A busy couple of weeks it has been. I’m finally finished setting up my new PC, a BeeLink GTR5 Mini-PC (update June 9, 2022).
Ok, so what is that? I usually write about tech and review gadgets sent to be by various companies including Banggood but this week, after talking about replacing my ageing computer for what feels like years, I finally took delivery of a new mini-PC. Now this ISN’T a plug for Banggood, they DIDN’T give me the PC or even discount – I bought it based on their ads and talking to pals. The GTR5 is basically a tiny (17cm*12cm*4cm) AMD-based PC. It LOOKS too small to be as powerful as my old Intel-based desktop monster (that’s actually the name I gave the PC) but I was sold on the idea by the specs and various reviews (I’ll keep it short as there are several paid reviews out there and I’m not one of them).
So in brief – a small but powerful Windows 11-based PC with a modern bios (2022 as against the ancient bios on my old Dell). Why was this important? I needed the auto-power-on of my DELL and the ability to use up to 2 more monitors and 4K @ 60Hz via USB-C (the Dell didn’t have that – relying instead on USB-2 and an adaptor for a third monitor – not ideal).
As it happens I have one 4K monitor (32″ HP Pavillion) and a pair of 1920*1080 (28″ – LG and Benq) monitors – a good combo.
As a bonus the BeeLink claimed to have TWO RJ45 network connectors (2.5Gbps) as well as WiFi-6, none of which is practical on my Dell. That’s it, I said – time for a purchase.
I ordered the Beelink from Banggood (I’ve no experience of BeeLink at all) . I should say it cost me (Euros) €743 all in where now it is listed at €825) – just good timing I guess. Those prices, to head off questions, are inclusive of VAT, DUTY and postage – I had no problems at all with the courier here in Spain – I am just about to get two free sample products from a PCB-PC company and DHL made me pay €33 Euros up front: tax, duty (and a little something for themselves I’ll wager) but nothing on this one – true to their ads, no extra costs.
Better – I ordered the computer on May 15 and expected it anytime between 27/05/2022 to 16/06/2022 – but no, it was shipped from Hong Kong on 17/05/2022 and arrived here on Tuesday 24/05/2022. I have to say, well impressed including the communications from Banggood and GLS (courier) along the way.
So, exciting opening out of the way, I turned the PC on – all looked good – I used EASEUS TODO PCTRANS to get my MS OFFICE installation moved over along with other packages… and for a while it all started to go wrong. Only part of my Office mail (lots of it) came through, Magix Video Editor failed completely and I resorted to going back to the basic Windows setup( EASY if time-consuming). That gave me the basic setup but where was the MS Store? I needed that for OneNote for Windows 10 – or so I thought.
When I failed to get MS Store to appear despite following countless often incorrect advise web pages on the subject, I got DESPERATE and chose the option to reinstall Windows from the CLOUD – no idea WHERE in the cloud but all the features work so I’m guessing the BeeLink cloud) – this is all in the Windows setup for the GTR5 – i.e. a couple of button presses and nothing more from me. Would I reduce my sparkly new PC to a pile of rubbish? No. Some time (and lots of coffee to calm my nerves) later I had a working windows installation with VERY little input from me. Well impressed.
I tried again to get Office and other packages back and this time only MAGIX video editor failed – it turned out subsequently that becaause I have ADGUARDPRO on my router, the package did not want to install- but ultimately MAGIX support came through and told me to look out for anti-virus and other filters. I turned AdGuardPro off for a while and the Magix package transferred to my new machine, meanwhile just about every other package transferred over without issue.
That left AUTO-POWER-ON to sort out (I need my machines to power up in the case of power failure and subsequent recovery). Once again out on the web there are plenty of tutorials on how to go this from the BIOS, specifically on the BeeLink – none of them work because the oft-mentioned bios entry is no longer available. It turns out that most of the guys out there are referring to the 2020 “American Megatrends” BIOS, where my Beelink has, would you believe, the same BIOS dated late April 2022 – i.e. bang-up to date.
I dropped Beelink an email asking for help and within 24 hours an email arrived from MOLLY at BeeLink, none of your automated nonsense, a personal email for me complete with instructions and images (inline and as an attachment for good measure) on where American Megatrends have moved the SIMPLE setting for auto-power-on to.
Sidetrack – here’s some more from the Banggood site – 8 cores, 16 threads, up to 4.4Ghz – definitely looks set to leave my old, expensive, bulky DELL behind.
For the techies, on re-booting the Beelink, I kept hitting DEL until in the BIOS, I went to the ADVANCED tab – AMD CBS option, then FCH COMMON OPTIONS, then AC POWER LOSS OPTIONS and there it is – ALWAYS OFF (I changed to ALWAYS ON). WHEEE. F4 saved the lot and I now have a fully working Beelink – still no (as it happens not that important) MS Store – Beelink pointed me to a video which I followed then having noted that following the video had installed the Store – which would then NOT open pages – but had a specific error message at the bollom – I found a link for that and… one working ONENOTE FOR WINDOWS from the Microsoft store. I could not be happier.
And after all that, what do I have? A FAST little computer with USB-C, USB-3 (on the front), stereo microphones built in, a fingerprint log-in option on the top, along the back – HDMI and DP video outputs, a pair of USB-3 connectors, a pair of USB-2 connectors, a pair of RJ45 network connectors and with that I have a perfectly functional PC.
I’ve just plugged in my Blitzwolf BW-TH14 multi-purpose adaptor which uses up a USB-C and a USB-3 connection (don’t ask why it needs two – it just does) and gives me an additional (in a box even smaller than the new PC) FOUR USB-3, VGA !!!!, another Ethernet RJ45, a pair of HDMI outputs (I can only use one of them as I’m using the HDMI and DP outputs on the BeeLink Mini-PC as well for my 3-monitor setup), a PD3.0 (USB-C fast charge), USB-C and headphones 3.5mm jack (the main PC has HDMI audio already along with those neat internal stereo microphones.
I hope that wasn’t all just too much of a mouthful.
What else can I tell you? For no good reason, I included Banggood’s link at the top and that shows all the specs for the Beelink (32GB RAM, 500GB SSD with room for 2 more drives inside – M2 and SSD would you believe). I’ve nicked some of their photos (the desktop mess photo is mine). Banggood were not warned that I’m writing this and to be fair this entry could have turned out badly but in the end turned out well.
Oh – well, so what? I just watched a FLAWLESS 4K Youtube movie clip (Spiderman) on the larger monitor while doing several other jobs, checking emails etc. Good move, this new PC: not sure how good it would be for gaming types but it works for me.
Finally the little PC came complete with leads, a wall bracket and screws in a very posh box.
Be careful when reading the data for the BeeLink – they show the option to use a second M2 SSD – well, I didn’t read the instructions properly and my handy 512GB M2 SSD did nothing in the second slot – and there’s a reason – slot 2 is not the same as slot 1. The second is SATA M2 (I didn’t know there was a difference – my fault. I’m about to order a SATA M2 drive (length, it seems, doesn’t matter as the Beelink can acommodate th usual different lenths. For now I’m using My M2 drive externally on USB3 – I’m also using an external SATA SSD on USB3 – decent speeds on both.
Quicky: I’m waiting to hear from BeeLinmk just to be dure what that SECOND M.2 slot is for – they’ve confirmed it is NOT NVMe (the first slot IS) but I had no idea there were three variations – so se the image below… why do things have to be complicated… I’ll update when I hear back from BeeLink. I also have my Chuwi Mini-PC for which this info is useful.
And before I go – what’s WEBP?
Absolutely nothing to do with the above PC – but WEBP is an image compression format I’ve recently started using (automatically by a plug-in) on this WordPress-based blog (and my personal blog as well). And here’s me thinking I was being bang-up-to-date, instead of using old-fashioned JPEG images. WRONG – there is something even NEWER. Better compression and better quality than even WebP, it SEEMS that AVIF format images produce even smaller and higher quality images – let’s wait and see. I’m sure anyone interested can Google for more but I had to get this in while it’s fresh on my mind.