Power Consumption and Thermal Performance

The power consumption at the wall was measured with a 4K display being driven through the HDMI port. In the graphs below, we compare the idle and load power of the ASRock DeskMini A300 with other SFF PCs evaluated before. For load power consumption, we ran the AIDA64 System Stability Test with various stress components, as well as a combination of Prime95 and Furmark, and noted the maximum sustained power consumption at the wall.

Idle Power Consumption

The key comparison here is against the DeskMini 310. Thanks to the use of a more power-efficient NVMe SSD, and the A300 PCH that essentially acts as a transparent bridge, the idle power consumption of the DeskMini A300 is a full 2W lower than the DeskMini 310. The load case, however, is completely different. We see the DeskMini A300 sustaining more than 90W at the wall. This number is higher than the load consumption of any other iGPU-only system we are comparing against.

Our thermal stress routine starts with the system at idle, followed by four stages of different system loading profiles using the AIDA64 System Stability Test (each of 30 minutes duration). In the first stage, we stress the CPU, caches and RAM. In the second stage, we add the GPU to the above list. In the third stage, we stress the GPU standalone. In the final stage, we stress all the system components (including the disks). Beyond this, we leave the unit idle in order to determine how quickly the various temperatures in the system can come back to normal idling range. The various clocks, temperatures and power consumption numbers for the system during the above routine are presented in the graphs below.

ASRock DeskMini A300 System Loading with the AIDA64 System Stability Test

At the start of our stress routine, we see most of the cores at the boost clock (3.9 GHz), but, the temperature quickly approaches 78C. The DeskMini A300 BIOS seems to treat that as the indicator to bring down the cores to the base clock of 3.6 GHz. In this initial period, the package power (labeled as reported, but, is more likely to be the power consumption of the x86 cores alone) is around 35W. That drops down to 30W after the cores go back to the base clock. After adding the GPU loading, the cores clocks do go down a bit to around 3.4 GHz (as the GPU ramps up from around 200 MHz to around 1.1 GHz). The reported package power remains constant at 30W. Unlike the reported package power, the at-wall power consumption provides hard irrefutable numbers. In the boost clock state, the wall power goes as high as 80W before settling down to around 72W. When the GPU load is added, the metric stabilizes around 85W. If the GPU alone is loaded, the core clocks jump down to 1.6 GHz, and the GPU starts running at the rated clock (1250 MHz). The at-wall consumption is around 43W. When stressing everything in the system, the added storage workload slightly bumps up the at-wall consumption by a couple of watts, but, other metrics remain similar to the second stage. The temperature of the cores never exceed 80C at any point in the AIDA64 system stability test.

We also run a custom stress test involving Prime95 and Furmark. Starting with Prime95 alone, we add Furmark to the mix after 30 minutes. After another 30 minutes of simultaneous CPU and GPU loading, we terminate the Prime95 process alone and let the GPU run at full throttle. The metrics graphed for the AIDA64 system stability test are also graphed here.

ASRock DeskMini A300 System Loading with Prime95 and Furmark

Interestingly, Prime95 doesn't trigger the boost clocks for the cores. Otherwise, the loading characteristics for the frequencies, temperature, and power are largely the same as what we observe with the AIDA64 system stability test workloads. The only thing of note is that Prime95 and Furmark together make the system consume north of 90W at the wall.

The thermal solution is very effective, ensuring that the temperatures never cross 80C while allowing the APU's CPU cores and GPU to operate at the advertised frequencies / rated power consumption. The 90W peak power consumption also indicates that the Ryzen 5 2400G is operating at its rated TDP of 65W in the DeskMini A300.

HTPC Credentials - Local Media Playback and Video Processing Closing Thoughts
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  • Alexvrb - Saturday, April 27, 2019 - link

    I just want to know if it supports cTDP, and if so, does it work well. Some boards do better than others. Reply
  • CharonPDX - Friday, April 26, 2019 - link

    Now that "integrated graphics" are starting to reach actually-usable levels, I'd like to see VR added to these SFF reviews. We keep the Oculus Rift in the living room, but have to bring the "gaming PC" out every time we want to use it. I'd love to get a small "capable enough for basic VR games" PC to just live in the living room to run the Oculus.

    Relatedly, it mentions the DP, HDMI, and VGA ports - but does the front panel USB-C port allow video output via DisplayPort Alternate Mode? If it can play basic VR games acceptably (BeatSaber is the big one,) I'd rather use the front-panel USB-C with one of Accell's USB-C VR adapters.
    Reply
  • GreenReaper - Friday, April 26, 2019 - link

    It's "usable" up to 1080p on a single screen. Most VR systems use resolutions higher than this, one in each eye, and require twice the frame rates offered here. Don't get me wrong: I want this too, but if top-end Navi-based APUs *doubled* performance they'd still struggle, and they're a year away. Maybe if we had a dual-APU system? (Man, now I'm imagining this for a console.) Reply
  • piasabird - Friday, April 26, 2019 - link

    I have the Intel 310 version of the Desk Mini. I think on your review it is too technical while not stressing the ease at which a 2.5 SSD can be installed. The Data/power connectors on the back of the motherboard make it fairly easy and with not much cable clutter. However, I found the cables were easier to connect if you remove the motherboard first. Since some people may want to use a 2.5 SSD, you should have tested that. I wish a similar design was available in Mini-ITX. However, it seems unavailable on the consumer level for the most modern CPU's like the one used in this review. Reply
  • mikato - Tuesday, April 30, 2019 - link

    I completely agree. I don't think it was mentioned anywhere in the review that you can add a 2.5" drive - and you can actually add 2 x 2.5" drives according to the ASRock specs page. That sets it apart from other mini PCs significantly. Most only support 1 x 2.5" drive, or the thin NUCs don't support any. That gives you some solid storage options. You can actually forgo the media server and have both ends of the HTPC in one compact box (front-end with all streaming options, and the file storage for local media). Reply
  • sor - Friday, April 26, 2019 - link

    I picked up two for my kids, with 2400Gs. Can’t beat the price. I have them mounted to the backs of their monitors which makes for a compact powerful all in one.

    I’ve got Ubuntu 19.04 on them and they run Dota2 like butter. Better than my 2018 MacBook Pro with discrete Radeon 560x.

    My only ask might be two more rear USB ports, but it hasn’t been an issue so far.
    Reply
  • sor - Friday, April 26, 2019 - link

    Come on guys! The wraith cooler fits and is clearly superior to the boxed one.

    It may not be listed as supported dimensionally, but you just need to take the superficial ring off the fan and you can ease it in with a little care.
    Reply
  • oliwek - Saturday, April 27, 2019 - link

    Or just add a low profile Noctua cooler, it's dead silent even under full load, and you won't ever see (nowhere near) 80 degrees celsius as with the stock cooler!
    https://noctua.at/en/nh-l9a-am4
    Reply
  • sor - Friday, April 26, 2019 - link

    I just checked and I’m averaging about 57FPS on my 2400G deskmini A300w in 1080p, all settings max.

    That’s about 50% better performance than the review sees, which is huge. I am running Ubuntu 19.04 out of the box (no munching with drivers).

    I AM using the wraith cooler as mentioned, which is also a difference. Are the windows drivers that bad? Or is it the cooler, or something else?
    Reply
  • oliwek - Saturday, April 27, 2019 - link

    The stock cooler is adequate for a 35watts athlon 200ge, but I'd avoid those high temps with 65W APUs we see here. I don't understand why not to mod the Wraith cooler as you chose to, as it's delivered with the processor, or else take an aftermarket low profile cooler (the Noctua looks like it was designed around this A300 motherboard). Reply

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