GEEKOM Mini IT11 review: the best NUC 11 Pro alternative?

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Jupit3r

Senior Member
Aug 27, 2011
442
187
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GEEKOM may be new to the mini PC industry, but they have released quite a few high-quality but cost-effective models in a very short period of time. The Mini IT11 is the latest addition to their lineup. With an Intel Tiger Lake CPU, a licensed copy of Windows 11 Pro operating system, and a moderate price tag, it may offer better value than the Intel NUC 11 Pro.

Specifications

OS: Windows 11 Pro
Processor: Intel Core i5-1135G7 / Intel Core i7-1165G7/ Intel Core i5-1155G7 / Intel Core i7-1195G7 (Core i7-1165G7 in my review unit)
CPU: 4 cores, 8 threads @2.8-4.7GHz, 10nm process (i7-1165G7)
GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics EU96
RAM: Dual-channel DDR4-3200, expandable up to 64GB (32GB in my review unit)
Storage: 1*SSD (M.2 SATA/PCle), expandable up to 2TB (1TB in my review unit)
1*2.5’’ SATA HDD/SSD (7mm), expandable to 2TB
Wireless: WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
Ports: USB4*2, USB 3.2 Gen2*3, HDMI 2.0*1, Mini DP*1, 3.5mm Audio Jack*1, Gigabyte Ethernet*1, DC-in*1
Dimensions: 117*112*45.6 mm
Weight: 565 g



What’s in the box

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GEEKOM Mini IT11 Mini PC * 1
Power Adapter * 1
User Guide * 1
VESA Mount Bracket * 1
HDMI Cable * 1
Carrying pouch * 1

The GEEKOM’s packaging may not be very fancy, but you will get all the accessories you need in the box.



Design and build

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The GEEKOM Mini IT11 looks very similar to the Intel NUC 11 Pro, as the two are almost identical in terms of shape, size and the layout of the ports. The well-vented chassis is made of ABS & PC, which is much more robust and durable than ordinary plastic material. The matte blue finish isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, but it does give the machine a professional look.

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With an extremely small footprint (117*112*45.6 mm), the GEEKOM Mini IT11 will easily fit on any computer desk or TV bench, no matter how crammed that place may be. You may even decide to use the included VESA mount bracket to install the unit behind a monitor, which completely frees up your desktop.

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This mini PC packs lots of I/O for its size. On the front you will find a USB4 Type-C, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, and a 3.5mm audio jack (with mic support). The back panel plays host to another USB4 Type-C, two additional USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, an HDMI 2.0, a Mini DisplayPort 1.4, and a DC-in. There’s also an SDXC card slot on the left side, and a Kensington lock on the right side of the machine. As you may have already noticed, the Mini IT11 can be connected to four 4K displays at the same time, making complex creativity tasks easier to handle.

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The USB4 ports on this mini PC are marked as the 20 Gbps version, but in my test, both of them could easily exceed that speed limit. I consulted GEEKOM for this and was told that the USB4 ports on the Mini IT11 were actually the 40Gbps full-speed version, but due to the reason that the 40Gbps marking would need extra certification, they were currently undermarked. The USB4 ports are perfectly compatible with Thunderbolt 3 devices. Not only can you transfer files between the GEEKOM Mini IT11 and portable SSDs at high speeds, but you may also use a Thunderbolt certified eGPU to enhance the graphics performance of your mini PC.

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Getting access to the internals could not be easier, the only thing you need to do is to unscrew the four screws on the bottom panel. The Mini IT11’s motherboard features two DDR4-3200 memory slots, an M.2 2280 SSD interface, a 2.5” HDD/SSD interface, as well as 2 M.2 2230 interface inside. You can have as much as 64GB dual-channel memory, and 4TB internal storage under the hood. My review unit comes a single 16GB Kingston DDR4-3200 memory stick, but I added another 16GB memorty stick for dual-channel setup.

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The build quality of the GEEKOM Mini IT11 is simply stunning. The chassis feels extremely smooth and robust, with no ugly mold lines on the surface. There’s also a metal frame inside to protect the internal components from impacts, a nifty feature that all GEEKOM mini PCs come with.



System & App

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The Mini IT11 ships with an activated copy of Windows 11 Pro, so you don’t have to pay extra for the license. For average consumers, the Pro Edition of Windows OS probably won’t mean much. Yet for power users, there are quite a few extra features that may come in handy.

The operating system here is completely clean, with no preinstalled bloatware or third-party applications at all. Besides Windows, you can also choose to install other X86-compatible systems, such as Linux, Android X86 or UOS.



Performance

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Performance from the Core i7-1165G7 and 32GB dual-channel memory is about as good as I expected, putting up respectable numbers that will accommodate anyone looking to tackle productivity work or streaming. The Intel Iris Xe graphics iGPU will handle creativity duties or even some lightweight gaming. To help you better understand the overall performance of the Mini IT11, I ran quite a few benchmarks on it, and compared its scores to the results of other top mini PCs.

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First, I launched Maxon's latest CPU-crunching Cinebench R23 test, which is fully threaded to make use of all available processor cores and threads. Cinebench stresses the CPU rather than the GPU to render a complex image. The result is a proprietary score indicating a PC's suitability for processor-intensive workloads. The Mini IT11 got decent scores in both CPU single core and CPU multi-core. As you can see in the chart, there’s still a relatively huge gap between the GEEKOM Mini IT11 and the Apple MAC mini in terms of CPU performance.

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The cross-platform Geekbench 5 test returned a very similar result. The Mini IT11 scored 1540 in CPU single core, 5133 in multi-core, and 16969 in OpenCL.

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PCMark 10 simulates different real-world productivity and content-creation workflows. We often use it to assess overall system performance for office-centric tasks. The Mini IT11 scored 4661 in the standard PCMark 10 test, indicating that it should do well in a variety of heavy productivity tasks.



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This mini PC also features a Kingston M.2 NVMe drive, which is extremely fast, readings and scores of the CrystalDiskMark test told the story. The dual-channel memory setup guarantees high overall bandwidth and throughput speed. In the AIDA64 cache & memory benchmark, the read, write and copy speeds of the memory are decent, the 71.2ns latency is solid, too.


Daily Computing

In the real-world use, This mini PC handily saw me through common home and office tasks, from web-browsing, social networking to editing 4K video footages. The Mini IT11 felt as efficient as the Beelink GTR5 when handling most duties, even though it got beaten by the latter in nearly all benchmarks.

Video Playback

One area where the Mini IT11 did better than the GTR5 was video playback. Thanks to the impeccable video codec support of the Intel Iris Xe Graphics iGPU, the Mini IT11 could hardware-decode most video formats up to 8K. I played many 4K movies and TV shows on this mini PC, and never encountered any frameskip or hiccups.

Not only was the Mini IT good at decoding local video, but it was also excellent in streaming videos online, even [email protected] YouTube videos could play smoothly in the Chrome browser.


Gaming


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The Intel Iris Xe Graphics iGPU may not match top discrete graphics cards in performance, but it was a huge leap forward when compared to Intel’s older Iris Plus and UHD iGPUs, and could also outperform older discrete GPUs. In the graphics-focused 3DMark test, the GEEKOM Mini IT11 scored 1594 in Time Spy, 4332 in Fire Strike, and 13710 in Sky Diver. These results are significantly better than the numbers put up by the Intel NUC 8 and the Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5i. Surprisingly, the Mini IT11 also easily edged out the HP Envy 13, which features an Nvidia MX350 discrete graphics card.

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League of Legends was extremely smooth at 1080P and medium quality settings, with 115 fps on average. Even when I switched to 4K and high quality, it was still free of any noticeable lags or frame drops. Spell Break, which was slightly more hardware demanding than LOL, stayed at 60 fps the entire gaming session.

Running Genshin Impact at 1920 x 1080 and medium quality settings saw an average of 44 fps, not great, but still enough for me to enjoy the gameplay. However, the Mini IT11 did struggle a little bit with more graphics-intensive titles like Conqueror’s Blade. The average frame rate of this game was only 31 fps at 1080P and medium settings, still playable, but there might be delays and frame drops in those intense battle scenes.

Those results mean the Mini IT11 should be able to deal with demanding graphic workloads without grinding to a halt. But if you want to game in high quality settings and still get a fair chance against other players, you might need an external GPU.



Noise, stability, and power consumption

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Power consumption of the Mini IT11 is at 8 watts idle and 70 watts on max load, and the machine stayed fairly quiet most of the time. I did hear noise from the cooling fan when the mini PC was running big applications and games, but its volume was never really too untamed.

As quiet as it was, this mini PC was still reasonably stable. It passed the 3DMark Time Spy test with a score of 99.9%. And thanks to the efficient cooling, the chassis of the mini PC never became too hot to touch.



Verdict

Throughout my time with the GEEKOM Mini IT11, I can attest to this unit being a nifty piece of kit that will suit most home and office scenarios. As tiny as it is, it still packs plenty of ports, and enough power for not only our everyday basics, but also creativity workflows and gaming. If you are looking a versatile mini PC to serve as your daily driver, you can’t go wrong with the Mini IT11.

By the time I finished writing this article, GEEKOM informed me that the SoCs of the Mini IT11 were going to be upgraded from Intel Core i5-1135G7 and i7-1165G7 to Core i5-1155G7 and Core i7-1195G7 before the model hits the market. These new processors will surely give the mini PC more horsepower and help it get better numbers in benchmarking, but how much more efficiency it will bring to the table in real world use still remains to be tested, I will do another review once I receive the upgraded unit.
 
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heraldo_jones

New member
Sep 22, 2019
4
2
Very nice machine and the USB4 is an extra really appreciated. Do you know when are you going to receive the upgraded version? I guess that extra horsepower will do very little, but if the price is the same very welcome.