MINISFORUM U820 / U850 mini PC review – how to dissemble for RAM SSD upgrade?

MINISFORUM U820 / U850 mini PC review
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Should you invest on MINISFORUM U820 / U850 mini PC? It offers and excellent performance of Internet and Office applications, Monitors, Projects and TVs. A great idea Mini PC for playing 4K videos, utilizing APPs etc. It’s very convenient for you to finish multi-tasking via three monitors. Gigabit Ethernet, Intel WIFI6 AX200 and Bluetooth 5.1 to ensure smooth navigation, responsive work processes and comfortable handling of Apps and files. Can you do RAM SSD upgrade? Know about more benefits and feature in MINISFORUM U820 / U850 mini PC review.

In the box

  • 1 * Minisforum DeskMini U820/U850
  • 1 * Mounting Bracket
  • 1 * HDMI Cable
  • 1 * USB Cable
  • 1 * Power Adapter
  • 1 * User Manual

Pros & Cons – MINISFORUM U820 / U850 mini PC

Pros

  • Impressive internals
  • VESA mount support
  • Plenty of connectivity
  • Amazing upgradability
  • Toolless cover
  • Space for two 2.5-inch SATA storage devices
  • Fairly capable laptop-grade CPU
  • Easy-to-remove lid
  • Two year warranty

Cons

  • No Thunderbolt port
  • No card reader
  • Slower than the cheaper U820 or the X400
  • Noisy

Specs – MINISFORUM U820 / U850 mini PC

  • Processor: Intel® Core™ i5-8259U Processor, 4 Cores/8 Threads (6M Cache, up to 3.80 GHz), Intel® Core™ i5-10210U Processor, 4 Cores/8 Threads (6M Cache, up to 4.20 GHz)
  • GPU Intel® Iris® Plus Graphics 655 (300MHz- 1.05GHz)
  • Storage M.2 2280 256GB PCIe SSD
  • Memory DDR4 8GB×1 Dual channel (SODIMM Slots×2)
  • Audio Output HDMI , DisplayPort , 3.5mm Audio Jack
  • Video Output ① HDMI ([email protected]) , ② DisplayPort([email protected]) , ③ USB-C Port([email protected])
  • Peripherals Interface RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet Port×1 , RJ45 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet Port×1 , USB 3.1 Port×4(Gen2 Blue) , USB-C Port×1(Full Featured , In Front) , USB-C Port×1( Power Supply Only , The Back) , Digital MIC x1 , Clear CMOS
  • Storage Expansion 2.5 inch SATA HDD Slot×2 (SATA 3.0 6.0Gb/s)
  • Wireless Connectivity M.2 2230 WIFI support (Dual-Band Wi-Fi,BT 5.1 pre-install)
  • Ethernet ① 1000Mbps LAN ② 2500Mbps LAN
  • Power DC 19V (adapter included) , via USB-C
  • System Windows 10 Pro

MINISFORUM U820 / U850 mini PC price

Save $60 by going for the older but paradoxically faster Core i5-8259U and another $40 by halving the onboard storage capacity. The U850 costs $649 direct from Minisforum in the tested configuration (Core i5-10210U, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD).

  • U820 with 16GB RAM + 512GB NVMe SSD: USD $639
  • U850 with 16GB RAM + 512GB NVMe SSD: USD $699

MINISFORUM U820 / U850 mini PC review

Build

It has plenty of vents and rubber feet to help air circulation, a mix of plastic and metal for cost, durability and power dissipation. It sports the usual looks of a pint-sized workstation computer.

Design

It has 5/5/2.5-inch configuration (127 × 127 × 53.1mm). An empty expansion bay that can house two 2.5-inch SATA devices is immediately into view, with a wireless radio card, two memory modules and an M.2 SSD drive further inside the chassis. The top cover can be removed to offer easy access to the internal components; this is done – within seconds – by pressing its two corners.

VESA mount

Its dimension is 136x120x46mm and the entire casing is a black plastic with ventilation holes for cooling. This mini PC is compact and can be mounted onto the back of most TV/monitors (standard VESA mount bracket included).

Ports

You will be able to run three 4K monitors natively and Minisforum bundled a 65W brick power adaptor with a Type-C connector, two cables and a VESA mounting bracket.

 It has pretty much spot on: five USB ports (including one Type-C), a Type-C power connector (no data), a full size DisplayPort, HDMI 2.0, one audio connector, one reset button and one microphone plus two Ethernet ports (one Realtek-powered Gigabit, one 2.5G from Intel).

  • 1 * HDMI 2.0
  • 1 * DisplayPort
  • 1 * Audio Jack
  • 1 * Clear CMOS
  • 1 * RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet Port
  • 1 * RJ45 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet Port
  • 4 * USB3.0 Port (Gen1, Blue)
  • 1 * USB-C Port (Full Feature,In Front)
  • 1 * USB-C Port (Power Supply Only,The Back)

Processor

The U850 comes with a 15W processor, the Intel Core i5-10210U, which is usually found in laptops but thanks to economies of scale, is a common component in desktop machines as well. It has four physical cores, eight threads and integrates an Intel UHD graphics subsystem

Graphics

It also sports Iris+ 655 integrated graphics, with 58 percent higher scores in 3DMark Time Spy and 74 percent higher scores in Fire Strike than the newer i5-1021U’s UHD 630.

Dual-band Wi-Fi

This mini pc supports Gigabit Ethernet, 2.4G/5Ghz Dual-Band Wi-Fi,BT 5.1 pre-install,the advantage of the dual-band WiFi device is that it has a stronger and more stable Wifi wireless signal. Provide stable and smooth Ethernet and equipment connection.

MINISFORUM U820 / U850 mini PC RAM upgrade

Deskmini U820/U850 is equipped with dual-channel DDR4 which supports up to 64GB of memory in total.U820/U850 also support 2 different types of storage expansions—M.2 2280 PCIe SSD Slot×1 and 2.5 inch SATA HDD Slot×2, you can expand the content easily according to your needs.

Fan

The fan does become louder when it’s processing heavy tasks, such as resource heavy 3D gaming. It’s noticeable in quiet environments but nothing disturbing. The fan keeps the mini PC at reasonable cool temperature.

MINISFORUM U820 / U850 mini PC Performance review

It runs Win 10 Pro smoothly and handles daily tasks without a problem (web browsing, document editing..etc). I have been editing photos/videos and gaming on this machine and it worked nicely. 

  • CPU-Z: 453 (single-thread); 1919 (multi-thread)
  • Geekbench: 1067 (single-core); 3352 (multi-core); 5757 (compute)
  • CrystalDiskMark: 2533MBps (read); 1265MBps (write)
  • Cinebench CPU: 832
  • Novabench: 1128
  • PCMark: 3645
  • 3DMark: 447 (Timespy); 1174 (Firestrike); 5682 (Nightraid); 4610 (Skydiver)
  • Passmark: 3713(Overall); 9264 (CPU); 1091 (GPU 3D)
  • Atto: 2880MBps (read, 256mb); 2890MBps (write, 256mb)
  • Windows Experience Index: 7.4

Next, let’s get to gaming. I tested several games on the U820, two of which I knew wouldn’t work. The results, from most intense to least intense are as follows:

  • Breath of the Wild (via the Wii U emulator, CEMU) ran between 8 and 15 frames per second, meaning I was unable to make it far outside of the sleeping chamber before deciding it was unplayable.
  • Cyberpunk 2077 wouldn’t load past the CD Projekt Red logo, which is a wholly unsurprising result.
  • Majora’s Mask 3D surprisingly ran very well on the 3DS CITRA emulator. Like Wind Waker, this title ran at a pretty much solid 30fps, with the occasional momentary dip to 27-28fps.
  • Wind Waker, on the other hand, ran very well on the GameCube Dolphin emulator. The cutscenes as well as the gameplay ran at about 30 fps, with the occasional dip. Overall, it was fully playable.
  • Stardew Valley had no issues whatsoever.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn warned me several times that the U820 did not meet the minimum system requirements to play, yet I was able to make it through the opening cutscene at a solid 30fps before crashing when trying to play the actual game.

It took 3 hours and 4 minutes to render the video, which isn’t too bad considering the quality and length of the project. While doing this, the computer’s fan did indeed make more noise than when just running Microsoft Word, but I was surprised to find that even when using 100% of the CPU, the fan wasn’t very loud at all. This shows that the U820 really was designed to be innocuous and unobtrusive, even when completing tough tasks.

When we get to video editing is when the U820 starts to struggle a bit. I rendered a video that was 1 hour and 15 minutes long using Sony Vegas, and it didn’t take long for the program to completely take over the U820’s CPU. In the its defense, I was rending the video at 1080p 60fps and it did eventually complete the task.

It it Linux Compatible?

While its mainboard is compatible with Ubuntu Linux 18.04 LTS and 20.04 LTS, the U850’s Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6 network card won’t work out-the-box with either version.

However, even though the BIOS/UEFI settings aren’t accessible, Intel’s VT-d setting is turned on by default (although not accessible) so running Linux virtual machines isn’t a problem.

How to dissemble MINISFORUM U820 / U850 mini PC for RAM SSD upgrade?

The U850’s chassis is designed for disassembly. It’s the easiest computer that I’ve ever torn down. Accessing the inner components just requires pressing down on the lower-left and right sides of the plastic top cover. Removing the top exposes all of the modular components, with the exception of the CPU, which isn’t modular.

All of the parts use standard mounting mechanisms and can be swapped out or replaced as easily as with any ATX-sized component. However, Minisforum chose to hot glue the SMA connectors on the Wi-Fi card, which required a little effort to remove.

Alternative of MINISFORUM U820 / U850 mini PC

Looking outside of the Minisforum portfolio, there’s plenty of capable rivals if you can put aside the four obvious advantages the U850 offers: space for two extra SATA storage components, two year warranty, an extra 2.5G LAN port and WIndows 10 Pro.

There is this X400, a monstrous workstation that comes with an AMD Ryzen 3 Pro 4350G, a quad core behemoth that obliterates everything in that price range. It lacks the extras the U850 comes with but for anyone looking pure unadulterated firepower without the bells, this is probably a better buy at $649.

The TBao MN27 is the bigger brother of the MN25 which we tested last year and was awarded an Editor’s choice. The 16GB/512GB combination costs only $480 at Banggood, $170 less than the similar configured U850. It runs on AMD’s Ryzen 7 2700U so will be marginally faster on compute performance and significantly speediner on graphics.

Editor’s recommendations