Minisforum MS-01 Review The 10GbE with PCIe Slot Mini PC

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Minisforum MS 01 Back
Minisforum MS 01 Back

The Minisforum MS-01 is one of the most exciting mini PCs around for three reasons. First, it has not just dual 2.5GbE, but also dual SFP+ 10GbE networking. Second, there is a PCIe slot and ample internal storage options, albeit with a few caveats. Third, it is not trying to be as small as possible, so it has a fast Core i9 processor and a reasonable noise profile. Those three things make this one of the most highly anticipated mini PCs. To be frank, using this system, it was like someone who reads comments on STH designed it to meet those suggestions head-on. Let us get into it.

Minisforum MS-01 Overview

Of course, we have a video for this one that you can find here:

This is both a longer video and a longer review. We have an extra page with a plug fest page after our performance section. If you are considering this system, it may be worth at least putting this on for some background context. Also, we have a cameo of the new Arizona set in this video.

The system we have Minisforum sent. The product lead has been in the STH forums talking about the system and getting feedback since August 2023. This is a top-end configuration with an Intel Core i9-13900H, 32GB of DDR5 memory, and a 1TB NVMe SSD. The system we have costs $829 right now, but the barebones Core i9-12900H is currently $549. (Minisforum eStore affiliate link.)

Minisforum MS 01 DDR5 Memory
Minisforum MS 01 DDR5 Memory

There are also barebones options and the Core i9-12900H. After testing the unit, there is so much performance that many may look at the Core i9-12900H instead to save ~$130. For many, the barebones option will be worthwhile since our system came with Windows 11 Home, not Pro which has Microsoft Remote Desktop functionality included. Remote management is instead provided via Intel AMT/ vPro. A quick tip here is that we would suggest getting a dummy HDMI plug if you want to run headless since vPro likes to have a monitor attached.

Minisforum MS 01 With 4K HDMI Dummy Small
Minisforum MS 01 With 4K HDMI Dummy Small

The big features of this system go well beyond the base features. We tested the system with Windows 11, Ubuntu, and Proxmox VE and plugged in many different items to see if they worked. We learned a lot in the process.

Minisforum MS-01 External Hardware Overview

The front of the system has some cool venting but also looks fairly tame. There is a power button, headset jack, USB 3 port, and two USB 2 ports.

Minisforum MS 01 Front
Minisforum MS 01 Front

The chassis itself is a bit larger than a 1L PC from our Project TinyMiniMicro series. We show a comparison spinning the MS-01 with a Lenovo ThinkStation P340 Tiny on top (one we still need to review for our TMM series.) The system is larger, and some may make a big deal over that. If you need this to fit in the same space as a 1L PC, then it will be slightly too big. If you instead are just looking for something that size-ish then this being slightly larger but having more functionality is a trade-off most will take any day. To me, I am perfectly happy to trade size for expansion capability on this one.

Minisforum MS 01 Top
Minisforum MS 01 Top

Something we will note is that there is a lot of venting. The sides do not, but the top and bottom both have vents.

Minisforum MS 01 Bottom
Minisforum MS 01 Bottom

On the rear, there is so much going on. The low-profile PCIe card slot is on the top row joined by a cooling vent on the other side. Below that we have our 19V DC power input, two USB 3 Type-A ports, and a HDMI port for video output. The second and third display outputs are via the USB4 port that can also handle Thunderbolt 3 devices like 10Gbase-T NICs if you wanted to add those to a system.

Minisforum MS 01 Back
Minisforum MS 01 Back

There are also two 2.5GbE ports. One is an Intel i226-V port. The other is an Intel i226-LM, the replacement for the venerable Intel i219-LM in the 2.5GbE era. This i226-LM is how one gets the Intel AMT/ vPro management.

The big feature, of course, is the dual SFP+ port configuration. These are 10GbE ports powered by an Intel X710 NIC, a well-supported network interface today.

Minisforum MS 01 Pull Out Chassi
Minisforum MS 01 Pull Out Chassi

The button in the middle is the latch release to get the system out of its shell. This could be a bit smoother in operation, but we like the concept and it worked. Our favorite part was not needing tools to get inside the system.

With that, let us transition to our internal overview.

30 COMMENTS

  1. This part is repeated twice in the article (Page 5), I’d edit one of them out real quick:

    “We spent a ton of time and money on this review testing cards that we thought folks would be interested in. This was one of those reviews that we were very excited for the product, so we put extra effort into.”

  2. So it doesn’t support PCIe bifurcation? Shame.
    Were any other plx cards attempted excluding the QNAP qm2-2p2g2t?
    It would be nice to try a simple dual NVME. Aiming for 5 nvme ssds at using the maximum bandwidth available.

  3. Looks like they won’t ship until Jan 20? I have 2 on order, also have 2 RTX A2000’s. Should make for an interesting homelab.

  4. How does the iGPU on this compare to a laptop dGPU like a laptop version of an RTX 2070? If significantly worse, do they make graphics cards that would fit in this unit’s pcie slot that would provide that sort of slightly boosted level of graphics performance?

  5. Anyone who is buying one and planning to use it for firewall duty, could you check throughput of IMIX traffic when running through Suricata or ZenArmor? Really interested what this CPU can do.

  6. Frustratingly, on the uk store site the 12900H model is no longer showing a barebones option, and that’s the one I would be interested in :/

  7. I would buy a lot of these if it had PCIe 16x with Bifurcation, and IPMI. So much potential…. Maybe a PRO version or Rev 2 model with these features

  8. Going to order at least one soon.

    @All the ones concerned with bifurcation: you can circumvent this lack via active adapters sporting onboard PCie switches. Costly, but effective when lacking bifurcation.

  9. i just ordered one and i will be getting the power usage down as much as i can. (not going to be using hyperthreading for starters and limiting burst.)

  10. Consider their weird NIC choices on their AMD mini PCs, I wouldn’t put hope on the AMD version of this platform, but if you are not so into VMware camp like me you would be fine.

  11. And TBH I would rather they make the chassis thicker or wider so I can have the PSU internalized, than finding ways to accommodate this god horrid large power brick that would get moved easily and take up a lot of space, especially when you buy a cluster of them.

  12. What about using an external thunderbolt expansion case for those who want to link in a 4090? I know that begs the question of “why mini-pc” but it would allow for a flexible arrangement in a short-rack depth.

    Also, for v2.0, ECC support pls!

  13. Wish you would stop getting my hopes up with 10GbE in the title.. I need ethernet.. For love of all that’s holy can we get Base-T instead of SFP+

    I have my CAT7 already run, what I’m in need of is 10Gbase-T!

  14. Just got mine in. I was wanting to run a standard SATA SSD, Will that not work or is there some config im missing?

    The BIOS is very basic so i cant tell on a hardware side if the device is being recognized.

  15. I ordered a barebone MS-01 system (based on the i9-12900H) on January 13, 2024. Given the website’s very clear warning, I thought it wouldn’t ship until March 29th. To my very pleasant surprise, it arrived today (January 24, 2024)! Now I have to scramble to pick up done memory and NVMEs!

  16. Wow…the space under the heat dissipation bracket & fan is TIGHT. I applied a thin heatsink (.5mm silica gel pad & 1mm copper plate) to the first SSD, but there wasn’t enough clearance for the second SSD!

  17. Can someone please suggest a beefier power supply for the Minisforum MS-01? Along the line of 240W+ that will be compatible with the MS-01. Thanks in advance.

  18. Can someone tell me if I can connect an eGPU via the USB4 (thunderbolt 3) port? If so this would help greatly to over come the power, low profile PCIe slot, and heat limitation for attaching a dGPU to the system.

  19. Great review

    Question on the primary NVMe slot and the specs. They state 2TB max on the website. Can a larger M.2 drive capacity fit with double sided memory chips or will it only support single sided M.2 drives up to 2TB max only?

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