Dino PC Minisaur E350 mini PC review

Dino PC Minisaur E350

For a mini PC, the Dino PC Minisaur E350 is rather big and heavy. Although small enough to pick up in one hand, it's certainly not going in any sort of pocket and therefore occupies, along with Fujitsu Esprimo Q520, a somewhat larger category of mini PC unrestricted by the constraints of ultra-miniaturisation, but still compact enough to be easily portable.

The PC is based on a Gigabyte GA-E350N WIN8 motherboard, fitted inside an AVP Black Imp Mini ITX Case which can be used horizontally or vertically. Its steel construction feels much more like a traditional PC case, only considerably smaller. Finished in black with silver details, the front sports just a power button and some multi-coloured indicator LEDs which glow blue and purple.

The back of the case exposes a standard-sized motherboard blanking plate with separate line in and line out jacks and a microphone input as well as VGA, HDMI, ethernet and four USB 2.0 ports. Sadly, there's no USB 3.0 available. Instead, you get a pair of legacy PS/2 ports and even older serial and parallel ports. Despite its larger size, the Dino PC Minisaur E350 still uses an external power supply, which also hooks up at the rear. See also: Group test: What's the best Mini PC?

A more careful inspection of the front of the PC reveals a two removable, and very losable, plastic clip-on covers. One conceals an additional pair of USB 2.0 ports and audio jacks, while the other provides a SATA (not eSATA) connection and Molex power port.

This anachronistic and somewhat unusual selection of ports, combined with its lack of built-in Wi-Fi, makes the Minisaur feel rather old-fashioned when pitted against the likes of the Chillblast Fusion Brix mini PC or Intel NUC D54250WYK mini PC.

Dino PC mini PC: integrated graphics

Inside, the PC is powered by a 1.6GHz AMD E-350D APU which also provides integrated graphics capabilities. Unfortunately, it's slow –really slow. PCMark 7 recorded only 1261 points from the Minisaur, and this is really noticeable when using the PC in the form of much finger drumming and general waiting around for things to happen. It's also very slow in terms of graphics, although fine for general multimedia use.

It is, however, really cheap for a mini PC: Around half the price of the most expensive you'll find on offer. So if your budget won't stretch any further and performance really isn't an issue for you, the Dino PC Minisaur E350 may be just what you need. See all budget PCs reviews.

Dino PC Minisaur E350: Specs

  • 1.6GHz AMD E-350D (2 cores)
  • Stock CPU Fan
  • 8GB DDR3 1,333 MHz DIMM
  • 500GB HGST Travelstar Z5K500 HDD (3Gb/s)
  • 60W External AC adapter
  • Gigabyte GA-E350N WIN8
  • Windows 8
  • Integrated AMD Radeon HD 6310 graphics
  • Realtek GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
  • 6x USB 2.0
  • Line out, HDMI audio, Headphones
  • Line in, Mic, Mic on chassis (hidden)
  • 1 x D-Sub port, 1 x HDMI port (max res: 1920x1200)
  • 1x 4 Pin molex port and 1x SATA port (Hidden) Parallel port, serial port, 2x PS/2 ports
  • 190 x 250 x 60 mm
  • 1.5kg
  • SECC 0.8mm and PC/ABS
  • 1.6GHz AMD E-350D (2 cores)
  • Stock CPU Fan
  • 8GB DDR3 1,333 MHz DIMM
  • 500GB HGST Travelstar Z5K500 HDD (3Gb/s)
  • 60W External AC adapter
  • Gigabyte GA-E350N WIN8
  • Windows 8
  • Integrated AMD Radeon HD 6310 graphics
  • Realtek GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
  • 6x USB 2.0
  • Line out, HDMI audio, Headphones
  • Line in, Mic, Mic on chassis (hidden)
  • 1 x D-Sub port, 1 x HDMI port (max res: 1920x1200)
  • 1x 4 Pin molex port and 1x SATA port (Hidden) Parallel port, serial port, 2x PS/2 ports
  • 190 x 250 x 60 mm
  • 1.5kg
  • SECC 0.8mm and PC/ABS

OUR VERDICT

Although tiny compared to a full-sized desktop, the Dino PC Minisaur E350 is large, cumbersome and frustratingly slow when compared to most of the competition. Its price, however, is considerably lower than anything else on offer and is therefore a reasonable value for money purchase.

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