Beelink SER4 AMD Ryzen mini workstation

Two minute review

The SER4 from Beelink is a great example of a product that has evolved across generations to achieve a level of maturity that makes it hard to ignore. This mini PC embodies everything you’d expect from a pint-sized workstation that’s primed for some serious work: the presence of Windows 11 Pro, a powerful processor and plenty of memory and a plethora of ports point to that direction. While it is noisier than we’d like, it is also faster than almost anything in this price range with generous expansion capabilities and Wi-Fi 6e, a definite step up. The only real snag is the absence of a rock-solid after sales but if you’re looking for an AMD alternative to Intel-based NUC, then this is it.

Strangely enough, there are two versions of the SER4 currently on sale and the only difference between the two is the amount of memory. The version we reviewed has 32GB and costs as little as $626 (about £480/A$852) from AliExpress (you can buy it from Amazon as well for a mere $679 (about £521/A$924) at the time of writing if you prefer a faster and more reliable route). A cheaper version comes with 16GB of RAM and sells for $580 (about £652/A$1,156).

Design

(Image credit: Future)

The SER4 features a pair of distinctive red metal grills on each side of the computer to help with air flow. It is tiny, barely bigger than a stack of CD boxes and weighs just under one pound (excluding the power supply unit). 

Front Ports

(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to connectivity, there’s plenty around - literally - two USB 3.0 ports, a Type-C one and one audio connector in the front next to the bright red power button. 

Rear Ports

(Image credit: Future)

At the rear, a Gigabit Ethernet port, two HDMI 2.0 ports, a barrel type power connector and two USB 3.0 ports. There’s a grill on top that gives the look of a shelf Bluetooth speaker to the SER4. 

Underside

(Image credit: Future)

Four screws keep its bottom panel firmly in place and taking that away will give you easy access to its easily-upgradable innards.

Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing) pioneered the concept of tiny computers that can pack a powerful punch. The move to power-efficient computing and mobile-first technology accelerated this trend, so much so that smaller manufacturers like Beelink are able to produce desktop computers, like the SER4 that we’re testing today, that share a lot of components with laptops.

Spec Sheet

Here are the full specs of the Beelink SER4 configuration sent to TechRadar Pro for review:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4800U

Graphics: Radeon Vega 8

RAM: 32GB DDR4-3200

Storage: 512GB SSD (Intel SSDPEKNW512G8)

Ports: 3 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB Type-C, 2 x HDMI, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, audio jack

Connectivity: Mediatek RZ608, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2

Weight: 300g

Size:  126 x 113 x 40mm  (H x W x D)

No surprise therefore to see an AMD Ryzen 7 4800U at the heart of this mini PC. Launched in September 2020, the 4800U generated a lot of buzz as it was AMD’s first laptop processor that was clearly ahead of what Intel was offering back then with its eight cores, 16 threads, a capable GPU (a Radeon Vega 8) and modest power consumption.

Alongside it is a pair of 16GB DDR4-3200 memory modules from Crucial, a 512GB Intel SSD (SSDPEKNW512G8) and a Mediatek RZ608 Wi-Fi 6e card. Note that retail products may come with a Kingston SSD in lieu of the Intel one. While it may be faster, it is also marginally smaller at 500GB.

In terms of packaging, the SER4 is powered by a 57W wall PSU and comes with a wall bracket and a pair of HDMI cables.

Benchmarks

Here’s how the Beelink SER4 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Passmark: 4655

Passmark CPU: 17200

CPU-Z: 502 (single-thread); 3907 (multi-thread)

Geekbench: 1187 (single-core); 6398 (multi-core); 14274 (compute)

CrystalDiskMark: 1839MBps (read); 960MBps (write)

Cinebench: 1245 (single CPU); 8371 (multi CPU)

Novabench: 2982

Atto: 1710MBps (read, 256mb); 922MBps (write, 256mb)

Windows Experience Index: 8.1

The SER4 is noisier than expected, especially under load. It was loud enough to be an annoyance during a face-to-face meeting but on the other hand, it allows the computer to ramp up the CPU clock speed significantly under load. When it comes to numbers, it can keep up with almost anything Intel can throw at it, especially when it comes to creative tasks.

It was on average 80% faster than a PC powered by an Intel Core-i5 1135G7 CPU when benchmarking Blender’s popular software (Monster, Junkshop and Classroom). The only spot of bother was the poor show of the Intel-based SSD which suffered from lower than expected write speeds on all the storage benchmarks.

Windows 11 Pro is the operating system that powers the SER4, a clear indication of the target market. There was no bloatware which is another plus.

Front View

(Image credit: Future)

Also consider

The Elitemini HM90 from Minisforum. It is more expensive at $759 and has slower WiFi-6 connectivity. However, the Ryzen CPU that powers it is faster, it can take on two extra hard disk drives and has an extra 2.5GbE LAN port.

Any AMD Ryzen 7 laptop with eight cores. Take for example the new Dell Inspiron 15 3525 with the recently announced Ryzen 7 5825U CPU. It costs a bit more at just under $700, doesn’t have 32GB RAM (only 16GB), Windows 11 Pro or the same level of external connectivity. However, it has Dell’s excellent support pedigree and is far more flexible given its laptop form factor.

First reviewed April 2022

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