Beelink SER3 & SEi8 mini PCs review – Part 2: Ubuntu 22.04

beelink sei8 ser3 ubuntu 22.04 review

Previously, I reviewed Beelink’s new SEi8 and SER3 mini PCs running Windows 11, so in this part, I will cover Ubuntu 22.04.

Hardware Recap

The SEi8 is an actively cooled Intel mini PC that physically consists of a 124 x 113 x 41 (4.88 x 4.45 x 1.61 inches) square metal case with a plastic top and uses Intel’s 14++ nm Coffee Lake Refresh Core i3-8109U processor from 2018 which is a dual-core 4-thread 3.00 GHz mobile processor boosting to 3.60 GHz with Intel’s Iris Plus Graphics 655.

In comparison, the SER3 is an AMD mini PC and is physically very similar, consisting of a 126 x 113 x 40mm (4.96 x 4.45 x 1.57 inches) square metal case. It is also actively cooled and uses AMD’s 14 nm Zen Ryzen 3 3200U Picasso processor from 2019 which is a dual-core 4-thread 2.6 GHz mobile processor boosting to 3.5 GHz with Radeon Vega 3 Graphics.

Internally each has a replaceable M.2 2230 Wi-Fi 5 (or 802.11ac) Intel Wireless-AC 3165 card and an M.2 2280 NVMe PCIe Gen 3.0 SSD drive with the SEi8 review model including a 512 GB Intel 660p drive and the SER3 review model including a 500 GB Kingston drive.

Each review model only had one of the two SODIMM memory slots populated with a single stick of Crucial 16 GB DDR4 3200 MHz single-rank memory configured to run at 2400 MHz on both mini PCs.

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 22.04 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 v5.15 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.

Installation Issues

After shrinking the Windows partition in half and creating a new partition, I installed Ubuntu using an Ubuntu 22.04 ISO as dual boot on each mini PC.

With both devices, there are various BIOS errors being reported in the ‘dmesg’ although the significance of which has not been determined.

On the SEi8 these are as follows:
sei8 ubuntu dmesg errors AE_NOT_FOUND
sei8 ubuntu dmesg ACPI error: SB.PR00._CPC

and on the SER3 they are:
beelink ser3 ubuntu 22.04 dmesg errors ACPI BIOS

beelink ser3 ubuntu dmesg-errors-Firmware Bug ACPI region

beelink ser3 ubuntu 22.04 dmesg errors SB.PCI0.SBRG AE_NOT_FOUND

After installation and updates, a brief check showed working Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet.

The key hardware information under Ubuntu 22.04 for the SEi8 is as follows:

sei8 ubuntu disk management Beelink sei8 ubuntu 22.04 info


and for the SER3 is:

ser3 ubuntu disk management beelink ser3 ubuntu 22.04 info


I then set the CPU Scaling Governor to ‘performance’ and ran my Linux benchmarks. The majority of the results are text-based but the graphical ones for the SEi8 included:

AZW sei8 ubuntu geekbench 5 cpu beelink sei8 ubuntu heaven 3d graphics benchmark beelink sei8 ubuntu cpu passmark

For my specific set of Phoronix Test Suite tests on the SEi8 the results were:

Beelink sei8 ubuntu phoronix overview

Similarly, for the Beelink SER3 the graphical results in Ubuntu 22.04 were:

AZW ser ubuntu geekbench 5 cpu beelink ser3 ubuntu heaven benchmark beelink ser3 ubuntu 22.04 cpu-passmark performancetest

and the Phoronix Test Suite results were:

beelink ser3 ubuntu phoronix pts overview

Unlike under Windows 11, taking a specific look at the CPU performance results is inconclusive as they contradict each other whereas the iGPU results are similar in that the SEi8’s i3-8109U is around 33% better than the SER3’s 3200U iGPU. Extending the comparison to include the Beelink U59 shows that its N5095 CPU is marginally the best of the three but its iGPU is around 54% slower than SEi8 and around 39% slower than the SER3:

Beelink U59, SEi8, and SER3 Ubuntu 22.04 comparison

All these results can then be compared with other recent mini PCs including the U59:

ubuntu mini pcs comparison june 2022

Video playback in browsers (YouTube) & Kodi

For real-world testing I played some videos in both Firefox and Chrome and some variously encoded videos in Kodi with very similar results from both mini PCs to the U59:

ubuntu video playback browsers kodi

However when I tried to play an 8K @ 30 FPS video in Kodi, whilst it played without issue on the SEi8 using hardware for decoding:

beelink sei8 ubuntu norway 8k kodi hardware

the Beelink SER3 resorted to using software decoding in Ubuntu 22.04 which resulted in frame skipping:

beelink ser3 ubuntu norway kodi 8k software

Thermals

Both mini PCs use active cooling and running a stress test on the SEi8 saw the CPU temperature rise immediately to 71°C and then average around 70°C for the duration of the test:

beelink sei8 ubuntu stress temperature

There was also some interesting initial CPU throttling caused by a sudden temperature spike:

beelink sei8 ubuntu initial frequency cpu throttling

after which the CPU frequency returned to an average of 3600 MHz:

beelink sei8 ubuntu stress frequency temperature

In comparison the SER3 responded more conventionally with the temperature gradually climbing to a maximum of 70°C:

beelink ser3 ubuntu stress temperature

whilst maintaining a consistent CPU frequency:

Beelink ser3 ubuntu stress frequency

During the stress tests at an ambient room temperature of 13.0°C, neither device got hot to touch with the top of the SEi8 measuring 31.2°C and the SER3 a rather cooler 20.1°C. The key difference between the mini PCs was the fan which was louder on the SEi8 as it recurringly ramped up and down reaching 37.0 dBA whereas the SER3 only reached 33.7 dBA on my sound meter next to the device.

Networking (Ethernet & WiFi)

Network connectivity throughput was measured on Ubuntu using ‘iperf3’:

SEI8 SER3 network throughput

Power consumption was measured on each device including running both Windows and Ubuntu.

For the SEi8 it measured:

  • Powered off (shutdown) – 0.5 Watts
  • BIOS – 15.9 Watts
  • GRUB boot menu – 13.7 Watts
  • Idle – 14.1 Watts (Windows) and 7.1 Watts (Ubuntu)
  • CPU stressed – 36.1 Watts (Windows ‘cinebench’) and 30.3 Watts (Ubuntu ‘stress’)
  • Video playback* – 31.1 Watts (Windows Edge 4K 30 FPS) and 31.3 Watts (Ubuntu Chrome 4K 30 FPS)

and for the SER3 it measured:

  • Powered off (shutdown) – 0.8 Watts
  • BIOS – 24.2 Watts
  • GRUB boot menu – 22.8 Watts
  • Idle – 8.4 Watts (Windows) and 7.8 Watts (Ubuntu)
  • CPU stressed – 37.6 Watts (Windows ‘cinebench’) and 31.6 Watts (Ubuntu ‘stress’)
  • Video playback* – 34.3 Watts (Windows Edge 4K 30 FPS) and 31.4 Watts (Ubuntu Chrome 4K 30 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.

BIOS

Powering up the mini PC and hitting the F7 key results in a boot menu that includes access to the BIOS which is unrestricted on both mini PCs.

Final Observations

Similar to when running Windows, for Ubuntu the Intel SEi8 offers better iGPU performance compared to the AMD SER3 however the CPU performance is effectively equal. Interestingly on the SEi8, the NVMe performance under Ubuntu was noticeably different from that measured under Windows but still faster than SATA. Given the overall similarity in terms of performance during ‘everyday’ usage, it is worth considering the specifications and matching any specific requirements to the functionality being offered when choosing which mini PC to buy.

HighlightsLimitations
SEi8 has better iGPU performanceU59 has only M.2 SATA storage
U59 includes Type-C ‘Alternate Mode’ video outputU59 has only USB 3.0 ports on the rear

I’d like to thank Beelink for providing the SEi8 and SER3 for review. The SEi8 (Intel i3-8109U) mini PC retails at around $359 on Beelink  and Amazon, and $349 for the SER3 (AMD Ryzen 3 3200U) on Beelink / Amazon for the 16GB/500GB configurations used in this review.

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9 Comments
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tonny
tonny
2 months ago

Please test the suspend-resume. My Deskmini x300 with Ryzen 5 5600G cannot resume from suspend. And there’s a bunch of articles, QA in reddit, askubuntu, etc that stating these kind of problem.

linuxium
1 month ago

With ‘Automatic Suspend’ set for ‘When idle’ and tested using a delay of 15 or 20 minutes, suspend works on both mini PCs. Alternatively, for ‘Suspend & Power Button’ setting the ‘Power Button Behavior’ to ‘Suspend’ also works on both mini PCs and allows each device to be instantly suspended.

tonny
tonny
1 month ago

Nice! Thanks for the info. Looks like in my case, the Deskmini X300 is the culprit. The S3’s not implemented for ryzen 4xxx and 5xxx.

stuartiannaylor
2 months ago

Maybe might of been interesting what say one of the new RK3588 boards does against the celeron and maybe others…
I don’t think I have ever seen a head to head irrespective of how fair but how the price ratio to performance would be good info.

Dan C
Dan C
1 month ago

I get similar bios errors since upgrading my laptop to 22.04. In my case they relate to the screen backlight controls and the backlight now doesn’t resume after going to sleep which is incredibly annoying, nor do the brightness controls work. There must have been some big PC BIOS changes in 22.04

Dan C
Dan C
1 month ago

.

Tired_
Tired_
1 month ago

Hey, would you consider writing an article here on your methodology for compiling these reviews? Just got myself a new Wifi AP and first thing I thought about when testing it was the stuff you do in your reviews, if I knew more about how you do it.

linuxium
1 month ago

Essentially this is covered in the ‘Review Methodology’ and ‘Networking (Ethernet & WiFi)’ sections of the review and for the latter I typically measure it on Ubuntu using ‘iperf3’.

Name
Name
1 month ago

Intel iGPUs aren’t do in Linux. I tried 24 EU Gen 11 with Ubuntu 22.04 and i can’t call it usable. UI lags in 4K, especially when apps are maximized. Lags to the point that even mouse cursor isn’t capable to keep with mouse movements. In UFO refresh rate test i get only 18-19 fps full screen. It’s a disaster. It’s fast and fluid in Windows 11. And stable 60 fps in UFO test in full screen. Not talking about video decoding. 95% skips in Linux and only few frame skips in the beginning under Windows 11 with 4K60 VP9.

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