Gaming

THE ULTIMATE RETRO GAMING? (test Miniforum UM350)

Before we get into the specs, let’s unpack! In the box, of course, you will find the Minisforum UM350 mini-PC, instructions for it, as well as a fairly complete set of cables and adapters. In addition to a power supply and an electrical cable compatible with your geographic region, you will find an HDMI video cable, a display port video cable, a very clever VESA mounting kit to discreetly attach it behind a compatible computer screen, but also a very nifty SATA adapter which I will cover a little bit later.

The specs are great, but specifically what does this Minisforum UM350 do in terms of emulation/video games?! Video answer with a small selection of gameplay from rather voracious retro games running on Recalbox for a basic 64-bit PC, without any modifications or optimizations, to give you an idea of ​​rendering in real conditions: For a general idea, as you can see, Minisforum The UM350 is an ultra-compact mini computer measuring just 13cm by 13cm on the sides. Features an all-plastic construction. So, between us, the rendering isn’t great, but it does make for a particularly light little computer, as it only weighs 450g fully loaded. Almost the same as NesPi4Case for Raspberry Pi 4!

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On the front panel, you’ll find a POWER button, a RESET button, a 3.5mm TRRS mini jack for connecting headphones, a microphone, or a combo headset, a USB 3.1 10Gb/s port, a USB 3.0 5Gb/s port, and a USB-C compatible with 10Gbps but which can also support 4K display output – 60FPS.

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On the rear panel, from right to left, you will find a 19V power connector, a 2.5Gbps RJ45 connector, a display port that supports 4K – 60fps display output with audio output control, a standard HDMI output. also in 4K at 60FPS, two USB 3.1 ports allowing up to 10Gb/s transfer like the front panel, and a Kensington lock port for anti-theft.

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Like any compact mini computer, the Minisforum UM350 can be sold with or without RAM, and with or without an SSD for storage…which will save you money if you’re already equipped, but also increase your final bill. if you take it completely. equipped. Either way, whether you take it equipped or not, the Minisforum UM350 has an ultra-practical quick access hatch and it’s without a doubt our favorite in this product: you just have to press the 2 corners of the top cover to open it and thus get access to 2 RAM slots, an NVMe SSD, a wireless card… and even a little surprise that I’ll tell you about in a few seconds!

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Should you decide to take it pre-packaged, the Minisforum UM350 is available in 2 configurations: 256 or 512 GB, in both cases it is storage on M.2 2280 NVMe PCIe SSD (expandable up to 2 TB), which will be accompanied by 8 to 16 GB of DDR4 memory spread across two SoDIMM slots to take advantage of dual-channel processing, which you can upgrade up to 64GB of RAM in total.

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A LITTLE MORE, and we’re in for a little surprise: if you turn over the newly opened cover, you’ll find a slot for a 2.5″ SATA hard drive! However, be careful not to exceed the traditional standard thickness of 7mm, which should at least give you the ability to easily expand to 2TB, if not more. It connects directly to the motherboard via the small SATA adapter I talked about at the beginning of the video. Perfect for upgrading or simply increasing the memory capacity of this mini PC at a lower cost by adding or replacing an SSD or mechanical drive! So even if this cover is very “plastic” in its design, it is really very well thought out and makes setting up, maintaining and upgrading your little computer super fast and super easy!

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Some of the wireless connectivity is provided by a card installed in the M.2 2230 slot and compatible with Wifi6 and Bluetooth 5.1. Please note that the SSD and this NIC come and install with a heatsink to improve performance… while remaining completely silent!

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Whatever your configuration, the Minisforum UM350 is equipped with an AMD Ryzen 5 3.550-H processor. It is a 4-core/8-thread processor running at 2.1 to 3.7 GHz and a Radeon Vega 8 GPU at 1.2 GHz.

empty Minisforum UM350 is not much bigger than Raspberry Pi 4!

Please note that if you choose it pre-equipped, the Minisforum UM350 comes ready to use running Windows 10 Pro, which you can upgrade to Windows 11. In terms of emulation, Recalbox 8.1 for 64-bit PCs is natively fully compatible without any interference . from your side. All audio outputs are recognized as standard, and the PC runs particularly smoothly and quickly, provided you have installed Recalbox on a recently released good quality USB 3.1 dongle. The boot menu of the mini PC itself is very accessible, making it very easy for you to change the boot order, so it’s perfect to ask it to boot Recalbox from a USB key when it’s plugged in, or boot directly into Windows if it’s not!

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In terms of price, the Minisforum UM350 is positioned quite well, with a sale price ranging from 250 to 400 euros depending on the desired configuration, making it a particularly interesting solution for those looking for an all-in-one computer that can surf the Internet. very comfortable and have fairly advanced multi-tasking office use with no fluency issues, offering the ability to run current games relatively well (obviously without pushing the graphics settings too hard) and offering the luxury of increasing the capabilities of “a simple Raspberry Pi for retrogaming, runs on Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, PSP, Playstation 1, Saturn and even Wii, GameCube or Playstation 2!

So, should we fall in love with this mini PC?!

Of course, our answer will always be the same: if it’s only about emulating retro games like Megadrive, Super Nintendo… we think the investment in a new latest generation PC is perhaps a little over/disproportionate. However, this mini PC is starting to be really very interesting because we are finding it more and more in promotions at very aggressive prices from 300 to 350 euros fully equipped, which is a little more than twice as much as the Raspberry Pi is equivalent… except here you end up with a solution that doesn’t take up much space, doesn’t make much noise, doesn’t use much more power and above all: you get a REAL PC running Windows, especially fast and durable, able to respond to 99% of daily use.

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Support the Recalbox project on Patreon and get many benefits! :patreon.com/recalbox

Available on the manufacturer’s website, from 280€
More information on the manufacturer’s website

Negative points:

  • Plastic that looks very cheap
  • Some finishes are really not high quality, for example the ON/OFF button
  • Some random slowdowns on Windows
  • What about follow-up support/support in terms of drivers and optimizations, everything is purely based on Windows Update…

Positive points:

  • Fully compatible and connects to Recalbox 8.1!
  • Undoubtedly, the price / power ratio is quite hallucinatory.
  • ultra-convenient access to the inside of the PC
  • 2.5″ hard drive slot inside
  • 4 USB 3 ports
  • 3 video outputs 4K 60FPS
  • overall performance
  • silence and waste
  • and a very complete kit, with cables, VESA mount… nothing is missing!

Beginning

Capabilities

Versatility

Scalability

Finishing / Manufacturing

The price of money

GET ON SOMETHING!

Very good product at a very good price! If you want to do retro gaming in 2D (8/16 bit) only, it’s obviously too big, Raspberry Pi (although not found at the moment…) will do the job just fine. But if you’re looking for a more advanced solution to comfortably enter the 3D era, or if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution and looking for a new PC, that’s a big yes! We highly recommend!

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