4 Ways to use a Mini PC at Home

4 Ways to use a Mini PC at Home

April 2022

Whether you need a powerful PC for work or a compact machine for home, mini PCs have your computer needs covered.

Mini PCs pack a lot of punch into a small package. With such a compact design, they are more cost-effective and energy-efficient compared to traditional desktop towers or laptops. Ideal for a wide array of business, embedded, and medical applications, mini PCs can also be a great addition to your home. Whether you need a powerful PC for work or a compact machine for home, mini PCs have your computer needs covered.

Here are a few different ways you can maximize the use of your Mini PC at home.

Home Office

Mini PCs are an ideal solution if you’re looking for a quiet, compact, and lightweight system for your home office. Most of our mini PCs are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand making them a portable choice for surfing the web, catching up on emails, creating spreadsheets and presentations, and attending online meetings through multiple platforms regardless of where you work. With numerous Intel and AMD processor options, and the ability to completely configure your PC, you can easily find a machine that fits your unique needs. Mini PCs also provide a surprising number of ports for easy connectivity to all your necessary home office peripherals such as monitors, keyboards, mice, printers and web cameras. Mini PCs for Home Office deliver affordable performance that keeps you equally productive in the office or at home.  

Workstation

Content creation conjures up images of the large desktop tower that annoyingly dominates your personal space; but mini PCs can now provide a quiet and surprisingly powerful workstation option that is compact enough to tuck away in tight spaces. Most of our mini PC workstations are small enough to fit in your backpack making them a portable choice for content creation on the go. With flexible Intel, AMD, and nVIDIA processor and graphics options, the reliability of ECC memory, and the ability to completely configure your PC, you can easily find the system that fits your unique needs. Our workstations are capable of completing the most challenging post-production projects, financial analyses, medical imaging, and CAD work regardless of where you choose to get the job done. Mini PC workstations provide powerful performance while saving you valuable workspace.

Home Theater & Entertainment System

If you’re looking for a powerful yet compact device for a home theater or entertainment system, then look no further than a mini PC. With a tiny footprint, mini PCs are small enough to blend into your living space without cramping your style. Built-in support for 4K Ultra HD resolution allows you to easily enjoy your favorite movies and shows in stunning detail. Add 2.5Gb Ethernet and a Bluetooth keyboard/mouse, and you’re all set to access your favorite movies, photos, and music. With Intel Wi-fi 6, you can stream your Netflix and Hulu; and TV tuner options enable over-the-air content. Multiple HDMI and Thunderbolt ports make it simple to connect the device to a TV or large format display depending on your specific setup. You can also use your home entertainment system  as a media server with up to 16TB of onboard storage, or  connected to an external hard drive or NAS (network attached storage) device to easily store all your media. With a mini PC, get ready for incredible graphics, sound, and performance – all from the comfort of your living room.

Gaming

After completing your projects you deserve to have a little fun.  Our Extreme mini PCs are surprisingly capable of meeting all your gaming needs. The small form factor doesn’t take up much desk space, but with powerful processor and graphics performance, Extreme mini PCs can handle AAA games and premium VR without any problems. Depending on how much you game, and the frame rate and resolution your game requires, you can choose from various models and different price ranges. Our mini PC portfolio offers an impressive range of options for the casual budget-conscious gamer to the professional in training for a big tournament. 

The PC For All of Your Needs

If you’re looking to upgrade your home technology, mini PCs are a popular choice for people who want a powerful, compact, and energy-efficient device. Not only are they perfect for work and business, but they’re also ideal for many different uses across your home. If you need computing power but don’t have much space, a mini PC from Simply NUC is the right choice. Learn more about all of our products and solutions today.

Simply NUC, Inc. is a systems integrator specializing in mini computers. Simply NUC provides fully configured, warranted, and supported mini PC systems to businesses and consumers, as well as end-to-end NUC project development, custom operating system installations, and NUC accessories.

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reasons businesses moving mini PCs

Four Reasons Businesses Are Moving Toward Mini PCs

Four Reasons Businesses Are Moving Toward Mini PCs

February 2022

reasons businesses moving mini PCs

As more organizations are requiring powerful computing for their day-to-day operations, the demand for mini PCs has significantly increased in the past few years. Mini PCs offer several advantages over traditional tower PCs — including their smaller size, surprisingly powerful performance, and versatility — and many computer hardware analysts project increases of over 10% volume growth in the mini PC industry by 2023. 

Here at Simply NUC, we offer a wide variety of mini PCs and solutions that are tailored to specific needs within business. Why are so many businesses moving away from tower PCs and favoring mini PCs instead? 

Small Size, Powerful Performance 

Mini PCs aren’t attractive just because they are small in size; they’re also known for their performance. Ideal for usage in tight or small spaces, mini PCs deliver a reliable computing experience without compromising on performance or features. Customizable with the latest Intel or AMD processors and the ability to select RAM, SSD, and operating system, mini PCs easily provide performance comparable to a traditional desktop. Because of their compact nature, mini PCs also stay quiet and cool during operation. For many businesses looking to invest in new computer hardware equipment that won’t create a lot of noise, take up much space, or generate a lot of heat, mini PCs are the obvious choice.

Versatility

Mini PCs have a wide array of usages – from digital signage to interactive kiosks and embedded IoT applications, they have ample features to perform a wide variety of business functions. For many businesses, flexible mounting options are also important. With the ability to mount a mini PC on any surface and embed them in tight spaces, businesses are able to power all their technology regardless of location. Additionally, mini PCs often require fewer cables and wires for operation. This can result in time savings when it comes to deploying machines and equipment, as well as lower hardware costs. Compared to traditional desktop PC options, which use more space and cost more to deploy, mini PCs are often the more attractive option.

Reduced Energy Consumption & Costs

Many of today’s businesses are also looking to become more sustainable and environmentally conscious. With mini PCs, businesses can easily increase efficiencies and lower computing costs:

  • Mini PCs require less power than traditional tower PCs and can lower your energy costs by up to 50% compared to similarly configured desktops. Less power consumption means fewer emissions released into the environment over time, which helps companies operate more efficiently with a more eco-friendly footprint.
  • In addition to being more energy-efficient, mini PCs also provide an easier outlet for recycling old parts and components, which is good news for any business that’s looking to go green.
  • Mini PCs can help companies save on office space. With a minimal physical footprint, businesses can save on the amount of desktop space they need to lease or own. 

Portability

Over the last few years the number of employees working from home has skyrocketed and many of these workers now work from home or in hybrid setups permanently. For businesses that have a number of employees working from home or in a hybrid situation, having a high-quality and reliable computer setup is essential. With a mini PC, employees are easily able to access company information and important documents from any remote location and experience the convenience of carrying a compact light-weight mini PC between the home and office. 

These are just a few reasons business owners and CIOs could greatly benefit from utilizing mini PCs for your companies.  Although prices vary depending on your specific configuration, mini PCs are often available for far less than a similar traditional tower PC, and provide many (or even more) of the same benefits for a business. 

For more on why more businesses are moving toward mini PCs for their computing needs, or to learn about our mini PC products or solutions, speak to the team at Simply NUC today. 

Simply NUC, Inc. is a systems integrator specializing in mini computers. Simply NUC provides fully configured, warranted, and supported mini PC systems to businesses and consumers, as well as end-to-end NUC project development, custom operating system installations, and NUC accessories.

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qualities mini PC vendor

Six Qualities to Look for in a Mini PC Vendor

Six Qualities to Look for in a Mini PC Vendor

January 2022

qualities mini PC vendor

A simple reality among mini PC vendors is that quality and support standards are not all the same.  While some vendors are highly reputable and provide quality products, others offer a mixture of substandard components, limited flexibility, outdated software, and unreliable support that don’t meet the expectations of mini PC owners. 

At Simply NUC, we’re proud to serve as a top provider of mini PC systems, with customers ranging from Google and Facebook to Apple and Tesla, and numerous other industry-leading companies. We welcome comparisons of our services to other mini PC vendors, both because we want everyone to get the best mini PC units for their needs, and also because we’re extremely confident in our ability to serve our customers’ needs across the board. When you’re researching your options for the right mini PC vendor, what are some of the top areas you should be considering? Here’s a primer.

One-Stop Shop

Why settle for working with a mini PC vendor who cannot handle all your solution- and accessory-related needs along with the actual PC itself?  This can cause a major inconvenience, costing extra time and money, as you’ll end up having to work with multiple vendors for numerous components that should all be covered by one supplier. 

You should look for a vendor who is willing to spend upfront time with you discussing and understanding your solution, and then covers areas like accessories, custom image management, logistics, and more. This is the single best way to ensure that you’ll only have to work with one vendor for all your solution needs associated with your mini PC.

Full Customization

Why compromise with a mini PC vendor who doesn’t offer full customizations of your PC?  A major value of mini PCs is their ability to be customized, but many vendors may not offer a full range of customization options.

When you work with a flexible mini PC vendor like Simply NUC, you can configure your mini PC any way you can imagine. Customization options include not only the operating system, but also components like processors, memory, storage and extra I/O features, all of which can be built out to your exact specifications.

In many cases, customization elements are vital because they allow the mini PC to be used in a particular industry.  If you own and operate a video editing company, for instance, features like enhanced graphics card capabilities, support for multiple 4K monitors, high bandwidth communication, and full compatibility with high-end video editing software are crucial.  Different particulars might be more important to other customers, but the point is that full customization should be straightforward and easy with your mini PC vendor.

Long-Term Products & Support

Another vital factor to consider when considering your mini PC vendor is their commitment to build and/or service your selected product over a long period of time. In some cases, niche mini PC manufacturers may launch exciting new products, only to discontinue the product line fairly soon after launch. In a case like this, customers who purchased them are left in the dark, as their device can no longer be serviced, replaced, or purchased.

Products like mini PCs, however, are anything but niche, and should have options that can be supported well into the future. Units from our Chimney Rock product family even offer a 7-year commitment to supply, which ensures that the mini PC can be purchased for an extended amount of time.  In addition, most Simply NUC product lines offer up to five years of support service to ensure a long period of support for your purchases.

Finally, your vendor should have great relationships with their suppliers, allowing for simple repairs or replacements of any kind, along with access to high-quality customer service.

Global Footprint

Larger project opportunities require mini PC deployments in locations around the globe, and you need your partner to have offices either in close proximity or in the same locations as you. This ensures they can provide fast and efficient support when needed, with minimal cost and waiting time in transit.

If, on the other hand, your vendor is based exclusively in China, for example, and your deployments are in the USA, Europe, and Asia; this can mean significantly higher costs and longer wait times for repairs, replacements, or other needs.  Support calls with vendors based exclusively in another country can be frustrating, inconvenient, and inefficient.

Support Package

You’re spending significant money on your mini PC which means it should include some level of support. Generally speaking, at least one year of no-cost tech support should be included with all purchases, though more is highly recommended.

Another area of support you should be looking for is the ability to receive free software updates for your mini PC’s BIOS, drivers, and operating system. Most vendors provide these updates, but it’s wise to confirm this before purchase – especially if the device will play a significant role in professional use.

It’s not enough for a vendor to simply claim a support staff, either – they also need to be able to prove that their staff is responsive and helpful. It’s a common practice at larger IT companies for support services to be overburdened or use out-sourced call centers, leading to long wait times on hold, frustrating conversations, or slow response times in general. Finding a vendor with a strong focus on high-touch customer support is important, because it ensures that you’ll be getting prompt service from people who are actually excited about helping you.

Warranty & Return Policy

Again due to the high-value nature of these products, you want to make sure you’re covered in the event that something goes wrong with your device. A warranty for your device should be at least three years. Many vendors will allow users to return products purchased “no questions asked” within 30 to 60 days if they’re not satisfied with their purchase. Make sure you check on this policy before you finalize your purchase, because it’s an important component of the overall value you’ll derive from your new mini PC.

For more on the important qualities you should be looking for in a mini PC vendor, or to learn about any of our mini PC devices, contact the team at Simply NUC today.

Simply NUC, Inc. is a systems integrator specializing in mini computers. Simply NUC provides fully configured, warranted, and supported mini PC systems to businesses and consumers, as well as end-to-end NUC project development, custom operating system installations, and NUC accessories.

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mini pcs used education

How Mini PCs Are Being Used Within the Education Sector

How Mini PCs Are Being Used Within the Education Sector

December 2021

mini PCs used education

From elementary schools to universities, educational institutes have transitioned away from traditional PCs toward mini PCs to make learning experiences more adaptable, efficient, and engaging. Whether you’re looking for classroom collaboration technology, campus digital signage, or infrastructure solutions, mini PCs are simply the go-to choice for the education sector. 

At Simply NUC, we offer a wide range of customizable mini PCs, including numerous solutions specifically designed for schools and educational institutes. Why are mini PCs popular in the education sector and how are they being utilized across different applications and settings? Here’s a basic rundown.

Mini PC Advantages

The market for mini PCs has grown rapidly in the last few years – and growth is expected to continue accelerating in the future. A big reason behind the growth is that numerous industries have come to the conclusion that mini PCs are more advantageous than traditional tower PCs, including the education sector. 

Here are some examples:

  • Environmental consciousness and sustainability: Mini PCs consume significantly less power than tower PCs, making them a more environmentally-friendly option. 
  • Noise levels: Mini PCs run on lower power and generate less heat making them extremely quiet and ideal for libraries and labs.  Many models are fanless making them virtually silent.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Mini PCs are often less expensive than traditional tower PCs while offering the same performance level.  They run on less power which allows for lower energy bills.
  • Compactness and portability: Mini PCs are small in size, meaning they consume less desk space and can be easily moved around. 
  • Flexible Mounting: Versatile mounting options make mini PCs particularly useful in the education sector. Some examples include VESA mounting which lets you mount the mini PC on the back of a monitor or large display, or DIN rails which allow mounting of the mini PC to a wall just below a large format display. This gives educators more flexibility on where they can place mini PCs in their classrooms and eliminates the need for cables that span from tables to wall-mounted displays.

Our next sections cover the most popular ways mini PCs are utilized within the educational sector. 

Classroom and Lecture Halls

Regardless of the size or type of classroom, mini PCs are quickly becoming more popular in educational areas. They can address a broad range of educational needs to power modern classrooms and lecture halls. From interactive whiteboards to conferencing systems, or workstations for educators, mini PCs offer versatility and efficiency with ample performance.

For those looking to utilize 4K displays or other multimedia technology in classrooms, mini PCs are an excellent choice for powering them. In fact, they’re ideal for a wide variety of connected applications that benefit from a powerful processor. They’re also perfect for helping to deploy remote learning and collaboration.

Since mini PCs can also be remotely managed, your organization’s IT department will be able to maintain images and security standards, as well as troubleshoot the PCs no matter where they are located. This allows teachers the freedom to focus on teaching and learning, without needing to worry about technical issues.

Libraries and Labs

In addition to classrooms and lecture halls, mini PCs have started taking over many labs and libraries. The primary reasons are their cool and quiet operation and compact size. 

School libraries and labs always need space for more computers, and mini PCs are the perfect solution. They can easily be hidden away behind monitors while offering enough performance and power to handle most computing needs.  And they run cool and quiet, eliminating the heat and noise often associated with school labs.

Additionally, mini PCs running Windows 10 offer a number of unique features that are ideal for library and lab settings. For example, they include comprehensive security features to protect users’ data and devices, as well as features that make it easy for IT staff to manage and support them.

School Infrastructure

Finally, mini PCs can be used as entry-level servers for school infrastructure. They’re an affordable solution that will help declutter your wiring closet while offering uncompromised performance in a surprisingly small package. With much lower energy consumption, mini PCs can maintain a school’s infrastructure at a fraction of the cost compared to servers or tower PCs. 

In short, mini PCs are a great choice for a wide range of educational applications and needs. For more on why mini PCs have become so popular in the education sector, or to learn about any of our mini PCs, speak to the staff at Simply NUC today.

Simply NUC, Inc. is a systems integrator specializing in mini computers. Simply NUC provides fully configured, warranted, and supported mini PC systems to businesses and consumers, as well as end-to-end NUC project development, custom operating system installations, and NUC accessories.

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Utilizing Mini PCs in Healthcare and Medical Fields

Utilizing Mini PCs in Healthcare and Medical Fields

November 2021

mini PCs healthcare medical

At Simply NUC, we’re proud to provide mini PCs to many companies in various industries that deliver important societal benefits. Within the medical field, we’ve seen healthcare organizations use our mini PCs to power medical equipment and analytical workstations, and enhance communication between healthcare professionals and patients. From customizable mini PCs to mini PC kits and accessories, Simply NUC is a one-stop shop for medical and healthcare computing needs. 

Due to a combination of their size, portability, and performance, mini PCs have become an essential part of many hospital and medical office operations. How do these powerful yet small PCs help drive value in healthcare, and what should medical professionals be considering when looking into utilizing mini PCs for their needs? Let’s go over everything you need to know.

Patient Information

One of the single most common and important daily needs for medical professionals is to access secure patient information. This information may include a variety of visualizations on their health status, medical reports, billing data, or other patient knowledge. A basic dashboard of information is something doctors and nurses will constantly be referencing for nearly every patient. 

Because they are so small and don’t get in the way of other medical equipment, offer security features such as encryption, and also provide surprisingly capable computing power, mini PCs are ideal for healthcare operations. Furthermore, some mini PCs come in a fanless and rugged format, meaning they won’t move dust or other debris around in areas that need to be sanitary. For instance, these fanless mini PCs will commonly be found in operating rooms or other areas where surgical site infections (SSIs) are possible, as they diminish these risks significantly.

Medical Carts and Mini PCs

Another major asset that healthcare professionals rely on throughout their daily operations is a medical cart. These carts include mobile power supplies, equipment codes, and – at least in today’s modern age – monitor displays containing patient information and other resources. However, if medical professionals depend on laptops or tablets to power their carts, they run the risk of the computer running out of battery power which would require time to charge the device or swap it out with a different one.

With mini PCs, however, this entire process is streamlined since they can be powered by hot-swappable batteries that healthcare professionals can change without powering down their medical cart. Doctors and nurses won’t need access to a single outlet to ensure proper charging – they’ll be able to work through an entire shift, even those that are 12 hours or longer, without worrying about charging needs or losing power to their devices.

Video Conferencing and Telehealth 

Society has increased reliance on video conferencing since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the medical field is no exception. A large number of medical facilities have realized the need to increase their video conferencing and telehealth capabilities over the last 18 months  – and mini PCs have become a popular way of doing so without breaking the bank.

In many cases, mini PCs can be attached to existing monitors, or even to the back of TVs that are already present in patient rooms. This removes the need to purchase expensive all-encompassing systems that will also take significant time to install. By utilizing NUCs loaded with basic telehealth software, doctors and nurses can easily communicate with patients who might be contagious without risking anyone’s health or safety.

What to Prioritize in a Mini PC Vendor

If you’ve made the choice to transition your medical operations to include mini PCs, you should look to partner with an established computer hardware vendor. Below are some basic qualities we strongly recommend prioritizing when selecting a vendor:

  • All your needs in one place: Not only should your vendor be able to provide you with various mini PC options, but also all the accessories and additional services you may also require. This may include things like image management, customer service, solutions management,and more.
  • Demo capabilities: Ideally, your mini PC partner will allow you to sample units before committing to an entire order.
  • Customization: Mini PCs need to be customizable for medical professionals in several ways, from operating systems, to processors, memory, and storage, to security and port requirements, your vendor should be able to work with you on specific medical and healthcare needs that pertain to your operations.
  • Long-term support: First and foremost, you want to partner with a reputable organization you’re confident will still be around in several years. You’ll need support for your products for years into the future, including eventual upgrades and changes to technology, so a partner who might not be in business in half a decade isn’t the way to go. 

In addition,  it’s vital to ensure quality support services for your devices, including technical support for up to five  years after purchase. The vendor should also have qualified staff on-hand to assist you with all your technical needs, including setup. 

  • Warranty and return policy: Your mini PCs should all come with a comprehensive warranty, usually of three years or more. There should also be a flexible, reasonable return policy in place. 
  • Wide-ranging support: Ideally, you want a partner who has offices worldwide so that they can support you—no matter where you or your deployments are located.

For more information on how mini PCs can provide immense value in  healthcare and medical fields, or to learn about any of our mini PCs or NUC products, speak to the staff at Simply NUC today.

Simply NUC, Inc. is a systems integrator specializing in mini computers. Simply NUC provides fully configured, warranted, and supported mini PC systems to businesses and consumers, as well as end-to-end NUC project development, custom operating system installations, and NUC accessories. For more information visit Intel Partner Alliance.

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Choosing PC workstation RAM

Choosing a PC Workstation: RAM, Storage, and Accessories

Choosing a PC Workstation: RAM, Storage, and Accessories

October 2021

choosing PC workstation performance

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some basics on the important decision factors to consider while selecting a new PC workstation. There are several factors to consider when choosing different components in a new PC workstation and your choices will impact everything from your final cost to how the machine will perform over time for your various needs.

At Simply NUC, we’re proud to offer a wide selection of stationary and mobile business workstations that provide incredible richness, high reliability, and amazing performance for the heaviest workloads.  We’re happy to assist you with any part of your workstation purchase needs, from helping you configure a custom workstation based on your unique needs to providing you with guidance on how to maintain high performance of your PC for years to come.

What are some of the other important factors to evaluate as you look to purchase a new PC workstation?  Here are several to consider.

Ram Considerations

RAM, short for Random-Access Memory, serves as a vital source for “short-term” volatile memory in your computer.  RAM provides rapid access to information your computer is actively using.  Anytime you open a file, load a program, browse the internet, or perform other everyday tasks, the data will be loaded into RAM.  When your computer is turned off, RAM is erased and will be re-used again during your next session. 

This means that the more RAM your machine has, the more complex tasks it will be able to carry out simultaneously.  And faster RAM will have the capability to access your data in a more responsive manner.  When combined with processing power, RAM is one of the single most important factors determining the speed and performance of the PC.  RAM is typically specified in capacity (gigabytes) and speed (gigahertz).   Finally for systems where high reliability is required, ECC (error correction code) memory should be considered.  ECC memory is used in workstations that need to be resistant to data corruption and system crashes.

Storage Capabilities

RAM is your short-term memory, but it’s also important to consider your “long-term” non-volatile storage.  This is where all files, programs, applications, drivers, and operating system will reside on your PC workstation.  This information is retained whether your workstation is on or off.

PC workstations can start at 128GB of storage, but most will be upgraded to meet your needs based on the amount and type of content you require.  Typically, 250GB can hold more than 30,000 photos or songs.  If you’re planning on storing videos, complex CAD files, or high resolution images on your PC workstation, you’ll likely want to upgrade to at least 500GB of storage.  PC workstations from Simply NUC can provide up to 16TB of storage.

Accessory Enhancements

Finally, it’s important to think about accessories that will enhance how your PC workstation operates.  Here are some key accessories you’ll want to consider:

  • Graphics Card:  GPU matters as much as, or sometimes even more than the CPU.  For content creation, medical imaging, CAD work, and several more graphics intensive usages, graphics card selection becomes a critical part of selecting your PC workstation.
  • Network Connectivity: Today’s PC workstation needs at least 2.5Gbps Etherent capability with some considerations for multiple LAN ports or speeds up to 10Gbps.
  • Monitor: Desktop monitors are the screens used to display your data. They’re usually sold separately from the primary PC unit, and will be available from a wide variety of brands. When selecting a monitor ideal for your setup, consider factors like resolution, I/O ports, size, and cost.  Most modern workstation environments require the ability to connect to two to six monitors. 
  • Mouse and mousepad: It’s also important to choose a quality mouse for your desktop workstation and a mousepad that factors in responsiveness and ergonomics. 
  • Keyboard: Don’t forget about pairing your workstation setup with a quality keyboard – make your choice based on size, key press style, cost, ergonomics and any other factors that are important to you.

For more about buying a custom PC workstation, or to learn about any of our units, speak to the staff at Simply NUC today.

Simply NUC, Inc. is a systems integrator specializing in mini computers. Simply NUC provides fully configured, warranted, and supported mini PC systems to businesses and consumers, as well as end-to-end NUC project development, custom operating system installations, and NUC accessories. For more information visit Intel Partner Alliance.

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Choosing a PC Workstation: Customization and Performance

Choosing a PC Workstation: Customization and Performance

September 2021

choosing PC workstation performance

For those who utilize them for both work and personal purposes, a PC workstation is an enormously valuable and powerful computing resource. If you’re in the market for a new PC workstation, you have a lot to consider before making a purchase decision.

At Simply NUC, we’re proud to offer a wide selection of stationary and mobile business workstations that provide incredible richness and amazing performance for the heaviest workloads. We’re happy to assist you with any part of your workstation purchase needs, from helping you configure a custom workstation based on your unique needs to providing you with guidance on how to maintain high performance of your PC for years to come.

What are some of the top factors to consider when choosing a new PC workstation? This two-part blog series will go over several to ensure you end up with a high-quality PC workstation.

Customization & Configuration

While a pre-configured PC workstation can typically get the job done, many of our customers can’t resist the opportunity to get everything they want with a completely customized PC. Building and configuring your own workstation is the best solution for those who want full control over their build to ensure they’ll get the exact hardware they need. 

In particular, content creators, engineers, and web developers have specific PC needs, including advanced graphics cards and the ability to connect other devices through an array of ports. Whatever your line of work is, Simply NUC is available to discuss and help you build a customized computer for your needs.

Something we occasionally hear is the idea that you can build your own custom computer for less than a pre-configured PC. While this is technically possible, if you’re not a professional computer technician, the work can be extremely challenging and time consuming. If you make a mistake, or if the components you chose are not compatible, you may end up spending the money you “saved” in order to get your workstation fully functioning. Leave it to the professionals at Simply NUC to help you build your custom PC just the way you want it.

Performance Level

Another vital factor for any workstation you’re considering is overall performance. This is determined by several key components including the central processor, graphics processor, and storage and memory selection. 

If you’re looking to pair your workstation with specific applications or software systems, make sure that the hardware you choose will be able to handle it without latency or other issues. If you’re concerned about visual responsiveness, take a close look at any visually demanding software that you’ll be using and see if there are any graphic requirements associated with it.

If you’re working with a custom PC manufacturer like Simply NUC, we’ll be happy to evaluate your software needs to help you build the perfect solution.  

For more information about buying a custom PC workstation, or to learn about any of our units, speak to the staff at Simply NUC today.

 

Simply NUC, Inc. is a systems integrator specializing in mini computers. Simply NUC provides fully configured, warranted, and supported mini PC systems to businesses and consumers, as well as end-to-end NUC project development, custom operating system installations, and NUC accessories. For more information visit Intel Partner Alliance.

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Why Mini PCs Are the Standard for Digital Signage Applications

Why Mini PCs Are the Standard for Digital Signage Applications 

August 2021

mini PCs standard digital signage

In the past, businesses, municipalities, or other establishments interested in deploying digital signage needed to have large-scale computing solutions available to them. Today, however, numerous possibilities are available for digital signage deployments and mini PCs have emerged as the single most viable and efficient solution. When mini PCs are leveraged as digital signage media players, they can support applications ranging from single screens to self-serve kiosks to multi-panel video walls.

At Simply NUC, we offer a wide range of flexible mini PCs, including numerous solutions specifically designed for digital signage. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the primary reasons why mini PCs have become the standard media player across the digital signage industry.

Combination of Power, Size and Convenience

When selecting a media player for your digital signage application, you need to consider performance, cost, and ease of installation.  With a mini PC, you get the best possible combination of all three.

Mini PCs are more powerful than ever and can serve all your digital signage needs. More affordable versions work great for single displays in cafes, convenience stores, hotel lobbies, and airport gates.  And higher performing versions can drive 4K video walls in high-end retail stores, corporate advertising, and executive lounges.  Additionally, mini PCs are far more energy-efficient than other computers and have been tested for 24/7 operation, resulting in lower operational costs. 

Furthermore, installations are simplified with a number of media player mounting options including VESA mounts for monitors and DIN rails for walls, tables, or convenient surfaces.  Wireless interfaces and PoE technology can minimize the number cables required for your deployments.

Remote Service and Upgrade Capability

The communications capability of your media player is very important.  At a minimum you should require an RJ-45 LAN jack and built-in wi-fi (802.11AC or better).  Remote management technologies such as Intel vPro or DASH enable the ability to push campaigns down to the player to avoid the “truck roll” or requiring local support.

It’s All About the Hardware

From a hardware perspective you’ll need to pay attention to the display interfaces on the media player and map them to the interfaces on your screens.  For ease of installation, it’s usually most convenient when the ports on both sides of the connection are the same.  Currently HDMI tends to be most popular and HDMI-to-HDMI cables are affordably sourced in many different lengths and quality levels.  Type C (with DisplayPort) is gaining in popularity, but HDMI still is most common. 

It’s (Even More) All About the Software

On the software side, it’s always better if your media player is flexible to support multiple OS’s such as Microsoft Windows, various distros of Linux, and Android.  It’s also important that your player can support multiple media formats such as FLV, AVI, MP4, WMV, MKV, and others. And ideally the media player has been tested and validated with the CMS (Content Management System) and display that you’ll be using.  Finally, a big plus is the ability of your media player to recover the campaign on reboot power up, to avoid the embarrassment and downtime of wrong orientation or aspect ratio on the rare occasion when a local power cycle is needed.  Robust and flexible solutions save time and cost.

For more on why mini PCs have become the industry standard for digital signage applications, or to learn about any of our mini PCs,  speak to the staff at Simply NUC today.

Simply NUC, Inc. is a systems integrator specializing in mini computers. Simply NUC provides fully configured, warranted, and supported mini PC systems to businesses and consumers, as well as end-to-end NUC project development, custom operating system installations, and NUC accessories. For more information visit Intel Partner Alliance.

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Understanding the Value of Mini PCs in Gaming

Understanding the Value of Mini PCs in Gaming

July 2021

value mini PCs gaming

Computer gamers today have a wide range of equipment options available to them, and for those with limited space needs who are looking for high performance, the mini PC should be your top choice. Whether you want to carry your PC in your backpack to a friend’s house for a LAN party or save desk space in your gaming den at home, mini PCs are your best bet. 

At Simply NUC, we’re proud to offer an entire line of home gaming systems, including mini PCs and laptops. Why are mini PCs such a great choice for gamers, and how do they compare to other computer systems?

Value of Mini PCs for Gaming

Mini PCs are ideal for a variety of gaming setups, offering many of the same qualities as other gaming machines, but with improved features and aesthetics. They’re extremely versatile, with multiple connector ports and have the ability to integrate innumerable gaming titles. 

Their portability is also a huge factor, especially compared to other traditional desktop tower options. They can be easily moved around and used in different settings, ideal for communal gamers and those who don’t have a single location they play in. Mini PCs allow you to play and stream the latest and hottest video games while experiencing surprisingly powerful performance in a small package. You can also upgrade your memory, processor, storage, and graphics card as you look to improve your gaming experience.

Mini PC vs. Other Options

When compared to various consoles such as a Playstation or Xbox, mini PCs hold some major advantages. Gaming consoles are much less powerful in most cases, and don’t offer versatile uses such as a media center or workstation. 

Additionally, gaming consoles don’t offer the same easy portability as a mini PC. Sure, you could pack up your large Xbox and its related components to hop on the bus and head to a friend’s LAN party – but why would you? Mini PCs are small systems that can easily be taken anywhere.

What to Look For

Here are some important factors to look for when choosing a mini PC for your gaming needs:

  • Performance: You’ll need your mini PC to play your favorite AAA game with the frame rates you need on your preferred settings.  And you may also want to look for the mini PC that can provide you with a premium VR experience.
  • Graphics: For serious gamers, you need a dedicated graphics card that can meet your needs and transform your gaming experience.
  • Size: Form factor is a vital area to keep in mind – based on performance and portability preferences, picking a laptop or a mini PC less than 5-liters in size is important.
  • Upgradeability and Bling: As we noted above, one of the key draws of mini PCs for gaming is their ability to be upgraded and fully customized based on your preferences. Look for mini PCs with features like extra PCIe and M.2 slots, and extra room in the case that will assist with future upgrades.  And as we all know, gamers like to live on the edge – look for a mini PC that has cool logo options with customizable RGB lighting.

For more on the value of mini PCs for gaming, or to learn about any of our other units speak to the staff at Simply NUC today. 

Simply NUC, Inc. is a systems integrator specializing in mini computers. Simply NUC provides fully configured, warranted, and supported mini PC systems to businesses and consumers, as well as end-to-end NUC project development, custom operating system installations, and NUC accessories. For more information visit Intel Partner Alliance.

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Intel NUC History: Moving Through the Generations

Intel NUC History: Moving Through the Generations

June 2021

Intel NUC history generations

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the general history behind the formation of the Intel NUC, (Next Unit of Computing). Conceptualized over a decade ago and first available on the market in 2013, the Intel NUC began as a barebone kit with a motherboard, heatsink and fan, chassis, power supply and mounting plate – but has gone through numerous iterations and evolutions since it first launched. The NUC is now a major part of the mini PC industry with usages in many market segments across the world.  

At Simply NUC, we’re proud to offer a huge variety of Intel NUC products, from NUC kits to pre-configured NUCs to mini PC solutions, and much more. There have been numerous models and upgrades of the NUC product leading to the selection that is available today. Part two of our series will cover a few of the important points in this evolution throughout the years, helping lead us to where we are today.

Ahead of its Time: Box Canyon

During the early iterations, as we mentioned in part one of the blog, the NUC models that were released were somewhat limited in ”feature density”, the number of features that can be supported in a small space. Take the ”legacy free” model called Box Canyon, for instance. It featured a Thunderbolt port which was way ahead of its time in 2013 but, as a feature density tradeoff, had no Ethernet RJ-45 jack.  The thinking was that consumers don’t use LAN jacks and access their internet via wi-fi instead. In theory, the thinking was probably right, but in reality consumers made it very clear they wanted a LAN jack, and Box Canyon sales suffered accordingly.  Fortunately for Intel, they offered another NUC called Ice Canyon which had the LAN jack and more traditional interfaces. Also, over the generations Intel has greatly improved feature density on the NUC – there are models today that offer two Thunderbolt ports and two LAN jacks among many other interfaces.

Laying the Groundwork: Horse Canyon and Forest Canyon

The third generation of NUC involved adding a key Intel technology to the NUC line-up, as well as a flexible solution for power plugs.  Introduced in 2014, the Horse Canyon NUC was the first mini PC to support Intel vPro technology which allows for out-of-band remote management of deployed systems.  Support for vPro opened up a new world of opportunity for key verticals such as digital signage and kiosk, in addition to enterprise opportunities.  In addition to Horse Canyon, Forest Canyon was released as the first NUC that could be powered by a “wall wart.”  This enabled a more efficient power connection between the NUC and the wall socket with a single power cable between the NUC and the wall.  In addition, the wall wart design allowed for different international plugs to be clipped in, enabling a single SKU with US, UK, EU, and AUS plug schemes. The wall wart methodology was very successful for Intel up until NUC power requirements exceeded 90W at which time Intel reverted back to more traditional power bricks.

Hitting Stride: Rock Canyon and Maple Canyon

Skipping a couple generations and moving forward to 2015, the fifth generation NUCs, based on Intel’s Broadwell-U processors, came in several options, and had several releases up to 2016. These models, named Rock Canyon and Maple Canyon, included updated CPU revisions, plus other upgrades like a 1GB Ethernet port, internal support for M.2 connectors for SSD storage, multiple USB connectors, internal USB headers, a headphone and microphone jack, and the capability to support up to 7.1 surround audio.  Another really important innovation that this generation introduced was replaceable lids. Given the size of NUCs, users often expressed the need for more USB or video ports or an extra LAN jack.  Replaceable lids enabled added functionality by placing these extra ports in a functional lid that provided a cable down to the NUC motherboard.  In addition, replaceable lids allowed for custom designs on the lids to support other colors or corporate logos.  Intel began to hit stride with feature density and innovation on the fifth generation NUCs.

The Breakthrough Performance Era: Skull Canyon, Hades Canyon, and Ghost Canyon

For the first many generations, NUC was limited to 25W processors, making it great as a power-efficient PC for productivity and home entertainment, but not at the performance level needed for gaming, engineering CAD work, or content creation.  A sixth generation NUC named Skull Canyon changed all that. Intel’s engineers innovated a thermal and cooling solution that enabled a 45W Skylake processor in a sub-liter chassis for the first time. Skull Canyon opened the door for usages that had never been imagined with the standard 4×4 NUCs. Jumping forward to more current times, Intel followed up Skull Canyon with Hades Canyon which featured a unique Intel processor SKU called Kaby Lake G, featuring a Intel CPU and an AMD GPU on the same substrate. Hades Canyon was the first NUC that featured discrete graphics enabling the first NUC that could support AAA games and premium VR experiences.  Moving forward again to early 2020, the ninth generation, code named Ghost Canyon or NUC 9 Extreme, included support for 8” desktop discrete graphic cards, plus a NUC compute element for CPU upgrades. This version came with an upgraded 5.0-liter case and an internal 500W PSU, allowing for a significant performance increase over prior sub-liter cases. 

Intel has continued to roll out updated versions of the NUC since Ghost Canyon, and we hope will continue to do so into the future. Feature density and innovation improvements are the basis of and continuing trend for the NUC.  For more on the evolution of NUC technology, or to learn about any of our NUC units, speak to the staff at Simply NUC today.

Simply NUC, Inc. is a systems integrator specializing in mini computers. Simply NUC provides fully configured, warranted, and supported mini PC systems to businesses and consumers, as well as end-to-end NUC project development, custom operating system installations, and NUC accessories. For more information visit Intel Partner Alliance.

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