GEEKOM MiniAir 11 Mini PC Review: Better than Intel NUC with performance on a budget

The GEEKOM MiniAir 11 is an interesting Windows 11 Pro mini PC that challenges the Intel Nuc, but in a budget-friendly way.

If you're looking for a mini PC for your setup that doesn't have a lot of space, then you're probably familiar with products from Intel NUC, Minisforum, and Beelink. Recently though, a new Chinese brand has emerged to shake things up a bit and offer similar products to a wider global audience.

GEEKOM already sells PC products, gaming laptops, and computer accessories, but they recently sent me the MiniAir 11 Mini PC for review. After using this budget mini PC for a week, I feel like this when put up against an Intel NUC, it is really a cost-effective and well-performing system. And this is all for the price of $279,

Specs & price

The unit I am reviewing is now available on the GEEKOM website. It comes configured with an 11th Generation Intel Celeron N5095 Processor. That's paired with 8GB of DDR4 RAM, as well as a 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD. Note that this Intel processor has 4 cores, 4 threads, and a 2.90 GHz Turbo boost, running at 15 watts.

The OS under the hood is Windows 11 Pro. GEEKOM also mentions on the product listing that you can install Linux, Android x86, Ubuntu, and FydeOS, if you please. I don't see why you would though. That's because, going back to my headline, the GEEKOM MiniAir 11 offers a lot of Windows value for the price. If you're on the hunt for a Windows 11 Pro PC, you're probably going to have to spend well over $400 for something from Beelink or another mini PC maker.

GEEKOM MiniAir 11 Mini PC Review: Better than Intel NUC with performance on a budget - OnMSFT.com - June 27, 2022

And, if you buy an Intel NUC and other build your own Mini PC kits, you'd have to pay $300 for a Windows 11 Pro license, or a Windows 10 Pro license. Pre-built NUC Mini PCs with Windows included, meanwhile, retail close to $800. The GEEKOM MiniAir 11 is cheaper than a Windows 11 Pro license on its own, and you get the benefit of a full-blown computer. It's even cheaper than Intel's own NUC 11 essential kit, which has similar specs but doesn't come with a Windows license or HDD and RAM.

Note that GEEKOM is kind enough with its packaging. You get the system, an HDMI cable, a Mini Displayport to HDMI adapter, the VESA Mount, as well as a storage bag. This is all in the box.

Design

GEEKOM MiniAir 11 Mini PC Review: Better than Intel NUC with performance on a budget - OnMSFT.com - June 27, 2022

The GEEKOM MiniAir 11 is designed very similarly to an Intel NUC. It has an ultra-slim space-saving design. If you're wondering about the dimensions, it measures 117 x 112 x 34.2 mm. That's 4.60 x 4.40 x 1.3 inches. Weight comes in at 500.3 grams or just under 1.1 pounds. For reference, an Intel NUC measures 117 x 112 x 37 mm. Overall, it's very portable, and GEEKOM even includes a carrying bag for you. I included my Mac Mini as a photo above, just to show how compact this device is.

In other areas of design, the top part of the GEEKOM MiniAir 11 is made of plastic. You can pull it off to expose the built-in quiet fan. The chassis is reinforced with a metal inner frame, making this mini PC feel premium. That's different from Beelink's U59, which is all plastic. And it's similar to an Intel NUC, which has the same reinforced metal frame.

GEEKOM MiniAir 11 Mini PC Review: Better than Intel NUC with performance on a budget - OnMSFT.com - June 27, 2022

If you want, you also can upgrade the GEEKOM MiniAir 11. This is built into the design. Just unscrew the feet on the bottom, and pull off the cover. You have full access to the RAM, as well as the M.2 SSD. It reminds me of the Intel NUC, which has great upgradability. The CPU though, can not be changed, unlike on some Intel NUC models.

Ports

GEEKOM MiniAir 11 Mini PC Review: Better than Intel NUC with performance on a budget - OnMSFT.com - June 27, 2022

The GEEKOM MiniAir 11 has a ton of ports. On the front, the mix includes a USB-C port (data only,) USB 3.2 Gen 2, and a speaker/headset combo. The right side has a Kensington security lock, and the left side has a full-size SD card reader. The back is where all the other ports are at. There's a mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, 2 USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, a USB-C port for data only, and an HDMI port.

Do note that the GEEKOM MiniAir 11 also has a built-in wireless LAN, so you can connect to the internet without cables. There's even Bluetooth built-in. These ports are even different from Beelink's similarly specced system. The Beelink U59 Mini-S has USB-A and HDMI, but no USB-C.

Performance

GEEKOM MiniAir 11 Mini PC Review: Better than Intel NUC with performance on a budget - OnMSFT.com - June 27, 2022

Powered by the 11th generation Intel Celeron N5095 CPU, the GEEKOM MiniAir 11 is a great system for office work and productivity. I typically don't like mentioning Geekbench numbers in my reviews, but I will in this case so I can back my experience with multitasking and office work.

The device nets a 621 Single-Core score, and a 1979 Multi-Core on Geekbench 5. For comparison, a system like the Surface Go 2, which has an Intel Core m3 processor nets 579 Single-Core and 1445 Multi-Core. So, The Intel Celeron inside here is definitely up to snuff and up against a mobile processor and is good for the form factor and price you're paying.

You might think that these numbers are poor, but I was actually able to fire through a lot of things in my daily workflows on the GEEKOM MiniAir 11. I had about 6 tabs open in Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Teams, and system apps like the webcam, Office apps as well as the Microsoft Store, and the GEEKOM MiniAir 11 handled it nicely.

GEEKOM MiniAir 11 Mini PC Review: Better than Intel NUC with performance on a budget - OnMSFT.com - June 27, 2022

Considering that it's powered by a low-end Intel Celeron processor, I was quite surprised at how well it works for office-related and web browsing, and the Speedometer score of around 70 can attest to that. Usually, a 100 score is what we get on most Windows systems, so considering the value, a 70 score isn't all too bad.

Thanks to Windows 11 Pro, I even hooked the GEEKOM MiniAir 11 to my network and ended up using it as a remote PC for my iPad Pro, so I can get Windows 11 on my iPad and access Windows apps my iPad can't run.

As far as gaming, GEEKOM is quick to mention on the product listing page that this isn't a gaming system. I tried testing out Minecraft on the device, and it ran just under 30 frames per second. Again, if you're into gaming, GEEKOM's other mini PCs are something you're worth considering. This isn't meant to be a  gaming PC, though it might work well as a cloud gaming system or as a remote server when plugged into the back of a monitor or TV.

Great value

Overall, I'm very impressed with the GEEKOM Mini Air 11. This system packs a lot of value for the price, and the performance is great for office work and many day-to-day tasks. Combined with the fact that you get full-blown and activated Windows 11 Pro right out of the box, this is a mini PC that's hard to turn down for the price, and something Intel's NUC should look out for.

You can buy the GEEKOM Mini Air 11 here.

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