MINIX NEO Z83-4 | First Impressions

Today I received my brand new mini computer. The Minix Neo z83-4 cost me $179 w/ shipping on Amazon.  I’m currently writing this post on my Mini Neo running Linux Mint 18.1.

neo-z83-4-package

First, let’s get some things out of the way. This is a $170 computer that fits in the palm of your hand. It is not going to compare to any modern laptop or tower computer. It may not have everything you want but it has what you need to get work done.

PRICE

For the price it can’t be beat. It is literally the cheapest mini computer on the market.

SIZE

This is a true mini computer. It is barely larger than a raspberry pi. It is so small you can mount it to the back of your monitor with some velcro or non-permanent adhesive. It resembles an early version of the Apple TV. It is a sleek black box that blends in anywhere and can easily be hidden. It is fanless and contains no moving parts so it is absolutely silent. The housing looks sleek and at a glance it looks like a much more expensive device.

Note: The wifi antenna does not need to be attached for the machine to work properly. I was able to connect to wifi without the antenna and now I use the built-in ethernet port so I never put the antenna on.

minix-neo-z83-4_power-supply_cablesFEATURES

Built-in Ethernet Port is a MUST for me. I was shocked to see an ethernet port on such a cheap machine.

Micro SD Slot for expandable storage.

4 USB Ports one of which is USB 3.

HDMI & DMI Port

Audio out/in for headphones, speakers, or microphone.

Windows 10 is installed when you take it out of the box. While I’m no fan of windows the Windows 10 OS is pretty snappy and better than I thought it would be.

Easy to Install Linux you don’t have to jump through any hoops. One trip to the bios menu by holding the DEL button on boot, switch the boot order to force USB boot then install linux and you never have to see windows ever again.

Extra Storage Space is gained by deleting Windows 10 and installing Linux as windows 10 takes up about 16 Gbs of hard disk. Installing linux and deleting windows gives you around 15Gbs more storage space.

Bluetooth that I cannot get to work with Linux yet.

HDMI Cable Included in the box!

THE BIGGEST CON: MULTI-TASKING

As you can imagine this machine is not a multi-tasking dream. The relatively small amount of RAM (4GB DDR3) combined with a small processor (Quadcore Atom x5 64-bit) makes it painfully slow to multi-task. I expected the machine to be slower so I installed Linux Mint 18.1 with Cinnamon desktop rather than the KDE Plasma. I have installed Mint with Cinnamon on many older computers and several Chromebooks and found it to light enough for those machines without compromising any features other than some pretty desktop designs.

Even running Cinnamon desktop this machine starts to lag if more than one window is open at a time. If you open two browsers at once and have multiple tabs open in each then you can expect some crashes. You can’t have two fully working virtual desktops and seamlessly cycle back and forth.

minix-neo-z83-4Remember this is a budget mini computer. Once you can get past the need to have 20 programs running at any given time then you will be able to enjoy this machine.

User Experience

It is not as fast as what I am used to so it takes some getting used to. Once I spent several hours working on the computer and learned its limitations it got better. If you are just typing a document in the word processor it is as snappy and comfortable as any other computer.

Browsing the web and checking emails was a breeze. Though I must say that at times when I had 4 or more tabs open (especially for sites with heavy java script) I would get a good amount of lag when typing and occasionally a tab would crash and have to be refreshed.m

Having my email open and my word processor open at the same time was no problem and that is really all I NEED for work. I like being able to have a bunch of distractions open on my computer but really I just need Word and email to do my job and for that purpose this computer works just fine.

Considering how many desk jobs only require a minimal amount of computing power such as that which I described above this mini comp would be a great choice that would seriously save money for businesses.

I would also say that this machine would be great to use as a means of converting any TV into a smart TV. It would be great for kiosks or receptionists. I could imagine many uses for this product.

NEXT: I will be writing a review of this machine running a fresh install of a lighter Linux distro. (maybe go to the extreme and try puppy Linux?) Probably try Lubuntu first.

 

 

All around a great machine for the price. Unboxing video to follow.