Minisforum announces $559 AR900i Mini ITX motherboard with Intel Core 13900HX and four M.2 2280 slots

Minisforum AR900i motherboard
(Image credit: Minisforum)

Mini PC specialist Minisforum has launched its third MoDT (Mobile on Desktop) motherboard product, the AR900i. In an email to Tom’s Hardware it fanfares this powerful Mini ITX form factor product, featuring a laptop Intel Core i9-13900HX and pre-fitted cooler, as “the Ultimate MoDT… designed specifically for gamers.” Two other things in the Minisforum AR900i’s favor are its inclusion of four M.2 2280 PCIe4.0 SSD slots and a release price of $559. This is advertised as a pre-sale discount on the regular retail price of $689.

To make it clear, this is a mini ITX form factor motherboard for PC DIYers, but it is a little bit different as it has a soldered laptop CPU on board. In this case, the laptop designated CPU is the potent Intel Core 13900HX. The 13900HX offers 24C / 32T, 32 MB smart cache, and a max turbo frequency of 5.4 GHz. We see that Minisforum’s promotional material also briefly mentions the Core i7-13650HX, so it looks like there will be a follow-up packing Intel’s 14C / 20T laptop chip with 24 MB smart cache, and a max turbo frequency of 4.9 GHz.

If you are worried about getting a desktop CPU cooler to fit these products, don’t be. They are lower wattage than the desktop series, and Minisforum has pre-installed “customized CPU coolers” supporting an optional 120 mm fan on top, capable of handling 100W, it says. On the topic of cooling, a custom PCIe SSD heatsink with an active fan can be seen on one side of the CPU heatsink.

In the intro, we mentioned the four M.2 2280 PCIe4.0 SSD slots on this motherboard, which is a lot for a Mini-ITX solution. We only see two M.2 2280 slots on the upper side of the board. A product page image reveals two further M.2 2280 slots on the underside, flanking the CPU socket retainer. Thus, the SSD active cooling covers the “front SSDs only”.

(Image credit: Minisforum)

Other DIY delights on this motherboard include the provision of two DDR5 SO-DIMM slots (up to DDR5-5600 and 96 GB total capacity). Building a well-rounded SFF gaming PC also relies upon adding a discrete GPU to the system, and on this motherboard there is a PCIe 5.0 X16 connector ready for the best GPUs. Alternatively, you can use CPU onboard graphics via the system’s integrated HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.4, or USB-C ports. Full Minisforum AR900i motherboard specs can be checked in the table below.

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Minisforum AR900i motherboard

Processor

Intel Core i9-13900HX Processor, 24 Cores/32 Threads (36M Cache, up to 5.4 GHz)

GPU

Intel UHD Graphics for 13th Gen Intel® Processors

Chipset

Intel HM770 Chipset

Memory

DDR5 Dual channel (SODIMM Slots×2, up to 5600 MT/s, Max 96GB)

Storage

4×M.2 2280 PCIe4.0 SSD Slots

Expansion Slot

PCIe 5.0 X16 connector ×1

Wireless Connectivity

M.2 2230 Key E Slot

Video Output

HDMI2.0 ×1;DisplayPort1.4 ×1;USB-C ×1

Audio Output

HDMI2.0 ×1;DisplayPort1.4 ×1;USB-C ×1;Line Out ×1

Ethernet

RJ45 2.5G Ethernet Port×1

USB Ports

USB3.2 Gen2 Type-C Port ×1(Alt DP), USB3.2 Gen2 Type-A Port ×2, USB2.0 Type-A Port ×2

I/O Ports

4-pin CPU Fan header ×1, 4-pin System Fan header ×2, 4-pin SSD Fan header ×1, USB 3.2 Gen 2 header ×1, Front Panel Audio header ×1, System Panel header ×1

Form Factor

Mini-ITX Form Factor(170x170mm)

The Minisforum AR900i is the third Mini-ITX motherboard with a pre-installed laptop processor. In September it launched the AD650i board with the Intel Core i7-12650H. That one also offered superlative storage options for the size, with single M.2 SSD and twin SATA 3.0 drive ports on board – as well as a bundled MXM card for up to three further M.2 2280 PCIe3.0 SSDs. 

Minisforum also launched the BD770i MoDT with built-in AMD Ryzen 7 7745HX CPU and dual PCIe 5.0 M.2 slots at $399, back in October.

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • dwd999
    Looks promising, I may get one in a few months for my 2024 spring build. But maybe I'm missing something, I don't see a USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 port that most motherboards now have for the case front connector port.
    Reply
  • TCA_ChinChin
    dwd999 said:
    Looks promising, I may get one in a few months for my 2024 spring build. But maybe I'm missing something, I don't see a USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 port that most motherboards now have for the case front connector port.
    These are certainly neat little ITX devices. With that amount of M.2 and a full size PCIEx16 slot, theres a lot of potential for these boards, especially at this price point.
    Reply
  • coromonadalix
    Meh expensive for what it is ???
    Reply
  • sjkpublic
    If I had the money I would get this. The i9-13900hx list price is over $600. But here you are getting the whole package. Minisforum is killing it.
    Reply
  • deesider
    coromonadalix said:
    Meh expensive for what it is ???
    Wait until you see how much the NUC equivalent costs!
    Reply
  • sjkpublic
    This is not a NUC. The power supply and case are separate. And yet the power usage and size are close to a NUC. What stands this apart from a NUC is you can use a PCIE card (correct me if I am wrong), memory can go beyond 64GB (finally), and the CPU kicks butt (32 threads 44K on cpu benchmarks).
    Reply
  • cyrusfox
    Tempting, I am rocking a 13900 itx build, I would rather they made full slot dimms as I think the selection/speed is better for the price, but good compromise of IO and nice to see 4x M.2 (mine only has 2x). Seems like a very competent cooler solution as well that should fit in any sandwich design ITX case.
    Reply
  • johi
    Awesome board, great price, the possibly only drawback is really the sodimm ram with max 5600 MHz, perhaps you can anyways install faster ram and set it in bios? Would it have been 2 weeks earlier I'd buy it but as it stand I got a cheap mit z690 board with a cheap 13900 just recently... The price in the end with import duties pretty much the same, even slightly cheaper for my combo. But surely this board has a lower idle power draw and is, having a mobile cpu, under load more efficient. Using it with a single card psu should make it really great!
    Reply
  • SyCoREAPER
    The pre-sale price should be the regular price. Retail of over $130 more post launch makes it not quite as appealing.
    Reply
  • abufrejoval
    Admin said:
    Minisforum AR900i Mini ITX motherboard with pre-fitted Intel Core i9-13900HX and cooler, plus four M.2 2280 PCIe4.0 SSD slots now available for $559.

    Minisforum announce $559 AR900i Mini ITX motherboard with Intel Core 13900HX and four M.2 2280 slots : Read more
    This is the point where I'd expect Tom's hardware to make a difference and dig into how Minisforum decides to make this happen.

    The current Intel desktop and mobile chips have a maximum of 20 PCIe lanes available (not counting the DMI) from the SoC, so obviously with a full GPU slot and 4 M.2 slots to an editor at TH there should be a rather obvious lack of lanes: otherwise these boards would flood the market!

    Of course they could just decide to use the SoC's 4+4+4+4 bifurcation mode and give only four lanes to the dGPU slot... and that's a valid choice for some! My Intel NUC11 Panther Lake connects an RTX 2060m like that. Or 8+4+4 with some creative sauce (see below).

    But it could be a bit of a bother for some games and gamers, because it means that say an RTX 4090 only gets 4 lanes of PCI 4.0 bandwidth (least common denominator) or 1/8 of PCIe x16 v5 bandwidth.

    Obviously you could also cut down the M.2 connectors to 2 lanes each (or a single lane for that matter). or you could actually put a PCIe switch somewhere to make this magic happen.

    But it's this sort of detail that TH should add to an article like this, because that's where you add value over echoing vendor marketing.

    And in any other way this isn't that far from what a lot of Chinese vendors seem to be doing these days. putting notebook chips Intel seems to sell on a budget once newer onces are in the pipeline onto a desktop mainboard.

    Erying has been doing that for quite a long time, I've got one of them with an i7-12700H in a Mini-ITX with only three M.2 slots (the GPU slot only gets 8 lanes and the 3rd M.2 is 2 lane SATA only), which I use mostly as a small form-factor server where a 10Gibt Ethernet card goes into the "GPU" slot.
    Reply