Computers are getting smaller, making sense to consider mini PCs over a giant tower. Despite critiques mocking the mini PCs as something that can’t withstand all the typical computing needs, recent technological strides ensure that size doesn’t make the device less powerful.
That said, we’ve highlighted other trade-offs, improvements, and changes that come with Mini PCs.
No Monitor, Mouse, Or Keyboard
Be sure to buy the monitor, mouse, and keyboard separately as they’re not included in the new package. Also, check whether any old device you have, such as a speaker, is compatible with the new mini PC.
Moreover, the only way to connect your monitor to the mini PC is through the HDMI ports. So, check whether the new device has a mini-HDMI-to-HDMI cable or find one online or at your nearest store. If your monitor has no HDMI port, don’t worry. The HDMI-to-DVI converter works wonders.
If you want to buy a new monitor to use with the mini PC, ensure you buy a VESA-compatible monitor to let you mount the mini PC.
Mini PCs also support Bluetooth -based or USB-based mice and keyboards meaning that you can’t use a PS/2 port mouse. If you want to buy a new keyboard and mouse, go for Bluetooth to free up a USB port in your mini PC.
Upgrading a Mini PC
Unlike the old tower PCs that were easy to dismember and repair, mini PC is severely limited. The squeezed tiny motherboard doesn’t have as many upgrade slots. The device is perfectly packed without empty spaces making it a hassle to upgrade.
So, you can’t upgrade mini PCs like you would in PCs. However, you could technically upgrade it, but that is not recommended by the manufacturers and voids your warranty. The best solution would be to buy the latest barebones kit version and transfer any parts you want.
Update Mini PC RAM
It is worth noting that mini PCs only support laptop RAM. Typically, this RAM is smaller and comes at a higher price than the desktop RAM. Before buying the additional RAM, check the number of DIMM slots in your mini PC. You want to find a slot for every RAM you buy.
Most mini PCs come with two slots and work perfectly with 16GB of Corsair Memory Kit. Select a realistic RAM size to avoid overspending in massive useless spaces.
Update Mini PC Hard Drives
Mini PCs only support M.2 or 2.5-inch hard drives. M.2 flash storage is a bit narrower, longer, and faster than standard SSD. The most common of this type is the 1TB Samsung 980 PRO M.2.
The 2.5-inch alternative is more available and cheaper than M.2. You can choose between SSD and HDD with the former offering speed while the latter has more storage capacity. So, if you want both capacity and speed, go for an SSD. However, choose HDD if you’re only concerned with capacity and not speed. The 2TB Seagate BarraCuda 2.5-inch HDD and 1TB Samsung EVO 870 are the best options.
CPUs: Intel vs. AMD
The mini PC’s processor is another part you can’t upgrade easily. In recent years, competition between Intel and AMD has heated up on the desktop front, and there’s no clear winner yet. The same is happening in the laptop world, where things are changing rapidly.
When it comes to mini-PCs, things remain the same as the devices use laptop processors. However, since the PCs have no battery life concern, the low power consumption takes a back seat. Notably, AMD has stepped up its Radeon -powered processors, especially in graphics, seemingly performing better than Intel’s processor of the same price.
As a result, third-party manufacturers use AMD processors in Intel NUC to offer better image processing and gaming performance. In fact, experts recommend going with AMD over Intel when using the mini PC as a Home Theater PC (HTPC) for your TV. Besides Intel and AMD, Apple has its Mac mini-series, initially powered by Intel’s Core i-series processors. Today, Apple’s mini PC series uses the company’s in-house chips.
Mini PCs and Gaming
Despite incorporating AMD’s processors, which outperform Intel’s in gaming, Mini PC still remains unfit for gamers. Even the most powerful mini PCs struggle to run common games seamlessly. So, if you are a pro gamer, avoid mini PC as you may not like the experience even after such an investment.
Nonetheless, a mini PC is the ultimate choice if you aren’t picky about graphics. Casual gamers find comfort in the mini PC, provided they’re ok with a few lags and involve lighter game titles.
Check the Mini PC’s OS
Naturally, PCs have no pre-installed OS mainly because they don’t have a functional hard drive. However, it’s advisable to check whether your newly acquired mini PC has OS installed. The device’s description should clearly state what OS it can support.
Notably, most mini PC series support the Linux OS, which comes for free. So, if you’re starting on something like a media center, Linux is something you might want to consider.
If you want to install Windows 11 on your new mini PC, you can’t do it directly. First, you will need to install a previous version, such as Windows 10, with the original key and then upgrade. If you want the latest Apple OS, the only option would be to buy a new Mac mini.
Consider Size and Mount Option
The mini PC’s size lets you mount it behind your monitor and conceal it discreetly. However, don’t assume that all mini PCS are tiny and must mount on your monitor. Available online buyer reviews expose a 20-20 hindsight that users experience once they buy a new mini PC. They emphasize the need to check the mini PC’s size before paying for it.
Choose from the varying sizes among mini PCS depending on the space between your TV and the wall. Also, the chosen mini PC size should match the mounting plate behind your monitors. Take your time and measure every angle to avoid regrets. Simply ensure that both the monitor and the mini PC are “VESA compatible.”
Should I wait for Better Mini PCs?
Rapid technological advancements introduce changes at a higher rate than some years back. As a result, users are developing the habit of waiting for upgraded versions of new devices in the market. They always anticipate something better coming along. Sure, like with any mobile or computer technology, you will always find a better deal if you wait more than a month. So, should you wait for a better mini PCS?
It will really depend on how long you’re willing to wait. If it’s for several months, you better wait. However, if you need something done now or soon, you better acquire the mini PC and get it going.
Buy The Right Mini PC
Just like when buying any other device, you should scrutinize what mini PC you’re buying, considering all the factors discussed. This way, you’ll find the best there is.