Recently, I’ve been overhauling my home network. This has mostly been driven by my diving deeper into Kubernetes. To do that, I needed a bit more computing power. After asking around, and doing some research in using more NUCs, or similar things from Lenovo, someone suggested Minisforum’s mini PCs. So, I picked up to do this are a pair of 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:
- AMD 5900HX 8-core 4.6GHz CPU
- 64GB DDR4-3200 RAM
- 2TB Samsung 970 EVO Pro NVMe SSD
- 2 x Crucial MX500 1TB SATA SSD
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.
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.