Roger Wilco Jr wrote:So then I thought about those mini computers last night. Wow, those things are cheap.
You get what you pay for in some cases. Intel overprices the NUC. Zotac was early with the ZBox series (lots of various options and form-factors, a half-dozen more than NUC), and Gigabyte has many options in the BRIX (most look like a NUC). Most are Nano-ITX or even Pico-ITX inside.
Although there are now the new, Intel i-series + AMD GPU + 4GiB VRAM on-package (separate die, same BGA package) that are supposed to give near nVidia GTX 1060 performance. Of course they cost a lot, more than an i-series + GTX 1060, but if you want tiny, that's the way to go.
Roger Wilco Jr wrote:I already have a keyboard, mouse, SSD, and display. This seems like the perfect solution, maybe just getting fancy with a swing away monitor mount so I don't knock it onto the floor. And just having a keyboard on my lap, rather they a big heavy laptop, will be great. There are so many options though, and it's a little overwhelming just looking into them this morning.
So my question is - can you go too low in performance for web browsing and youtube? I mean, will the cheapest mini-ITX motherboard with Atom processor
Repeat after me ...
Never, ever buy Atom (which includes Celeron/Pentium "J" or "N" models). Don't get me started. Even Intel is giving up on Atom, going back to ARM (long story, they sold off their ARM division to Marvell in 2006). Atom is dying.
I.e., ARM is always faster and lower power in the same generation (Atom is always behind), and for x86-64 compatibility, an i-series in low-power states, even the low-cost Pentium G (crippled i3), is much better than Atom, Watt for Watt.
Roger Wilco Jr wrote:and 4GB ram be good enough?
4GiB is pushing it for Long Mode (x86-64). You really want at least 8GiB, and there's really no reason not to have at least 8GiB. Even 2011-era AMD Socket-FT1 (BGA-423) offers support for a single, single channel, 8GiB DDR3 SO-DIMM.
Roger Wilco Jr wrote:Or should I really go for some i3/i5
There are new 4-core Pentium G options coming out with the 8th gen i-series. They are basically a partially crippled i3, but still capable.
Roger Wilco Jr wrote:and more memory, or maybe AMD? My only other requirement would be wifi and a few USB ports - and I want to use my 2.5" SSD rather than getting an M.2 drive.
There's little reason to go M.2 unless you get native nVME (not just PCIe).
Roger Wilco Jr wrote:I also want to use Linux.
Linux installs and boots on everything these days. Out-of-the-box, either Fedora or Ubuntu will often install easier than Windows 10 (without tracking down all the OEM driver disks). There are exceptions, of course, but it's way easier to install, especially when you don't track down all of the drivers (which can be a PITA, and you have to crack open the case and get the exact mainboard make/model/submodel/revision) and hit that OEM's site for drivers for Windows.
About the only thing that gives people fits is when you start farting with Intel RST/NAND caching. Just skip that crap (don't get me started). Multi-boot is cake with native uEFI/GRUB booting as well. All of my x86-64 systems have been native uEFI since 2011, yes, even Windows 7 x64 (yes, it installs in native uEFI mode).