Compact Battlestation

While our headset break-in is still underway, we’ll share a limited space focused computing solution we’ve put together using some new components and not-so-new peripherals. In April, Walmart had a rather nice deal on the Techni Mobili Rolling Compact Computer Cart Desk with Storage (P/N: RTA-2018-GPH06). As furniture doesn’t require extensive benchmarking involving repeated runs, averages and associated metrics, we’ll have a review of the cart up later this week. Earlier in the year, we purchased an AsRock DeskMini A300W kit along with appropriate memory, a Noctua NH-L9i cooler and a Ryzen 5 3400G. From an audio perspective, we had purchased the LG XBoom 2.1 speaker system (P/N: LK72B) during a Deals of the Day promotion from Best Buy. Recycled tech that was utilized to keep costs down include the following components:

  • Western Digital Black 250GB NVMe SSD (Boot Drive)
  • Intel 660p 2TB NVMe SSD (Storage Drive)
  • Razer Peripherals (Tartarus Chroma, Deathadder Elite Chroma, Blackwidow Chroma)
  • LG 29″ Ultrawide 1080p Monitor
  • 850VA UPS
  • Belkin 4-port USB 3.0 Hub

While the supply chain and associated costs for various components is in a state of flux at this point, there are certainly more budget-conscious options to bring this barebones kit to a viable operational state. With the DeskMini A300W’s support for (2) NVMe drives and (2) 2.5″ SATA drives, it’s still possible to establish a fairly robust system for less than $500 USD with room for expansion from the storage perspective. Although there are compromises that have to be made from a gaming perspective due to limitations of the integrated Vega graphics, there’s still plenty of processing power available to tackle most productivity use cases. While our DeskMini A300W setup is not a fully identical configuration to Jason Evangelho’s review of the System76 Thelio that uses the same processor, it’s honestly close enough while dramatically reducing the overall footprint required for the computer.

As you can see from the picture above, everything fits on this sturdy and low-cost cart. 4 cores/8 threads of Zen+ processing goodness with a nearly silent operational profile thanks to the Noctua upgrade. Although the DeskMini A300W does include a custom cooler that fits within the tiny case, the con of “Noisy under high loads” noted by Thomas Soderstrom over at Tom’s Hardware was something we were desperately trying to avoid. Thankfully, the Noctua cooler offers superior performance and lower noise.

Prior to the fallout and continued outrage from some of the tech community regarding AMD’s decision to draw a line in the sand regarding which chipsets and associated firmware will support available processors, there was hope that AsRock may have introduced support for Ryzen 4000G-series processors to the DeskMini A300W. This currently seems far less likely. Additionally, AMD hasn’t released a more modern equivalent to the very budget-oriented A300/A320. Only time will tell if AsRock refreshes the platform with a B550/A chipset and possibly a larger external power supply if the 4000G series will exceed the traditional 65W TDP in the upper tier of available options.

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