The mini PCs are more and more popular and the manufacturer BEELINK multiplies the references to appeal to an ever wider audience. Beelink Gemini X (X55) MINI PC is fairly modest in gadget design and this will allow it to adapt to extra use of the environment and easy to carry. If you are concerned about their performance, don’t be. Gemini X is great in terms of performance. The Beelink Gemini X (X55) mini PC is designed for those who have already satisfied themselves with a lot of stand-alone devices and would spend a little more on the subject than an Android TV box costs because the device knows so much more. With Intel’s solution and 8GB of RAM, the vast majority of tasks come quickly, smoothly, and with activated Windows 10, a noticeable advantage for the $319.99 device.
Beelink Gemini X (X55) MINI PC has the Intel Pentium Silver J5005 low-power processor, 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM and has an mSATA disk installed as standard with 128 or 256GB storage options. A miniPC that in this case has internal ventilation to keep temperatures at bay in high-performance scenarios. The size is very little, 115MM*102MM*43MM and the design are truly nice and the top is glossy. The INTEL Gemini lake J series is developed for a maximum power consumption of 10W and with the middle frame and the bottom, the shell is made of metallic aluminum, which can increase heat dissipation with no losing the high-end atmosphere.
The mini-computer comes in a compact cardboard box. At first, I didn’t even understand by weight what kind of parcel came. On the backside has technical specifications.
Inside the box we have : mini-PC, power supply, HDMI cable (25 cm), HDMI cable (80 cm), VESA mount panel (for mounting on the back of the monitor, VESA 75 and 100), a set of screws for installing a 2.5 “and VESA disk -fixes, brief instructions in English, instructions for activating Windows 10 in English.
The Beelink Gemini X55 is very compact and similar to the Intel NUC. Size – 115x102x43 mm. Weight is about 316 g. The side of the case and the bottom are made of aluminum. The upper part of the body is plastic, glossy. Collects dust and prints quickly. There are two USB 3.0 ports on the front, a headphone/headset jack and a power button. A blue LED is integrated into the power button. Shines too much.
On the two sides of the ventilation grilles. On the right is a microSD card slot. Rear: 2 USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet port, two HDMI outputs, DC 5.5 x 2.1 mm power connector, Kensington lock. Bottom rubber feet and thread for VESA mount. The complete VESA mount is very simple. Screw the metal panel to the mini-PC with the screws and screw the mini-PC behind the monitor or TV. Mounting for VESA 75 and 100 mm.
The power supply unit does not cause any suspicion. The cord is about 120 cm long. The common connector is 5.5 x 2.1 mm. Voltage 12 V, maximum power 2 A.
Analysis of the device was carried out after all the tests. Mini PCs are easy to understand. Unscrew the four screws from the bottom and remove the metal cover.
You immediately have access to the 2.5 “SATA 6 Gb / s drive bay. You don’t have to worry about the temperature of the drive you are installing, the bottom cover with the bay is barely warm even at maximum loads. SSD drive (OEM) with mSATA interface is based on the Silicon Motion SM2246XT controller and with Toshiba TH58TEG9DDKBA8H memory modules (MLC). Under the SSD drive, there is a Mini PCIe (Half Size) slot, for example, you can install another Wi-Fi adapter. Intel Wireless- adapter AC 3165 is soldered on the board, one antenna for Wi-Fi, the other for Bluetooth.
Also, on this side of the board is the Richtek RT5077A power controller and the Realtek RTS5170 card reader controller. The latter explains the low speed of working with microSD memory cards because this penny controller works via USB 2.0. Why it is used here is difficult to explain, because SoC has a built-in fast controller for working with memory cards.
Disconnect the Wi-Fi antennas (after blowing them with a hairdryer so that the hot-melt adhesive easily moves away from the board), unscrew the four more screws and remove the board. Antennas are the simplest – foil on a sticky substrate. Here you can immediately see the engineering flaw, from which even some Intel NUCs suffer. The whole case is metal, it actually performs a screening function. Plastic top cover only. Because of this, the quality of Wi-Fi performance is highly dependent on the position of the mini PC. Copper radiator (or alloy), centrifugal fan (snail).
Unscrew the fan, and then unscrew the radiator. The radiator is adjacent to the SoC through a thin thermal pad. Cooling is implemented perfectly, without straining, it copes with 10 W dissipation, which you will learn more about in the corresponding section. On this side of the board are the key components: SoC itself, two SpecTek (Micron) LPDDR4 memory modules, Realtek RTL8111F Ethernet controller, Realtek ALC269 audio controller, ITE IT8987E multi-controller. In general, everything was done very soundly and efficiently.
UEFI and Operating System
UEFI by AMI. The version is fresh, June 2018. Engineering points are fully open. For advanced users, this is good. But ordinary users should be very careful and change only those parameters that they know. One mistake in some engineering settings, and you get a “brick”. The values of these settings are written into non-volatile flash memory, and it will be possible to restore the mini-PC to life only by flashing the flash memory using the programmer. Legacy mode (CSM) is not supported, only UEFI.
The computer comes preloaded with the licensed Windows 10 Home System. The key is registered in UEFI. With a clean installation, if such a need arises, no external drivers are needed, they will all be installed automatically, the system is also activated automatically. Ubuntu 18.04.1 starts up and works without a problem. Everything works in the system: Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, sound via HDMI, etc.
The mini PC uses an OEM SSD with a Silicon Motion SM2246XT budget controller and MLC memory. It is installed in the mSATA slot. If necessary, you can install an additional 2.5 “HDD and SSD in a free compartment inside. The usual results are for a budget of 128 GB SSD that works via the SATA interface. The card reader is very slow because it runs on a Realtek RTS5170 budget controller, which in turn It works via USB 2.0 and refused to work with a Samsung EVO Plus 128 GB card, but with a Samsung EVO Plus 64 GB card it worked without problems, but with corresponding low speed.
The Intel Pentium Silver J5005 processor is the top in the Gemini Lake line. 4 cores with a maximum frequency of 2.8 GHz. The thermal package is limited to 10 watts and Turbo Boost up to 15 watts. But due to a bug in UEFI, the thermal package is limited to 6 watts, as in the mobile version. So the results can vary significantly in different passes of the same test. This processor was not yet in the CPU-Z database at the time of publication of the review (it was defined as J4105), but it was determined correctly in other information programs. DDR4-2133 memory operates in dual-channel mode.
For clarity, I will give a comparison of performance with Celeron J3455 (Apollo Lake), Core i3-7100 (the younger model of the desktop version of Kaby Lake) and Core i5-7200U (mobile version of Kaby Lake-U). This is a mini pc from my previous reviews.
Inside the Beelink X55 mini PC, we find an Intel Pentium Silver J5005 processor with four cores and four threads running between 1.5 and 2.6 GHz and an Intel HD Graphics 605 GPU up to 800 MHz with 18 EU. This chip has a maximum consumption of 10 W TDP, the results are correct within the Apollo Lake family and as we see it is at the level of more modern models with similar consumption. A mini PC that works perfectly for browsing, multimedia playback with KODI, use of office automation at the user level or even with design applications at the basic level.
The test shows a good result only in the first pass. All further passes show a result of 17 Gigaflops due to the limitations of the thermal package of 6 watts.
We use the built-in test in the program.
Cinebench R15 (CPU)
Software 3D rendering.
Google Octane 2.0
Test browser speed. We use the regular Edge browser.
Graphics Controller Performance
- Pentium J5005 – HD Graphics 605 (GT1.5), 18 EU
- Celeron J3455 – HD Graphics 500 (GT1), 12 EU
- Core i3-7100 – HD Graphics 630 (GT2), 24 EU
- Core i5-7200U – Intel HD Graphics 620 (GT2), 24 EU
This is what the GPU-Z reports…
Cinebench R15 (OpenGL)
Of course, this computer is not suitable for the actual 3D game. Only arcade games, casual or very old 3D games.
For example, I will give the game World of Tanks.
Resolution 1920×1080. Graphics settings are “Low.” The minimum FPS is 15. The average FPS is 25. It’s almost impossible to play.
The Beelink Gemini X55 uses an active cooling system. The fan has three gradations of rotation speed, depending on the temperature of the processor. The idle temperature (when the processor is not loaded with anything) is less than 50 ° C. The fan does not work. The noise level is quite low with all fan speeds except the maximum. To check how the cooling system copes and throttling checks we will use: LinX (CPU stress test), OCCT (CPU stress test + GPU), AIDA64 (for temperature graph), HWInfo (for monitoring, mainly power consumption sensors)
Before I talk about the results, I will talk about the error that Beelink made. The Gemini Lake processor with the letter J is designed for desktop computers, and its thermal package is limited to 10 watts. The processor with the letter N is designed for mobile devices, and its thermal package is limited to 6 watts. UEFI is the same for all SoC lines. But it is incorrectly configured in the Beelink Gemini X55, and the processor has a limitation of 6 watts, i.e. he behaves like a mobile processor. This is a very serious mistake, which entails a significant drop in performance for any short-term loads – the processor and GPU are forced to “strangle” to fit the thermal package. It is only possible to fix this bug by updating the UEFI, but it is not on the Beelink site yet. I don’t even know if they are aware of this bug.
The temperature at the start of the LinX test (Linpack) takes off to 90 ° C. All cores operate at a frequency of 2.8 GHz at 100% load. CPU power consumption is at 15 watts. This is Turbo Boost. The fan immediately starts operating at maximum speed and instantly cools the processor. This continues for a couple of seconds. Then, a limitation of power consumption of 10 watts is triggered. The frequency of the processor cores is reduced. At the same time, the cooling system easily dissipates the generated heat not even at maximum speed, the temperature does not exceed 80 ° C. Then begins a smooth reduction in the limitation of power consumption to 6 watts, which entails a decrease in the frequency of the processor cores. The fan is almost silent (the lowest rotation speed), and the temperature is at 65 ° C. It comes to the point of absurdity – a stress test, and the computer is just cold when you touch him. If there were no UEFI bug, then the power consumption would not fall below the conventional 10 W, and the temperature would be at 80 ° C. After the test, the temperature drops quickly, and the fan turns off completely.
The temperature during the OCCT Power Supply test does not exceed 70 ° C. Almost immediately, a limit of 6 watts is triggered. The fan runs at the lowest speed. Because Since the thermal package is now divided into CPU and GPU, the processor frequency sags immediately to 1 GHz. The conclusions from this are very simple. The cooling system in this mini-PC works perfectly and is easily able to dissipate 10 watts of thermal power. But there is nothing to dissipate, because the processor behaves like the N5000, and not like the J5005, due to an error in the UEFI.
Network Interface Performance
The Realtek RTL8111F controller is responsible for the wired network. For the wireless network, the Intel Wireless-AC 3165 controller with support for 802.11a / b / g / n / ac, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, MIMO 1×1 is responsible. The computer is 5 meters from the Keenetic Ultra router through one reinforced concrete wall – this is the place where I test all Android boxes and mini-PCs.
Tests were carried out using iperf 3. The iperf server is running on a computer that is connected to the local network via Gigabit Ethernet. The key R is selected – the server sends, the device receives. The actual data transfer rate over the wired interface is at the level of 917 Mbps.
Wi-Fi speed significantly depends on the positioning of the computer. The case is plastic on only one side (the rest of the metal part acts as a screen), and the antennas are internal without positioning capabilities. The Wi-Fi speed, when connected via 802.11ac (5 GHz), is 144 Mbps. To achieve this speed, I had to put the computer on its side, and the top cover was directed towards the router. In the normal position, the speed did not exceed 50 Mbps.
Display Support and Video Playback
Gemini Lake introduced native support for HDMI 2.0. I tested working with a 4K TV. There were no problems with a resolution of 3840×2160 at 60 Hz. I did not have a second 4K display to check the simultaneous operation, but at the same time, TVs with a resolution of 3840×2160 @ 60 and a monitor of 2560×1440 @ 60 worked without problems.
Intel removed support for HDR output in Gemini Lake, although VPU supports decoding HEVC Main10 and VP9 Profile-2 without any problems. So an inexpensive and full-fledged HTPC cannot come out of such mini-PCs. Here’s what DXVA Checker reports on supported decoders.
For testing, I used Kodi 17.6, MPC-HC 1.8, LAV Filters 0.72-12, madVR 0.92.14. As test material, I used several UHD Blu-ray (folder structure) up to 100 GB and several UHD BDRemux up to 70 GB. Bitrate video up to 70 Mbps. A special test file Jellyfish with a bitrate of 128 Mbps (maximum transfer rate given in UHD Blu-ray). A pair of test videos 2160p60 H.265 Main10 with a bit rate of up to 100 Mbps.
Direct Audio Output:
|Dolby Digital 5.1||Yes||Yes|
|Dolby TrueHD 7.1||Yes||Yes|
|Kodi||MPC-HC (DXVA2, EVR custom presenter)|
|UHD Blu-ray / BDRemux||Yes||Yes|
|UHD Blu-ray / BDRemux HDR||Yes (“faded”)||Yes (“faded”)|
|Jellyfish 128 Mbps||Yes||Yes|
Additionally, I checked the conversion of HDR to SDR through the madVR render – the J5005 does not pull without drops.
There was no problem playing 2160p60 videos on YouTube. Here’s an example of processor loading when playing Peru video (stream 2160p60 VP9, output 3840×2160 @ 60) on YouTube in Chrome and Edge browsers (latest versions at the time of publication of the review). In both cases, everything is played perfectly, visually no frames are missing.
In sleep mode, the Beelink Gemini X55 consumes 0.2 watts. In idle time (when there is no CPU load) a little more than 3 watts. Video playback (4K on YouTube) – a little over 7 watts. The maximum load is 16 watts. The maximum load in Turbo Boost mode is 20 watts.
The Beelink Gemini X55 made a positive impression on me, although I was used to using only powerful computers (for work). A small box that is mounted on the back of the monitor, with an acceptable speed for domestic tasks, and even with support for 4K monitors. There is only one significant claim – a bug in UEFI, because of which the SoC thermal package is limited to 6 watts, and not 10 watts. Those. The J5005 stationary processor actually works like a mobile N5000. All that remains is to wait for Beelink to upgrade the UEFI.