What is a mini PC? Technically, anything less than a desktop or that does not take up desk space is considered a mini PC.

The biggest difference is the trade-offs:

  • the physical input devices that come with desktop PCs or laptops e.g. keyboards
  • computing power
  • the memory available 
  • storage
  • power consumption 

With a mini PC, you are trading power for portability. A minimum specification of 2GB of memory and 32GB of storage allows you to do simple tasks like browsing the web, watch YouTube, do your emails and have the occasional video call. 

The real question is, why would you buy a mini PC instead of a laptop or desktop? What is a mini PC used for?

Uses of a mini PC

Mini PCs have been incorporated into other products like ATMs and public access kiosks to provide a graphical UI. That’s why occasionally, you’ll see billboards or kiosks displaying a Windows error message.

Below are 4 easy options for making the most out of a mini PC:

1. Casual gaming 

Initially, most PCs were marketed as a productivity machine, but today they’re considered gaming machines too.

While avid gamers may not be able to use mini PCs to run Call of Duty or Battlefield, casual gamers can run games like League of Legends with a smooth frame rate. 

If your primary goal is to do some work and play some games, then the mini PC will suffice. 

2. Home theater 

Mini PCs can be mounted on the back of a TV to be used as a home theater or set-top box. 

Although video streaming should really be done with services like Roku or Fire Stick, mini PCs as home theaters can be used to browse YouTube videos or run apps like Plex.

Windows 10 apps like Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, news and weather can also run on a mini PC, as well as organizing and playing home videos and photos.

In this way, the mini PC makes a better home theater system than a TV stick. Just make sure to get a model with a graphics card and processor powerful enough to handle the content.

3. Workstation 

Mini PCs make excellent portable desktops. Business presentations, training sessions, word processing and seminars can be edited and displayed easily and on the go.

You can also move easily between offices – just unplug your keyboard, mouse and monitor and simply carry the mini PC in your bag or pocket. 

They’re also very convenient when computing needs are simple, or where space is limited e.g. smaller cubicles in large workspaces. 

They’ve become so prevalent for productivity that businesses are buying them in volume.

4. Signage displays 

Businesses with extra mini PCs can easily repurpose them for digital signage

Models like the Intel NUC or Zotac offer advantages like:

  • small form factor and quiet
  • full HD with up to 4k support
  • reliable and robust technology 
  • choice of digital signage software

They can be easily mounted behind TVs to display business communications such as:

  • KPIs and metrics
  • company updates and announcements
  • event listings
  • office directories
  • emergency alerts

Is the mini PC worth buying?

Why should you buy a mini PC over a tablet, laptop or desktop? After all, it does not come with a keyboard, mouse or monitor, you’ll struggle to upgrade the CPU and some mini PCs don’t come with a pre-installed OS.

The short answer? Yes. Mini PCs are relatively cheap and they can be repurposed for different uses to get the most use out of it. You get the best bang for your buck. A home theater PC can also be used for gaming. Old mini PCs for work can be used for digital signage. It’s a win-win for everyone.