Beelink BT3 Pro II Mini PC Review
The Beelink BT3 Pro II is really, really tiny. It’s one of the mini PCs that are redefining how minute small-form-factor (SFF) desktop can be. In the mini PC category, you have the like of Apple’s Mac mini and the pocket-size Intel Compute Stick, all of which have grown in popularity over the past year as manufacturers leverage the small, energy-efficient components found in tablets and budget laptop to squeeze PCs into incredibly compact systems. The Beelink Pro is becoming popular in this growing category, but how does it stack up against other mini PCs we’ve reviewed?
The Beelink BT3 Pro II measures just 0.94 by 4.72 by 4.72 inches (HWD), roughly the same size as two smartphones held together. With glossy-black plastic construction and a swirled gray top cover, the Pro II is an unassuming little box. When compared with mini PCs in the same category, this one is on the small end of the spectrum.
It is certainly tinier than the Apple Mac mini or the Intel NUC NUC7i5BNH, but not quite as small as the pocketable Intel Compute Stick. Still, it is small enough to slip into a pocket, and comes with a bracket so you can easily hook it up to the back of your monitor or TV.
On the upper panel, you have labels for the I/O ports that are set on the side including, a Power button, a DC port, one HDMI, one VGA, a LAN port and a headphone/microphone jack. On the left side is a USB 3.0 port and a USB 2.0 port, while the opposite side holds a pair of USB 2.0 ports and a SD card slot. The HDMI and VGA port suffice for a dual-monitor setup with support for even 4K video playback.
Also, bundled into the package is a power adapter, an HDMI cable and a VESA mount bracket with screws in case you need to mount the PC to the back of a monitor or a wall. Wireless connectivity comes via 802.11ac Wi-Fi in addition to the wired connection. If you need more storage, the SD slot is expandable up to 128 GB or via an external hard drive connected to one of the USB ports.
The Beelink BT3 in many configurations with the difference being the amount of storage on each. Our review model comes with 64GB of eMMC storage, that is the same amount found on the Intel Compute Stick CS325 and double the Quantum Access Mini PC. All that while, the Beelink BT3 remains affordable than its competitors, some with half its storage.
On the other hand, the Maingear Spark boasts a similar design and size as the Beelink BT3 Pro II but packs a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD) storage. Everything else in the Mini PCs range – like the Mac mini, the HP Pavilion mini and the Zotac Zbox– are in the 500GB-to-1TB range. It comes with Windows 10 64-bit pre-installed.
The Beelink BT3 Pro II is outfitted with a 1.92GHz Intel Atom x5-Z8350 processor, 4GB RAM and Intel HD 400 graphics, the same setup used in the Z83-F Mini PC. The low-power Atom processor has the benefit of passive cooling, which keeps the tiny PC small and silent without the need for a fan. However, it gives up some of the capability you’d get with an inexpensive Intel Core i3 processor. That notwithstanding, the system still gets 64-bit compatibility something you never get among the low-end Intel processor, like the Atom Z3735F that is only compatible with 32-bit versions.
That aside, the Pro II is designed and configured for uses like Web browsing and streaming media, and it does a good job for the exact tasks. Anybody buying it is not after replacing a regular desktop for work or productivity, rather, expanding the scope of home entertainment or bridging a technology gap in a small office. Obviously, with the Intel HD graphics, the Beelink Pro II isn’t meant to compete with the likes of the Intel NUC8i7HVK, which is built to support moderate gaming.
The Bottom Line
The Beelink BT3 Pro II is the Mini PC to beat if all you need is a simple, well-crafted system for media streaming or use in a small from office. It is built to deliver basic capabilities anywhere, for as long as you can hook it up to a monitor or TV. Like the Intel Compute Stick, the BT3 Pro is all about stretching the boundaries of what can be considered a PC, and not-so-much about providing performance. In fact, all these extra-small mini PCs are ideal for streaming media, or putting simple Web-browsing capabilities on an otherwise idle monitor or TV.
I would see this sort of PC being an excellent choice for either the living room or a customer service kiosk. The greatest benefit of the Pro II isn’t even the small size, but the affordable price. When at this price range you can get a basic Windows PC, you can afford to get creative using a Mini PC, whatever the limitations it may be.
For the low price and flexibility, there’s always the Editors’ Choice Intel Compute Stick. It comes with a mediocre set of ports, of which the Beelink BT3 Pro II wraps it with useful connectivity options, including support for more than one screen. And, that is what matters when it comes to home entertainment.