OS: Windows 11 Pro
CPU: Celeron N5095
Ports: 2 x USB-C, 2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, SD card, Ethernet
Expansion: Up to 32GB DDR4 SODIMM, up to 1TB m.2 SSD
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 4.2
Size: 4.6 x 4.4 x 1.3 inches (117 x 112 x 34.2 mm)
Weight: 1.1 pounds (500.3 g)
Mini PCs have really taken off, and the Geekom MiniAir 11 aims itself at the entry-level market. For a very affordable price, you can nab yourself a tiny little desktop that powers through most basic tasks well. It might lack in horsepower for more intensive things, but it gets the job done.
What’s more, the MiniAir 11 is a perfect candidate for ChromeOS Flex, which lets you install Chrome OS on a non-Chromebook. That’s exactly what I did with the MiniAir 11 and I think that’s the best way to experience this machine.
I love mini PCs, from the tiniest cube to the big boys, and this MiniAir 11 review will dive into why I think this is one of the best yet.
Geekom MiniAIr 11 review: Price and availability
The MiniAir 11 comes in a single configuration with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. You can upgrade both the RAM and SSD if you so choose. The PC comes with an Intel Celeron N5095 CPU, a quad-core budget chip. All of this clocks in at $279.
However, at time of writing, Geekom (opens in new tab) is running a sale on its website where you can score the MiniAir 11 for a mere $239, which is an absolute bargain. The MiniAir 11 is also available on Amazon for the same $279 MSRP.
Geekom MiniAir 11 review: Design
The MiniAir 11 looks like a smaller cousin of one of Geekom’s other mini PCs, the Mini IT8. This diminutive cuboid is all black with a glossy lid — beware, it gathers fingerprints very easily. Both sides have some ventilation, and there’s another vent above the rear ports. On top, the MiniAir 11 sports simple Geekom and Intel logos.
I appreciate the MiniAir 11’s simplicity. The stealthy look helps it blend in wherever you put it. You can even mount it to the back of a monitor for an even more minimal setup. That’s exactly what I’d do if I was going to use it full time.
Geekom MiniAir 11 review: Ports and upgradeability
For an entry-level PC, the MiniAir 11 has a surprisingly good port selection. On the front you’ll find a single USB-C port paired with USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, plus a combo audio jack and the power button. Along the left side is the full size SD card slot. Then around back, the MiniAir 11 has two more USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, another USB-C port, Mini DisplayPort and HDMI ports, gigabit Ethernet, and the barrel jack for the power adapter.
For $279, that’s a lot of ports, and high quality ones at that. Frankly, one USB-C port would have surprised me, let alone two. Gigabit Ethernet is more than fine for this machine, since it’s meant for people more interested in basic tasks where 2.5Gb might not be as needed.
Another standout feature, the MiniAir 11 lets you take it apart and upgrade both the RAM and SSD. It uses SODIMM slots (laptop RAM), and you can ramp up to 32GB according to Geekom. The 2280 m.2 slot is also open to you, with Geekom saying you can fit in a 1TB SSD. Seeing user-upgradeable parts on an entry-level PC like this boggles my mind in the best way possible.
Geekom MiniAir 11 review: Performance
Looking at the specs of the MiniAir 11, you oughtn’t expect a performance powerhouse. That’s OK, though, since this machine has such a low starting price. The Celeron N5095 is fine for most basic tasks, as I’ve mentioned before.
Here’s how the MiniAir 11 fared in our benchmarks.
|MiniAir 11||Pantera Pico|
|CPU||Celeron N5095||Celeron J4125|
|Geekbench (single-core / multicore)||652 / 2000||449 / 1485|
|25GB file copy (MBps)||159||100|
|Civilization VI (FPS)||5 (1080p) / 2 (4K)||2 (1080p) / 1 (4K)|
I drew comparisons to the XDO Pantera Pico because it’s the only recent Celeron device we’ve tested, even though its Gemini Lake J4125 is a couple of years older than the MiniAir 11’s Jasper Lake N5095. But the Pantera Pico costs almost as much as the MiniAir 11 ($30 less for the same RAM/storage), and while cute, it isn’t as powerful nor does it have upgradeable RAM.
The MiniAir 11 turned in a decent result in Geekbench, though nothing outstanding. Celeron chips are not performance beasts. The PC’s SSD turned in a good result in the 25GB file copy test at 159 MBps. However, the PC struggled with the Handbrake transcoding test, taking almost half an hour to transcode the 6GB 4K file to 1080p 30 fps.
The Celeron N5095’s integrated GPU is also nothing to write home about. You will not be doing more than the most casual of gaming on the MiniAir 11. In our Civilization VI benchmark, the MiniAir 11 provided an unplayable result even at 1080p. You’ll probably get away with Solitaire and Mahjong, though.
Geekom MiniAir 11 review: Software
The MiniAir 11 continues to impress with its software, notably that it comes with Windows 11 Pro out of the box. That’s wild for the $279 PC and I’m glad to see it. What I wasn’t happy about was the amount of bloatware installed by default.
I historically blame Microsoft for this, since I notice the same amount of preinstalled garbage on a fresh ISO image directly from the Redmond company. However, the Beelink GTR5 I reviewed not too long ago didn’t have any of this nonsense out of the box.
That’s all well and good, but I decided to run an experiment. Geekom says the MiniAir 11 is open to other operating systems — the company calls out Ubuntu and FydeOS (a Chinese-focused branch of Chromium OS) specifically. That just means you can install basically any Linux distribution you want.
So I went with the new ChromeOS Flex, which means I turned the MiniAir 11 into a Chromebox. I’ll forgive you for not remembering what those are, since they seemingly died off years ago before ChromeOS really took off. They were basically mini PCs running Chrome OS.
In this experiment, I ran the MiniAir 11 through some of our browser-based ChromeOS benchmarks in both Flex and Windows. Here’s what I found.
|ChromeOS Flex||Windows 11 Pro|
|Geekbench (single-core / multicore)||643 / 1871||652 / 2000|
Geekbench scores aren’t the be-all-end-all, since they can vary pretty wildly. In some of my tests, the MiniAir 11 on ChromeOS got very similar scores to Windows. In order to use Geekbench on ChromeOS Flex, however, you have to run it as a command line script via the Linux virtual machine built into ChromeOS. Windows uses an app.
That disparity could introduce any number of variables, though I doubt it. The point being that the comparison between a dedicated app and a command line script isn’t wholly apples to apples.
That said, ChromeOS Flex performs as well if not better in some circumstances than Windows 11 Pro — on this particular machine. Anecdotally, I much prefer ChromeOS on the MiniAir 11. It simply flies. Honestly, I’m hard-pressed not to recommend going that route if you pick up this mini PC. It would make for an excellent kids’ or family computer, since ChromeOS is built on simplicity, right down to the installation process.
Geekom MiniAir 11 review: Verdict
For $279, the MiniAir 11 ticks all the boxes I want in an entry-level mini PC. It’s sleek, it’s got some oomph, and you can install whatever operating system you want on it without any issues. Seriously, if you need a basic desktop, this should be at the top of your list. And if you nab it on sale, it’s an even better deal.
Sure, it might lack the strength to suffer through a swath of open Chrome tabs or do any aggressive photo or video editing or gaming, but for people who need something that can get them through web browsing, email, and office document work, the MiniAir 11 is ideal. It’s also great for kids’ and family PCs, especially if you throw ChromeOS Flex on it like I did.
Mini PCs span a host of configurations, and I love them all. The MiniAir 11 earns a spot on my recommendation list as a great budget-friendly pick.