Beelink MINI S Review – A Low-cost mini PC tested with Ubuntu 22.04 and Windows 11

Beelink MINI S review

Whilst the first mini PCs were relatively simplistic using low-powered Intel Atom processors with minimal memory, storage, and ports, more recent mini PCs have become so advanced they can challenge SFF builds for both performance and functionality. However, such mini PCs come with prices to match. Beelink has now released the MINI S which is a mini PC that goes back to the basics and is based on a cut-down version of their earlier Beelink U59 mini PC and priced to match. Beelink kindly sent one for review and I’ve looked at performance running both Windows and Ubuntu and compared it directly against the U59.

The Beelink MINI S physically consists of a 115 x 102 x 41mm (4.53 x 4.02 x 1.61 inches) square plastic case. As an actively cooled mini PC, it uses Intel’s new 10 nm Jasper Lake N5095 processor which is a quad-core 4-thread 2.00 GHz Celeron processor boosting to 2.90 GHz with Intel’s UHD Graphics.

The front panel has a power button, a power indicator light, a 3.5mm headphone jack, dual USB 3.1 ports, and a reset pin-hole ‘CLR CMOS’.  The rear panel includes dual USB 3.0 ports, a gigabit Ethernet port, dual HDMI (assumed to be 2.0) ports, and the power jack.

The review model included a 256GB M.2 2280 SATA SSD drive complete with Windows 11 Pro installed and a single stick of 8GB DDR4 2666 MHz memory together with the ability to add a 2.5” SATA drive to the lid which is connected to the motherboard via a short ZIF cable:

Beelink MINI S motherboard

In comparison, the U59 is physically very similar and consists of a slightly larger 124 x 113 x 42mm (4.88 x 4.45 x 1.65 inches) square plastic case. Again actively cooled, the mini PC also uses the same Intel Jasper Lake N5095 processor however the review model had a 512GB M.2 2280 SATA SSD drive and two sticks of 8GB DDR4 2666 MHz memory.

The key differences between the MINI S and the U59 are that the front panel omits the Type-C USB 3.0 port with Alternate Mode and that the memory is restricted to a single SODIMM slot resulting in running in single-channel:

Beelink MINI S windows 11 memory rank Beelink MINI S windows 11 memory speed

The specifications state:

Beelink MINI S specifications

and list the USB ports as ‘USB 3.0’ so I tested them together using a Samsung 980 PRO PCle 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD housed in a ‘USB to M.2 NVMe adapter’ (ORICO M2PAC3-G20 M.2 NVMe SSD Enclosure) which showed that the front two USB ports were actually ‘USB 3.1’ (USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 i.e. 10 Gbit/s):

windows 11 front usb 3.1 speed

and only the rear USB ports were 3.0 (USB 3.2 Gen 1×1 i.e. 5 Gbit/s):

Beelink MINI S windows rear usb 3.0 speed

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 and a multilingual user manual:

Beelink MINI S power supply & user manual

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 now review using Windows 11 version 21H2 and Ubuntu 22.04 LTS. I 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’ version 10.8.3 and benchmark with the same set of tests on both Windows and Ubuntu for comparison purposes. On Ubuntu, I also compile the v5.15 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 version of the OS. I also capture some basic details of the device for each OS.

Installation Issues

When booting Ubuntu 22.04, there are various BIOS errors being reported in the ‘dmesg’ although the significance of which has not been determined:

ubuntu dmesg ACPI BIOS errors ubuntu dmesg errors AE_NOT_FOUND

Otherwise running the benchmarks went smoothly with the exception of the ‘Selenium’ test from the ‘Phoronix Test Suite’. When running the test with ‘Chrome’ selected it errored with the message ‘The test quit with a non-zero exit status’. This is typically caused by the benchmark driver used by the test not supporting the newest Chrome release and has been encountered before. As a result, the Octane tests were run manually and edited into the final results.

The Beelink MINI S came installed with a licensed copy of Windows 11 Pro version 21H2 which after applying updates was build 22000.739. A quick look at the hardware information shows it is aligned to the specifications:

Beelink MINI S HwInfo64 windows configuration windows 11 disk management 250GB SSDwindows 11 system about MINI S

Similar to when I originally reviewed the U59, the iGPU showed limited details in HWiNFO and was unknown to GPU-Z:

HWiNFO64 AZW MINI S TechPowerUp GPU-Z windows 11

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

I also tested Cinebench R23:

windows 11 cinebench r23

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

windows 11 phoronix pts overview

 

Ubuntu 22.04 performance

After shrinking the Windows partition in half and creating a new partition I installed Ubuntu using an Ubuntu 22.04 ISO as dual boot. After installation and updates the key hardware information under Ubuntu 22.04 is as follows:

256GB ubuntu disk management AZW MINI S ubuntu 22.04 info


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:

Beelink MINI S ubuntu 22.04 geekbench 5 cpu MINI S ubuntu heaven 3D graphics benchmark

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

windows 11 heaven opengl benchmark 4.0

I also ran PassMark PerformanceTest Linux:

ubuntu 22.04 passmark performancetest linux

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

Beelink MINI S passmark cpu memory

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

ubuntu 22.04 phoronix mini s overview

 

In parallel with the testing of the MINI S, I also performed a fresh install of Windows 11 Pro on the U59 Beelink previously provided and which I reviewed. I then ran exactly the same set of benchmarks, alternating between the MINI S and U59 while running each individual test, to replicate similar conditions.

Taking a detailed look when comparing the CPU, GPU and memory performance of the MINI S and U59 shows that despite being limited to only having half as much RAM running in single-channel mode the MINI S performance isn’t significantly degraded compared to the U59. CPU performance was only up to around 3% slower in some benchmarks and GPU up to around 7% slower which appears attributable directly to the memory which was up to around 8% slower and the amount of memory is known to affect iGPU performance:

Beelink MINI S vs Beelink U59

The complete Windows results together with the updated U59 results can also be compared against other recent mini PCs:

windows mini pc comparison july 2022

and similarly for Ubuntu:

linux mini pc comparison july 2022

Video playback in browsers & Kodi

For real-world testing, I played some videos in Edge and Chrome on Windows and in Firefox and Chrome on Ubuntu. On Edge, the initial codec for a video is ‘av01’ however as it then typically struggles to play the video it switches to ‘vp09’ whereas Chrome always used ‘vp09’. Again in parallel, I repeated the tests on the U59 so the results can be directly compared:

video playback browser kodi comparison

For both devices, Windows was better than Ubuntu, but interestingly, the memory restrictions of the MINI S didn’t markedly affect the results with only just a few more dropped frames here and there.

I also played variously encoded videos in Kodi all of which played up to 8K @ 30 FPS without issue and used hardware for decoding:

windows 11 norway 8k video

However whilst hardware decoding was used when trying to play 8K @ 60 FPS videos it resulted in frame skipping and juddery playback which was the same for both the MINI S and U59:

ubuntu 22.04 8k peru video

The MINI S uses active cooling and running a stress test on Ubuntu saw the CPU temperature climb to an average of 77°C with a single peak of 79°C for the duration of the test:

Beelink MINI S ubuntu stress test

If the CPU frequency is monitored during the stress test it can be seen that it averages around 2800 MHz during the test whereas the average when idle is around 2455 MHz:

ubuntu 22.04 cpu frequency stress test

During the stress test, the maximum temperature I recorded on the top of the device was around 39.2°C at an ambient room temperature of 13.5°C. Although it runs hotter than the U59, it is much quieter as the fan is virtually inaudible and did not register a reading on my sound meter next to the device during the stress test.

Final Observations

As a low-cost mini PC, the Beelink MINI S performs remarkably well and the limitation of single-channel memory is likely to be unnoticeable given typical usage of the device.

HighlightsLimitations
Similar performance to U59No Type-C USB port
Very quiet
Only single-channel RAM
Lower priceOnly supports two display outputs

I’d like to thank Beelink for providing the MINI S for review. It retails at around $219 for the tested configuration on Beelink or Amazon vs $229 for the equivalent U59 configuration or $279 for the tested U59 16GB/512GB configuration.

Share this:

Support CNX Software! Donate via cryptocurrencies or become a Patron on Patreon

ROCK Pi 4C Plus
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
The comment form collects your name, email and content to allow us keep track of the comments placed on the website. Please read and accept our website Terms and Privacy Policy to post a comment.
11 Comments
oldest
newest
JustMe
JustMe
4 months ago

what about power consumption in idle and load?

linuxium
4 months ago

I assumed it to be similar to the Beelink U59 so I didn’t test. Is there something specific you would like checking?

Yuri
Yuri
4 months ago

My main issue with these no-name mini PCs is the lack of software support, e.g. BIOS/firmware updates to address security vulnerabilities.

Meanwhile Intel provides proper software support even for their older, low-end NUCs, such as the 6th gen Apollo Lake NUC. This is a low-end, Celeron-based platform from 2016, and yet it got a BIOS update just a few months ago!

Would be interesting to see a review of the new low-end NUC from Intel: NUC 11 Essential. More expensive? Sure. But with proper software/firmware/security support, definitely worth it, IMO.

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 months ago

> the lack of software support, e.g. BIOS/firmware updates to address security vulnerabilities.

Well, majority of consumers don’t care since they’ve no clue that we’re not talking about BIOS any more but about UEFI. Which is an own proprietary OS running on a higher privileges level than Win/Linux/*BSD with its own kernel, having full control over the hardware, running the entire time in the background, being exploit-friendly by design and allowing for persistent malware.

Calling UEFI still BIOS is somewhat masquerading the horrible situation we’re in.

Yuri
Yuri
4 months ago

The point is that updating the BIOS/firmware is critical from a security standpoint. Intel is great at providing these updates, while no-brand OEMs do not, as mentioned. I wanted the readership here (who mind you is far more technical than the average user!) to be aware of the much more secure, yet still fairly affordable option from Intel. A NUC 11 Essential with a N5105 CPU has a MSRP of $149, though you can currently find them for around $160, depending on seller, and will need to supply a SSD and RAM. As for your nitpicking comment re BIOS vs… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 months ago

> it was kinda rude, inaccurate, and irrelevant  OMFG! BIOS from more than 40 years ago was a primitive mechanism to bring up hardware which then handed over control to some OS. UEFI from around 20 years ago is a proprietary but insanely complex OS designed in an exploit-friendly way that runs all the time in the background and has full control over the hardware. It allows ‘in place updates’ and also allows for malware persistence and nothing of this can be detected by the OS running at a lower privileges level. That’s why a constant flow of UEFI updates… Read more »

Mick Wedley
Mick Wedley
4 months ago

I have this pc and run a up to date Zorin system, works great for what i need it for.

Carlos
Carlos
4 months ago

I just want to know if the mini s Is Better or not

Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft)
Admin

The MINI S is slightly slower than U59, but you’ll save $10 on the price.

SensorSadanio
SensorSadanio
4 months ago

I have two a NUC i7 models. On one, the NVME drive died. The other completely died in the middle of browsing the web; the motherboard fried. These are nice form factors and nice while they work. But the micro components make these significantly unreliable. I’ll never buy another. Let’s see if my post here is censored.

Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft)
Admin

Several years ago, we had a NUC i5 mini PC, and also had various issues including poor WiFi range (we had to purchase an extra USB dongle). It started to become unstable and slow after around two years. Reinstalling the OS did not help, so we ended up buying a laptop instead.

Weller PCB manufacturer