Tell us what you think about mini-PCs


#1

So far we have already received over a thousand in-depth replies to our crowd development survey. Thank you all for your brilliant responses! We can’t wait to share the results with you, but in the meantime, we would like to ask additional questions about some of the product categories to better understand what makes them special to you.

We’ll be tackling these in a random order, so don’t be too disheartened if your category isn’t picked first: more of these topics will be popping up over time. The next product we want to know about: mini-PCs.

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THE ULTIMATE MINI-PC

We want to better understand what your vision is of the perfect mini-PC, and what can we do to make it a reality. We haven’t forgotten about the in-depth ideas that have already been shared in our What’s Next? category, but here are some high-level topics to get a fresh discussion going. Product categories selected for development will be discussed in substantially more depth!

So here are our questions for fans of good mini-PCs:

  • Describe yourself as a user. What do you use your mini-PC for?
  • What mini-PC are you using now? What made you choose this one?
  • If you were to buy a new mini-PC today, which one would you choose and why?
  • What do you think are the common shortcomings for mini-PCs currently on the market, and is there a unique value or innovation that Eve & the community could bring?

Please let us know your thoughts!


#2
  1. Describe yourself as a user. What do you use your mini-PC for
    

As a server with mutliple apps (VPN, webserver, DNS, media server, ad hole, emulators, etc).

  1. What mini-PC are you using now? What made you choose this one?
    

Raspberry Pi. Because it’s really very cheap, super efficient, very well maintained, full of apps.

  1. If you were to buy a new mini-PC today, which one would you choose and why?
    

Another Raspberry Pi when a bit more ram will be available, so a full live 1080p transcoding with Plex will be functional. It’s the only thing missing so far.

  1. What do you think are the common shortcomings for mini-PCs currently on the market, and is there a unique value or innovation that Eve & the community could bring?
    

Because Raspberry does the job perfectly well, so I don’t think Eve could bring anything. Eve should avoid this market.


#3

I would love a mini-PC like a NUC or something similar to it. I am a gamer who do some coding but I live in a small apartment in Shenzhen. Don’t have a lot of space for a large computer. Want something more powerful than my V that could remain stationary.

Don’t have one

Would use it for gaming, emulation, personal media server and work.


#4

Something like this


#5

I wouldn’t use a mini-PC, unless it’s a competitor to Arduino/Raspberry PI, but I don’t believe that Eve should try that.

Would be much more interested in an Eve android box, a competitor to the NVIDIA Shield for example. That thing is still running hardware from 2015 and still is the best android box.

I’d guess it’s similar to an mini-pc but with more optimized UI for tv.


#6

Agreed. Android TV is the way to go now it’s better than Apple TV. Only 2 devices available lately, and both present weaknesses : Mi box 3 and Nvidia Shield. I think there is definitely space on that market.


#7
  • Describe yourself as a user. What do you use your mini-PC for?

A Mini-PC is something I plan to buy late this year. I would use it as a desktop-replacement, to do everything from development to gaming, in a configuration with 2x4k monitors.

  • What mini-PC are you using now? What made you choose this one?

I don’t have one yet. I planned to buy one.

  • If you were to buy a new mini-PC today, which one would you choose and why?

I’m planning to buy an Intel Hades Canyon, due to its powerful graphics card and support for both multi-monitor configuration and Thunderbolt 3.

  • What do you think are the common shortcomings for mini-PCs currently on the market, and is there a unique value or innovation that Eve & the community could bring?

Almost all Mini-PCs sacrifice something. Some have crappy graphics. Most don’t have thunderbolt. Some lack processor power. Most lack expandability (needed by space constraints).

The innovation would be a Mini-PC that solves all these issues.
A powerful graphics card would enable gaming.
Support for more than one Thunderbolt 3 (ideally, 4xTB3) would allow endless expandability.
A 35W processor would provide good performance, with beefier processors even better.
The ability to replace the video card or at least the processor (+ RAM and SSD) would make it a product designed to age well.

Also, using something like the instead of Thermal Paste would make it an extremely durable product

Vesa mounting would be a must.


#8

What do you think are the common shortcomings for mini-PCs currently on the market, and is there a unique value or innovation that Eve & the community could bring?

for me personally a good technical combination of a mini-pc with a monitor (a two-part AIO) would be a great compromise and smth. I haven’t seen before…


What's Next? Survey results are in!
#9

Casual gamer, a student who needs multitasking in homework.
I wish to get something like Zotac mek mini… nice looking small Pc with powerful stuff. I don’t need to care about upgrade in 4/5 years.

Should it be categorized into gaming pc thou?


#10

Describe yourself as a user. What do you use your mini-PC for?

I use it for gaming, coding, 3D CAD, photo/video editing, as well as basic stuff (browsing, office). I sometimes brings it to friends’ house to either play games or do an assignment when I was at the university.

What mini-PC are you using now? What made you choose this one?

It’s a custom built inside a Silverstone RVZ01 PC case, at around 14L in size (similar to XBOX One)

I choose it because I could use regular PC components, except for the motherboard.

If you were to buy a new mini-PC today, which one would you choose and why?

Something similar, but inside a smaller case like the DAN A4 SFX

What do you think are the common shortcomings for mini-PCs currently on the market, and is there a unique value or innovation that Eve & the community could bring?

In the PC cases market here are the issues:

  • Cable management is difficult
  • You need to carry the WiFi antennas and dongles separately
  • Building in general is also more difficult than on a regular PC

The way to solve it is to have internal wiring. So there should be one, say, ATX-24-pin plug near the PSU bay, and then a short cable pops out near the motherboard area.

Then it should have internal WiFi antenna, like what you have in laptops, and an internal USB 2.0 ports for dongles. This is rather tricky due to EMI. The WiFi antenna and USB 2.0 ports needs to be outside of the metal cage.


#11

So far the only idea I’d be interested in


#12

Would love a modular design mini PC like the HP Elite Slice 2.0.

Start with the base unit with a Intel U CPU model and a top end Intel H CPU version. (Like the Partaker i7-8750H Mini PC) Include 2 x USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Then allow people to add/bolt on modular items. For example, discrete graphics unit GeForce RTX , NAS unit, Audio unit with video conferencing features, docking station unit, etc.


#13

At the moment I don’t use my mini-PC at all.

I used to use a Raspberry Pi as a printserver for my non-LAN-printer.
Printer crashed = new printer with network support.
I think I will setup my Pi as a media PC on the back of my TV in my bedroom.

Non because there I don’t know any that fulfills my usecase (see below)
Edit: Maybe shadow-ghost does https://shadow.tech/dede/discover/shadow-ghost

At the moment I feel like these mini-PCs are more for enthusiast techies than for consumers.

Here is my usecase:
I’d like to have a small PC running Windows (maybe on ARM) that I can take with me and use it e.g. in a hotel room when I’m on a business trip.

What would I do with such a device:

  1. Surf the Web
  2. Stream Videos (YouTube, Netflix, Amazone Prime, …)
  3. Play games

What would be the needs for such a device.

  1. Be very very small (just as big as needed for connectivity)
  2. Have a variety of by air connectivity (Wifi, Bluetooth, LTE, …)
  3. Have a variety of connectors (USB-A, USB-C, HDMI, DisplayPort, …)

What is not needed.

  1. Big and expensive screen (maybe no screen at all)
  2. CPU with high potential
  3. Keyboard

How to achive gaming and havy load programs with small CPU?

Why not use a V for this.

  1. Not everyone owns a V
  2. The form factor for this use case does not have to be as “big” as a V.

#14

-Describe yourself as a user. What do you use your mini-PC for?
I don’t really use a mini PC but I’m working on getting a home server setup to run Own Cloud, Plex Server, video surveillance and home automation.

-What mini-PC are you using now? What made you choose this one?
I’m not really using them yet but I just got an Nvidia Shield and a Lenovo M700 tiny. I’m still waiting on a Daplie setup from the IGG campaign. :man_facepalming: I had a chance to pick up a Shield for free and it looked like the best way to have a small footprint emulator and Android TV box. M700 is a trade from work for some of my own gear that I wasn’t using anymore. I’m going to make my it my home server using an external RAID enclosure for storage. Low power consumption and small footprint were factors in choosing all three. Price was right on the Shield and M700 and Daplie looked like a way to achieve better privacy.

-If you were to buy a new mini-PC today, which one would you choose and why?
I’d build something custom to get the most control possible over what I’m using and how I can upgrade it later or I would just get a NUC. I’m not very familiar with what’s out there and those 2 routes are known to me.

-What do you think are the common shortcomings for mini-PCs currently on the market, and is there a unique value or innovation that Eve & the community could bring?
Lack of upgradability and versatility. Eve could bring Modularity. I won’t bother going into details. We’ve beat this subject up in several threads and I just want to see the designs @Attiq has come up with get brought to life.


#15

For me the mini PC is multimedia machine connected to TV set…
It should allow good media capabilities mainly. It has to be small and it has to be upgradeable so some esteem. Change the storage, change the memory little things!
Good media machine needs high quality audio and video output.
In these days it means 4k HDR (dolby vision and HDR10+) and lossless audio output.


#16
  • Describe yourself as a user. What do you use your mini-PC for?

There are two use cases that I would use a mini-PC.

#1 As a developer for learning technologies (Docker, Ansible, K8S, Go)
#2 As an user for web browsing, photos management, etc.

  • What mini-PC are you using now? What made you choose this one?

For #1, I am now using a 3 years-old Intel NUC (some Intel Compute Stick) and a bunch of Raspberry Pi. The NUC is more for the server side application and Pi for the sensor and camera module related application.

For server side application, I would prefer a X86 architecture, it needs to be small (due to space constraint as apartment in Hong Kong is small) and quiet (I need to put my gear in the living room). The Intel NUC is fulfilling quite OK in this regards. Besides, it is comparatively cheaper than https://antsle.com

And I prefer RaspberryPi over other embedded platform (such as Arduino) because of the material available and the personal love of the project.

For #2, I use a Mac mini. I choose the Mac mini because I feel more comfortable in using OS X as a desktop and the environment is friendly enough for my family members, too.

  • If you were to buy a new mini-PC today, which one would you choose and why?

I would still buy the NUC and Mac mini. They are the device in the market that could satisfy my needs.

  • What do you think are the common shortcomings for mini-PCs currently on the market, and is there a unique value or innovation that Eve & the community could bring?

The expandability limitation and for my use case as a user, the graphics card is something I would hope to be better equipped. One consideration is to expand through the TB3 enclosure with eGPU but the cost and space would add up.

The mini PC market is quite diversified, things like a Pi / Android Box as media player, to small desktop replacement (such as NUC) and also an in-between of mini and desktop computer (such as the Shuttle XPC). I would be interested in all use cases and there are two areas that I would like to see improvement - the GUI and expandability.

BTW, one last example to share is the http://www.miipc.com. It was a project that I back on Kickstarter back then. I like the idea of family sharing and parental control.


#17

I was looking at your post now.

What you have is better defined as an SFF (Small Form Factor) than a Mini-PC. Even the DAN A4 SFX is still in the SFF category.
The smallest SFF I found is the Skyreach S4 Mini which really pushes the limit of SFF but is still far from a Mini-PC.

To get in the Mini-PC category you would have to stay well below the 4L threshold… which is what makes things really difficult.


#18

I have had great experience so far with intel nuc series. Something like that would be interesting with a powerful enough cpu to not bottleneck external gpus.


closed #19

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