Windows 10 mini pcs

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Some are bare-bones kits. Others are ready to lớn go out of the box, complete with an OS, RAM, and memory installed. Whatever the form, these đứng đầu Windows micro desktops all deliver surprising features, value, & pep for their size.

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(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

The NUC PCs & their ilk tend to lớn be around 5 or 6 inches square, thoughIntel"s 2020 NUC 9 Extreme(followed on by a 2021 NUC 11 Extreme version) changes this somewhat. The NUC 9 was a new mini-PC platform that hãng sản xuất intel is encouraging partner manufacturers to utilize for many different types of PCs, based on a core-computing module called theCompute Element. While it"s technically a mini PC, full retail models from partners, such as theRazer Tomahawk, can be much larger than the small square boxes we"re used khổng lồ associating with NUCs.

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(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

Separate from those is a host of PCs that are undeniably small but follow their own shape and kích thước rules. Zotac, a major player in small PCs (and one of the category"s unsung early innovators), offers a huge range of Zbox PCs that range in kích cỡ from a fat smartphone to a bulky Discman. Shuttle, too, is another small-PC pioneer, offering machines in a host of shapes. On the macOS side of things, the venerableApple Mac Miniis a sleek, square silver box with rounded edges that saw a big update in late 2020. Like the laptop apple macbook Air & MacBook Pro, it received Apple"s homegrown M1 processor, greatly increasing its performance.

Should You Buy Bare Bones or Ready-Configured?

Not all mini PCs ship as complete systems; more so than any other class of PC, they tendnotto.

Especially in the case of Intel"s NUC kits, Shuttle"s small PCs, & many of Zotac"s Zboxes, you get what amounts lớn a PC kit: a tiny chassis with a motherboard pre-installed. (In some cases, a soldered-on processor is in place, as opposed lớn a socketed one.) Plus, in most cases, wireless connectivity is built in. To lớn complete the kit, you have to cửa hàng for và install a storage drive (a hard drive and/or a solid-state drive, depending on the model) & RAM modules, & install your own operating system.

This arrangement is what"s called in reseller lingo a "bare-bones PC." You"ll want lớn make sure you know what you are getting. In some cases, a given mini system is sold in bare-bones form,as well asin pre-configured versions with storage, RAM, và Windows present.

You need to lớn factor those parts & a Windows license (unless you plan khổng lồ use Linux) into the total cost. The parts you will need, mind you, will be small: the kind that you"d typically find in a laptop, not a desktop. Many small PCs lượt thích these make use of DDR4 SO-DIMMs—laptop-style RAM modules—for their main memory instead of full-size desktop DDR4 DIMMs.

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(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

The form factor of the storage varies more. Depending on the mini PC you are looking at, you may need a 2.5-inch drive (a solid-state or hard drive, the form size that goes into most full-size laptops), or a cutting-edge variety of SSD that"s known as anM.2 SSD. Such drives are the form size and shape of a stick of chewing gum. Check out our guide to lớn these complicated drives at the link; if you need to lớn install an M.2 SSD in a bare-bones desktop, you need to lớn know about some interface/bus and sizing subtleties before you shop. (It"s too easy, otherwise, khổng lồ buy an incompatible drive.)

If a given system is a bare-bones kit, you"ll need to lớn get more than a little hands-on with it to lớn get it up and running. But a kit gives you maximum flexibility in terms of component selection. That said, one advantage of a pre-configured system, apart from the easier setup, is the fact that Windows or macOS comes installed; you won"t need to lớn install và update the OS & its drivers.

Should You Get Dedicated or Integrated Graphics?

Most mini PCs are as "mini" as they are because they rely on the basic-grade graphics acceleration built into the CPU to lớn power their đoạn phim outputs—no separate graphics card is involved. This integrated graphics silicon will suffice for productivity work and clip playback.

A few outlying models, though, bởi vì incorporate the same kind of separate, dedicated điện thoại graphics chips that appear in gaming laptops. Among them are Zotac"sZbox Magnusmodels, which employ dedicated GeForce graphics muscular enough for serious PC gaming at reasonable detail settings at 1080p (1,920 by 1,080 pixels) and, in some cases, higher resolutions. The 2021 Dell Precision 3240 Compact even makes use of Nvidia"s professional-grade graphics and up to hãng intel Xeon processors for workstation-grade tasks.

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(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

In particular, newer intel NUC models have begun including, or at least offering the option, for GPU support. The 2018 "Kaby Lake-G"Intel NUC Kit NUC8i7HVK ("Hades Canyon")(since out of support) included AMD"s peppy Radeon RX Vega M graphics acceleration on the same die as processor. (Earlier intel NUCs relied solely on Intel"s own integrated HD Graphics or Iris solutions.) That means well-above-average graphics performance in a system this size.

Since then, larger NUC models have even offered support for full-size GPUs, but in a notably larger form factor. The hãng sản xuất intel NUC 11 Extreme Kit ("Beast Canyon"), for instance, can fit a dual-slot graphics thẻ up khổng lồ 12 inches long. That opens up some serious productivity & gaming power, but you are of course are starting lớn creep out of the truly "mini" size category.

The thing is, if you"re sticking with a truly small PC, a dedicated graphics chip is seldom an option, simply because of space & thermal-design reasons. The peppier Iris xe integrated graphics processor (IGP) silicon introduced starting in Intel"s 11th Generation "Tiger Lake" CPUs is one helpful solution for those staying with IGPs. Designed for thiết bị di động systems, it would also seem a perfect fit for mini PCs, và Iris xe pháo has shown solid improvement in NUCs lượt thích the hãng sản xuất intel NUC 11 Pro Kit ("Tiger Canyon"), and in Iris Xe laptop reviews.

Connectivity & Mountability

Some mini PCs include mounting kits that let you attach them lớn the back of an LCDmonitor. Check for that feature if space savings of that kind is important khổng lồ you. And kiểm tra the back of your monitor for mounting holes, which, if present, normally comply with the VESA mounting standard.

Also kiểm tra for 802.11 Wi-Fi (wireless networking) of some flavor. Most micro PCs include at least that as a standard feature (and a bunch more also incorporate Bluetooth), but double-check that the system or kit doesn"t require the purchase of a separate Wi-Fi card in the Mini-PCI Express or M.2 size factor. Some do.

Which CPUs Should You Look for in a Mini PC?

You"ll see a variety of mobile-grade CPUs in the small PCs out there, ranging from hãng sản xuất intel Atom and Celeron chips (very basic, và good at best for simple productivity work, e-mailing, and web browsing) up to bộ vi xử lý core i5 và i7 (and in a few cases, i9) processors that can vị some modest media-crunching and rendering work. It"s crucial that you know, however, if you are looking at a mobile-grade CPU (the kind used in laptops) or a desktop-strength chip. The kích cỡ of the PC isn"t always a good predictor of that. (That said, the very smallest PCs will always use thiết bị di động chips.)

How khổng lồ tell? Most of the mini PCs on the market make use of intel silicon, & the dead giveaway whether you"re looking at a thiết bị di động CPU or a desktop one is usually (but not always) the letter at the kết thúc of the processor"s number. Look for a "T" or a "K," or no letter at all, as a dead giveaway for a desktop chip (for example, chip core i5-9400T), or a "U" or "Y" (or with the very latest chips, possibly a "G3," "G5," or "G7") for a mobile one. The cpu family & generation being equal, you can generally expect more muscle (usually a consequence of more cores và higher base clocks) from the desktop version of, say, a core i5 than from a mobile chip core i5.

In addition, intel chips ending in "H" are a higher-powered grade of mobile processor, occupying the middle ground between the mainstream mobile chips and all-out socketed desktop chips. They are uncommon in mini-desktops, though. There are now some occasional AMD flavors as well, such as the AMD Ryzen V1605B in the ECS Liva quận 3 Plus.

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What should you glean from that mobile-versus-desktop insight? Our benchmark testing will quantify the trends, but none of the mobile-grade chips in these small PCs is a proper substitute for a desktop cpu if you"re a heavy multitasker, or a truyền thông media pro who needs real processing muscle, say, to convert lots of đoạn phim or photo files from one format to lớn another. In most cases, the CPU is the single biggest factor in the cost of a mini PC, so keep an eye on the performance numbers in our reviews for a relative idea of what you are getting.

Rule of thumb? For light office work, you can get by with a sản phẩm điện thoại or desktop bộ vi xử lý core i3- or Pentium-based mini-PC, but you"ll want to err on the side of a higher-end, desktop-strength Core chip if you"ll need extra pep for serious multitasking, file conversions, heavy calculation-based work, or multimedia content manipulation. Celeron chips, meanwhile, are okay for only theverylightest of tasks, or undemanding digital display/signage use. Atoms (which are mostly gone from the market) are best avoided except for single-use, mostly passive tasks.

So, Which Mini PC Should I Buy?

Check out the danh mục below for our latest mini PC recommendations. If you"re shopping for a small desktop lớn save money, you"ll also want to check out our picks for thetop cheap desktops.

If you"d like to go a bit bigger, head on over khổng lồ our đứng đầu choices for standard-sizedesktops, which include some small-form-factor PCs, or see our guide lớn thetop all-in-one desktops, which tend to lớn be trim và feature built-in displays.

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