Mini PCs at Computex 2015: Computing in your pocket
As processors and SoCs become ever more compact and powerful, it’s become possible to cram a computer into a dizzying array of form factors. Intel’s Next Unit of Computing (NUC) and Compute Stick are just some examples of the myriad possibilities out there.
Plenty other manufacturers are looking to enter the market of mini PCs and get a slice of the mobile computing pie. We take a look at a few mini PCs unveiled at Computex 2015.
The ASRock Beebox features Intel’s latest Braswell SoCs. This is actually a dual-core Intel Celeron N3000 processor with a base frequency of 1.04GHz and burst frequency of 2.08GHz.
The Beebox is capable of rich multimedia functions like 4K ultra-high definition video playback and HEVC decoding. Thanks to the low thermal design power (TDP) of 4 watts, the N3000 doesn’t require any active cooling, so ASRock has been able to go with a fanless design for super quiet operation.
In addition, the device has a fairly rich selection of ports. The back of the device is adorned with two HDMI ports, one DisplayPort output, two USB 3.0 ports, and one Gigabit Ethernet port. Round the front, there is a headphone jack, an additional USB 3.0 ports, and a USB 3.0 Type-C connector for support for the next-generation of storage connectors.
ASRock is releasing the Beebox in three different configurations – a barebones kit, a full system without OS, and a full system with OS pre-installed. Users will also be able to choose from black, gold, or white models.
ASUS also refreshed its line-up of mini PCs with three new VivoPCs and one Chromebox.
At the top of the line-up is the VivoPC VC65, ASUS’ mini PC flagship. And here’s the interesting part, the VC65 is powered by Intel’s sixth-generation Core i Skylake processors, making it among the first to use the as yet unreleased chips.
The VivoPC VC65 offers fairly flexible storage options for such a compact PC – it can accommodate up to either two storage drives (both HDDs and SSDs). Furthermore, it supports RAID, allowing it to be used as either a mini-server or NAS device. What’s more, it even comes with an optical disc drive and supports VESA mounting options.
The ASUS VivoMini UN65H and UN45 will feature Intel Core processors and Intel Iris Pro graphics. ASUS didn’t elaborate on which generation of processors they will incorporate, but it’s safe to assume it isn’t Skylake.
Both mini PCs will support M.2 SSDs and 2.5-inch hard drives so you’ll have the option to either go for a speedy drive or larger capacity storage. They will both also support the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard.
Chrome OS has made its way into a mini PC as well with the ASUS Chromebox CN62. It is powered by the latest fifth-generation Intel processors and supports VESA mounting options, which means it can be mounted on the back of your monitor or TV to easily turn it into a Chromebook. Users can choose between an Intel Core i7-5500U, Core i3-5010U, or a Celeron 3205U processor, allowing them to choose the level of processing power they think they will need.
It boots up instantly and allows users to run web apps and watch videos in resolutions up to 4K. It's also designed to be extremely quiet and power-efficient, drawing less power than an LED bulb when idle.