ASRock Launches DeskMini A300 Barebones Mini-STX PC Supporting AMD CPUs

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2019 - 02:01 AM |
Tagged: SFF, ryzen, mini-stx, barebones, asrock, APU, amd, AM4

ASRock is launching a new small form factor barebones system later this month that incorporates what the company claims Is the first Mini STX motherboard for AMD’s Zen-based processors (primarily APUs) using the AM4 socket, a tiny case, and optional accessories. The DeskMini A300 and A300W are barebones PCs where you are responsible for adding your own CPU, RAM, and storage. Measuring 155 x 155 x 80mm (approximately 6.1” x 6.1” x 3.15”), the 1.92-liter PCs sit somewhere between an Intel NUC and a Mini ITX build. The DeskMini A300 case is all black with subtle rounded corners, a stylized front panel, and ample square mesh ventilation grills along the top, left side, and back. Up front sits two audio jacks (mic/headphone), one USB 3.1 Type-C, and one USB 3.1 Type-A (both USB 3.1 Gen 1 / 5Gbps) and two USB 2.0 ports can be added via an optional front panel add-on using a header on the motherboard. Around back ASRock’s A300M-STX motherboard offers up one USB 3.1 (5Gbps), one USB 2.0, one Gigabit Ethernet, and three display outputs (one each of HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort). There is also a DC-in jack for power with the kit using a 19V 120W power brick.

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Inside the case the DeskMini A300 uses the ASRock A300M-STM motherboard with measures 5” x 5”. While not the first Mini STX motherboard for AMD processors (Mini STX is generally an Intel form factor), it is reportedly the first for newer AMD chips using the AM4 socket. The board supports up to 65W CPUs and will generally only be used with APUs that have their own integrated graphics as this motherboard lacks a PCI-E x16 slot for installing a dedicated GPU. Granted, an enthusiast might well be able to use a CPU only Ryzen processor and sacrifice a M.2 slot to add in a GPU but then you would need a bigger case and at that point it might be easier to just go Mini ITX (Note that some Mini STX motherboards do support external graphics via MXM slots but those mainly mobile focused GPUs can come at a hefty premium). In any event, the AM4 socket is paired with two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots (up to 2933 MHz), two Ultra M.2 2280 slots for NVMe storage, one M.2 Key E for wireless modules, and two SATA 3 6Gpbs ports (RAID 0 and 1 are supported). ASRock sells an optional 65W CPU cooler, but if you plan to add your own height is limited to 46mm.

Audio is handled by the Realtek ALC233 codec/chipset while networking is handled by the Realtek RTL8111H NIC for wired and the Intel AC-3168 Wi-Fi for wireless (on the A300W SKU).

The DeskMini A300 barebones PC is slated for release later this month starting at $119 which gets you a tiny SFF motherboard, case, and power supply. Tom’s Hardware was able to get a hands-on look at the case and motherboard at CES and took several photos of the kit. It is an interesting product utilizing Mini STX and is nice to see an AMD option in this middle ground form factor.

Looking at the photos, the second M.2 slot as well as the CMOS battery being on the underside of the motherboard may prove to be rather inconvenient (it’s not clear if that case has a motherboard cutout for those areas or not). Using vertical SO-DIMM slots shouldn’t be a problem airflow wise in this case though and should be a bit sturdier than the angled approaches long term. Storage and other I/O seems decent especially considering this system uses the lower-end A300 chipset.

Hopefully reviewers (and modders!) will be able to get their hands on the small form factor hardware soon. What are your thoughts?


Source: ASRock

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February 6, 2019 | 03:58 AM - Posted by dragosmp (not verified)

It looks interesting in a quirky kind of way. I'm not sure who is the market for these though. For an IGP-machine a laptop would probably do just fine and for a gamer there's not enough space to put what you need. I could see it as a console-replacement if AMD put out better IGPs like the one on the Intel/AMD combo, but like this, no. Where it may end up is cheap office desktops where a NUC is too expensive and a gumstick PC is too slow.

February 6, 2019 | 11:42 AM - Posted by ReallySomeGimpedLaptopOptionOverThis (not verified)

Really a laptop with the laptop OEMs gimping the AMD APUs and all that lack of dual memory channel nonsense. And where are you going to get 2933 DDR4 memory on most laptops or a Desktop Raven Ridge AMD SKU at up to 65 watts.

There is a market for this and AMD's better integrated Vega graphics in a mini-dasktop form factor what with all the Mini Desktop form factor OEMs going with mostly Intel based solutions.

I hope that PCPer can source a review sample as this represents one of the few available AMD AM4/APU based Mini-Desktop barebones systems.

Who needs any underpowered laptop with this option around and the user able to source some of the parts. I hope that MicroCenter can get these in stock as I would like to get one of these instead of any laptop that's going to cost more and have a terrible disply resolution and all the other low end underpowered crap that the Laptop OEMs are mostly putting out these days.

February 6, 2019 | 07:32 AM - Posted by Tony Montant (not verified)

Does anyone know if these will take ECC ram, I know amd Ryzen suppose to work ECC. I am drooling over the idea of using these to setup a mini-vmware vsan cluster with these for my lab.

February 6, 2019 | 12:18 PM - Posted by ReallySomeGimpedLaptopOptionOverThis (not verified)

Really any consumer grade motherboard OEM is not going to have any consumer MB going through any costly Vetting/Certification process to guarantee in the MB's product warrenty that the MB will work properly with ECC memory.

If You want ECC then you will have to go Xeon or Epyc and the proper ECC vetted/certified Motherboard parts. Maybe you can go with the Embedded Sappire V1000 APU(1) solution but those are lower clocked parts.

Maybe some reviewer can test the MB that comes with this and see if it will work with ECC memory but on any consumer CPU/MB parts that have not been vetted/certified for proper ECC usage you take your risks with non Xeon/Epyc or Embedded MBs and ECC memory support.

Any Ryzen Raven Ridge APU ECC support is not enabled from what I have been able to research onlne but the Ryzen Pro branded Raven Ridge APUs are said to have ECC support and other features enabied that the Non Ryzen Pro variants lack. The Ryzen Pro variants are also better bnned parts than the Non Pro vriants. But the problem is going to be in finding a source for the Ryzen Pro Branded parts beacuse that's mostly OEMs that have access to the Pro branded SKUs.

The real probem is finding a MB OEM that has taken the time and expense of certifing their MB for ECC usage.

AMD should really have a line of ECC enabled APUs and AM4 MBs that are branded AM4 Pro like the CPUs/APUs that are branded with that Pro naming.


"FS-FP5V AMD Ryzen™ Embedded V1000 APU Quad 4K displays"

February 6, 2019 | 01:46 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

Neither Raven Ridge nor Bristol Ridge support ECC.

February 6, 2019 | 07:33 AM - Posted by Tony Montant (not verified)

Does anyone know if these will take ECC ram, I know amd Ryzen suppose to work ECC. I am drooling over the idea of using these to setup a mini-vmware vsan cluster with these for my lab.

February 9, 2019 | 06:19 AM - Posted by Anonymous12345 (not verified)

There are articles claiming that the standard cooler delivered with the Boxed versions of Athlon/Ryzen CPUs will not fit into the DeskMini A300 (too high). Is there any verified information about that?

February 9, 2019 | 08:38 PM - Posted by General Cooper (not verified)

So released like it's available, not seeing it sold anywhere though this article is only a few days old. If not anyone know the actual release (sale) date?

February 13, 2019 | 10:11 PM - Posted by CapDauntless (not verified)

I'd like this if just to scavenge the board out of the enclosure. I am dreaming up ideas on where I could use this small of a board. Hopefully, unlike other niche products like this, we'll see some stock in Canada or at least easily import it from our neighbours to the south.

March 6, 2019 | 06:20 PM - Posted by Mike S (not verified)

This could be interesting for a small ESXi machine for a home lab. All of my VMs I run on a regular basis fit in 32GB of RAM, so finding a good Ryzen processor is all that's left. Looking at the 1700, that's the cost winner, but does not have graphics, and I'd like at least minimal on-board graphics for diagnostics/etc. What 6-8 core chip (if any) would work with on-board?

March 24, 2019 | 04:30 PM - Posted by Arwen (not verified)

Some pictures of the case show a DE-9 cut out for a serial port. Looks like this one does not have a serial port on the motherboard, but some of the Intel DeskMinis do.

But, what are the chances of using that cut-out for a eSATA port?
Or better yet, eSATAp port?

Found a cable that might do it, though without the power option. I'll measure it when mine gets in before ordering the cable.

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