Here are key points about the DeskMini 110.
Desktop CPUs in a Tiny Box: While the DeskMini 110 is NUC-sized, it is anything but. With a full-sized LGA1151 socket and even mounting compatibility with Intel's box cooler, the DeskMini 110 can support desktop-class CPUs in a very tiny box. While desktop-class CPUs sport TDPs much higher than the mobile CPUs used in most NUC-style devices, they offer significant performance advantages.
Great Storage Support: ASRock did an excellent job optimizing storage space for two 2.5-inch drives below the motherboard tray. While 2.5-inch drives are just fine, many users want the blazingly fast speeds offered by M.2 drives, and the DeskMini 110 delivers better than most Z170 motherboards by linking the M.2 drive to the CPU. The M.2 slot provides up to 32Gb/s of bandwidth (4x PCI-E 3.0) and supports NVMe/PCI-E based M.2 drives. The board does support up to three SATA devices, but alas, you might be hard pressed to find space for the third 2.5-inch drive.
Unique Case: Many cases optimize aesthetics over cooling, but the DeskMini 110's case does both. The DeskMini 110's case is a vent with a few solid areas. People won't be able to easily access the inside of the device. All the vents provide excellent airflow, so the desktop CPU doesn't overheat, and the fan doesn't get too loud. A bonus of the vents is being able to peek inside the device while it is running.
Heavily Customizable: One aspect ASRock heavily emphasized was the customizability of DeskMini for business or consumer usage scenarios. They offer a model with a different NIC for business users, and there is a healthy amount of COM port support. With the secondary Wi-Fi/BT M.2 slot, you can add in a Wi-Fi/BT card, and there are even three flaps to install up to three antennas in case you go with a 3x3 Wi-Fi option. There are even flaps on other parts of the case to allow for more USB type-A ports.
Limited Graphics Options: Without Thunderbolt 3 or any PCI-E expansion port, external or even internal graphics upgrades are not possible. The small size of the device limits users to Intel's integrated graphics solutions. The same limitation applies to almost all NUC-style devices.
SATA Cabling: ASRock isn't using the standard SATA ports we all know and love, but instead some slim cabling found in notebooks. A quick search of Google and I still wasn't able to find what the cable type is called. It provides both data and power through a single connector. My package included one of these cables, and I am unsure of how many the final retail package will include. If you require more of these cables (20-pin on a single side), then Google "Dell Latitude E7220 HH0YC" as I think it's the same cable connector.
It's tiny yet vast, it's small yet fast, it's got features of the future and some of the past, it's the DeskMini 110. The DeskMini 110 is almost just a CPU box, it takes the CPU, a highly integrated H110 chipset, and provides great storage capability in a device less than two liters in volume. Most NUCs hover around the 0.7-liter mark, but to be honest; this device doesn't look much larger, although when in hand you can tell it's larger than an NUC-style device. The size increase provides the ability to run a much faster processor, which in turn provides much greater performance. The DeskMini 110 further bridges the gap between high-performance computers and tiny NUCs, and is just the beginning of what we will see from the new mini-STX form factor.
ASRock's initial press release indicated that they worked closely with Intel to develop this device. More recently, Intel has worked hard to ensure that their smaller computers operate at tolerable noise levels, and I can attest that the DeskMini 110 won't blow out your ear drums or provide enough white noise to help you sleep at night.
It does have its downsides; you can't expand upon Intel's integrated graphics and finding more of those SATA cables might be a little difficult. I was thoroughly impressed by the chassis and its ability to help cool down the i5-6500 with Intel's box cooler. There are many people who want a smaller home device, but don't want to give up the performance of a desktop, and for them the DeskMini 110 could be that desktop replacement.
|Quality including Design and Build||92%|
|Bundle and Packaging||85%|
|Value for Money||N/A|
The Bottom Line: ASRock's DeskMini 110 Mini PC is perfect for those who want desktop-level CPU performance in a sleek device with solid storage expansion options.
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