Laptop vs Mini PC?

Started by Moab, January 26, 2024, 01:50:59 PM

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Moab

Trying to decide between a laptop and a mini pc. Specifically these two. But open to any suggestions.

Primary use basic internet stuff and watching videos. Programming two way radios. And possibly scanning.  Would plug either into my 43" smart tv that I use as a monitor. Budget is around $300-$350.

To be honest I would only use the laptop away from home if I were traveling. Which is not that often. But the added flexibility is attractive to me. Even if just as a bug out option. So still weighing that value. As I would get alot more mini pc for the money over a laptop.

The laptop is $299 with 8gb ram or $529 with 16gb ram. How much would it be to add the second 8gb of ram myself? Its ddr4. $229 seems alot just for an additional 8gb of ram. I assume I would be giving up the warranty if I had the additional ram installed after purchase? I've never replaced ram in a laptop. But I have built desktops.

IIRC the mini pc has an 8 core amd processor. And the laptop 6 core amd. The mini pc also has 32gb ram. Both have a 500gb hard drive. But I would be depending on a 1tb external drive I already own. The laptop has a 15.6 display.

I think I may be able to plug the mini pc into a 10 inch stereo display in my vehicle. Or I would need to buy a small external screen if I were to try to use it mobile. ($75). I would also need to deploy a keyboard and mouse. Which might be cumbersome in a vehicle.

But again, I would get way more computer in the mini pc. And my primary use - probably 95% of the time - is simple use at home.

The laptop:

https://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/dell-laptops/inspiron-15-laptop/spd/inspiron-15-3525-laptop

The mini pc:

TRIGKEY Mini PC AMD Ryzen 7 Desktop AMD 8C16T 5700U 32G DDR4 500G NVME SSD Micro Computer, Support Mini Computer, 4K@60Hz HD Triple Display DP 144Hz, HDMI, Type-C, WiFi 6, BT 5.2, USB 3.2, RJ 45 https://a.co/d/cBnoh03
"Ideas are more dangerous than guns. We don't let our people have guns. Why would we let them have ideas?" Josef Stalin

MacWa77ace

A laptop is for starbucks where a mini pc is for desktops. Monitor not included.  :greenguy:

You'd need a dock with dual monitor ports to do triple monitors with a laptop and use the laptops monitor for the 3rd monitor. So add in that cost, plus the two extra monitors. But the mini you'd have to buy 3 monitors to utilize the triple monitor support, so its probably a wash.

That laptop comes with 500GB more SSD storage than the mini, but you can expand the mini's storage to 1TB to match. But you can probably upgrade the laptop's storage to 2TB pretty cheaply. And the Mini is upgradeable to that also.

Mini takes up less space when you're carrying it around but you'd need keyboard, mouse, monitor available at every destination point if you don't want to carry that stuff with you when you go mobile. Laptop has all that built in. Laptop is more mobile friendly.

I'm seeing 8 GB, DDR4, 3200 MT/s for ~$19 on Amazon. Might be the wrong config though but there shouldn't be that much discrepancy, memory is like gold or lobster, there is a market price IME.  [In 1994 I maxed out a Powermac 8100 with 256mb of RAM for only $10,000 in 1994 dollars.  :rolleyes1: LOL, that's $20K in todays $$.]

The laptop has a built in battery back up. The mini you'd have to buy a UPC surge/battery backup.

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NT2C

Another 8GB of DDR4 3200 should be ~$25 or less for a single stick but it's best to buy a set of two.  And if you're replacing both, bump it to 32GB total for $65.00

https://www.newegg.com/g-skill-32gb-260-pin-ddr4-so-dimm/p/N82E16820374024

That processor isn't horrible, not for $299, but it's also the graphics processor, so throwing more memory at it will help a little.

Something else you might want to consider is a refurbished machine from Woot.

Their customer service is very good in case of any problems, and you can get some good deals on some better hardware for similar to what Dell wants to charge.

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Moab

Quote from: NT2C on January 26, 2024, 02:28:49 PMAnother 8GB of DDR4 3200 should be ~$25 or less for a single stick but it's best to buy a set of two.  And if you're replacing both, bump it to 32GB total for $65.00

https://www.newegg.com/g-skill-32gb-260-pin-ddr4-so-dimm/p/N82E16820374024

That processor isn't horrible, not for $299, but it's also the graphics processor, so throwing more memory at it will help a little.

Something else you might want to consider is a refurbished machine from Woot.

Their customer service is very good in case of any problems, and you can get some good deals on some better hardware for similar to what Dell wants to charge.


I actually started on woot when looking. But that Dell seemed a better buy. The woot stuff didn't look good until you got to the $450-$500 level.

I guess the question is does the mobility of the laptop make up for the loss of computing ability vs the mini pc. 

If I can upgrade the laptop to 32gb ram for $65. The only real difference is the cpu. I will research them. But does anyone have an off the top of their head comparison opinion? 

The hard drive and multiple monitor support don't mean much to me. I only want to port either one to my single 43 inch monitor. I ran triple monitors for years. But the 43 inch tv is superior imho. 43 is way more room than you need. And no gaps in the middle of the screen like triple ones. The hard drives - I run externals. All the onboard hard drive has to do is host the os and programs. So thats a wash too - either way. 
"Ideas are more dangerous than guns. We don't let our people have guns. Why would we let them have ideas?" Josef Stalin

DarkAxel

Honestly, I'd go with the desktop. It comes with more memory and doesn't share system memory with the graphics card like the Inspiron does. Everything else is a wash.

wolf_from_wv

Laptop:  Open up and use.  Plug in to recharge.

Mini-Computer:  mini-computer, power cord, mouse, keyboard, monitor, monitor cable, powercord, power strip for everything.  Basically building a clunky laptop for travel use.  "Do  you have a table where I could set this stuff up and plug it in?"

There are 12V RV monitors in various sizes...
"You know Grady, some people think I'm overprepared, paranoid, maybe even a little crazy. But they never met any Pre-Cambrian lifeforms did they?" -- Burt Gummer

Moab

Quote from: wolf_from_wv on January 26, 2024, 09:58:51 PMLaptop:  Open up and use.  Plug in to recharge.

Mini-Computer:  mini-computer, power cord, mouse, keyboard, monitor, monitor cable, powercord, power strip for everything.  Basically building a clunky laptop for travel use.  "Do  you have a table where I could set this stuff up and plug it in?"

There are 12V RV monitors in various sizes...
As stated above, I don't think I would ever use it mobile. Except in an emergency maybe. And when I travel my phone is fine.

Actually my phone would be fine in an emergency too. I think if I had to bug out I would just grab my external drive that would be plugged into the mini pc. As I keep everything on there. And not on my pc.
"Ideas are more dangerous than guns. We don't let our people have guns. Why would we let them have ideas?" Josef Stalin

eugenenine

The Inspirons are not known for quality, I'd look at a Latitude. I usually buy them "refurbished" for $200-$300 and use them for 10 years or so.

The Twizzler

Mini Computers are for home use and generally a entertainment hub. A laptop comes everything included and if you forget your charger you can pick one up anywhere. Some of the mini comps are very specific when it comes to charging cables.
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Moab

I think I'd say about 98-99% of my use is at home. So taking it out of my home is maybe only 1-2% of its use. Not that I would take a mini pc on the road. In that case it would probably be a bug out situation. Where I would grab the mini pc and external hard drive. Just to leave with it. And probably depend on my phone and external drive. And/or a tablet I have. For computer and online uses. 

My other consideration is what I can get for $300 in a laptop vs a mini pc. Seems like the mini pc has alot more going for it in terms if cpu speed and ram. And someone mentioned something about graphics as well.

Presently I also use my cellphone for about 90% of my computer/online use. So this computer gets very little use. 

As its hooked up to a 43" monitor I basically use it for anything that requires a larger screen, better speaker system and printer. (Although I have been successful from time to time printing directly from my cellphone.) Like watching movies, listening to music, creating and editing docs, printing, etc.

Alot of those things could be accomplished by cellphone if need be. With an external speaker and printing direct from phone to a printer. Like if I traveled or bugged out. 

So I'm more inclined to take advantage of the better options in the mini pc. But I will look at more laptops and see if I can find something closer to the specs on the mini pc for the same price. 

I think my main goal in the beginning was just to see if I could find a laptop with the same specs for the same price or close. And buy it since if I did ever leave home with it. I'd have the added benefit of the built in screen and keyboard. 

Thank you so much for all your feedback. I really appreciate it. And thank you for following along as I sort of think this thru outloud. 
"Ideas are more dangerous than guns. We don't let our people have guns. Why would we let them have ideas?" Josef Stalin

wolf_from_wv

If you go the mini-pc route, go with a mini-pc...  There are single board computers, but you need a case to put them in, power supply, mouse, keyboard, monitor, monitor power supply, probably a cooling fan of some type, an SD card (probably) to put the operating system (probably Linux of some kiind) on, an external storage drive, a monitor cable (probably HDMI or RCA).  Although, people do use the Raspberry Pi, and others, in off-grid situations.
"You know Grady, some people think I'm overprepared, paranoid, maybe even a little crazy. But they never met any Pre-Cambrian lifeforms did they?" -- Burt Gummer

Moab

Quote from: wolf_from_wv on January 29, 2024, 09:35:07 PMIf you go the mini-pc route, go with a mini-pc...  There are single board computers, but you need a case to put them in, power supply, mouse, keyboard, monitor, monitor power supply, probably a cooling fan of some type, an SD card (probably) to put the operating system (probably Linux of some kiind) on, an external storage drive, a monitor cable (probably HDMI or RCA).  Although, people do use the Raspberry Pi, and others, in off-grid situations.
If I go mini pc. It's going to be this one from my original post.

TRIGKEY Mini PC AMD Ryzen 7 Desktop AMD 8C16T 5700U 32G DDR4 500G NVME SSD Micro Computer, Support Mini Computer, 4K@60Hz HD Triple Display DP 144Hz, HDMI, Type-C, WiFi 6, BT 5.2, USB 3.2, RJ 45 https://a.co/d/cBnoh03
"Ideas are more dangerous than guns. We don't let our people have guns. Why would we let them have ideas?" Josef Stalin

DarkAxel

Quote from: The Twizzler on January 29, 2024, 07:01:24 PMMini Computers are for home use and generally a entertainment hub. A laptop comes everything included and if you forget your charger you can pick one up anywhere. Some of the mini comps are very specific when it comes to charging cables.
Most those mini-computers these days run off of a laptop power adapter and are built with laptop parts (processors, memory, HDDs, chipsets). It is possible with some models to run them off of a 12v auto adapter (or a cheap power inverter) and hook them up to auto DVD displays to run them mobile in a vehicle. A friend of mine that nightwatches coal mines has one hooked up in his work car. He hotspots his cellphone and gets internet, too.

eugenenine

Quote from: The Twizzler on January 29, 2024, 07:01:24 PMMini Computers are for home use and generally a entertainment hub. A laptop comes everything included and if you forget your charger you can pick one up anywhere. Some of the mini comps are very specific when it comes to charging cables.
A lot of consumer (insprion, pavilio, acer, etc) laptops are the same, they are designed to sit on a desk. The business grade usually have better hinges, better cooling, etc.

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