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ASRock DeskMini 310 Series review: Small and customisable

Expert Reviews Staff
24 May 2019
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
142
inc VAT

As close as you’ll get to a full-size PC without a full-size chassis – as long as you don’t need a discrete GPU

Pros 
Produces low level noise
Impressive amount of ventilation
Can fit a range of processor types
Cons 
No specialised CPU cooler
Disappointing idle power draw
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Robbed of any sense of scale, you would think the ASRock DeskMini 310 Series was a full-size tower PC. It’s only when you spot the size of the USB ports, or get up close and personal with it in the flesh, that you realise it seems to have shrunk in the wash.

READ NEXT: These are the best mini PCs you can buy right now

ASRock DeskMini 310 Series review: Design and specs

Based on the STX form factor, smaller even than ITX, the DeskMini is a true barebones system: as standard, it comes with only the case, power supply and motherboard. Everything else must be purchased separately and fitted by hand, making it the only system on test to come without some form of specialised CPU cooler.

There’s not a lot of clearance inside, either. The chassis can only take low-profile coolers and the wider of these can foul a motherboard heatsink. Fitted with the recommended Noctua NH-L9i cooling (which is £38 including VAT from overclockers.co.uk), an Intel Core i5-8400 and 16GB of RAM, though, the DeskMini really shines.

The case allows for an impressive amount of ventilation at an extremely low noise level – not as quiet as fanless systems, but not something anyone could find objectionable. With nowhere to fit a discrete GPU, performance is unsurprising – and effectively identical to the similarly specified Asus PB60.

ASRock DeskMini 310 Series review: Performance

Having the flexibility to fit a range of processor types, though, means that it can be customised to fit a particular workload: fit a Core i7-8700 to get top performance from the motherboard, or a Pentium G5400T to tame the machine’s 54.8W peak power draw as tested.

Idle power draw, sadly, isn’t the DeskMini’s strong suit: with the Core i5-8400 fitted, the machine refused to dip below 12.4W – higher than some of its admittedly less powerful rivals at load. More impressive is the case’s ability to take two 2.5in SATA drives, which are tucked away on the rear of the removable motherboard tray.

A single year’s return-to-base warranty, though, is a little miserly in today’s market, and (unless you choose a custom-build option) only covers the motherboard, chassis and external power supply.

ASRock DeskMini 310 Series review: Verdict

Supremely quiet and remarkably small, the ASRock DeskMini 310 Series is a barebones PC for users requiring both flexibility and power for workloads that aren't graphically demanding. If you do demand graphics, however, look elsewhere: there's no room to fit a dedicated graphics card inside that crowded case. 

ASRock DeskMini 310 Series specifications
ProcessorIntel Core i5-8400
RAM16GB DDR4-2400 SODIMM
Front-facing USB portsUSB-A 3.1 Gen 1, USB-C 3.1
Gen 1
Rear-facing USB portsUSB-A 3.1 Gen 1, USB-A 2
Graphics cardIntel UHD Graphics 630
Storage250GB, 2 x 2.5in SATA 3, microSD
Operating systemWindows 10 Pro
Warranty1yr RTB