If you're eyeballing a new computer for working from home, you're probably thinking laptop. But why? Portable PCs were designed for, well, portability, not desk duty. They're ergonomically unsound, with smallish screens that force you to hunch over because they're not at eye level. And if you're working from home anyway, why pay for a battery that's just going to wear out while it sits there? Allow me to make the case for a mini PC, the modern-day alternative to the hulking desktop towers of yesteryear.
For a very reasonable price, you can get a powerful machine that works with the monitor, mouse and keyboard of your choice — peripherals affording the comfort that's so crucial when you're stuck at your desk. I tested one such system, the Geekom IT8 Mini PC, and let me just skip to the verdict: It's great.
Geekom IT8 Mini PC design and features
Preloaded with Windows 11 Pro, the IT8 packs a substantial amount of hardware into its 117 x 112 x 45.6 mm frame — which, I should mention, can mount to the back of most monitors using an included VESA bracket. That's a great option, as it keeps the system out of sight and cuts down on desktop cord clutter. It also makes the ports harder to access, but the IT8 is easy to pop on and off the mount as needed.
The configuration I tested includes an Intel Coffee Lake Core i5 processor and, as noted above, 16GB of RAM and a spacious SSD. Amazingly, there's room inside for additional RAM (up to 32GB total) and even a traditional 2.5-inch SATA hard drive, in case you want more storage. Opening the case is as simple as removing four screws.
Although I didn't run benchmarks on the system (I test using real-world situations), the system booted in a flash and ran my software at a healthy clip. If you're someone who likes to keep a dozen-plus browser tabs open, the IT8 can power through that without breaking a sweat.
As for graphics, the integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 subsystem can handle up to 4K display resolution. It may bog down if you're doing any really complex image- or video-editing work, but I was able to play the classic PC game Borderlands at Full HD resolution. In other words, this may not be a graphics powerhouse, but it can tackle the basics just fine. In fact, the system supports up to four separate displays, using a combination of HDMI, mini-DisplayPort and USB-C ports.
I paired it with just one, the excellent Innocn 27C1U 27-inch monitor, along with a wireless mouse/keyboard combo. The latter relies on a tiny USB dongle, but that wasn't a problem because the IT8 serves up three Type-A and two Type-C USB ports. It also has an SD memory card slot and a headphone jack.
If there's a hardware shortcoming, it's the Wi-Fi 5 implementation; Wi-Fi 6 is the newest standard, but it's unlikely this will pose a problem for most users. The system doesn't have a built-in speaker, either, so you'll have to look to an external option (monitor, headphones, Bluetooth speakers, etc.).
Geekom IT8 Mini PC: Worth buying?
If portability isn't a concern (i.e., you don't need a laptop), I definitely recommend the Geekom IT8 — especially since you can grab it for $340 with the on-page coupon. Even at the regular $450, it's a solid deal. Yes, you have to BYO monitor and keyboard, but that's a good thing: You can choose larger, more comfortable ones that better suit your work-from-home setup.
Honestly, I struggled to find anything wrong with this PC. It's well-equipped right out of the box but has room for expansion. It's powerful enough for everyday computing tasks and even some gaming. And it's refreshingly small, no threat at all to even the most crowded desks.
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