MINIX NEO G41V-4 – Review

MINIX has recently launched two new mini-PC systems: the NEO J50C-4, and the NEO G41V-4. The former was powered by a Pentium Silver J5005 CPU, whereas the latter features a Celeron N4100; but the differences don’t end there.

While there are some similarities between the two systems, the G41V-4 is a very different beast. True, it still has the MINIX style, high-end build quality, and excellent set of features, but there’s more to it.

The G41V-4 is the company’s newest product aimed at its commercial customers. It’s designed primarily for digital signage, thin operations, and as a 24/7 powered on workstation, however, that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t appreciate what’s available.

Design

This is a slightly different design than what we’ve previously seen. Instead of the smooth, tough plastic casing, the G41V-4 has a rugged look that’s complimented with a series of ventilation holes along the top of case. The MINIX logo is still embossed across the centre of the top panel, but is enclosed as a little island of solid plastic among the cross-shaped holes.

It measures 139 x 139 x 35mm, making it 5mm thicker than its sibling J50C-4. Turn the G41V-4 over, and on the underside there are four rubber feet, the Windows 10 authentic sticker, and a screw-in panel – more on this in a moment.

Inside the blue box packaging you’ll find a HDMI cable, VESA mount and screws, 12v/3A power supply with additional US, EU and UK plug adapters, an S/PDIF adapter, product brochure and user manual.

The feel of the G41V-4 is very good, certainly up to MINIX’s usual standards. It’s a solid, and sturdy mini-PC that fits in the hand, or very neatly behind a TV or monitor. It’s worth noting that due to the thicker dimensions of the G41V-4, the included VESA mount is slightly thinner.

Connectivity

One thing about MINIX’s range of mini-PC, they certainly don’t skimp on ports and connectivity, and the G41V-4 is no exception. Along one side there’s the power button, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a micro SD card slot.

On another side of the unit there’s gigabit Ethernet, a 1.2 output DisplayPort, HDMI 2.0, VGA, and the power-in DC jack; and there’s a Kensington lock hole on the third side of the G41V-4.

Connectivity within the casing consists of 802.11ac dual-band WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.2.

Specifications

Driving the G41V-4 is an Intel Celeron N4100 CPU. This 14nm Gemini Lake processor has four cores, four threads, and a base frequency of 1.10GHz, together with a burst frequency of 2.4GHz. It features the rather good Intel UHD 600 GPU, with a base frequency of 200MHz, and burst of 700MHz, that can easily handle 4K playback at 60Hz. There’s 4GB of DDR4 memory, and 64GB of eMMC 5.1 flash storage on which there’s a pre-installed setup of Windows 10 Pro.

However, the G41V-4 has an ace up it’s metaphorical sleeve. The screw-on panel on the bottom of the case can be removed to reveal a 2280 M.2 slot, and for this review we also received 240GB M.2 SSD that came pre-installed with Windows 10 Pro. Sadly, unlike the J50C-4, the memory can’t be upgraded, but 4GB is more than ample for the type of work the G41V-4 was designed to cope with.

The main draw of this unit, though, is the fact that it doesn’t contain any moving parts. The large heatsink on the motherboard does an admirable job of keeping the internals cool enough for extended periods of time. This is a mini-PC that’s designed to be in operation around the clock, and it does that job very well indeed.

Performance and Operation

Where the NEO J50C-4 was whisper quiet in its operation, the G41V-4 is as silent as the grave. Being fanless, the only sound emitted from it was the power-on BIOS beep, and any accompanying Windows sounds. Power it up, and you’ll need to check the status LED at the front of the unit to check whether it’s on.

As with all the MINIX mini-PC versions that features Windows as the main OS, the shipped version is Windows 10 Pro. This means the Windows product key is hard-coded into the BIOS, so if you should wipe the OS to try another – such as Linux – it’s an easy job to quickly change back to Microsoft. Having the OS pre-installed saves a considerable amount of time too, it’s just a case of joining a domain or setting up as a stand-alone unit.

With a 240GB SSD fitted, boot times are in the low seconds, and everything on the desktop feels snappier. That’s not to say the embedded 64GB eMMC is a slouch, it’s just that the SSD enjoys much faster read and write speeds.

The Celeron N4100 is a good choice of CPU in this situation. Its low power use, and decent performance, allow the G41V-4 to run continually without the need for extra cooling solutions. While it’s probably around 24% slower than the J50C-4’s Pentium Silver J5005 CPU, there’s still plenty you can do with it.

Naturally, triple-A gaming is out, but you could get away with lower resolution gaming from a few years ago. Retro gaming is excellent, we had several DreamCast and Saturn games playing without problems, and older gaming is flawless. But the G41V-4 wasn’t designed for gaming, new or old, with Office installed we could easily work without any noticeable slow-downs. The digital signage aspect of the G41V-4’s design works particularly well, since the Intel UHD 600 GPU is capable of 4K and can be running on three separate monitors or screens. The unit never heated up to usual worrying too-hot-to-the-touch temperatures we’ve experienced with other fanless setups.

Conclusion

Those looking for a mini-PC to power their digital signs, or work as small-footprint workstations, will be on to a winner with the MINIX NEO G41V-4. It’s quick enough to keep up with most regular users, is totally silent, and has the option for upgraded storage. It’s currently priced from Amazon at around $274, considering the high level of quality, upgradeable storage, included Windows 10 Pro licence, and the MINIX name, this is a superb mini-PC that’s worth every penny.

MINIX NEO G41V-4
  • Overall
5

Summary

Fanless, ultra-quiet operation. Good processor, memory, expandable storage. Top quality. It’s a MINIX.

– Intel Gemini Lake Processor
– No moving parts, silent operation
– 4GB RAM
– 64GB Storage, expandable via M.2 SSD
– Triple-display available at 4K 60Hz
– Windows 10 Pro licence

David Hayward

David has spent most of his life tinkering with technology, from the ZX Spectrum, getting his hands on a Fujitsu VPP5000/100 supercomputer, and coding on an overheating Raspberry Pi. He's written for the likes of Micro Mart, Den of Geek, and countless retro sites and publications, covering reviews, creating code and bench testing the latest tech. He also has a huge collection of cables.

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