Pound for Pound, A Great Mini PC
The Asrock Beebox-S seems like the perfect mini PC as long as you aren’t looking to play modern games on it. Its performance is spot on for 'everyday' workloads, providing the right balance between performance and power consumption.
In our tests, we found it to be on par with the Core i3-6100T-equipped MSI Cubi 2 Plus, a mini PC we recently praised for its excellent performance. Purely from a performance/form factor standpoint, the Beebox-S is superior to the Cubi 2 Plus in the sense that it's half the size but delivers the same performance and supports the same degree of hardware.
Currently selling for $320 on Newegg, the Beebox-S 6200 is a considerably more attractive product than we initially thought (we were told it'd likely command a $400 price tag).
Given the option of the MSI Cubi 2 Plus, Asrock DeskMini or Beebox-S, the Beebox-S would be my first choice. It offers everything the other products do in an even more compact package. The only advantage the DeskMini has is broader processor support and better cooling. Still, at full noise, the Beebox-S wasn't bad and during typical usage it was near silent.
Another advantage to using an SoC-based system is that the processor comes as part of the package, taking the worry out of bending the delicate pins for novice builders. From this point of view, the Beebox-S isn’t at all intimidating, and inexperienced PC builders shouldn’t have much trouble dropping in some memory and a storage device. Though Asrock really should look at the SATA cable issue which has been a problem since the original model.
Overall, we liked the Beebox-S a lot and have no doubt it is, pound for pound, one of the best mini PCs on the market right now. The 6200U is a superb option at $320, though we strongly encourage readers to check out the similar Beebox-S 6100U currently selling for just $264. The only difference between the two is the processor inside, and frankly, it’s not a big difference.
The Core i5-6200U and Core i3-6100U are essentially the same product with the exception of the Intel Turbo Boost feature which has been disabled on the i3 model.
Pros: Solid performance for everyday workloads. Impressively small, well contructed package. Front-facing USB 3.1 Type C. Supports mSATA and 2.5" storage. Triple display output. Competitive pricing.
Cons: Clumsy custom SATA power/data cable implementation makes installation harder than it needs to be.