Desktop computers are being phased out since they take up space and increase power bills. A laptop may appear to be a viable option, but they are costly. If only there was some middle ground between those two extremes.
It would be the mini PC. It’s the ideal hybrid of a laptop and a desktop computer, providing the ergonomic freedom of a desktop computer while being smaller, less expensive, and more energy efficient than a laptop.
But should you go all out with the mini PC, or would a Raspberry Pi be a better fit for your needs?
Which platform offers the most space savings?
It makes sense to analyze why people are shifting away from traditional desktop PC setups. Most people are motivated by the desire to free up valuable desk space. Mini PCs and Raspberry Pis can both achieve this to varying degrees.
When compared to a full-blown tower PC, even laptops connected to a proper monitor and keyboard mouse setup will save space.
Read on if you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a desktop PC.
When you consider a laptop stand, dock, and the increased mess of wires that a docked laptop entails, the space savings won’t be significant. Because it does not require a dock, a mini PC will have a smaller physical footprint than a laptop.
However, not all mini PCs are small enough to fit on the VESA mounting bracket on your display.
A Raspberry Pi, on the other hand, can be taped to the back of even the tiniest monitor. There’s no need to mess around with a VESA mount here. If space is limited, the Raspberry Pi is the clear winner.
Desktop replacement with Raspberry Pi
Unless you’re using Apple’s M1 silicon, you won’t get good performance and power efficiency. But since that’s not an option, you’ll have to pick one.
If all you need is a word processor and access to the internet, the Raspberry Pi will suffice. Complicated tasks like video editing, 3D modeling, and financial simulations, on the other hand, will necessitate a mini PC outfitted to replace a desktop.
Since both Ubuntu and Raspberry Pi OS have free software for every computing task ranging from comprehensive image manipulation to light video editing tasks, we recommend getting at least the 4GB version of the Raspberry Pi 4. The Raspberry Pi 400’s unique form factor, on the other hand, offers many possibilities.
We recommend getting at least the 4GB version of the Raspberry Pi 4 because both Ubuntu and Raspberry Pi OS have free software for every computing task ranging from comprehensive image manipulation to light video editing tasks. The Raspberry Pi 400, on the other hand, has a unique form factor that opens up a lot of possibilities.
It’s a good idea to keep your expectations in check because such tasks will take longer and won’t provide the same versatility as a proper Windows-based mini PC. Although the Raspberry Pi can technically be used as a desktop replacement, its capabilities are limited to simple computing tasks.
There’s a Mini PC to suit your needs
Mini PCs come in an almost infinite number of configurations. Mini PCs with thermal design points (TDP) as low as 25 watts are available from companies like Zotac, Asus, Corsair, Lenovo, and Intel. Despite this, these devices can run all native Windows apps without any issues.
Need more power to run more intensive photo and video editing suites without significantly increasing power consumption and size? Mini PCs with higher-core-count mobile AMD and Intel APUs with better graphics capabilities are available.
Apart from Intel, most of the aforementioned brands also offer powerful desktop replacements in mini-ITX form factors, complete with NVIDIA and AMD discrete graphics cards. Mini PCs offer a wide range of power and efficiency options that can be customized to fit your needs.
Compromises are a must
Because mini PCs come in such a wide range of performance, power efficiency, and space savings, it’s up to you to make the best decision and accept the compromises that come with it. More options are always preferable.
Thermal issues are the most common complaint with mini PCs that use desktop-grade processors and GPUs. The amount of powerful processing hardware that can be crammed into a pint-sized platform is limited by cooling capacity.
Most powerful mini PCs come with an insufficient cooling design, which causes them to run extremely hot and loud.
Unless you spend a lot of money on liquid cooling, the more performance crammed into a mini PC, the louder and hotter it will get. It is difficult to defy the laws of physics or economics.
Because increasing the performance of a mini PC is also significantly more expensive. Everything from smaller motherboards to laptop-grade RAM and solid-state drives is usually more expensive. Upgrades to a mini PC are neither cheap nor simple, so make sure you get what you need right away.
Budget and use case
The Raspberry Pi and the mini PC are both viable alternatives to traditional desktop computers. The decision ultimately comes down to the complexity of your computing requirements. The Raspberry Pi is a low-cost computer that has the smallest footprint and uses the least amount of power. However, it will not be as quick or versatile as a mini PC.
If you want to make money from your computer, you should get a mini PC. The software and hardware support provided by Windows and macOS-based mini PCs is unparalleled, as is the breadth of performance, size, and power consumption options available. If this is your only computing platform, a Windows or macOS-based mini PC is a better choice.