Mini PCs are one of the many examples of great technological products, which don’t have the popularity they deserve. This does not mean that Mini PCs are extremely rare because among technology enthusiasts they have always been popular and are often chosen as a second (or third) computer. I myself have a Mini PC as my main machine and a laptop, which I use mainly for Internet access and I can tell from experience that Mini PCs are really cute and they are as powerful as any other machine with comparable parameters.
For those of you, who don’t know what Mini PCs are, I would like to explain. Briefly, a Mini PC (known also as a barebone PC) is just a smaller computer case with a smaller motherboard. All the other components – RAM, hard drives, CD/DVD drives, video card, etc. are the same as those of standard desktops. If you believe that bigger is better, then Mini PCs will hardly impress you with their compact size. Mini PCs are half or even a third of the size of a typical desktop tower machine but this does not affect their productivity in any way. If you like big stuff, maybe you should consider buying a mainframe (if they still sell them) – there were some very cute models in the 1970s but you will need a large hall to store it.
I am joking about mainframes. They belong to a different era and one can’t compare them to today’s computers. But the trend that computers get more powerful, yet smaller and smaller is still valid, so you can regard Mini PCs as a step in that direction.
Mini PCs are somehow in the middle between a huge desktop computer and a laptop. Mini PCs are not as compact as laptops but they are still portable because many PCs weight 3 kgs or less and provided you are taking it to a place where you have a monitor to plug in, you can use a Mini PC as a portable computer. One unbeatable advantage Mini PCs have over laptops is that you can plug a gigantic monitor to it and this will work. If you connect a 21” (not to mention 30” or more) to a 15-17” laptop, chances are that you will still have to stick to the native resolution of the laptop and you will not be able to fully enjoy the larger monitor. One of the downsides of Mini PCs is that the case and the motherboard are more expensive than a desktop case and motherboard with comparable power and I believe this is one of the reasons why Mini PCs don’t sell like hot cakes.
When I say that Mini PCs are not as popular as they could be, I don’t mean that there are no offerings on the market. On the contrary, there are many companies, which manufacture Mini PCs. The most popular are the Mini PCs of Shuttle but almost any motherboard manufacturer, such as MSI, Aopen, Asus, or Biostar have their Mini PC offerings. One of the stars on the Mini PC market is Apple’s Mac Mini, which caused a splash when it was first launched a couple of years ago.
The article was originally published in the Long Island Pulse magazine.