Prebuilt Minisforum Ryzen mini PC has a PCIe slot for eGPU support

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Shrink Ray Wielder
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Found out about the Minisforum B550 which looks like another barebones Ryzen mini PC... until you remove a slot cover where you can plug in a PCIe add-on board for external GPUs. They'll also make an attachment for the kit to hold the GPU in place.


Taki Udon made a video on how to install a card to it.



The board is smaller than ITX so it's PIO ITX footprint. I love how it has a built-in upgrade path for GPUs for a bit more future-proofing. Looks more flexible than the Intel NUC Extreme kits and less clumsy than the usual approach of taking up a m.2 slot with an adapter to add in a GPU.
 

Arboreal

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This looks a really good option for adding GPUs, and more affordable and flexible than the Intel offerings as you said.

Having that PIO PCIe slot takes all the jankiness of M.2 to PCIe mods and still eaves you with 2 M.2 slots, which is impressive.

Good to see something different and creative having had Asrock kick off the Deskmini scene
 

msystems

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This is huge. Afaik only the Nuc Compute module had this until now (inside the Nuc Extreme) but you had to spend much more just to get the barebones kit (and it seems to be sold out or vaporware).

This is way cheaper than that route if the price is $319 and is actually available. It also looks like you could also scratch build around the board and riser without too much difficulty.

The build quality of the chassis and integrated cooler looks pretty good too, much better than a Deskmini. When you consider that their integrated cooler is decent and don't have to buy a Noctua, that is $50 savings. And you get a carrying case????

Asrock better take notice and add an x16 onto the edge of their Deskminis.

I guess i'll keep on cobbling together my own solution for the Deskmini in the meantime...


 
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AlexTSG

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When I first saw this there wasn't an option to pre-order it without a CPU. I see there is now, which makes it a much better deal. The Ryzen 5700G isn't the best option.

If you're going to use the iGPU then the 5600G offers similar performance for $100 less, and if you plan to only use a discrete GPU then something like the vanilla 5600 or 5700X works well at 65W.
 
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msystems

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Indeed, support for non-apu CPU is another selling point over Asrock, who could probably patch their a/x300 bios to support non-apu but afaik they haven't done so.
 
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AlexTSG

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The shipped power brick looks mighty small, how do you power the GPU? External PSU?

That's correct.

The included power brick is just to power the standalone unit.

Once you connect the Elitemini B550 to the dock you have to add an ATX or SFF PSU. The external PSU powers not only the GPU, but also the rest of the system. So you wouldn't use the supplied power brick in the docked configuration.

I was thinking that the neatest and smallest option, if you were using an external GPU with low enough power requirements, would be one of the HDPLEX power supplies or a Flex ATX PSU.
 
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msystems

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Hard for me to tell how the psu is attached. It might be a bracket that we can't see. (Edit - it appears to just be a render and there is no way to attach the psu )

Honestly they did make it pretty clean looking. Its the best possible layout.

Lots of bracket looking things here.

Also looks like they include those short cables too!
 
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AlexTSG

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Hard for me to tell how the psu is attached. It might be a bracket that we can't see

From what I've seen in the video and in the parts layout picture that you posted, I don't think there's a bracket to attach the power supply to.

That probably means the power supply would need to have the fan facing directly up as the orientation shown in the render has the power cable underneath it, as well as the vent.

Unfortunately Minisforum don't ship directly to South Africa, so I'm just about to contact them and see if I can get a unit via Aramex's freight forwarding service.

I plan to use it between home and the office for video rendering in Premiere Pro. A task that my 2017 Lenovo laptop just isn't up to anymore.
 

msystems

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You are right, the render of the psu is just marketing, and its just going to be laying there.

The reviewer in the video cleverly hides the psu out of view and doesn't mention it at all.
 

Arboreal

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How do the included PSU cables work?
As far as I understand there is no standardisation between modular psu brands and this can lead to serious problems as experienced by Bitwit on YouTube recently.
 

AlexTSG

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How do the included PSU cables work?
As far as I understand there is no standardisation between modular psu brands and this can lead to serious problems as experienced by Bitwit on YouTube recently.

The only 2 cables that connect from the Elitemini to the power supply are the 24-pin ATX and the 12V EPS, which in this case is 4 pin on the Elitemini side and 8-pin on the PSU side.

The GPU power connectors will be direct to the PSU.

The other cable looks proprietary and runs between the Elitemini and the dock.

You can see the cable connections at the 6m30s mark in the video in the first post.

Hopefully there are some pinouts or guidelines regarding power supplies that have been tested in the documentation, if it's likely to be an issue.

If I do manage to get one of these, the spare SFX PSU I have is the Corsair SF600, so I'd prefer not to damage either that or the PC!
 
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Arboreal

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Hopefully there are some pinouts or guidelines regarding power supplies that have been tested in the documentation, if it's likely to be an issue.

If I do manage to get one of these, the spare SFX PSU I have is the Corsair SF600, so I'd prefer not to damage either that or the PC!

Agreed, without pinouts all sorts of disasters could happen.

We definitely do not want to be frying GPUs, mini PCs and letting the magic smoke out of SFX PSUs

**EDIT**
I've just watched this video and at about 5 mins in the 24 pin and 4/8 pin PSU cables are clearly shown.
Someone in the comments suggested that they are extensions, but looking carefully, they are male at both ends...
So, no more clarity on what they are, and he does point out the risks of modular PSUs having different pinouts
 
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AlexTSG

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I've just watched this video and at about 5 mins in the 24 pin and 4/8 pin PSU cables are clearly shown.
Someone in the comments suggested that they are extensions, but looking carefully, they are male at both ends...
So, no more clarity on what they are, and he does point out the risks of modular PSUs having different pinouts

Thanks for linking that video. I was also glad to hear that they're working on some kind of bracket to hold the PSU in the final retail product.

So far this is shaping up to be a nice little mini PC, so I'm hoping for a positive response from Minisforum soon to let me know I can actually get one.

If I do I'll definitely post pinout info on the forum and try and get a list of compatible PSUs started, if that info isn't included.

I have a surprising number of GPU re-pastes and restorations coming up this year. Four on my list right now ranging from an old Radeon R9 290X, to a copper shim mod of my own GeForce RTX 3080. So this would be ideal as a test bench for before and after testing, and some thermal investigations during the process.

It should also let me build up some benchmarks over time so people know what to expect in terms of performance. From what I've seen the dock supports PCIe 3.0 16x connections, which could be an issue for cards like the Radeon RX 6600 XT which is only a PCIe 4.0 8x card (or PCIe 3.0 8x when attached to this setup).
 
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AlexTSG

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The site says it is limited to APU CPUs due to the 65w limit. Will these work with the OEM 5900 65w CPU?

You're just limited to 65W processors, they don't have to be APUs. However, if you're not using an APU then you would have to always have the Elitemini docked with a graphics card attached.

Here's the relevant section from the website:

CPU DIY
B550's unique CPU DIY mode allows you to replace your machine’s CPU. B550 supports AM4 socket Ryzen 4000/5000 series CPUs with TDP lower or equal to 65W (Not support 5950X/5900X/5800X ). Please select the most suitable one among the specified CPUs according to your own needs.
Please note: B550 supports CPUs with or without integrated graphics. If you use a CPU without integrated graphics, you will need a discrete graphics card.


So yes, the 5900 65W CPU should work.

The 65W limit is specified due to the cooling capability of the included heatsink and fan, and possibly the VRM on the board.
 

AlexTSG

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After a few emails back and forth with Minisforum, all of which were answered very promptly, they're happy to ship to my Hong Kong freight forwarding address.

I've ordered the Barebones without a CPU for $319.

Now I need to look out for a good deal on a Ryzen 5 5600G before it arrives.

I have everything else I need, and I'll do some testing to see what kind of performance can be expected from various RAM Kits and GPUs.

I'll probably be using a 1TB Sabrent Rocket NVMe PCIe M.2 Gen 3 SSD for storage.

The 16GB DDR4 SO-DIMM RAM Kits I have available are a HyperX 2400MHz CL14, Crucial 3200MHz CL22, and Crucial Ballistix 3200MHz CL16 (1.35V XMP)

As for GPUs there's a 2GB GeForce 1030 and 10GB RTX 3080, and an 8GB Radeon RX 480 and 6GB RX 5600 XT.

The shipping date is Mid-June, so I suspect between forwarding it through Aramex and customs clearance, I'll probably get it some time in July.

I'll post more info and some performance numbers once it arrives.
 

msystems

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If they release a flexible version of their riser then I would be really interested. I'm assuming it's a powered riser like Intel's.

I found this riser, but it is not powered so I doubt it would work.

With a flexible riser you could make an extremely small sandwich build and power the Gpu from a brick. Like how many ITX cases do, but this would be even smaller coming in at around 3-4L depending on the gpu.

I e-mailed ADT link and told them to make one
 
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AlexTSG

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With a flexible riser you could make an extremely small sandwich build and power the Gpu from a brick. Like how many ITX cases do, but this would be even smaller coming in at around 3-4L depending on the gpu.

Although I don't have the skills to do something like this, I could see a very compact build with the HDPlex 400W PSU being possible.

I envisage a case with just enough space for the graphics card, and the power supply, with the back corner missing where you would slide the Elitemini into place and connect the bottom cables.

However, this would have to be a wildly popular system for one of the SFF case manufacturers to but in the R&D to create it.

Maybe if this sells well Minisforum themselves may consider something like this for a follow up product.

My use case for this is going to be the Elitemini on it's own with it's 120W AC adapter most of the time, and the GPU dock more as a test bench setup, so having it open air actually works quite well for me.

I imagine that using this with an external power supply and discrete GPU permanently won't work particularly well for anyone with cats or small children!
 
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aromachi

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Although I don't have the skills to do something like this, I could see a very compact build with the HDPlex 400W PSU being possible.

I envisage a case with just enough space for the graphics card, and the power supply, with the back corner missing where you would slide the Elitemini into place and connect the bottom cables.

However, this would have to be a wildly popular system for one of the SFF case manufacturers to but in the R&D to create it.

Maybe if this sells well Minisforum themselves may consider something like this for a follow up product.

My use case for this is going to be the Elitemini on it's own with it's 120W AC adapter most of the time, and the GPU dock more as a test bench setup, so having it open air actually works quite well for me.

I imagine that using this with an external power supply and discrete GPU permanently won't work particularly well for anyone with cats or small children!
yeah as it stands it's just a dust funnel. No way I'd use it like that as I'd have to clean it out every other week. And if someone wanted to make a custom case for this setup, they'd probably pull the mobo and use their own riser.