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
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 - Friday, August 6, 2021 - link

    5900x MT is less than 2x faster despite having 8 more high performance cores and using 5x+ more power.*
  • Wrs - Saturday, August 7, 2021 - link

    Who cares about such a small ST difference? One runs Windows and not OS X, the other runs OS X and not Windows. That's kind of the elephant. MT is for multitasking, which any micro build is going to have to worry about throttling if they don't run into the RAM ceiling first
  • Samus - Friday, August 6, 2021 - link

    That's cool and all if you want to run OSX but what about the other 96.3% of the population?
  • WJMazepas - Friday, August 6, 2021 - link

    Dude, on every thread you are talking about Macs. Not everyone needs or wants a Mac
  • lemurbutton - Sunday, August 8, 2021 - link

    Why pay more money for slower/less efficient hardware? Get an M1.
  • alpha754293 - Thursday, August 12, 2021 - link

    It'll be interesting to see whether this thermal throttles like the Mac Mini or the Intel NUC.
  • pdakkar - Thursday, August 5, 2021 - link

    Where does the info about SODIMMs having to be 1.2V come from? 5900HX is supposedly overclockable, and GPU will certainly benefit from the increased memory bandwidth. Even 3200 profiles on many modules require 1.35V, and getting them to 3600 can easily require 1.42V.
  • zodiacfml - Friday, August 6, 2021 - link

    For years, these small PCs less value than a laptop. Not a fan of Apple but their Mac Mini is significantly cheaper than the Macbook Air, I'd think twice between them. Having said that, Apple is so large now they can provide high end, cutting edge products at prices now reasonable vs competition.
  • watersb - Friday, August 6, 2021 - link

    I find the comparison with the Mac Mini a bit strange.

    I am not a gamer, but I would think a Mac Mini to be a lousy investment as a game box. Or a Plex server.

    Personally the Mac would the better choice for me, but I need very specific music and video production tools. The upper limits of 16GB on the Mac (or this Tiger Lake box) make me nervous.

    Appeals to benchmarks just confuse the argument. Accepting the limitations of these physically tiny machines, focus on your specific needs and be happy.

    The AMD version would be great to play with...
  • Rookierookie - Saturday, August 7, 2021 - link

    I understand the need for RAM, but I would think that there are better music and video production tools for Mac than for PC.

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