Nowadays there is a large variety of options when it comes to mini-computers, many of which are barebones that you have to assemble yourself.
Of course, these have a lower price and are often preferred by some individuals. Other mini-computers come ready-to-use with all the components and even the operating system pre-installed. Of course, their price is higher, though not by much, something that deters some people. So, what alternative should you go for?
If you are a hard-core IT enthusiast, the sort of person who would prefer Linux or some other more esoteric operating system (of do computer-related DIY projects for fun), then a barebone may be the best option for you. Although turning a barebone into a fully functional mini-computer is no easy task, it is still feasible and may be even fun for those super geeks out there. Plus you get to choose what components to put in your machine, something that some people like to have control over.
If, however, you are not a super power-user and care more about having a fully-functional and accountable machine, then it would probably be better to invest in a ready-to-use mini-computer. Apart from the obvious advantage that you can start using it right after the unboxing stage, there are a few other advantages to it, such as:
• Warranty. If you purchase a fully-functional mini-computer from a reputable brand, you will receive some kind of warranty providing you with the priceless peace of mind.
• No compatibility problems in the hardware. Unless you are super knowledgeable about PCs, building a fully-functional machine out of a barebone one is a huge liability, since some of the parts may not be compatible with the motherboard, or may not perform as expected.
• Reliability. Naturally a mini-computer assembled by professionals is bound to be more reliable than one you have built yourself. And although replacing a failed part may not be that much of a challenge, what about the data in your machine? Certainly it would be safer in a computer that's been properly tested.
• Saving time with operating system and software. Though not all fully-functional mini-computers come with a bundle of useful application, most mini-PCs come with the operating system pre-installed, saving you a lot of time.
To sum up, building a mini-PC from a barebone may appeal to some people, but it is oftentimes not worth the hustle. The few dollars you may save through this route are not enough to justify the extra effort such an endeavor will take, plus there is no price tag for the peace of mind that you have when opting for an out-of-the-shelf solution. So unless you are this a Steve Wozniak of sorts , it would probably be better to stick with the fully-functional mini-computers that you can find online.