Over the past few years, one of the most exciting developments in the PC world, especially in gaming, revolves around the small form factor PCs. These incredible machines are a fraction of the size of the traditional gaming PC towers. However, they are still capable of fitting cutting-edge components, such as the bulky high-end graphic cards, required for modern gaming.
Technically, one of the key benefits of the small form factor PCs is that they are not bulky, and you can pack them in your travel bag on a trip to Europe or Asia. Even so, what are some of its top features? What makes it the best PC option to carry on your travel?
We have prepared a review into one of the best small form PCs- INTEL NUC Mini Computers– and why they are the most recommended option when traveling.
Below is a detailed insight into the INTEL NUC Mini Computers:
What Is an INTEL NUC Mini Computer?
With an Intel Core i9 laptop-class processor, laptop-sized ram, and capabilities to support up to three drives, Intel NUC Mini Computers is everything you would ever need in a portable mini PC. It is shockingly small, quite easy to carry, and powerful like a modern PC or laptop.
Apart from their compact size, NUC Mini Computers integrate a very simple and straightforward method of operation as compared to other PCs. Further, even with little PC hardware experience, disassembling a NUC Mini Computer is quite easy and will take you around 15 minutes.
Intel NUC Mini Computers can come with a 6th-8th generation Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 processor. Besides, it also packs speeds of 1.6 GHz up to 3.0 GHz Turbo.
These incredible PCs are designed with Intel HD graphics, a 1x mini display port, a 1x mini HDMI port, or an extended graphics card. The type of GMU, however, depends on the NUC series.
One of the best things about Intel NUC Mini PCs is that they can support more than one drive. They are designed with superfast SSDs that can deliver amazing speeds.
Like the majority of small form PCs, Intel NUCs support both WLAN and LAN networks. What’s more, it supports speeds of up to 1000Mbps. Other additional features include a Bluetooth 4 wireless display.
5. Peripheral Connectivity:
Intel NUC Mini PCs are designed with two USB 3.0 ports located on the front panel and two others on the back panel. Some models also feature two additional USB 2.0 via header.
Intel understands that memory is fundamental to a computer and has designed Intel NUCs with DDR3 dual-channel SODIMMs with an expandable memory of up to 32GB.
The sophisticated Intel NUC series comes with a 7.1 surround audio jack that can also be used with a mini HDMI and a mini display port. Its ports are located at the front and the back.
8. Additional Features:
Other additional features integrated into NUC Mini PCs include AUX PWR and NFC headers, a power sensing circuit, low-acoustic active cooling design, support for user-replaceable 3rd party covers, and Kensington lock support.
Should I Buy Ready-Configured or Bare Bones?
Technically, you can either buy mini PCs as either complete or bare bones. Intel NUC kits come with a tiny chassis and a pre-installed motherboard. When you buy a barebone PC, you are required to shop and install your desired solid-state drive (SSD), hard drive, or RAM modules- depending on the model and install an operating system.
Note that it can be a bit hard to differentiate between a bare bone and a ready-configured PC. Always check for PCs with a reseller lingo “bare-bone PC.” In some cases, you can purchase a mini-computer with a “pre-configured” logo. It is almost the same as bare-bones but comes with a storage disk, RAM, and an operating system or windows. Additionally, ensure you also factor in the Windows license in the total cost.
You should also note that the parts you will find in the small factor PCs will be small- like those of a laptop. The majority of small-form PCs use DDR4 SO-DIMMs RAM modules for their memory instead of the normal desktop-size DDR4 DIMMs.
Should I Get an Intel NUC Mini PC With Integrated or Dedicated Graphics?
So, between integrated and dedicated graphics, what works best with your PC? The answer is quite clear. There is not enough space to fit a bulky GPU. As a result, the majority of mini PCs are designed with integrated graphics silicon for video playback and productivity work.
However, there are a few models such as the Zbox Magnus and the 2021 Dell Precision that features a dedicated GeForce or Nvidia Quadro graphics, which is serious enough to be incorporated in any serious PC gaming. Besides, although it features settings with reasonable details, the processor should be upgraded to Intel Xeon.
One of the most interesting NUC kits is the “Hades Canyon” The small mini PC makes use of Intel’s pioneering “Kaby Lake-G” processor, which was developed in concert with AMD. Technically, the chip integrated into this small form PC combines Intel Core i7 processor and AMD’s peppy Radeon RX Vega M graphics acceleration.
Which CPUs Are Ideal for a Mini PC?
There is quite a wide range of mobile-grade CPUs for small factor PCs ranging from Celeron chips and Intel Atom to Core i5 and i7 processors. These processors are capable of delivering rendering work and modest media-crunching.
You should note that the size of the PC doesn’t predict the strength of the PC when looking for a mobile-grade PC or desktop-strength PC.
The best way to tell whether your mini PC has a desktop strength chip or a mobile-grade CPU is to check for a letter at the end of the processor’s number. For instance, the letter “K” or “T” for a desktop-strength chip and no letter for a dead giveaway.
A mini core i5 with a desktop strength chip should have a number like this: Core i5-9400T. It can also have a “Y” or “U” at the end. It is possible with the latest chips possibly from the G-series. What’s more, when the chip family and the generation are equal, you can expect more muscle.
It is usually a result of higher base clicks or more cores from the desktop version as compared to the unlocked mobile core i5.
How Will I Benefit from the Small Factor PCs?
Firstly, you will get to enjoy mobility in the small but mighty PCs. You will get the performance you need for photo editing, content creation, or complex work while on the go.
Secondly, these incredible machines are designed with 4K Ultra HD graphics for crystal clear pictures. Ideally, the majority of these PCs are designed with the latest technology that is ideal for performance and mobility.
Below is a detailed insight into some of the key benefits you will get from the small-form-factor PCs:
Do you get nervous about being away from your PC when you travel? SFFs may be the answer you’ve been looking for. They’re much more compact than full-sized PCs, and they may be able to have more processing power than a gaming laptop.
In reality, some mini-SFFs will fit into a side compartment of your carry-on luggage with ease. Consider having a small form factor gaming PC so you can continue to play while traveling.
2. Saves Space:
You can enjoy gaming, but not at the expense of the amount of space a typical gaming PC consumes on your desktop. Traditional gaming PCs will clog up your desk, making it unusable for other purposes. For a more convenient setup, you could be forced to put your computer on the floor.
However, this creates a new set of issues because your computer is now more vulnerable to damage from flooding, kicking, or dust ingestion. Small form factor gaming PCs save space and are more convenient than their larger counterparts. SFF PCs can also be mounted on the back of your computer.
3. Small Form Factors are a Bit Cheaper:
Gaming computers can be very costly. Justifying the cost of a full-sized PC for a budget gamer can be difficult. You get a lot of gaming strength for your cash with small form factor PCs. SFFs can be a relatively affordable option to bigger gaming PCs, allowing you to pursue your passion without breaking the bank.
4. Consumes Less Power:
Let’s face it: full-sized gaming PCs will trigger your power consumption to skyrocket, making your electricity bill a topic of worry. An SFF’s smaller package normally translates to lower overall power consumption. If you’re a big gamer, this will save you a lot of money on your utility bill.
Besides, if you’re concerned about the climate, the reduced environmental impact that SFFs leave behind can make you feel better.
How About Mountability and Connectivity?
Mounting kits are included in the majority of mini PCs. It allows them to be attached to the back of almost any LCD monitor or TV.
Typically, if you’re looking for a way to save space, ensure you check on the mounting feature. Also, look for mounting holes on the back of your display, which, if present, should conform to the VESA mounting standard.
Often look for any form of 802.11 Wi-Fi (wireless networking). Most micro PCs come with at least that (and a few more have Bluetooth), just make sure the device or package doesn’t require purchasing of a different Wi-Fi card in the Compact Express or M.2 form factor. However, some of them do.
Besides its compact size, the major benefit of the Intel NUC Performance Mini PC is that it can be used in several ways, such as a 4K streaming device when mounted to a TV Box. The Intel NUC Performance Mini PC will suit the bill if you’re searching for a machine that can be used in a variety of ways and won’t take up too much room.
This specialized PC is very powerful, with excellent efficiency, but if you want to run the latest games or edit 4K and 8K content, you’ll have to search elsewhere.
In essence, the Intel NUC Performance Mini PC is perfect for your home office and casual gaming if you’re looking for a robust, discrete PC or a media server.
Verdict: Is the Intel NUC Mini Computer Worth Your Money?
Based on the above review, there is no doubt that the Intel NUC Mini PC is the ideal option for anyone looking for a small but mighty computer. Most importantly, if you are a travel enthusiast, or you are planning a trip, you might consider trying out the amazing Intel NUC mini PC. All you need to do is factor out why you need the PC and how you can benefit from its compact design.