Minisforum Unveils $519 Ryzen 9 16-Core Motherboard For A Killer SFF Gaming PC

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We have a secret to reveal to you, dear readers. It's something that Intel and AMD are rather coy about, although if we're being honest it's not exactly a "secret". The truth is this: supposed "mobile" processors that end in "HX" from both Intel and AMD are in fact not really mobile processors at all, but rather desktop silicon that has been bonded to a BGA interposer. The Core i9-13980HX in something like the Alienware m18 R1 is fundamentally the exact same chip as the Core i9-13900K.

With that in mind, we invite you to check out Minisforum's new BD790i. This product slots in above the BD770i in Minisforum's product stack. We wrote about that back in October. It is a motherboard-and-CPU combo that combines an eight-core Ryzen 7 7745HX with a custom motherboard and cooler configuration. As you could guess from the headline, this new model instead packs in a Ryzen 9 7945HX CPU.

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Wi-Fi antenna lugs are included, but the Wi-Fi card isn't.

To be clear, this isn't simply one of Minisforum's barebone mini-PCs. This is a desktop motherboard, with a 24-pin ATX connector, an 8-pin EPS12V, and an internal PCIe slot, as well as all of the other accoutrements you expect with a desktop motherboard. There are some concessions made for the size of the board, but overall this is a unique system that Minisforum calls "MoDT", or "Mobile on Desktop".

We have to emphasize the value proposition here. The Ryzen 9 7945HX is a sixteen-core Zen 4 CPU, just like the Ryzen 9 7950X. True, it has a lower power limit and slightly lower clock rates as a result, but you're still getting sixteen full-fat Zen 4 CPU cores—there's no model number trickery here. $519—the current going price for a Ryzen 9 7950X CPU by itself—gets you the board, the CPU, and the SFF CPU cooler, as well as an active cooler for the dual PCIe 5.0 M.2 sockets.

Yes, you read that correctly -- Dual PCIe 5.0 M.2 sockets. Indeed, this board has better connectivity than a lot of $200-and-under Socket AM5 motherboards. You also get a full PCIe 5.0 x16 slot for graphics cards. That is, of course, the only expansion slot that you get, because this board uses the Mini-ITX form factor, but there's no reason you can't slap a big honking GPU into this machine to go with the 16-core CPU.
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A finished view of a BD790i build. Note that the fan isn't included. Image: ETA PRIME

The primary concessions you'll have to make for a machine based around this board and CPU combo have to do with external connectivity and memory. For starters, there are only two memory slots, and they take SO-DIMMs. That's not the end of the world; there are hot-clocked DDR5 SO-DIMMs out there, but you're likely to burn up much of the savings you got with the board and CPU combo on the RAM.

External connectivity on this combo is likewise a little limited: two USB 2.0 Type-A ports, two 5-Gbps USB Type-A ports, a single 10 Gbps Type-C port, and a front-panel 5 Gbps header are all that you get for USB. You also get one HDMI 2.0 port, one DisplayPort 1.4 connection, and a USB Type-C port for video connections, allowing you to run three displays off the Radeon 610M integrated graphics. Finally, there's a 2.5G Ethernet connection and an M.2-2230 slot for a Wi-Fi card, although such a card isn't included. Oh, and there's a trio of analog audio connections on the back, with a connector for front-panel mic and headphone jacks.

ETA PRIME built a whole machine around one of these little combos and came away suitably impressed. He paired the board with a GeForce RTX 4070 SUPER graphics card and ended up with a machine that, in his words, "will play every AAA game on the market". He also ran some benchmarks; his Geekbench scores are just a scant few percentage points behind the Ryzen 9 7945HX and his 3DMark results are even closer, with his 20496 points in Time Spy being less than 5% behind the 125W desktop chip. Check out the video if you're eager to see his lunchbox-sized PC destroy Cyberpunk 2077, among other games, or head over to Minisforum if you're convinced and ready to buy.