It's ironic. Mobile phones are getting larger and PCs are getting smaller. Hail the era of the mini PC, a computer form factor designed to minimise the volume of a desktop computer. So you get all of the benefits of having a desktop but with the added plus of freeing up space on your desk. This means that businesses can fit more PCs into less space and desks are less cluttered.
Confusion is understandable. A business currently chooses between a laptop or a PC for its employees, or a combination of the two. Where does the mini PC fit into this scenario? The mini PC provides desktop power, just in a smaller package, according to Peter Chang, Country Product Manager at ASUS. He says: "The mini PC costs less, uses less power and occupies a smaller footprint than the conventional PC. It is also considerably cheaper than a laptop. So if you want the functionality of a desktop but freer work space (a mini PC can be mounted on the back of your monitor), then a mini PC is the way to go."
Designed for modern workspaces, mini PCs offer businesses fast, reliable performance, compact designs that provide versatile placement options, and a wide range of ports for flexible connectivity and expandability. They require less cooling than a PC and are quieter than a conventional PC. They come with upgradeable memory, storage and wireless networking, extending system longevity and lowering hardware costs over time.
The ability to mount the mini PC to the back of a monitor provides a space-saving, modular all-in-one system. They're ideal for use as office PCs, education devices, digital signage, kiosk displays, point-of-sale terminals and hospital terminals.
Mini PCs have an energy-efficient design that reduces environmental impact while helping to lower business operation costs. These eco-friendly mini PCs are recipients of some of the industry's highest environmental certifications, including Energy Star.
However, a word of caution: there are some pitfalls that you need to look out for when choosing a mini PC for your business.
Top ten things to consider when shopping for a mini PC:
1. What operating system does it support – it must be able to run the latest business version of your operating system of choice.
2. You want a wide range of ports for flexible connectivity and expandability.
3. Do expansion modules allow you to make and receive conference calls, add on speakers, optical disc drives, additional screens or even devices?
4. Are you able to connect to a legacy commercial device?
5. Can you use a conventional keyboard, mouse and screen or do they need to be wireless?
6. Check the size – the size of mini PCs is measured in litres – to ensure that it'll fit into the space you have available.
7. What kind of mount does it have? You need to know that you can place it where you want to.
8. Can you upgrade the storage if you need to, i e does it have extra storage bays?
9. What security features does the device have or can it support to protect users and their data against threats?
10. Is there a backup power supply (i.e. built-in battery) that allows you to work when the power goes out, a common occurrence in South Africa.