13 Oct 2022 - by 'Maurits van der Schee'
I want my computers to be small, silent and repairable and use as little energy as needed, especially when idle. I recently bought a Beelink "MINI S" N5095/16GB/256GB computer with slots for both the DDR4 RAM and the M2 SATA drive. It has an external power supply and medium sized fan on a proper heat-sink. It can easily be used as a desktop replacement as it has a power efficient CPU, plenty of RAM and a fast SSD. The slot supports up to 16GB RAM and a 2TB M2 SATA SSD. Prices vary wildly (on AliExpress and Amazon) and if you search well you may find the 16GB/512GB model for less than 200 euro.
I buy a lot of Beelink products and they all have a good build quality. Nevertheless this one stands out: It has well performing and quiet cooling, a slot for the RAM and a slot for the M2 (SATA only) SSD, an unlocked BIOS and the casing is great and so is the packaging. It is delivered with Windows 11, but it runs Linux without modifications. All I had to do is remove all partitions from the SSD using Gparted, then reboot with a USB stick (press ESC to enter the BIOS and select the USB stick under "Boot override" in the "Boot" section). In Linux everything (WiFi, Bluetooth, audio) was working without adjustments to the default install. I am running Linux Mint 21 (XFCE Edition) and it runs super smooth.
This little pc draws between 8 (idle) and 27 watt (full load) and this low power usage makes the box ideal for an always-on Linux server. Since it is very quiet it can also be used in the living room hooked up to the TV (as HTPC or for console emulation using Dolphin). You may also use it as a simple desktop (browsing with Firefox + light office tasks in LibreOffice) or thin client (RDP over SSH using Remmina). It really is a great piece of hardware that ticks all the boxes for me.
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