OS and Memory Impact on Mini PC Gaming Performance

OS GPU memory

This article looks at what the effect of running a different operating system or having more memory has on similarly spec’d Intel and AMD mini PCs when gaming. Note: This article has been updated and corrected as a result of reader feedback and additional testing. It was inspired by having built and tested a pseudo ‘Steamdeck’ running Manjaro on an AMD-based mini PC with 16GB of memory, which made me wonder what the performance would be like using Windows 11. Initial results were surprising because Windows appeared much slower. As I’d previously heard of performance improvements when using 64GB of memory I swapped out the currently installed 16GB memory and immediately saw improved results. As I’d never observed such a dramatic performance increase on Intel mini PCs just through increasing the memory I decided to explore further by testing gaming performance on similar Intel and AMD mini PCs when using […]

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

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 […]

Beelink GTi11 Review – Part 1: Tiger Lake mini PC with Windows 11

Beelink GTI11 review

Beelink’s GTi11 is the latest offering in their ‘GT’ series of slightly larger mini PCs that are notable for expandable storage configurations together with multiple ports and characterized by including a fingerprint scanner. Featuring Intel’s 11th generation Tiger Lake processors, Beelink kindly sent an i5 version for review which I will undertake in three parts. In this first part, I’ve looked at Windows performance and the second part will cover Ubuntu with the third part looking at various configuration mods. Beelink GTi11 Hardware Overview The GTi11 physically consists of a 168 x 120 x 39mm (6.61 x 4.72 x 1.54 inches) rectangular metal case. As an actively cooled mini PC, it uses Intel’s ‘10 nm SuperFin’ Tiger Lake processors and the review model included an i5-1135G7 which is a quad-core 8-thread 2.50 GHz Core processor boosting to 4.20 GHz with Intel’s Xe Graphics. The front panel has an illuminated power […]

Using MangoHud to check FPS, CPU & GPU usage on a ‘hackendeck’

MangoHud

Previously I followed Valve’s documentation to build a ‘hackendeck’ using a mini PC to emulate their highly anticipated Steam Deck. Interestingly the ‘hackendeck’ uses a Linux OS, specifically Manjaro, as whilst Valve based their earlier version of Steam OS on Debian, they have now switched to being based on Arch. If the ‘hackendeck’ had just been Steam on Windows then to review gaming performance I’d just use MSI Afterburner. Until now, however, for Linux, I’ve always had to estimate the average FPS as I’ve not been aware of a good reliable equivalent. Fortunately several ‘commenters’ recommended using MangoHud, a Linux open-source Vulkan/OpenGL overlay for monitoring FPS, CPU/GPU usage, and temperatures similar to MSI Afterburner. So now I’ve been able to capture the average frame rate for the games I previously tested and I’ll present them below. MangoHud Installation and configuration The installation of MangoHud was extremely simple. First I installed […]

Experiences of configuring and using a ‘hackendeck’ homemade Steam Deck

hackendeck

Valve recently released information about developing for the Steam Deck if you didn’t have a Dev-Kit which is an engineering verification test build (EV2) version of their device. Included in the documentation is a suggestion to build your own Steam Deck, or ‘hackendeck’ using a mini PC. Whilst I didn’t have the exact brand they picture in the article I did have a mini PC with the required specifications so I set about following the instructions to see how it performed. Hardware Overview Valve’s documentation under ‘Performance’ states that ‘if you are really interested in finding a PC for testing that will perform similarly to a Steam Deck … there are a few options out there and then goes on to suggest a mini PC with the following ‘roughly similar specifications to a Steam Deck’: AMD Ryzen 7 3750H Radeon RX Vega 10 Graphics 16GB of DDR4 RAM This exactly […]

Beelink U59 Review – Windows 11, Ubuntu on a Jasper Lake mini PC

Beelink U59 review

Coupling a German submarine with a North American lake seems a perfect match in this topsy-turvy supply-constrained COVID-19 broken world we find ourselves in but that’s just what Beelink has figuratively done by launching their new Intel Jasper Lake mini PC, the U59. Beelink kindly sent one for review and I’ve looked at performance running both Windows 11 and Ubuntu 20.04. Beelink U59 Hardware Overview The Beelink U59 physically consists of a 124 x 113 x 42mm (4.88 x 4.45 x 1.65 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 an illuminated power button, dual USB 3.1 ports, a Type-C USB 3.0 port with DisplayPort Alternate Mode, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a reset pin-hole ‘CLR CMOS’. […]

How to upgrade a mini PC to Windows 11 and install WSL

Windows 11 WSL Ubuntu App

In this short article, I show how to install Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) and how to force the upgrade of Windows 10 to Windows 11 in a mini PC rather than waiting for Windows to offer it. The reason I’ve coupled these two topics together is not because there is any dependency, but simply as I use WSL to help me perform administrative tasks like downloading and copying files when installing applications on Windows mini PCs. WSL installation Installing WSL has recently become so simple it is worth doing just to gain the flexibility it offers for so little effort. Now you only need to open ‘Windows Terminal (Admin)’ and enter wsl –install: then reboot for Ubuntu to start installing, during which you will be asked to create your user with a password, which finishes in Ubuntu: Further information about installing WSL can be found in Microsoft’s documentation. Now […]

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

Beelink SER3 Review

Beelink 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 […]