Skip to main content

Minisforum EliteMini HM90 mini PC workstation review

Challenger Chinese brand quietly establishing itself as a high-end boutique rival

Minisforum EliteMini HM90 Review Hero
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Minisforum EliteMini HM90 is an existing mini workstation personal computer, one that is keenly priced and has plenty of connectivity options and upgrade capabilities. Windows 10 Pro and 2.5Gb Ethernet are just two of the icing-on-the-cake features it offers.

For

  • Good value for money
  • Absurdly powerful
  • Can take two extra 2.5-inch HDD or SSD
  • Windows 10 Pro
  • 2.5Gb Ethernet

Against

  • No card reader
  • After sales support can be problematic
  • Big PSU

TechRadar Verdict

The Minisforum EliteMini HM90 is an existing mini workstation personal computer, one that is keenly priced and has plenty of connectivity options and upgrade capabilities. Windows 10 Pro and 2.5Gb Ethernet are just two of the icing-on-the-cake features it offers.

Pros

  • + Good value for money
  • + Absurdly powerful
  • + Can take two extra 2.5-inch HDD or SSD
  • + Windows 10 Pro
  • + 2.5Gb Ethernet

Cons

  • - No card reader
  • - After sales support can be problematic
  • - Big PSU

The Minisforum EliteMini HM90 is the latest mini workstation PC we’re testing from this Chinese company, one which has continuously surprises by packing incredibly fast processors into tiny chassis and selling them for reasonable prices. The HM90 continues this tradition: it comes with an AMD Ryzen 9 4900H APU, either by its own (for $479, £358, AU$664) or one with 16GB or 32GB RAM and a 512GB SSD ($649/$759, £485/£568, AU$899/AU$1,052). The last two versions are equipped with Windows 10 Pro as well plus a plethora of ports and wireless connectivity. 

As expected, this is a very powerful yet affordable mini PC, solidly built with barely any competitor at this price point, in this form factor and given the current global component shortage. That said, if size or form factor is not an issue, then you may get a better buy from the $634 Dell XPS 0940 desktop PC or even a laptop like the Dell Inspiron 15 Touch. Note that the product is currently on preorder and will ship towards the end of November 2021.

Here are the most recent reviews of mini PCs on TechRadar: Beelink SER | Bleujour Kubb Gen 11 | GMK Nucbox | Aerofara Aero 3 | Minisforum U850 | Minisforum Elitemini h31g | Tbao Tbook MN25 | Chuwi Corebox Pro | Tbao Tbook MN22

Top Plate

(Image credit: Future)

Design

The HM90 is slightly bigger than I was expecting with a brushed aluminum finish on what looks like plastic; white is the other predominant color. The top plate is surrounded by a gap and slightly raised to allow air to circulate better; it is also peppered with holes for the same reason. 

Side Vents

(Image credit: Future)

The sides of the mini PC are also full of gaps that allow the heatsink to evacuate the extra heat more effectively.

Rear I/O

(Image credit: Future)

The list of connectors - which can be found in the front and at the back - is surprisingly long given the size of the device (149 x 149 x 55.5mm): two audio ports, HDMI 2.0, two LAN ports (2.5G and 1G), DisplayPort plus seven USB ports. Altogether, the device can power a staggering three 4K monitors (full size DP, Type-C DP and HDMI), making it a potent video editing PC or a business PC.

Underside

(Image credit: Future)

Hardware

Spec Sheet

Here are the full specs of the Minisforum EliteMini HM90 configuration sent to TechRadar Pro for review:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 4900H

Graphics: VEGA 8

RAM: 16GB DDR4

Storage: 256GB PCIe 3.0 NVMe Kingston SSD

Ports: 4 x USB 3.0, 2x USB 3.1, audio jack, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet

Connectivity: Intel AX200, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1

Weight: 650g

Size:  149 x 149 x 55.5mm  (H x W x D)

At the heart of the EliteMini HM90 is the AMD Ryzen 9 4900H, an 8-core/16-thread APU that has up to 12MB of cache, a base clock speed of 3.3GHz and can go up to 4.4GHz. It has a TDP of up to 54W, which means that it can do with a slow heat sink fan. The processor cores are paired with an 8-core GPU Radeon cluster with a clock speed of up to 1.75GHz. Elsewhere are two 8GB DDR4 Kingston memory modules in dual channel configuration as well as a 256GB PCIe 3.0 NVMe Kingston SSD (note that the final version ships with 512GB). 

Add in WiFi-6 and Bluetooth 5.1 courtesy of an Intel AX200 network chip and you’ve got a rather enticing proposition. Also part of the bundle is a VESA mount (with screws), which can affix the mini PC at the rear of a monitor, a 120W (19v, 6.3A) brick power supply unit and a HDMI cable. Note that you can add two 2.5-inch hard drives or SATA SSD.

Performance and in use

The Minisforum HM90 is powered by Windows 10 Pro which makes it a great choice for an entry level business PC or workstation. We’d prefer a smaller GaN power supply unit instead of the brick PSU that was bundled with the HM90. The Ryzen 9 4900H is a formidable powerhouse by itself, capable of rivaling most high-end processors with a similar power envelope and the same core count. 

Benchmarks

Here’s how the Minisforum HM90 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Passmark: 35338

Passmark CPU: 21701

CPU-Z: 546 (single-thread); 5835 (multi-thread)

Geekbench: 1244 (single-core); 8290 (multi-core); 15172(compute)

CrystalDiskMark: 2543MBps (read); 1283MBps (write)

Cinebench: 1300 (single CPU); 11763 (multi CPU)

Novabench: 3136

Atto: 2920MBps (read, 256mb); 2990MBps (write, 256mb)

Windows Experience Index: 8.1

The numbers produced on Geekbench and Passmark show that it will be particularly fast on tasks that require multiple cores running simultaneously. Not so much for jobs that are optimized for single-thread where Intel still has the upper hand.

The overall performance of the HM90 is helped by the fast Kingston SSD which came close to hitting 3GBps on the popular ATTO storage benchmark and given the absence of PCIe x4 technology on this platform, don’t expect to go much higher. Thumbs up as well for the dual-channel RAM configuration which gives an extra oomph to memory bandwidth.

There’s no bloatware on this PC which is one of the advantages of going for a smaller player and upgrading the parts inside is as simple as it gets.

Front I/O

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if

You want something small and powerful 

The HM90 is undoubtedly small and powerful but still manage to offer plenty of connection options plus expansion capabilities

You have an interest in 2.5Gb Ethernet

More and more network equipment are compatible with 2.5Gb as prices are rapidly coming down and the HM90 provides an easy way of jumping on this bandwagon.

You need a creative workstation

This powerhouse runs on Windows 10 Pro, has plenty of CPU threads and a fast SSD. It will run the likes of Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Premiere with ease.

Don’t buy it if

You need Thunderbolt 3 or 4 

It is an AMD machine and will therefore not have Thunderbolt. For that, you will need to go with an Intel PC.

You need next business day warranty

Minisforum is not Dell, HP or Lenovo; it cannot offer next business day warranty because of its size, which means that any issues will take time to be resolved.

We've also highlighted the best thin clients

Desire Athow

Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Then followed a weekly tech column in a local business magazine in Mauritius, a late night tech radio programme called Clicplus and a freelancing gig at the now-defunct, Theinquirer, with the legendary Mike Magee as mentor. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global techfests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. He has an affinity for anything hardware and staunchly refuses to stop writing reviews of obscure products or cover niche B2B software-as-a-service providers.