Nothing’s perfect when it comes to choosing your personal computer. While a portable, all-in-one laptop could be dragged by poor cooling, fixed components and battery life, a full-size desktop belittled by its bulky and heavy footprint lacks mobility but makes up for it with its raw performance and easy upgradability. A possible solution to this age-old dilemma is an alternative option – a Small Form Factor (SFF) PC or Mini PC that gives you a bit of the best of both worlds.

Let’s look into the advantages of a SFF computer over laptop and traditional desktop.

They are Small in Size, Big in Performance

In terms of performance, there are SFF computers on par if not more with a towering PC, and stronger than some laptops with same-level components. Professional content creators always choose a desktop, which ensures optimized performance when handling the industry’s most popular software at the fastest speed possible. A smaller Creator PC like the ZBOX Q Series gives them a better choice. It features workstation-class CPU and GPU – up to Intel Xeon and NVIDIA Quadro processor – that can accelerate their creative process while giving more room to the workspace. And more importantly, they can buy or upgrade the memory and storage according to their needs thanks to easy access to the system’s interior.

When speaking of gaming, SFF PC excels in creating the next-level immersion due to its powerful graphics engine. Take a look on MEK MINI Gaming PC in an ultra-compact and stylish enclosure yet armed with a discrete desktop grade ZOTAC GAMING GeForce RTX SUPER graphics card, a 9th Gen Intel Core processor, 16GB DDR4 memory and up to 2TB storage. With such spec, you can play the latest ray-tracing supported titles with smooth frame rates. It proves that SFF computers can give solid gaming performance without a look screaming “I’m that strong, bulky gaming PC.”

They have Good Cooling and Noise Performance

SFF computer has superior cooling system while being small. You can take advantage of a decent CPU heatsink, a graphics card with strong cooling, and additional strategically placed chassis fans that help your computer run strong. Noise levels are also important as SFF systems are typically placed at the desk level. Let’s see some of the benchmarks of our SFF PCs:

Maximum temperature of MEK MINI with RTX 2070 SUPER

The CPU temperature under gaming runs between 88°-89°C, which is within the standard for a compact system. Keep in mind, the numbers you see of MEK MINI is mainly a torture test where many users will simply not do. And therefore, the numbers could be much lower in real-world usage. Also, you can see the GPU temperature at peak sits at a prominent 77°C at a minimum. The good thermal performance can contribute to the optimized design of maximum breathability and powerful cooling.

Noise Performance of MAGNUS EN52060V

Despite having a thin enclosure, the new MAGNUS EN Series keeps the noise profile down to whisper-quiet levels even under the heaviest torture tests. Operating at 22 dBA when idle, the Mini Creator PC manages to only produce a maximum noise level of around 30 dBA under full load. Hence you can let yourself immerse into creative work and home entertainment without being interrupted by annoying noise.

There are also ZBOX Mini PCs which are complete silent thanks to the use of passive cooled hardware. Just because they’re passively cooled doesn’t mean the performance won’t be there – quite the contrary indeed. With the ZBOX CI660 nano, its performance is known to outperform quite a few actively cooled Ultrabook laptops.

They are Easily Upgradable and Expandable

SFF PC are limited in space and its designs utilize any and almost every mm of space available to improve performance. When the performance of your system could be no longer sufficient, upgrading can breathe new life into your existing SFF PC. The ZBOX Mini PC comes with the advantage of tool-less access into the internal hardware enabling the easy upgrading of memory and storage. While certain SFF systems use desktop grade components allowing them to be upgraded, the design of the system was spec’d with the hardware it came with so we don’t recommend to do so.

SFF PCs can also offer a plethora of ports for you to connect to peripherals, external storage, and multiple displays. Like our award-winning ZBOX CI660 nano, it features HDMI 2.0 (3840×2160 60Hz) and DisplayPort 1.2 (4096×2160 60Hz) and other connectivity options like Wireless AC, USB 3.1 Type-C, USB 3.1, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, dual Gigabit LAN and Bluetooth 5.0. Even our pocket-size ZBOX PI335 pico has two full sized display ports and a full sized Gigabit Ethernet port so you can turn a display into a PC anytime, anywhere.

They are Travel-Friendly

As the SFF systems are getting smaller yet more powerful nowadays, your back will thank you. The MAGNUS EN72070V is a great example. It is one of the most advanced models of the ZBOX Mini Creator PCs, powered by a 9th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics, Killer networking and upgradable memory and storage. Not to mention it only has a size measuring 8.27 x 7.99 x 2.45 (in) and weighing just a tiny 3.66lbs or 1.66Kg, making it a very compact and lightweight workstation that can turn your next destination into a professional creative workspace.

MEK MINI is also a lightweight (around 4kg or 9lbs) but capable gaming machine that can fit into your backpack. It’s the perfect companion when it comes to BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer) LAN Parties.

SFFs PCs have gotten quite capable while still retaining a small and lightweight footprint with lots of ports for add-ons. Gone are the days of hot, noisy, slow performing SFF systems and IN are the days of quiet, powerful, and cool that can rival laptops and standard desktop form factors.

Learn More about our Small Form Factor PCs: