Cenovo Mini PC 2 Windows PC Review: So Close

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The Cenovo Mini PC 2 is the latest Windows PC from the company. Sporting the quadcore Intel X5-Z8300 SoC, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage (or 4GB RAM/64GB storage in the second variant), 2.4GHz wireless and Bluetooth in a stylish case, is this one a winner? Read my Cenovo Mini PC 2 review to find out.

I want to say thanks to GearBest for sending me the 2GB/32GB sample to review. You can purchase one from them here.

Check the Current Price at GearBest

Cenovo Mini PC 2 Technical Specifications

General

  • Processor
    Intel X5-Z8300 Cherry Trail
  • CPUCPU
    Up to 1.84GHz
  • GPU
    Intel HD graphics
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Home
  • RAM
    2GB/4GB DDR3
  • Storage
    32GB/64GB eMMC
    microSD slot (up to 64GB)
  • Power
    DC 5V/2A

Connectivity

  • WiFi
    802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Ethernet
    10/100Mbps
  • Bluetooth
    4.0

Interfaces

  • Video Output
    HDMI 1.4
  • Audio Output
    HDMI 1.4, 3.5mm
  • Other Interfaces
    3x USB 2.0 port
    1x USB 3.0 port

Physical

  • Dimensions
    116 x 125 x 17mm
  • Weight
    190g

What’s In The Box?

Cenovo-Mini-PC-2-Review-Inside-The-Box

Inside the box, you’ll get:

  • Cenovo Mini PC 2 unit
  • Power Adapter
  • HDMI Cable
  • English Instruction Manual

Cenovo Mini PC 2 Review: Design

The Cenovo Mini PC 2 uses a distinctive design that is unique but doesn’t draw attention.

The whole unit is silver, with black trim. It looks pretty stylish and it’s nice to see the company designing their own case – even if its the same as its predecessor. Despite its metal-like appearance, the case is plastic.

Cenovo-Mini-PC-2-Review-02

Ports are located on the right and rear of the unit. The left side houses a USB 2.0 port, a USB 3.0 port and a micro SD slot. There’s also another 2 USB 2.0 ports on the right side as well as the unit’s power button.

Cenovo-Mini-PC-2-Review-Right

Most of the ports are located on the rear of the unit. From left to right, there’s 3.5mm out, ethernet, HDMI, micro SD and DC In.

Cenovo-Mini-PC-2-Review-Back

Cenovo Mini PC 2 Review: Using It

Powering up the unit is done via the power button. A cold boot takes around 20 seconds with a wireless keyboard and mouse connected.

Windows is stock, without any customisation. Out of the box, there’s 18.9GB free on the device’s 28.2GB C:\ drive.

Cenovo-Mini-PC-2-Review-Windows

Now, when I first booted the box, it was already pre-configured with an Admin account so I decided I’d reset the box to start fresh. Windows also showed it was activated.

Cenovo-Mini-PC-2-Review-Windows-Activation

However, once Windows finished re-installing, it refused to activate so it seems Cenovo hasn’t licenced Windows. This is disappointing given that plenty of other manufacturers have done the right thing. A little Googling suggests there are similar complaints about the original Cenovo Mini PC.

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Cenovo Mini PC 2 Review: Media Playback

Cenovo-Mini-PC-2-Review-Kodi

I installed the latest version of Kodi (Kodi 16.1 at the time of writing) to test out media playback.

CodecVideo Performance (Kodi 16.1)
1080p 3D SBS H.264 OK
1080p 3D ABL H.264OK
1080p24 H.264OK
1080p High Bitrate H.264OK
1080p60 H.264OK
720p50 H.264OK
1080i25 H.264OK
4K 30FPS H.264OK
4K 60FPS H.264Audio Lags Behind Video
1080p24 HEVCOK
4K 30FPS 8-bit HEVCOK
1080p 10-bit HEVCDecoding Issues
1080p30 VP8OK
720p Hi10pOK
1080p Hi10pOK (Software Decoding)
1080p MPEG2OK
1080p VC1OK
Unencrypted Bluray ISO (Sintel)OK

Deinterlacing performance was good and automatic framerate switching is supported for correct playback of videos once enabled in Kodi’s settings.

5.1 Audio Passthrough

Dolby Digital 5.1 passthrough via HDMI worked fine via Kodi 16.1

Netflix

Netflix plays back in HD via the native Windows 10 app.

External Storage Support

Playing back movies from my 2.5″ USB-powered HDD and USB flash drive worked perfectly.

Cenovo Mini PC 2 Review: Gaming Performance

Cenovo-Mini-PC-2-Review-Beach-Buggy-Racing

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

Gaming performance on the Cenovo Mini PC 2 was great, handling both Jetpack Joyride and Beach Buggy Racing well, even on maximum settings.

Cenovo-Mini-PC-2-Review-Jetpack-Joyride

Gaming Controllers and Bluetooth

My Gamesir G3S was able to be hooked up wirelessly as an Xbox 360 controller to play Beach Buggy Racing.

Connecting up my Bluetooth keyboard also worked flawlessly.

Cenovo-Mini-PC-2-Review-03

Cenovo Mini PC 2 Review: Networking

Networking performance was tested using Wifi performance was tested using Wifi Speed Test, conducting 3 tests and averaging the results. My router is approximately 5m away, with a single wall between the router and the device. WiFi performance is heavily impacted by a number of factors so your performance may vary.

Wireless Performance

Wireless performance was on the slow side on the Cenovo Mini PC 2, with upload and download speeds of 21.6Mbps and 20.3Mbps respectively on the 2.4GHz band.

In terms of real world performance, I was able to stream 1080p and 4K H.264 videos from my NFS share without buffering.

Cenovo-Mini-PC-2-Review-05

Ethernet Performance

Ethernet performance was reasonable, with upload and download speeds of around 89Mbps both ways.

Cenovo Mini PC 2 Review: Benchmarks

BenchmarkScore
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited18386
3DMark Ice Storm Extreme11337
3DMark Cloud Gate1455
PCMark Home Conventional1096
PCMark Work Conventional1362
GeekBench 3 Single Core729
GeekBench 3 Multi Core2163

Cenovo-Mini-PC-2-Review-07

Cenovo Mini PC 2 Review: Thermal Performance

The Cenovo Mini PC 2’s thermal performance was good. 40 minutes of stress testing using HeavyLoad saw temperatures max out at 73°C without any throttle according to HWiNFO. The ambient temperature was 22.1°C.

Cenovo Mini PC 2 Review: Power Consumption

OffStandbyIdle1080p24 VideoUnder Load
0.0W2.3W2.5W4.2W6.9W

Verdict

Cenovo-Mini-PC-2-Review-06

The Cenovo Mini PC 2 is such a frustrating device, because the hardware itself is fairly solid. However, the fact the company cut corners by not licensing Windows is disappointing beyond belief and hurts the value proposition of the unit.

Unless you really want Cenovo’s hardware, already have a spare Windows key or want to run something that’s not Windows, I’d look at the multitude of other Windows PCs available.

Where Can You Buy The Cenovo Mini PC 2?

The Cenovo Mini PC 2 is available from GearBest from around $85 at the time of writing.

Get the Current Price

Alternatively, it’s available from Everbuying.