Mini-PCs: An Affordable Portable Solution to High-Performance Computing

Mini-PCs have been around for a number of years and have recently evolved into compact powerhouses. One of the perks of their small weight (around 5 lbs) and size is mobility. This is often overlooked because mini-PCs are powered by an outlet, rather than a battery. Nevertheless, when it comes to high-performance computing (computationally demanding data processing, such as data engineering), that’s something you almost always do when stationary, usually in front of a decently sized screen. But when you have to go somewhere and need take all your work with you so that you can do some additions or edits, a flash drive won’t be enough. You need to carry not just your files but also your applications and the computing power that is required to run them smoothly. Mini-PCs make that possible due to their compact size.

This brings us to another important point: mini-PCs don’t require that much in order to function. In today’s world, plasma and LED TVs are everywhere, while every office has a few spare PC monitors most of the time, so you don’t have to carry your own screen with you. This makes having a laptop not a real plus. Besides, for graphically intensive work, a laptop screen is oftentimes not big enough to be useful. Apart from the screen which could easily be made available, a machine needs just a couple of peripherals to be fully functional, namely a keyboard, a mouse, and in the case where a wired web connection is not available, a wi-fi adapter as well. All these items could easily be packed in a suitcase or fit in a small bag, along with the mini-PC itself, plus they are not costly either. Of course you’ll also have to have an HDMI cable as well, but this too doesn’t take much space while you could get one for less than $10.

As for the option of having a high-performance laptop, it doesn’t require that much research to see that the price difference leaves no doubt: mini-PCs are significantly more inexpensive. Some laptops may be powerful enough to compare to mini-PCs’ performance, but they fetch a higher price. On top of that, they are easy to get stolen or damaged, making them a bigger liability.

So, if you are a data scientist, an application developer, or a professional videographer, with traveling as an important component of your work routine, you have a lot to gain from a mini-PC. Imagine visiting a client to show them your deliverables only to find out that there is still something more that you have to do for your project to be complete. With a mini-PC at your disposal, you can do your final touches easily when you get back to your hotel room. All that with the peace of mind that you are not carrying a super-expensive machine that may appear like a problem waiting to happen.

By Zacharias Voulgaris