Beelink GTR5 mini PC workstation review – TechRadar

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Beelink delivered a spectacular workstation PC that scores highly both on value for money and absolute performance. It packs a number of features you wouldn’t expect which is essentially an entry level workhorse like two 2.5GbE LAN ports or a fingerprint scanner. Just don’t call it a NUC.
Outstanding performance
Superb value for money
Great expandability despite tiny footprint
Dual-channel memory
No card reader
USB 2.0 ports
Only 500GB SSD
Noisy
Extra SSD slot is SATA only
Sometimes you come across a product that makes you wonder how fast the PC market has moved. The GTR5 from Beelink is one of them. Powered by a high-end Ryzen 9 processor with up to 64GB of RAM and 1TB SSD, it set the baseline for what an excellent mini PC geared towards the workstation market should perform. 
Speaking of benchmarks, the 5900HX that powers the GTR5 helped it score some impressive numbers in multi-threaded tests that made good use of its 16-threads. But there’s more to like about it than just the sheer performance; Beelink’s attention to detail – as well as its desire to deliver USPs – is highly commendable. From the dual microphones to the fingerprint reader and dual 2.5Gb Lan ports, there’s enough differentiators to push the GTR5 to the top of our leaderboard.You can buy the GTR5 (32GB/500GB) from Amazon.com for a bit more at around $807 which is about 6% more expensive than what popular online Chinese retailer Banggood charges (but then again shipping is extra and you have to wait way longer). The 64GB model is available from Banggood for a cool $950. Note that in all cases, you may have to fork more to pay for any shipping or courier charges. 
The GTR5 utilizes a different chassis compared to the SER4 we reviewed in April 2022. Bigger and similar in size to a thick paperback novel at about 165 x 120 x 39mm for a weight of just under 680g. A very similar chassis is used for the Intel-based GTI i5-1135G7 and the GTR3-3750H; economies of scale play a major role in crafting product lines. A magnesium-aluminum alloy is used throughout as the main material for the chassis with a bit of perforated acrylic plastic on top (for air circulation) and rubber on the base. There’s an illuminated AMD Let’s Start slogan on the top below the Beelink logo and next to a fingerprint scanner. I was expecting to see air inlets on the bottom plate but that was not the case, instead Beelink saw fit to use it as an area to keep instructions (about entering the BIOS for e.g.) permanently. The top and both sides of the GTR5 are perforated (think speaker grills) and one can see fan exhausts at the rear.
There are plenty of connectors, which is what Beelink users are accustomed us to. On the front of the device are located two microphone holes, a reset/clear CMOS button, the power button, a 3.5mm audio jack, a Type-C connector and a Type-A one. No card reader here, sadly.
At the rear are two 2.5GbE LAN ports (a rarity at this price point), a barrel-type DC input, a full size DP port, a HDMI connector and four other Type-A USB ports, two which are USB 2.0, an enraging let down. We don’t mind the lack of Thunderbolt ports which is understandable given that almost no one rolled this Intel technology on AMD despite it being (a) very useful (b) royalty-free.A beast purrs inside the GTR5, one with eight horns cores and 16 threads. Meet the AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX in all its glory, a processor that features 20MB cache (L2 + L3), a base frequency of 3.3GHz and an AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics with eight cores and a 2.1GHz clock speed. It is meant to go in desktop replacement laptops and its relatively low TDP (power dissipation) means that it is well suited for a SFF device. Despite being launched early 2021, it still packs a formidable punch.
The CPU is flanked by two Crucial 16GB DDR4-3200 memory modules (extra cookie points for dual-channel configuration), a 500GB Kingston SNVS500G NVMe PCIe SSD and an AMD/Mediatek RZ608 WiFi-6E wireless card which supports Bluetooth 5.2. There’s an empty 2.5-inch bay to host an SSD or HDD plus an M.2 SATA slot for an extra SSD. The mini PC comes with a 90W power supply unit, two HDMI cables, a VESA mount bracket and a user manual.We tested it using a range of industry standard benchmarks and it was a stellar performer. It scored highly on CPU-intensive tests like Cinebench and Geekbench although it didn’t convincingly beat the Ryzen 9 4900H in the Minisforum HM90. It proved to be an excellent all-rounder with its weakest spot being its SSD, which is not as fast as the rest of the hardware particularly when it proved to write speeds (as low as 1.56GBps on some tests). 
Windows 11 Pro powers the GTR5 which is a bit of a surprise, but logical given the professional audience it is targeting. There’s absolutely no bloatware which is a bonus and something we’d love other better known brands to emulate. Just bear in mind that this is a rather noisy piece of equipment, especially when under load.
Buy it if you want the best performing mini PC or workstation for under $1000. With the option for a 64GB RAM and 1TB SSD storage model, along with a supremely powerful processor, there’s hardly any job this little puppy won’t do.
Don’t buy it if you like working in absolute silence. The constant whirring of the fans combined with random changes in fan speeds may infuriate some users. One more thing to bear in mind.
The T-Bao TBOOK MN59 is $20 more expensive than the GTR5. You get double the storage capacity (1TB) and the ability to run three displays at 4K (thanks to a Type-C connector). On the other hand, it offers WiFi-6 only and has neither 2.5GbE LAN nor two ports. On paper, the GTR5 is still a clear winner.
The Elitemini B550 is not powered by the same processor but the Ryzen 7 5700G should only marginally lose to the 5900HX. It can power three 4K monitors and costs about the same as its Beelink rival. However what makes it stand out is the free dock that allows it to connect an external GPU although you’d need to get another PSU as well.
Peeking at what’s available from more mainstream vendors, Dell sells the Optiplex 7090 in a SFF chassis (292 x 290 x 93) for under $1400. It is about 10x the size of the GTR5 (in terms of volume) and you don’t get Wi-Fi or an AMD processor but you do get a three-year warranty and Dell’s global after sales support network.
Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.
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