Space constraint is one of the major problems that Singapore faces, both as a country and households. According to Storhub, a whopping 61% of younger Singaporeans from 18-35 years old ‘require space at home solely for digital activities’. Such activities include the use of computers, presumably for gaming, productivity or creative work. In a country where space is one of its ultimate constraints, Singaporean households are not able to just knock down walls to expand their living space. Rather, most of them need to learn to make do with it. One way that some households are looking towards is owning custom mini-PCs in Singapore rather than a normal-sized desktop. For reference, a custom mini-PC can be as small as 17 x 17cm, while a normal-sized desktop is around 45 x 43 x 15cm. This is a large difference. Especially for households that cannot afford to spare extra space for the PC. Hence, mini-PCs in Singapore is becoming increasingly popular.
Depending on your usage, there are different mini-PCs that you will be interested in. Apple has their Mac Mini, which is a staple in many small creator studios. There are also custom mini-PCs in Singapore that you can find in different retailers. In this article, we will be focusing on the latter and comparing it to normal-sized desktops. This is because despite space constraints, certain workflows that you adopt will require certain powerful components in your PC. This might affect your decision on whether to get mini-PCs or regular desktops.
We will go through the reasons why you would want to own a custom mini-PC, reasons why a normal desktop might be the one for you. We will wrap up with which option we think is good for you depending on your workflow.
Why own a custom mini-PC in Singapore?
1. Space constraint
As mentioned in our introduction, space constraint is one of the most major concerns that Singaporean households face. We don’t have the luxury to increase the size of our living spaces whenever we felt like it. Unlike countries with large geographical areas, like the United States, we cannot just buy the plot of land next to our houses and build a dedicated gaming room there. Hence, Singaporean households often find themselves accommodating to whatever space they were given in their homes. This becomes a good reason to seek out custom mini-PCs. They don’t take up too much space, and can work as intended.
The cost of a custom mini-PC is going to differ depending on the type of components that you want to install inside. But it will mostly be cheaper as compared to a regular desktop. Here at Volta PC, we provide a range of different components that you can fit inside your custom mini-PC.
A main difference between a mini-PC and a regular one is the size of the motherboard. You cannot install any regular motherboard into your mini-PC; it just wouldn’t fit inside the casing. A relatively inexpensive board that we suggest is the MSI MPG B760I Edge Wifi DDR5 (see below).
- MSI MPG B760I EDGE Wifi DDR5$329.00 w/GST
This Intel motherboard supports the newer 12th and 13th Gen processors, and DDR5 memory. There are also plenty of ports on its I/O shield. Hence, if you are a gamer, then you can play many games using this motherboard. If you use your PC to be productive or for creative work, then the abundance of ports would be amazing.
Another main difference between a mini-PC and a regular desktop is the size of the casing. Most mini-PCs have ITX cases, and one that we recommend is the Lian Li A4H2O (see below).
Image taken from Volta PC.
In addition to its aesthetic look, this casing also allows users to vertically install their GPUs, so it takes up lesser space. This helps to improve airflow, keeping temperatures down and improving system stability. Its dimensions are 32.6 x 14 x 24.4 cm (D x W x H). While this makes it a little bit bigger than a typical custom mini-PC, it provides more space for you to install a decent graphics card (which we all know are rather big these days), thus providing you with a little bit more performance.
When you compare the difference in cost between a mini-PC and a regular desktop, you will find that the former is often cheaper than the latter. For instance, the Lian Li A4H2O above costs $239 at Volta PC, while a regular desktop with an ATX casing like the ASUS Helios GX601 costs $499. This is most likely due to the lower manufacturing costs for the former, given the smaller volume. However, one might argue that there are also other ATX cases like the ASUS GT301 that costs $139. This might be due to the lower quality of materials used to build the latter as compared to the Lian Li A4H2O that brings about the low cost. It might also be due to the uniqueness of mini-PC cases that hikes up their prices a little, but the price-to-performance ratio remains decent.
Why might a normal desktop be a better choice?
There might be a few reasons why a normal desktop might be the better choice for you. Firstly, it depends on your workflow. Secondly, it depends on the amount of space you have at home or office.
If you are an avid gamer and like to play games with high, demanding graphics, then a regular desktop might be a better choice for you. Unlike a mini-PC, you have a lot of space to install many fans or liquid coolers and a large GPU to help you run those games better. GPUs these days are getting larger and larger; just look at Nvidia’s new RTX 4090. That thing can be approximately 30.4 x 13.7 x 6.1 cm large and takes up 3 slots on your motherboard. Most people would find it a squeeze to fit this behemoth into a mini-PC case. With some maneuvering, there are some who are successful. But then another worry arises: cooling.
With the size of a mini-PC casing, it is very difficult to cool the components properly. First, there is a lack of space for air to run within the casing. Second, only very few cases support liquid cooling, again, due to the lack of space to run the cooling channels properly. Without proper cooling channels, not only will your room become a sauna, your GPU might not be able to run optimally due to lack of proper cooling. That would be a waste of your money after purchasing the expensive, large GPUs.
Hence, should you fall into this category of gamers, we would suggest you buying a regular desktop instead. Not only can you fit your large GPU comfortably, you can properly cool the entire PC well with adequate number of fans or liquid cooling. This would definitely boost the longevity of your PC and allow you to get your money’s worth with all the components running optimally.
It is a similar line of reasoning for creative work. Most professional creators rely on powerful creative software, such as video and photo editors to do their jobs. Some of the professional-grade software, like Adobe Premiere Pro, Photoshop etc., might require high processing power and graphical capabilities from your PC. Hence, again, it is difficult for you to have a mini-PC as powerful as a regular desktop to render your multimedia at an optimal speed. If you are a professional creator, then a regular desktop might be a better choice at getting the job done.
Like we’ve mentioned earlier, space is typically a constraint here in Singapore. However, should you happen to have spare space in your home or office, then you can consider a regular desktop as well. If you’re a gamer or content creator, then regular desktops just offer you a wider range of capabilities and improve your workflow as compared to a mini-PC. If you’re into productivity, then it honestly does not really matter which PC type you go for, as long as they can run your Excel sheets and open up your websites well, then they’ll be good to go.
So which to choose?
So which should you go for? Like most computer purchase articles, this depends on your preferences and workflow. It also depends on how much space you have at your desk. If you lack space, then we would strongly recommend getting a custom mini-PC. If not, then regular desktops can be considered too. As long as you are able to work/game well, then the machine would have fulfilled its purposes.
Should you choose to go for a custom mini-PC, we have plenty of casing options here in our catalogue. We also have regular-sized casings (ATX, EATX etc.) should you choose to go for a regular desktop. If you would like to purchase PC components separately or peripherals, check out our whole catalogue right here. Check out our other articles here about gaming, gaming PCs and the like. We at Volta PC wish you happy gaming!