Beelink MINI S12 and MINI S12 Pro review: budget mini PCs that checked all the boxes

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Aug 27, 2011

Intel’s Alder Lake-N line of processors are low-cost, low-power chips designed for entry-level PC systems. Compared with last-generation Intel Jasper Lake Celeron and Pentium processors, the new Processor N95 and N100 chips offer around 20% improvement in overall performance, making them solid choices for home and office mini PCs. I recently received the new Beelink MINI S12 and Beelink MINI S12 Pro, and was amazed by the amount of computing duties they were able to take care of.

Retail package and accessories.


The Beelink MINI S12 and MINI S12 Pro come with almost identical retail packaging.


Inside the box you will find a mini PC, a 36-watt (12V-3A) power adapter, two HDMI cables (0.2m * 0.7m), a VESA-mount bracket and a user guide.

Design and build


It’s quite hard to tell the MINI S12 and the MINI S12 Pro apart. Both mini PCs employ the same well-ventilated plastic chassis which measures only 115 mm x 102 mm x 39 mm (0.45 L). The blue finish isn’t anything we haven’t seen yet, but these tiny computers’ top panels are enhanced by laser-engraving, making them resistant to scratches and fingerprints. Also, the pattern on the top side reflects light differently when you look at the mini PCs from different angles, giving them a very interesting look.


The only difference between the two models is on the lower-right corner of the top panel. The letters on the standard variant is in silver, but on the Pro variant, they are blue.


The port selections of the two mini PCs are also exactly the same. You will find four USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A ports, one 3.5mm audio jack with mic support, one Gigabit Ethernet jack, two HDMI 2.0 ports and a DC-in port. Neither model comes with a Type-C port, which is somewhat disappointing.


After removing the four screws on the bottom panel, you will get access to the internals. Each mini PC comes a single SODIMM DDR4 RAM slot, which supports 32GB DDR4-3200MHz RAM at maximum. The M.2 2280 slot is of PCIe x1 standard, and supports an NVMe SSD of up to 2TB. There’s also a SATA III interface for an additional 2.5-inch SSD/HDD.


The preinstalled RAM stick is from Crucial, a famous brand owned by Micron. The SSD is from Maxio.


The build quality of the MINI S12 and MINI S12 Pro are quite decent. All the components on the motherboard are neatly arranged, and you won’t find any ugly mold lines on their cases.

Operating system

Both MINI PCs ship with licensed Windows 11 Pro. Compared with the Home Edition of Windows, the Pro variant offers quite a few extra features such as being able to join a domain, Hyper-V for virtualization, etc. If you are more into the open-source world, you are also free to install Ubuntu, Debian, Android, CentOS, or any other X86-compatible operating systems on these mini PCs.



The MINI S12 and MINI S12 Pro are powered by the Intel Processor N95 and Processor N100, respectively. Beelink has made alterations to the electrics of these chips, elevating their TDP to 20 watts. Both chipsets incorporate 4 CPU cores, 4 processing threads, and the 12thgen Intel UHD Graphics iGPU. Even though they are still categorized as low-power systems, these mini PCs can handle some serious computing duties, and benchmarks tell the story.


In the cross-platform Geekbench 5 test, Both the Beelink MINI S and the MINI S12 Pro scored a lot higher than the Celeron N6005 powered Intel NUC 11 Essential and the Celeron N5105 powered Beelink U59 Pro.


PCMark 10 simulates different real-world productivity and content-creation workflows. We often use it to assess the overall system performance of a PC. The MINI S12 was returned 2967 in this test, while the Pro variant scored 3126.


Both the MINI S12 and the MINI S12 Pro feature a PCIe SSD, which is a solid upgrade from the SATA III SSDs found in Beelink’s older low-budget models. The sequential read and write speeds are over 800MB/s.

Daily computing


I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of the Intel Jasper Lake series CPUs last year. The new-generation Intel Alder Lake-N processors got even better. Both the MINI S12 and MINI S12 Pro could effortlessly handle mainstream computing duties like web-browsing, social-networking, Microsoft Office tasks and media playback. I could open dozens of image-heavy webpages in Chrome, play an 8K video clip, and open a few editing applications at the same time without experiencing any hiccups or delays.

Even though it still makes no sense to use them, or any budget mini PC, for heavy creativity tasks such as intensive video editing or complex 3D modeling, but you can expect them to do well in lightweight content creation. There were literally no lags when adding complex filters to high-resolution images in Photoshop or Lightroom. I could even use these mini PCs to edit raw 4K video footages in Power Director, although some renderings took longer than I would have preferred, there were no real delays.



The improvements on the graphics front are also huge. Both mini PCs scored over 300 in 3DMark Time Spy and over 900 in Fire Strike. The N100 powered MINI S12 Pro did noticeably better in both tests.


With improved GPU performance, it’s now possible to play more graphics-intensive games on these low-power mini PCs, but you still need to turn down the resolution and settings to ensure a smooth ride.

League of Legends was generally smooth on both the MINI S12 and MINI S12 Pro at 1080P and medium quality settings. With 54 fps and 58 fps on average respectively, I only noticed dips in intensive battle scenes. After turning the quality settings to low, the average frame rates on the two mini PCs improved to 63 fps and 69 fps respectively.

Genshin Impact has always been a real challenge for entry-level computers, but it was surprisingly playable on these two mini PCs. The MINI S12 averaged 24 fps, while the Pro variant averaged 28 fps with resolution set at 1080P and quality set at very low. Both mini PCs averaged over 45 fps at 720P. If you have a smaller display, 720P may be the ideal resolution for you to run this game.

Even though PUBG: Battleground was playable on the MINI S12 and the MINI S12 Pro. At 1080P and low quality settings, the average frame rates were 13 fps and 16 fps respectively, and I experienced lots of hiccups and delays on both mini PCs. There were noticeable improvements in smoothness when I switched the resolution to 720P, but still not enough for me to enjoy the title.


Since the new generation of Intel UHD iGPUs have included support for AV1 video format, now they are basically on par with the Intel Iris Xe series iGPUs in terms of video decoding. Neither the MINI S12 nor the MINI S12 Pro has any issue playing all the 4K, high-bitrate movies and shows I have collected over the years. And both mini PCs streamed [email protected] fps movies without skipping any frame.

Power consumption and noise


The MINI S12 draws only 8.2 watts at idle and 22.5 watts on max load, making it one of the most eco-friendly mini PC I have tested in recent years. The MINI S12 Pro consumes even less power at idle, but it’s power draw was slightly higher at max load. Both units are extremely quiet, making very gentle noise even during multi-tasking and gaming.


The combination of CPU fan, copper pipes and heat sinks did an excellent job in keeping these mini PCs cool and stable. The cases of these mini PCs never got too hot, and both units passed the 3DMark Time Spy stress test with a score over 99%.


The MINI 12 and MINI S12 Pro are both affordable mini PCs which checked lots of boxes. They employ a compact and attractive design, decent internal hardware, plenty of I/Os, and licensed Windows 11 Pro. Besides basic office duties and media playback, you can even use them for lightweight creativity projects and a fair amount of gaming. Between the MINI 12 and MINI S12 Pro, I would personally recommend the Pro variant for its better performance in gaming and networking. But if you are looking for a mini PC for home and office tasks and media playback, you won’t go wrong with either of them.
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Sep 7, 2015
I bought the Mini S12 (N95, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Windows 11). It is being used as a TV streaming box, mostly through Firefox and Freetube. It replaces an i5-6200u Lenovo laptop that was serving the same function.

The graphics are significantly better than the i5-6200u. I'm streaming at 1080p or less and video is very smooth, navigation is quick, and the unit seems to remain quite cool.

If you want one of these for streaming (and it might work fine at higher resolutions... I just don't bother) or as a general purpose office computer, it seems like a good buy. Mine was a little over $200 CAD from Amazon with a coupon and a phantom discount that just appeared when I went to the checkout.

I can't say anything about durability.