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Product Review: Hewlett Packard Mini Desktop

In 2015, the Mini Desktop is a new form-factor in Hewlett Packard's desktop range, adding to the traditional “tower”, traditional (albeit small form factor) “desktop”, ultra-slim desktop and all-in-one. Previously, the ultra-slim desktop was the desired form-factor for users who want a PC without any fuss — best suited to business users where expandability is not a requirement, but reduced footprint is. The Mini Desktop is even smaller.

Although not as small as Intel's NUC, it scores over that device by shipping with storage, memory and an operating system, and therefore ready to go, out of the box. It also uses an ordinary VGA port, so it's compatible with every monitor, but also features two (non-Mini) DisplayPort ports for modern display devices.

It ships with traditional spindle hard disks or SSD drives, the latter being perfect for users who want performance but not storage capacity.

Importantly for business users, it also features a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip which makes BitLocker easier to use.

One issue to be careful of is that some of these units ship with wireless networking and some don't.

As of late 2015, the Mini Desktop has Windows 7 Professional preinstalled, and Windows 8.1 Pro on DVD. Thus, if you want to deploy Windows 8.1, you'll need an external DVD drive. If you wish to deploy Windows 10, you can boot to Windows 7 and then upgrade immediately (or use your own media). From early 2016, most models ship with Windows 7 Professional preinstalled and Windows 10 Pro media, and an additional DVD with drivers. Reformatting with the Windows 10 media is naturally much faster than booting to Windows 7 and upgrading.

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