MINIX NEO Z83-4 Fanless Mini PC Review: Affordable, Dead-Silent Media Streaming

MINIX NEO Z83-4 Product Tour

The MINIX Neo Z83-4 is tiny. It’s roughly 5” square and about 1” high, though its corners are rounded which make it appear a bit smaller. With the exception of the accommodations for its various ports, the MINIX Neo Z83-4 also features a completely sealed enclosure, with an aluminum base-plate that has a high-quality feel. The enclosure has a very dark-grey, essentially matte black finish, with the MINIX logo etched into the top.
minix z83 straight

Because the quad-core Intel Atom x5-Z8300 and other components inside the Neo Z83-4 are passively cooled, there is no need for vents or other perforations in the system’s chassis. As long as there is some air-space around the system itself (the top cover gets SLIGHTLY warm to the touch), that’s all it needs to run reliably without overheating.

As we mentioned, there’s a quad-core Cherry Trail-based CPU in this little system. The Atom x5-Z8300 CPU has a base clock of 1.44GHz and turbo clock of 1.84GHz, 2 MB of L2 cache, and a TDP of only 2W. Graphics comes by way of an integrated Intel HD Graphics engine with 12EUs, and base / burst frequencies of 200MHz / 500MHz, respectively. There’s also a single-channel of 4GB of DDR3L-1600 memory, along with 32GB of eMMC solid state storage.
minix z83 angle

In terms of connectivity, there’s quite a bit happening. On the front of the device, there are four full-sized USB ports (four x 2.0 and one x 3.0), and a MicroSD card slot adjacent to the power button. The right side is home to a headphone jack, mini-DisplayPort connector, an HDMI port, an RJ-45 gigabit LAN jack (powered by Realtek), and the power connector. On the rear you’ll find the antenna mount for the built in 802.11ax Wi-Fi (Broadcom) and a lock port. On the left there is a tiny, sole, LED indicator that lights up blue when the system is powered on and active, and turns green when the machine is asleep.
minix z83 side 1

minix z83 side 2

minix z83 side 3
Overall, the MINIX Neo Z83-4’s design language is modern and attractive, and mostly understated. Even the bottom of the device is relatively clean, save for a quartet of rubber feet and some logos silk screened in the center. The only thing that is really in your face is the relatively large, external Wi-Fi antenna. On one hand, the external antenna will help ensure optimal wireless performance, but it also detracts from the look of the system in our opinion. While we’re talking wireless, we should mention that the system has support for Bluetooth as well, already built in.

The MINIX Neo Z83-4 also includes a full 64-bit edition of Windows 10 Home, pre-installed, so setting the machine up was as simple as connecting power, input devices, and a monitor, turning it on, entering some basic user information for Windows login purposes, and then letting the OS run a few updates. There’s no bloatware or other included software to speak of – the system is as clean as a whistle when you first power it up.

One potential problem with the paltry 32GB of internal storage is that after updating Windows and installing things like Kodi, there’s only about 15GB left available. That’s fine for an HTPC that’ll stream from a NAS or the web, and it can be easily (and cheaply) expanded with USB or a MicroSD card, but it’s still something to keep in mind. Over time, as Windows gets continually updated, some maintenance and file declutter will be required to keep enough space free for its solid state storage to perform optimally.

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