Tested: The Minisforum UM700 Is NOT Comparable To The Steam Deck

The Minisforum EliteMini UM700
The Minisforum EliteMini UM700 PC. Mario not included | Photo: Jason Evangelho

There’s been an influx of articles and videos this week, comparing the Minisforum UM700 EliteMini PC to the Steam Deck. That’s because Valve told its developer community that this Ryzen-powered Mini-PC would “perform similar” to Valve’s upcoming handheld. It even recommended installing Manjaro to the device. After that, some savvy marketers at Manjaro teamed up with Minisforum to relaunch it for $50 cheaper with Manjaro pre-installed. A savvy plan since the Steam Deck also has an Arch-based distribution under the hood!

“If you are really interested in finding a PC for testing that will perform similarly to a Steam Deck (again, not required for testing), there are a few options out there,” Valve wrote via the Steamworks blog. “The team looked around and found this mini-pc on Amazon, which has roughly similar specifications to a Steam Deck.” 

Valve, however, did clarify that the UM700’s GPU is a bit weaker than the Deck’s custom AMD APU. And it has less memory bandwidth. On the flipside, the UM700’s Ryzen 7 3750H is a bit stronger on the CPU side.

Here are the crucial specs:

  • AMD Ryzen 7 3750H
  • Radeon RX Vega 10 Graphics
  • 16GB of DDR4 RAM

Now, Valve’s original message was intended to provide game developers with an affordable alternative to securing an actual Steam Deck dev kit. Paired with a small monitor and a variety of controllers, they could ensure their game work run well on it. But through a combination of press coverage and social media excitement, I feel like that message got diluted.

Image courtesy of Valve

The hype for this little box is building — and rightly so — but perhaps for the wrong reasons.

The UM700 EliteMini is an impressive PC. It’s ridiculously easy to access the internals, and it’s loaded with connectivity. Strap it to the back of your monitor and you’ve got a terrific little workstation PC. Or use it as a Plex Server. Turn it into an insanely powerful RetroArch game emulator!

But use it for AAA gaming? Spend money on it for the purpose of having a “HackenDeck?” Please do not do that.

Steam Deck Vs Minisforum UM700: Forza Horizon 5 Benchmarks

Minisforum was kind enough to send me a review sample of the UM700 pre-installed with Manjaro. I’ll have a full review up in the near future. And make no mistake, I’ve been benchmarking the crap out of it at both 720p and 1080p using my Steam Deck game suite.

This has given me an opportunity to benchmark two of the games used in the trio of early Steam Deck previews. Those games are Forza Horizon 5 and Control. And folks, their performance on the UM700 EliteMini doesn’t even come close to the Steam Deck.

Let’s start with Forza Horizon 5, benchmarked by Gamers Nexus. I’ve timestamped the video above so you can jump right to their results.

Gamers Nexus tested Forza Horizon 5 on the Low Preset with the Deck’s built-in 1280×800 display. I tested the game on the UM700 PC at 1280×720 resolution. So, bear in mind the Deck is cranking out a few more pixels.

Neither test invokes the use of AMD FSR, frame limiting, or V-Sync.

The UM700 manages an average of 27 FPS. Valve’s handheld manages an average of 61 FPS. That’s a performance advantage of more than 2x! Perhaps even more damning is that the Deck’s 0.1% Low framerate is still higher than the UM700’s average framerate for Forza Horizon 5. And I haven’t even mentioned the Deck’s much lower power envelope…

Control Benchmarks

Let’s move on to Control, which has always been notoriously demanding. Not as demanding as Cyberpunk 2077 or Flight Simulator 2020, but we’ve only recently been able to imagine playing Control with integrated graphics.

Here, Gamers Nexus bumped the quality up to the Medium preset. Their result shows the Deck turning in an average framerate of 36 FPS. Just to prove my point, I ran Control on the UM700 with the LOW Preset. I got an average framerate of 31 FPS. Moving my preset to Medium rendered the game completely unplayable, barely managing to average 18 FPS.

For those looking for patterns, in both games the Deck is more than 100% faster. You’re getting at least double the framerates compared to the UM700.

More testing is certainly required, but I think Valve shot themselves in the foot here. If I’m a developer loading up games as graphically demanding as Control or Forza Horizon 5 on the UM700, I’m not going to see similar performance.

I might even assume my game would be totally unplayable on the Deck.

Anyway, I just needed to post this to quell some of the misinformation that might be traveling around.

I’ll reiterate that the Minisforum UM700 is an awesome little PC! But it’s not a Hackendeck. And it doesn’t reflect the kind of performance the Steam Deck will deliver.

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4 Responses

    1. Well, there’s an imbalance between the GPU and CPU.
      “Aerith” (the Deck APU) has a stronger GPU but a weaker CPU.
      Additionally, the Deck has DDR5 memory and higher memory bandwidth. I think that must make a big difference.
      And there might be some “secret sauce” happening with SteamOS too.

      1. I am not an expert, but I think a 100% difference is unbelievable if based on a minor GPU/CPU imbalance. Memory and cooling would definitely contribute, but again, 100% seems too large. Again, total guess, but I really think the software tricks must account for at least 66-75% of this .. FSR + dynamic resolution scaling and, if i remember correctly, especially the feature the lowers the resolution at the edges (versus the center)..

        We really need to test the UM700 on SteamOS when it releases to see how much a difference the software makes.

        Either way, this is a truly amazing feat, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the Deck.

        On a sidenote, I bought the minisforum X500 to get a bit more juice (on sale and with a gift card, so cost to me was comparable to UM700).. Still working on setting up a proper test-suite with all the tweaks, but linux is showing reasonable 1080p on many games, and i was even able to get Fortnite (in windows 🙁 .. ) at a beautiful 4k/60 using the Performance Beta setting (which i think uses FSR) . I have not gotten anything else to run that well so (a begrudging) hats-off to Epic too on this profile. Obviously not comparable hardware, but just thought I would share.. Can’t wait for SteamOS on this too.

        @jason, would you be willing to share more details on your test setup, beyond just the in-game presets.. Such as whether you used gamescope, ProtonGE, Proton Experimental, FSR, etc.. Or just default vanilla Steam launch.. Looks like you measured in MangoHud or in-game benchmark.

        1. Thank you for the meaty reply, Matt!
          Regarding my setup, I used the latest available version of Proton-GE with both Forza Horizon 5 and Control.
          MangoHUD was activated via GOverlay, and FSR was not used (nor was any type of resolution scaling).
          Additionally, SteamOS is still not publicly available, so no Gamescope either!

          I truly believe the superior GPU and unified memory of the Deck make a strong difference here, but I’ll have a TON more to share on this front in the coming weeks.

What's your opinion?