Ainol Mini PC Review: Windows Mini PC & Powerbank Hybrid

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The Ainol Mini PC is the first Windows PC from the tablet maker Ainol. Despite similar specifications to rivals like the VOYO Mini PC and MINIX Z64, it brings unique features such as a 7000mAh battery pack, letting you charge your gadgets on the go.

Thanks to GeekBuying for providing me a sample to review.

Get it from GeekBuying

 

UPDATE: GeekBuying has informed me that Ainol have switched CPUs to the Intel Z3735F chipset after my review went live. Whilst performance should be the same, the USB 3.0 port is now only USB 2.0.

What Is It?

The Ainol Mini PC is a compact Windows mini PC powered by a quadcore Intel Z3735D processor. It also manages to pack in a large 7000mAh battery which can be used to run the device without being plugged in or for charging your gadgets. Its fanless design make it an ideal HTPC.

Ainol-Mini-PC-06

Ainol Mini PC Technical Specifications

  • Chipset: Intel Baytrail quad core processor with Intel HD graphics (Z3735D)
  • RAM: 2 GB DDR3
  • Storage: 32GB eMMC + microSD slot up to 128GB
  • Video & Audio Output: mini HDMI 1.4, 3.5mm Audio
  • Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB: 1x USB 3.0 port, 2x USB 2.0 port
  • OS: Windows 8.1 with Bing (32-bit)
  • Other Features: 7000mAh Internal Battery

What’s in the box?

Ainol-Mini-PC-Box-02

Ainol have given pretty much everything you need inside the box:

  • 1x Ainol Mini PC
  • 1x HDMI Cable
  • 1x Power Adapter
  • 1x English Instruction Manual
  • 1x Warranty Card

Ainol-Mini-PC-Inside-The-Box

Thankfully, Ainol have provided a mini HDMI to HDMI cable inside the box, unlike the VOYO Mini PC.

Unfortunately, Ainol didn’t include a USB 3.0 OTG cable. This is disappointing as USB 3.0 is one of the big selling points of the device. If you’re going to use USB 3.0, make sure you get one of these adapters.

Ainol Mini PC Unboxing and Demo

Ainol Mini PC Design

Ainol-Mini-PC-02

The Ainol Mini PC is larger than I anticipated but still compact, about the size of your everyday phablet. This means that it’s definietly small enough to be thrown into a bag and used as a go-anywhere HTPC.

The build quality is exceptional, with a metal case that has a good weight to it. It’s amazing how much this contributes to making it feel premium. This is further helped by the attractive silver pattern extending down both sides of the unit. Rounded edges soften the device and make it look elegant and modern.

The front of the Ainol Mini PC houses a blue power LED masked by Ainol’s asterisk logo, two USB 2.0 ports and the power button, which is flush with the front panel.

Ainol-Mini-PC-Front

Moving to the rear of the device, you have the microSD card slot, USB 3.0 port, 3.5mm audio and DC In.

Ainol-Mini-PC-Back

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My biggest gripe with the design is the lack of USB ports, which is the same complaint I had about the MINIX Z64. If you have a lot of USB devices (such as a keyboard/mouse, controller and USB drive), I’d definitely invest in a USB hub.

Ainol Mini PC Initial Impressions

A quick press of the power button boots the device. Cold boots are fast, taking 17.6 seconds to reach the Start screen. Resuming from sleep is essentially instantaneous. Windows performance was excellent. I didn’t experience any slowdown or lag whilst navigating Windows 8.1. Windows 8.1 with Bing comes activated so no issues on that front.

Out of the box, there is 21.3GB/25.6GB free on the main partition.

Ainol Mini PC User Interface and Included Apps

The Ainol Mini PC runs the familiar Windows 8.1 with Bing Operating System. As Microsoft (thankfully) doesn’t seem to allow customization, you get a stock Windows 8.1 experience.

Ainol Mini PC Media Playback

To test video playback, I used Kodi 14.2:

Video CodecVideo Performance (Kodi 14.2)
1080p 3D SBS H.264OK
1080p 3D ABL H.264OK
1080p30 H.264OK
1080p High Bitrate H.264OK
1080p60 H.264OK
720p50 H.264OK
1080i50 H.264OK
4K H.264OK
1080p HEVCUnwatchable (Too many skipped frames)
1080p VP8Watchable (Some Dropped Frames) (Software Decode)
720p Hi10pWatchable (Some Dropped Frames) (Software Decode)
1080p Hi10pWatchable (Some Dropped Frames) (Software Decode)
1080p MPEG2OK
720P RMVBUnwatchable (Too many skipped frames)
1080p VC1OK

The Ainol performed really well during the video tests. Automatic framerate switching worked as expected and most codecs that required software decoding were still watchable.

Ainol Mini PC Gaming Performance

To test gaming performance, I installed 3 games – 1 2D and 2 3D titles:

Gaming performance was respectable given the Intel Z3735D’s GPU. Jetpack Joyride was played perfectly without a hitch. Beach Buggy Blitz maintained an excellent framerate on maximum settings and Asphalt 8 maintained approximately 25-30fps at 1080p throughout several races – not ideal but still playable.

Gaming Controllers and Bluetooth

I connected my iPega 9025 controller over Bluetooth without any issue. My Tronsmart Mars G01 which was recognized as a Xbox 360 controller and I was able to use it in both Beach Buggy Racing and Asphalt 8.

Ainol Mini PC Networking Performance

The Ainol Mini PC only has WiFi, as the case size doesn’t permit an Ethernet port. Those looking to add Ethernet should consider purchasing a USB to Ethernet dongle.

WiFi Performance

To test out WiFi performance, I used iperf (iperf –t 60 -c SERVER_IP -r) to test networking bandwidth. WiFi performance was good, with upload and download speeds of 55.1 Mbps and  18.6 Mbps respectively. Web browsing and watching YouTube videos over WiFi was fast and there was no buffering when streaming a 1080p video from an NFS share.

Ainol Mini PC Benchmarks

3DMark Ice Storm

Ainol-Min-PC-3DMark-Ice-Storm

3DMark Ice Storm Extreme

Ainol-Min-PC-3DMark-Ice-Storm-Extreme

3DMark Cloud Gate

Ainol-Min-PC-3DMark-Cloud-Gate

3DMark Sky Diver

Ainol-Min-PC-3DMark-Sky-Diver

PCMark 8 Home Conventional

Ainol-Mini-PC-PCMark-Home

PCMark 8 Work Conventional

Ainol-Mini-PC-PCMark-Work

CrystalDiskMark 3.0.3

Ainol-Mini-PC-CrystalDiskMark

USB 3.0 Tests

I ran CrystalDiskMark 3.0.3 on a Kingston DataTraveller on both the Ainol and a more powerful PC. There appeared to be a performance hit of about 50% on the USB 3.0 port compared to the other PC.

Ainol-Mini-PC-USB3-DataTraveller-Test

Ainol Mini PC Temperatures

With the Ainol Mini PC’s tiny case, I was worried about how it would remain cool. The similarly-sized VOYO Mini PC struggled to dissipate heat and resulted in thermal throttling and performance drops.

To stress test the Ainol Mini PC, I used Prime95’s Small FFTs test. This test is designed to generate maximum heat. After running for 30 minutes, the SoC temperatures didn’t exceed 58°C, measured using HWiNFO. The ambient room temperature was 23.9°C. This is exceptional performance and its clear that Ainol have done an excellent job here, effectively using the large metal surface as a giant heat sink to keep the whole device cool.

Ainol Mini PC Power Consumption

Powered OffChargingStandbyIdleLoad
0 W7.7 W3.3 W5.0 W8.8 W

Getting One

I received my Ainol Mini PC from GeekBuying.

Get it from GeekBuying

Alternatively, it is also available from GearBestAmazon and AliExpress.

 

Share with us!

Are you going to buy the Ainol Mini PC? What do you think of the powerbank function?

  • Hi George, Id recommend the Ainol Mini PC over the VOYO as its cooling is far better. I had some codecs cause the VOYO to overheat while the Ainol had no problems.

    If you’re going to use it as a NAS, you may need to invest in a USB Ethernet dongle as most devices won’t have enough bandwidth over wifi to serve multiple devices. It all depends on whether you want to just store documents or stream movies from it

  • Leon

    Hi. Thanks for the excellent review.

    One issue, when I’m trying to use your coupon “JSIBNAWT” for the $12 off, I’m getting a message : “Sorry, the coupon code is not valid for orders less than USD 124.”

    • Thanks for the feedback. I’ll follow it up and see if they can check what’s happening.

  • Miguel

    Congrats for your complete review. There is anyone of this device in the web.

    The only point that I don’t agree with you is on the USB 3.0 speed. I have and ssd in a external box and reachs more than 400mb/s in sequential read, and also I have a external WD 1tb and tops 107 mb/s (the same that other USB 3.0 devices).

    I think that is a problem with your pen drive or with drivers of ainol, because your speeds seems USB 2.0.

    • Hi Miguel,

      I agree with you regarding the USB 3.0 on the Ainol. Although they state it’s USB 3.0, I mentioned that I noticed a 50% performance hit across all tests between my more powerful PC and the Ainol when using the same USB 3.0 drive.

  • Sunil Duggal

    Hi

    A very nice and detailed review something I was searching for today to go ahead and buy a mini PC.

    There are quite a few reviews on your site can you please tell me which is the best one to go for in 100-150 dollar range.

    If there is any other which does not fit the above range but is the overall best value according to you I don’t mind going a bit up with my budget.

    Thanks

    • Hi Sunil,

      Thanks for the feedback!

      For your budget I’d go the Ainol Mini PC, as its performance is fantastic for the price. It also has the best cooling profile I’ve seen so far. The only drawback is that there are only 2 USB ports but a USB hub will take care of this.

      • Sunil Duggal

        Thanks Michael,

        Appreciate the response, will go ahead and order one soon. Do you think there will be any performance difference as the ones listed on geekbuying now come with Z3735F and not the one in your review.

        Just a query regarding air mouse + keyboard any recommendations which ones will be best suited to use with the ainol. If they have IR programmable buttons will be nice but it is not necessary.

        Thanks

        • I can confirm that the the GeekBuying listing had a typo – it is the Z3735D :D

          In terms of a remote, I’d look at the Rikomagic MK705 which has an IR learning function. Only issue is that it lacks a right-click button: http://hometheatrelife.com/rikomagic-mk705-review/

          Other options would be a cheap USB remote, Measy RC11 or MeLE F10 Deluxe.

  • The GeekBuying one is identical – it also uses the Z3735D, not the Z3735F. GeekBuying have confirmed that there was a typo in their listing.

  • The Z3735F should perform the same, just without USB 3.0. The Ainol’s cooling is exceptional so I don’t think it’ll be an issue.

    • Sunil Duggal

      Was able to find the D model with a couple of suppliers from AliExpress. They have said its D but am still waiting for the delivery to confirm.

      Also wanted to check if it makes sense to buy a stand so that it can be kept a little up from the surface for better cooling, even though you have said that the cooling is pretty decent on this one.

      What is the maximum run time that you were able to achieve on this one. Can i keep it on for days together considering that fact that these small boxes have fanless designs

      Thanks

      • I ran Prime95’s Small FFT test for a few hours and temps never exceeded 58 degrees Celsius so I can’t see why it wouldn’t be able to run for ages.

        I didn’t specifically keep it running for days on end, preferring to put it into standby when not needed.

        I don’t use a stand with mine as the case seems to be a pretty effective heatsink from my experience.

  • Murad

    Is there any comparison or in your opinion can you recommend one over the other from Ainol Mini PC and Vensmile A10 or IPC 002

  • Hi Kwetiaw,

    I don’t believe so.