MSI Cubi 5 12M full review

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MSI has updated its MiniPC lineup with the powerful MSI Cubi 5 12M, featuring an Intel i7-1255U CPU, 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, and an included Gen4x4 SSD. The device retains a compact design, measuring only 12.5 cm on each side and supporting VESA 100×100 mm mounts. It offers comprehensive connectivity options with dual LAN, Wi-Fi 6E, and even a Thunderbolt 4 port, which is rare for this type of device. Let’s see how it performs in our tests.

Exterior design and build

The MSI Cubi 5 12M is not only a MiniPC but also one of the smallest devices in its class when considering its specifications. The case measures just 12.5 cm on each side and 5.4 cm in height, easily fitting in one hand. It is available only in black, with a plastic exterior cover and a metal internal chassis.

The top surface features a diagonally divided area with a grille on one side and a brushed style on the other, displaying the manufacturer’s logo. The grille is purely decorative, as it is closed.

The side panels also feature grilles, allowing airflow into the device. The left side has no notable features, but the right side includes a Kensington lock slot and a small 2-pin port (covered by default) for connecting an external power button to the motherboard.

The bottom metal panel provides interior access with four screws located in the legs. This area includes two VESA mounting holes and four additional holes for installing a 2.5-inch hard drive inside. There is also a series of grilles to cool the interior hardware.


The front and rear panels of the MSI Cubi 5 12M offer impressive connectivity options. The front panel includes:

  • 2x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A
  • 1x USB-C Thunderbolt 4
  • 1x 3.5 mm combo audio and microphone jack

The rear panel features:

  • 2x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A
  • 1x HDMI 2.0b
  • 1x DisplayPort 1.4a
  • 2x RJ-45

The Thunderbolt 4 port is a standout feature, rarely found in MiniPCs except for some Intel NUCs. While it does not offer Power Delivery or device power, its 40 Gbps bandwidth remains intact for 10 Gbps LAN connections with the appropriate adapter.

MSI Cubi 5 12M full review

The device also includes four USB Gen2 ports, two video outputs, and two LAN outputs, with one 1 Gbps Realtek RTL8111H and one 2.5 Gbps Realtek RTL8125BG. The Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX211 wireless card provides triple-band connectivity with up to 2.4 Gbps bandwidth.

Interior and hardware

The most powerful version of the MSI Cubi 5 12M includes an Intel Core i7-1255U processor. Accessing the interior requires loosening the four leg screws. The device comes with pre-installed hardware, which is unusual for a MiniPC.

The upper side of the PCB houses the processor area with a blower-type heatsink. The lower side of the PCB contains the accessible hardware, including two stacked SODIMM slots with a total of 16 GB DDR4 RAM running at 3200 MHz in Dual Channel.

The device uses a 512 GB Western Digital PC SN560 Gen4x4 SSD, offering excellent system fluidity and application loading speeds. A small connector beneath the SSD allows for the connection of a 2.5-inch SATA drive adapter.

Conclusion about the MSI Cubi 5 12M

MSI has updated its MiniPC family by adopting the new 13th generation low-power processors, resulting in impressive temperature and power consumption performance. However, we feel the default power configuration is somewhat limited, given the remaining headroom for the heatsink.

Despite this detail, the device can reach 4.0 GHz boost in regular use, providing a fluid operating system and the ability to handle demanding applications or multitasking. Its integrated graphics support 4K resolution, and the device boasts remarkable connectivity with Wi-Fi 6E, 4 USB ports at 10 Gbps, and a rare Thunderbolt 4 port.

A common feature of MiniPCs is the ability to choose RAM and storage. In the case of the MSI Cubi 5 12M, this is not possible, and opening the device will void the warranty, which is a clear disadvantage. The device comes with 16 GB DDR4 RAM and 512 GB of storage, which we feel is somewhat limited. However, the PCIe SSD does offer high performance, and SATA drive support is available.

In conclusion, the MSI Cubi 5 12M offers impressive performance and connectivity in a compact form factor. Its few limitations, such as fixed RAM and storage options, are outweighed by its powerful hardware and extensive connectivity features, making it an attractive choice for those seeking a capable MiniPC.

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