Intel introduced the 5x5 mini-STX form factor late last year with the aim of creating a small form-factor PC between that of a NUC and a mini-ITX build. Compared to the NUC-type machines, the mini-STX allow the end-user to choose a CPU appropriate for the budget and requirements. We have already looked at mini-STX offerings from ECS and MSI before, but, their computing power was restricted by the use of low-power T-series (35W TDP) CPUs. ASRock's first mini-STX machine, the DeskMini, is the first mini-STX system to have full support for 65W CPUs along with a stock Intel cooler. The DeskMini is quite affordable - $130 gives the end user a chassis, H110 motherboard and a power adapter.

Introduction and Setup Impressions

ASRock is no stranger to mini-PCs. Their Vision series (using custom mobile processor-based motherboards with an optional discrete mobile GPU), larger than the NUCs, but smaller than a mini-ITX build, have proved to be quite popular in the small form-factor market. The DeskMini is ASRock's play in the mini-STX field. Like all other current mini-STX machines, the DeskMini board comes with a LGA 1151 socket. However, the chassis is large enough to support a stock Intel CPU cooler. This means that the unit can support CPUs with TDPs up to 65W. The two SODIMM slots are of the DDR4 variety (like the MSI Cubi 2 Plus, and unlike the ECS LIVA One).

The other interesting aspect is the M.2 SSD slot - usually, vendors want to maintain both SATA and PCIe support, but ASRock has decided to support only PCIe SSDs - this means that the I/O lanes feeding the slot are not multiplexed from the H110 PCH, but, come from the CPU directly. The H110 chipset used in the DeskMini is one of the lower-end 100-series chipsets. The PCIe lanes from the PCH are PCIe 2.0 and the I/O options are limited. Therefore, it is a point of differentiation for ASRock to utilize the CPU's PCIe lanes for the M.2 SSD slot.

Other than the 65W TDP CPU support and the PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD slot, other aspects are similar to currently available mini-STX machines - support for 2.5" drives, and flexibility to add serial ports / extra USB ports with tweaks to the connectors / using a slightly different chassis.

ASRock sent across an unusual set of components for the build. A Core i5-6500 and a G.Skill DDR4 2133 MHz 2x8GB kit were included in the package in addition to the main kit (chassis with the motherboard pre-installed, a 120W (19V @ 6.32A) power adapter and appropriate power cord). However, the M.2 WLAN adapter slot was empty. We reached out to Intel for the AC8260 PCIe card, and used a Samsung SSD 950 PRO in order to complete the build.

The specifications of our review sample are summarized in the table below.

ASRock DeskMini 110 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i5-6500
Skylake x86_64, 4C/4T, 3.2 GHz (3.6GHz), 14nm, 6MB L2, 65W
Memory G Skill F4-2133C15-8GRS DDR4
15-15-15-36 @ 2133 MHz
2x8 GB
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 530
Disk Drive(s) Samsung SSD 950 PRO
(512 GB; M.2 Type 2280 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe; 40nm; MLC V-NAND)
Networking Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260
(2x2 802.11ac - 866 Mbps)
Intel I219-V Gigabit Wired Ethernet
Audio 3.5mm Headphone Jack
Capable of 5.1/7.1 digital output with HD audio bitstreaming (HDMI)
Miscellaneous I/O Ports 1x USB 2.0
2x USB 3.0 Type-A, 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
Operating System Retail unit is barebones, but we installed Windows 10 Pro x64
Pricing (As configured) $739 ($130 for barebones chassis, motherboard, power adapter)

The gallery below takes us around the chassis and the internals of the DeskMini, as well as the Intel WLAN adapter.

The BIOS is one of the more comprehensive ones that we have seen in the mini-STX space. The gallery below shows the various tweaks available.

In the table below, we have an overview of the various systems that we are comparing the DeskMini against. Note that they may not belong to the same market segment. The relevant configuration details of the machines are provided so that readers have an understanding of why some benchmark numbers are skewed for or against the DeskMini when we come to those sections.

Comparative PC Configurations
Aspect ASRock DeskMini 110
CPU Intel Core i5-6500 Intel Core i5-6500
GPU Intel HD Graphics 530 Intel HD Graphics 530
RAM G Skill F4-2133C15-8GRS DDR4
15-15-15-36 @ 2133 MHz
2x8 GB
G Skill F4-2133C15-8GRS DDR4
15-15-15-36 @ 2133 MHz
2x8 GB
Storage Samsung SSD 950 PRO
(512 GB; M.2 Type 2280 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe; 40nm; MLC V-NAND)
Samsung SSD 950 PRO
(512 GB; M.2 Type 2280 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe; 40nm; MLC V-NAND)
Wi-Fi Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260
(2x2 802.11ac - 866 Mbps)
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260
(2x2 802.11ac - 866 Mbps)
Price (in USD, when built) $739 $739
Performance Metrics - I
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  • Lolimaster - Saturday, June 11, 2016 - link

    I would really love a review of the i7 6700T 35w.

    i7 6700K is only 17% faster on average without that nice tdp. Powerconsumption idle/load/typical use/temps. Would really appreciate it.
    Reply
  • prisonerX - Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - link

    A reasonably priced case with built-in passive CPU heatsink would be a nice complement in that review. With Skylake about the only real benefit is the practicality of silent PCs. Reply
  • prisonerX - Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - link

    This ticks a lot of boxes:small size, 12V power, Skylake. But $130 for a motherboard, a generic power brick and a simple case? Seriously? Reply
  • 8steve8 - Saturday, July 9, 2016 - link

    I know right? It should be like $300 considering the skull canyon NUC is over $600 and can only handle a 45w CPU... With a terrible (loud) cooler.

    There is nothing that competes with this: Skylake 65 W with this size.

    If only Intel would release a socketed Skylake 65w CPU/iGPU with eDRAM.
    Reply
  • ES_Revenge - Friday, June 17, 2016 - link

    Really don't understand the point to STX. Has zero slots, okay that makes it even smaller than ITX but is there really a need for it? The NUC/mini-PC type jobbies like the NUC, Cubi, Liva, etc. seem to have their market covered. If you really want there are some very small mini-ITX cases (some that even only hold thin mini-ITX) and don't end up using the slot so the space "wasted" because of it isn't that much.

    For example Antec's ISK 110 is very small, it's a bit bigger than this but it uses mini ITX boards (with no slot usability) which are available all over the place. It just doesn't seem like we need another form factor to be between mini ITX and the NUC-type machines, does it?

    I'd rather mini DTX have taken off that this. I just don't think there's a need for mini-ITX minus like 5cm
    Reply
  • 8steve8 - Saturday, July 9, 2016 - link

    Most NUCs have a 15W or less CPU meant for laptops... With a laptop style heatsink/fan.

    This takes a 65w CPU and a quieter heatsink/fan.

    Imagine you want a very high performance desktop, but also want it as small as possible. I realize most commenters on this site are obsessed with game performance, but if you don't care about playing the latest game, then this pretty close to the perfect high performance small desktop workstation.
    Reply
  • 8steve8 - Saturday, July 9, 2016 - link

    This is much smaller than even tiny itx PCs ... Also front ports without internal wires/connectors! Reply
  • jaydee - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    The power draw for the MSI Cubi 2 Plus vPro max load power draw (Prim95 + FurMark) really can't be right. It's a 35W TDP i5-6500T, and according to the chart is measuring 10W higher than the 65W i5-6500 PC in this review?

    The i5-6500T 35W PC almost has to be closer to half of the 102W shown here (which was taken from the MSI Cubi 2 Plus vPro main article).
    Reply
  • butchooka - Friday, August 12, 2016 - link

    Can please someone confirm tha it is possible to install 15mm high HDDs?
    Would be a nice to put 2*4TB 2,5 drives +m2-SSD in it.

    Found nowhere information about possible high of drives in this case, or pics showing there is enogh space. All tests only use ssd drives with 6/9,5mm height. Asrock only provides that it has space for 2 drives
    Reply
  • james.shallcross - Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - link

    7mm - no problem
    9.5mm - will JUST fit
    15mm - will not fit
    Reply

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