The Asrock DeskMini A300 is a tiny PC that uses Ryzen processors. Almost every custom mini PC we've seen has used Intel inside. Intel CPUs are very good, but not the best choice for this type of system. At least if you want to play or do some kind of 3D work, AMD's Ryzen APUs are unrivaled.
After dozens of Intel-based Beeboxes and DeskMini PCs, Asrock has finally developed an AM4 socket system for Raven Ridge (and Bristol Ridge APUs). Ideally you would like to install the Ryzen 3 2200G or the Ryzen 5 2400G in this system, our current top budget CPU picks, which also happen to have more than decent integrated graphics functions.
With a recent drop in price, the Ryzen 5 2400G for $ 135 is a very good processor, and only those who don't know would buy the Core i3-8100 instead for $ 150. We'll revisit the 2400G sometime at this price because it offers SMT support, which is twice as many threads as the 2200G for an additional $ 40. Right now we're going to see how it works in the new DeskMini A300, as this is the best APU you can pair with this compact 1.9-liter barebone.
The DeskMini A300 costs a very reasonable $ 150. For this investment you will receive a special housing with a width of 155 mm, a depth of 155 mm and a height of 80 mm. It can hold two 2.5-inch storage devices and a CPU cooler up to 46 mm high. Inside is the Asrock A300M-STX motherboard, which measures only 140 x 147 mm.
As you might expect from such a small motherboard, it isn't exactly full of features, but you get everything you need. The front I / O contains a USB 3.1 Gen1 Type C connector and a Type A and on the back there are two additional USB ports, a 3.1 Gen1 Type A and a 2.0 Type A. There is a basic audio and gigabit Realtek's network solution, three M.2 ports, two for SSDs and a third for a Wi-Fi module, and two laptop-style memory DIMMs that support up to DDR4-2933 with Ryzen APUs.
The display outputs include a single HDMI, DisplayPort, and an older VGA connector. All three can be used simultaneously for triple monitor configurations.
There are two optional items, one is a very simple air cooler that came with our test device, and the other is an M.2 WiFi kit that didn't come with our sample. There is a listing on Newegg that does not include the cooler, but comes with the Intel AC-3168 Wi-Fi kit for $ 150. So this is a great option. Finally, you can use the Wraith stealth cooler that comes with your Ryzen APU. Note, however, that you need to remove the fan cover, just the top cover with the AMD logo. This reduces the height of the cooler by a few millimeters. No effect on the cooling performance.
The DeskMini A300 is powered by the supplied 120 W module. It is a 19 V, 6.32 A version.
This is the barebone. What you need to put on the table is a CPU. We recommend either 2200G or 2400G and then some kind of storage. I recommend something cheap like the WD Blue 500GB, which only costs $ 68, or if you find the Plextor S2G 512GB for $ 55, both would work well for this build. You can fill the two 2.5-inch drive bays with larger mechanical hard drives or additional SSDs that you can choose from there.
We will discuss additional hardware configurations towards the end of the test. First, let's see what gaming performance the DeskMini A300 offers in combination with the Ryzen 5 2400G. We won't be concerned with application performance since nothing has changed since we reviewed this CPU. Game performance has been improved with updated drivers.
We used G.Skills Ripjaws DDR4-2133 CL15 16 GB for testing for one simple reason: it's cheap for just $ 80. G.Skill's DDR4-3200 memory starts at $ 130, and while it does a good performance gain using the Vega 11 GPU, we can overclock the DDR4-2133 memory, and that's exactly what I did.
By setting the frequency to 2933 MHz, the timings were reduced to CL16-21-21-21-49. You could undoubtedly set these timings manually to get even better performance, but I wanted to test something closer to the out-of-the-box experience.
Game performance impressions
First we have Apex Legends and here we were forced to 720p with the lowest possible quality settings. The performance was sometimes deceptive because the frame rates were over 100 fps, but for others it was half. Overall, we were still looking for between 60 and 70 fps and the performance was mostly constant. It was playable to increase the resolution to 900p, but the frame dips were much clearer.
If we move on, we have Battlefield V and have been forced to 720p again in search of 60 fps. This frame rate is required if you want to get a few kills in multiplayer. With the low quality preset enabled, we typically saw around 60 fps with dips into the 1950s, but overall a smooth and enjoyable experience that is certainly playable for PC entry-level standards.
When testing the potato-like game performance, you must always include CS: GO. In this case, we were able to test 1080p with high quality graphics, although that doesn't say much. The frame rates went back to the 1940s, but often increased by 60 fps, although a few quality improvements above 60 fps are of course not a problem.
Far Cry New Dawn
When using the "normal" quality preset at 720p frame rates, the speed fluctuated between 35 and 45 fps. There we sometimes stutter quite seriously, but the game was still playable and I think you should expect something like that if you play with integrated graphics.
Next we have Fortnite and for this we chose the low quality settings at 900p and that allowed at least 75 fps, although we mostly searched more at 90-100 fps. Unfortunately, the experience was somewhat spoiled by fairly regular stuttering of the frame.
Rainbow Six Siege
One of the best experiences we had was with Rainbow Six Siege. With the lowest preset quality, the resolution was set to 900p, although TAA set a render scale of 50%. The game looked very good and was very smooth. This time I couldn't blame a missed frame for frame stuttering. The frame rates remained above 60 fps at all times and generally moved around 80 fps. This was also a great experience and a perfect example of the fun this compact system can have.
We started the Rocket League and activated the "Performance" preset to 1080p. The frame rates generally fluctuated between 70 and 80 fps, which made smooth, highly playable performance possible. As we saw at CS: GO, it is possible to play these less demanding but still very popular titles in very respectable quality settings.
Power & Temps
As already mentioned, the DeskMini A300 has a 120 W power supply that is suitable for use with the Ryzen 5 2400G, provided you are not crazy about overclocking. In fact, you can't overclock anyway, as you are limited by the thermal.
In its standard configuration with the 2400G with a pair of mechanical 1 TB hard drives and a 2 TB SSD, the DeskMini A300 consumed 82 watts in our blender stress test and 102 watts in the Battlefield V multiplayer. So there is not much room left for overclocking.
When considering the operating temperatures with the optional cooler, the Ryzen 5 2400G reached 78 degrees in our blender stress test under load, but only 33 degrees when idling. This is a reasonable operating temperature and, surprisingly, this little cooler didn't make much noise. Replacing the base cooler with the Wraith Stealth only lowered the charging temperature by 4 degrees, although the DeskMini A300 was now basically noiseless. So if you have a stealth cooler and would like to remove the top cover, I recommend using it in the A300.
Asrock's new DeskMini A300 is exactly what we hoped for, and we're glad they finally released a mini PC that supports Raven Ridge APUs. Game performance won't blow your mind, but at least you can play in some ways. This was simply not possible beyond flash-based games on previously seen Intel models.
If you're looking for a compact gaming rig and don't want to buy a game console, a fully functional PC like the DeskMini A300 is for you. We know that this is a very niche product. You must be in the market for an extremely small PC that can do light 3D work.
If you are simply looking for an inexpensive gaming rig, this is not the case. Although the price of the barebones is modest, the A300's inability to support a discrete graphics card makes your only upgrade option here a Zen 2-based APU.
Alternatively, you can build your own Ryzen 5 2400G system in a larger MicroATX case for a few dollars more and buy something like a Radeon RX 560 or maybe even one of those insanely cheap RX 570 models and this $ 100 model. Upgrading 150 discrete graphics cards increases game performance tenfold.
For a small surcharge, it is also possible to build a mini ITX system, which in turn supports discrete graphics cards. However, if you are looking for a super compact mini PC, there is currently no better option in our opinion than the DeskMini A300.