If you have limited space in the home, you still do not have to go without a computer. The solution to space problems is a small type of PC, namely a mini PC, which in a compact housing compared to a conventional desktop PC and requires little floor space. In this buying guide, the small devices usually do not score worse than many Destop PCs.
A mini-PC is also suitable as a multimedia center for the living room and for connection to the TV due to the small dimensions. This can be upgraded by the mini-computer to smart TV, if the necessary connections are available.
Purchase advice: How to find the right Mini-PC in 2019
Things to keep in mind:
- A mini-PC is a good alternative to a notebook, because the connection of a larger monitor and an ergonomic keyboard is possible. Nevertheless, it requires significantly less space in home and office than a conventional desktop PC.
- There are mini-PCs that are not much larger than a USB stick. Often, these devices are connected to a TV for multimedia applications and work with the Android operating system.
- Mini PCs are usually equipped with passive cooling, so they are almost noiseless. Nevertheless, powerful components can perform their work in you and numerous peripheral devices can be connected.
Mini-PCs are interesting for users who are looking for a compact computer for simple office and multimedia applications or simply as a second computer for the living room. You will usually find space on the desk, on a shelf or even behind a monitor. They can be connected to the Internet via LAN / WLAN.
Despite their small dimensions, many mini-PCs, as tests have shown, are nowadays almost as powerful as larger computers and convince with large main memory and high storage capacities. Users also have the choice between different operating systems and variable features.
1. The origins of mini-PCs
The first mini-PCs to look at are the PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) , which existed at the beginning of the 1990s, for example, by Apple, US Robotics and Olivetti. These are portable devices that were barely larger than a palm and had an integrated display.
PDAs were typically used for task, address and appointment management. They had a fairly fast-booting operating system and various expansion options, such as memory cards. However, their functionality has been severely limited to today’s mini-PCs as well as smartphones, phablets and tablets, so they have basically disappeared from the market.
At times, when a computer could still fill an entire room, devices in space-saving housing were considered mini-computers.
2. The advantages and disadvantages of a mini-PC compared to the desktop PC
- saves space through a small housing
- low weight
- no or little operating noise
- often has no optical drive
- mostly lower processor performance
3. That’s why a mini PC is so small
The mini-PCs that you can buy today are often not much larger than a sheet of paper or even a palm . These handy device dimensions are made possible by the use of compact motherboards. In particular, those with the form factor ITX are used, which are a maximum of 19.1 x 21.5 centimeters.
In variants of the ITX form factor, the motherboards can be even smaller. This is made possible by the fact that the processors are soldered directly onto the board. The dimensions look like this:
- Mini ITX: 17 x 17 centimeters
- Nano-ITX: 12 x 12 centimeters
- Pico-ITX: 10 x 7.2 inches
Tip: Mini PCs equipped with a Nano or Pico ITX motherboard have lower processor performance compared to Mini ITX devices, but generate less heat. This means that these mini-PCs can work without a fan. However, your use is only recommended for applications that do not require a lot of processing power.