attempted playing an 8K 60 FPS video in YouTube on both Windows and Ubuntu but regardless of browser the video continually stalled:

Beelink SER3 windows YouTube 8k edge Beelink SER3 ubuntu youtube 8k chrome

The SER3 uses active cooling and running a stress test on Ubuntu saw the CPU temperature rise immediately to 70°C and then drop back slightly to 68°C before eventually rising back to 70°C where it remained for the duration of the test:

Beelink SER3 ubuntu stress test

During the stress test the maximum temperature I recorded on the top of the device was around 35.3°C in an ambient room temperature of 18.0°C and the fan whilst audible it was not excessively loud measuring 42 dBA on my sound meter next to the device.

If the CPU frequency is monitored during the stress test it can be seen that it climbs immediately to just under 3200 MHz and then dropping to an average of 3063 MHz:

ubuntu cpu frequency temperature

however, this is much lower than what the CPU is capable of.

Networking

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

SER3 ethernet wifi network throughput

Overclocking the Memory

Although AMD states ‘System Memory Specification Up to 2400MHz’ I tried reconfiguring the BIOS to run the memory at 2666 MHz and the results were surprisingly successful:

AMD Ryzen 7 3750H memory overclock

This simple change took 3D Mark’s Fire Strike score from 1770 to 1893:

3dmark fire strike overclocked memory

Running a couple of other benchmarks also showed slight improvements:

Beelink SER3 overclock benchmarks

Adding Dual-Channel Memory and Increasing the Power Scheme

Initially, I wanted to see the effect of running dual-channel memory however I didn’t have a spare 16GB comparable stick of RAM. However, I did have two 32GB sticks of 3200 MHz which I could only overclock to 2666 MHz as when I tried to go higher the SER3 refused to boot:

Beelink SER3 64GB RAM

As mentioned when comparing the initial benchmarks with other mini PC results showed the results for the SER3 were lower than the less powerful GT-R. One of the contributing factors is that the GPU clock runs significantly lower at around 900 MHz compared to the memory clock:

amd radeon low gpu clock

I also found that the BIOS Power On Reset (POR) setting was 25W rather than the 35W used in the Beelink GT-R. By changing this BIOS setting to 35W:

por 35w tdp

and by overclocking the memory to 2666 MHz the GPU clock ran faster:

improved gpu clock 35W TDP

and this substantially changed the performance.

It resulted in 3D Mark’s Fire Strike score increasing from 1893 to 3165:

3dmark fire strike por 35w overclock RAM

However, the multi-core score for Cinebench dropped from 1523 to 1326:

Cinebench por 35w

Looking at the detailed monitoring during Fire Strike showed an alarming maximum temperature of 97.66°C:

fire strike temperature

So I rebooted into Ubuntu and monitored the CPU temperature and frequency when running a stress test:

ubuntu por 35w throttling

It was apparent that the CPU frequency was being substantially throttled in order to quickly drop the extreme CPU temperature that was peaking at 101°C. Researching this further I found the software ‘RyzenAdj’ by a Linux kernel maintainer called Jiaxun Yang (FlyGoat) which can adjust power management settings for Ryzen mobile processors and is available for both Windows and Linux.

Compiling the source and then experimenting both on Ubuntu and then Windows, I found that the most stable and highest CPU clocks could be achieved by setting the Actual Power Limit (PTT Limit Fast) to 45W, the Average Power Limit (PPT Limit Slow) to 40W and the Slow PPT Constant Time (SlowPPTTimeConst) to 5 seconds:

windows ryzenadj ubuntu ryzenadj por 35w adjusted

Annoyingly before I could rerun the core Windows benchmarks an update sneaked in and took the Windows build to 19043.1288:

updated windows 10 build

The rerun results were extremely good. For example PassMark PerformanceTest on Windows:

Beelink SER3 windows 10 overclocked passmark

and on Ubuntu:

Beelink SER3 ubuntu overclocked passmark

All the rerun benchmarks showed significantly better improvements over the stock results:

Beelink SER3 windows-10 tweaks benchmark results

Beelink SER3 ubuntu tweaks benchmark results

The obvious drawback of increasing the power besides using more electricity is that the fan ramps up more frequently and more often to its maximum. Fortunately the fan makes a low whooshing noise so although it does get louder, at times up to 62 dBA, it is not actually that distracting or annoying.

Given the improved Unigine Heaven score using the combination of increased POR and overclocked dual-channel memory I decided to test three games under Steam on Windows (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Grand Theft Auto V, and Shadow Of The Tomb Raider) at both 1080p and 720p using default settings in both CS:GO and GTA V and with the graphical presets of low and high in the built-in benchmark of SOTTR. The very respectable average FPS results were as follows:

Beelink SER3 gaming

eGPU Performance

Whilst the SER3 cannot include a Thunderbolt port, as mentioned the underside of the case’s lid includes a mounting point for a 2.5 SATA drive so using ‘dism’ I cloned the M.2 2280 NVMe drive to a spare M.2 2280 SATA drive which I then installed in an ‘M.2 NGFF SSD to 2.5in SATA adapter’ and replaced the NVMe drive with a ‘PCIe x16 to M.2 NVMe adapter’:

Beelink SER3 egpu internal

This was then connected to a ‘JHH-LINK DOCK-6’ from ADT-Link installed with a GTX 1650 Super and powered by a DELL DA-2 (aka Dell D220P-01):

Beelink SER3 egpu

I was then able to boot from the SATA drive whilst still having activated Windows and all the previously installed drivers and software and get respectable drive speeds:

SER3 egpu sata crystaldiskmark

After booting and applying the POR adjustments the eGPU showed up as PCIe x4 Gen 3:

NVIDIA GTX 1650 SUPER egpu windows configuration

and after installing the NVIDIA driver, running CUDA-Z gave an indication of the performance to expect:

AMD Ryzen 7 NVIDIA egpu cuda-z

I first ran a few graphical-orientated benchmarks including:

Beelink SER3 egpu passmark Beelink SER3 egpu 3dmark fire strike egpu windows heaven benchmark

Noting that the PassMark rating only improved slightly as whilst the 3D Graphics Mark increased from 2343.6 to 7959.9 the Disk Mark decreased from 14832.1 to 4038.2 due to the loss in performance going from NVMe to SATA.

I then ran Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) with default settings and achieved around 183 FPS:

Beelink SER3 egpu csgo

and Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) again with default settings achieved 95 FPS in the final benchmark scene:

egpu gtav 64 fps

For the built-in benchmark for Shadow Of The Tomb Raider (SOTTR) using the preset of low graphics settings, 83 FPS was achieved:

AMD Ryzen 7 3750H egpu sottr low

and with the high graphics preset 63 FPS was achieved:

AMD Ryzen 7 3750H egpu sottr high settings

Power Consumption

Power consumption for the stock configuration was measured as follows:

  • Initially plugged in – 0.9 Watts
  • Powered off (shutdown) – 0.3 Watts (Windows) and 0.3 Watts (Ubuntu)
  • BIOS* – 24.9 Watts
  • GRUB boot menu – 22.4 Watts
  • Idle – 5.7 Watts (Windows) and 6.8 Watts (Ubuntu)
  • CPU stressed – 37.5 Watts (Windows ‘cinebench’) and 37.2 Watts (Ubuntu ‘stress’)
  • Video playback** – 18.4 Watts (Windows Edge 4K60fps) and 30.7 Watts (Ubuntu Chrome 4K60fps)

When using the increased power configuration (POR 35W adjusted with RyzenAdj) the consumption increased whilst under load as follows:

  • CPU stressed – 55.9 Watts (Windows ‘cinebench’) and 54.0 Watts (Ubuntu ‘stress’)
  • Video playback** – 18.5 Watts (Windows Edge 4K60fps) and 49.5 Watts (Ubuntu Chrome 4K60fps)

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

Powering up the mini PC and hitting the F7 key results in a boot menu which includes access to the BIOS. The BIOS is unrestricted and the following must-watch video includes how to overclock the RAM and change both the ‘POR’ and ‘Auto Power On’ settings:

Finally, Windows PC Health Check confirms that the SER3 is capable of running Windows 11:

Beelink SER3 windows 11

Final Observations

Whilst the OOTB (out-of-the-box) experience does perform satisfactorily, the SER3’s full potential can only be reached with a couple of BIOS tweaks. Unfortunately, the default configuration includes single-channel memory however with an extra memory stick (and therefore running in dual-channel), overclocking the memory and increasing the power scheme results in impressive overall performance at the cost of a slightly nosier fan and slightly higher power consumption. With the stylish new design, the SER3 is a very attractive mini PC.

HighlightsLimitations
BIOS tweaks achieve excellent price-performanceNo SD card slot
Additional SATA drive expandabilityOnly USB 3.0
Stylish designStock is Wifi 5 / single-channel memory

I’d like to thank Beelink for providing the SER3 for review. It retails at around $559 and is currently on special at $475.15 on Amazon.

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7 Comments
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fossxplorer
1 month ago

That M.2 to PCIe adapter with external powering ability is interesting. I can’t find with my google fu.
Any links?
I’d love to test an external 40Gb NIC using such adapter, although i probably won’t get the full BW i need.

linuxium
1 month ago

I’ve briefly discussed the adapters and power supplies before in my eGPU article (https://www.cnx-software.com/2021/03/14/using-an-egpu-with-a-mini-pc-intel-nuc-7-8/) and when reviewing the MINIX NCG-5 (https://www.cnx-software.com/2021/10/04/minix-ngc-5-review-windows-10-ubuntu-20-04-external-gpu/). A link for the original R43SG is https://fave.co/3vwmLA4 and for the newer JHH-LINK DOCK-6 is https://fave.co/3pqmNZl.

fossxplorer
1 month ago

And why not recommend the version with Ryzen 4800U (e.g https://fave.co/3vvZ2jk) instead? It’s a 15W chip with ~ double the multi threading and significantly higher single thread performance!
Seems to be around the same price tag as well.

Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft)
Admin
1 month ago

That Aliexpress page has plenty of references to Ryzen 4800U and AMD Ryzen 7 3750H, so I’m not sure what you’d get.

linuxium
1 month ago

I think the headings are wrong as the SER3 is only available with the 3750H processor as shown by all the Beelink related infomation in the advert.

TonyT
TonyT
1 month ago

In case you haven’t seen it, Chuwi is doing pre-orders for the RZBOX with Ryzen 9 4900H, looks like $499 no memory, available with 16GB/512GB for more.
https://fave.co/3nnVpIy

Pavels Tarasovs (@pavels_tarasovs)
5 days ago

Hey! I want to overclock this SER 3 on your advice. Can you send me a ready-made RyzenAdj file with compilation and tell me how to install it. I just don’t have the proper experience. Thanks!

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