Mini computers for home use are actively replacing classic desktop PCs in huge and noisy cases. And this is quite understandable, because these crumbs have gathered an impressive list of advantages over the “big brothers”:
- They are smaller. A mini computer does not need a computer desk shelf, it takes up a minimum of usable space and can even be placed simply on the back of the monitor.
- They are quieter. Mini computers for simple tasks are called nettops and often they are made on a passive cooling system, that is, without the use of fans. This means there is no noise at all. If you need a more powerful computer, then of course it will be with an active cooling system, but still it is often much quieter than its full-sized counterparts.
- They are cheaper. Such machines are taken for work, the Internet and watching videos, which means they do not need a powerful video card and can get by with an integrated one, and this significantly affects the price. A good gaming video card can cost as much as 5 — 10 ready-made mini computers.
- They are from Windows. The manufacturer installs the licensing system and the computer is completely ready for use. You don’t need to pirate or spend extra money to buy the system.
- They are portable. Thanks to its miniature size, you can take the computer with you on a business trip, on vacation or in the country. It’s comfortable.
Well, as it usually happens, when choosing a computer, the main question comes down to choosing a chipset: Intel or AMD? Blue or red? Core i or Ryzen? There is no definite answer and each user chooses for himself, but to help a little, I have prepared a selection of the most interesting computers with chipsets from both manufacturers. The selection includes both simple nettops and productive computers, and even gaming models.
Chatreey AC1-Z Fanless
I’ll start with the Chatreey AC1-Z, which is ideal for simple home tasks. You can choose the Barebone version and install the memory yourself, or take a PC with memory and get Windows 10 as a gift. The computer is based on a 4-core Intel Celeron J4125 processor, which operates at a frequency of up to 2.7 GHz, while having a rated power of 10W. Integrated Intel UHD 600 graphics capable of playing video in resolutions up to 4K with a refresh rate of 60 Hz. This computer has a passive cooling system, the temperature from the chip is removed by a huge radiator, which means it is completely silent and you can not even turn it off at night. And it also supports connecting a 2.5″ HDD or SSD drive. Everything is very good in terms of interfaces: 2 USB 3.0 connectors for connecting high-speed drives and USB 2.0 for peripherals, there is a gigabit network connector and a pair of HDMI outputs that can output an image simultaneously. Wireless interfaces available Wi-Fi 802.11 ac and Bluetooth 4.0. The computer can be placed behind the monitor, for which a VESA mount is provided.
If you think that the power of Celeron may not be enough for you, but at the same time you definitely want a silent computer, then take a closer look at the machines from XCY. Here you can choose a model with Core i3, Core i5 and even Core i7 on board, which have excellent processing power. The amount of RAM and the amount of storage can also be selected based on tasks. For example, for an assembly on a Core i5 with 8 GB of RAM and a 128 GB system SSD, they ask for only $220. And you can install an additional drive yourself, there is support for standard 2.5″ HDD drives via the SATA interface. In general, over time, you can add RAM, because the computer has 2 memory slots. And yes, the computer is absolutely silent, because its body performs the role of a radiator. From useful: WiFi + Bluetooth module, 2 external antennas for reliable signal reception, gigabit LAN port and the ability to simultaneously connect a TV and monitor. Linux or Windows 7 is easily installed on the computer, but by default the seller installs licensed Windows 10.
Although the previous computer is based on Core i, processors of previous generations (4th and 5th generation) were used for the lowest possible cost. But in Hystou computers, they installed more recent processors, which have significant performance advantages. You can choose Core i5 7th or 8th generation or Core i7 8th or 10th generation. The processing power of the processor is enough even for complex tasks, including video rendering and image manipulation. The integrated graphics have also become more powerful and, in addition to 4K video, even allows you to play undemanding games. Otherwise, we have a similar PC with an all-metal case and a completely passive cooling system. Supports M2 SSD and optional 2.5″ SSD/HDD. From memory: there is a barebone version, and there is a version with RAM from 8 GB to 32 GB and an SSD drive up to 512 GB. Dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth, and a gigabit LAN port are included.
Topton NUC Gaming
And this is already a top model, which is suitable even for gaming. The computer appeared quite recently, but has already gained some popularity for its balanced characteristics. Today it is on sale at a good discount and let’s see what it has interesting. You can choose to either build with a 11 gen core i5 or build with a 11 gen Core i7. These are very powerful processors with good integrated graphics intel iris xe, which is able to play the games of yesteryear. For example, Grand Theft Auto V with Full HD and medium graphics settings showed about 60 FPS, and Witcher 3: Wild Hunt with the same settings gives out more than 30 fps. And in other tasks, the computer shows itself very well: working with graphics, video editing, office applications and video playback in 4K \ 60 fps. From memory: you can install 2 DDR 4 sticks up to 64 GB, NVME + 2.5″ SATA SSD drive. In terms of interfaces, we have 4 USB 3.0 connectors, a pair of USB 2.0 and, most importantly, Thunderbolt 4, which allows you to connect external video cards. That is, over time, a conditionally gaming PC can be turned into a top-end gaming PC. The cooling system is naturally active here.
And if you want a mini gaming PC, then check out the Chatreey G1, which is equipped with an Nvidia GTX1650 discrete graphics card with 4 GB of video memory. Here are some examples of how it performs in Full HD games: Battlefield V averages 50 fps, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 averages 65 fps, Far Cry 5 averages 59 fps, and Grand Theft Auto V averages 77 fps. The processor is also good, you can choose Core i5, Core i7 or Core i9 of the ninth generation. RAM up to 32 GB, NVME SSD up to 1 TB. Compact size, powerful cooling system, a large number of interfaces for connecting third-party devices and peripherals.
Let’s move on to computers on AMD. We will skip some too cheap and old models, because these computers are taken for good performance and integrated video cards, which have become more or less interesting since the ZEN architecture. The Chatreey AN1 can be used with a Ryzen 7 2700U, but I recommend the more powerful Ryzen 5 3550H with Radeon Vega 8 graphics. I had this machine and I was happy with it. It is great for work and play, and if you want you can even play. The plug-in easily drives full-fledged tanks in Full HD resolution at low settings with FPS 100, and the more grafonic GTA V does not fall below 30 — 35 fps. The cooling system is active, but very quiet; at light loads, the fan is absolutely inaudible. The case has 2 slots for DDR4 RAM, there is M2 for SSD with support for NVME drives + the ability to connect an additional SSD in 2.5″ format. There is a WiFi 5 module with Bluetooth support. 98% of buyers positively evaluate the computer and note that it is worth the money.
A slightly more powerful computer from HYSTOU, which is based on the Ryzen 7 3700U. This is an energy efficient 4-core processor (8 threads) up to 4 GHz, which, like the previous model, is based on the «ZEN» architecture, but includes more powerful Radeon RX Vega 10 graphics running at 1400 MHz. At the same time, its TDP is only 15W. The computer is available in a complete set Barebone or already with memory. 2 DDR4 slots (up to 32 GB) are provided for RAM, and an NVME SSD drive of sizes 2242, 2260 and 2280 can be used as a drive. There are also SATA 3.0 connectors for connecting a 2.5″ SSD or HDD drive. The computer is very compact, and its body is made of aluminum alloy. The cooling system is active.
Beelink is a company with history and specializes in the production of mini computers. They charge a little more for their products than lesser-known companies, but the price difference is there for a reason. They pay great attention to the settings of the computer in general and the cooling system in particular. This year they released Beelink SER3, an AMD Ryzen 7 3750H computer. Compared to the previous model, it has a TDP of 35W, which means more performance for long tasks. The computer will not aggressively limit the frequency on the cores and will be able to show good results not only in instantaneous tasks, but also in those that require long calculations. The graphics of the RX Vega 10 perform well in games that are not too demanding. At the same time, the cooling system is quite quiet, because a large fan was used. There are no problems with video playback, including 4K HDR. You can connect 3 screens at once: 2 via HDMI and one via type C. There is M2 NVME for SSD, there are two slots for DDR 4 memory (up to 64 GB). For the Internet, you can use a gigabit ethernet port or WiFi 5 with dual band support.
T-BAO AMD Ryzen 7 4800H
The next computer can already be considered a gaming one. It is based on the powerful 8-core Ryzen 7 4800H processor, which runs with 16 threads and supports a maximum clock speed of 4.2GHz. The processor is built on the modern Zen2 architecture using the TSMC 7nm process technology. The graphics here have improved compared to previous generations, for example in GTA V you can easily get an average FPS of 90 frames per second. And at 1280×720 you can even play modern games like Red Dead Redemption 2 (26 fps) or Doom Eternal (36 fps). The base version includes 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB SSD, while the older version has 32 GB of RAM and 1 TB SSD. The computer is equipped with a modern AX200 WiFi module supporting WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1, external antennas are provided for reliable reception. A gigabit LAN port is provided for wired Internet connection. The cooling system is active.
Topton R9 5900HX
The most powerful computer from the selection is based on the AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX, which has the ZEN 3 architecture (7nm process technology). The processor includes 8 cores, 16 threads and its maximum clock speed reaches 4.6GHz. This is a real beast! Integrated 8-core graphics operate at a frequency of up to 2100 MHz and even allow you to play Cyberpunk 2077. Yes, at low graphics settings and only at HD resolution, with an average fps of about 26, but this is already a breakthrough. Games that are older than 2 — 3 years will work fine on Full HD. According to the bundle, you can take both the barebone version and immediately with memory. In the second case, you will install licensed Windows 10. What else? 4 USB 3.2 connectors, a pair of USB 2.0, HDMI + Display Port for simultaneous display of images on a monitor and TV, as well as a powerful active cooling system with adaptive operation depending on the load. For a wired Internet connection, 2 LAN connectors are provided, there is also a dual-band WiFi module.