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.

Check Price at 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

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 Codec Video Performance (Kodi 14.2)
1080p 3D SBS H.264 OK
1080p 3D ABL H.264 OK
1080p30 H.264 OK
1080p High Bitrate H.264 OK
1080p60 H.264 OK
720p50 H.264 OK
1080i50 H.264 OK
4K H.264 OK
1080p HEVC Unwatchable (Too many skipped frames)
1080p VP8 Watchable (Some Dropped Frames) (Software Decode)
720p Hi10p Watchable (Some Dropped Frames) (Software Decode)
1080p Hi10p Watchable (Some Dropped Frames) (Software Decode)
1080p MPEG2 OK
720P RMVB Unwatchable (Too many skipped frames)
1080p VC1 OK

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 Off Charging Standby Idle Load
0 W 7.7 W 3.3 W 5.0 W 8.8 W

Getting One

I received my Ainol Mini PC from GeekBuying.

Check Price at 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?

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