Minisforum U850—solid hardware and easy upgrades in a little box

Earlier this month, we teased the announcement of a brand new mannequin of mini-PC from specialty vendor Minisforum. At present, we’re looking on the outcomes of some hands-on testing of the Minisforum U850, configured with a Comet Lake i5 CPU, 16GiB RAM, and a 256GB Kingston NVMe SSD.

The U850 is an aggressively generalist mini-PC, and it will probably deal with most roles—its twin community interfaces make it an excellent candidate for a high-performance router, and its mixture of tons of USB ports, HDMI and DisplayPort video out, and surprisingly quick storage make it a wonderful little desktop PC.

Specs at a look: U820 / U850
CPU Intel i5-8249U (U820)
Intel i5-10210U (U850)
OS Home windows 10 Professional (pre-installed) / Linux supported
GPU Intel Iris+ 655 (U820)
Intel UHD 630 (U850)
Wi-Fi M.2 Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6, dual-band + BlueTooth 5.1
SSD M.2 2280 512GB NVMe SSD
  • two SATA ports
  • one full-size HDMI 2.0
  • one full-size DisplayPort
  • one USB-C (full featured)
  • one USB-C (cost solely)
  • 4 USB3.1 Sort-A
  • one 1Gbps Ethernet (Realtek 8111H)
  • one 2.5Gbps Ethernet (Intel)
  • one 3.5 mm audio
  • one Digital Mic
Value as specified $639 (U820) / $699 (U850)

The one function the U850 may play that we would advise some warning with is dwelling theater PC (HTPC)—though it is highly effective sufficient to do the job, its fan noise when beneath load is loud sufficient that it would annoy the kinds of people that are likely to desire a small, unobtrusive HTPC within the first place.

Specs and overview

The overview unit we acquired was a U850 with the Comet Lake i5-10210U CPU. It matches the specs above apart from storage, which is a 256GB Kingston Design-In NVMe SSD. The smaller SSD is not “dishonest” on Minisforum’s half, by the way in which—it is a configurable choice on the order web page, which knocks $40 off the in any other case $699 (US) buy worth.

The simplest strategy to describe the U850 is “midgrade laptop computer in a dice kind issue,” so—together with the equally designed however a lot much less highly effective Seeed Odyssey—that is simply what we in contrast it to in our benchmark checks.

With the i5-10210U’s wimpy UHD 630 graphics, you should not count on to do any gaming on the U850—nevertheless it holds its personal on video playback and basic CPU associated duties. When it comes to efficiency, it additionally wipes the ground all the way in which round with the Seeed Odyssey mini-PC.

The one space the place the Seeed Odyssey takes the prize from the Minisforum U850 is noise. We would not name the U850 obnoxious, nevertheless it does make a big quantity of fan noise each time the processor spins up. It is a clear whoosh, nevertheless it’s a really noticeable one, even in an workplace filled with different PCs. This most likely is not one thing that may be prevented with a Comet Lake CPU in a small kind issue; laptops with this CPU are simply as noisy.


Minisforum’s U850 performs simply as you’d count on a laptop computer armed with a Comet Lake i5-10210U to carry out—middling-well for a laptop computer, although significantly higher than many competing VESA-mountable PCs, which have a tendency towards lower-powered CPUs comparable to Celeron, Pentium Silver, and so forth.

The Passmark CPU benchmark does not present a substantial distinction between the U850’s Comet Lake and the Gateway’s Ice Lake CPU—which is a disgrace, provided that the Gateway’s Ice Lake has an enormously higher GPU. Cinebench R20 and Geekbench 5 each present a way more marked choice for the Comet Lake, although.

There’s all the time lots much less to have a look at in single-threaded efficiency than multithreaded. Passmark, Cinebench R20, and Geekbench 5 all largely agree—there is a noticeably greater distinction between the Ryzen 4700u and the Intel i5 CPUs than there’s between the Comet Lake and Ice Lake i5 CPUs themselves.

Cinebench and Geekbench each present a noticeably greater benefit for the Ryzen than Passmark does. However crucial distinction right here is between the three on the high and the Celeron-powered Seeed Odyssey limping alongside within the background, with a bit lower than half the rating of its closest competitor in any single-threaded check right here.

This should not actually be taken as a knock towards the Odyssey itself—in spite of everything, it additionally sells for a bit lower than half the value of the rest on these charts. It additionally comes nearer to being silent—it does have a fan, however that fan does not must do as a lot work as those on the laptops, and the result’s audible.

We also needs to level out that the Odyssey made, in our opinion, a superbly usable price range desktop PC. This places the efficiency of the U850—and the 2 laptops it is competing extra carefully with—in perspective. At greater than double the single- and multithreaded efficiency of the Odyssey, the U850 is not only a usable desktop PC—it is a stable one.

AAA gaming on the U850 is a foul concept, and we do not advocate it. The Acer Swift on the high of those charts is just not superb at gaming. The Gateway i5 and Minisforum i5 machines are completely horrible at it. Informal video games will most likely work OK, in addition to video games 10 or extra years outdated. However that is about it.

Along with Time Spy, we ran the a lot much less demanding Night time Raid benchmark. Night time Raid is particularly focused at PCs with built-in graphics, which did not hold the i5 Gateway and i5 Minisforum from tripping over their very own toes working it as effectively. The numbers you see on these scores translate to a really painful 5-7 frames per second in Night time Raid’s demo mode at 1080p. Yuck.

We haven’t any gaming benchmarks for the Celeron-powered Odyssey, and we did not need to generate any—so we subbed in a Ryzen 3200U-powered low-end Gateway laptop computer. The i5 machines did higher than the low-end Gateway, however that is a really low bar to clear.

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