Power in a small package

Laptops don’t make good desktops. There, I said it. If you spend most of your time in the same place, a laptop is the wrong choice; it forces you to hunch over a relatively small screen and makes you pay for an expensive battery you’re scarcely using. My advice: Make your next PC a mini PC, one that consumes precious little space but allows for a comfy full-size monitor and keyboard. It’ll probably give you more bang for the buck, too. My Beelink GTR7 mini PC review bears that out: It’s fast, affordable and fully decked out, with enough graphics horsepower for high-end gaming.

Beelink

PROS: Compact but powerful; highly expandable; choice of colors

CONS: Fans can get a bit noisy; one-year warranty

VERDICT: A serious powerhouse packed inside a tiny box, the GTR7 has everything you need for productivity during the day and high-end gaming during your off hours.

$859 at Amazon

Beelink GTR7 Mini PC setup

If you’re a novice at computer things, don’t expect much help in the form of setup instructions. The included manual has exactly four pages in English. There’s an e-mail address for Beelink support, as well as a phone number — but it’s an international one (most likely to China).

Because the GTR7 runs Windows 11 Pro and not Windows 11 Home, you don’t get the latter’s friendly, Cortana-guided setup. It’s certainly not difficult to walk through Pro’s configuration steps, just not quite as simplified.

The Beelink GTR7 next to my hand, shown for size comparison.

Though a hair large than some mini PCs, the Beelink GTR7 is still incredibly compact — as shown here alongside my average-size hand. (Photo: Rick Broida/Yahoo)

One wrinkle I encountered: I use a wireless Bluetooth keyboard, but there’s no way to pair it during setup. The workaround was to enable Windows’ onscreen keyboard (via accessibility settings), then mouse-click my way through the steps. Of course, if my mouse was Bluetooth-based as well, I wouldn’t even have that option. Granted, the same holds true for setting up any desktop; I’m just saying you might need to buy or borrow a wired mouse and keyboard, at least to get things started.

Beelink GTR7 Mini PC design and features

I reviewed the GTR7 7840HS, which comes with an AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS processor, 32GB of RAM (expandable to 64GB), a 1TB solid-state drive and AMD’s hot new Radeon 780M RDNA3 graphics subsystem. That is some seriously powerful hardware, folks, suitable for everything from pro-level Photoshop work to EA Battlefield V with all the visual effects turned on. Needless to say, it can breeze through any productivity apps you throw at it.

The little box containing all this hardware is available in your choice of green, dark blue, space gray or Hermes orange. (This last isn’t currently available via Amazon.) I like the understated elegance of the dark blue, but that’s just me. It measures a mere 6.6 x 4.7 x 1.9 inches, so it can easily find a home on your desk. You can even hook it to a wall or the back of a desktop monitor using an included bracket, though I don’t find this especially practical; you’ll lose easy access to the expansion ports, to say nothing of the power button.

The rear of the Beelink GTR7; it has lots and lots of ports.

The Beelink GTR7 has a ton of expansion options; these are just the ones on the outside. (Photo: Rick Broida/Yahoo)

Speaking of ports, the GTR7 is lousy with them. Up front, there’s one USB Type-A and one USB-C port for quickly plugging in occasional-use items; a headphone jack resides alongside them. At the back, you’ll find four more Type-A USB ports, two USB-C, two LAN jacks, a second headphone jack, and both HDMI and DisplayPort ports. No shortage of expansion options here!

I like the magnetic power plug, which snaps to the underside of the box but has a little cutout so the cord feeds seamlessly to the rear.

Finally, there’s a fingerprint reader on the top side of the system, allowing you to quickly unlock Windows without having to input a password.

My sole complaint with the GTR7’s design is the “CLR CMOS” button on the front of the system, right beside the power button: It’s identified in the user manual but not explained. Why is it there? When would you need or want to use it? Hardly a deal-breaker, just more of a head-scratcher.

Beelink GTR7 Mini PC performance

I consider benchmark testing to be fairly pointless in this day and age; the specs on this PC tell me everything I need to know. It’s a powerhouse, and surprisingly well-suited to gaming for a mini PC. As noted above, I played the 2018 shooter Battlefield V at 1,920 x 1,200 resolution, with nearly every visual effect set to maximum, and it ran smooth as butter.

Like many powerhouse mini PCs, the GTR7 can run pretty hot (on the inside, anyway; the outside . Sometimes you’ll barely hear its fans; other times they’re definitely noticeable, though I wouldn’t call them loud. My laptop, in comparison, is all but silent.

I did encounter one problem during my testing: At random times the system locked up, requiring a hard reset. According to Beelink, the first production run was discovered to have a memory glitch; after removing one of the two modules (dropping me down to 16GB), the problem disappeared. This issue has since been addressed; I’ve been assured that the inventory currently available through Amazon includes updated hardware.

I should also note that my demo unit’s power button was a bit sticky, occasionally getting wedged into the case on one side. It was easy enough to unwedge, but I don’t know if the newer production run solves this minor hiccup.

Beelink GTR7 Mini PC: Should you buy it?

Mini PCs like this one are something of a commodity item these days; you can find lots of similar machines at similar prices. That said, I’m impressed by nearly every aspect of the GTR7, from the design to the expandability to the performance.

Yes, it should come with a better instruction manual, but that’s true of 95% of tech products these days. Also, given the price tag, I do find the one-year warranty a bit short. Granted, there’s not much that can go wrong in a system like this, but if a fan were to fail it could wreak havoc. I’d like to see Beelink extend that warranty to two years or even three.

Those niggles aside, the Beelink GTR7 offers everything you need for productive days and game-fueled nights. I’d definitely consider it the next time you’re shopping for a new PC.

Beelink

A serious powerhouse packed inside a tiny box, the GTR7 has everything you need for productivity during the day and high-end gaming during your off hours.

$859 at Amazon

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