Minisforum EliteMini TH50 Mini PC With Intel Core i5-11320H ‘Tiger Lake’ CPU Review

Minisforum has been around since 2012 and has offered some really innovative designs, mostly in the Mini PC segment. Their DeskMini and EliteMini series have been the most popular & regarded as some of the best options for small form factor and HTPC users. We recently covered their brand new EliteMini TH50 which comes with the newly refreshed Tiger Lake CPUs featuring Willow Cove CPU cores and Iris Xe GPU.

This is currently one of the more premium Intel Core-based offerings by Minisforum while the TL50 serves the more mainstream segment with Tiger Lake U28 chips instead of the H35 chips that the TH50 utilizes. The product is also very interesting as you can buy it in a standalone bare-bone kit to configure yourself for as low as $529 US while the fully decked kit can be purchased for $599 US & gives you a 512 GB SSD.

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Minisforum EliteMini TH50 Mini PC – Specifications At A Glance

Minisforum has already launched several AMD Ryzen 5000 APU-powered Mini PCs including the EliteMini X500, the Elitemini HX90, and the DeskMini HM90. So now the company has decided to shift gears and focus a little bit on the Intel side. The main purpose of the EliteMini TH50 is to offer the Tiger Lake experience in an SSF design.

Coming to the specifications, the Minisforum Elitemini TH50 rocks the Intel Core i5-11320H CPU which features 4 cores, 8 threads, 8 MB of cache, and a boost clock of up to 4.5 GHz. The CPU has a configurable TDP ranging between 28-35W and also carries an Iris Xe GPU based on Xe-LP graphics architecture which rocks 96 Execution units running at 1350 MHz.

Unlike the HM90 which we reviewed earlier, the TH50 comes with soldered 16 GB DDR4-3200 memory across all configurations so users won’t be able to upgrade that. The storage can be upgraded as there are two 2.5 inch SATA HDD slots and a single M.2 2280 slot which can be equipped with 512 GB (from Minisforum) or DIY by consumers.

  • 16GB RAM+0GB SSD $529
  • 16GB RAM+256GB SSD $569
  • 16GB RAM+512GB SSD $599

For I/O, you will be getting 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 2 RJ45 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet Ports, 4 USB3.1 Ports (Gen 2), 2 USB-C 2.0 Ports, and 1 Clear CMOS button. There’s also full support for WiFi6 and Bluetooth 5.2 functionality. The Minisforum Elitemini TH50 Mini PC also comes with triple 4K Display support and rocks a Thunderbolt 4 port for up to 8K 60 Hz display functionality from the front IO panel.

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In terms of design, the Mini PC comes in at 149.6 by 149.6 mm in has a height of 55.5 mm. It also weighs in at just 600g which Minisforum states are as heavy as a regular water bottle. The company also shared some performance numbers in various games and it looks like 60 FPS with decent settings at 1080p is very much possible on the machine.

Software-wise, the Mini PC will come loaded with Windows 10 but a free upgrade to Windows 11 will be available to users. The Elitemini TH50 Mini PC will come with a 2-year warranty and free shipping worldwide.

Minisforum EliteMini TH50 Mini PC – Unboxing & A Closer Look

The Minisforum TH50 comes within a small cardboard box package. It has a black color on the front with the ‘Minisforum EliteMini’ label and orange-colored hexagons at the bottom.

The back of the package has the label on the top left corner and contact information for after-service. No specifications or features are listed but there’s enough space for it so it is likely that future packages will include it.

Lifting the top box cover, you are welcomed by the EliteMini TH50 itself which sits in a soft-styrofoam casing and is wrapped within a plastic foil to prevent dust from entering the top perforated holes.

Before talking about the case itself, we have to mention the accessories that come with the HM90. It comes with a Power Adapter that is DC 19V/6.3A compliant, an HDMI cable, a mounting bracket, and a user manual.

Out of the box, the Minisforum EliteMini TH50 is a nice and clean Mini PC that rocks silver and white aesthetics. The metallic finish looks great.

As for dimensions, the TH50 measures 149.6 x 149.6 mm on the sides and has a total height of 55.5mm. It is slightly bigger than the palm of your hand but it is still one of the smallest Mini PC I have tested with an Intel Tiger Lake CPU inside it. The whole thing also weighs in at just 600 grams.

The exterior shell of the case is made out of aluminum and is a very solid design. The bottom cover is plastic & can be removed by unscrewing four screws that aren’t hidden beneath any of the footrests.

The front of the EliteMini TH50 features the Power On/Off switch, mic/headphone jacks, two USB 3.1 Gen 2×2 ports, and a USB Type-C port Thunderbolt 4 support.

The back of the EliteMini TH50 features four USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, two USB 2.0, two RJ45 LAN Ports (2 x 2.5 GbE), an HDMI plus DisplayPort output, a Kensington lock, and a 19V/3.42A DC power in.

The sides of the Mini PC feature huge vents that reveal the aluminum heatsink fins within them. This allows the TH50 to vent hot air out of the internal case. There’s also a Clear CMOS Pin on the left side.

As stated above, opening the bottom plastic cover is simple and reveals the internals that is just partially upgradable. These include the SATA HDD, and the M.2 SSD while the memory is soldered to the PCB. The VRM also comes on the backside of the motherboard and isn’t covered by any heat sink as we saw on the HM90 but the M.2 drive is covered by a heatsink solution.

Our test unit came with 16 GB of DDR4-3200 memory soldered to the motherboard, 256 GB of SSD (pre-installed with Windows 11), a WiFi module. The two SATA 2.5″ drives are attached to the ports on the opposite side of the SSD slot through a SATA III connector that’s bundled within the accessories. Only 2.5″ drives are compatible given the small and limited size of the chassis.

The Intel Core i5-11320H rests on the other side of the case and has a small heatsink solution over it with an active fan cooling design. The fan is colored white and can be seen through the front top cover. It is really hard to access the entire motherboard as the I/O ports get locked from the other side by Minisforum stating on their main page that they use Liquid metal as a cooling solution for the HM90.

Minisforum EliteMini TH50 Mini PC – CPU System Performance

For performance testing, we compared the Minisforum HM90 to Intel’s Hades Canyon & Phantom Canyon NUCs in CPU-specific tests.

In the CPU benchmarks above, you can see that the AMD Ryzen 9 4900H has a strong performance showcase in multi-threading workloads thanks to its double the core and thread count over Intel’s Tiger Lake Core i5-11320H. The single-core performance is definitely faster on Intel’s end and you do get the benefit of lower power draw on the Intel system but for a little more power, the HM90 offers a good bump in overall CPU and GPU horsepower.

Minisforum EliteMini TH50 Mini PC – GPU Gaming Performance

For gaming, we tested a couple of the latest and most played esports titles at 1080p resolution. The performance was measured between the AMD Vega 8 and Intel Iris Xe-LP integrated graphics. Even though Intel’s Hades Canyon comes with a high-end Vega discrete GPU, it isn’t part of the CPU itself and hence ends up much faster while consuming a lot more power. Even the Phantom Canyon Mini PC is fitted with a discrete (embedded) RTX 2060 graphics card but it’s not wise to compare to that. The EliteMini TH50 is equipped with the standard 96 EU Iris Xe-LP GPU and as such, it doesn’t stand well against the Vega 8 iGPU though it can manage to offer decent performance nonetheless in the eSports gaming scene.

Minisforum EliteMini TH50 Mini PC – Thermals & Power Consumption

As for thermals and power, the EliteMini TH50 is very efficient considering it’s based on the 10nm process node. Talking about power consumption first, the system consumed 6.3W at idle and about an average of 48W at full load. Surprisingly, the gaming load is higher than a synthetic workload such as 3DMark Time Spy which pushes both CPU and GPU while average applications such as Microsoft’s office suite only pushed the system to an average of 20W. A Cinebench R20 run yielded a power draw of 50W.

As for thermals, the CPU itself has an active cooling solution which means the temperatures for our test unit never went above 55C and operated at 51C in all kinds of workloads, even gaming. The PC case does become slightly warm but it’s nothing that bad and you can pick it up in bare hands even under full load. Most of the heat is dissipated out of the chassis and you can barely hear the fan spinning which is always great for low-noise office environments.

Minisforum EliteMini TH50 Mini PC – A Decent Tiger Lake HTPC Setup

The Minisforum EliteMini TH50 comes at a price of $529 US for the barebone kit and $599 US for the configuration. That’s a $100-$200 US difference when comparing the AMD Ryzen powered HM 90 series.

The Intel Tiger Lake Core i5-11320H does offer better single-threaded performance and I would say decent multi-core performance which is more than enough for what you are going to do on a Mini PC of this size. The AMD Ryzen systems do offer better multi-core performance but they also have an advantage in terms of iGPU. The Iris Xe-LP while decent for entry-level eSports gaming isn’t even close to the Vega 8 iGPU featured on the HM90. It should be enough for all of your HTPC needs but if you plan on using this for gaming, then you’d have to settle for lower image quality and a lower resolution down to 900p or 720p.

Our configuration with 16 GB memory and 256 GB SSD is the bare minimum. The problem is that the main SSD is loaded with the OS so you are left with under 200 GB worth of space for actual use. You can get the higher-end configuration with a 512 GB NVMe (Gen 3) SSD or expand storage using the dual SATA III ports but that’s going to come at an extra cost. So capacity is something you have to consider when getting the EliteMini TH50. One more thing is that the Tiger Lake-powered system comes with soldered memory across all configurations which means you are limited to 16 GB & can’t add more if you plan on doing so in the future.

But then again, 16 GB and the CPU featured on the EliteMini TH50 are more than good enough for the purposes they are targeted at. With great temperatures and power efficency, the TH50 should be on your list if you want a very durable HTPC setup and if you’re looking for something more, the Ryzen SFF options from Minisforum is something you should check out too.

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