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Packaging wise, it felt decent. You removed the branded sleeve and had to lift the lid to reveal the goodies underneath.
It came with two HDMI cables of varying lengths, an adaptor to mount it to your monitor with appropriate screws and a surprisingly weighty power brick. The unit itself is shallow in height, but has a wider footprint than my beelink GK mini. To look at, I’d say it’s about 15% larger than my 6th gen Intel Nuc.
Operating System 1: Windows 11 Pro
I connected the machine up and turned it on. It immediately booted into the Windows 11 configuration screen, which I carelessly whizzed through almost without reading the options. Once at the desktop, I needed to update the AMD Ryzen chipset and Radeon drivers. Downloading the latest version of Adrenaline fixed that. Next, I went through Windows Update. I was pleased to see it came with an activated version of Windows 11 Pro with a bona fide key.
You can get full hardware details here if necessary. The most taxing thing I did with the pc was download and install the Cumulative Update for Windows 11 (KB5016691). That took a good few minutes to actually install. Everything else was extremely snappy. Copying a few GB’s of data here and there never saw the CPU above 70% and even then it was a momentary spike, all whilst installing the update mentioned above. For the rest of the time playing with it (mainly browsing, installing and uninstalling a few programs), I was lucky to get it above 15%.
Despite my intention to remove Windows from the machine, I wanted to get to a point where everything was running the latest and greatest drivers and updates without issue. I would have no problem recommending this as a daily driver for office work, general computing, and maybe the lightest of gaming (I regularly play Warzone at 4K on a Ryzen 5950x with an RTX 2080, so forgive me for not testing any games here. That’s not what this machine would be about for me). Throughout my whole time with the machine, I didn’t hear it once. If you placed your ear on the machine, there was only a slight audible hum, but that’s about it. It’s a lot quieter than any NUC I’ve ever messed with as well as the Beelink GK Mini I’m currently running as my day to day server.
I was keen to test out my USB-C LAN adaptor that I’d previously purchased from AliExpress. More on that here. I plugged it into the port at the front, and within a few seconds, Windows had recognised and set up the device correctly. I could see the additional network adaptor in device manager (see below). I swapped the ethernet cable round to the front to test. The internet worked immediately. Now it was time to rid this little box of magic from Windows for good.
Operating System 2: OPNsense
Given the machine effectively now had two network ports, I thought I’d try out OPNsense. Now I know the specs of this machine are going to be totally overkill for a router/firewall combo, but I wanted to have a play with OPNsense for a while. Not wanting to take down my existing firewall (running pfSense) I seized the opportunity. There were a couple of quirks with installing OPNsense, but in a nutshell, you need to select the vga option from here,
I installed Rufus using the Chocolatey package manager (Choco install rufus -y). Once installed, it was a case of selecting the *.img.bz2 file we’d just downloaded and an empty USB drive.
You need to hit f7 in the bios to be able to choose the boot device. Initially I tried OPNsense as a live environment, but pretty soon, I decided to YOLO the drive and install it fully. Below are some details I needed to know to login and actually install the OS, as well as the designations needed for “assigning” the interfaces. My USB-C gigabit ethernet adaptor was recognised immediately, with no additional drivers needed.
If you wish to just play with the live environment, you login using the following:
If you wish to install, login with these:
Note, with only one disk inside the machine, the ability to install “using ZFS” wasn’t available to me. This stood in contrast with pfSense when 2.6.0 was released. (I do appreciate that with only one drive in the machine anyway, you have zero redundancy, but it caused me a few moments of confusion whilst trying to install). I opted for the following: Other modes >> Extended Installation
When it came to assigning interfaces, these were the options shown to me:
re0 = inbuilt Realtek Gigabit ethernet
ue0= USB Ethernet
iwm0 = wireless
Having finalised the installation, I removed the USB drive and rebooted. Within a few moments, I was staring at the OPNsense login page.
I logged in with root/user-pass (I’d set up prior) and was now looking at the configuration pages. I won’t take you through the set up of the firewall as there are plenty of tutorials online that can do that, but I managed to get the internet working. As it stood, I don’t think the features in OPNsense are enough to warrant me redoing my whole network set up and moving away from the pfSense set up I’m rocking already, but it was good to have a look at something else for a change. Time to take a look internally at the unit!
Operating System 3: TrueNAS Scale
Up until this point, I hadn’t had a look inside the unit at all. I wanted to try out TrueNAS Scale (despite this just being a mini pc). For that, I needed to add an additional drive. With TrueNas Scale, if I was to install from the USB drive direct to the 500GB drive in the unit, I would essentially end up with a 500GB boot disk and nothing else. Fortunately, I had an old 60GB SSD lying around, so it was time to take out the screwdriver. In each corner there were 4 small screws holding the base in. It’s a tight fit, even without the screws. I used a plastic pry tool to gently ease the base away from the main unit to reveal the guts of the Speed S. Inside I was pleasantly surprised to find some quality components. There were two sticks of Crucial Memory- 8gb DDR4 3200, and a Kingston NVME drive (SNVS500G). Whilst maybe not the latest and greatest, it was nice to see that no corners were cut here.
In order to fit my internal drive in the machine, I needed to remove this small metal placeholder that was protecting the sata port. If you see here on the second picture of the internals, you can see it snug in it’s position. You literally needed to just ease it off a dimple on either side of the tray and it came away easily. Note you get some additional screws in the small bag for securing your SSD to the tray mount, so Trigkey has you covered! Be mindful of the thin ribbon cable here. It was secure enough, but you still want to treat the base with caution.
A few minutes later, and the additional SSD was attached, secured, and I was already closing up the lid. I downloaded TrueNAS Scale and used Rufus to burn it onto a thumb drive. Install was straight forward, I selected the 60GB partition and let the installer do the rest. Once user and password are configured, it’s just a couple of moments before you’ll be looking at the following screens: I added storage by choosing the built in 500GB drive.
I am not sure if I’ll end up sticking with TrueNAS scale, but I was keen to try the inbuilt Docker system. I basically want to transition several devices over on to this small but capable machine. I have a large 18TB WD external drive that I would like to “serve” to the rest of the home. It’s my understanding that TrueNAS isn’t able to mount and share. It can only mount and copy/import. So I need to play further. Maybe I’ll end up going back to Proxmox, or even Unraid for that matter. If you have any other ideas I’m open to them (not OMV, I hate the interface).
I have been very impressed with the machine Trigkey sent me. It’s well put together, with decent ventilation. The hardest I’ve worked it so far was copying 25gb of media at the same time as updating Windows. I have not heard any internal fans spin up once. NOT ONCE. As you can see from the screenshot above, I got it to around 55-60 degrees doing some stuff on TrueNAS, and still it’s sitting there silent looking at me. That being said, I am sure if I installed Steam on this unit and started to game, then it might be a different story.
I will probably experiment over the next couple of weeks or so with a couple more server/NAS OS’s (is that even a word?) before settling on one. As it stands right now, this little unit has enough guts to replace the following:
Pi3b (Tasmota flasher, print server and tailscale emergency access point).
6th Gen Intel Celeron NUC (HA OS installation, complete with Node-red, MQTT servers, etc.).
Beeling GK Mini (‘Media’ Docker Stack, Adguard Home LXC, Tailscale Entry Point, Home-Assistant Development server).
Move the plex server off my Nvidia shield and on to this drive.
If anything, It could also probably incorporate my pfSense box too, but I have a rule about not virtualising the internet!
In terms of price point (see latest price here and remember to click on the voucher!), I think it’s a good deal for the level of hardware you’re getting. Branded internal components give me confidence. I like the size of the unit, and it’s extremely quiet (read: silent)- at least thus far. I do wish they’d put the USB-C socket on the rear of the unit, but that’s subjective. Maybe you have a USB-C dongle, drive, or maybe a charging cable you want to be using from the front. For me, it just made things unsightly when I tried to use my USB-C Lan adaptor. The power brick is deceivingly heavy, but this isn’t a laptop so it isn’t an issue for me. It would have been nice to get it powered off my POE+ switch (like my GK Mini), but I understand this unit is just in a different power category.
I would like to extend a thank you to Trigkey for sending me out the unit to review! I look forward to seeing what new products they bring to the market.
I’ll write more on this unit when I finalise my OS choice. If you have any suggestions drop them in the comments or come and see us on Facebook!
If you’re considering a renovation and looking at the structured wiring side of things, or maybe you just want to support the blog, have a look below at my smarthome book, it’s available in all the usual places (including paperback)!