Beelink S1

Beelink S1 Mini PC and Linux – Comedy Gold

Intel Quad Core Mini PC

The Beelink S1 is a small, silent mini PC released in August 2017 retailing for around 300 dollars (250 euros). It’s produced by Shenzhen AZW Technology Co Ltd, a Chinese company that focuses on Android smart TV boxes, Intel mini PCs, and home cloud TV boxes.

The S1 ships with an activated copy of Windows 10. But what makes this mini PC interesting? For starters, it purports to run Ubuntu. Combined with a quad core Celeron CPU, dual monitor support (HDMI and VGA), 4K video, expansion options, together with a raft of other features, the machine looks a mouthwatering prospect compared to many other mini PCs.

Key Features

Let’s check out the key specifications of the S1.

CPU Intel Celeron N3450 (2MB cache, base frequency 1.1 GHz, burst frequency 2.2 GHz)
RAM 8GB DDR3 (clocked at 1866 MHz)
Storage 64GB eMMC 5.1 flash
Storage expansion 2.5″ SATA mechanical hard disk (up to 2TB) and internal M.2 SSD storage card (up to 512GB)
GPU Intel HD Graphics 500 – supports DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.4, OpenGL ES 3.0 and OpenCL 1.3 (on Windows)
Display HDMI (3840×2160) and VGA (1920×1080) ports
Audio HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack, and digital microphone
Connectivity Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 2.4G + 5.8G 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0 (Intel 3165 WiFi chip)
Other Type-C port, 2 USB 3.0 ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, micro SD card slot, reset hole, Kensington lock

What makes this mini PC noteworthy?

Quite a few things make this mini PC stand out from its peers. Here’a few.

CPU The Celeron N3450 is a quad-core SoC typically found in inexpensive notebooks. It’s based on the Apollo Lake platform. The processor is noticeably faster than say a Intel X5-Z8350. The processor is perfectly suited for daily tasks (office, browsing) as well as moderate multi-tasking. And it consumes a mere 6W of power when operating at base frequency with all cores active.
RAM Typically mini PCs have only 2GB or 4GB of RAM. I find 8GB of RAM is the sweet spot for my desktop usage, so the Beelink S1 ticks the box here.
Storage Typically inexpensive mini PCs come supplied with 32GB of eMMC. Whether you run Windows 10 or Linux, this is often too restrictive to use the machine as a main PC, relegating the machine to a specific function, e.g. a media box. Personally, I would have preferred the device to have 128GB of eMMC, but 64GB is a reasonable compromise, and the storage options are a boon.
Storage expansion The expansion options are very unusual. I fitted a Seagate BarraCuda 1TB 2.5″ hard disk (7mm form factor) by opening the lower panel. 9mm form factor drives also fit. As it’s a mechanical hard disk, the machine is no longer silent. But the drive is quiet. I’ve not tried installing an internal M.2 SSD yet, this requires opening the innards of the machine.
GPU Intel HD graphics 500 is suitable only for simple games. This is definitely not a gaming computer.
Display The dual monitor support is very welcome. The vast majority of mini PCs only support a single monitor. Ideally, I would prefer 2 HDMI, instead of 1 HDMI, 1 VGA, but I’m not going to lose any sleep here. The HDMI port supports resolutions up to 3840 x 2160.
Ports The Type-C port is another unusual but welcome inclusion.

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