Running my weather station and media server on a Mini PC. Beelink's Mini PC and those like it are the future.
A few months ago, I purchased the Beelink U59 Pro Mini PC with only a few reviews available at the time. Despite being a longtime Windows and Linux PC I've been skeptical of the mini PC market in general and have avoided making a purchase in the past. So much skepticism that my first introduction to this small form factor was last year's purchase of an Apple Mac Mini M1 despite not being a huge fan of the macOS operating system. Luckily, this Beelink Mini PC has convinced me that "small is better" for Windows and Linux as well.
In reviewing the Beelink U59 Pro for its price with 16GB RAM, Windows 11 pre-installed, and running on an Intel 11th Generation Jasper Lake Processor is quite impressive. If other mini PCs deliver this much or more in such a small package, the Windows and Linux Mini PC has as bright of a future as Apple's Mac Mini.
My purpose for buying a Mini PC
While I wanted a mini PC due to the small foot print that I could tuck away out of sight, I of course had specific needs for this computer. First, I wanted to make sure the mini PC was not only small but also quiet, ran cool, and could be operated 24 hours a day every day. I've read in some reviews where fan noise can be a problem for a number of mini PCs just like their big brother tower PCs but I'm quite happy to report that all is quiet with the Beelink U59. With fan noise minimal when it is on (I have to put my ear right next to the unit), I'm also happy to report the fan rarely is necessary as its processor, the Intel N5105, is highly energy efficient and produces little heat itself. The only times I've had to restart this Mini PC is after a Windows update never and never because this little guy needed a break from running for so long.
Secondly, I needed a mini PC that could play the role of a home media server for distributing Hi-Res music files to my AVRs, stereo system, and other streaming clients. While there are different software packages dedicated to hosting audio files (that's another article in itself) I've found that both Windows 10 and 11 have enough built-in DNLA features to meet my media streaming needs on my home network.
My final requirement was I needed the mini PC to simultaneously run a second application that that relayed files from my backyard weather station to various online weather data servers. I know, weather station software is completely unrelated to media streaming software but this shows just how diverse in ways these small computers can be utilized. So what is this all about regarding a weather station? In a previous article, I mentioned I own a Davis Instruments Vantage Pro2 Wireless Weather Station. For the past few years, I've been using a very energy hungry and loud need-to-be-replaced PC running the WeatherLink software. I briefly considered bypassing the the PC all together and purchasing a WeatherLink Live hub capable of relaying the data to the servers without a Windows PC. But given the price of the 6100 Weather Live was near the same price as the Beelink U59 Pro it just made more sense to purchase the more capable and diverse in function Mini PC that I could use more for communicating just the weather just like I have.
My impressions of the Beelink U59 Pro Mini PC
For those interested in the Beelink U59 Pro, I know you will want to use this mini PC for other purposes than the ones I listed above. As a Windows or Linux desktop it's pretty darn good. Don't let the small size fool you into thinking it is not capable of meeting most of your needs. The Beelink U59 Pro comes with the Intel N5105 processor that while a Celeron has 4 cores and fully supports Windows 11 requirements with a base frequency of 2.0 GHz capable of 2.9 GHz bursts. My particular unit was ordered with 16GB RAM and 500 GB of SSD storage. If you're needing more storage, the good news is added storage up to 2TB SSD is possible internally. There are also plenty of ports available to you to expand via external devices including the four USB 3.0 ports and one USB Type-C port.
Included in the box, I found the Beelink U59 Pro Mini PC, a short and longer HDMI cable, a Vesa mounting bracket, a power supply, and the obligated basic setup manual. My only complaint with what's included in the box is the length of the electric cord from power supply to PC is REALLY short. You'll find that this PC will need to be positioned much closer to an electrical outlet or power strip than you might like. If Beelink could have provided a long power chord with this unit it would go a long way toward customer satisfaction.
With Mini PCs there seems to be an interest from YouTube reviewers to review the unit's gaming capability. Running on Windows 11 this Beelink U59 runs surprisingly faster than my older gaming PC but admittedly I own a very old PC. However, due to the graphics card limitations on the Beelink it's difficult to recommend this Mini PC for extremely intensive video game usage. However, this PC would be a great addition for those needing to support office or school applications as well as general home computing needs. What may also surprise you is you can also connect up to three displays with its two HDMI ports and and single USB-C port. However, I've read some literature that if you're using 4K monitors you may be limited to just two monitors. I haven't connected to more than two monitors so could not verify how well the Beelink U59 Pro works with three monitors.
As a whole, there isn't much you can improve in this Celeron-based Mini PC such as this as it's near-perfect for my uses. I have no regrets in my purchase and except for those that want to use the Mini PC for intense modern gaming I would also recommend this mini PC to any user needing a PC on the cheap. The Mini PC is available on Amazon at a list price of $279 but often coupons and available and sales are possible to lower the price of this the Beelink U59 Pro.
Additional details below.
Beelink U59 Pro
- CPU: Processor N5105 (4C/4T, 4M Cache, 2.0GHz up to 2.9GHz)
- GPU: UHD Graphics
- OS installed: Licensed W11 Pre-installed without any bloatware
- RAM/SSD installed: 8/16GB (2*8G)DDR4 RAM and M.2 2280 512GB SATA SSD
- Expand Storage: Support Expanded SSD/HDD with M.2 2280 SATA3 SSD, 2.5inch SATA SSD/HDD (Max 2TB)
- Wireless LAN: 802.11 b/g/n/ac， 2.4+5G WiFi,Ethernet 1000Mbps LAN
- Bluetooth: 4.0
- Adapter: 12V/3A 36W Certification
- Input: 100-240V AC, 50/60Hz , Output: 12V 3A
- Size: 4.88 in (Width) x 4.45 in (Depth) x 1.65 in (Height)
- 4 USB 3.0 ports
- 1 type-c ports
- 2 HDMI ports
- 2 Ethernet RJ45 1000M
- 1 Audio Jack
- Wall-Mounted bracket, Adapter12V/3A
- HDMI: 100CM&20CM, 1.4 Version
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This article was originally published at The After Work Pub.