For more than a year now, since the MeLE Quieter2Q, I've transitioned media playback away from the Raspberry Pi system in my main sound room as I've explored options in the MiniPC world. This is the result of technological progress as x86/x64 processors have become significantly more energy-efficient, available in smaller packages, with increasing processing speed, access to the huge library of PC software, and capabilities including support for multichannel HDMI audio output and 4K video decoding.
Yes, we could easily build massive "He-Man" computers these days sucking hundreds of watts to power fast CPUs and modern discrete GPUs, even as "audiophile computers", I believe these are clearly inelegant solutions for AV playback or even as a media server.
Today, let's look at a new entry - the Beelink EQ12 (currently just around US$250-300 depending on deals, with 8GB of DDR5 RAM, 500GB NVMe storage as tested). This machine uses the latest 12th Generation 10nm "Alder Lake" quad-core Intel N100 low-power processor running at up to 3.4GHz turbo. With this new generation, Intel has moved away from names like "Celeron" and "Pentium". While the specs say TDP of 6W for the part, in real life the computer does suck up more power.
For audiophiles thinking of using HQPlayer, these new processors feature the AVX2 instruction set; opening the doors for using the new versions of that software under Windows again should you desire. For the record, this machine was purchased through the usual retail channels.
Let's have a look today at this hardware, and evaluate the speed compared to previous reviewed machines on this blog.