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QuietPC AMD Sentinel Fanless review: Customise to your heart's content

Expert Reviews Staff
24 May 2019
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,032
inc VAT

Based on AMD’s Ryzen family, is this the ultimate fanless mini PC for mainstream users?

Pros 
Impressive performance for a fanless design
Large number of external ports allow for multiple expansions
Cons 
Unimpressive idle power draw
APU users will face a number of restictions
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Measuring 240 x 260 x 111mm and weighing 4.5kg with its surprisingly bulky external PSU, the QuietPC AMD Sentinel Fanless is large by mini PC standards. That trade-off in size, though, grants you a number of advantages over its more compact competition.

Ignoring the optical drive – a DVD-writing slot loader as reviewed, although it can be left off the build list or replaced with a Blu-ray drive – the biggest feature of the Sentinel is the inclusion of a PCI Express x16 slot on the motherboard.

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

QuietPC AMD Sentinel Fanless review: Specifications

This, sadly, isn’t quite as useful as it first seems: as well as being limited to 8x operation when an APU is fitted, as in our review model, the case restricts add-in cards to half-height single-slot variants. (An APU, or accelerated processing unit, is AMD’s term for a single die that contains both a CPU and GPU.)

APU users are faced with another restriction: although the motherboard includes two NVMe-compatible M.2 slots for storage, only the first of these is available with an APU fitted; the second is automatically disabled to provide PCI-E lanes to the integrated graphics on the APU when fitted. With the mid-tier AMD Ryzen 5 2400GE and its integrated Radeon RX Vega 11 graphics processor fitted, as reviewed, performance of the Sentinel was impressive for a wholly fanless design.

With the APU connected to the finned Streacom FC8 Alpha case via copper heatpipes, the main reason for the case’s extra bulk, the Sentinel kept the chip from overheating even during our demanding multitasking benchmark – in which the Sentinel handily beats all the other passively cooled systems on test. Gaming performance, however, isn’t the Sentinel’s strong suit.

Buy now from QuietPC


QuietPC AMD Sentinel Fanless review: Performance

While it managed a playable 44.8fps average in the Unigine Superposition benchmark at the 720p Low preset, higher resolutions and detail settings saw it struggle to hit double figures – although few of the other systems we've tested fared much better and none with the same silent cooling system.

The Sentinel’s idle power draw, sadly, fails to impress. You would think that a machine with no moving parts would sip power, but we were unable to convince it to drop below 28.6W at the Windows 10 desktop – odd, given that its 101.6W peak power draw under load is reasonable for the performance it offers.

Nearly 102W is a lot to be sinking through a passive heatsink, even one the size of the entire case. It’s no surprise to find that the Sentinel gets toasty under prolonged load conditions, but if you’re pushing a system this hard then passive cooling probably isn’t for you. These relatively minor issues aside, it’s easy to be impressed with the Sentinel.

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QuietPC AMD Sentinel Fanless review: Design

The QuietPC build has clearly been put together with care and the Streacom case is top quality. Better still, there’s no bloat: QuietPC guarantees a clean installation, promising that it will never pre-install anything not absolutely necessary to the operation of the system, and even includes the original packaging for components such as the motherboard should you want to swap it out.

QuietPC’s warranty is also worthy of mention: as well as covering the machine for two years as standard on a collect-and-return basis, it’s what the company calls “open box”, meaning you’re free to take the lid off your new PC and fiddle around, chopping and changing components as you see fit, and QuietPC will still cover whatever original parts are left.

Buy now from QuietPC


QuietPC AMD Sentinel Fanless review: Features

There’s room for expansion, too: aside from the already-covered PCI-E slot and second M.2 slot, there are four on-board SATA connectors and room to mount two 3.5in or three 2.5in drives inside the chassis – although maxing the system out requires an upgraded power supply for an extra £31.

There are also a generous eight USB ports: two USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 ports at the front and another four at the rear alongside two high-speed USB-A 3.1 Gen 2 ports, the APU’s HDMI output, analogue audio ports with neat colour-coded LED lighting and a single Gigabit Ethernet port.

QuietPC AMD Sentinel Fanless review: Verdict

Add in the front-mounted infrared receiver and the Sentinel Fanless makes for a tempting home theatre machine – as long as you don’t expect to be running a VR headset from its integrated graphics.

QuietPC AMD Sentinel Fanless specifications
ProcessorAMD Ryzen 5 2400GE
RAM8GB DDR4-2666 DIMM
Front USB ports2 x USB-A 3.1 Gen 1
Rear USB ports2 x USB-A 3.1 Gen 2, 4 x
USB-A 3.1 Gen 1
Graphics cardRadeon RX Vega 11
Storage500GB, M.2 NVMe/SATA, 4 x SATA
Operating systemWindows 10 Home
Warranty2yr “open box” C&R