Minisforum UM690 Power Consumption and Noise
The unit came with a relatively large 120W power brick. Overall power consumption on the unit was very good.
We saw peaks in the 65-75W range and at idle we were in the 8-10W range. That is a very solid result for a system like this.
In the video (at around 11:11) we talk about the noise.
With a single fan, this was quieter than the Beelink GTR6, and the recent Intel NUC 12 Pro we reviewed, but with a catch. The DDR5 was getting hot enough to cause challenges in the LoL testing. For most CPU-only workloads, it is probably OK, but part of the value proposition for the AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX is the GPU performance.
One fun part is that we also showed in the video what happened to the built-in microphone’s audio when the fans spun up. Alex while editing that into the video, he had to drop the audio by -6db and it still made the front internal UM690 microphone’s audio dominated by loud fan noise.
Key Lessons Learned
To us, the biggest point of comparison for this unit is the Beelink GTR6. To us, there are two main reasons to get the UM690 over the GTR6. The biggest is perhaps the USB4 port on the front of the unit. If that is a feature you want, Minisforum has it, Beelink does not.
The offset to that is that the display output situation is vastly better on the Beelink GTR6 since that has 4x HDMI ports and can output 8K while we only have two 4K60 HDMI ports plus the USB4 output on the UM690.
The second big one is noise. The Minisforum UM690 was a bit quieter than the Beelink GTR6. On the other hand, the metal chassis of the GTR6 and the three-fan cooling setup, including one for the SSD and DDR5 SODIMM area meant that it was able to deal with heat soak a bit better, with some stark results.
After using this unit back-to-back with the Intel NUC 12 Pro “Wall Street Canyon” and the Beelink GTR6, it is fairly apparent that the Minisforum UM690 is a solid offering, and that USB4 port is going to be the difference maker. Bryan started taking photos for his upcoming Thunderbolt enclosure series and that is something that folks are going to want to see on this unit.
The plastic chassis did not feel quality like the GTR6, and was possibly a step below the Intel NUCs. It is also larger than the Intel NUC and narrower than the GTR6 but taller and deeper. We showed the three next to one another in the video. There were simple areas for improvement like making the bottom screws accessible so that one can get inside the unit easily.
On the other hand, at $730-750, this feels a bit too expensive for what it provides. At under $700 it would be more attractive since one can get the barebones plus add DDR5 and a larger 1TB SSD for $670.
Still, we entered this thinking that we would find either the UM690 or GTR6 to be superior. What we found was that there are probably half of our users that would prefer one over the other, but neither is perfect.
If I buy and there are no rubber bands, should I ask for a refund?
That seems really weird
Beelink GTR6 is a winner here for me due to the better heat dissipation? I’m guessing here. Heat in these units will be the biggest killer. Will have to read that review again.
You watch the YouTuber reviews where Minisforum sends units early that say everything is great. Then STH does it’s review and they show performance issues. They’ve got odd SSD rubber bands. There’s clearly not enough cooling in the drive and ram area. Thanks STH for being honest with these.
Cooling is a problem once again…
At least they should have made parts of the bottom out of mesh material.
Does this or the Beelink GTR6 support RHEL or Ubuntu?
Fairly common to see cheap low-profile ssd heatsinks that are affixed with two rubber bands, albeit not in pre-built systems like this one
Well, I had a nice write up on this and the session time for the comment session blew it away before I could click on “Post”. Guess I will try to start over.
I have been testing the UM690 for a couple of months since it went on presale.
I acquired the barebones version then installed the following:
WD Black SN770 NVMe SSD
64Gb Crucial DDR5-4800 SO-DIMM
If you order the barebones and want to install Windows 11 from scratch, you will need the latest release ISO from MSFT or it can’t recognize the SSD.
Windows runs fine and don’t forget to fetch the latest AMD Adrenelin driver set and install it or you may see some unknown devices. The AMD RZ driver is not included in the Windows ISO or in the AMD Adrenalin driver set, You have to go fetch it from another vendor unfortunately,.
Linux right now is a mixed bag.
Most of the install ISO’s can’t enumerate the USB chipsets and the install gets lost as it can’t find the stick. Using a pre-built Linux image on your SSD will work just fine.
Linux versions that seem to work include Debian, Ubuntu. Arch wasn’t working at last build, but Clear Linux was. RHEL, CentOS, Rocky and Alma weren’t working when I last tested due to the Radeon 680M problem.
Proxmox errors out on the install due to a lack of Radeon 680M support. You have to edit the Grub file based on a suggestion on the Proxmox website before the install completes.
VMWare ESXi 7.03u w/Fling Pack runs just fine except no I-225v support. You will have to use a USB to GbE adapter to get networking.
There appears to be a random bug in the Ryzen 9 6900HX cpu that was uncovered in Asus and Lenovo laptops and it appears here as well. The Freedesktop team have narrowed it down to a voltage issue on Core 0. Either the revision of the fab is the issue or the VRM can’t handle the sag of going into LP mode and the Core 0 drops off and hangs the unit. A suggestion to raise the LP state by .1V seems to resolve it.
I also tested DDR5-5600 SODIMM from Team Group and while Windows didn’t seem to have issues some of the Linux builds did hang post boot. Especially when an app was pushing it, this may be a heat issue, not clear just yet.
Some YouTubers were using the BIOS to up the wattage and push the RAM to 6000. This is not recommended by Minis Forum. Windows runs OK, but Linux hangs. Again unknown if this was heat related or just timings. (Radeon Manager reports this 6900HX will support up to 6400)
As for the USB4 port, yes it runs Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C 3.x docks and peripherals. I tested both a HP TB3 dock and a HP USB-C dock and they both worked fine in Windows and Linux.
However, the Thunderbolt behavior is not quite the same as what you would see on a current Intel NUC with a TB3 port.
The USB4 port is supported by a AMD USB4 controller that has access to 16x of PCIe Gen 4 lanes. This port is not a traditional USB port we all know, it is really a protocol switch that sets up virtual USB or Thunderbolt hubs depending on what is connected to it.
Thunderbolt tools for Linux won’t work even though the kernel module loads to get device support. USBView won’t see the controller, but it does see all of the physical and virtual hubs that the switch sets up when you plug a device in. So if you boot with a TB3 dock installed in the port, you will see your TB interfaces appear in the OS. Same with USB. If your TB dock has a USB bridge chip in it, you will see those USB hubs appear in your device manager.
Others have tested the USB4 eGPU abilities with Windows using a TB3 dock and a Radeon GPU. It works. I have not done the same with a eGPU and Linux. Remember that the bridge chip in all of these TB3-eGPU docks only utilize 4 PCIe lanes. Until more capable bridge chips come along, I suspect some high end GPU’s just wont work, but testing is needed.
@spuwho, wow that’s an informative article – no wonder you needed more than one STH five minute page reset interval.