Mini PC: The practical guide to choosing the right one

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  • The Mini PC is becoming one of the trends in computing due to its compact size while being powerful. Find out what you need to watch before you buy any.


    The Mini PC is becoming one of the trends in computing due to its compact size while being powerful. Find out what you need to watch before you buy any.

    The Mini PC has become one of the rapidly growing markets since 2018. The reasons are the arrival of powerful processors, but less energy efficient. Good heat dissipation without having to sacrifice size and the desire to have stuff that doesn’t take up all the space in an office.

    What is a Mini PC?

    A Mini PC, as the name suggests, is a compact variant of the standard PC. But it’s not just a case of the case. You have all the components that have been chosen by the sellers of Mini-PC to fit perfectly without overheating too much.

    The Mini PC is becoming one of the trends in computing due to its compact size while being powerful. Find out what you need to watch before you buy any.

     

    In terms of sizes, it varies depending on the manufacturer. But an average of not exceeding 40 centimeters for the height with the width of the case which is 15 to 20 centimeters. In fact, some will prefer a larger width to have something like the Mini ITX. And the HTPC benefits from the minimalist shape since the case looks like a DVD player.

    The advantages of the Mini PC

    There are several advantages of the Mini-PC.

    The size

    The first is its compact size which allows you to carry it easily. For those who do computer troubleshooting, it can be a definite plus to have a small PC that contains all the diagnostic tools. In addition, it blends in perfectly with minimalist interior decors. You can put it in a corner of furniture or under a table and you won’t even see that there is a PC running.

    Ready to use

    The other big advantage is that it is ready to use. You plug in the power cable, you connect a screen, a keyboard and a mouse and presto, you have a working system. Of course, you can assemble your own Mini PC and that can be a good challenge if you are a fanatic. But its selling point is that it’s a PC you plug in and it works straight away.

    Energy efficient

    Finally, the processors used in Mini PCs are energy efficient. To determine the energy of the processor, we use the TDP (Thermal Design Power) measurement which evaluates the energy consumed, but also the heat of the processor. In general, processors in Mini-PCs are very energy efficient.

    The disadvantages of the Mini PC

    The Mini PC also has drawbacks that should not be overlooked.

    The power limit

    Despite the efforts of manufacturers to put a lot of hearts and reduce the energy footprint, the Mini PC will have a power limit. Since its design is minimalist, then heat will be a real problem. And manufacturers are always tempted to put the weaker processors, because their temperature will remain low. So if you were looking for a Mini PC with an overclockable Ryzen 5800X, you are clearly not in the right place.

    However, the fact that we see brands launching Mini PCs which are real racing beasts. But there is a difference between listing features and its long term performance. If power is limited, so is its versatility. The Mini PC cannot run games or heavy applications. Its role is confined to multimedia and office tasks.

    Sure, you can aim for a high-end model, but you’re going to lose thermal efficiency and the price will hit the roof. If you put 1000 dollars on a Mini PC, isn’t it worth investing directly on a standard PC? But the limit of versatility does not mean a limitation in the specialization of tasks.

    The possible uses of a Mini PC?

    Below, we list some possible uses of the Mini PC.

    • Daily office tasks – Internet browsing, Youtube video playback, online shopping, email reading. The Mini PC is capable of doing everything about daily tasks. But it should be avoided for all things games and company. With the increase in teleworking in 2020, the Mini PC has become a good solution to have a computer ready to use and without the hassle.
    • For companies – For companies that manage a computer park of hundreds of machines, the Mini PC can be a solution to equip everything at once. However, the cost of maintenance is much higher because the components are more expensive if they have to be replaced. But it also allows for more compact and less overheated workspaces.
    • Streaming – Yes, the Mini PC can be used for streaming with another large PC nearby. This is a fairly classic configuration where we will use the small PC to manage streaming such as OBS software, chat, etc. While the big PC will capture the games.
    • Media Center – Basically, the Mini PC evolved from the Android Box, these boxes that allowed Kodi to be installed for streaming and other on television. And so, this small PC is ideal for a media center since it generally runs on Windows 10 which supports all streaming platforms.

    Can the Mini PC play gaming?

    The answer is no, contrary to what the manufacturers tell you. On paper, a mini PC over $ 1,000 can play games, but in reality, it’s going to be an oven for long sessions and you will be limited by the number of games that can run on it. Afterwards, if you are just playing League of Legends which can run on a toaster because it is so light, then yes, you can use a mini-pc.

    In general, the mini-PCs will embed a processor which already integrates a graphics chip. And we know that this remains very limited for the moment.

    The technical characteristics to look on a Mini PC

    Size matters in Mini PCs, but it’s obviously the features that interest us. If Intel reigned in small PCs a few years ago, this era has become prehistoric. Ryzen is better, cheaper regardless of the lineup. To reduce costs, manufacturers are going to ship a Ryzen 3 or Ryzen 5 processor. The Ryzen 3 starts at date and prefer the Ryzen 5.

    Ryzen or i3 and i5 for processors

    If you choose Intel, then you can have all three ranges, namely, the i3, the i5 and the i7. The first is the entry level followed by the medium and high end. In general, it is better to choose the i5, as it will give you a good compromise between power and a tolerable temperature. The i7s and we have even seen Mini PCs in i9 which do not have much interest, because the design of the case is not intended to use them correctly.

    Prefer the Dual channel for the RAM

    If you choose Ryzen, then pay close attention to RAM. Always choose Dual Channel, ie two bars. Be aware that Ryzen hates, but with a force, the single channel of RAM. If you have a Mini-PC in Ryzen 5 and a single 16 GB module and the same processor with Dual Channel, 2 x 8 GB, then the performance difference can be 30-35%.

    Storage galore!

    For storage, the Mini PC is not a problem. The design of SSDs, whether SATA or NVME, is so compact that you can have 1 TB for 125 dollars. What will make the difference is the type of processor and the RAM that comes with it. Finally for the GPU, we do not recommend an integrated graphics card, because it will heat up too much. We repeat, the Mini PC is not made for gaming, at the limit for light games on occasion and the GPU integrated into the processor is more than sufficient.

    The price of Mini PCs

    It’s the absolute jungle on Mini PC prices. You can have $ 300 models that are more of the rebranded Android Boxes rather than real PC components. The average price is around 500 to 700 dollars for a model with a mid-range processor (i5 or Ryzen 5), 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage.

    The best brands of Mini PC

    As mentioned, Mini PCs are mostly supercharged variants of Androix Boxes and Media Centers. As a result, there are a lot of Chinese manufacturers in the sector with more or less correct quality. Among the best brands in Mini PCs, we have Minisforum and Beelink, but also Dell, Intel who have really dedicated themselves to this type of model. Note that Minisforum and Beelink are Chinese brands, but with good quality of after-sales service and delivery methods.

    But you can also find great models on Amazon and other merchant sites. If you say to yourself: How to distinguish this Mini PC that I see at 175 dollars and this one at 700 dollars, sort by processor and you will quickly understand.

    Conclusion

    At first glance, the Mini PC does not look like much and we tell ourselves that the manufacturers have yet found a new scam to pass on to us. But this type of machine has a specialized use. We are not in the spirit of the “big PC” which can do everything, but rather a PC for each dedicated task.

    Except for Gaming and greedy tasks like video editing or 3D, the Mini PC may be suitable for a new generation of users who are inexperienced morons or lazy to build their PC from a to z. After all, spending hours on your tower is enjoyable when you’re 20, but you can be content with the Mini PC when you’re around 40, whether you have kids or not, but just want a machine. who does the job.

    L'équipe de Comparaland

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    I am interested in all subjects such as politics, culture, geopolitics, economy or technology. Any information to enlighten my mind and therefore yours in a dark and adrift world. I am the author of several books

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