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Mini-desktop PCs: small box, big bang for the buck

Kevin Jacoby's picture

by Kevin Jacoby on 05/10/2019
Blog Category: Devices

Desktops aren’t dying — they’re just getting smaller.

The latest crop of mini-PCs now offers lots of power and features, minus the giant footprint of a standard desktop. The PC’s future is mighty but small.

Helping your customers choose a mini-desktop used to be all about compromise: “Sure, you can save money and space, but you’ll have to give up on power and flexibility.” Fortunately, those days are long gone.

Today, designers that include Dell, Lenovo, and HP are offering tiny PCs that run on Windows 10 and pack the latest 8th gen Intel Core processors, Intel Optane Memory, and multiple solid-state drives (SSDs).

The only downside of choosing a mini-PC is the option anxiety.

Options galore

Take HP’s ProDesk G4 mini-desktop. It comes in two series (400 and 600), each offering three sizes: mini, small form factor, and microtower. Jumping into the company’s online configurator, you’ll see the ProDesk also offers the choice of no fewer than 8 different processors. These range from the cost-effective Intel Celeron G5400 to the mighty-mighty Intel Core i7-8700T.

Sure, the latter CPU will nearly double the ProDesk 600 Desktop Mini G4's base price of roughly $630. But this processor also delivers 6 cores, each pushing up to 3.7GHz astride a giant 12MB cache. When you have that much steam in your engine, there’s no need to bother with a full-size PC.

HP ProDesk G4

HP ProDesk G4: small box, wide array of options

Other HP ProDesk options include a 16GB Intel Optane Memory module, up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, and an assortment of solid-state and conventional hard drives.

Are those specs truly impressive? They are when they fit inside a 2.7-pound chassis that’s less than 1 1/2 inches tall.

Swimming down-market

That HP system is impressive, yes. But what if your customer is looking to save a pile of money? That’s where Lenovo’s M720 Tiny comes in.

Lenovo has a high-end name, but with this PC the company is going for the market’s low end. This mini-PC retails for just $325.

Lenovo M720 Tiny

Lenovo M720 Tiny: with a truly nice price

It’s a smart move. While some of your customers will surely be shopping for horsepower, others will want more lower-cost options. If they’re intent on filling a cubicle farm with little PCs, they may be pleased to know that here’s an option from a brand they trust.

The Lenovo’s Tiny equally tiny price tag is the kind of money that used to get you the computing equivalent of an aging hamster on a rusty wheel. But in fact, the M720’s base processor is a downright respectable 3.1GHz Pentium Gold.

Dell aims for the middle

Dell is betting that its OptiPlex Micro will offer the perfect combination of affordable and functional. This little beast’s starting price of roughly $450 puts it right in the comfortable middle.

Dell OptiPlex Micro

Dell OptiPlex Micro: better wait and see

But wait! What’s this under the hood? A Celeron G3930T dual-core? And in a machine demanding over 100 more of your customer’s hard-earned dollars than the Lenovo and its Pentium Gold.

Someone at Dell may have missed a meeting. Perhaps it’s best to let your customers wait and see whether the OptiPlex gets updated with a more powerful CPU.

Mini-desktop PCs have certainly come into their own. They’re less expensive than a laptop, especially when you consider the power-to-price ratio. Plus, they can save a lot of space and money.

Oh yes, it’s time to get small — real small.


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