Inside DeskMini

As much as we enjoy good small form factor PCs here at TechSpot, we look upon the task of changing or upgrading their components with dread - it's a tedious and fiddly job. Even though it is one of the lesser offenders in this regard, the Cubi 2 Plus still requires the user to remove a dozen screws and three compartments before gaining access to the M.2 slot, DIMM slots and CPU socket.

The Asrock DeskMini, on the other hand, only requires four screws to be removed before allowing the guts of the DeskMini to slide right out. This provides users with easy, direct access to the internal workings of the device and makes installing storage, memory or even a new CPU a breeze.

This makes the DeskMini the best small form factor PC we have ever worked with in terms of ease and convenience.

Once the motherboard tray has been removed from the chassis, we find the Asrock H110M-STX motherboard, and presumably this is all you get with the barebone model. Included in our review sample was an Intel Core i5-6500 (65w) processor and 16GB of G.Skill’s Ripjaws DDR4 memory.

For testing, we installed a Samsung SM951 NVMe 512GB SSD, and a pair of Samsung SSD 850 Pro 2TB 2.5” hard drives.

The Asrock H110M-STX motherboard supports all 6th generation Intel Skylake LGA1151 processors - all the way up to the Core i7-6700 if you so choose. Alternatively, you could go for a more affordable Celeron processor. The DeskMini currently features the Intel H110 chipset, though it seems like Asrock might be getting ready to offer models with the H170, Q170 and B150 chipsets as well, if rumor is to be believed.

The two DIMM slots support dual-channel operation, and can take modules up to 16GB each, for a maximum capacity of 32 GB. Due to chipset limitations, only memory as fast as DDR4-2133 is supported.

WiFi support is optional in the DeskMini, as opposed to the Cubi 2 Plus, where it was included in the base configuration. Asrock has put in an M.2 (E key/2230) Slot that can take the optional WiFi + BT module. There is another M.2 slot, a Type 2280 slot that is connected directly to the CPU for a PCIe Gen3 x4 connection, and is meant for NVMe SSDs.

Additional storage comes from three SATA 6Gb/s headers onboard, though Asrock only includes two adapters in the package. This is because the chassis only supports two 2.5” devices, so technically the third header on the top side of the motherboard can’t be used without some case modding.

Audio is delivered by the Realtek ALC283 codec, while wired networking is handled by an Intel Gigabit I219V controller.

Finally, we have the CPU socket, and as mentioned, any LGA1151 processor will work with the DeskMini. We used the Intel box cooler for testing, but it is technically possible to use an aftermarket cooler as long as it's no larger than the box cooler.