Minix Neo Z83-4 Plus – a mini-PC for media and signage (review)

8.6

The Minix Neo Z83-4 Plus is a mini-PC – one of those next units of computing – that packs quite a lot into the 122mm square and 25mm thick chassis. Although it supports two [email protected] monitors (or 1 x [email protected]), it is quite a capable, fan-less, NUC-like mini-PC.

To compare it to a car, it is like a Mercedes Benz ‘smart car’ – a four-wheeled ‘scooter’ that is perfect to whiz around those narrow city streets but needs an extra rubber band for highway use.

Comparatively, this Minix Neo Z83-4 Plus has a tiny body (think ‘park’ it behind your TV or monitor), an Intel X5-Z8350 CPU/GPU (tiny Intel Atom), 4/64GB/microSD, HDMI 1.4, mini DP 1.2, Gigabit LAN, 1 x USB 3.0 and 4 x USB 2.0. All powered by a 12V/3A plug pack. Note the Plus is the 64GB version and Max is the 128GB version. The Windows range includes (approx. prices excluding freight):

J50C-4$599Intel Pentium J5005
4/64/M.2 SATA 6
Wi-Fi AC, BT 4.1
HDMI 2.0
USB-C Alt DP
12V/3A or USB-C upstream
G41V-4$421Intel Celeron N4100
4/64/M2 SATA 6
Wi-Fi AC, BT4.2
HDMI 2.0
DP 1.4, VGA
12V/3A
N42C-4$325Intel Pentium N4200
4/32/M.2 SATA 6
Wi-Fi AC, BT 4.1
HDMI 1.4
USB-C Alt DP. 12V/3A or USB-C upstream
Z64WTBAIntel Z3735F
2/32GB
Wi-Fi N
BT 4
HDMI 1.4
5V/3A
Z83-4$399Intel X5-Z8300
4/32, Wi-Fi AC
BT 4.2
HDMI 1.4
Mini DP 1.4
12V/3A (Add $100 for the Plus)
NGC-1$399Intel Celeron W3150
4/128GB
Wi-Fi AC
BT 4.2 (on special)

Minix Neo Z83-4 Plus

With the positioning over, let’s look at the Minix Neo Z83-4 Plus

Global websitehere
AU distributors website/shopCanohm Australia (we suggest this is your first port of call for local price and availability)
Price$399/499 for 32/64GB version
FromAmazon AU, Minix Shop or Canohm
Warranty1-year
AboutMinix (Est 2008 – website here) is a Hong Kong-based Mac and PC accessory maker. It specialises in Android Media Hubs, Mini PCs, GaN chargers, USB-C cables, adapters, and storage.
MoreYou can read more GadgetGuy Minix news and reviews here

What is the Minix Neo Z83-4 Plus good at?

Remember the Smart Car analogy. Perfect for city commutes. This is the same – push it beyond its design limits, and it won’t do the job. In essence, it’s a Windows 10 media or signage server or a thin, smart client that you would attach to a monitor for browsing, content viewing, Microsoft Office and most productivity tasks.

Processor

Intel X5-Z8350, 14nm, 64-bit, 4-core, 1.44/1.92Ghz drawing a measly 2W. It runs cool and does not require a fan.

PassMark gives it single/multi-core ratings of 491/1741, and Geekbench 5 is 168/524. It can run all day at 1.44Ghz and for short bursts at 1.92Ghz. Throttling occurs if the processor hits 90° – we did not experience that even during a 2-hour movie playback where CPU temp never exceeded 67°.

In Office 365, use it can be laggy if you are multi-tasking. This 4-core, single-threaded processor was never designed to ‘tow a van’.

Graphics

The embedded Intel HD Graphics 400 has 12 execution units and supports 2 x [email protected] displays or 1 x [email protected] It can decode 4K/H.265. We tested on a UWUHD 3440x 1440 50Hz monitor – no issues but it only ran at 50Hz.

Note that you need an Active Adapter to convert the mini DP port to HDMI.

Memory and storage

Memory is 4GB DDR3L (not upgradable), allowing Windows 10 Pro to operate in 64-bit mode. Storage is 64GB eMMC 5.0 and achieves 158/113Mbps sequential read/write. That means that it is fine for internal use, but copying to and from over USB is very slow. The USB-A 3.0 port 5V/3A will support a 2TB external SSD. Ironically, it achieves 453/444Mbps, so you may want to use one for storage.

Codecs

  • Hardware Decodes: H.263, H.264, H.265, HD AVC/VC-1, HD MPEG4, RealVideo 8/9/10, Xvid/DivX 3/4/5/6
  • Video format: AVC, H.263, H.264, H.265, MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, RM, RMVB
  • Audio format: AAC, AC3, DDP, DTS, FLAC, HD, MP3, OGG, TrueHD, WAV, WMA and Dolby Audio to 5.1.

As always, we recommend you download the full K-Lite Codec pack free from here for additional software codecs and Media Player Classic. Note this only supports Standard Dynamic Range content. It is a decent 1080p player from content stored on a NAS either by Wi-Fi or LAN. It can play [email protected] to a suitable TV via the LAN.

Comms

Wi-Fi AC dual band supports 433Mbps half-duplex at 2 metres from the Netgear RAX200 AX1100 router. Or use the Gigabit Lan for 1000Mbps full-duplex.

BT 4.2 has about a 10m range. As this is a media server, it would have been nice for Minix to include a BT remote control. But it is just as easy and more functional to use USB-A ports and add a keyboard or mouse (or a combo wireless keyboard Logitech K400 Plus Wireless Touch $99.95).

It appears that the 4 USB-A ports shares the 3A output. So, while you can get 5V/3A on the 3.0 port, it is reduced by the other ports load. It also has a 3.5mm stereo jack.

Power

While the power adapter is 12V/3A/36W, we never saw power above 6W during decoding and streaming. Most of the time, it sat at 2 to 4 watts so almost nothing to run. And remember, it is silent. As a bonus this is will run off a car 12V/3A utility socket (just need a suitable round plug) so it may be great for grey nomads.

GadgetGuy’s take

Some buy Benz smart cars, and some want a V8 under the bonnet. If you are in the latter camp, the far more expensive Intel NUC range is for you. I found nothing wanting – it did everything it was supposed to at a price that, including Windows 10 Pro, is pretty good.

It comes with a High-Speed HDMI cable and a VESA mounting plate. The only slightly obscure thing is the external 2.4/5Ghz Wi-Fi aerial, but I suspect that is to ensure a decent signal even when tucked away in a cupboard. But like many Minix mini’s, it is best to have some tech smarts to ensure you get the best out of it.

Minix Neo Z83-4 Plus
The Minix Z83-4 Pus is a full-fat Windows 10 Pro mini-PC for signage and media applications. Grey Nomads would love this as runs of 12V/3A DC.
Features
9
Value for money
9.5
Performance
8
Ease of use
8
Design
8.5
Positives
Converts any TV/monitor into a Windows PC
Small thin client or MPC is the best use
Two display support (perfect for signage)
Low power and low heat
Perfect if you don't try to do more than it is for
Negatives
None really – ugly Wi-Fi antenna and no USB-C
Helps to be tech-savvy to get the most out of it
8.6