A lot of businesses are wondering what to do when they have to replace ageing desktops, with laptops seeming like an obvious upgrade. Yet, laptops carry a premium, as you’re paying for a battery, screen and portable components that you may not need. For those scenarios where you have fixed desks, a mini PC could be better than a laptop, and make more sense than new traditional desktop computers, too.
A mini PC is a scaled down version of a desktop computer, with the components squeezed into a much smaller case. Typically, most mini PCs have a sleek compact design and, depending on which model you go for, offer up the power of a laptop or entry-level PC, meaning they can deal with most office computing needs with ease.
Their small size means these computers can be tucked away somewhere unobtrusive, reducing clutter in your business. Some can even be mounted behind a display using the standard VESA mount. This means you can either re-use existing monitors, building your own all-in-one computer, or you can use the mini PC with digital signage, neatly hiding the computer that powers the content.
As mini PCs mostly use laptop components, they’re built to be very quiet, removing the distracting hum and whirrs often associated with desktop PCs. Even better, this means that they’ll draw less power than a traditional desktop computer, helping you save on running costs.
Another convenience is they usually sport Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections, meaning you can control them from a central hub, so if you are using them for display signage, updating those displays over the network could be done easily from some central computing device elsewhere.
What kind of mini-PC should I get?
Apart from the more basic HDMI or USB stick-based mini PC devices, such as the Asus Chromebit (see, 5 cool things you can do with a Chromebit), which are great for basic display signage, there are two main camps when it comes to buying the larger higher-spec mini PCs: barebones systems and those that are ready to plug and play. The difference is usually the price and the amount of time they take to set up.
A barebones system is cheaper up-front, but you have to fit some of your components: depending on the model, you may have to provide your processor, memory or storage. Overall, you could save a bit of money, but building the computers increases the time to prepare them.
Fully-prepared models are more expensive, but they’re full PCs that are ready to go. The only thing that you may need to provide is an operating system.
For either type of mini PC, make sure that your choice is capable of running the operating system that you require; some lower-spec models are best suited to Linux, which may not suit your business.