The small-footprint desktop computer market features a wide range of affordable options. At the better end of the spectrum you’ll find the Apple Mac Mini (starting at $499, £399 and AU$620), a small, quiet and energy efficient desktop. At the bottom end there are options like the Samsung Chromebox (starting at $329, £279 and AU$409), a solid desktop option if all you want to do is browse the web.
In the middle you’ll find HP’s new Pavilion Mini (starting at $319.99, £212 and AU$400) a sleek and lightweight desktop that has a ton of storage space, but only includes an Intel Core i3 processor.
If your goal is to store all your data on a gorgeous desktop, but you’re not focused on heavy-duty video editing or spreadsheeting, this is a solid option for you.
The Pavilion Mini is 2.06 inches tall and weighs just 1.6 lbs. It runs Windows 8.1, stores up to 1TB of data and provides 8GB of expandable memory. It features a DisplayPort and an HDMI out port that are capable of streaming Quad HD resolution video. Sorry 4K enthusiasts.
Users will love having access to two front-facing USB 3.0 ports, two rear-facing USB 3.0 ports and a 3-in-1 media card reader that supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC. The device also comes with a wireless chiclet keyboard and an optical mouse.
The PC is 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and BlueTooth 4.0-enabled, so you can stream and connect from the machine to any device within your network’s reach.
The Mini is housed in a white plastic chassis that would look good on any home or office desktop. The PC’s plastic edges feature a shiny finish reminiscent of early-2000s iBooks.
The top of the device is finished in a silver coated material that looks a lot like stereo speaker fabric. Unfortunately, the Pavilion Mini does not also function as a speaker (that would have been cool).
Full disclosure: I wasn’t able to test this device. I got to hold it and photograph it, but it wasn’t connected to a monitor. Thus, it’s difficult for me to provide a ton of feedback on the unit’s performance. However, based on the spec sheet, you can expect the Pavilion Mini to perform fast enough to get basic jobs done, but not at a super speed by which you would be impressed.
The highest the processor performs is 1.7GHz, which is on the lower side of decent. Ultrafast gaming PCs perform around 4.4GHz and the aforementioned Mac Mini can be upgraded to perform at 2.8GHz. Obviously you’re paying more for these devices and upgrades, but if speed is your priority then you should look elsewhere.
As I mentioned above: If your mom bought you a 4K monitor this holiday season, you’re going to have to go elsewhere for a desktop. This will only stream Quad HD, which is good enough for ordinary folk, but not for us pixel-snobs.
If you want a small, pretty desktop that has a ton of storage space and a solid amount of ports, the HP Pavilion Mini is a solid bet. It’ll be great for listening to music, watching Netflix and showing off your family’s photo album on Quad HD monitors. The price is right and design is top-notch.
However, if you want speed for video production or more burdensome business processes, you might want to look elsewhere.