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 I’m 99% sure I checked SMART stats on there and they were working.
May 4, 2023 Update: I successfully setup Google Coral m.2 PCIe passthrough to a Frigate Ubuntu VM on Proxmox. I also setup Intel GPU PCIe passthrough to the same Frigate VM and was successful. I have not tried any other OSes like Windows.
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). An upcoming Plex Media Server release will add support for N100 hardware transcoding and HDR tone mapping. The dev PMS build ran perfectly well for me and hardware offloads were flawless.
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 did have to modify the X11 config per this forum post to get the Proxmox installer GUI to work. But after that everything went smoothly. It 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.
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 1-3% 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 GUI installer. But after that no special configuration was needed to install and run Proxmox 7.4.
The SEi 12 Pro has an A+E key mini PCIe slot, which is populated with an Intel WiFi card. I have a Google Coral TPU on order which should work nicely in that slot. Once that comes in I’ll post about my experience with 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. Although I haven’t tried it, it should support a Windows 10/11 VM with GPU passthrough on Proxmox.
Do note that as of today, Plex Media server supports only hardware transcoding and not HDR tone mapping. That will soon be fixed with an upcoming PMS build with newer Intel media drivers.
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.
Be careful about Bellink’s products. Not all of them support S.M.A.R.T., which means that if your SSD is dying or having other problems, you would have no way of diagnosing those problems. I wished that reviewers would test to see whether mini PCs support S.M.A.R.T. rather than just assuming they do. (I have two Beelink GTR5 5900HX mini PCs. In one of my other computer (not Beelink), two of my Intel SSDs died, which is what caused me to look into whether my Beelink GTR5 5900HX supported S.M.A.R.T. After asking them how to enable it in the BIOS, Beelink told… Read more »
Great point! In my Proxmox install guide I do have a step in there to check SMART stats. On my N100 and i5-1240P Beelink SMART stats work and report what look like valid values. I’ll update this post to mention that.
@Derek Seaman Thank you. (I don’t know how to upvote your comment, because it says that I need to be logged into do that, but I also don’t easily/readily see a “log in” button, but anyways…) I would also make the suggesting that companies and/or consumers should email the respective companies’ support line to make sure that their system is going to support S.M.A.R.T. before buying, though I wished that they would just make it easier and either show it in their specs and/or advertise it. It IS interesting though, that the implication from your reply is that the i5-1235U… Read more »
I don’t have the i5-1235U anymore (upgraded it to the i5-1240P). But I’m pretty sure I checked SMART when I did have it, but I don’t want to go off a memory in case I’m wrong.
Thank you for that clarification. I appreciate that.
Great review, BTW.
I’ve got an i5-1235u arriving tomorrow. I’ll check it when I get it setup and report back.
SMART looks to work on the i5-1235u as well.
Plex has had HDR tonemapping for a while
Not for all GPUs. PMS bundles in Intel media drivers and as of late April 2023 those bundled drivers do NOT support Alder Lake HDR tone mapping.
Having trouble installing Proxmox 7.4.1 with the Mini 12 Pro and the N100. You do mention the nomadisier grub flag here, https://www.reddit.com/r/Proxmox/comments/ht4qq2/first_time_setting_up_proxmox_black_screen_while/ I see the first GUI where I can select „Install Proxmox VE“ but then it is stuck at „Starting the installer GUI – see tty (CTRL+ALT+F2) for any errors…“ at which point nothing happens for a minute or two and then command is stopped with „Installation aborted – unable to continue“ and I’m still in the terminal under root@proxmox Do I need to make any BIOS changes? How do I set the nomodeset in the boot command? Edit:… Read more »
Glad the link to the Proxmox forum helped!
Derek, wondering if you have tried to passthrough the GPU to a Windows 10/11 VM in proxmox yet? I have seen some reports that the intel chips with Xe graphics GPUs might not be able to passthrough a proxmox VM (see this, among others: https://community.intel.com/t5/Intel-NUCs/VT-D-SR-IOV-for-Iris-XE-on-Intel-NUC-11th-gen-NUC11TNHV50L/td-p/1312501). Any insights here would be useful, as this may determine if I buy one of these devices or not. They otherwise look perfect for my use case. Thanks!!
I have passed through the GPU to a Ubuntu VM, and also a Google Coral TPU to Ubuntu. I have not run a Windows VM on any Beelink.
Hi Derek, really appreciate your Proxmox install guide on Beelink mini PC. I tried but not able to pass through Intel iGPU and Coral TPU to a LXC with Frigate as docker on Proxmox. Any change to share your guide how to pass them to a Ubuntu VM?
Were you able to get the wifi adapter working on the S12 pro mini inside of any *nix OS?
No I pulled the WiFi card and replaced with with a Coral TPU.