Review: 4 mini-PCs give you full power in a very small package

These tiny Windows systems can be hidden away while offering complete computing power.

1 2 3 Page 3
Page 3 of 3

Conclusions

Each of these computers proves, in its own way, that thinking small can have a big payoff. They all can fit in places that traditional desktops can't, and some provide extras, like the ability to run on battery power, be attached to the back of a display or hold a multitude of drives. Which of those features you'll find appealing depends on what your needs are.

For me, the innovative is always alluring, but the InFocus Kangaroo Pro falls short of the mark. It fits into a shirt pocket, can run on battery power and you can add a 2.5-in. drive, but it has only 2GB of RAM and can't be attached to the back of a display.

By contrast, ECS's Liva X2 is a fashion statement that makes the others look dull and pedestrian. It includes hardware for mounting it on the back of a monitor, creating an easy-to-assemble DIY all-in-one PC.

As the largest of the four, the Asus VivoMini VC65R is the power leader and can hold three extra 2.5-inch drives, making it the equivalent of a micro server. As big as it is, the VivoMini can be mounted on a display (with an optional plate) and has the best assortment of ports.

None of the other three, however, can match the versatility of the Gigabyte Brix. It's nearly as small as the Kangaroo Pro, can be upgraded with an M.2 flash module and includes the mounting hardware for turning a monitor into an all-in-one PC. More to the point, despite its diminutive dimensions, it was almost as powerful as the VivoMini, making it a computer that won't slow you down.

Mini-PCs: Features and specs

Asus VivoMini VC65R ECS Liva X2 Gigabyte Brix InFocus Kangaroo Pro
Dimensions 1.9 x 7.7 x 7.7 in. 1.7 x 3.2 x 6.9 in. 1.8 x 4.7 x 4.4 in. 0.5 x 3.2 x 4.9 in. (1.6 x 3.4 x 6.8 in. w/dock)
Weight 4.5 lbs. 1.3 lbs 1.3 lbs. 0.36 lbs. (0.93 lbs. w/dock)
Mounting hardware included No Yes Yes No
Processor Intel Core i5 6400T Intel Celeron N3050 Intel Core i3 6100U Intel Atom Z8500
RAM 8GB 2GB 4GB 2GB
Storage 1TB HDD 32GB eMMC 1TB HDD 32GB eMMC
Ports SD-card slot, 4 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0, DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA, RS-232, audio-in, audio-out, Ethernet 3 USB 3.0, VGA, HDMI, audio, Ethernet 4 USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, audio- in and -out, Ethernet SD-card slot, 2 USB 2.0, USB 3.0, VGA, HDMI, audio, Ethernet (w/dock)
Flash card reader Yes No No Yes
Upgrade capacity 3 additional 2.5-in. drives None 1 additional 80mm M.2 SSD 1 additional 2.5-inch drive
TPM No No No Yes
Wi-Fi / Bluetooth 802.11ac / BT 4.0 802.11ac / BT 4.0 802.11ac / BT 4.0 802.11ac / BT 4.1
Operating System Windows 10 Home Windows 10 Home Windows 10 Home Windows 10 Home
Warranty 1 year 1 year 1 year 1 year
Price $410 $158 $500 $200 (including dock)

Mini-PCs: Test scores

Asus VivoMini VC65R ECS Liva X2 Gigabyte Brix InFocus Kangaroo Pro
PCMark 8 2,730 1,481 2,542 1,365
Power use 25 watts 7 watts 13 watts 15 watts

This story, "Review: 4 mini-PCs give you full power in a very small package" was originally published by Computerworld.

Related:
1 2 3 Page 3
Page 3 of 3
ITWorld DealPost: The best in tech deals and discounts.
  
Shop Tech Products at Amazon