Beelink GTi11 review – Part 2: Ubuntu 20.04 on an Intel Core i5-1135G7 mini PC

Beelink gti11 ubuntu 20.04

Previously I reviewed Beelink’s new GTi11 Intel Tiger Lake mini PC running Windows 11, so in this part, I will cover Ubuntu 20.04.

Hardware Recap

The GTi11 is a 168 x 120 x 39mm (6.61 x 4.72 x 1.54 inches) actively cooled mini PC and the review model has an i5-1135G7 Intel Tiger Lake quad-core 8-thread 2.50 GHz Core processor boosting to 4.20 GHz with Intel’s Xe Graphics.

The review model also includes a 500GB M.2 2280 NVMe PCIe Gen 3.0 SSD drive initially with Windows 10 Pro installed but now successfully upgraded to Windows 11 Pro, two sticks of 8GB DDR4 3200 MHz memory, a soldered WiFi 6 (or 802.11ax) Intel AX201 chip and dual 2.5Gb Ethernet ports.

The specifications list four of the USB ports as 3.0 so I retested them on Ubuntu using a Samsung 980 PRO PCle 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD housed in an ‘USB to M.2 NVMe adapter’ (ORICO M2PAC3-G20 M.2 NVMe SSD Enclosure) and reconfirmed that the front two USB ports are actually 3.1 (USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 i.e. 10 Gbit/s), see for example Bus 02, Port 1, Dev 12:

and that the rear ports are 3.0 (USB 3.2 Gen 1×1 i.e. 5 Gbit/s), see for example Bus 04, Port 3, Dev 5 :

The other point of interest is that the front ‘Type-C’ port is actually a Thunderbolt 4 port which I reconfirmed using the same Gen 4.0 NVMe SSD but housed in my JEYI Thunderbolt 3 M.2 NVMe Enclosure:

and that when ‘used’ as a USB ‘Type-C’ port it also runs at USB 3.1 speed, see Bus 02, Port 1, Dev 11 :

and can support video output through ‘Alternate Mode’:

Review Methodology

When reviewing mini PCs I typically compare their performance against some of the more recently released mini PCs. I now review using Ubuntu 20.04.3 LTS and test with a selection of commonly used Linux benchmarks 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 compile the v5.4 Linux kernel using the default config as a test of performance using a real-world scenario. Finally, I use ‘Phoronix Test Suite’ so that I can benchmark with the same set of tests on Windows for comparison purposes.

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

After shrinking the Windows partition in half and creating a new partition I installed Ubuntu on Beelink GTi11 using an Ubuntu 20.04.3 ISO as dual boot. The first issue was that the Ethernet ports were not recognized on the LiveUSB:

This is likely due to the ports being 2.5Gbps so the installation had to be completed using WiFi and once installed the Ethernet ports worked successfully.

The second issue was there was no audio either from HDMI or when attaching an external speaker or headphones to the 3.5mm audio jack. Even after installation this issue still existed:

The ‘dmesg’ gave a pointer as to how to fix the HDMI audio:

and HDMI audio could be successfully fixed by adding snd_intel_dspcfg.dsp_driver=1 as a GRUB2 kernel boot parameter:

however, this did not resolve the headphone issue.

There are also some BIOS errors being reported in the ‘dmesg’ although the significance of which has not been determined:

Another previously encountered issue where one of the benchmarks requires compiling its code with the -march=native option, occurred again as the compiler packages failed to recognize the ‘tigerlake’ architecture of this CPU using the default 9.3.0 versions and the solution was to install and use the later 10.3.0 versions of ‘gcc’ and ‘g++’:

Finally, the latest pre-release version of Mangohud was required in order to successfully monitor the game Grand Theft Auto V which otherwise would crash when toggling logging on and off.

Ubuntu Performance

After installation and updates, a brief check showed working Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet with the exception of audio as mentioned above.

The key hardware information under Ubuntu 20.04.3 is as follows:



 

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:

and the latter can be directly compared to when run in Windows using the OpenGL render:

I also ran PassMark PerformanceTest Linux:

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

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

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

The results show an improvement in the integrated GPU performance compared with older mini PCs and the capability of which will be explored further below.

Video playback with browsers & Kodi

Video playback was reasonably successful with only Firefox dropping frames for 4K 60 FPS videos however none were dropped when the quality was set to 1440p:

I also attempted playing an 8K 60 FPS video in YouTube in both Firefox and Chrome however neither were as successful as Windows with both stalling and dropping frames continuously:

Finally, I played some videos in Kodi of various formats all of which played without issue until I tried 8K 30 FPS and 8K 60 FPS which switched to using software decoding resulted in frame skipping and stuttering:

Similar to my earlier Windows testing I benchmarked three games under Steam (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 preset of ‘lowest’ in the built-in benchmark of SOTTR. The average FPS results were as follows:

Interesting CS:GO on Ubuntu out-performed Windows quite significantly:

CSGO 1080p Ubuntu
CSGO 720p Ubuntu

GTA V showed similar performance but SOTTR was slightly worse on Ubuntu.

Thermals

The Beelink GTi11 uses active cooling and running a stress test on Ubuntu saw the CPU temperature rise to a peak of 85°C and then drop to an average around 75°C for the duration of the test:

During the stress test with an ambient room temperature of 26.7°C, the top of the device did not get hot to touch however due to its reflective surface it was difficult to measure the actual temperature other than indicative readings of a maximum being around 42°C. The fan whilst audible was not excessively loud when it ramped up to its maximum even though it measured at times up to 50 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 started at 3800 MHz then was immediately thermal throttled to an average of 3300 MHz:

Networking

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

Power Consumption

Power consumption was measured as follows:

  • Powered off (shutdown) – 0.9 Watts
  • BIOS – 19.3 Watts
  • GRUB boot menu – 18.7 Watts
  • Idle – 11.1 Watts (Windows) and 8.8 Watts (Ubuntu)
  • CPU stressed – 42.0 Watts (Windows ‘cinebench’) and 41.3 Watts (Ubuntu ‘stress’)
  • Video playback* – 17.9 Watts (Windows Edge 4K 60 FPS) and 43.4 Watts (Ubuntu Chrome 4K 60 FPS)

*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 that includes access to the BIOS. The BIOS is unrestricted as can be seen from the following representative pictures:

Two of the most frequently used BIOS options: ‘Wake on Lan’ and ‘Ac Power Lost Policy’, are easily accessed from the ‘Boot’ tab in the BIOS:

Further Observations

Whilst the Beelink GTi11 was impressive under Windows, the GPU performance under Ubuntu is somewhat disappointing in comparison. Coupled with this are the Ubuntu installation and headphone audio issues. Given the device includes a license for Windows 10/11 Pro which also includes WSL2, installing Ubuntu is probably only for the really determined and when absolutely needed.

Thanks again to Beelink for providing the GTi11 for review. It retails on Banggood at around $610 for the current i5/16GB/500GB configuration and $820 for the i7/32GB/500GB configuration.

Continue reading “Beelink GTi 11 modding – PCIe Gen 4.0 M.2 slot, tweaking power limits, and eGPU“.

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4 Replies to “Beelink GTi11 review – Part 2: Ubuntu 20.04 on an Intel Core i5-1135G7 mini PC”

  1. The power consumption figures indicate windows was using GPU for video hardware decode and ubuntu was using CPU for software decode.

    Are there any PC desktop linux distros that actually have everything working out of the box with this hardware ?

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