There is no doubt that in the technology world, smaller is better, something made apparent in the modern computing industry. This is why there is no shortage of super compact computers that are made to be used anywhere and everywhere, making computing practically ubiquitous. However, these machines are not really computers, although they can double as such, at least for educational purposes. Even though you can buy a high-end Raspberry Pi for less than $100, you wouldn’t normally use it to replace your desktop. What if you are tired of the bulky tower you have, however, for your home (or business) computing? This is where the mini-computers come in.
Mini-computers are high tech devices that make use of laptop technology, to deliver desktop performance, at a significantly smaller space and with a fraction of the electricity consumption of a tower machine. This makes them the most eco-friendly option out there. Mini-computers boast relatively large RAM, good graphics, and high-speed web connectivity (both cable-based and Wi-Fi), while at the same time they have fast processors to accompany all that. Usually they come equipped with high-end SSD hard disks, and a bunch of USB 3.0 ports. The best component is that they are very light, compact, and relatively silent (the latest generation comes with state-of-the-art heat sinks which allow them to be completely silent).
Of course, these machines may not have the room for a Blue-Ray or a DVD drive, but let’s be honest, when was the last time you ever used one of these? Besides, nowadays you can buy an external device to play your discs at a very reasonable price. Speaking of price, mini-computers are generally not that economical, since they use state-of-the-art technology, to accommodate their small size. Nevertheless, their cost has dropped significantly over the past year, and they are generally as inexpensive, if not more inexpensive, than a low-end laptop of the same computing power.
When would you use these high-end PCs, you ask? Well, fortunately they come with a variety of use cases. The most important one are the following:
- Media machines – generally mini-PCs can accommodate your media needs, as they come with a pretty good graphics card, an audio card, along with HDMI connectivity. Also, the fact that they are silent makes them best for this purpose. Some models even support ultra high definition (4K) screens.
- Home computing – if you use your PC to browse the internet, work an office suite, and do some minimalistic data processing (e.g. image enhancement, scripting, sound engineering, etc.) this kind of machine has got you covered.
- Servers / personal cloud solutions – nowadays data often lives on the internet. If Dropbox, One Drive, and the other cloud alternatives feel unsafe or too costly for your data needs, mini-computers can help you out. As a bonus, you can also host your site on such a machine, until it becomes hugely popular, in which case you may seek a more scalable solution.
- Gaming – unless you are a professional gamer, requiring a supercomputer for your hobby, a mini-computer can do the trick. As an extra advantage, it is highly portable, making it easy to take with you on a trip, or to your buddy’s place. Also, the fact that it can support more than one monitors, makes it very handy for more elaborate games.
- Other – with a machine like that, your imagination is the only limit. Perhaps you are a power user and want to build a (reliable) cluster to mine BitCoins or process Big Data. Get a few of these machines and you are there! Maybe you want to run scientific tests or come across the next biggest prime number, without risking burning your laptop. This kind of PC could do the trick!
We mentioned earlier that these machines are high-end and often fetch a quite steep price. Nevertheless, it is possible to get one such machine without spending all your savings, and without having to compromise on performance. Check out the resource box for details.
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