How to choose a nettop?


Today, the power of the device is almost independent of its size, so, like laptops, PCs also tend to decrease. For office or home work today, a small nettop or mini computer is often enough. Such computers are an excellent alternative to large system units. Firstly, they significantly save space, and secondly, modern devices do not have a lack of power. We will tell you about what nettops are, what they are, how to choose the perfect nettop and what features you should pay attention to.

Enclosure or assembly

To begin with, it is worth considering the fact that most nettops come in one of two forms — either a case or a finished assembly. The case includes the motherboard and processor, all other elements, such as a hard drive and RAM, you will have to buy separately. Also, you can use existing elements, and if you are pursuing this goal, and you know how to assemble a computer, it is better to choose a case option. It will cost less than the assembled mini-PC.

However, if you are looking for a ready-made device that you can immediately start using, then your option is an assembled mini-computer that is immediately equipped with a processor, motherboard, RAM, and built-in memory. Often, they also include a pre-installed operating system. This option is ideal for all those who want to start over and get a fresh device, ready to work right out of the box.

What unites both options is the Wi-Fi module, Bluetooth and USB. All this is available on both versions of nettops.

Device package

When buying a nettop, in contrast to the complex purchase of the entire computer, you get only the case with the necessary stuffing. Everything else must be purchased separately. This applies to the keyboard, mouse, monitor and, of course, speakers. This is the minimum you will have to consider when planning your budget, but there are no restrictions on which list of devices you decide to connect. Be it joysticks, separate boards, special keyboard panels, etc.

Be sure to take into account one significant point: due to the size, mini-PCs imply a mini-HDMI port for the monitor. That is, you will have to check that the monitor has the necessary input and an HDMI to mini-HDMI or VGA to mini-HDMI adapter. Sometimes an adapter is included, but this is rare, so more often it has to be purchased separately.

If you’re buying a mini PC and a new monitor specifically for it, you might want to consider monitors with a special rear mount designed directly to secure the nettop case to the monitor. This is very convenient and significantly saves space on the table or in the room.

Keyboards and mice should also be chosen with certain details in mind. First, the new modern nettops are completely incompatible with outdated PS / 2 ports. That is, you will need peripherals either with USB connectors or with a Bluetooth connection. In this case, Bluetooth turns out to be much more efficient, since the number of USB ports on the case is limited, and it is absolutely not worth occupying them once again.

Possibility of modifications and upgrades

One big difference between large desktops and mini PCs is that the latter has far fewer upgrade options. The size in this case affects the number of slots for various parts and elements, and even if you unscrew the nettop case, you will immediately notice that everything inside is very compact and there is practically no free space. In other words, it is better to purchase a mini-PC immediately, taking into account several years of use without the possibility of changing anything. This is not to say that there is no such possibility in principle, you can always find the right part, but be sure to note that, as in the case of a laptop, this will instantly void the warranty.

The most effective in this regard is to buy a case with a processor and motherboard. If something doesn’t suit you, or it’s time to upgrade, just pull out the memory and replace the case. The old one can be sold.

RAM in nettops

Another important difference between a nettop and a desktop PC is RAM. Mini PCs use the same memory cards that you use in a laptop, not the ones that plug into a regular PC motherboard. The unpleasant moment is that such boards are somewhat more expensive than usual ones, but not significantly.

Before buying, you need to check how many DIMM slots your nettop has. In most cases, there are two, meaning you can add 8GB, 16GB, etc. cards. But there are also models that support only one memory slot. Of course, no one wants to be in a situation where there is a fee, but there is no place for it. Therefore, think about all this in advance.

The other side of the problem is that many of us buy too much RAM. So it is important to know exactly what parameters you want to receive from the device. All this is recommended to calculate in advance so as to choose the correct and suitable configuration for you. In most cases, 16GB of RAM is enough.

Hard drive — SSD or HDD

Mini PCs usually support one of two types of hard drives: M.2 or 2.5 inches. The first option is flash memory, that is, it will be necessary to take into account the cost and size of such disks. At the same time, M.2 is also different from mSATA or standard SSDs. The discs themselves are slightly longer and narrower, and in terms of speed they are faster than their predecessor. 250GB is usually enough for work tasks.

In the second case, with the 2.5 inch type, you get versatility: you can use both SSD and HDD. It is very important to know what exactly you are purchasing and which disc you want to use. An SSD will be faster than an HDD, but an HDD will most often allow for more storage. Therefore, if data processing speed is fundamentally important to you, then choose flash memory, and if the volume that allows you to store a lot of data is more significant, then your option is HDD. Note also that some information can be stored on external hard drives, so it is not necessary to keep everything in the nettop’s case.

Computer Processor — Intel or AMD

An almost eternal question for all PCs, and it concerns the element that is not so easy to replace — the processor. The two most popular manufacturers right now are Intel and AMD. There was a time when AMD was significantly inferior to Intel in quality, but now this is not at all the case. Of course, it must be taken into account that many characteristics of processors from Intel for nettops are higher today, just look at the list of processors on the official website. When it comes to laptops, Intel absorbs less power, allowing the device to last longer. But this is completely insignificant for a mini-PC.

One way or another, the same processors are really used for these devices as for laptops. It’s just that in this case, we’re not looking at energy consumption figures because they don’t matter. But they do have graphics capabilities, and in this regard, AMD Radeon even outperforms Intel, so in the same price category from AMD you will get better graphics performance. So for games or work with graphics, they are more suitable.

Is it worth it to take a gaming nettop?

While we have already noted that AMD is more suitable for gaming than Intel, we also have to consider that a mini PC is not at all the best option for hardcore gamers. Even powerful nettops are significantly inferior to full-sized PCs in the same way as laptops. In order to get a gaming machine, you will have to invest a lot and still the result will be far from perfect. So, if you want to play the latest games and enjoy high performance, you might be better off looking at a more budget-friendly, albeit larger, gaming PC. But for the average gamer, for non-heavy games, a mini-PC is fine.

Do not rush to get upset if you set out to purchase the smallest possible gaming device, progress does not stand still and we are more than sure that soon nettops will be able to catch up, and maybe overtake large machines in terms of parameters.

There are also several types of special gaming nettops on sale, so most likely, another revolution in the gaming equipment market is just around the corner.

WindowsMac or Linux?

Be sure to select the operating system. Nettops support all popular operating systems, just in the case of a Mac, you will have only one option — Mac mini. But all updates will be available completely free of charge and permanently.

But in other options, you can choose between Windows and Linux. When purchasing cases without RAM and a hard drive, you a priori choose the option without a pre-installed system. Usually, the configuration indicates support or the presence of Windows. Well, if you do not want to purchase Windows, then Linux is a completely free system, although it takes some getting used to.

Of course, if you do not want to waste time and effort on installing the system yourself, the best option is a ready-made build with Windows preinstalled.

Intel is arguably the most popular nettop manufacturer, and the NUC brand constantly reminds us why these devices are worth considering.

Intel NUC Enthusiast is a modern nettop equipped with a dual-core Intel Core i7 processor with a frequency of 3500 MHz. 8GB of RAM and 2TB of internal memory are available for your use. At the same time, the nettop supports both HDD and SSD memory. The small and stylish case has incredible power for its size. Your computer comes preinstalled with Windows 10 Home. With HDMI or Thunderbolt ports, you can connect a monitor, in addition, the case has 4 USB 3.0 ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Also, the device is equipped with a card reader and bluetooth for easy connection of peripheral devices. The Intel NUC is a great choice for the home or office. The small device weighs only 0.97kg, and its dimensions are 115x111x51.

Evaluate the compactness and power of the nettop from Intel.


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