Hong Kong's Minisforum has launched the Elitemini B550. The firm announced the product on Twitter today, prepared an overview video, and published a pre-sale product page with a configurator – including US pricing. Minisforum sees two significant selling points to its AMD Ryzen powered NUC-alike. Firstly, it uses socketed AM4 processors, and secondly, buyers get an external GPU dock to use the best graphics cards. However, there are several more attractions and drawbacks.
The Minisforum Elitemini B550 is a small and easily portable PC compared to the Mac Mini and Intel NUC (and several others). It measures 20.859 x 24.088 x 12.813 cm (approximately 8.3 x 9.4 x 5 inches) according to the product pages. Still, the dimensions quoted in the product video are quite a bit smaller, a sizable sizing error.
The design of the Elitemini isn't very appealing, but it looks functional, with plenty of air vents and plenty of ports (all at the rear). One good way to hide it is via its VESA mount base, with screws provided.
The flexibility on offer lets you forgive the styling somewhat. You can buy this machine with your choice of the AMD Ryzen 7 5700G or Ryzen 7 4700G (to save $100), both 8C/16T APUs from different generations. However, you won't be stuck with your choice, as this is a socketed AM4 CPU. You can change it later. Due to this, it is a little sad that the 'Barebone' option without RAM or SSD does not have a cheaper version without the processor.
Inside the case, you will have access to dual SODIMM slots for up to 64GB DDR4-3200 RAM, and there are twin M.2 2280 SATA/NVMe SSD slots. If you use a newer gen processor, you can use NVMe PCIe 4.0. The other user-upgradable component is a single 2.5 inch SATA SSD/HDD. A Wi-Fi and Bluetooth card is already on board, so you don’t have to worry about that.
Ports on the back of the Elitemini B550 include; RJ45 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet Port × 1, USB3.2 Port × 4 (Gen2), USB-C Port × 1 (Gen2), HDMI (4K@60Hz) × 2, DisplayPort(4K@60Hz) × 1, 3.5mm Headphone Jack(Green), LINE OUT × 2, Clear CMOS × 1, 3.5mm MIC Jack × 1. So, that is triple displays without adding an external GPU. The power button is on the rear too.
Included in your Minisforum Elitemini B550 purchase is a somewhat minimal GPU dock. It doesn’t enclose the GPU you will have decided to fit. Depending on your choice of the graphics card, it might extend considerably past the dimensions of the host machine. If you don’t like this idea, choose a GPU that is 24cm or shorter.
If you choose to use the external GPU dock, you won’t be able to VESA mount the Minisforum Elitemini B550. In the pictures of the GPU attached, the desktop case is on its side, with the GPU extension effectively on its underside where its feet and mounting holes are.
The external GPU will not get power from the 19V power brick supplied with the Elitemini 500. It requires an external ATX or SFF power supply (not included). Having a PSU on the desk/table next to this system adds more unwanted clutter to your setup. A positive of adding the desktop power supply is that it should be able to support more powerful CPUs, but remember, the cooling system is only suitable for up to 65W.
On the surface, this sounds like a great alternative and highly portable mini system (it even comes with a carry case); however, making full use of its USPs adds a lot of bulk, mess, and clutter to your desktop. Perhaps an SFF PSU could somehow be bolted to the construction to make things neater. On the other hand, if you want a small system with a desktop graphics card, it might be better to get/build a Mini ITX system, and then everything will be neatly enclosed in a suitable stylish chassis.
Minisforum has pre-sale pricing for its Elitemini B550, starting from $499 for the AMD Ryzen 7 4700G model. Add $100 for the newer Ryzen 7 5700G and about $100 more for 16GB of RAM and 256GB SSD. Other configurations are available. Minisforum says systems will ship starting mid-May.
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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.