MinisForum, a Shenzhen based manufacturer of compact computing platforms, has been steadily bringing both AMD and Intel-based systems into the market. While the mix has mostly involved platforms that are a couple of generations old (allowing for competitive customer pricing), the company releases products based on the latest processors occasionally. Recently, the company sent across details of two of their 2021 introductions - the EliteMini TL50, and the EliteMini HX90. The TL50 is based on an Intel Tiger Lake-U processor, while the HX90 is based on an AMD Cezanne Zen 3 notebook APU.

The HX90 is the more interesting of the lot - MinisForum has managed to source the top-end APU, the AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX, for the system. The TL50, on the other hand, comes only with the Intel Core i5-1135G7. The TL50 also uses a highly-integrated motherboard with soldered LPDDR4 DRAM (12GB), but the M.2 NVMe SSD the only upgradable component. In fact, the company only offers one configuration with 12GB of soldered DRAM and a 512GB SSD pre-installed with Windows 10 Professional. The form-factor is slightly bigger than the mainstream UCFF NUCs with the 1.2L box including support for the installation of two 2.5" drives. The TL50 is available for shipping today and is priced at $649.

The HX90, on the other hand, uses a 45W TDP notebook processor, and hence comes with additional cooling requirements. The form factor is correspondingly larger, and the system has a 2.2L volume footprint. The key seller here is the Ryzen 9 5900HX APU which delivers gaming capabilities not found in other systems of similar size / cost. MinisForum is also promising a carbon fibre-infused chassis for a premium look. Unlike the TL50, the RAM is upgradable. Other differences are brought out in the table further down.

The barebones version of the HX90 is currently priced at $629, which apparently includes a $100 early-bird discount (the units aren't slated to ship until September).

MinisForum EliteMinis (Cezanne and Tiger Lake)
Model HX90 TL50
CPU AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX
Cezanne (Zen 3), 8C/16T
3.3 - 4.6 GHz
45W TDP (35W-54W cTDP)
Intel Core i5-1135G7
Tiger Lake-U, 4C/8T
2.4 - 4.2 GHz
28W TDP
GPU AMD Radeon Graphics 8CU @ 2.1 GHz (Integrated / On-Die) Intel® Iris Xe Graphics @ 1.3 GHz (Integrated / On-Die)
Memory 2x DDR4-3200 SODIMMs
1.2V, 64GB max.
LPDDR4 12GB (Soldered)
Motherboard 7.5" x 7" Custom 5.5" x 5.5" Custom
Storage 1x M.2 2280 (key M) PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe/AHCI SSD
2x SATA3 2.5" HDD / SSD
2x M.2 22x42/80 (key M) SATA3 or PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe/AHCI SSD
I/O Ports 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A (front)
1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C (front)
4x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A (rear)
1x Thunderbolt 4 (front)
2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A (front)
2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A (rear)
2x USB 2.0 Type-A (rear)
Networking Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200
(2x2 802.11ax Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 5.1 module)
1 × 2.5 GbE port
Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200
(2x2 802.11ax Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 5.1 module)
2 × GbE ports
Display Outputs 2x DP 1.4a
2x HDMI 2.0b
1x DP 1.4a (rear)
1x HDMI 2.0b (rear)
1x DP 1.4a (via Thunderbolt 4, front)
Audio 7.1 digital (over HDMI and DisplayPort)
L+R+mic (front)
L+R+mic (rear)
7.1 digital (over HDMI and DisplayPort)
L+R+mic (front)
Enclosure Carbon fibre-infused plastic / Kensington lock Plastic / Kensington lock
Power Supply 120W (19V @ 6.3A) Adapter 65W (19V @ 3.42A) USB Type-C (adapter included)
Dimensions 195mm x 190mm x 60mm / 2.22L 149.6mm x 149.6mm x 55.5mm / 1.2L
Miscellaneous Features VESA mounting plate VESA mounting plate
Pricing Barebones ($629 - $729)
16GB RAM + 256GB SSD ($799 - $899)
16GB RAM + 512GB SSD ($829 - $929)
32GB RAM + 512GB SSD ($909 - $1009)
12GB RAM + 512GB SSD ($649 - $699)

Both PCs look a bit weak in terms of I/O capabilities compared to other mini-PCs in the market - while the TL50 does include a Thunderbolt 4 port and dual gigabit LAN ports, the HX90 has only 1x 2.5G BASE-T port and the USB ports are all Gen 1 (5Gbps). The HX90 does support four simultaneous 4Kp60 display outputs, while the TL50 only supports three such displays. The target markets are slightly different, as the TL50 is meant for home / office scenarios, while the HX90 falls under the gaming mini-PC line. Having had hands-on experience with multiple MinisForum units in the past, my impression of the brand is generally favorable unlike the host of other no-name Shenzhen-based sellers typically found on Amazon. In general, I would recommend the barebones version of their systems when possible - similar to a lot of other system vendors, the pre-built configurations come with only one DRAM slot occupied, leaving significant performance potential untapped.

Source: MinisForum

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  • lemurbutton - Thursday, August 5, 2021 - link

    More expensive than a Mac Mini but less powerful all around. Reply
  • satai - Thursday, August 5, 2021 - link

    $1,099 for Mac Mini 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD. You can't get more RAM.
    HX90 - 32GB RAM + 512GB SSD ($909 - $1009)

    CPU and GPU performance will vastly differ based on what you try to do.
    Reply
  • lemurbutton - Thursday, August 5, 2021 - link

    Mac Mini is always on sale for $600 which is less than this. It has a significantly more powerful iGPU than anything AMD offers, neural engine, hardware video encoders, significantly faster ST, and only slightly slower MT, all while using 1/3 the power and virtually silent.

    Because the memory is integrated and unified in the M1, people have been saying that 8GB really runs like 16GB.
    Reply
  • lemurbutton - Thursday, August 5, 2021 - link

    Edit: Actually the M1 has faster MT than the 5800HX according to Geekbench 5. And obviously it blows the 5800HX away in ST. Reply
  • satai - Thursday, August 5, 2021 - link

    Geekbench... Reply
  • Hifihedgehog - Thursday, August 12, 2021 - link

    So much misinformation and lies from lemubutton. First of all, there is no such thing as an "5800HX". It is the Ryzen 9 5900HX. Secondly, the 5900HX actually does outperform Apple M1 in multithreaded or MT performance.

    Proof:

    Ryzen 9 5900HX: https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/cpu/9279268

    Apple M1: https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/cpu/9283163

    Also, as someone who was exploring M1 for home lab use (for Plex, VMs, and the like), macOS has to rely on severe disk swapping with the 8GB models. I imagine that in a couple years from now, there are going to be a lot of warranty claims on those models.
    Reply
  • Makaveli - Thursday, August 5, 2021 - link

    lol geekbench?

    Can you find a real benchmark?
    Reply
  • lemurbutton - Friday, August 6, 2021 - link

    What? Cinebench? That's a real benchmark right? 99.9999% of the people buying computers won't use Cinema4D. Cinebench only became popular because it was heavily skewed toward AMD's architecture. AMD fanbois run Cinebench everyday to get their d hard.

    SPEC and Geekbench agrees. M1 is significantly better in the CPU department and worlds better in GPU, ML, efficiency.
    Reply
  • alpha754293 - Thursday, August 12, 2021 - link

    Dumb.

    I don't have ANY AMD systems in my arsenal right now and I run Cinebench all the time predominantly to assess single threaded performance that's reasonably compute-intensive across all of my Intel systems.

    Conversely though, if you want the fastest single-threaded performance (where preparing my cases for computational fluid dynamics using Ansys CFX is a HIGHLY single-threaded application), the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X clearly shows that it would perform better at that task than any of Intel's offerings.

    The current case that I am setting up is simulating 5 GPUs sitting side-by-side next to each other, at 90 mm spacing, which has 7,601,520 nodes and 28,911,100 elements.

    And when it comes to multi-threaded performance, you can't even BUY a 64-core/128-thread from Intel, let alone two in a dual socket system, which again, AMD spanks Intel.

    This isn't about being an AMD fanboi. My current micro HPC cluster consists of four nodes, each node with dual Intel Xeon E5-2690 (total of 64 cores and 512 GB of RAM) and I am looking for a solution that will replace that. Why run four nodes (with 100 Gbps 4x EDR Infiniband as the system interconnect) when I can consolidate that down to a single system and have upto TWICE the number of coures/threads in a single system vs. four nodes?

    The data and market availability of the products speaks for itself.

    I pick the processor that does the task at hand, the best, whether it's Intel or AMD.
    Reply
  • Wereweeb - Thursday, August 5, 2021 - link

    You can't "Run 8GB like it was 16GB". That's like saying that your 1TB SSD can store 2TB of data. You either have enough space to keep an application in RAM or you don't, period. Reply

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