Futuristic mini PC is like a spaceship ready to take gaming to new heights

Is there a reason why desktops and even mini PCs mostly come in flat boxes? Electronics are still rigid objects, and they have to adhere to flat or similarly boxy designs with today’s engineering limitations. As such, a tower or a box is the most space-efficient container for these pieces that work together to provide all your computing needs. But what if space was less important than aesthetics, especially with today’s more compact hardware? That’s the kind of revolutionary mindset that this mini PC is trying to present with a chassis that is almost literally out of this world, looking more like a spaceship that’s ready to take off and elevate your gaming, and it does so literally as well.

Designer: ACEMAGIC

Mini PCs are no longer that alien to people’s ears, especially thanks to the popularity of the non-PC Mac mini and Mac studio. These computers emphasize compact designs that save you some desk space while still cramming as much power in a tiny boxy. That doesn’t have to be the only design available, however, especially with how small some computer components have become. After all, the latest breed of handheld gaming PCs are technically portable mini PCs, though with even bigger constraints when it comes to performance.

The ACEMAGIC M2A is a mini PC that throws design conventions out the door. Technically, its hardware can all fit in what would be a slim and minimalist rectangular box, but that would be boring and completely unoriginal. Instead, the company aimed to make its product stand out, almost literally, but making it look like a spacecraft similar to those you’d see on sci-fi flicks and shows. Specifically, the main body itself tapers slightly to the side and then splits upward and downward into fins. The style is largely polygonal, which matches the sci-fi theme, with LED accents in front and on the tip of the wings for added flavor.

The design admittedly takes up more vertical space on your desk, and it won’t be something you can conveniently place underneath your monitor (unless that monitor is set up on an ergonomic stand or arm). It is, after all, designed more to have some visual impact rather than space savings, but it does have one practical benefit, whether intentional or not. The bottom fins act as legs that lift the mini PC up, allowing for better airflow into the bottom-mounted fans.

Internally, the ACEMAGIC M2A tries to be a compact gaming PC, and it seems to meet that description, depending on your needs. It practically uses hardware from 2022, so it might not be up to snuff when it comes to more demanding AAA titles today. There are definitely more powerful mini gaming PCs in the market today, ones with the latest CPUs and GPUs, which makes you wonder if this spaceship-like computer’s high price tag is really worth that distinctive design.

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Phone-sized mini PC lets you take your computer and your work anywhere

Our smartphones have become so powerful that, in theory, they have hardware equivalent to entry-level laptops from a few years back. But despite all that silicon muscle, they can’t really replace our everyday PCs mostly because of the operating system that’s used on most of these computers: Windows. Small, portable, and inconspicuous computers have always been a dream for both users and business owners, whether it’s for working on the go or setting up kiosks, security systems, or space-efficient workstations. This small brick tries to deliver exactly that, giving you the flexibility you need for any kind of computing in almost any context in a size that’s no larger than high-capacity power banks.

Designer: Minisforum

With the popularity of the Apple Mac Mini and, now, the Mac Studio, mini PCs have become more visible in the market. These desktop alternatives, however, are still meant to sit on a table or even on a shelf despite their small sizes. But while these small computers do offer plenty of power to support even some content creation or light gaming, that hardware also closes the door on many possible use cases that would have required them to be less tied down to a table.

The Minisforum S100 is a small, sleek box that you might easily mistake for a power bank. Ironically, it doesn’t actually have its own battery but is a mini PC that you can bring along with you or install in the narrowest of spaces. Despite its small size, it actually boasts a complete set of standard connectivity options, including Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 6.2, 2.5 Gbps Ethernet, USB-A ports, HDMI, and 65W USB-C.

The latter two are what make this design so portable and flexible. On a typical desktop, you can connect it to a USB-C monitor that supports USB-C PowerDelivery so that you don’t even have to plug the S100 into an outlet. You can connect another monitor via HDMI to have a dual-screen setup for increased productivity. And when you’re done for the day, you can pick up the palm-sized mini PC and go, maybe even work or chill in a cafe by connecting an external display and a power bank. The Ethernet port also supports Power-over-Ethernet or PoE, so you can use the S100 as the brains behind a camera security system and not have it plugged in at all.

Despite the flexibility that the Minisforum S100 offers, its performance is hampered a bit by the quad-core Intel N100 processor that runs the show, definitely not the best among the chip maker’s “mobile” processors. Its lower-power operation, however, does allow the mini PC to sip rather than chug electricity and keep thermals equally low. You definitely won’t be running heavy applications, but for $189, a Windows 11 computer you can easily slip into your bag or even your pocket might actually be worth the price.

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ASUS ROG NUC mini PC offers a small gaming box with a big catch

Handheld gaming PCs might be the buzzword in the industry, but they’re not the only small-form gaming-oriented computers around. In fact, it’s probably thanks to the relative success of the likes of the Steam Deck, Lenovo Legion GO, and ASUS ROG Ally that the formula for compact gaming computers has been tested and proven. It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that gaming desktops in mini PC form would be popping up more frequently, like this latest entry from ASUS’ ROG brand that carries in its compact body some pretty big specs, a big legacy, and, unfortunately, an equally big price tag.

Designer: ASUS ROG

Gamers, especially those on the PC side of the fence, might already be familiar with the Republic of Gamers brand, but “NUC” might sound alien to them. The name, which stands for “Next Unit of Computing,” actually came from Intel and was used for the chipmaker’s line of mini PCs. After a decade of existence, Intel decided the product line really bore no fruit, definitely not in terms of profit, and decided to shutter the hardware and license the name to ASUS. Thus, the ASUS ROG NUC is pretty much the merger of two DNAs, one from Intel’s somewhat proof-of-concept mini PCs and the other from ASUS’s gaming house.

Unlike Intel’s NUCs, which were pretty much barebone general-purpose budget computers in a small box, the ROG NUC has the beating heart of a gaming laptop, just crammed in a small box that’s just around two inches thick. That includes an Intel Core Ultra processor, the kind that boasts upgraded AI chops, and an integrated NVIDIA RTX 4060 or 4070, depending on the configuration. There are plenty of ports for connection, as well as options for expanded storage that you can easily access thanks to its tool-less chassis.

While those might sound like juicy features for a gaming mini PC, the starting price of $1,629 makes it look less palatable, or $2,199 for the next step up in specs. For that price, you can already get a respectable gaming laptop with nearly the same or even better specs, and you won’t need to hook it up to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. And unlike a desktop PC, you can’t upgrade anything other than memory and storage, so performance is pretty much a fixed value.

These raise the question of who the ASUS ROG NUC will be for, and the answer is quite a niche market. It will be for PC gamers who don’t exactly need mobility but do have limited desk space for a tower. It might even be for users who already have a more powerful gaming desktop and just need a secondary computer for their office. Either way, these scenarios make that high price tag even less appealing unless ASUS holds a sale immediately after launching the product.

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AYANEO’s Mini Gaming Console borrows NES persona to satisfy Retro-geeks

The AYANEO Mini PC AM01 boasting the nostalgic Mac design got the tech pundits excited and for good measure. With the looks of the classic Mac and the innards of a Windows 11 PC, the cool little desk accessory is a gaming console at large for gamers who love retro flavors.

When we first got you acquainted with this little bundle of joy, there were already talks of the Retro Mini PC AM02 which emulates the design of the classic NES. A mini PC at heart, this one too balances out the retro and contemporary design scheme to perfection. Obviously, Nintendo fans will fancy this one over the AM01, but other users will also be drawn by its 4-inch touchscreen, considering most of the rivals don’t offer this luxury.

Designer: AYANEO

This mini gaming console blends unique design aesthetics with high-performance hardware without any compromise in the compact form factor. Keep it on your desk or mount it on a wall or anything in the vicinity, the mini gaming console weighing just 538g is equally impressive. The recreated front cover tactfully hides all the input/output ports for a clean look which is another resounding plus. This cover can be click opened with a red button opposite the power button, adding to the cool trickery.

The on-board AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS APU, DDR5 RAM (16/32 GB) and 512GB/1TB SSD on the AM02 are well-equipped for PC gaming or tasks like video editing or music composition. To keep the internal temperature down, the mini gaming console has a potent four-copper pipe heat dissipation structure, aided by the 45W large-size turbine fan. Coming onto the screen it displays vital statistics for nerds including CPU data, current FPS, temperature and fan speed. For normal users, a left swipe on the screen toggles the view to the current date and time. One more swipe displays the virtual volume control and the option to toggle the display on or off.

For gamers, the company has an in-built launcher or you can use your own preferred launcher like the Launchbox/BigBox to run Steam or Epic titles, but that option requires a bit of working around. The AYANEO Mini PC AM01 will set you back anywhere between $440 – $630 depending on the chosen configuration. For that starting price you can get yourself a PS5, so the mini gaming console is at a more premium spectrum of the market choices.

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Azulle Access PC Stick & Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 Plus Bundle Fills the Gap Between TV-Sets and Computers

Azulle Quantum Access PC Stick 04

Smart TVs running Android or proprietary operating systems may be great for entertainment, but they’re still very far in terms of versatility and productivity from fully fledged computers. Azulle Access PC Stick solves that by running Windows 8.1 on a very capable hardware configuration, all in a package that fits in your pocket.

In the past few years the world has seen hardware manufacturers struggling to miniaturize everything. As a matter of fact, the idea of using a Windows PC that’s slightly larger than an USB flash drive was inconceivable a decade ago. Now, the market is flooded with such sticks, and while most of them are running Google’s Android OS, it is Windows 10 and PC sticks such as Azulle’s Quantum Access & Logitech® Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 Plus bundle that offer a complete experience.

Measuring 4.33 x 1.53 x 0.47 inches (or 11 x 3.88 x 1.2 cm), Azulle’s Access PC Stick fits very comfortably in the palm of your hand. More important than its dimensions, however, are the technical specs, and this mini PC certainly doesn’t disappoint in that department.

Quantum Access is powered by an Intel Atom Z3735F quad-core CPU clocked at 1.33 Ghz, along with 2GB of DDR3L RAM and 32GB of storage, which can be expanded further by adding a microSD card. On the software side of things, the stick runs a full version of Windows 10, which as we all know.

The Access PC Stick relies on an HDMI connector to turn your telly not only in a smart TV, but even in a fully fledged computer. Besides that, it includes a full USB 2.0 port and a micro USB one for OTG connectivity. As far as wireless connectivity is concerned, the Quantum Access sports not only Bluetooth 4.0, but also Wi-Fi b/g/n. Using the former, or the wired USB connection, the PC stick enables you to use both wired and wireless USB mice and keyboards.

Azulle took that into consideration, and bundled a Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 Plus with the HDMI stick, so you don’t have to go shopping for peripherals after buying the mini PC. From experience, I can attest that using a TV box or HDMI stick just with the provided remote control is very frustrating and takes a lot of time, so a wireless keyboard that includes a touchpad could work wonders, especially since this one has a 33 feet range.

The Quantum Access PC Stick & Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 Plus is a perfect example of synergy, a whole that’s greater than the simple sum of its parts, not to mention that by getting them together, you can also save some money. The Windows UI is a lot easier to navigate using a fully fledged keyboard such as the Logitech K400 Plus, while the keyboard and touchpad combo is a lot more convenient than having separate peripherals. It doesn’t really matter if you’re running home theater software such as Kodi or office suites, the Logitech K400 Plus keyboard will save you a lot of time. On top of that, if you’re used with touch typing on regular, desktop keyboards, then you should have no problem using the Logitech K400 Plus. The slim, compact design, along with the wireless operation, and a battery life of up to 18 months make this keyboard the perfect companion for Azulle’s Quantum Access PC stick. Your media interactions are enhanced with comfortable keys, easy-access volume controls, and an arrow-key layout that simplifies navigation. A second left-click button permits two-hand navigation and selection. Shortcuts simplify control. Hot keys work right from the box—no configuration is required. Enjoy your navigation on your PC stick connected to the TV the way you like it – from the comfort of your couch

Despite its small dimensions, Quantum Access proves to be a very versatile PC for the entire family. It could be used by kids in the living room for playing games or doing their homework, or by grown-ups in the bedroom for streaming music and surfing the Web. Needless to say, Quantum Access could provide endless nights of watching movies for all of them. But all of these can also be achieved with an Android stick, so what does Azulle’s product bring to the table? The answer is quite simple: the versatility of Microsoft’s operating system. Windows 8.1 can be used for Office apps that are far superior to the ones available on Android. On top of that, multitasking is at home with this OS. With the right software, Quantum Access is a productivity beast, at the office and at home.

Azulle sells the Quantum Access PC stick and Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 Plus bundle on Amazon for $159.99, which is more than decent, considering the potential of this mini computer. Separately, the Access HDMI stick is $129.99, and the Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 Plus costs $39.99, so if you’re interested in revolutionized entertainment and increased productivity, getting the bundle is definitely the way to go. Discover the Azulle Quantum Access PC stick and Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 Plus bundle here

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Acer Revo Build Modular Mini PC: Revo Stacko

Last year, Razer unveiled Project Christine, its concept for a user-friendly PC that has USB-style plug-and-play modules. Now Acer has unveiled the Revo Build M1-601, a more modest take on a modular PC.

acer_revo_build_mini_pc_1zoom in

The Revo Build works a lot like Lenovo’s ThinkPad Stack peripherals, except this one has a mini PC as a base unit. When it launches, the mini PC will be accompanied by the following optional modules: a mobile device wireless charger/power bank, a headphone amplifier, an external hard drive and an external graphics unit. That last one’s very intriguing right?

acer_revo_build_mini_pc_2zoom in

The modules connect to the PC and each other via magnetically-aligned pogo pins, but most of them also have standard USB connections for compatibility with other computers. The base unit’s RAM is upgradeable but I’m not sure about the CPU, which Acer says will only be from Intel’s Pentium or Celeron line. Here’s Acer’s presentation about the Revo Build at the 2015 IFA, courtesy of Windows Central:

Acer says the Revo Build will be available in China and certain parts of Europe, the Middle East and Africa by the end of this year, with the base unit costing around $220 (USD).

[via Acer & Microsoft via Uncrate]

Ainol Mini PC Also Works as a Power Bank

Ainol Mini PC Windows 8.1 01

Intel and Lenovo’s computers-on-a-stick look great and work as expected, but none of them features the added functionality of Ainol’s Mini PC.

Chinese tablet and PMP manufacturer Ainol (which, as Linus Sebastian pointed out in an unboxing video from 2010, doesn’t have the most fortunate of names), took advantage of Intel’s Bay Tray CPU and launched its own portable PC.

Despite its 7000mAh battery, which enables the Mini PC to function without an external power source, and helps the device double as a power bank, Ainol’s portable computer weighs only 335g (some sources claim 485g, though) and measures 146x115x14mm, which means it fits without any problems in the back pocket of your jeans.

As far as technical specs go, Ainol’s Mini PC is powered by a 64-bit Z3735F quad-core CPU clocked running at up to 1.8Ghz, along with a 7th-gen Intel HD GPU. For memory, the device packs 2GB of DDR3 RAM and 32GB of ROM, which can be furthermore expanded via microSD cards of up to 64GB.

As mentioned before, the Mini PC can work without an external power source, and the 7000mAh battery provides enough juice for 10 hours of work or 40 hours of stand-by. Besides that, the battery is capable of fully charging an iPhone 6 twice.

In terms of connectivity, it features Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0, along with USB 2.0 ports and mini HDMI. If you need an Ethernet connection, you should get an Ethernet to USB adapter and plug it in. Other than that, the wired and wireless options that were already provided by the manufacturer should suffice.

Not at last, this portable computer comes with Windows 8.1. I assume that the Bing version was included, and the fact that it has a license is great. Considering the specs, this would make a decent computer not only for multimedia playback, but also for light office work. After all, Windows 8.1 with Bing is not as hungry for resources as its fully-fledged version.

Back in February, when it first went on sale, the Ainol Mini PC had a price tag of $160, with some stores taking pre-orders for it for $128. Since then, the competition between brands and resellers has become even tougher, and now GearBest is able to sell it for $97.87, which is a fair price, considering the decent specs and the power bank functionality.

Be social! Follow Walyou on Facebook and Twitter, and read more related stories about the MeeGoPad T02 computer on a stick, or Beelink i One TV Box.

The Android Mini PC RK3066 is the MK802’s younger, smarter, cheaper brother, we go hands on

The RK3066 Android 41 mini PC is the MK802's younger, smarter, cheaper brother, we go hands on

When the MK802 Android mini PC landed in our laps, it caused more than a ripple of interest. Since then, a swathe of "pendroids" have found their way to market, and the initial waves have died down. While we were at CES, however, we bumped into the man behind the MK802, and he happened to have a new, updated iteration of the Android mini PC. Best of all, he was kind enough to give us one to spend some time with. The specifications speak for themselves, and this time around we're looking at a dual-core 1.6GHz Cortex A9, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of built-in flash (and a microSD slot), WiFi in b/g/n flavors, DLNA support and Bluetooth, all running on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. There's also a micro-USB, full-size USB, female HDMI port and 3.5mm audio out.

For anyone who has used one of these types of devices, the two standout features mentioned above should be the audio jack, and the addition of Bluetooth. Why? Because this expands the potential functionality of the device manyfold. Beforehand, the lack of Bluetooth made adding peripherals -- such as a mouse of keyboard -- either difficult, or impractical. However, with Bluetooth, setting up this device to be somewhat useful just got a lot easier. Likewise, with the dedicated audio out, now you can work with sound when the display you are connecting it to (a monitor for example) doesn't have speakers. Read on after the break to hear more of our impressions.

Continue reading The Android Mini PC RK3066 is the MK802's younger, smarter, cheaper brother, we go hands on

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Zotac refreshes ZBOX range with Ivy Bridge, dual WiFi antennas, improved cooling

Zotac refreshes ZBOX lineup with Ivy Bridge, dual WiFi antennas, improved cooling

Despite the fact that Zotac's model number sequence appears to run backwards, the company's latest mini-PCs on show at CES appear to contain healthy upgrades relative to the ZBOX ID84 we saw in August. According to a brief report at Hot Hardware, the new range -- including the ID42 and ID83 -- will bring additions like dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, dual WiFi antennas for better reception and, most importantly, a cooling system that allows for more powerful processors up to a dual-core 1.1GHz Celeron or even a Core i3-3120M. Different configurations will come with either HD4000 integrated graphics or NVIDIA's GeForce 620, and can be purchased as barebones units or with RAM and HDD preinstalled. As for pricing and availability, we'll just have to wait and see --although early retailer listings suggest the Ivy Bridge ID83 could cost around £320 ($520).

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Source: Hot Hardware, Xtrasoft