- Fast CPU, Apple M1 equivalent
- Compact and cool running
- Many up-to-date ports
- Not really a gaming machine
- Not designed for high-end graphics
Mini PCs have not only come of age, but are compact, space- and energy-saving computers that can serve you well on a range of desktop tasks and even be your main desktop. Since 2021, GEEKOM are going about making a name for themselves as a brand leader in the mini PC space, so I was very interested to see what their new 12th gen computer box, the IT12, was capable of.
This is a sponsored article and was made possible by GEEKOM. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of the author, who maintains editorial independence even when a post is sponsored.
Let’s Get Geeky
The GEEKOM IT12 is a midrange mini PC slanted towards business, creativity and light-duty gaming. It’s an all-purpose PC. The Intel 12th Gen Core i5-12450H has eight tiny cores running at 2.5GHz, a full 16GB of RAM, and an onboard Intel UHD Graphics card, with its own 8GB of RAM. Inside, it also has the new Intel Wi-Fi 6E or 6Ghz aerial. Wireless network performance is pretty much approaching wired speeds. It also has, as you’d expect, the industry standard Bluetooth 5.2 for connection to speakers and headphones, mice and keyboards.
The PC unit is a smooth, blue metallic box with rounded corners and ventilation holes on all sides. The power supply it ships with is the kind you’d expect with a laptop, a brick and fixed cable to plug into the computer, plus a detachable cloverleaf or “mickey mouse” lead for the wall plug.
Input/Output is impressive for a small machine. There are six USB ports consisting of 1x USB 2.0, 3x USB 3.2 gen 2 ports (two on the front, one on the back), and 2x USB 4 ports with, of course, USB-C sockets. You can connect up to four monitors, as there are the aforementioned USB 4.0 ports and 2x HDMI ports. Also included is an Ethernet port in the form of a 2.5GbE LAN port. To finish it off, there is an SD card slot on the side for additional storage or reading cards from other devices.
The kit has a VESA plate so that you can fix the box to the back of a suitable VESA monitor mount, effectively turning your monitor into an all-in-one PC. The choice is yours, whether you want it all out of the way to save space or want it right there on the desk where you can get to it.
The packaging is what you’d expect from Shenzhen wares, almost bulletproof cardboard boxes and a snug-fitting lid with strong suction. The bottom of the box oozes out at the speed of a glacier, creating either excited anticipation or flaming annoyance, depending on how patient you are.
The setup is an identical experience to setting up any Windows 11 computer. Plug in all the leads, and power it up. You have to navigate various menus, which ask questions about whether a) you’d like to start fresh with a clean PC or b) pollute it by copying all the system mistakes and broken software you had on your old machine. I understand the need for continuity, but I’ve always been a “start from scratch” kind of guy.
This process was very smooth and fast, thanks to the nippy little 512Gb SSD in the PC. And literally from first pulling the PC out of the snug EVA foam to having the desktop lit up in front of me, it took no more than about 10 to 15 minutes.
The Little PC That Could
In use, the PC feels really fast and snappy, like everything happens right away. Obviously, all new PCs seem incredibly fast, after suffering months of bitrot with your old PC. Anything which does as you ask without pausing for 25 seconds feels blazingly fast. But let’s be a bit more critical.
I have to admit right off the bat that, shamefully, this is my first experience with Windows 11, and although it’s not part of the review, I think it might color it a bit. I like the new refinements as to what controls are where, and how they tweaked the animations of menus, etc. But before I get bogged down, let’s slide that firmly aside and concentrate on the PC itself.
Performance-wise, the GEEKOM IT12 Mini PC is quite impressive. According to tests I performed on www.pcgamebenchmark.com (although this is not meant as a gaming machine), it is fully capable of running Mojang’s Minecraft, League of Legends, Counter Strike 2, Fortnite, GTA 5, and PUBG Lite. I can confirm with a few tests that it runs most mid- to low-end games. As for massive 3D games and VR with millions of triangles, it’s not really built for that. You CAN play games with a lot of 3D in them, but it’s not going to be a peak experience.
I tested this hypothesis using the Superposition 3D Benchmarking software, where it managed between 11.22fps and 16.37fps at 1080P with DirectX, which is “okay” but really not great, and with OpenGL, it did a minimum of 8.47fps and max of 12.66fps. This is not a high-end games computer.
The IT12’s superpower is CPU grunt. Cinebench 2024 gives a score of 492 for multi cores, which is a whisker below an Apple M1 chip running at 2.5GHz. Single core score is 98, which is, again, a couple of points shy of the score of an Apple M1 2.5GHz, and surprisingly above an AMD Ryzen 7 at 3.8GHz. That’s the ballpark it’s playing in. That’s quite a lot of bang for your buck.
What I was personally very impressed with was the GEEKOM IT12 Mini PC’s performance with video-editing software. Davinci Resolve flies, which I would not have anticipated. And some graphics applications, too. You can run Blender and do some useful work, but rendering is slow. 2D graphics programs like Inkscape run beautifully, however.
One of the biggest pluses for me of the GEEKOM range of mini PCs, is that they are very easy to take apart and upgrade. I’ve always thought of mini PCs as sealed boxes with fixed specifications. The insides of mini PCs have to be, by definition, bespoke, and space is tight, so they have to be really super tied-down and permanent. Not so with the IT12, as you can unscrew it and change your SSD and RAM really easily. It comes apart after undoing just four screws.
The most impressive thing about the storage is the surprisingly flexible configuration. You have an M.2 2280 PCIe Gen 4 SSD (512GB, in my case) preinstalled, and that slot supports up to 2TB. That’s your base level. That’s good enough for most people.
But to add to that, it has an additional M.2 2242 SATA SSD slot that allows you to add up to another 1TB on top of that. Nice.
Wait, I’m not finished. It also has room for a conventional 2.5-inch SATA drive, which, again, supports up to 2TB of storage. This means that, fully loaded, the Mini IT12 can pack in 5TB. While it’s a good base-level PC out of the box, it has the ability to grow with your usage into something quite substantial.
Another plus is the build quality. GEEKOM Mini PCs are very solidly built. Seriously, if you were lost in the Everglades, you could beat an angry alligator to death with this mini PCing. The solidity and ease of upgrade make this a very secure platform for serious use.
Also, for my usage, I admire that they are very low temperature and quiet. The efficient heat ventilation of the case design, combined with very low-power consumption chips, mean the GEEKOM IT12 Mini PC is not just quiet, it’s pretty much silent – at least it is when you are not caning the CPU with 3D graphics, with the fan kicking in. Even then, the fan is very soft. Unlike, say, a Raspberry Pi 4, you could not in any way use it as a hotplate to cook with. I left this one running all day and all night, and it wasn’t even warm.
So what do I think of this silent, powerful, attractive, small, power-saving PC? I think I said it all in that last sentence.
Where this tiny powerhouse scores big with me is in the processor performance. It’s fast, and even with processor-intensive tasks, like rendering 3D, it does a pretty good job, within reason. The onboard GPU is not the best, it’s adequate, and if you wanted to do 3D graphics, you totally could. Just make sure you have a season of Reacher to watch while you render.
It does a decent job with all games but the most processor-intensive 3D environments, and seriously, 15fps is not really comfortable viewing. It’s more like a really fast slide show. You need twice or four times that for proper high-end gaming, I promise you.
It’s so sturdy that I wouldn’t think twice about throwing it into a bag and traveling. I wouldn’t spend time wondering if it could stand the weight of an ornament. It’s also unobtrusive, so not only would it fit in the corner of a desk next to a monitor, you can make it invisible by sticking it to the back of a monitor.
It’s fast, not a racing car fast, but certainly a new sedan fast. It doesn’t lag when you are trying to work, and that’s what this computer is made to do, work. It’s a hub of productivity. Yes, you can play a few games, do some graphics, etc., but that’s not what it’s best at. It’s best at sitting there silently in the corner of the room, waiting for you to ask it to do something. And when you do, it does it instantly, so you can get on with your day.
The GEEKOM IT12 Mini PC is small, fast and sturdy and a great desktop replacement. The configuration I reviewed here is the i5-12450H with 16GB RAM plus 512GB SSD. You can save $20 and bring the price down to $389 on Amazon, with the code QIT12I54OFF. You can also buy it direct from the manufacturer for and save $20 to bring the price down to $389 on GEEKOM, with the code maketecheasierit12. Another configuration features the faster i7-12650H and 16GB RAM, and yet another includes a 512GB SSD, 32GB RAM, and 1TB SSD. They’re all offered at reasonable prices for such modern and tiny computers.
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