Aerofara Aero 2 Pro Mini PC

Two minute review

It seems like yesterday that we reviewed our first Aerofara product, the Aerofara Aero 3. This time around, we’ve put its little brother, the Aero 2 Pro, to the test. This mini PC delivers Windows 10 Pro (and soon Windows 11 Pro) in a tiny package and with a price tag that’s extremely competitive, especially when accounting for the 2021 Celeron processor that powers it and the amount of memory and storage bundled.

We have some reservations about the number of USB ports (only three) and the absence of a VESA mount to hide it behind monitors or displays. The inclusion of a VGA port is less contentious though, partly because it allows Aerofara to serve a small but significant niche of VGA display and projector owners that are often left with old, unserviceable, power hungry and unsecure systems. With millions of Windows XP and Windows 7 PC filling scrap yards, it does make sense for more VGA-friendly mini PC to emerge.

Pricing and availability

At the time of writing, the Aerofara Aero 2 Pro is available from Amazon.com for $249 (£229.00) after a $20 rebate. Note that the price includes free, fast delivery and that Amazon does ship to other countries and territories, albeit with additional shipping fees and taxes. A cheaper and slower version is available with 4GB of RAM and 64GB eMMC but we’d strongly advise against it; the performance penalty would be too high to justify the savings.

Underside of Device

(Image credit: Future)

Design

Aerofara went for a CNC milled aluminum alloy chassis to help dissipate the heat produced by the components. No surprise therefore that it has some sharp edges, plenty of outlets to allow for hot air to escape and a premium feel to it. The Aero 2 Pro shares its design with countless other mini PCs that use the same chassis; at 120mm x 120mm x 23mm, it is small enough to be tucked away in a drawer but not behind a monitor as there’s no VESA mount.

Rear I/O

(Image credit: Future)

Other than the barrel-type power connector (fed by a 12V2A power supply unit), there’s three USB Type-A ports, a HDMI connector, a Gigabit LAN port, an audio jack, an SD card slot and, surprise, surprise, a VGA port.

VGA Port

(Image credit: Future)

This legacy connector was mainstream about 10 years ago so to find it on a recent PC is quite surprising though understandable. There are use cases (e.g. digital displays) where VGA panels are still operational and where it makes sense to upgrade the base unit without removing the entire system.

Side Ports

(Image credit: Future)

Hardware

Spec Sheet

Here are the full specs of the Aerofara Aero 2 Pro configuration sent to TechRadar Pro for review:

CPU: Intel Celeron N5105

Graphics: Intel UHD

RAM: 8GB DDR4

Storage: 256GB M.2 2242 SATA SSD (Netac NS256GSSD330)

Ports: 3 x USB 3.0, audio jack, 1 x HDMI, 1 x VGA, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, SD Card Reader

Connectivity:  Intel Wireless AC 3165, Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 4.2

Weight: 365g

Size: 120mm x 120mm x 23mm (H x W x D)

At the heart of the Aero 2 Pro is an Intel Celeron N5105 processor. It is part of the Jasper Lake series - launched in January 2021 - and has a four-cores-four-threads configuration. With a 10W TDP, 4MB of cache and Intel UHD graphics, it should easily outperform the previous generation of N4XXX processors, especially with a base clock rate of 2GHz. Despite its fairly low power dissipation, the Aero 2 Pro is equipped with a heatsink fan, which is audible under load.

Alongside the CPU are 8GB of low power DDR4 memory and a Netac NS256GSSD330 M.2 2242 SATA SSD, a popular model often found in Chinese products such as the BMAX Y11 convertible laptop. Wireless connectivity is handled by the ubiquitous Intel Wireless AC 3165, offering Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.2.

In use and performance

Benchmarks

Here’s how the Aerofara Aero 2 Pro performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Passmark: 1802

Passmark CPU: 4092

CPU-Z: 266 (single-thread); 1028 (multi-thread)

Geekbench: Did not run

CrystalDiskMark: 535MBps (read); 466MBps (write)

Cinebench: 602 (single CPU); 1301 (multi CPU)

Novabench: 876

Atto: 494MBps (read, 256mb); 393MBps (write, 256mb)

Windows Experience Index:7.1

Aerofara says that the Aero 2 Pro is compatible with Windows 11 but ships instead with Windows 10 Pro. There’s no bloatware loaded, unlike some of the better known brands. As far as performance is concerned, it is better, much better than expected. Jasper Lake does bring a very decent boost in performance to the Celeron range, propelling ahead of the likes of the Core i3-10110U, found in a lot of business laptops (Dynabook Satellite Pro, Dell Latitude, Acer Travelmate, etc).

And while, we’re reasonably satisfied with the graphics performance, which is by far the best we’ve seen on a Celeron part - thanks to a GPU with 24 Execution Units, the SATA SSD is just good enough. Moving to PCIe will definitely help but that’s for another time. The lack of USB ports and VESA mount are minuses in our view but in the grand scheme of things, they can be solved fairly easily.

Should I buy the Aerofara Aero 2 Pro Mini PC?

Buy it if:

You want the cheapest Windows 11 Pro compatible PC around. You won’t find a more affordable desktop computer that can run Windows 11 Pro. Shame that Aerofara doesn’t provide it out of the box.

You need a VGA port. Some niche use cases still require a PC with a VGA connector; industrial plants, hospitals or banks and the Aerofara fills that gap without breaking the bank.

Don’t buy it if:

You have multiple peripherals to connect to. With only three USB ports, the Aero 2 Pro will run out of ports far too soon. A printer here, a keyboard there plus a webcam and you’re already down to zero ports.

You need a silent PC. The Aero 2 Pro has a fan which is audible under load. While that is not a show stopper, the fact that fans gather dust, therefore evacuating excess heat less efficiently before ultimately failing, can cause concern

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