Beelink GTR6 Review – Herculean Performance In A Lilliputian Body

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Beelink GTR6 Review
Source: Devin/Fossbytes

Beelink is known for carrying various mini PC products that scale across a broad spectrum of performance targets. The GTR6 is the peak of performance among Beelink’s current offerings.

At first glance, you would likely expect the GTR6 to blend alongside the Beelink family of mini PCs. They are, after all, a relatively homogenous bunch. But the GTR6, like the GTR5 before it, stands head and shoulders above the rest. In terms of mini PCs, the GTR6 is seemingly a demigod.

CPUAMD Ryzen 9 6900HX (6nm)
8C/16T 3.3GHz Base Clock
4.9GHz Max Turbo Clock
Memory32GB DDR5 4800MHz
GraphicsAMD Radeon 680M
12 Graphics Cores at 2400MHz
Storage500GB M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD
Network ConnectivityWifi 6E (AX)
2.5 Gigabit Ethernet
Bluetooth 5.2
Front IO1x USB Type-A 3.0
1x USB Type-C
3.5mm Audio Jack
Fingerprint Reader
Rear IO2x USB Type-A 3.0
2x USB Type-A 2.0
4x HDMI
1x 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet
DC Power Barrel Jack
Internal IO1x M.2 NVMe Slot – PCIe 4.0 Capable
1x M.2 SATA SSD Slot
Dimensions168mm x 120mm x 43mm (867ml)
Operating SystemWindows 11 Pro
Beelink GTR6 Specifications

As you can see, the GTR6 can’t be described as anything but blessed. Only a few mobile parts rival the AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX that is at the heart of the GTR6. But even among those, none come close to the tenacity of the 6900HX’s Radeon 680M integrated graphics. This puts the Ryzen 9 6900HX in a class of its own in terms of performance, being capable of doing what no other chip can do on its own. When combined with high-performance storage and modern DDR5 memory like in the Beelink GTR6, the Ryzen 6900HX is, put simply, a beast.

In the Box

The first thing I noticed about the GTR6 packaging was that it is significantly larger than any other Beelink product I’ve unboxed. Despite the larger packaging, the unboxing experience was entirely the same, save for the deviation in the arrangement of the contents.

Beelink GTR6 Wrap
Beelink GTR6 Wrap

The packing materials are very minimalistic, with only a bit of protective foam. This is not a concern, though, because Beelink does send its products in additional external packing materials. This minimalism is appreciated, though, because it helps reduce waste. Everything is packaged neatly, efficiently, and securely. So, while the GTR6 packaging is not exciting in a good way, it’s also not exciting in a negative way.

The contents of the box are pretty straightforward, including

  • A user manual
  • VESA mounting bracket
  • 2x HDMI cables
  • Region-specific power adapter
  • Two additional coloured fan covers
Beelink GTR6 Package Contents
Beelink GTR6 Package Contents

Beelink seems to be a big proponent of the clean desk setup that can be achieved by mounting a mini PC to the backside of a monitor through the use of a small VESA-compatible bracket. It’s a simple, inexpensive, and effective way to reduce clutter.

In addition to the typical inclusions, there are some interesting accessories. The top surface of the GTR6, where the primary cooling fan resides, is a fabric fan cover that presumably filters out dust as well. The accessories are red and gray alternatives to the pre-installed black option.

Beelink GTR6 Fan Cover Filters
Beelink GTR6 Fan Cover Filters

The past Beelink mini PCs I’ve reviewed all included two HDMI cables. And while the GTR6 is also accompanied by two HDMI cables, there is a difference. The past Beelink mini PCs I’ve reviewed all had two HDMI ports, which made sense with the inclusion of two HDMI cables. But the GTR6 has a curious four HDMI ports. In any case, the inclusion of any HDMI cable is welcome, in my opinion.

As mentioned, the unboxing experience is plain but a good plain. And that seems to be par for the course with Beelink in general.

The GTR6 is much bigger than other mini PCs from Beelink. But that’s really a relative statement. Though it isn’t as mousey as its Beelink family, it’s still minuscular next to my mini-ITX desktop. Considering that “mini” in mini-ITX, that’s really saying something.

Beelink GTR6 Front-Left
Beelink GTR6 Front-Left
Beelink GTR6 Front Vertical
Beelink GTR6 Front Vertical

When picking up the GTR6, the first thing you notice, because it’s simply unmissable, is how heavy it is. The metal chassis, which also comprises the four sides of the exterior, is about 2.5mm thick and likely a large contributor to the weight. The material and thickness of the chassis impart an authoritative impression of strength and robustness. As I applied a torsional force across the points of greatest leverage, I could not perceive any yielding whatsoever. In fact, when I applied as much force as I could muster, the GTR6 stayed absolutely resolute in its form. The words “solid” and “sturdy” simply do not do this chassis justice.

The aesthetic of the GTR6 loosely follows that of other Beelink products with some notable distinctions. It shares the bare chamfer accent that is present on Beelink’s SER models. The machined chamfer creates a clean line around the top surface, visually separating the chassis walls apart from the top surface with the sharp, contrasting sheen of the polished metal against the black anodized metal.

Beelink GTR6 Front Angle
Beelink GTR6 Front Angle

On each side, there is an airflow vent. Unlike the press-formed screen mesh that’s used in other Beelink models, the GTR6 has flat plates that have been perforated. In addition to the differing vent cover material, the vent covers also have the lettering “GTR” emblazoned across them. The lettering is not painted on; it appears, however, to have been laser etched out of the black anodization instead, giving the lettering a more industrial feeling.

Beelink GTR6 Front-Right Angle
Beelink GTR6 Front-Right Angle
Beelink GTR6 Side Vertical
Beelink GTR6 Side Vertical

At the bottom, is a maintenance access panel that can be released with four screws, one in each corner. Fortunately, there are no screws hidden under the rubber feet that run the front to back. At the rear, the primary exhaust spans 13cm, centred at the top. Centred below each port is a label indicating the port type. Unlike the vent covering, these labels are painted on in white, providing a more consistent contrast against the black than the bare metal does.

Unlike the rear, though, the front ports don’t have any labelling, with the exception of the button for clearing the CMOS. The buttons and ports are set in a plastic faceplate. While this is a common practice to allow the reuse of the same chassis for different motherboards, the rear portholes are all cut through the metal chassis. I think that the GTR6 would be much more refined looking, if not for the plastic faceplate on the front… and the AMD Ryzen and AMD Radeon stickers placed awkwardly where is on the plastic faceplate and the other is placed in a manner that bridges the seam between the faceplate and the metal of the chassis. This is somewhat understandable, but I think it would be best to either omit the stickers or provide them with the accessories. Especially given that the marketing imagery for the GTR6 does not include the stickers.

Beelink GTR6 Rear Angle
Beelink GTR6 Rear Angle

The last impression is possibly the most interesting. Beelink’s SEi12 includes a fabric filter cover for the primary cooling fan. The SEi12’s, though, is a static component that, by the looks of it, is not intended to be replaced. On the other hand, the GTR6 actually comes with two additional cover accessories in red and dark gray, complementing the pre-installed black. What I find interesting about this feature is that it seems misplaced. The ability to personalize a product is always nice, but I think that before delegating control over the aesthetic to the end-users, Beelink should refine the rougher points, such as the plastic faceplate on the front and the afterthought placement of the AMD stickers.

Overall, the Beelink GTR6 is on the plainer side of the cool, slick black design language. Plain is not necessarily bad, though, depending on your preferences. The GTR6 isn’t flashy or gaudy. Given its stalwart constitution and that, decal blunder aside, there’s nothing obtuse in terms of the way it looks; the GTR6 treads the line between appealing to the gamer aesthetic and business casual pretty well.

What’s that Rattling?

During my unboxing of the GTR6, I noticed there was something loose inside. This would be quite concerning for anyone that had just purchased a unit, as it should be. So, I began investigating this curious rattling.

All of the GTR6’s portholes have tolerances too tight for something to have made its way in from the exterior. Even the exhaust at the rear has tolerances that appear to be less than half a millimetre.

To continue my effort I had to remove the bottom panel. With the access panel removed, the secondary cooling fan was exposed, and I was hoping I could manage to exfiltrate the unknown object through the fan blades. So, I carefully tilted the GTR6 side to side, giving it the occasional gentle shake here and there in an attempt to free this debris. I had no such luck. But I couldn’t leave it in there.

Beelink GTR6 Fan Shroud
Beelink GTR6 Fan Shroud

I took another step further into the GTR6, this time by removing the shrouding that the secondary fan is mounted to. To do this, there were an additional four screws to be removed. And then, with a little bit of wiggling, the shroud was out, and the would-be agent of chaos was sitting there loose on the motherboard.

Beelink GTR6 Motherboard
Beelink GTR6 Motherboard

Full disclosure, I dramatized this quite a bit. It was honestly about a five-minute job disassembling the GTR6 and reassembling it. Though, this doesn’t negate the concern I would feel if I had just purchased this GTR6.

Beelink GTR6 Loose Screw
Beelink GTR6 Loose Screw

The free-roaming object was a screw. I could not find an empty screw hole from which it could have shaken loose, so I’m left to assume it was an unintentional inclusion. Given that it was sitting on the motherboard when the GTR6 was upside down, it looks as though the screw would have been resting on the secondary fan shroud if the GTR6 were upright. But this is still far from desirable. If the screw made contact with the motherboard, it could have gone from red-line to flatline.

It’s unclear how or why this could have gotten past quality control. Maybe the screw shook loose during shipping from somewhere that wasn’t visible without further disassembly. It’s also possible that it fell out of someone’s sleeve during assembly and was lodged only to be ousted by warehouse activities. But we can only speculate, and that’s why warranties are so important.

For what it’s worth, this is the seventh product from Beelink that I review. And, while I’ve disagreed on some points of design or features and functionality in some of those reviews, every product has been brand-new and free of quality control issues like this. Admittedly, that’s not a statistically significant sample set, but I have no reason to believe that this is in any way normal for their products.

Anyway, back to the scheduled programme.

GTR6 Productivity Performance

Given that a modern Core-i3 or Ryzen 3 CPU with 8GB of RAM will suffice for most light to medium office work, it’s not hard to believe that the latest mobile Ryzen 9 with 32B of RAM will plow through it. When you combine that with the PCIe 4.0 storage and its blazing read speeds nearing the theoretical maximums, snappy doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

Beelink GTR6 HWiNFO
Beelink GTR6 HWiNFO

Honestly, between the CPU, DDR5 RAM, and storage, the GTR6 kind of makes my desktop that has a Ryzen 7 2700X, 32GB DDR43300MHz RAM, and an Intel 660p SSD with 1,700MB/s read speeds look like a chump. And there’s data from others to back up my observations. That’s on top of the fact that the 6900HX comes in at a cool 45W rather than the comparatively obscene 105W of my 2700X (realistically even higher given that it’s modestly overclocked). Oh, and that’s considering that there’s also an integrated GPU in the 6900HX sharing that TDP while there aren’t integrated graphics in the 2700X.

The 6900HX outpaces the Ryzen 7 2700X, the flagship from just four and half years ago, so handily that the 2700X doesn’t even meet 70% of the 6900HX’s scores in the above-linked benchmarks. It’s almost enough to make me want to switch to the GTR6 as my daily driver. I totally would if not for my discrete graphics card.

The PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD performance had me floored. I wasn’t expecting such a high-performing SSD, even in the GTR6. The sequential read speeds are right up against the theoretical maximum for PCIe 4.0. The random 1MB reads exceed the PCIe 3.0 maximum. And even the random 4K read speeds are well above SATA SSD sequential performance. At these speeds, “snappy” falls behind the GTR6.

Beelink GTR6 CrystalDiskMark
Beelink GTR6 CrystalDiskMark

What is also welcome is the bump in USB ports over other Beelink mini PCs. The GTR6 has four USB 3.0 Type-A ports, two in the front and two at the back, as well as a USB 3.0 Type-C on the front and two USB 2.0 Type-A ports at the back. This will allow for a mouse, keyboard, webcam, and headset, which is ideal for working from home.

All that is to say, the GTR6 is a productivity beast. Considering it has four display outputs, as well, the user will more than likely be the bottleneck for any productivity workloads rather than the GTR6 itself.

GTR6 Gaming Performance

Remember how I said that I would swap the GTR6 out as my daily driver if not for my desktop having a discrete graphics card? That wasn’t to speak low of the 6900HX’s Radeon 680M integrated graphics. It’s actually quite amazing. But unfortunately, integrated GPUs just can’t even come close to discrete GPUs, and that’s likely never going to change.

Despite that, the Radeon 680M really comes out swinging. Some digging online has led me to a community-accepted figure that the 680M is about the same performance as NVidia’s GTX 1050 Ti. Looking at that, you might think that of course, it should be able to match the GTX 1050 Ti, it’s a six-year-old part. But another way of looking at it is that the GTX 1050 Ti is a 75W card with 4GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory.

According to this Tech Powerup article, the 680M has a TDP of 15W. That’s just one-fifth of the GTX 1050 Ti’s TDP. Compounding that with the memory shared with the CPU along with the lack of benefits that comes with that as opposed to using GDDR5 or GDDR6 and the 680M is very impressive.

My experience with the GTR6 was, if it’s not already obvious, very surprising. I knew that the 680M had made waves in the tech community, but I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect given that I hadn’t followed it closely.

I played No Man’s Sky, Final Fantasy VII, Stray, and Horizon Zero Dawn, all at 1080p. Not just that, but all with their graphical settings maxed out. At least, as the menus would allow, anyway (Final Fantasy isn’t as configurable).

Every game was playable with these settings, insofar as far as I played. I don’t do in-depth benchmarking, that’s not my thing. But, as a casual enjoyer of video games, I like to touch on gaming performance.

Similar to the GTR6’s contrasting graphical performance, though, I did notice something else that was surprising. Despite the 6900HX’s TDP being generally in the same neighbourhood as the Core-i5 1235U that’s in Beelink’s SEi12, the GTR6 produced significantly more noise under load. I’m not sure why this is the case because the heatsink and cooling exhaust appear to be much larger. Although it was still within what I would consider normal for a laptop, it was noticeably louder.

The Beelink GTR6 has tons going for it in terms of performance. But one thing that I think could make it significantly better is the inclusion of USB 4.0 with PCIe connectivity to allow for an eGPU. That would enable upgrading the GTR6 into a bonified gaming computer. What could have been aside, though, the GTR6 isn’t just capable, it’s 6900HX is the most capable APU on the market right now when it comes to gaming.

Depending on your needs, the GTR6 might fall on the more expensive side of home lab equipment. If you need to scale horizontally for Kubernetes clusters or other containers, you might benefit more from two devices around half of the GTR6’s price point. On the other hand, if you’re running a small set of virtual machines, then the GTR6’s high clock speeds, memory capacity, and storage speed might be the better option.

The GTR6, as mentioned earlier, has 2.5Gb ethernet on it. This has been something that I’ve been eagerly waiting to become the norm. 2.5Gb ethernet controllers only cost about 6 USD in single quantities, hardly what would describe as a premium product. My market grievances aside, 2.5Gb ethernet is a welcome addition to a performance product, and it is particularly welcome on a home lab candidate. If 2.5Gb isn’t enough, you could consider occupying some of the USB 3.0 ports with additional network interfaces if your home lab stability isn’t too much of a concern.

In the GTR6, performance can be found in all the areas that matter, and it has expandable storage, too. The GTR6 is an excellent option for home labs tight on space or those looking for a top-notch performance per watt product.

Conclusion

Reviewing the Beelink GTR6 has left me thoroughly impressed. I might have opinions about how it could be improved upon. But the 6900HX at the heart of the GTR6 makes it a remarkable product that boasts Herculean performance in a Lilliputian body.

Devin McElheran

Devin McElheran

IT professional by day and various hobbies by night.
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