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Friday, April 12, 2024

This mini PC’s solution to chonky graphics cards is both brilliant and ridiculous

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There’s plenty of love for mini PCs here on the PC Gamer team. Sure they can be limited when it comes to their graphical grunt, but if you’re looking for a whole PC that can be hidden out of sight they’re hard to beat. As integrated graphics has improved, these micro machines have got a lot more capable at playing games too, although you’re not really in AAA gaming territory most of the time, to be fair.

The Intel NUC is one of the most famous mini PCs around, but Minisforum has also made a name for itself by producing all manner of tiny machines. There are tiny Intel and AMD systems in their line-up, with one of its latest AMD systems offering something rather unique in this space—support for discrete graphics cards. 

There’s an obvious problem here of course, and that is most graphics cards are much bigger than these miniature PCs. The B550 Mini PC has a somewhat novel solution: less a PC’s external dock to plug your graphics card into, more a graphics card with an external dock to plug your whole PC into. There’s also room to hold a PSU, because let’s face it, if you’re going to attach a massive graphics card to a tiny PC, you’re not going to limit yourself to a bus-powered model. 

It’s both ridiculous and brilliant in its simplicity. 

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But mostly ridiculous. I mean you’re talking about having a powered graphics card sitting on your desk that isn’t protected by a metal box. Next to a PSU that also isn’t protected by a metal box. And while you’ll obviously try not to spill a fizzy, sugary beverage on it, accidents definitely do happen. 

This also undermines the main point of such machines—this is most definitely not a mini PC anymore.

Still, there’s something about this idea that appeals. Having a tiny CPU box connecting to a tiny GPU box makes for a tempting modular PC idea. Or at least it would if you could actually buy graphics cards. Because let’s face it, the current state of the market renders this entirely moot.

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