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AMD Ryzen-Powered Mini-PC Has the Potential to Be a NUC Killer

DeskMini DMAF5 (Image credit: Minisforum)

The NUC market is about to get a new competitor as Minisforum is making the necessary preparations to bring a new mini-PC to the fight. The DeskMini DMAF5 will be the company's first AMD Ryzen-powered device to venture into the mini-PC market.

The dimensions of the DeskMini DMAF5 are unknown at this point, but Minisforum's marketing material shows the mini-PC sitting comfortably on the palm of your hand. The case, which appears to be made of aluminium, features a matte silver and black theme and has air vents all over its body. The top panel employs a pop-up mechanism that allows you to get right into the system's internals without the help of a screwdriver. The case also comes with a VESA mount to attach itself behind your display.

The DeskMini DMAF5 employs AMD's mobile Ryzen 5 3550H (codename Picasso) APU. Although the quad-core, eight-thread chip is a pretty solid performer, we would have love to see one of AMD's more powerful 7nm Ryzen 4000-series (codename Renoir) APUs in the DeskMini DMAF5. In regards to clock speeds, the Ryzen 5 3550H is a Zen+ part that runs with a 2.1 GHz base clock and 3.7 GHz boost clock.

Minisforum keeps the Ryzen 5 3550H's operating temperature under control with a cooling system that's that suitable for a processor with a TDP (thermal design power) that exceeds 45W. For reference, the Ryzen 5 3550H is a 35W part. The manufacturer doesn't explain the system in detail, but it appears to dissipate heat with a thick copper heat pipe and a high-speed cooling fan. Minisforum claims that the fan's noise level is under 30 dB, and the cooling system can keep the processor from throttling during long durations of usage.

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DeskMini DMAF5

DeskMini DMAF5 (Image credit: Minisforum)
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DeskMini DMAF5

DeskMini DMAF5 (Image credit: Minisforum)
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DeskMini DMAF5

DeskMini DMAF5 (Image credit: Minisforum)

The motherboard comes with two SO-DIMM DDR4 slots to hold up to 32GB of DDR4-2400 memory and one M.2 2280 slot for SATA SSDs. There is enough room in the case to accommodate one normal 2.5-inch hard drive or SSD too. For internet connectivity, the DeskMini DMAF5 gives you the option of two Gigabit Ethernet ports or an Intel Wi-Fi AX200 and Bluetooth 5.0 combo. As for USB ports, the mini-PC has nothing less than four USB 3.1 Type-A ports.

The DeskMini DMAF5 provides three distinct outputs for displays. You get a HDMI 2.0 port, a DisplayPort 1.2 output and a USB 3.1 Type-C port, all three of which can handle 4K resolutions up to 60 Hz. The Ryzen 5 3550H arrives with three eight Vega Compute Units (CUs) clocked at 1,200 MHz so it's more than capable of addressing heavy graphical workloads. You can allocate up to 2GB of your system's memory to the APU.

Minisforum hasn't disclosed the pricing of the DeskMini DMAF5. The company expects to launch the Indiegogo campaign soon though. If you sign up for the newsletter, you receive a 25% discount of the retail price once the DeskMini DMAF5 launches.

  • digitalgriffin
    This thing had the potential to be a killer net app box (pfsense/untangle) with two gig nics and ax200 support. But then I saw zen+ and i was like "nope."

    Zen+ is still powerful enough for a small office, but I prefer something that sips power so there is no heat. Staying below 25W tdp is better while 15W is ideal for passive cooling.
    Reply
  • escksu
    digitalgriffin said:
    This thing had the potential to be a killer net app box (pfsense/untangle) with two gig nics and ax200 support. But then I saw zen+ and i was like "nope."

    Zen+ is still powerful enough for a small office, but I prefer something that sips power so there is no heat. Staying below 25W tdp is better while 15W is ideal for passive cooling.

    3550H has a default of 35W TDP but it can be configured between 12 - 35W. However, it would be a waste to run 35W CPU at 12W since 3550U is better suited for that.

    However, I do agree Zen2 is a much better choice since its 7nm. IT will be faster than Zen+ at its TDP limit. When its running just 1 core under light loads, it will likely consume less power too.
    Reply
  • Jim90
    Nothing new here...below concept as old as the hills.

    The usual rules apply: does the CPU/s exceed market requirements (cost, enhanced or extra functionality) significantly enough to yield a competitive advantage ?
    If yes, market effectively and monitor buyer uptake (for both the end manufacturer and AMD).

    That other old saying applies here, as always...you shouldn't place all your cards on the table at once. Keep that Zen2 option alive, no need to push out that product if things are progressing well with the current iteration. Rinse & repeat for Zen3/4 etc. Remember, Intel did this for waaay too long before Zen2 hit (no competition also allowed them to hit you hard in the pocket).
    Reply
  • Olle P
    digitalgriffin said:
    This thing had the potential to be a killer net app box (pfsense/untangle) with two gig nics and ax200 support. But then I saw zen+ and i was like "nope."
    ... and then I read "The company expects to launch the Indiegogo campaign soon though." and realised that this computer has been in development for quite some time and that's most probably the reason for using the older APU.
    Reply
  • Olle P
    Jim90 said:
    ... you shouldn't place all your cards on the table at once. Keep that Zen2 option alive but no need to push out that product... Rinse & repeat for Zen3/4 etc. Remember, Intel did this for waaay too long...
    Intel didn't do it at all! They've released new CPUs every year, forcing motherboard replacements and what not, even though there was no competition! Intel could pretty much have stayed in the lead with the first generation Ivy Bridge CPUs until the release of Zen, but they didn't stay there!

    I've seen arguments that AMD should hold back the launch of Zen 3 to make more money from Zen 2 first. That's a bad idea! Given that Intel doesn't run into any additional hick-ups AMD must (probably) release Zen 4 late next year (as close to Alder Lake as possible) to stay competitive. So at best 18 months from now Zen 3 is "outdated" and most of the profits from that architecture has to come within these next 18 months. Holding off with the release (of a finished product) until later is thus just stupid!
    Reply
  • nofanneeded
    Mini PCs are overpriced , you can allways DIY an ITX PC for half the price of the Mini PC ...

    Low voltage CPU are overpriced for the desktop market for nothing.
    Reply
  • RodroX
    Without Zen 2 this will be a really useless product by the time it hit the market. It could be nice to power some office PC by keeping a really small footprint (attaching to the back of the monitor using a VESA adater).
    Reply
  • mspencerl87
    MINISFORUM is a pretty good group of people. They have competitive pricing.
    I inquired them about a unit for review and they gave me a great deal.
    My personal message is if you don't use Realtek NIC's in this thing. It will sell like hotcakes.
    Reply
  • bwohl
    Active cooling behind my monitor? This thing will be a giant, hairy dust bunny in 4 months... ;)
    Reply
  • digitalgriffin
    escksu said:
    3550H has a default of 35W TDP but it can be configured between 12 - 35W. However, it would be a waste to run 35W CPU at 12W since 3550U is better suited for that.

    However, I do agree Zen2 is a much better choice since its 7nm. IT will be faster than Zen+ at its TDP limit. When its running just 1 core under light loads, it will likely consume less power too.

    For a net app box you wouldn't need that much horsepower. Protectli starts with Intel Celeron® J1800 or J3060 Dual Core Processor, @2.4 GHz. Their top end product is a mobile i5 and that is for medium to large office use.

    Where you need to real horsepower is for VPN's and SPI/DPI inspection and sometimes QOS. 15W 3550U passively cooled would be a wonderfully powerful solution for most home users. It will still be more powerful than any consumer mass produced router.
    Reply