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I am looking for mini PC with fairly similar in size (~5x20x20cm) which can outperform a Mini Mac. The size doesn't matter as long it's not too heavy or big and it can be easily moved between home and work on daily basis in a bag and it's easily to use (simple design with not too many cables).

It can be less expensive, but my focus is overall performance power to do LAMP development work. Currently I'm using Retina MacBook Pro which basically crashes quite often when too much stuff is run at the same time. So I'm basically checking what are the alternatives on the market.

So basically it should meet the basic criteria:

  • CPU clock: at least 2.0GHz per core (dual/quad-core minimum),
  • storage support for at least 1TB (unless it's SSD),
  • memory at least 8GB RAM DDR3,
  • HDMI or similar to connect at least 2 external monitors,
  • HD Graphics: not important as far it doesn't run slow while playing some videos,
  • standard features: Wi-Fi, USB, etc.

I've found so far Intel NUC Barebones Mini PC, but it has only 1.3GHz per core (dual-core) as most of the mini PC which I've found.

Are there any Mini PC monsters on the market?

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I'll recommend a Gigabyte BRIX, specifically the model with the i5 4570R, a 2.7-3.2 GHz Quad core i5. The iGP is a Iris Pro 5200, with the 128 MB of L4 cache

For RAM, I'd recommend a 1866 MT/s 2x8 GB kit, just for a bit of extra speed. It's about $20 more than a 1600 MT/s kit though, so if you want to save a bit of money, it shouldn't matter too much. Price is $94 at amazon, or $81 at newegg.

The BRIX takes a 2.5" SATA III HDD, one with 1 TB capacity would set you back about $73. There's also a mSATA slot, which allows you to add SSD, a mid range 250 GB version costs about $108.

You'll also need the OS, though I'm presuming you plan on using Linux?

Total price is slightly less than $700 USD.

Now, what features does this thing have?

The processor is a desktop part, with a 65 W TDP, meaning it's likely to turbo more than its power limited mobile counterparts. It also has 4 cores, and Iris Pro graphics, making the GPU quite responsive too.

The computer has 4 USB 3.0 ports, 1 mini DisplayPort and 1 HDMI port for a total of 2 external monitor ports. There's Gigabit ethernet, a headphone port, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wifi and Bluetooth 4.0.

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  • Can confirm BRIX is an awesome line of PCs. I have an i7 version and it is awesome. Very quite under normal use. May get a bit louder if you hammer it (gaming, transcoding). I would definitely go with this option. – user588 Mar 18 '16 at 15:52
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I'm currently running a asrock beebox as a home server and I'm pretty impressed - its a reasonable balance between most of the factors I'd find handy in a small home server.

Its tiny, smaller than the brix of any size, and while its a 'less powerful' N3150 braswell processor, its probably plenty for LAMP hosting (I've done it for less and I run VMs with KVM on this - even a full windows 10 install).

I picked up the full system with OS (which gives you a 32 gb mmc with windows installed) - I've installed linux on a 1tb hdd, but there's no reason you can't use this for a system drive or even swap. You can also add msata and a 2.5 inch drive, and in theory, possibly replace the m.2 wifi card with a suitable m.2 SSD. There's very few options that give you this much flexibility in storage options in such a small form factor.

That's not all though - it has 3 usb 3.0 slots and a proper type c port. It has DP and 2x HDMI, and I've tested the HDMI ports at 4K30. I need to test DP but I'm a bit lazy.

Another unique feature is you can load it up with 2 slots of ram - I've got mine with 2x4gb of ram but you can go up to 16gb

Its rediculously small, has low power use and is pretty darned inexpensive. The only place where it may fall short is in the processor speed - its got a low base clock speed (1.6ghz) and will ramp up to 2.08 as needed. Its not actually as powerful as a mac mini but its good enough for most work. I run a full desktop environment (KDE) + up to 2 virtual machines with little issue.

~170 usd on amazon + ram and storage to taste, so it won't break the bank either.

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