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DinoPC Mini Carnivore - Gaming, Value & Verdict

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


When it comes to gaming, DinoPC's Mini Carnivore matched our expectations pretty well. It's certainly the most capable gaming system of its size we've ever looked at, but don't expect to be able to play the latest titles at anything but their most basic. We decided to throw this SFF PC in at the deep end and tried getting Crysis to run. Surprisingly, it offered a (barely) playable experience. Because Crysis generally seems to run smoother than most first person shooters at sub-30fps, we managed a just about playable 23.7fps at 1280 x 720 and High Detail. Kick detail down another notch and it actually runs quite well, though you do lose out on significant visual appeal.

Comparing to a large tower system (the Cyberpower Infinity i5 Achillies XT) isn't fair on the Mini Carnivore, but it does give an indication of the sacrifice its small size demands in the video card department.

Despite being a more recent, DirectX11 title, Stalker: Call of Pripyat is generally less demanding than Crysis. However, with the resolution hitched up to 1,920 x 1,200 the Mini Carnivore still struggled, providing an average of 25.6fps.

Now we're getting more within the Radeon HD 5570's capabilities. A few dips here and there aside, Call of Duty 4 ran at a smooth 30.6fps average at 1,920 x 1,200. To put this into perspective, in the same test the Mesh Cute only gave us 15fps at 1,280 x 720. To sum up then, DinoPC's machine performs adequately for casual gamers and those happy to play at lower resolutions.

So how does the Mini Carnivore hold up overall? The answer to this question is complicated, and depends largely on your needs. If you're a gamer to whom size is more important than performance, this is pretty much as good as it gets; though we'll be reviewing a few truly high-end mini-ITX gaming systems shortly, they will inevitably be slightly bigger.

As a home theatre PC (HTPC) this £550 (£709 with Wi-Fi N and a Blu-ray writer) DinoPC SFF holds up fairly well. Its attractive front, low profile, quiet operation (when not under heavy load) and relative expandability (including USB 3.0) make it an interesting option here. The Mesh Cute does offer a 1TB hard drive, Blu-ray player and Wi-Fi N dongle for around the same £550 price as the Mini Carnivore, but it's also bigger, noisier and less powerful. Our favourite option for HTPC duties, however, is still the even smaller Dell Inspiron Zino HD, which can currently be had with 6GB of RAM, a Blu-ray drive and 1TB HDD for that same £550 – much better value than when we reviewed it.

Last of all there's the Mini Carnivore's application as a general-purpose small desktop system. For daily office and productivity it's overpowered, and something like the Acer Aspire Revo will do the job just fine for around £200. However, if you are a demanding user and want something that has a smaller footprint than your keyboard, DinoPC's smallest PC is an excellent choice.


Bringing USB 3.0 and (barely) playable DirectX 11 graphics to the table for the first time in a PC this small, DinoPC's Mini Carnivore is simply the most powerful PC of its size we've come across and doesn't demand too much of a premium for its diminutive dimensions. However, its appeal is not universal: for demanding gamers it's not powerful enough, while for many other users it provides more power than they'll need, leaving cheaper alternatives as the better option.


July 8, 2010, 4:40 pm

Great review thank you.

Interestingly, the most important piece of information about this article was the power draw. I have been considering building a Mini-ITX system with the Gigabyte/Intel combo, but on all the web trawling I did I could not see how much power it would require. Looking at the APC or similar power draw utilities it was looking like I would need between 140-180 watts of power to run one of these.

Having seen the power draw that your system pulled it would seem that I could get away with a 150 watt (or even 120Watt) PSU.

I would be interested if any other readers know of any acurate and up to date web-sites that can help with calculating power draw.

thank you


July 8, 2010, 5:29 pm


Glad you like it. Don't forget that the Radeon 5570 graphics card was the main power draw on this machine, so if you're happy with the integrated Intel graphics then it would use even less.


July 8, 2010, 5:37 pm


Try eXtreme Power Supply Calculator Lite:



July 8, 2010, 10:55 pm

To quote the review:

"Unfortunately, because of its low profile this card only offers DVI and DisplayPort, meaning you'll need an adapter to hook it up to the HDMI inputs on your TV, which is another inconvenience for using this as an HTPC."

The picture of the rear of the machine clearly shows an HDMI-out port?

Or am I going mad?


July 9, 2010, 2:57 pm


You're not going mad, but that HDMI port is for the on-board graphics on the motherboard, not for the ATI graphics card.

Geoff Richards

July 9, 2010, 3:07 pm

That's right. So you can have native DisplayPort, native DVI, or HDMI via DVI adapter


July 9, 2010, 6:54 pm

@pimlicosound - thank you, however this gives the same information as the APC checker. If you input a similar spec tp what is reviewed, it requests a 183 watt psu. I am happy to try a 120watt psu and use the onboard native graphics.


July 9, 2010, 9:30 pm


I wouldn't worry too much about what the power supply calculators say. Silent PC Review did a review of the older Antec ISK 300 case with 65W PSU and were able to run a C2D E7200 system OK - although it did push the limits of the system.


I would think that a 90W PSU would be just fine for building a low-powered Core i3 system with integrated graphics.


July 10, 2010, 4:20 am

@pimlicosound - thank you. I feel a little more confident now. now, where's my wallet...


October 6, 2010, 2:05 pm


According to datasheets

intel i3-530 TDP = 73W + Radeon HD 5570 TDP = 42.7W. Hence TOTAL TDP = should be higher than 115W considering we have the mobo, hdd, dvd drive, cooling fans etc.

But you mentioned in your review, the maximum power draw at full load = 95W.

Am I missing something here ?


October 6, 2010, 2:30 pm


Actually, I don't technically mention "full load" in the review :) but obviously the test was performed with the PC running some intensive software. You could get higher than this, our test is just an average indicator to give a general idea (we measure overall system power consumption at the wall socket, so in that regard it's pretty accurate).

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