The mini Windows PCs are a technological evolution of the standard laptops, much smaller but no less important and useful. These devices meet the interests of many people who are looking for an inexpensive computer for mainly multimedia activities.
Such as watching movies, TV series, or similar, for surfing the internet or simply for playing games. Read on to find out the guide to buying the best Windows mini PC.
Here we had listed out the latest and advanced models of the best mini pcs that are given below.
Buyer Guide to Choose the Best Mini Pc
Today I will explain not only how to orientate you in choosing your new little entertainment companion, but also and above all, I will suggest you which are the best mini PCs according to your personal needs.
If you are unfamiliar with terms such as a processor or hard disk or do not know acronyms such as GPU or SSD, do not worry. Whether it is for your living room or your bedroom, here you will find everything you need to buy your next mini PC without taking corners!
What Are They and What Are They For?
The mini PC running Windows or Android is very helpful in making a smart TV as well as being used as a real PC. They connect to the TV via the HDMI port and interface with a display having an interface similar or analogous to modern PCs or Tablets on the market.
The characteristics of each device vary according to the price range, as well as the operating system, Windows, or Android. However, they generally offer the possibility of being used in the multimedia, office, or gaming fields.
How to Choose a Mini Pc?
As you can easily deduce from the name, a mini PC is nothing but a compact size computer, often with a “desktop” operating system, such as Windows 10 or some Linux distribution.
Normally, but not always, it appears as a box the size of a TV Box that has several ports along with the external case, useful for interfacing with other peripherals of all types ( USB pen drives, monitors, keyboards, mice or audio systems ). A mini PC can be used for very different operations.
Typically mini PCs excel with multimedia operations, such as 4K or Full HD video playback, based on the power of the integrated hardware, and also go very well with productivity jobs or with web browsing and e-consultation. Mail and other online content.
Due to the compact size, however, components such as processors and video cards cannot have a great computing power: they are components that produce a lot of heat, and in the form factor of a mini PC, there is no space to insert advanced dissipation systems.
Some are even fanless, therefore without fans, and use extremely energy-efficient hardware. For this reason, mini-PCs – especially those that are not high-end – are not suitable for gaming.
But if you are satisfied with some video games not of the latest generation or a browser game, or even games with a little complex graphics (like a MOBA or Minecraft titles ), they can give you some satisfaction even in this area. But let’s go in order.
In the next lines, I will explain what the terms I have just listed mean you and how to identify the qualities of a mini PC starting from the list of technical specifications that the various manufacturers release for the models placed on the market.
The processor, also called CPU ( Central Processing Unit ), is one of the key components of a mini PC, as is also the case with traditional computers and laptops.
On this type of product, you will often find processors produced by Intel, but some models also use AMD processors. As for Intel processors, you can find different types, according to the market segment.
The cheaper models can use Intel Atom, Intel Celeron or Intel Pentium processors, while the more advanced models the processors of the Intel Core family (divided into Core i3, i5, i7 and, rarely on mini PC, Core i9).
As for AMD processors, the most frequent processors are those of the Serie A and the AMD Ryzen processors, the first cheaper, the second analogous to Intel Core.
In short, to understand how powerful a processor is, you can rely on the specifications released by the manufacturer, such as the number of cores and their maximum operating frequency.
However, this is often not enough, since the performance of a CPU also strongly depends on the architecture used. You can consult a hardware comparison site to get a clearer picture of the performance differences between the various processors currently on the market.
The CPU is different from the GPU ( Graphics Processing Unit ): the latter is a processor specifically designed to perform graphic elaborations and calculations.
The GPU depends on the performance of the computer with the “rendering” of three-dimensional scenes. Still, often on mini PCs, they are integrated into the processor and therefore, can show very limited performance.
There are two types of memories inside a mini PC, just like on a traditional computer, both very important. The RAM can be defined as the short-term memory of the computer. It serves to store all data in use by the open applications until the computer is turned off or the same applications.
The more RAM there is on the computer, the more it will be able to process different information at the same time or manage different apps without slowing down. On a mini PC, we often find SODIMM-type RAM, with a smaller size than traditional DIMMs.
The other type of memory is the storage memory, or storage, which is the permanent one where the operating system is installed or where you can install applications or save documents and any type of file. There are several types of storage units.
- Hard Disk – with mechanical disks with not exciting performances, but very reliable. The term can be shortened with the acronym HDD.
- SSD – acronym for Solid State Disk. They use chips, just like RAM, to store data. Unlike RAM, SSDs don’t lose data when you turn off your computer. They have very high performance and even higher when using the PCIe NVMe interface.
- eMMC – some mini PCs also use eMMC ( Embedded Multimedia Card ) memories, which are also based on memory chips but with performance halfway between those of hard-disks and those of SSDs.
The case of a mini PC is often dotted with a series of ports that allow you to connect different peripherals to the system. The most common are USB ports, a standard that is divided into USB 2.0, USB 3.1 of different generations.
The USB 2.0 ports can transfer data up to a maximum of 480Mbit / s, while the USB 3.1 ports reach 5Gbit / s or even 10Gbit / s, depending on the version. We also have USB Type-C, but this term only indicates the type of connector.
The standard one is called USB Type-A, while the Type Cone indicates a smaller and reversible connector. USB Type-C can support the Thunderbolt 3 standard and can also be used to connect monitors.
USB is among the most important ports of a mini PC, but they are not the only ones. You can also find HDMI or DisplayPort ports with different versions.
These ports, together with the VGA ports or the DVI ports, can be used to connect one or more monitors based on the number of ports and the compatibility of the installed video card.
Also check if there is a card reader, or a memory card reader: it can usually be compatible with SD or microSD cards, the former used mainly in cameras, the latter in smartphones or action cameras or even in-dash cameras.
The mini PC may also have an Ethernet port, specifically for connecting to a router or other system with the same port. The doors Fast Ethernet can transfer data at up to 100Mbit / s, while the port Gigabit Ethernet can push up to 1000Mbit / s.
In addition to physical connections, mini PCs often support protocols for connecting wirelessly to other peripherals or computers. We have two of the most popular types of wireless connections.
The Wi-Fi, which is the wireless equivalent of Ethernet port, and is used to connect to the network created by an access point or a wireless router.
The latest versions are called Wi-Fi 5 (or Wi-Fi 802.11ac ) and Wi-Fi 6 ( Wi-Fi 802.11ax ). However, we also have Wi-Fi 4 ( Wi-Fi 802.11n ) which is still widespread on the cheaper mini PCs, both single-band and dual-band ( 2.4GHz and 5GHz) As the version increases, the characteristics of data transfer management improve.
For the connection to wireless peripherals, however, Bluetooth is often used, the latest versions of which are 4.x and 5.0. This protocol is very useful for interfacing with keyboards, mice, or even audio devices such as headphones or stereo systems.
The operating system is the most important software component of a computer, and the same also applies to mini PCs. It is used to manage all the hardware installed with low-level programs called drivers.
Which, in turn, makes the applications used to dialogue with the components installed on the mini PC. There are three most popular operating systems.
- Windows 10 – it is the most famous, it is developed by Microsoft, and it is the most suitable if you intend to use your Mini PC to play, or to perform all the activities without too many distinctions. It can accommodate apps of all kinds, and there are many compatible, both free and paid.
- Mac Os – is Apple’s operating system, and is installed only on Mac mini: it is a closed operating system with support for apps on the Mac App Store (but not only). It is ideal if you have many Apple devices in your kit technological.
- Linux – is, in fact, a kernel present on different distributions (distinct and separate versions), which each have their characteristics. You can find it on cheaper computers, but it is very powerful, even if it requires some experience to be used at its best. Also based on Linux is ChromeOS, Google’s desktop operating system.