If you are in the market for new mini-PC to run some services in your home such as Home Assistant, Plex Media Server, Grafana, InfluxDB, Docker containers, or more, this post is for you. I will cover three Beelink mini-PCs that all support Proxmox and can run a variety of workloads without breaking a sweat. All three are highly power efficient, using less than 8w with active workloads…including Home Assistant.
Beelink is more affordable than Intel NUCs, and offers a mixtures of both Intel and AMD based mini-PCs. They offer 12th Gen Intel CPUs, including the Q1 ’23 released N100 processor. In this post I cover the following three Beelink models, with the focus of running Proxmox on them with multiple workloads:
Beelink Mini S12 Pro (Intel 12th Gen N100)
Beelink SEi12 Pro (Intel 12th Gen Core i5-1240P)
Beelink SEi12 (Intel 12th Gen Core i5-1235U)
Depending on your budget and performance requirements, you have a variety of choices. I’ve personally owned all three models and this post represents my hands-on experience with all three.
I received a comment stating that not all Beelink mini-PCs support SMART drive reporting. I can verify on my N100 and i5-1240P Beelink mini-PCs that they report what look like accurate SMART stats. I no longer have the i5-1235U (upgraded it), but a reader provided feedback that yes it supports SMART too. All three models also have out of the box supported NICs in Proxmox 7.4 and 8.0.
November 2, 2023: Beelink seems to have a major supply shortage of the Intel 12th Gen mini-PCs. The links I have in this post now pull up inferior models. If looking on Amazon, closely inspect the specifications for the mini-PC you are looking at. The other day I couldn’t find any shipping models with Intel CPUs and 2.5Gbps NICs. I don’t know if this is a transient issue, or what is going on.
July 13, 2023 Update: Beelink now has EQ12 Pro N305 mini-PC that has 8c/8t with dual 2.5Gbps NICs. 16GB max RAM. Build quality is similar to the N100, not the i5-1250P models. You can find it on Amazon here. I installed Proxmox VE 8.0 on it, and the text installer ran without a hitch. Auto-power on works great as well. Recommend if the N100 doesn’t have enough CPU power for you.
June 25, 2023 Update: I published a new post on how to setup Intel VT-d for vGPU virtual function (VF) passthrough to a Windows 11 Pro VM with Proxmox VE 8. This enables multiple VMs (up to 7) on the same Proxmox host to use physical GPU resources. It worked flawlessly on both the N100 and i5-1240P models. See this post:
Proxmox VE 8: Windows 11 vGPU (VT-d) with Intel Alder Lake
May 4, 2023 Update: I successfully setup Google Coral m.2 PCIe passthrough to a Frigate Ubuntu VM on Proxmox 7.4 using the i5-1240P model. I also setup Intel GPU PCIe passthrough to the same Frigate VM and was successful.
Beelink Mini S12 Pro (Intel 12th Gen N100)
If you are just getting started with Home Assistant and want an ultra small PC to run Proxmox, HAOS and a few other LXC containers, the Beelink Mini S12 Pro is a fantastic option. The Intel N100 CPU is 4 cores with 4 threads. It uses the Alder Lake “E” cores for maximum power efficiency.
I got mine from Amazon for $189, which included 16GB DDR4 RAM and 500GB PCIe SSD. It could easily run Home Assistant OS in a VM (HAOS recommended), and even be a Plex server as well (with a media library on a NAS). HDR tone mapping and hardware transcoding works out of the box with the latest Plex server version.
The Mini S12 Pro is very compact, at 4″ square and 1.5″ high. Build wise it’s pretty light and has a solid top. The 12th Gen N100 CPU is extremely power efficient. Steady state power draw is 5w with a couple of LXC servers running. Of course running more CPU intensive workloads will push that power up.
Proxmox VE 7.4 with the latest 6.2.x kernel runs fantastically on this mini-PC. I’ve also upgraded to Proxmox VE 8.0 without issue. I did have to modify the X11 config per this forum post to get the Proxmox 7.4 installer GUI to work. However, Proxmox VE 8.0 has a text based installer that works out of the box. The N100 also supports auto power on via the BIOS, so that’s great for a Proxmox host.
I can strongly recommend the Beelink Mini S12 Pro as a good entry level Proxmox host that can easily run Home Assistant, Plex, and other LXC workloads like Grafana and InfluxDB. For under $200 on sale, I think that’s a bargain for a 12th Gen Intel CPU and more storage and RAM than you need for a small Proxmox server. Do note the cooling is not super robust, so if you have steady state workloads that are heavy on the CPU, this might not be the optimal choice. Build quality is fine, but it is pretty light. I would not suggest this model if you plan to have multiple camera feeds for services like Frigate.
Beelink SEi12 Pro Intel Core i5-1240P
If you want a powerhouse mini-PC for Proxmox, then the Beelink SEi12 Pro with the Intel Core i5-1240P is an outstanding option. It features a 12th Generation Intel Core i5-1240P CPU with 12 cores and 16 threads, DDR5 RAM, 2.5Gbps NIC, 500GB NVMe SSD and more. It would take a lot of VMs and LXCs to push this CPU.
Idling my CPU usage is ~3% running Home Assistant OS VM, an Ubuntu VM for Docker, and 7 LXC containers including a Plex Server. If I stream a 4K HDR video with hardware transcoding via Plex, CPU utilization is basically unchanged from the 1-3% idle…which is insane!
Beelink also offers a SEi12 (non-pro) that uses an Alder Lake CPU (Core i5-1235U) but is less expensive. Beelink distinguishes the SEi12 “Pro” from their regular SEi12 line with a number of upgraded features. The Pro features these upgrades:
- Intel Core i5-1240P (12th Gen Alder Lake, 4x P cores, 8x E cores, 16 threads)
- Dual-channel DDR5 (16GB standard, expandable to 64GB)
- 2.5Gbps Intel NIC
- Thunderbolt 4 Port
Standard to both the SEi12 and SEi12 Pro lines:
- Brand name 512GB PCIe 4.0 SSD (mine had Kingston)
- Brand name dual channel memory (mine had Crucial)
- WiFi 6 (not 6E)
- 2 Fans
- Space for 7mm SATA SSD
- Dual HDMI Ports
- Auto power on BIOS setting
- Supports Intel VT-d
If you don’t want to pay the upgrade fee for the “Pro” line ($130-$170 more depending on sales/coupons), the Beelink SEi12 with Intel 12th Gen i5-1235U is a strong choice. That CPU only has 2x P cores and 8x E cores, 12 threads and is paired with DDR4 RAM. Beelink’s CPU comparison is below.
The SEi 12 Pro is very compact, at less than 5″ square and under 2″ high. It is very well built, and pretty heavy. Much heavier than the Mini S12 Pro with the N100 CPU. Internally the heatsinks provide cooling for both the CPU and the NVMe SSD. The two fans are whisper quiet while running 2 VMs and a number of LXC containers. The top is actually perforated and covered with a breathable mesh which the fans pull air through (so don’t stack something on top).
The 12th Gen Core i5-1240P is extremely power efficient. Stead state power draw is 8w with running Home Assistant OS, Plex Server, a number of LXC containers, and an Ubuntu VM. 8w is fantastic for such a powerful CPU. Of course running more CPU intensive workloads will push that power up.
Proxmox VE 7.4 with the latest 6.2.x kernel runs fantastically on this mini-PC. I did have to use the nomodeset GRUB flag to boot into the Proxmox 7.4 GUI installer. However, Proxmox VE 8.0 has a new text based installer, so that bypassed the previous GUI issues. I’m running Proxmox VE 8.0 on this unit with no issues at all.
The SEi 12 Pro has an A+E key mini PCIe slot, which is populated with an Intel WiFi card. I pulled the WiFi card and installed the Google Coral PCIe TPU. It works great with a Frigate VM using PCIe passthrough.
If you want a powerhouse mini-PC that can easily run a Plex Server LXC with hardware transcoding and HDR tone mapping, the SEi 12 Pro is an awesome choice and a strong recommend. Depending on your workloads, RAM might be a limiting factor. It is expandable to 64GB, but only comes with 16GB. The 2.5Gbps NIC is great for future proofing. I have also successfully setup vGPU (VT-d) passthrough to a Windows 11 VM and it’s been rock solid.
Finally, both models feature a 2.5″ slim SATA bay that can host a standard 2.5″ laptop style harddrive or SSD. I have a 2TB spinning Seagate Skyhawk surveillance drive in my server for Frigate video storage.
Beelink Mini S12 Pro Comparison
If you are interested in the Beelink Mini S12 Pro, but think you might want to spend more for upgraded features, here’s comparison of the big differences between the N100 model and the SEi12 Pro Core i5-1240P model:
- Single channel DDR4 vs. Dual Channel DDR5
- 4C/4T vs. 12c/16T
- PCIe 1x SSD vs. PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD (800MB/s vs. 3,500 MB/s)
- 1Gbps NIC vs. 2.5Gbps NIC
- Basic cooling vs. dual fan high performance heat sinks for CPU and NVMe SSD
- 4x USB-A vs. 4x USB-A plus Thunderbolt 4
- WiFi 6 600Mbps vs. 2.5 Gbps
- Dual Display vs. Triple Display support
Beelink offers a number of mini-PCs with a range of features. Even the entry level model with the 12th Gen N100 CPU is perfectly fine for Proxmox, Home Assistant VM, Plex Server, and more. If you really want a solid home lab that can be pushed even harder, the SEi12 Pro model offers a substantial upgrade in all areas. Power draw difference between the two is 5w vs. 8w, at less than 5% host CPU utilization on both hosts.
If you want a solid Proxmox host for your home servers, I can confidently recommend all three models depending on your requirements and budget. PCIe passthrough for both the GPU and a Google Coral m.2 TPU worked perfectly on the i5-1240P model with an Ubuntu 22.04 VM on Proxmox. I’ve also done Intel VT-d vGPU virtual function (VF) passthrough to a Windows 11 Pro VM on the N100 and i5-1240P mini-PCs without issue using Proxmox 8. Plex Media Server has since been updated to support HDR tone mapping on these 12th Gen GPUs, so full hardware acceleration is available.