Desktop PC vs Mini PC


For a few weeks now, I have been buying and returning mini pcs as none of them fit what I want. The idea is to have a computer with a low consumption, about 24 w and with some power to farm and plot, at less 1 plot a day. For the current price of a mini pc, I can buy a more powerful second-hand desktop computer, but with a higher consumption.

What do you think is better?


The computer you plot with and the computer you end up farming with don’t have to be one and the same. How many plots will you want to create?

If you’re going for ~many plots~, then buy an old Xeon workstation with lots of ram and use that to plot with (there seem to be a lot of these being decomissioned these days) - sell it once you’re done.

For your farmer, it depends if you’re going for external or internal HDD’s. If externals, then buy yourself a Raspberry Pi 4 + a USB hub and call it a day (Raspberry Pi4 + USB hub + USB–powered 5TB externals are probably the most power efficient setup)

If you’re going with internal HDD’s, then I’d probably just find a mini-ATX case that I liked and just buy the parts for it myself - you’re likely going to end up better off than buying a NUC or smth.

Edit: Honorable mention, if you don’t intend to have many plots at all, then skip buying a plotter and just pay for someone else to make the plots for you, there are plenty of options.

I only use externals. I will stop at 24 TB only. I’m worried about the electric usage in the long term (years from now).

I had 10 pcs HP Prodesk 600 G3 i7-7500 mini computers with 65W power in action some time ago. They make about 90 plots a day. Newer mesured the real power usage, but not much. Using external HDD’s.

I got 4 K33 plots a day out of a refurbished Dell Optiplex SFF from Amazon for $509 CAD plus $500 for NVMe and expansion card to mount it.

These refurbished office machines are easy and cheap to purchase, and an i7 system will meet your expectations and then some without using much power.

What is the spec of your amazon PC? Thanks!

I added a PCIe riser for the NVMe.

and a 2TB NVMe card.

Total just over $1000 CAD.

I also added a 2TB SSD as a secondary plotting drive and had to use a power splitter to get this in.

It just enough resources and power to produce 3 parallel K33s every 18 hours, or 4 K33s a day. It is ideal for K33s as it takes longer and works harder (too hard almost to CPU burn) if you try to plot the 6 or 7 parallel K32s possible with the 2TB plotting drive.

This machine has an excellent fan system. It is best that you turn the fans to always on in the BIOS if plotting as suggested above. The fans are loud, but keep my CPU and not extra heat synced NVMe plotting drive from getting too hot. They will overheat without full time fans.

This machine is not well setup to use madmax’s abilities well. Chia plotting is the best option except for maybe multiple instances of madmax, but I know nothing of that except that it might be possible.

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Also, thinking time to downsize farmer, except no plotting, my TR does that. Still, these might be able to plot a bit, and you don’t need super fast, maybe even use MadMax as it uses less memory? Require smthg w/less power, space, noise & able to move to out-of-the-way place. Only Win10 Pro, I have the setup now & can do it easily, no hassle.

So looking at these $200-300 and similar, they have low power, 4 USB 3.0 ports. Add some hubs & should run GUI farmer and farmr easily. Haven’t tried yet. Anyone done anything like this?

Beelink Mini PC J4125 (up to 2.7Ghz) 8GB RAM DDR4/256GB SSD Windows 10 Pro

GK50 Fanless Mini PC 8GB DDR4 256GB SSD Pentium N5030(up to 3.1GHz) Desktop Computer, HDMI&DP 4K@60Hz Outputs, 1X Gigabit Ethernet, 4X USB 3.0, Dual Band WiFi, Support PXE Boot

MeLE Mini PC Windows 10 Pro 8GB DDR4 128GB eMMC Celeron J4125 Processor Quad-Core Fanless Mini Computer Dual Screen Display BT4.2 2.4G/5.0G Dual Band WiFi USB3.0

P.S. So no Pi, due to current controversy, the small upcost is worth staying out of that. No old PCs, I’m done with generationally obsolete stuff, it sucks power, space, noise. Cheap is relative.


I bough 3 mini PCs this past week and return all of them. The Beelink didn’t have the Windows license active. Another one make more noise than my Desktop PC and another from SUNNZO brand didn’t boot after a a power loss even if I setup it in the BIOS.

So from my experience, mini PCs are more trouble than a simple normal PC.

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Too bad you got bad equipment on two of them. On that one (which one?) what happened, noise aside, what CPU did it have, did it function as a farmer??

I didn’t use any for more than a few minutes but I’m sure they could work as farmers, as are normal PCs with Celerons.