Still looking at the notebook? Maybe you need to start with a mini host

After leaving the campus, everyone should replace the game book in their hands. At this time, many people should choose between thin and light notebooks and desktops according to their needs. But if you need to carry your computer to and from work every day and do n’t use them on the road, maybe the mini host is also a good choice for you.

I don't think there is a clear classification for mini hosts. Generally speaking, a product that is significantly smaller than our common case can be called a mini host.

According to the current market, the upper limit of the mini host is probably A4 paper size + not very thick body. After all, carrying around is always a big demand for mini-hosts. If there is no need for portability, don't even consider these products.

If it is determined that I have this need, here are the products I recommend from three directions.

Extremely lightweight: Intel NUC8i5

After my last main machine went on strike about half a month ago, I started with Intel's mini-host NUC8i5 High Edition. In simple terms, it should be one of the products on the market that will give you the best balance between lightness and performance. I believe the picture below will allow you to better understand how small it is.

Under such a compact body, NUC8i5 provides a quad-core eight-thread design i5-8259U processor, built-in Iris 655 core display, and supports up to 32GB DDR4-2400 memory and M.2 + SATA hard disk expansion.

The external interface provides four USB 3.1 Gen2 (10G) Type-A, one Thunderbolt 3 compatible with USB 3.1 Gen2 and DP 1.2, HDMI 2.0, RJ45 network interface, 3.5mm headphone interface, and MicroSD card reader.

It can be said that its scalability is not inferior to many mid-to-high-end thin and light books currently on the market. The performance can also fully meet the daily office and simple audio and video, games. With the expansion of the Thunderbolt 3 graphics card, the video rendering and game performance will reach a new level.

For a product that currently costs less than 3,000 yuan (USD $429) (excluding memory and hard disk), it has the above performance and scalability, while considering portability. Even if you don't consider such operations as an external graphics card, I think it is enough to pay for it.

A compromise: ASRock Deskmini A300

If you don't care about the discrete graphics card, don't want to pursue Thunderbolt 3, and the requirements on volume can be relaxed slightly, then ASRock Deskmini A300 may be your good choice.

ASRock Deskmini A300 has a specification of 155x155x80mm. In short, its height and depth are similar to the length of iPhone 11. This volume makes it very convenient to put it in various backpacks, which is very suitable for carrying to and from work.

△ Source: ASRock Jingdong Self-operated Flagship Store

Unlike the previous NUC, ASRock Deskmini A300 only provides the shell, motherboard and power supply, which means that users can choose the processor according to their needs (A300 can only use AMD APU, which is a product with built-in nuclear display), memory and hard disk.

This product provides two memory, M.2 and SATA interfaces, which can realize massive data storage. Among them, SATA can form RAID 0/1, the former can greatly increase the data read and write speed, and the latter can protect important data through synchronous backup.

Although there is no Thunderbolt 3 interface, according to current information, ASRock Deskmini can support AMD Ryzen 4000 series desktop APU. Not only the number of cores has been greatly improved, but the performance of the nuclear display can be comparable to the current low-end discrete graphics cards.

The current ASRock Deskmini is priced at 999 yuan (USD $143) , and it can be started at less than 2,000 yuan (USD $286) after adding AMD R5 3400G. If you want to "wait for the party" or upgrade at the end of the year, switching to 4400G can bring the performance of CPU and GPU to the next level at the same time.

In pursuit of performance: MSI Hai Huang Halberd 3

Compared with the previous two products, the size of MSI Haihuangji 3 is significantly larger, and it has exceeded the scope of A4. But the thinner body allows it to still fit in the backpack at any time, so except for being a little heavier, daily commuting is not a problem.

The larger volume has brought a great performance boost. MSI Ocean Royal 3 is equipped with desktop-grade Intel Core i5 / i7 processors, and the graphics card has NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Super / GTX 1660 Super optional. Don't talk about daily office work, even if you have two chickens in your spare time, there is no problem.

If you have strong hands-on ability, you can choose to assemble the A4 ITX host by yourself. However, your own accumulated expenses can't be considered low, and this article is mainly for those who have a hard time installing machines. I think that the i5-9400F + 16GB + RTX 2060 Super configuration, and to some extent the portability, the price of 8688 yuan (USD $1241) is also good.

Summary: it depends on your own needs

With its relatively excellent performance and portability, the mini host has become a hot product in the past two years, but it is undeniable that the price of related products has remained high.

I think from the point of view, the mini host should be a relatively niche choice. Because it has many advantages, but it is also full of compromises, such as higher prices and temperatures.

So although I recommend the above products, what products I buy ultimately depends on my actual needs. After all, what suits you is the best. For example, for users who need to travel frequently and have to process a lot of files on the road, perhaps thin and light is best for them.