Since it is a computer, configuration is a topic that has to be said. In order to make the host more compact, MINI PCs are built with mobile hardware, so in terms of hardware models, we need to correspond to products such as notebook processors, memory, and hard drives. We need to let everyone know about this.

Core hardware: processor

Speaking of processors, we naturally think of two manufacturers Intel and AMD. Although it is difficult to tell, the Intel platform still accounts for a large part of the current mini computer products, while the AMD platform appears in some entry-level products. The reason is that AMD processors have significantly higher heat output than Intel products and are not suitable for use in a small chassis space.

At present, there are 4 major series of Intel processors: Atom, Celeron, Pentium, and Core, and the performance is gradually improved. Although the Atom series has very low power consumption and low heat generation, its performance is relatively limited, and it is not suitable for everyone to buy. Since the price gap between Celeron and Pentium is not big, we recommend that you choose the latter first. For those who have certain requirements for performance, Core is the best choice. The Core series is also divided into three major models: i3, i5, and i7. The performance increases in order. You can choose according to your needs and budget.

For AMD platforms, the processors are mainly APUs. This is a series of processors launched by AMD. However, there are fewer types of APUs currently used in MINI PC, only the E-350 and E2 series, and the performance is not very strong. Fortunately, the price is not expensive, suitable for entry users.

About the processor platform

According to Intel’s development strategy, each generation of processors will have a platform code. At present, the latest generation platform is code-named Haswell (referred to as HSW), while the previous generation platform is code-named as Ivy Bridge (referred to as IVB). At present, the two generations of platforms are in a state of coexistence on the market, and the price gap is not very large. In terms of pure computing performance, the Haswell processor is not much different from the Ivy Bridge processor, but the graphics processing performance of the Haswell processor is much better than that of the Ivy Bridge, so if you want to be able to play games with a MINI PC, the Haswell processor is your first choice.

So how do we distinguish the platform of the processor? The answer lies in the model of the processor. The models of Haswell processors all start with 4, such as Core i5-4200U (U stands for ultra-low voltage version), and Ivy Bridge processors all start with 3. Of course, there are a small number of processors that do not conform to this naming rule, such as Celeron 1017U, which itself is the Ivy Bridge platform. If you are not sure about the processor model, you can check it online and you will be able to find the answer soon.

Core hardware: memory

For a MINI PC, the performance of the memory does not have a decisive impact on the performance of the whole machine. But if the memory capacity is not enough, it will cause a bottleneck to the performance of the whole machine. For the current computer configuration, 2GB of memory is already considered the minimum configuration. Taking into account future needs, I do not recommend that you choose models with less than 2GB of memory.

However, because the way memory is installed is very simple, many vendors will allow users to change memory limits. That is to say, we are likely to be able to replace or add memory after the purchase of the host. If you buy a MINI PC and know that the host can replace its own memory, consider adding more than 4GB of memory to improve the overall response time.

Core hardware: hard disk

To be honest, we have never thought that the processor and memory will become the bottleneck in the miniaturization of the computer host. On the contrary, the hard disk will make your computer look bulky and bulky. Of course, MINI PCs will certainly not use standard desktop hard drives, at least they also need to be equipped with laptop hard drives (mechanical hard drives).

The popularity of solid-state hard drives now gives mini-computers a new choice. The solid state drive can not only be made into a standard 2.5-inch notebook hard drive design, but also can be made into a smaller mSATA standard design. In this way, we can directly “plug” the solid-state drive on the motherboard to save space, while also guaranteeing performance.

As for the capacity, if the MINI PC you choose uses a traditional mechanical hard drive, then the 500GB capacity is the bottom line. If you choose a solid state drive, 128GB is the bottom line. Because there is no space for the second hard drive in the MINI PC, if the hard drive capacity is too small, the remaining capacity will be very limited after you install the system.

Core hardware: wireless network card

Since MINI PCs can be carried or placed at will, they naturally do not want to be bound by cables. Among them, the provision of a wireless network card allows the MINI PC to be placed arbitrarily in an environment with a WiFi wireless network. At present, all MINI PCs have built-in wireless network cards, but the specifications of wireless network cards equipped with some models may not be very high. At present, mainstream wireless network cards can meet the 802.11n standard, and some high-end network cards can meet the 802.11ac standard. If you buy a mini wireless network card with 802.11g or lower, then you can stay away.

Peripheral specifications: expansion interface

The body of the mini computer is very small, but as a computer, we can not ignore the expansion ability of its own interface. For example, if we buy a machine that needs to be connected to a keyboard, mouse, U disk, mobile hard disk, monitor, etc., then this requires the mini computer to have sufficient interfaces.

According to our experience, when we buy a MINI PC, we need to have at least 4 USB ports, HDMI/Display video output, network interface, and audio output interface. Only equipped with a complete interface, we can connect any equipment we need.

About the relationship between volume, performance, heat, and noise

Everyone who buys a MINI PC must hope to buy a product with a small size and excellent performance. But no matter how good your computer performance is, you still need to abide by the law of conservation of energy. In other words, we need to pay a price for blindly seeking high performance and small size.

Speaking of size, the small size of the MINI PC means that the design between the hardware is compact and the heat dissipation space is limited. Computers will continue to heat up during work, and computers that are too small will definitely have problems with heat dissipation. Then we want its stable operation, we need additional heat dissipation.

Then the easiest way is to add a cooling fan to the host to forcibly remove the heat inside the host. Then the problem comes again. During the working process of the cooling fan, both the motor and the hot air discharged by itself will make corresponding noises. And as the heat generation increases and the fan speed increases, this noise will continue to increase. Of course, no one wants to use the computer in a noisy environment, so this is the relationship between volume, heat and noise.

Then if you consider performance, although high-performance hardware is what everyone wants, correspondingly, the higher the performance of the hardware, the more heat will be generated. So if the volume of the host is unchanged, the manufacturer needs to increase the heat dissipation capacity by increasing the speed of the cooling fan, which will also increase the operating noise. Therefore, for MINI PCs, we should not blindly pursue high configuration, because sometimes the price of noise will make you feel that it is not worthwhile.

So about the specifications of the MINI PC, we will share with you here. Although mini-computers are small and compact, there are still many considerations when we buy them.