Your next computer should be a desktop, maybe even a mini-PC • Registry | Job Binary


Desktop Tourism I was recently given a desktop computer, and the humble machine is the most fun I’ve had in my year of Desktop Tourism; The project saw me testing rare and normal client devices every month since March 2022.

The machine is a Maxtang NX6412 – Chinese brand – with a modest 10nm Intel Celeron quad-core clocked at 2.6GHz with a 1.5MB L2 Cache. The box can be found sold as bare bones for around $300; Your mileage may vary depending on where you shop. I bought a 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM, a USB-A Wi-Fi and Bluetooth dongle, and a gray market Windows license for under $80.

The computer is good enough for my daily browsing, typing, video or audio playback and some km in the Zwift cycling metaverse.

I expect that level of performance from any PC these days. And yes, there may be better deals out there for NUCs, some using Intel Core and AMD Ryzen processors. But I asked him how this Celeron Maxtang would turn out, and I found that it was fine.

Maxtang NX6412 Mini PC

Maxtang NX6412 Mini PC – Click to enlarge

Where this one shines is its impressive array of ports on the back: twin HDMIs, a pair of USB-A 2.0 outputs, and twin RJ-45s. I plugged an old USB hub into a USB-A port and plugged in all the stuff I put in and out of my laptop (webcam, decent microphone, USB speaker, and Logitech wireless input device connector), and just let it go. hang out of sight.

The devices are connected 24/7 and all their cables are tucked away behind the computer and under my monitor. My desk is tidier than it has been in years.

With one exception: a blue DisplayPort-to-HDMI cable (I don’t remember buying it) that runs a short distance from the computer’s second HDMI port to drive an old Dell 13″ LCD monitor (which I remember getting in 2002 or 2003) that now provides extra 1024×768 desktop real estate. .

Vulture East Home Annex feat.  Maxtang mini-PC

Brand new Vulture East Home Annex feat. Maxtang mini-PC – Click to enlarge

I love this setup because I use my laptop screens as secondary displays and therefore have to run multiple cables across the desk to get to their tiny ports. My desktop is under the monitor stand with everything connected and I never have to hunt for cables or devices. None of the peripherals I use need a front-mounted USB 3.0 port.

Yes, I could get a dock or port replicator and get the exact same setup for a laptop. But such devices cost as much as the desktop I’m enjoying now and are often tied to a particular brand of laptop.

A port replicator or dock would also leave the laptop free to roam, which I’ve decided I don’t want.

When I use a laptop in my home office, when it’s in a sturdy garden, I pack it up at the end of the day and bring it home, only to use it again when I’m tempted to do one more email or take a look. registration to make sure I didn’t leave any mistakes on the first page.

Now that I have a desktop, my mindset has changed and I stay in my home office to complete a day’s work and then make a mental and physical transition to domesticity (although I also use a smartphone, tablet and e-reader. day).

My desktop setup is not a panacea. My rather nasty workload – upscaling five minutes of 4K video to HD with the open source video conversion tool Handbrake – was done by 11:59. It’s capable of the feat longer than any other machine I’ve tested. Maxtang doesn’t like running VMware Workstation: A small-scale test on an Ubuntu VM with 2GB of memory ran close to the estimated job time of 53:00, but in several tests Handbrake decided that mysteriously exiting was better than finishing the job.

I also ran the free Cinebench rendering benchmark tool, which scored the machine at 1,581. The fastest system on the Cinebench charts scored 30,054 points thanks to the 32GHz AMD Threadripper.

This power is not!

Where is the desktop?

The unexpected pleasure of using a desktop computer got me thinking about their role. Desktops account for about 20 percent of the PC market, and as Canalys’ chart below shows, machine shipments have fallen more slowly than laptops.

Canalys PC sales statistics for Q3 2022

Canalys PC sales statistics for Q3 2022 – Click to enlarge

Arguably the desktop market has held up because there are so many roles that only one desktop will work for. There are many GPUs, fans and drives that gamers and content creators can cram into a laptop.

Maxtang will never satisfy a gamer, CAD user or developer who need VMs to run properly. But it’s perfectly capable of handling everyday productivity tasks.

A big entry into the computer market in recent years has been the good Chromebook laptops.

Maybe it’s time to think about good enough desktops too, especially now that hybrid work is the new normal. I am often told that the two or three days a week from home, which is now permissible for many workers, requires tools adapted to these new situations. It is important to ensure that people are as productive as possible, because the office is not an everyday destination.

Tidying up my workspace and freeing up my laptop for what’s really needed, my little desktop is that tool. And I think it can be yours too, if you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated work-from-home job like me. ®



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