Linux needs as many “it just works” systems as it can get if we want more people using the Windows 10 alternative. Dell is offering that for mobile users by selling laptops running Ubuntu. Linux Mint is catering to desktop users with the MintBox Mini, and the much-improved MintBox Mini 2 launches in June.
The MintBox has been around for years, offered in both mini and non-mini forms. The MintBox Mini 2 updates the original Mini and Mini Pro with better specs, performance, and features. It also manages to be the same dimensions as the Mini it is replacing, except for being slightly taller for improved passive cooling.
That extra height doesn’t take anything away from how tiny this desktop PC is. Measuring just 4.4-by-3.3-by-1.3-inches, inside the MintBox Mini 2 you’ll find a quad-core Apollo Lake Celeron J3455 processor with Intel HD Graphics 500, 4GB of RAM, and a 64GB SSD for $299. The MintBox Mini 2 Pro increases the SSD to 120GB and the RAM to 8GB for $349. And in case you hadn’t guessed, the passively-cooled system will ship with Linux Mint 19 64-bit installed.
In terms of performance, Geekbench 4 results show the Mini 2 offers near double the performance of the old Mini Pro, and 4x the performance of the old Mini, all while retaining the same price points.
Even though the case is tiny, it doesn’t skimp on ports. On the back you’ll find two USB 2.0, full-size HDMI 1.4, mini DisplayPort 1.2, two Gigabit LAN ports (802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 also included), and a DC port for power. On the side are two antennas and a Kensington lock, and then on the front you’ll find two USB 3.0, Line-in, Line-out, a Micro SD slot, power button, and two LEDs.
The top of the case acts as a heatsink, with the Mini 2 capable of operating at temperatures as high as 85 degrees Celsius or as low as -40 degrees Celsius. That’s thanks to industrial PC specialist Compulab, who is the Linux Mint team’s manufacturing partner.
While it’s not going to set any performance records, if all you want is a desktop PC for surfing the web, watching videos, and doing general everyday work, then the MintBox Mini 2 is certainly worth considering. It’s completely silent, only consumers 15W, and offers an easy introduction to Linux.
If you’d like a Mini 2, then worldwide availability is expected in June. If you can afford the extra $50, then the Pro is the better buy due to the extra 4GB of RAM and 60GB of storage included.