Mini PC & Server

Geekom AE7 Mini PC Review as Home Server

Dive into our review of the Geekom AE7 Mini PC with the Ryzen 9 7940HS processor. Discover its potential as a home server and its impact on common hypervisors.

Highlights

  • 2 GHz, with a TDP ranging from 35W to 54W, and built on a 4 nm process, offering up to 30% performance boost compared to the Ryzen 7 7735HSGPUAMD Radeon 780M with 12 cores, running at 2800 MHzOperating SystemWindows 11 Pro 64-bit is installed from the factory so great for running as a daily driver and dual-purpose home lab machineRAMDual 32GB DDR5 modules at 5600MT/s, with a maximum capacity of 64GB across 2 SODIMM slotsStorage2TB PCIe Gen4 x4 NVMe SSD, ideal for storage-intensive tasks such as video editing or gamingNetworkWi-Fi 6E with speeds up to 3x faster than Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.
  • I have had this one on the bench for a while now and want to give you guys my thoughts and review this unit as a home server and what it is capable of from that standpoint.
  • After removing the bottom plate (you unscrew the 4 rubber feet that have the screw through them and this releases the bottom of the unit for removal, exposing the RAM and M.

Recently, Geekom reached out and wanted to send over a Geekom AE7 with the Ryzen 9 7940HS processor. I have had this one on the bench for a while now and want to give you guys my thoughts and review this unit as a home server and what it is capable of from that standpoint. Even though I received the unit for free, the thoughts and opinions are my own. Let’s dive into the Geeko AE7 Mini PC review and see how it works out, loading some of the common hypervisors.

Specs of the Geekom AE7 Mini PC

Note the following specs of the Geekom AE7 mini PC:

SpecificationReworded Description
CPUAMD Ryzen 9 7940HS Zen4 with 8 cores and 16 threads, 16MB cache, clocking between 4.0 GHz and 5.2 GHz, with a TDP ranging from 35W to 54W, and built on a 4 nm process, offering up to 30% performance boost compared to the Ryzen 7 7735HS
GPUAMD Radeon 780M with 12 cores, running at 2800 MHz
Operating SystemWindows 11 Pro 64-bit is installed from the factory so great for running as a daily driver and dual-purpose home lab machine
RAMDual 32GB DDR5 modules at 5600MT/s, with a maximum capacity of 64GB across 2 SODIMM slots
Storage2TB PCIe Gen4 x4 NVMe SSD, ideal for storage-intensive tasks such as video editing or gaming
NetworkWi-Fi 6E with speeds up to 3x faster than Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.2 (MTK MT9722) for quick connections to wireless peripherals, and 2.5G Ethernet port (RTL8125) with speeds up to 2.5x faster than Gigabit Ethernet
PortsThree USB-A 3.2 ports, two USB4 ports with Power Delivery and DisplayPort (40Gbps), one USB-A 2.0 port, two HDMI 2.1 ports, an SD card reader, and an audio jack. Supports up to four 4K displays or one 8K display for enhanced productivity
AI CapabilitiesEquipped with the Ryzen AI Engine capable of performing 10 trillion AI operations per second and running four AI models simultaneously, enhancing response time by over 35% compared to a single AI stream
Package Contents19V 6.32A (120W) DC adapter, HDMI cable, and user manual
Materials and DimensionsAluminum casing with front LED indicator, measuring 112.4 x 112.4 x 37 mm and weighing 450 grams. Eco-friendly with sustainable materials and low-power features
Customer SupportComes with a 3-year limited warranty from the date of purchase, covering all defects in design and workmanship. Supported by an attentive aftersales team
Performance and UsageSuitable for video and photo editing, Office tasks, 4K video viewing, high-end gaming, virtualization work, and other computing tasks
Geekom ae7 mini pc features 1
Geekom ae7 mini pc features 1

Unboxing the AE7

Let’s take a look at the unboxing of the unit. After removing the top of the box, we can see the AE7. I was really impressed with the size of the unit. It is noticeably smaller than other units of the typical mini PC size.

Geekom ae7 mini pc
Geekom ae7 mini PC

The front of the AE7 shows a fairly simple front panel with two USB ports (USB-A 3.x) a headphone and mic jack and the power button.

The front of the geekom ae7 mini pc
The front of the geekom ae7 mini PC

Flipping the unit to one side, we can see the perforated side panel for ventilation.

One side of the geekom ae7 mini pc
One side of the geekom ae7 mini PC

Flipping to the other side, we can see the SD card reader, which is a pretty cool addition to this little mini PC.

The other side of the ae7
The other side of the ae7

The back of the AE7 reveals healthy I/O. It has the axial (barrel type) power adapter and a 40 gig USB-C port, along with another 10 gig USB-C port, two HDMI ports, and two USB-A ports. One of the USB ports is a USB 3.x port, and the other is a standard USB-A port. Then, we have a Realtek 2.5G network adapter.

The back of the geekom ae7 mini pc
The back of the geekom ae7 mini PC

After removing the bottom plate (you unscrew the 4 rubber feet that have the screw through them and this releases the bottom of the unit for removal, exposing the RAM and M.2 slots for the AE7. The unit I was sent, has a 1TB NVMe drive and 32 GB of RAM.

Inside the ae7 mini pc
Inside the ae7 mini pc

A Realtek network adapter

I think almost everything about this unit is great, aside from the fact that it has a Realtek network adapter. As you know Realtek network adapters are not supported with VMware vSphere. I know many are going away from vSphere in the home lab, however, it is a bummer still, since it would just give us more options to use this mini PC for testing even more hypervisors. You may want to load VMware ESXi on this mini PC. To do that, you will need to use a USB network adapter.

Below is an example of what you will see when you attempt to load VMware ESXi on a mini PC running a Realtek network adapter.

Vmware esxi no network adapters error with realtek nics
Vmware esxi no network adapters error with realtek nics

Also, it is a bummer that the mini PC only has a single 2.5 G network adapter. It would have been perfect to see two 2.5 gigabit network adapters on this little unit. However, the small size of the unit might be in play here.

Hurdles with Secure boot

One of the interesting hurdles that I had with the Geekom AE7 mini PC when I first powered it on, installed a lab NVMe drive that I use for a lot of testing, was I could not get secure boot to disable.

Reminicent of the minisforum MS-01 where I had to set a password for Administrator and User to change the secure boot settings, I thought this was the case with the AE7.

Secure boot option with the geekom ae7
Secure boot option with the geekom ae7

However, that didn’t work either after setting the passwords and rebooting the AE7 back into the BIOS. I had to reinstall the factory NVMe drive and then it allowed me to go in and change the secure boot setting. This is the first time I have seen that before. Generally you can go in and change the secure boot setting as an administrator in the BIOS. Do keep this in mind.

After reinstalling the factory NVMe drive, I disabled Secure Boot and was then able to remove the factory NVME drive once again and install the lab drive.

Disable secure boot geekom mini pc
Disable secure boot geekom mini PC

Storage

The Geekom AE7 has an M.2 slot internally as well as storage under the inside lid to house another SSD. However, there were no included cables in the package to hook up the internal SSD bay.

This should provide a good deal of storage options for home labbers looking to run a home server in the environment from this little mini PC.

Also, I will say the 10 gig and 40 gig USB-C ports are a really nice addition to this mini PC as it opens the door to many options to run external NVMe storage from these ports.

Memory

The memory used in the Geekom AE7 mini PC is DDR5. This is excellent for home labs since we can upgrade DDR5 to a total of 96 GB of system memory. DDR4 is limited to a max of 64 GB of memory. Memory is definitely king in the home lab.

CPU

The unit I was sent has the AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS Zen4 with 8 cores and 16 threads, 16MB cache, clocking between 4.0 GHz and 5.2 GHz. This is an excellent CPU for home lab, offering uniform cores and 16 threads to work with. You won’t have the issues of working with the “hybrid” type architectures with performance and efficiency cores.

Also, on the Amazon link I am seeing it listed with the AMD Ryzen 7945HS, so pay attention to the details as there may be a newer variant.

Amd ryzen 9 7940hs prcessor 1
Amd ryzen 9 7940hs prcessor 1

Proxmox VE installation

Unlike the hurdles with VMware ESXi and installing the hypervisor with Realtek NICs, Proxmox has no issues with this.

Proxmox installation on the geekom ae7 mini pc
Proxmox installation on the geekom ae7 mini PC

Below is running Proxmox with a few VMs on the Geekom AE7.

Proxmox ve running with the amd ryzen 9
Proxmox ve running with the amd ryzen 9

Power consumption

Let’s talk about power consumption. This little mini PC shines on that front. Below is a look at the power draw with the mini PC idling without running any VMs.

After booting the ae7 and it idling
After booting the ae7 and it idling

Below is a reading with the ae7 running 10 virtual machines in Proxmox VE. The VMs are just idling.

Running 10 virtual machines on the geekom ae7
Running 10 virtual machines on the geekom ae7

Finally, to get a reading of the ae7 at full power draw, I installed S-TUI and the Stress utility to bring the unit to 100% CPU usage. The power draw hit 70.4 watts which still isn’t bad for 16 cores at 100% CPU in my opinion.

The geekcom ae7 at full load
The geekcom ae7 at full load

The good and bad of the Geekom AE7 Mini PC Review

Here are my thoughts on the good and bad of the Geekom AE7 mini PC.

The good

  • Powerful CPU that is uniform across the board with 16 cores
  • Uses DDR5 memory
  • Has tons of I/O ports that are healthy bandwidth 10 gig and 40 gig USB-C
  • Power consumption is minimal at idle and with idle workloads

The bad

Wrapping up

I really like this unit for many reasons. It has a lot of processing power, DDR5 memory, and an NVMe slot and the ability to add an SSD under the lid. Also, the fast USB-C connections are a great addition as you can add additional storage to the unit for storing files, VMs, etc.

The cost is fairly high. However, keep your eye out for coupon codes for the unit to get a better deal, either on Amazon or on the official Geekom store.

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Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee is the Senior Writer, Engineer and owner at Virtualizationhowto.com and has over two decades of experience in Information Technology. Having worked for numerous Fortune 500 companies as well as in various industries, He has extensive experience in various IT segments and is a strong advocate for open source technologies. Brandon holds many industry certifications, loves the outdoors and spending time with family. Also, he goes through the effort of testing and troubleshooting issues, so you don't have to.

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