Minisforum HX90 Quick Review (UPDATED: BIG WARNING)

UPDATE 2023-08-28. Wow, what a difference some time makes. About 3 months ago, my HX-90G died. This is the same basic hardware as the HX90, but with a dedicated mobile GPU. The video stopped working, and it has been a never-ending pain to get it resolved. Here’s the timeline:

  • 2023-01-06 - HX90G ordered. $799 including shipping.
  • 2023-06-15 - HX90G video stops working. Just black (not no signal, but a blank signal) on both both HDMI and both DP ports.
  • 2023-06-16- Reach out to Minisforum to try and get support. About a 1 page email with lots of details.
  • 2023-06-18 - Response finally from Minisforum, but very generic “helpdesk” response.
  • 2023-06-19 - Emailed them back with follow-up confirming all the things that they had requested.
  • 2023-06-20 - They confirm the video is dead, and refer me to sales for after-sales support. Email the sales team.
  • 2023-06-21 - Email response that they’re closed for a Chinese festival. No big deal, this is 100% understandable. Say they’ll be back the 24th.
  • 2023-06-25 - They confirm, and give me instructions, asking me to return at my own expense.
  • 2023-06-29 - Boxed, shipped via UPS (as requested).
  • 2023-07-05 - Delivered and signed for.
  • 2023-07-11 - I follow up about a week later after having heard nothing.
  • 2023-07-12 - “We are already arranging for you to send out the new machine, which is under approval. Shipping will be arranged for you as soon as possible after approval. Thanks for the support.”
  • 2023-07-18 - I follow up about a week later after having heard nothing again.
  • 2023-07-19 - “We’re sorry, but our exchange process is generally a little slower. This is because there are several approvals to go through before shipping can be arranged. Your exchange item is already in a waiting to be scheduled for shipment status. We will notify you as soon as the item is shipped.”
  • 2023-07-25 - “Your model is no longer in stock.”
  • 2023-07-26 - I propose the successor model HX99G, which is slightly nicer, but also will require me buying new RAM for it so feels like a reasonable trade-off. They respond agreeing.
  • 2023-07-31 - I follow up again, because I haven’t heard anything.
  • 2023-07-31 - “Your order has been urged, after the shipment of logistics information will be updated to notify you in a timely manner. We apologize for causing you a bad shopping experience.”
  • 2023-08-08 - Again, asking for an update.
  • 2023-08-09 - “We checked that it is in stock, we will arrange the shipment for you as soon as possible. Sorry to keep you waiting.”
  • 2023-08-10 - I remind them that I’ve been without a machine for several months now.
  • 2023-08-15 - I follow up again.
  • 2023-08-16 - “We are sorry to keep you waiting, but there is a shortage of stock, so this has caused your delivery to be put on hold. We will arrange for your shipment as soon as possible, and will notify you of any updates to the logistics information after shipment.”
  • 2023-08-16 - I remind them that is has been several months.
  • 2023-08-18 - “We’ve pushed for it and we expect to ship it to you in the next week.”
  • 2023-08-24 - I ask again for an update, as it’s been a week.
  • 2023-08-25 - “At present, we are still looking for stock of your model, we have urged the factory to hurry up to keep up with the progress, we will notify you as soon as there is any update, please don’t worry.”

After all this, I cannot recommend anyone do business with Minisforum. They simply are incapable of supporting machines they sell.

Minisforum HX90

It’s a compact (2L) case that holds a lot of firepower. My build for this is a pair of identical HX90s with:

It amazes me how much power you can get in such a relatively small chassis.

The box I ordered online had no memory/storage in it so that I could choose what I wanted. While I had to order via their website (using Apple Pay), it had to be shipped from Hong Kong. Fortunately, this only took about 10 days to arrive, which I consider pretty impressive in this current day.

One downside is that the “documentation” is laughable, and tiny print. Fortunately, after a few false starts, I identified where the cover comes off (it has both screws and clips), and from there getting in was easy. A few observations:

  • Packaging is very good, and generally easy to navigate.
  • The design uses interesting pins to hold the 2.5" SSD in combination with screws, reducing complexity.
  • Minisforum uses some odd connectors for the SATA drives (provided), which can be a tiny bit finicky to get connected. What’s not told, and hard to see, is that they are keyed.
  • Removing the motherboard (necessary to add RAM SO-DIMMs) is a bit convolted as the ports tend to get caught.

All told, though, the 2nd one got built in < 10m from start to finish. They went so well, that I’ve decided to add a dedicated Vault instance to explore some ideas there, including custom provisioners. To do that, I also ordered a much smaller (0.5L) and cheaper GK41 with 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD. The main reason for using a dedicated system is to also provide an opportunity to explore how far I can push Linux hardening for something as sensitive as a secret store. That should be more than enough for a lab instance.

For now.

If you’re looking for a new small form-factor, this is a great choice. I’m excited to see what they do with the new Zen 4 architecture when it becomes available as a low-power mobile instance.