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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  • AdrianBc - Friday, June 9, 2023 - link

    Ever since they have teased EM680 and EM780 I have been waiting with interest to discover which are the exact dimensions of the case and especially which is the length accepted for the M.2 SSD.

    This computer has many good features and among all computers with a volume less than 0.3 L it comes the closest to being able to replace for many applications a computer with a volume less than 0.5 L, such as an Intel NUC (slim variant).

    Nevertheless, I believe that its designers have made a major mistake by choosing a square form factor.

    They should have chosen a rectangular PCB, like the traditional 2.5" a.k.a. PicoITX form factor, i.e. around 72 mm x 100 mm, for which there are computers, e.g. the Zotac P series, which also have a volume less than 0.3 L.

    Because a Ryzen 7 xxxx U requires a taller cooler than the slower CPUs used by Zotac, to reach their target size they should have used a PCB smaller than PicoITX, i.e. with about the same area as the square PCB that they are using now, but nonetheless with the long side of at least 90 mm, to accommodate M.2 2280 SSDs.

    In that case this computer could have been much more useful.

    At equal capacity with a 2280 SSD, a 2230 SSD is much more expensive and slower. Also, someone who buys this computer is much less likely to already have a suitable SSD and the maximum available capacity will always be lower for 2230 SSDs than for 2280 SSDs.
  • FMinus - Friday, June 9, 2023 - link

    "Slightly" bigger means almost twice the size. I don't think anyone would really run 3 monitors on this device and if they would, getting an USB-C PD monitor would be more convenient than getting an USB-C to DP/HDMI dongle with a dedicated power port, considering you will already need a USB or USB-C to RJ45 dongle to get ethernet going, which to me is a far bigger complaint than powering it through USB-C, also a pet peeve of mine is that there shouldn't be no critical connectivity ports (such as display out) on the front face of the device, imagine having a RJ45 port on the front, it's just nonsense - all display out, ports should be on the back of the device, on the front there should be kept clean of potential cables, except for maybe headphones.

    All in all, I think this little box is fine for what it is if you get a USB-C to RJ45 dongle with an integrated USB hub with 3 or more ports. Also I believe two monitors on this little thing is more than enough. But as I said, if you want more, there's plenty of options from Minisforum.
  • PeachNCream - Thursday, June 8, 2023 - link

    That is a lot of computer packed into such a small box! I could absolutely overlook soldered RAM since that's gotten quite common anyhow these days and the 32GB option is equipped nicely enough for that problem to be pretty much mitigated for the foreseeable future. Also cats in marketing materials are a bonus!
  • DigitalFreak - Thursday, June 8, 2023 - link

    Thanks to the Steam Deck, there seems to be a few 1TB and 2TB 2230 SSDs now.
  • Zim - Friday, June 9, 2023 - link

    One potential problem is the onboard wi-fi/BT. For people looking to use Linux you'd want to make sure it's supported. Unfortunately we don't know what it is.
  • nicolaim - Friday, June 9, 2023 - link

    We're in 2023, and this thing has only one free USB-C port...
  • FrankSchwab - Saturday, June 10, 2023 - link

    Here you go:

    So how much larger do you think they'd have to make the case to add four more USB-C ports on for you?
  • nandnandnand - Saturday, June 10, 2023 - link

    You're going to get sacrifices when you make a palm-sized mini pc. Personally, I'd prefer something around 1-2 liters, wide like a DVD player with plenty of ports.
  • GracenButler - Friday, June 16, 2023 - link

    thank you for your advice

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