Traditonal Desktop PCs with their large, noisy and cumbersome cases surrounded by cables aren’t the kind of thing many of us would want to put up with if we didn’t have to. But neither is the laptop always an appropriate solution.
Sometimes we want to work on a large desktop monitor, but have limited space available. Using a TV as a display, rather than bringing a monitor into the room, may be a preferable option.
A mini PC can be an ideal solution in such cases. Based on small, low-power components, they take up a fraction of the space of a traditional desktop PC or laptop, and don’t require unnecessary parts such as a screen, battery and keyboard.
Many are so small that you can mount them to the back of a monitor and create your own all-in-one PC. This has the advantage that you can upgrade your display without needing to replace the entire system.
There are disadvantages, of course. A mini PC doesn’t have enough internal space for a discrete graphics card or a desktop (3.5in) hard drive. You’ll have to rely on integrated graphics solutions and, in most cases, a single laptop (2.5in) drive.
All other upgrades will usually be achieved externally. In the case of really small PCs, such as the Chillblast Fusion Brix and Intel NUC, there may be room only for a plug-in mSATA SSD.
With this in mind, you’ll need to pay particular attention to the connectivity options supported by a mini PC. If you want to hook up external storage, look for USB 3.0 ports. The Hystou C1037U-V2 offers 2 USB 3.0 ports and V3 offers 4 USB 3.0.
For connecting the PC to the company’s in-house network and WAN together, you will need 2*RJ45 Lan port, the Hystou C1037U-V2 can satisfied this requirement.
For connecting the PC to a standard LCD monitor you can use VGA port, but if you’re thinking of creating a DIY all-in-one PC you’ll need a DisplayPort, Thunderbolt, HDMI 1.3 or dual-link DVI port to connect a screen with a higher resolution than 1920×1200, except N270, all other Hystou Mini PC offer at least 1 HDMI port.
If you’re creating a mini media centre you can pipe audio through your HDMI connector, but if you have an external music system with digital inputs you may also want an S/PDIF connector.
In keeping with the DIY approach, mini PCs typically ship without a keyboard or mouse, and often come without an OS. Remember to factor in the cost of these items.
Performance from a mini PC can be very good – especially when it uses an SSD as the boot drive(with extra HDD for data saving will be best). A wide range of processors are available, from low-end Intel Atom and Celeron chips to quad-core Core i7s with Hyper-Threading. AMD processors are also available, with low-power versions that can help the mini PC run cool and quiet.
Whatever your choice of CPU, this component will also be powering the graphics – and this is where you’re most likely to notice performance limitations.
The latest high-end Intel processors come with integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400 or 5000, which is good enough for entry-level Windows gaming, but less expensive models provide poor graphics capabilities.