Hey Hey OCNers, I am bluedevil. Today we are gonna to take a look at a mini PC that can actually game, but it’s not what you are thinking. It’s part desktop and laptop parts, this small form factor design, dubbed the “The Best Mini PC for Light Gaming”, the SF110-A320 by ECS. Being as it’s not the most powerful PC, I think it will be great for web browsing, some light gaming, and maybe a good streaming PC?
Meet the ECS SF110-A320, a one liter sized, barebones PC that lets you decide how powerful to make it. Armed with AMD’s basic AM4 based platform, is the A320 chipset. The SF110 is by no means a gamer’s first choice. However for a second computer that the family can conveniently play CSGO, RocketLeague, or just about any other low impact game on the market.
So as usual, let's run down the specs of the base unit and then get to the parts for today's build. So like I said earlier, the A320 chipset is based on AMD’s AM4 socket, however support for only up to 35w AMD Ryzen 3 and 5 CPUs are supported. For RAM, only laptop SO-DIMM DDR4 memory up to 2666mhz and 32GBs is supported. There are two storage options available with a single M.2 2280 NVME slot as well as a single SATA6 2.5” drive bay. USB connectivity surprisingly is pretty strong, with 4 USB 2.0 in the rear IO with 2 USB 3.1 Gen1 and single USB 3.1 Gen1 Type C in the front IO, along with headphone and microphone jacks. For video connections is a single HDMI, VGA, and a displayport. Interestingly enough, there is another labeled displayport slot, but with no slot for a connection. Networking needs are addressed by the included Intel 3165 M.2 card that includes 802.11AC and Bluetooth 4.2. Also present but not labeled anywhere in the spec chart, is a single RJ45 ethernet port, which I can confirm is running at Gigabit speeds on the Realtek controller.
Now let's get to the good stuff. Starting off with the CPU, I actually had a bit of difficulty deciding which 35w CPU to go with. Having found AMD’s 2400GE or 3400GE, I set my sights on finding one of them. Having 4 cores and 8 threads meant it was more than capable, but also having a Radeon Vega 11 graphics onboard, things looked good. But with the only available options coming from eBay in China right now, I held off due to the recent human malware situation. I originally bought an Althon 3000G, and while it worked, there was more to be had in terms of the graphics department. Finally settling on the Ryzen 5 Pro 2400GE I got from eBay from a seller in Texas, I also picked up a Ryzen 9 3900X for a ridiculous price, for my new workstation build. So keep your eyelids peeled for that build, it’s being sponsored by Aorus and EKWB, and being housed in Fractal’s new Define 7. So the Ryzen 5 Pro 2400GE, having 4 cores, 8 threads, and the Radeon Vega 11 GPU, I set my attention on acquiring a kit of SO-DIMM DDR4 memory. This area was another part of the build I didn’t want to overspend on. Going back and forth on a 2x4GB kit or 2x8GB kit of SO-DIMM DDR4, I came across Team Group’s Elite 2x8GB kit at 2666Mhz for about $60 bucks on Amazon. Having a total of 16GB of memory for this tiny build is probably a good thing, as the onboard Radeon Vega 11 GPU will “steal” system memory for graphics use. For storage, I am going to be using what I have already on hand, populating the M.2 NVME slot with a 512GB Samsung 950 Pro SSD and the SATA6 slot will be occupied by a Team Group T-Force Vulcan 500GB SSD.
So upon opening up the SF110, it is actually pretty easy thanks to a single thumbscrew on the back of the case right above the rear IO. Once inside, is the AM4 socket, two SO-DIMM DDR4 slots, and a single 2.5” drive bay are exposed. The available NVME M.2 slot is tucked away under the 2.5” drive bay in case you wondered where it was hidden. Also included in the box, is a blower laptop style cooler for the AM4 CPU. Slapping in the Ryzen 5 Pro 2400GE, applying thermal paste, then securing the cooler down with the four numbered standoff screw points. Note the cooler’s fan also does come off for easy cleaning.
Next up, was the Vulcan 2.5” SSD, which took all of 30 seconds to install, since all I needed to do was slide the SSD face down and plug in the SATA/power combo plug and then mount the four screw points down.
Now I forget to install the SO-DIMM ram before the CPU cooler, but like I said earlier, just move the CPU fan out of the way and install the SO-DIMM ram sticks like in any laptop. Once the CPU fan is installed, all that was left is to put the top cover on and screw in the capacitive thumbscrew.
So with the benchmarks, I tested Aida64’s memory benchmark, CrystalDiskMark for the SSDs, Cinebench R15 for the CPU, as well as Firestrike and Timespy for overall system benchmarks. Just to run down the system again, the SF110 is running an A320 AM4 chipset, with a Ryzen 5 Pro 2400G. For memory, a 2 x 8GB kit of Team Group Elite SO-DIMM DDR4-2666mhz, which I bumped up to 3000mhz with AMD’s Ryzen Master software. It’s pretty well known that Ryzen CPUs, especially APUs, run better at high memory frequencies. I didn’t OC the CPU since it’s a locked CPU and already is in a small form factor design, as heat was my main concern. However I was pretty surprised once I applied some Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste on instead of the stock junk, idle temps now sat in the mid to high 30’s, with load temps reaching only 77C. That’s pretty impressive, especially since I didn't even hear the blower style fan spool up all that loud. Ok as far as gaming performance goes, 1080P 60 FPS is what I was shooting for and the SF110 didn’t disappoint. Running CSGO, Fortnite, and Overwatch, the SF110 hit around that 60 FPS mark, albeit all in game settings were set to low, but it’s fully capable to game on.
So what do I think about the SF110 from ECS? Well to be frank, I was blown away at Computex 2019 when I first saw it. Dubbed “The Best Mini PC for Light Gaming”, as I saw it running The Division 2. Honestly I thought it could be a great option for streamers, as it’s super small and really capable. Well with the right hardware installed, absolutely. Having a NVME M.2 slot, 2.5” drive bay, dual channel memory on AMD’s A320 socket, really does sound awesome. The one thing that I don’t like is support for only 35w CPUs, which severely limits which CPU you can install in the SF110. My search led me to the conclusion that the only CPUs to use for gaming on the SF110 would be any of the quad core and or eight threaded GE AM4 CPUs with at least Vega 8 graphics. There is however, from reading PCMag’s review of the SF110, another version that supports 65w AM4 CPUs, so I suggest looking at that model for better availability of consumer CPUs.
Alright guys, if you want to check out the ECS SF110-A320, links will be below.
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