We've seen AMD's Ryzen Mobile 6000 series chips show up in several mini-PC devices thus far, and now a recently-released mini-desktop from Minisforum is the smallest yet. The Mini-PC specialty firm has launched its Mercury EM680, an ultra-compact PC based on AMD's Ryzen 7 6800U that is pushing the envelope on compute density, using a far more powerful SoC than we tend to see in these daintiest of devices.

In terms of size, the Minisforum Mercury EM680 can literally fit in the palm of a hand and is smaller than a can of Coke. Underneath it all, Minisforum is taking full advantage of the mobile nature of AMD's recent laptop chips, packing AMD's Ryzen 7 6800U processor (8C/16T@4.70 GHz, Radeon RX 680M) and related hardware into the tiny desktop PC. To help achieve the PC's small size, Minisforum is also relying on soldered-down LPDDR5 memory, pairing the AMD SoC with either 16 GB or 32 GB of LPDDR5-6400. And finally, storage is provided by an M.2 2230-sized SSD hooked up to the SoC's PCIe 4.0 interface.

While the soldered-down memory means there's no option for further memory expandability, it is relatively easy to replace the M.2 drive with a higher-capacity one. Minisforum is selling SKUs with 512GB and 1TB drives, though 2TB drives are also available these days from third parties, albeit at a premium. External graphics expandability is technically also an option via the USB4 Type-C port – though you won't find any eGFX boxes nearly as small as the Mercury.

To ensure consistent performance of the APU, memory, and SSD at high loads, the system is equipped with Minisforum's Cold Wave 2.0 cooling system, which uses heatsinks that remove heat from both sides of the motherboard, heat pipes, and a blower fan. Minisforum notes that the PC supports a silent mode, though the relatively high 28W+ TDP of the 6800U at full throttle means that active cooling is absolutely needed if you want to sustain that kind of performance for any appreciable length of time.

When it comes to connectivity, it looks quite rich, at least as far as miniature systems are concerned, as the system features an onboard Wi-Fi 6E + Bluetooth 5.3 module, two USB4 connectors with DP Alt Mode, three USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A ports, a TF Card slot, and an HDMI 2.1 output, and a TRRS connector for headsets. Given display output capabilities and AMD's Radeon RX 680M integrated GPU, the machine can handle three monitors; the USB-C-driven displays will support an 8Kp60 resolution, whereas the HDMI 2.1 can support an up to 4Kp144 output.

As far as actual dimensions are concerned, the Minisforum Mercury EM680 measures 80×80×43 mm — which is around 40% smaller that the company's typical small form-factor PCs. The system does not have an integrated PSU, but it comes with a small 65W USB Type-C power adapter.

Traditionally, Minisforum's systems are not that expensive. The cheapest configuration with 16 GB of memory and a 512 GB SSD is priced at $399 (down from $499), whereas the range-topping model with 32 GB of LPDDR5 and a 1 TB drive is priced at $489 (down from $609).

Source: Minisforum

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  • kpb321 - Thursday, June 8, 2023 - link

    For something this small and with such limited ports a dedicated power port on top of being able to support USB-PD would be nice. You couldn't even use 3 displays unless you had a USB dock or a Monitor with a USB-C input that provided PD. I'm sure the soldered-down memory and M.2 2230 size are due to the form factor but I don't think it's a worth while trade off. A slightly bigger mini-pc device with So-Dimms and a standard m.2 slot is still small enough.
  • Threska - Thursday, June 8, 2023 - link

    I think the greater point is basically so much in so little space at an affordable price. Computers have come far even from their personal computing days.
  • meacupla - Thursday, June 8, 2023 - link

    This is best combined with a monitor that has USB-C input and PD output.

    Soldered RAM is better in this case, because SODIMM is stuck at 4800, where as this LPDDR5 is hitting 6400. Faster RAM helps the RDNA2 GPU on this chip significantly.
    Just get the 32GB model and you don't have to worry about future proofing.

    Having a m.2 2280 slot would be nice, but unnecessary when there are just so many other Ryzen based SFF out there that have exactly what you want.
  • nandnandnand - Thursday, June 8, 2023 - link

    In the future, all mini PCs are going to use soldered, or CAMM if that takes off. Hopefully it does.
  • FMinus - Friday, June 9, 2023 - link

    I'm fine with soldered things as long as they offer nice options and the price is kept sane.
  • Samus - Saturday, June 10, 2023 - link

    Exactly. For commodity PC's like this (sub-$500) soldered components are a reasonable tradeoff if it is effectively required to make the footprint work, while also increasing performance over SODIMMs.

    Unfortunately, big fruit has made this trend a net negative by overcharging for mild storage\memory upgrades, preventing people from adopting more future-proof PC's. I believe the Mac Mini M2 512GB adds $200 over the 256GB, and adds a whopping $500 for the 16GB RAM over the 8GB RAM. Seriously, the system more than doubles in price to get half a TB of storage and entry-level spec RAM.
  • meacupla - Saturday, June 10, 2023 - link

    EM680 isn't even that expensive in its top configuration, which is the amazing part.
    16GB RAM + 512GB SSD: $399
    32GB RAM + 512GB SSD: $449
    32GB RAM + 1TB SSD: $489
  • Lonyo - Thursday, June 8, 2023 - link

    They offer those as well, so just buy one of those instead.
  • meacupla - Thursday, June 8, 2023 - link

    more specifically, the UM790 Pro, UM690, UM590, UM773 Lite, UM560, UM580, HX99G, HX90M, HX80, to name a few.
  • AdrianBc - Friday, June 9, 2023 - link

    Their bigger computers are not bad and are better than many of those offered by others, but I do not like that (unlike for the smaller EM680 discussed here) their greater volume is not used efficiently.

    Those computers are significantly bigger than a NUC, but they do not have more peripheral interfaces than a NUC. Thus their only advantage is in speed, by having a faster AMD CPU, faster DDR5 memory and a few of the other interfaces are also faster.

    On the other hand, there are other small computers, e.g. Beelink GTR7, which have the same price, CPU, memory and volume under 1 L, like the Minisforum models, but which use that volume more efficiently, by providing more peripheral interfaces than Intel NUCs or Minisforum computers.

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