back to article Mini Desktop PCs: Best Buys

Mini PCs range from the downright tiny to systems that, today, seem barely smaller than a regular mini-tower machine. They encompass models based on desktop components and PCs that use laptop parts. To recap, here are the machines I looked at this time: Acer Aspire X5900 Dell Inspiron Zino HD Fujitsu Esprimo Q9000 Peak …


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  1. LaeMing Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Ugly is the new... blah!

    Be it cars, clothes or - now apparently - mini PCs, we are going through a phase of extreme ugly at the moment.

    Other than the ViewSonic unit - that looks refreshingly nice - a particularly hard feat to pull off in that colour!

  2. Bo Pedersen
    Thumb Up

    hope you are going to review more units.

    Missed out the ION330HT proper media centre , surround sound, DVDRW or BLU-Ray combo drives available

    super quiet, not much bigger than a Wii.

    They may only be 1st Gen ION but are available at reasonable prices.

  3. Ari 1

    Agains the mac mini

    Would have been interesting to see the MacMini compared against these machines. It would probably run much nicer with MacOS, but for the benchmarks you could use windows (or if benchmarking software is available which runs on both)

  4. irish donkey
    Thumb Up

    I'll stick with my DELL GX280 SFF

    Its smaller than a video recorder (which has gone now anyway so fits in that slot nicely) its quiet and provides more that enought umph than these pretty looking machines. Upgrade the RAM and Graphics card and bingo! works a treat. And with a ebay price starting at £40.

    Why look at anything else?

    Getting a decent on-my-knes keyboard and mouse is the most difficult bit of the whole operation.

  5. Bassey

    ION 330

    I suppose you can only review what you get sent but the Asrock ION 330 is nearly identical to the Viewsonic that wins this test but with the addition of either a DVD or Blu-Ray drive for around the same price (£250 or £320). Based on your conclusions, I can't help but think the Asrock would have walked this group test. I'm using mine as an every day PC (Office, Internet, Email, Music, Video etc) and it performs perfectly well. I can even do basic photo and video editing on it. The Dual-core Atom CPU really is a marvel.

  6. Kevin Fairhurst

    Wot no Acer Aspire Revo R3610 ?

    Am surprised you haven't included the above, especially as you reviewed the single core version last June... given that it's available from online retailers for £250 delivered (or less) with Win7HP & 2Gb ram, and can be made to run XBMC natively VERY nicely, it'd be a sure fire winner.... every home should have one!

  7. jason 7 Silver badge
    Unhappy Asrock ION box?

    Just as powerful as the and looks far better too.

  8. Jamie Kitson

    Revo R3600?

    At about £150 doesn't the Acer Aspire Revo R3600 deserve inclusion on price alone? I think it has similar specs to the Cape 7 you reviewed but is about half the price.

  9. s3d designs

    Acer Aspire Revo R3610 Desktop PC

    Got to stay I'm suprised this was missed from the review list.

    A revo has been reviewed before, but no dual core ones.

    The specs are below, and a well know online retailer sells it for £240 (with Win 7) or £189 with Linux, so considerably cheaper than the Viewsonic.

    Quick Specs:


    Intel Atom Dual Core 330

    NVIDIA Ion Chipset


    2GB DDR2 800MHz

    Configuration: 2 x 1GB

    Expandable to 4GB

    2 x soDIMM slot

    Hard Drive

    250GB SATA


    NVIDIA Ion - GeForce 9400 - up to 896MB


    High Definition Audio Support


    LAN: Gigabit Ethernet, Wake-on-LAN ready

    WLAN: 802.11 b/g

    No Modem

  10. PC Paul

    Why not review the Acer Aspire Revo?

    I'm puzzled - why review the relatively bulky Acer X5900 and not a model from the Acer range that is designed to do exactly what the others in this review are all about - the Aspire Revo?

    I know you know about them, you reviewed the R3600 six months ago. The Revo is another VESA mounting box based on the Atom/Ion platform and it would have been interesting to see how it compared to these competitors, instead of picking a mini-tower PC.

  11. sjiveson

    Better Choices

    Come on, there are far superior, cheaper alternatives to the Viewsonic;

    Acer Aspire Revo R3610 - same specification, only £240 at eBuyer

    ASRock ION330 - different specs between £200 (only missing the wireless) and £360 with a BluRay drive (but no OS)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All well and good

    But I figure I should mention the aleutia t1. It's small, fanless and only £160 for an atom-based pc. If you're willing to forgo the embedded wifi, you can add a full hd hardware decoder for about £25 which is compatible with xbmc and windows media player. It's also dead handy for doing always-on background tasks (streaming/nas/firewall) since it only consumes around 15 watts.

  13. stu 4
    Jobs Halo

    mac mini ?

    why exclude the mac mini ? I mean you recommended sticking linux on one of the PCs.

    at 510 quid, I think it compares pretty favourably with these guys.

    It'd been nice to see a comparison side by side.


    (biased admittedly cause my main home cinema runs a 4 year old mac-mini upgraded to 2.6Gz dual core, and plays 1080p content smooth as could be through my 50" plasma and has SPDIF, DVD, gigabit ethernet, etc)... oh.. and at the time cost 330 quid from apple refurbed.

  14. Henduil

    What about

    The Acer Aspire Revo?

    There are plenty of different models available, from the low end with an Atom 230 and 1Gb of ram, to an Atom 330 with 4Gb of ram.

    I got mine low end one for £130 and run Ubuntu Linux 9.10 and XBMC and have yet to find a video it cannot play.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Mac Mini?

    Quiet (near silent), low power, excellent server config. Runs whatever OS you like, including OSX.

    Excellent media center options via FrontRow and Plex.

    Why no mac mini in the group review?

  16. Scott Mckenzie

    So, just to clarify...

    You do a test about Mini PC's and don't include the one that started the craze, the Mac Mini.

    Which with very little effort, probably trump every single one of these on test and costs less than some of them too!!!

    Great test as always folks... sheer brilliance.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Mac Mini

      We asked Apple to submit a Mac Mini for inclusion in the group test, but it declined to do so. In fact, it never even gave us the courtesy of responding to our several voice messages and emails asking for a kit loan.

      Long time Register readers will know that Apple doesn't talk to us, a policy that goes back to the late 1990s. We can only conclude they'd rather send kit to reviewers who they are sure will give them a good write-up.

    2. Steven Knox


      "You do a test about Mini PC's and don't include the one that started the craze, the Mac Mini."

      No. The mini-pc market existed and thrived long before Apple got involved in it.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Tax-free best buy?

    Although it is noted in one or perhaps two places where machines can be bought without having a bundled version of Windows forced on the purchaser, can these reviews put the "Windows tax-free" best buy on the summary page? Especially if something which performs badly under the weight of Windows 7 actually performs acceptably with one of the alternatives.

  18. McBread


    I too was surprised at the lack of any reference to the Acer Revo.

    However, the miniaturisation that most intrigues me at the moment is the Sheevaplug, and the upcoming Guruplug. They're headless which makes them more useful as a home server than a main PC, but I believe there's a headed version in the works.

  19. A 20

    More info please.

    Good review, but I'd like to see actual power consumption figures; ideally in typical use, at idle and on standby.

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