It’s easy to believe the VivoMini from ASUS is the future of home PCs. It’s really small, barely the size of a medium-sized tin of biscuits, but it’s powerful enough that it runs the full desktop version of Windows 10. That puts most of what a desktop PC can do at your fingertips, in a form factor attractive enough to fit into your lounge. Or even hidden entirely behind your TV.
And because it hooks up to your TV with an HDMI cable and can make use of wireless keyboards and mice, it’s as neat as can be. That’s brilliant, because with all of the streaming services coming online locally, the VivoMini PC provides a really easy way to get that content and more onto non-smart TVs.
The insides of the machine aren’t hugely impressive – we’re talking a Celeron processor, only 2GB of RAM and a paltry 32GB of storage space here – but that’s still more than a match for the web-surfing, email-checking and video on demand streaming you’re likely to do with the VivoMini. Sadly, even though integrated Intel HD graphics chips have become more powerful over the years, you won’t get anything but 2D gaming done on this PC – 3D gaming performance is so poor it’s just not worth bothering over.
Still, should you want to improve the overall responsiveness of the machine down the line, the box-like form factor means there’s space inside for upgrades, like space for up to 16GB of RAM and a 256GB M.2 SATA drive. Do that, and performance is only held back by the Celeron processor.
WiFi on the VivoMini is great, supporting improved speeds and coverage that AC-class WiFi offers over its N-class predecessor. Supplement that with a 1000Mbps wired LAN port, and you’ll find that network transfer speeds don’t hold the VivoMini back whatsoever.
ASUS is also giving people a bevy of input and output options. There are two USB 3.0 ports – perfect for expanding the 32GB of storage with external hard drives – one HDMI port and an audio jack for microphone in and headphone out. There is even a 4-in-1 card reader that is compatible with SD, SDHC, SDXC and MMC storage cards, useful for viewing the contents of memory cards when you’ve not yet transferred your photos onto the PC.
But perhaps the biggest appeal of this particular PC lies in the fact that as a full Windows desktop, it can run any PC application. Since there are so many available online, it’s almost inconceivable that you won’t find what you need.
While the VivoMini won’t be comfortable editing photos and videos, you can do just about anything else with it. And that’s powerful, because true versatility is not something tablets – those other options for connecting TVs up to the wider internet – are quite as good at.
So should you go out and get one? If you’re looking to hook yourself up with an excellent streaming device, and you want the power and versatility offered by a box that can run Windows apps as well, then definitely. Should you want a full-power desktop machine that just happens to be packed into a tiny form factor, no – the VivoMini is just powerful enough to get the job it was designed for done, but not much more.
Price: R2 399
Processor: Intel Celeron 2957U @ 1.4GHz
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics
Memory: 2GB (Upgradeable to 16GB)
Network: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet
Input: 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, HDMI, 4-in-1 card reader, 3.5mm audio jack (Mic in/Headphone out)
Performance – 8
Graphics – 7
Storage – 8
Interface – 8
Versatility – 8