MINIX Z100-0dB review – Part 3: A fanless Intel N100 mini PC tested with Ubuntu 22.04

After the first part of the review with an unboxing and a teardown of the MINIX NEO Z100-0dB mini PC, we tested the fanless Intel N100 mini PC with Windows 11 Pro in the second part, and we are now ready to report our experience with Linux, and more specifically Ubuntu 22.04, on the MINIX Z100-0dB mini PC in the final and third part of the review.

We will go through features testing, run some benchmarks to evaluate the performance in Linux, perform storage and network performance tests, check the cooling ability of the mini with a stress test, and also check its power consumption under different scenarios. We will also compare the MINIX Z100-0dB to the actively cooled GEEKOM Mini Air12 mini PC that uses the same Intel Processor N100 CPU.

MINIX Z100-0dB review Ubuntu 22.04 Linux

Ubuntu 22.04 installation

We will install Ubuntu 22.04 alongside Windows 11 Pro in dual boot configuration, so we first shrank the Windows partition to give space for Ubuntu, before installing the Linux distribution from a USB flash drive with a Ubuntu 22.04.4 ISO.

MINIX Z100-0dB Disk Management Dual Boot Windows Linux

The installation went smoothly with WiFi properly detected. We had to press the Esc key to enter the BIOS and select the USB flash drive for the installation.

Ubuntu 22.04 system information

Going to the About section in the Settings shows we have a “MINIX Technology Limited MINIX NEO Z100-0dB” mini PC with a quad-core Intel N100 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512.1 GB M.2 running the latest Ubuntu 22.04.4 LTS.

MINIX NEO Z100-0dB system Ubuntu 22.04

We can get a few more details in a terminal window…


… and the inxi utility:


Inxi reports the system features a quad-core Intel Processor N100 CPU clocked up to 3,400 MHz with NEO-J51-SSD-512GB NVMe SSD, a Realtek RTL8125 2.5GbE controller, and an Intel AX201 wireless module for WiFi and Bluetooth. The CPU temperature at idle is shown to be 53°C.

Ubuntu 22.04 Benchmarks on the MINIX Z100-0dB mini PC

We’ll start Linux benchmarks with the sbc-bench.sh script:


While the CPU temperature never exceeds 80°C, the performance is impacted after a while with the 7-zip benchmark starting at 12,324 MIPS, but eventually dropping to 9,829 and 9,903 MIPS for the second and third runs with an average of 10,680 MIPS.

Let’s check the power limits as recommended in the script:


PL1 is set to 6W and PL2 to 12W just as in Windows 11 Pro, and much lower than the power limits set in the Mini Air12 mini PC (15W/25W) which may impact the CPU performance somewhat.

Let’s carry on with Geekbench 6.2.2 single-core and multi-core tests

MINIX NEO Z100-0dB geekbench 6 benchmark

The MINIX Z100-0dB mini achieved 1,243 points in the single-core test and 3,189 points in the multi-core test.

The Intel iGPU was tested with Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0 at 1920×1080 resolution. The system rendered the scene at 11.7 FPS on average with a 294-point score.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0 Fanless Intel N100 mini PC

Next up is YouTube 4K and 8K video playback in Firefox.

Fanless N100 mini PC Ubuntu 4k p30 YouTube

A 4K 30 FPS VP9 video played perfectly smoothly with no frame dropped after watching the video for 5 minutes.

Fanless N100 mini PC Firefox Ubuntu 8k p30 YouTube

8K 30 FPS was all good as well with just 9 frames dropped out of 11,352 during a 6-minute test.

Fanless N100 mini PC Firefox Ubuntu 4k 60 YouTube

The MINIX Z100-0dB mini PC has no problem playing a 4K 60 FPS YouTube video in Ubuntu 22.04, although the number of dropped frames went up to 203 out of 24,981.

Fanless N100 mini PC Firefox Ubuntu 8k 60fps YouTube

Going up to 8K 60 FPS was another story with the system struggling to play the video that ended up being unwatchable with 8,289 frames dropped out of 18,288, or a 45% drop rate.

The YouTube streaming experience was similar in Windows and Linux for 2160p30, 2160p60, and 4320p30, but the 8K60 (4320p60) video was more or less watchable in Windows 11 with 6.7% dropped frames, while it was not in Ubuntu 22.04 with 45% of frames dropped.

We ran Speedometer 2.0 to evaluate the web browsing performance in the latest version of Firefox in Ubuntu 22.04.

MINIX Z100-0dB Ubuntu 22.04 Speedmeter 2.0

The MINIX fanless mini PC rendered the test at 146 runs per minute with the 10 iterations of the test ranging between 136.5 and 152.8 runs/s.

Comparison of MINIX Z100-dB0 Ubuntu 22.04 benchmarks against other mini PCs

Let’s now compare the Ubuntu 22.04 benchmark results for the MINIX Z100-0dB fanless mini PC against other Alder Lake-N hardware platforms, namely the GEEKOM Mini Air12 (Intel Processor N100), Blackview MP80 (Processor N97) mini PC, Weibu N10 Core i3-N305 mini PC, and UP 7000 fanless single board computer (Intel Processor N100).

Here are the basic specifications of the five systems under test.

MINIX Z100-0dBGEEKOM Mini Air12Blackview MP80Weibu N10UP 7000 SBC
SoCIntel Alder Lake-N Processor N100Intel Alder Lake-N Processor N100Intel Alder Lake-N Processor N97Intel Core i3-N305 Alder Lake-NIntel Processor N100 Alder Lake-N
CPU4 cores up to 3.4 GHz 4 cores up to 3.4 GHz4 cores up to 3.6 GHz8 cores up to 3.80 GHz4 cores up to 3.4 GHz
GPU24EU Intel HD Graphics24EU Intel HD Graphics24 EU Intel UHD Graphics32EU Intel HD Graphics24EU Intel HD Graphics
Memory16 GB DDDR4-320016GB DDR5-480016GB LPDDR58GB DDR4-32008GB LPDDR5
Storage512GB NVMe SSD512GB NVMe SSD512GB NVMe SSD512GB NVMe SSD64 GB eMMC flash
Default OSWindows 11 ProWindows 11 ProWindows 11 ProWindows 11 ProNone

All benchmark results are in Ubuntu 22.04, except for the Blackview MP80 (N97) mini PC that was running Fedora 39.

MINIX Z100-0dBGEEKOM Mini Air12Blackview MP80 (N97)Weibu N10 Core i3-N305UP 7000 SBC
OSUbuntu 22.04Ubuntu 22.04Fedora 39Ubuntu 22.04Ubuntu 22.04
sbc-bench.sh
- memcpy9,572.6 MB/s,10,459.3 MB/s8989.0 MB/s9,949.4 MB/s8,277.6 MB/s
- memset8,552.2 MB/s10,665.4 MB/s12881.2 MB/s8,991.6 MB/s13,678.5 MB/s
- 7-zip (average)10,68013,94013,23017,61512,890
- 7-zip (top result)12,32413,97613,27020,00213,178
- OpenSSL AES-256 16K1,232,743.08k1,233,283.75k1302822.91k1,377,211.73k1,231,454.21k
Geekbench 6 Single1,2431,213
1,2511,177 (Geekbench 5)-
Geekbench 6 Multi3,1893,2723,1414,856 (Geekbench 5)-
Unigine Heaven score294303404451258
Speedometer (Firefox)146149152--

The Geekbench 5 results for the Weinu N10 mini PC are just there for reference since Geekbench 5 and Geekbench 6 results can’t be compared directly. The MINIX NEO Z100-0dB has the lowest score in most of the tests, so there’s a cost to going fanless, although most users will probably not notice. All benchmarks were performed in a room with a 28C to 30C ambient temperature, so it might be a tougher test than for most users. Having said that the UP 7000 fanless SBC with the same Intel N100 SoC did perform somewhat better, except in the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (lower) and single-core benchmarks (about the same).

NVMe SSD storage and USB performance

Storage performance may be important to overall system performance, especially during boot and launching programs, so we also tested the 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD that ships with the mini PC using iozone3:


The sequential read speed was 1,593 MB/s, the sequential write speed was 1,545 MB/s, and the SSD also delivered decent random I/O performance, so it’s acceptable, but not quite to the level of higher-end SSDs found in more expensive mini PCs or even the SSD in the GEEKOM Mini Air12.  For reference, the read speed was 2,066 MB/s and the write speed was 1,585 MB/s in Windows 11 using CrystalDiskMark.

To double-check the actual speed of the USB ports, we connected the ORICO M234C3-U4 USB 3.0 NVMe SSD enclosure to each of the USB 3.0 ports and a Seagate USB Expansion drive to the USB 2.0 ports while relying on lsusb and iozone3 command line utilities to confirm the speed.

Here’s the output for the USB-C port on the front panel:


… and the top USB 2.0 port on the rear panel:


The results of all 5 ports can be summarized as follows:

  • “Front panel” with power button
    • USB-C – 10 Gbps – 853 MB/s read speed, 965 MB/s write speed
    • USB-A (Top) – 10 Gbps – 867 MB/s read speed, 994 MB/s write speed
    • USB-A (Bottom) – 10 Gbps – 851 MB/s read speed, 982 MB/s write speed
  • “Rear panel” with DC jack
    • USB-A  (top) – 480 Mbps – 43 MB/s read speed, 41 MB/s write speed
    • USB-A (bottom) – 480 Mbps – 42 MB/s read speed, 43 MB/s write speed

All ports work as advertised. I wrote “front panel” and “rear panel” in quotes because it’s difficult to assign a rear and front panel the way the mini PC was designed.

Networking (2.5GbE and WiFi 6)

Network throughput was measured with iperf3, and we started testing the 2.5GbE Ethernet port using UP Xtreme i11 Edge mini PC at the other end.

  • Download

  • Upload

  • Full-duplex


Excellent performance, and here the MINIX Z100-0dB is quite better than the GEEKOM Mini Air12 which is limited by its gigabit Ethernet interface.

We then switched to WiFi 6 using Xiaomi Mi AX6000 router.

  • Download

  • Upload


Again, excellent performance with 940 Mbps and 938 Mbps download/upload speed, and faster than the already-impressive 800 Mbps we got with the GEEKOM Mini Air12. As usual, WiFi performance is quite better in Linux, as the Z100-0dB (only) delivered a download speed of 686 Mbps and a 581 Mbps upload speed in Windows 11 Pro.

We also successfully tested Bluetooth with a file transfer to an Android smartphone.

MINIX Z100-0dB Ubuntu Bluetooth File Transfer

Thermal performance testing with a stress test

We ran a stress test while checking the CPU temperature to see how well the MINIX Z100-0dB fanless mini PC manages to cool the Intel Processor N100 quad-core CPU.

Fanless Intel N100 mini PC Stress test temperature ubuntu

While testing in a room with a 28°C ambient temperature, the CPU temperature never exceeded 66°C while the CPU frequencies hovered around 2,600 to 2,665 MHz. That’s cooler than the actively-cooled GEEKOM Mini Air12 whose N100 CPU operated at around 77°C for the same test, but also slower since the CPU frequency was 2,900 MHz. This can be explained by the lower thermal limit set in the MINIX Z100-0dB mini PC and also shows up in slightly lower benchmark scores.

MINIX Z100-0dB power consumption in Ubuntu 22.04

The power consumption was measured with a wall power meter:

  • Power off
    • 0.9 – 1.0 Watt (shutdown command)
    • 1.4 to 1.5 Watts (after removing and inserting the power plug)
  • Idle –  7.5 to 7.6 Watts
  • Web browsing – 8.2 to 13.9 Watts
  • Video playback – 14.7 to 17.9 Watts (Youtube 8Kp60 in Firefox)
  • Stress test on all four cores – 17.2 to 19.8 Watts

Note: The mini PC was connected to WiFi 6, two USB RF dongles for a wireless keyboard and mouse combo, and a VGA monitor (through an HDMI to VGA adapter) during measurements.

Conclusion

MINIX Z100-0dB fanless mini PC works great with Ubuntu 22.04 and we had no issues with any of the features. As we’ve seen in Windows, benchmark results are also a bit lower in Linux than the actively-cooled GEEKOM Mini Air12 mini PC with the same Intel Processor N100 CPU due to lower power limits, and the SSD is not quite as fast, but the MINIX Z100-0dB does have its advantages too (besides the fanless design) with better networking performance thanks to a 2.5GbE port and higher WiFi 6 throughput close to 1 Gbps thanks to the Intel AX201 wireless module.

YouTube video playback worked fine up to 4Kp60 and 8Kp30 in Firefox, but the video was unwatchable at 8Kp60 with close to half of the frames dropped. Cooling is adequate too with no CPU thermal throttling detected under a stress test with the maximum recorded temperature being 66°C in a room at 28°C. That’s because power limits come into play before the CPU thermal limits, and the CPU runs at 2.6 GHz under heavy loads.

We’d like to thank MINIX for sending us a sample of the NEO Z100-0dB mini PC for review. The model showcased here with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD is sold for $ on Amazon and you’ll also find it on the MINIX online store along with the cheaper 8GB/256GB model going for $239.

CNXSoft: This article is a translation – with some additional insights – of the original review on CNX Software Thailand by Suthinee Kerdkaew.

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6 Replies to “MINIX Z100-0dB review – Part 3: A fanless Intel N100 mini PC tested with Ubuntu 22.04”

  1. Interesting that the maximum power draw is 19.8 Watts, whereas, if I recall correctly, something in the region of 27-30 watts is more typical for Mini PC’s using this processor..

    Could it be that a typical fan may draw more power than one might expect?

    The pricing doesn’t feel competitive enough though, even being a rarer fanless design.

    1. The fan should add a couple of watts, and the lower power limits also matter.

  2. > the 7-zip benchmark starting at 12,324 MIPS, but eventually dropping to 9,829 and 9,903 MIPS

    Since mostly the compression score suffers (decompression only slightly) it’s obvious that Intel implemented thermal throttling for the memory controller on this platform above a certain temperature.

    1. It must be some settings in the BIOS as other Intel N100 platforms don’t suffer from the same issue.

      1. Maybe it’s only related to temperatures (e.g. hitting 70°C the memory controller gets throttled and with most actively cooled Mini PCs this treshold is not reached anyway).

        At least this phenomenon was observed here a year ago with Ian’s ‘Weibu N10 Core i3-N305’ review (full sbc-bench output copied to pastebin.com/FrDhXiHT ).

        The package temperature was around 70°C and only the compression scores (sensitive to memory latency) dropped almost immediately to ~55%

  3. Fan of fanless mini PCs here. I have both varieties and the one with fan works like a dust vacuum cleaner, quite dirty inside after some time, which is when it starts making a whining noise. Fine for normal work, not for CAD, games or other high CPU demand.

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