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Beelink L55 review: a full-fledged PC in a tiny box

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    Beelink L55 review: a full-fledged PC in a tiny box



    The good:

    Beautiful, neat and compact design.
    Excellent build quality.
    Licensed Windows 10 Home and Microsoft Office Home.
    Decent performance.
    Big and fast SSD storage.
    Lots of connectivity options.


    The bad:

    A relatively old Intel Broadwell processor.
    Old DDR3L RAM.
    HDMI 1.4 port only supports up to 4K/30FPS.
    No SD or MicroSD card slot.


    Beelink has put out many budget mini PCs in the past, most of them are Atom and Celeron based systems designed for only basic computing tasks. The newly released L55 is a different device, with a much more capable Core-i3 processor and 8GB RAM inside, it is definitely more marketed as a full-fledged PC rather than an HTPC that only sits in your living room for media playback purposes.

    Specifications
    Brand: Beelink
    Model: L55
    Type: Mini PC
    System: Windows 10 Home
    CPU: Intel Broadwell i3 5005U (Dual Core CPU, 4 logical processors)
    GPU: Intel HD 5500
    RAM: 8GB DDR3L
    Storage: 256GB/320GB/512GB
    Internet Access: Dual Band Wi-Fi, LAN
    Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0
    Ports: 4*USB 3.0, 2*USB 2.0, 1*3.5mm audio jack, 1*HDMI 1.4, 1*DP, 2*1000M Ethernet Jack, 1* DC-in port , 1*SATA HDD port, 1*M2.SSD port
    Accessories: 2*HDMI cable, 1*SATA HDD cable, 1*DC adapter, 1* bracket, some screws
    Size: 128*126*47mm



    Retail Package


    Like always, the L55 comes with the typical simple and neat packaging by Beelink.




    There are lots of things in the L55's relatively small packaging. You can find a 12V-3A DC power adapter, two HDMI cables (different in length), a SATA HDD expansion cable, a bracket and some screws which can mount the mini PC to the back of a monitor.




    Design and Build



    The overall design of the L55 doesn't stray too far from previous Beelink Mini PC models, in fact it looks almost identical to the U55, the only difference you will notice at first glance is the color. The chassis is made of high-quality plastic. The matte dark blue finish looks nice. The Beelink branding on the top side is quite stylish, there's also the famous "Intel inside" marking on the bottom right, reminding you that it's a device powered by Intel chips.



    Being as small as it is, the L55 has almost as many ports as a desktop PC does. The front of the L55 is home to a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, a red power button, and an activity LED (not lit in the photo) and an RTC hole. One of the USB 3.0 ports supports fast charging (up to 7.5W), and there is a green lightning marking above to distinguish it from the other.




    There are lots of vents on the left and right side to prevent the L55 from overheating. The L55 doesn't apply the fanless design used for many entry-level mini PCs, instead it has a high-speed fan inside the shell to cool the internals down when they are stressed.



    The back side sports another pair of USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI 2.0a port, a DP port, two RJ45 1000M Ethernet jacks, a DC-in port and some more vents.



    Four small rubber feet are hosted on the bottom side, preventing the shell from scratches.



    The L55 measures 128*126*47mm, even smaller than the Android-based Remix IO. The build quality is excellent, as the device looks extremely refined, with no ugly mold lines. It also feels extremely robust and sturdy, you won't break it without some serious force. Also, the matte dark blue coating on the surface is very resistant to scratches. After 2 weeks of reviewing the device and moving it around constantly, I still haven't found any marks on its surface of the L55.



    Setting up



    As small as it is, the L55 is a PC and needs to be connected with a display, a keyboard and a mouse to work, and that's how you should set it up. There's no conventional mouse and keyboard ports, so you need to get by with USB-mounted or Bluetooth input devices.

    During first-time start-up, you will need to go through some of the Microsoft Windows initialization protocols, which is easy but will take some time. After that, you are good to go.



    System & Apps



    The Beelink L55 ships with a clean version of licensed Windows 10 Home OS, we found no pre-installed 3rd party applications and bloatware at all.



    The local disk is a single volume (only Disk C) by default, but it is relatively easy to do disk partitioning on Windows 10.




    You won't need any 3rd party application, the "Disk Management" feature in "Computer Management" can take care of that or you, after less than a minute, we got two local disk volumes.



    There are thousands of apps available in the Microsoft Store, if they are not enough, you can also install traditional PC apps. The Microsoft Office Student & Home Edition can be automatically activated once it is installed on the L55, we know a lot of people will welcome that.

    We don't feel like digging into all the main features of Windows 10. For those who is still unfamiliar and curious with this dominant PC operating system, we highly recommend you to watch some tutorial videos on YouTube.



    Performance



    The L55 is powered by an relatively old 5th generation Intel Broadwell Core-i3 5005 dual core CPU (2.0GHz), not the latest Coffee Lake (8th and 9th generation) chipset. This chip won't match the latest Intel i5 and i7 chips found in mainstream laptops and desktops PCs when it comes to horsepower, but it is still very capable of handling normal everyday tasks. Like always, we ran some benchmarks on the device to see how much horsepower it was to generate.



    In the Cinebench R10 test, the L55 scored in 3,023 Single core, 6,553 in multi-core, and 3999CB in OpenGL. These scores were significantly higher than the Beelink AP34 (single core: 1846, multi-core: 5470, OpenGL: 2782CB), which is powered by an Intel Celeron N3450 processor.



    In the more complex Cinebench R15 test, the L55 was returned in 150cb CPU performance and 14.78fps in OpenGL.



    The Fritz Chess benchmark returned a score of 3,878, which beats the scores of Atom and Celeron based PCs. But it is definitely not impressive, as the i3-8145U powered Huawei Matebook 13 scored 7190, and even the Core-M powered Xiaomi Laptop managed to score 4,691 in the same test.



    In the PCMark 8 Home Accelerated test, the L55 scored 2451, handily beating those Celeron-powered mini PCs and laptops, of which the scores are normally below 2000. But it is still nowhere near the scores of mainstream PCs.



    The SSD in the L55 is undoubtedly faster than the eMMc found in entry-level mini PCs and convertible Windows tablets, as the device scored 754 in AS SSD benchmark. The sequential read and write speeds are almost as fast as that of my Surface Pro 3 (539MB/s & 484MB/s), but still significantly slower than the SSD inside my Huawei Matebook 13 (2155MB/s & 1485MB/s). There are 3 variants of L55, which have different built-in storage. The one that we received has 512GB M2. SSD inside. The storage of the L55 is upgradable with SATA HDD up to 2TB. If that's not enough, you can even replace the stock M2. SSD with a 1TB drive.



    Although the L55 is capable of outputting 4K resolution (3840*2160px), we won't recommend people to set this resolution as default. As there is no discrete graphics card under the hood, 4K will be too much for the integrated Intel HD5500 during some productivity tasks, 1080P is still a far more reliable choice on most occasions.



    The L55 was capable of playing all the media files we threw at it, including various 4k video clips, the playback was smooth in Windows Media Player and Thunder Video Player all the time, but there were stutters while playing 4K videos of webm formats in Windows 10's Movies & TV app.



    We also had no problem streaming full HD and 4K YouTube videos in Chrome. But playing 8K videos in YouTube was an extremely laggy experience we won't recommend anybody to try.



    The device was also smooth with most of the productivity tasks. We didn't notice any lags editing our image-heavy presentation in PowerPoint. Editing photos in Photoshop is also a generally smooth experience, but some of the renderings did take a noticeable longer period of time than they did on my i7-powered Surface Laptop.

    The Beelink has 8GB of DDR3L RAM on board, so it is also able to handle some serious multi-tasking. We did hear the fan inside the L55 making some noise when the device was under heavy loads, but it never got unbearably loud. Fortunately, the CPU temperature never got too high to trigger a warning from Ludashi (a Chinese PC monitoring app).



    The HD5500 GPU is powerful enough for all games installed from the Microsoft Store, including Forza Horizon 4 and Modern Warfare. All of them ran smooth and remained responsive even at the highest settings. We actually enjoyed playing Asphalt 9 Legend on the L55 quite a lot, it was easy to control, the visuals were stunning, too. Lightweight desktop games such as Plant vs Zombies, Chicken Shoot and Stealth Bastard also ran smoothly on the L55, older versions of big titles such as SEGA Virtua Tennis and Asphalt 5 ran without hiccups as well. However, the L55 doesn't come with a discrete graphics card, so it is definitely not built for the most graphic-intense titles such as the Metro 2033, GTA 4 and StarCraft. The games took a long time to load, and the frame rates were sometimes unacceptable during gameplay.

    To sum it up, the L55 can deliver decent computing performance while running the types of software applications that average consumers use on a daily basis, but it is not designed as a workhorse for multimedia editors or other professional designers, nor is it the right PC for gaming enthusiasts.



    Connectivity



    The L55 supports dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz & 5GHz). Wi-Fi connection was pretty solid as well. We put the L55 on the TV cabinet in the living room (the WiFi router was placed in another room), it was still able to download files at the same top speed.



    The L55 can be connected to input devices and sound systems (headphones or speakers) wirelessly via Bluetooth, which saves you from the messy wires on your desktop, and frees the USB ports for other devices. We connected the L55 with our pair of Bang & Olufsen S3 speakers and enjoyed a lot of music and movies, the audio transmission remained uninterrupted.



    There are 6 USB Type A ports (4*USB 3.0 and 2* USB 2.0) on the L55, you can mount lots of external devices at the same time. We mounted a 4TB Seagate mobile drive, a 128GB Samsung mobile SSD drive, and two 128GB flash disks, the L55 has no problem supporting them all at the same time.



    The transfer speed through the USB 3.0 port is pleasantly fast. It normally takes only seconds to copy an HD movie from a flash disk.

    The DP and HDMI ports will support most of the monitors, projectors and TV sets, but if you are using an old monitor with only VGA or DVI port, you will have to get by with an adapter. Unfortunately, the HDMI port on the L55 is HDMI v1.4 standard, which can only output resolution up to 2K/60fps or 4K/30fps. If you connect the L55 with a 4K TV via an HDMI cable, you won't be able to get the highest image quality. The DP port on the L55 does support 4K/60fps output, but very few monitors do, and HDTVs don't usually come with a DP port.

    The L55 has two 1000M RJ45 Ethernet jacks, allowing you to connect to two network broadband services at the same time. This could be useful if you use the L55 in a workplace, as employees may need to connect both to the internet and the company intranet. Also, for higher-level users, they can combine the broadband width of two network services to achieve higher download and upload speed.



    Verdict

    Beelink has made a few choices which seem odd to us reviewers. Besides equipping the L55 with a relatively old 5th generation processor in a year when all new releases come with more advanced 8th and 9th generation i-series processors, they have also chosen to feature an old HDMI 1.4 port. Even more, the Micro SD card slot found on the U55 disappeared on the L55, we really wonder if it's a choice made merely to save cost or for other reasons.

    Besides a few puzzling choices, the L55 is still a solid device which has a lot going for it. With a Core-i3 5005U processor and 8GB DDR3L RAM inside, it is definitely not only designed for media consumption. Instead, it is able to get a lot of things done without a hitch. If you don't use your PC for intensive gaming or complex designer work, the horsepower of the L55 will simply be more than enough for you.

    The prices of L55 starts from $269 (256GB version), and the 512GB version costs $299. These prices are definitely higher than the prices of Atom and Celeron powered mini PCs. But we do believe the features, performance and functionalities of the L55 justify the price tag. If you want an inexpensive desktop computer which is small, stylish and compact, but is still powerful enough for everyday computing tasks, the L55 is worthy of your consideration.
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