Review Asus PN50 AMD Ryzen Mini PC

hey everybody it’s lon seidman we’re taking a look today at another mini pc but this one is ryzen powered this is the asus pn50 and the one they sent us has a ryzen 4800u processor inside but there are a few other processor configurations available as well and we’re going to take a closer look at this little mini pc and what you can do with it in just a second but i do want to let you know in the interest of full disclosure that this came in on loan from asus so we’re done with this it goes back to them all the opinions you’re about to hear are my own no one is paying for this review nor is anyone reviewing or approving what you’re about to see before it was uploaded so let’s get into it now and see what this little computer is all about now the price point on this starts at around 430 for a bare bones kit that one has a ryzen 4500u processor but you have to bring your own ram and storage into the mix to get things working the one they sent us for review is their top end model this has a ryzen 4 800 u processor with 16 gigs of ram and dual channel configuration and a 512 gigabyte nvme storage drive on board now one thing that i noticed on this when we did our benchmarks is that it performs pretty close to similarly equipped laptops we’ve looked at with these ryzen processors so i think when we get into some of the benchmarks you’ll see where some of the lower end models might perform versus this one it was very close to what we saw on similarly equipped laptops so let’s dive into the hardware here and see what we’ve got we’ve got a headphone microphone jack here on the front sd card reader here as well a usb port which is a five gigabit per second usb a right here you’ve got an infrared receiver and apparently this will work also with hdmi cec so you could use this as a way of controlling your home theater system for example i was not able to figure out a way to do that there wasn’t any software included that allowed for that i might revisit that feature in an upcoming video because it was of interest to a few viewers on a live stream the other day right here you’ve got a usb type-c port and this port is a data port of course but it can also support display output and you can run up to an 8k display out of this thing and what’s cool about it is that it actually has three more display options on the back so if you look on the rear of the device here we’ve got an hdmi output we have another usb type-c port that supports display out and then this model has a display port output as well and apparently this

section here can have different ports configured in it so there’s a version of this with a serial port i think they’ve got another one maybe with an hdmi port or another lan adapter so you might see different things in this spot depending on which one of these you’re looking at but this one came equipped with displayport now as to the types of displays that this supports you should be able to use most of the high frequency monitors like the 144 hertz models out there there’s going to be a realistic limit especially for gaming as to how many frames per second this thing can generate but for 2d work if you have a high frame rate monitor you should be fine here and you can have four monitors coming out of it all at the same time you have gigabit ethernet here that worked fine in our testing additionally you’ve got two more usb a ports here on the back and then your power goes in here it is not possible to power this with the usb type-c connectors there is a kensington lock here on the side so you can prevent it from walking away with you there nothing on this side my only gripe with the industrial design here is that the power button is in a spot that i keep pushing every time i’m adjusting the device on my desk it’s kind of a hairpin trigger here it does shut down properly it kind of signals windows to shut down but nonetheless i have hit this by accident now a number of times as i was playing with it you can mount this on the back of a monitor there was a visa mount included with the kit that asus sent me so if you want to put it out of the way you can certainly do that now it’s very easy to get into the device you just unscrew the four screws at the bottom and slide the case off inside you will find the two sticks of ram that they had pre-installed and the nvme storage they also have a sata slot so you can add in an additional solid state drive if you want for a total of two and of course the nvme drive is

going to be a lot faster than the sata drive but it’s nice to have additional storage options inside of the unit but you can’t upgrade the processor on this so whatever chip you choose at the outset is the one you’ll have for the duration of your ownership it doesn’t support egpus either because it doesn’t have thunderbolt on board so if you wanted to hook up an external gpu to your mini pc and intel solution is probably going to be better for that one other note here for those of you that might be looking at running this as a plex server which is a personal media server that we talk about quite a bit here on the channel and in full disclosure plex is an occasional sponsor here as well this won’t work well as a plex server because it doesn’t support hardware transcoding that’s a feature that is limited at the moment at least to intel processors with quick sync technology or an nvidia gpu based system and this of course has neither an nvidia gpu nor an intel processor inside and as such it’s probably not going to work well as a plex media server especially if you’re going to do a lot of hardware transcoding now it does have a wireless radio built in that supports wi-fi 6 and bluetooth both of those things work fine in our testing this is not a fanless device and as you can see there’s a lot of venting on it one thing that you’ll notice is the fan will be on quite a bit but it doesn’t make all that much noise the unit though does get pretty warm and we’ll talk more about its thermal performance as we work our way a little further into the review so let’s plug this thing in now let’s boot it up and see how it performs doing a whole bunch of different types of tasks all right let’s take a look and see how this does web browsing we’ll pull up the google chrome browser and

visit the homepage and as you can see everything is super fast and responsive now of course we are on ethernet but with the wi-fi six it’ll be pretty close to what you’re seeing here so lots of uh decent performance here for doing web browsing and all the other stuff that you might do in an office or a productivity environment now a little bit earlier i connected the computer up to a 4k 60 hertz display and we played back some youtube content at 4k at 60 frames per second and it did pretty well there was a handful of drop frames but nothing significant here so was able to play back a pretty demanding stream from youtube just fine so i think overall for web browsing and watching media and whatnot it should do fine with all of that let’s take a look now at zoom all right so we’ve got a zoom call going on right now i’ve got the huddlecam hd that we looked at recently that in full disclosure ptz optics sent us to review now of course there’s no built-in camera on this thing so you do have to have an external webcam to work with it but it seems to be working here just fine doing a little test zoom call so all together not bad for conferencing or any other basic kinds of work tasks that you might do with it and on the speedometer test we got a score of 129.4 that puts it very close to what we saw out of a lenovo legion 5 gaming laptop with a similar ryzen processor also take a look at the ryzen 4500u based flex 5 from lenovo and that’ll give you an idea as to what kind of performance you might get out of the mid-range version of the pn50 here so all in good performance and certainly on par with anything you might find on the intel side especially for doing work like conferencing and word processing and spreadsheets and all that kind of stuff let’s move on now to some fun stuff some gaming all right let’s kick things off with some gta 5 we were running at lowest settings 1080p and we were doing about 50 frames per second it was usually in the 45 to 50 frames per second territory there so not bad definitely playable and on par with other recent ryzen based laptops we’ve looked at you can of course get a higher frame rate at a lower resolution so if you went down to 720p you could definitely get to around 60 frames per second or so we also ran

the witcher 3 here we were getting about 25 to 30 frames per second so again this would run a little better at 720p but here at 1080p with the lowest settings it’s definitely playable and very close to 30 frames per second so that was running as expected we also ran star wars squadrons somebody on the live stream wanted to check that out the other day 1080p low settings we were getting about 40 to 45 frames per second so definitely very playable and again 720p would do a little better we also of course had to run fortnite and here we were at medium settings with the 3d resolution set to 100 and we were getting between 50 and 55 frames per second or thereabouts so another playable game here on this platform and then we ran the 2016 version of doom and this was at 1080p lowest settings with the vulcan api and there we were getting between 45 and 50 frames per second so you can definitely get playable 1080p game experiences on here but you’ll probably want to run at 720p to get into the 60 frames per second territory with most of the games that we checked out and of course we ran the gamecube emulator dolphin and that ran just fine as expected it runs fine on other ryzen based devices and this one did equally well with that so you’ve got a lot of fun games that you can play on here at decent frame rates even though it doesn’t have a gpu and that’s one of the strengths of these new ryzen based processors they are tremendously good at graphically intensive tasks and if you’re doing things like video editing and photo editing those tasks can benefit from this and of course gaming benefits as well and on the 3dmark time spy benchmark test we got a score of 1144.

now as i mentioned at the outset the mid-range of the pn50 mini pc that we’re looking at here runs with the 4500 u processor and you can see what the flex 5 there does on the chart and that is largely what you can expect out of the 4 500 u version of this particular computer and on the 3d mark stress test we got a failing grade of 90.6 percent 97 is a passing grade and that was actually the best score we could muster out of this device and that test runs one of those graphical benchmarks over and over again to see whether or not the cpu slows down when it’s under heavy sustained load what happens when the fan can’t keep it cool enough is it will actually make the processor run slower to prevent overheating now we did go through the bios settings here there is a option called cpu fan and by default it’s on normal mode and we switched it to performance mode and that didn’t make much of a difference at all and the fan actually is pretty quiet throughout and i think that’s the problem it looks like they really wanted to keep the fan noise at a minimum but that does come at the cost of performance now one workaround here is to disable their q fan feature completely but when you disable it it runs the fan at full blast and it is pretty loud when it is disabled so i think they could probably fix this problem by making a bios tweak to allow performance mode to kick the fan up to full speed when it needs to and i think that will

give it much better consistent performance under load because right now we were not able to get this thing to run consistently without some degree of thermal throttling the fan’s quiet but of course that comes at the cost of performance and if you’re curious about its power consumption we were drawing about 46 watts or so when we placed it under heavy load and about 16 watts at idle all right one last thing to check out and that is its linux performance we booted up ubuntu 20.10 and everything worked just fine it detected all the hardware on the computer including wi-fi audio

video bluetooth it all worked no problem and it was a very snappy experience on the linux side as it was on windows so no problems there we’ve seen very good linux performance actually on a lot of these ryzen based devices we’ve looked at and this one is equally good so it’s great to see more of these ryzen based mini pcs make their way to market the performance on here is very good and on par with what we’ve seen out of similarly equipped laptops and on the subject of laptops you might want to look at what laptops cost with the same specs as this one because you might save some money and get the same performance i am concerned about the thermal issues we talked about a few minutes ago on this i think they’re correctable with a bios update that fan just needs to run at full blast when it’s under heavy load and right now it does not and i think if they can correct that that will probably solve a lot of the thermal issues we were having with it but beyond that if you’re in the market for a ryzen based mini pc i think this one is certainly worth taking a look at provided they’re able to patch those thermal issues up that’s going to do it for now until next time this is lon simon thanks for watching this channel is brought to you by the lawn dot tv supporters including gold level supporters brian parker jim peter tom albrecht frank lewandowski mark bollinger and chris allegretta if you want to help the channel you can by contributing as little as a dollar a month head over to lawn dot tv support to learn more and don’t forget to subscribe

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