Now, unlike the MeLE Quieter machines, this one is not fanless, but it is indeed quiet and I suspect the fan noise will be no problem in the vast majority of settings. On balance however, what you get is a machine that is less expensive (you should be able to find one for around US$180 or better) and the active cooling will keep it cooler especially if you do end up placing it in more cramped environments. As usual, make sure there is still air flow of course!
Let's have a closer look at the item and performance...
Above we see the box contents, the computer unit itself is small, about 4.5" x 4" x 1.6" (11.5 x 10 x 4cm). It's mostly plastic so the weight is only around 270g. There's the 12V, 3A power supply, a couple of HDMI cables (short 25cm, and longer 100cm lengths), manual, and wall/monitor mount metal bracket with screws.
A closer look at the computer itself:
As you can see, we have a total of 4 USB3 ports (2 front, 2 rear), front headphone jack and power button, gigabit RJ45 ethernet port, 2 HDMI 2.0a (yes this can do HDR, but as we'll see later, limited), and the power jack. Oh yeah, there's also a front CMOS CLR recessed button if you mess up the BIOS and need to reset, and Kingston security slot.
Notice from the pictures that clearly the air flow comes in from the sides and is vented out the rear just above the ethernet port and HDMI. Needless to say, make sure airflow isn't obstructed to these key regions.
At this price point and this machine marketed as a "Mini Office Computer", it's not surprising that we don't see anything fancy. No USB-C, the built-in WiFi is 802.11b/g/n/ac, and Bluetooth 4.0 specs. The recent 10nm Gen11 Intel Celeron N5095A CPU is a 4-core/4-thread device running at base 2.0GHz, with turbo up to 2.9GHz. This is the same generation as the MeLE Quieter3Q's N5105 but the main difference is the graphics subsystem. The N5095 UHD Graphics iGPU runs at 450-750MHz stock and has 16 execution units compared to the N5105 with 24. While this is better than the MeLE Quieter2Q's J4125 processor with 12 execution units, and should be fine when it comes to office-type applications and general web streaming (like YouTube), be mindful of tasks that demand a bit more from the graphics system like 3D or higher resolution 4K work. We'll talk about this later.
Let's now take a quick peek inside the box. Note that because the base is flush with the sides, after taking off the 4 small Phillips-head screws holding the bottom down, I had to put a screw in one of the wall-plate mounts so I can pull the bottom off, it would have been nice if they had some kind of "lip" to allow the user to pull the base apart easier. In comparison, it was easier to open up the case of the Beelink SER4 4700U.
As for the guts of the machines, we can see the enclosure for the 2.5" HDD/SSD if you need extra storage attached to the machine's base. Inside the main box, there's the AZW-branded SODIMM which is a single 8GB DDR4-2666 stick. The M.2 drive is a SATA3 2280 256GB. While the SATA3 M.2 drive should be reasonably fast (maximum 6Gbps or 600MB/s), it would not be as quick as a NVMe M.2 SSD.
We can't see the heatsink, fan and CPU located on the other side of the mainboard.
The machine is pre-installed with Windows 11; just stick in your USB keyboard, an HDMI monitor, and it's basically plug-and-play from there.
Let's have a deeper look at the hardware data using HWiNFO64:
As you can see, the N5095A has a 15W TDP which is higher than the Quieter3Q's N5105 (10W) even though the CPU speed is about the same and the N5095A's iGPU performance is actually less powerful. We see some data for the DDR4-2666 RAM, and confirmation of the 16 EU iGPU. As with other Celeron processors, these lack some of the advanced instructions like AVX2.
The Jasper Lake USB controller is capable of USB3.1 (10Gbps) and as you can see above, I have confirmation that my portable SSD drive is connecting at "SuperSpeedPlus" plugged into one of the front USB ports. Note that the Bluetooth is based on Intel's Bluetooth 4.0 module.
WiFi is the Intel Dual Band AC 3165 (WiFi5), not their latest WiFi6 AX modules.
Other than some alphanumeric codes, I don't see a brand name or clear model number for the M.2 SATA3 SSD.
So how fast is this machine (stock speed)?
With knowledge of the above specs, we can surmise that this box would be faster than the eMMC drives in both the MeLE Quieter machines, will have GPU performance somewhere between the Quieter2Q and Quieter3Q, and raw CPU speed would be around the same as the Quieter3Q. Let's see how those predictions pan out with some benchmarks!
Here's the AIDA64 Extreme 6.7 suite of memory, integer and FPU benchmarks with comparisons to some of my other machines:
Memory Tests: Read (MB/s) Write (MB/s) Copy (MB/s) Latency (ns)
Beelink Mini S N5095 15910 17470 15860 60.8
MeLE Quieter3Q N5105 16959 22453 19042 66.9
MeLE Quieter2Q J4125 10409 10631 12860 93.5
Beelink Ryzen 7 4700U 36173 35510 29360 99.8
Intel NUC 6i5SYH 32161 45606 36301 66.1
Intel i7-7700K Server 31323 33913 31512 61.9
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 49044 45780 46165 77.1
CPU Speed (Int): CPU Queen PhotoWorxx(MPx/s) ZLib(MB/s) AES(MB/s) SHA3(MB/s)
Beelink Mini S 22293 7383 188.0 19420 515
MeLE Q3Q N5105 20157 8640 144.5 15822 431
MeLE Q2Q J4125 19156 6771 120.4 9301 365
Beelink 4700U 49409 20336 422.8 48864 1534
NUC 6i5SYH 18092 15463 119.3 6101 553
i7-7700K Server 54240 20647 392.4 20509 1874
Ryzen 9 3900X 124348 29694 1191.3 107024 3705
CPU Speed (FP): Julia Mandel SinJulia Ray-Trace(kRay/s) FP64 Ray-Trace
Beelink Mini S 7462 3967 1003 1244 677
MeLE Q3Q N5105 5604 2974 1003 1034 533
MeLE Q2Q J4125 5835 3179 1112 933 499
Beelink 4700U 50212 27457 8003 8750 4870
NUC 6i5SYH 11358 6126 1603 2417 1352
i7-7700K Server 38236 20577 5422 8160 4505
Ryzen 9 3900X 113102 59539 20537 21413 11413
Here's the M.2 SATA3 SSD drive speed using CrystalDiskMark for a better look:
Examining the Graphics / Audio potential as HTPC...
Going beyond the media room and basic office applications, even an inexpensive box like this will be fine with lighter duty media applications like photo and audio editing. As a "real life" trial, I ran Lightroom Classic 9 on this machine supplying it with some Sony 24MP raw files I took back in 2019 (at the final RMAF):
|Pictures from the last Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. Images from the Tekton and Wilson rooms.|
The Beelink Mini S was certainly fast enough with Lightroom, no issues with the usual routine like exposure, color balance, resize/rotation, lens distortion compensation, etc. Resizing, sharpening and exports to JPEG likewise did not take long. I found the machine just as fast as my usual i5 or i7 laptops when at the shows (like the recent PAF'22) as I edit pictures before posting them to the blog in the evenings.
I'm no gamer but clearly the iGPU is not suited for anything demanding. 2D and light 3D games in 1080P (like Minecraft?) should be alright, anything more likely will need you to push resolution lower for reasonable framerates (reviews have mentioned DotA 2 as an example of a game that one should drop to 720P).
The wireless connectivity works well even if it's not supporting the latest-and-greatest revisions. The Beelink's WiFi 5 (802.11ac) was able to communicate with my ASUS ROG GT-AX11000 in an adjacent room transferring files at around 20-25MB/s, quite reasonable compared to other machines I've had here at home. The Bluetooth 4.0 module doesn't have bells and whistles like the latest high speed, low-energy, or extended range BT 4.2 or 5.x versions. However, I connected some recently-acquired QCY T18 wireless AirPod-like earbuds to the machine for music playback. (At some point guys, I'll have to start discussing measurements of Bluetooth earphones since I think this has been neglected/dismissed by traditional audiophiles for way too long!)
As you can see, I'm playing Robbie Williams' latest XXV, connected to the QCY headphones over Bluetooth, and the Bluetooth Tweaker app is telling us that Windows 11 has elected to send the audio as AAC 48kHz, 285kbps which sounds very good. Range was more than 20' here at home line of sight, and would vary depending on walls and other obstructions.
By the way, if you look at the "CODEC#4 supported by the device" line, we see that the QCY T18 is capable of "aptX Adaptive" (Qualcomm QCC3050 chipset internally) which includes 16/44.1 aptX Lossless depending on your source device support. In recent days, I see that Qualcomm is using the term "aptX" less and just calling it "Snapdragon Sound" for consumer recognition on smartphones.
Well, in these uncertain, inflationary economic times where fiscal prudence is becoming more important, it's good that at a low price point of around US$180 for the 8GB RAM / 256GB SSD version, there are computers like the Beelink Mini S. It's a no-nonsense box that will get general light to moderate 2D computing tasks done (office, school work, surfing web...). At my workplace, this would be a fine machine in the office for a secretary or research assistant to compose mail, data gathering, basic data entry, moderate-sized database management, small-business spreadsheets, medical point-of-care access, etc. Maybe as a fileserver for a small group project. For these kinds of niches, the price point, no-frills feature set, and fast SSD speed are really all that are needed.
Relative speed as measured with benchmark suites, comparatively, it's great that the Beelink Mini S CPU performance was about 10-20% faster than the more expensive but fanless MeLE Quieter3Q although the Q3Q's N5105 has faster graphics though still not to the point of being a recommended 4K/60fps/HDR media player. In principle, the two CPUs should be about the same apart from the graphics so it's possible there are BIOS tweaks that could be done for the Q3Q, another possibility is there's thermal throttling happening in the fanless MeLE design.
For less than US$200, in 2022, it doesn't take a lot of money to get "core" computing tasks done! Compare this price to even a Raspberry Pi 4 8GB which is a way less capable machine (significantly less than 50% the computing power, doesn't include the 256GB SSD) at around the same money if not more and I think we can get a sense of the relative value per dollar.
[Thanks again to MinixPC for sending this box along for the review. You can use the code "ARCHMINIS" to get another US$10 off on their site.]
BIOS Options: Power Limiting & Fan noise...
I mentioned at the beginning that I think the fan noise would not be an issue - it's quiet. For the discerning sound room and home theater hobbyist, it can be audible however. Thankfully, the noise is primarily the low hum of air blowing out the back of the unit although pitch will vary with fan speed.
Up to this point, I have been talking about the stock machine, its capabilities, and benchmarks which I think would be what the vast majority of customers would be using this for. As you know, here at The Musings, I like to see if I can optimize the product to target a certain role that would be useful as an audio hobbyist; usually this involves a very quiet, ideally silent machine!
Let's look under the BIOS hood and see what I can do about that fan noise.
Given that the computer heat sink and fan were designed for 15W performance, this lower performance level at 8.5-10W means we can slow down the fan quite substantially. In the BIOS, we can turn on thermal functions and drop the active set-points for the fan (see Advanced → Thermal Configuration):
These settings dropped the maximum "Point 0" to 60% (at 71°C) and 30% (up to 55°C) fan speed (default was 100% and 50% I think). Now we reset the machine and it should be nice and quiet, basically inaudible unless I literally put my ear to the box when it's running heavy benchmarks.
In stock configuration, total machine power draw when idle is around 8W, maximum ~24W when pushed 100%. By dropping the power level and slowing the fan, the total power draw now goes down to 5-6W idle, maximum 17W under heavy load, and quiet. With these changes, using LinPack Xtreme, I'm seeing more than 23GFLOPS of processing power available. That's still a fair amount of potential.
So you might be wondering: "What's that Archimago guy doing with those underclocked/powered settings?"
Let's talk about that next time, friends! ;-)
|Select the new "CosmosAdc_V13_RIAA_768.hex" firmware file and press "Auto" to get the flash done and verified.|
After this, you can then use the ComTrue ASIO driver as input in REW, increase the samplerate to 768kHz, and get measurements like this:
As you can see in the graphs above, I'm measuring the same RME ADI-2 Pro FS playing a 0dBFS 1kHz (24/96) signal at +13dBu (~3.5Vrms) into the E1DA Cosmos ADC. Notice the high frequency noise floor modulation >200kHz when running at 768kHz. There are also noise spikes up there which could be artifactual. Finally, between 20Hz to 20kHz, the noise floor is elevated when running at 768kHz resulting in higher N and THD+N results. Ivan noted that to improve the noise would likely require a hardware update of the ComTrue CT7601C to CT7601PR part; probably not worth the extra expense. Personally, I'm happy enough with 384kHz so 768kHz is "icing on the cake". I can imagine using the higher bandwidth just as a quick screen to make sure a device doesn't create too much noise above 200kHz beyond around -110dB with such a 0dBFS fundamental. One should not use the 768kHz sample mode for detailed resolution measurements.
This firmware also has a DSP curve setting included for those of you who like ripping vinyl directly into the Cosmos ADC acting as a phono preamp, applying very accurate RIAA equalization. Use the ADC volume setting in Windows or Cosmos Tweak to tell the ADC what mode you want:
It's generally more convenient to just use the Windows volume settings. Put the volume level between -45 to -55dB in Windows to turn on the RIAA EQ.
Here's what the RIAA EQ looks like in action when sent a flat sine sweep:
If it has been awhile since you've examined the RIAA EQ, there it is in all its "glory". About 40dB variation has been applied between 20Hz to 20kHz! Depending on the quality of a phono preamp, the accuracy of that compensation curve would be another source of potential error in vinyl playback (assuming that when the LP was created, the "recording" EQ was accurate to begin with).
Notice in particular the bass boost on playback (and concomitant bass reduction when creating the LP) which reduces the groove excursion needed when cutting the LP so that the length of each side can be a reasonable duration, typically 20-25 minutes per side. A potential side effect with this kind of system is that low-frequency distortions like turntable rumble also gets boosted during playback, a reason why a turntable with good vibration isolation is important beyond time precision (ie. exactness of 33 1/3 or 45 rpm).
Both the 768kHz sample rate and RIAA DSP are cool features and could come in handy at some point. Great to see ongoing developments and optimizations.
Okay everyone, hope you're all doing well and having a great time enjoying the music!