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A Random Video Wiki

Mini PC Sticks

Just when you thought computers couldn't get much smaller, along comes these mini PC sticks. Not much bigger than a thumb drive, these tiny devices let you take your processing power anywhere in your pocket, then plug them into any TV or monitor to run Windows applications, stream media, surf the Web, and more. You'll finally be free of lugging around a laptop everywhere you go.

8 Best Mini PC Sticks

How Mini PC Sticks Are So Small

Looking at a small, seemingly unimpressive PC stick, one might be fooled into thinking it is just another thumb drive, but they are so much more. Manufacturers are now able to pack fully functioning PCs into a case the size of a standard USB storage drive. This is possible because of a number of factors.

Moore's Law, which was formulated by co-founder of Intel Gordon E. Moore in 1965, essentially states that "the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years." This means that every two years, it is possible to reduce the size of hardware like microchips and microprocessors by 50%. Since his findings in 1965, this has proven to be accurate.

Looking at some vital components of a PC, we can see this process in action. The motherboard was the first source of major innovation that led to a reduction in size of computers. Between 2000 and 2007, VIA Technologies, a hardware manufacturer, made notable breakthroughs in miniaturizing motherboards. First the standard ATX was reduced to the Micro ATX, which was then followed by further size reductions to the Mini ITX, Nano ITX, and finally the Pico ITX.

At the same time motherboards were being miniaturized, manufacturers were also focusing on integrated peripherals. These are PC components that were previously add-ons, but were now being integrated directly into the motherboard. Components like modems, Ethernet ports, audio output, and Bluetooth no longer required separate devices to be included within the computer case. Everything was handled by the motherboard.

Combining CPUs and GPUs into a single chip is another factor that has helped manufacturers miniaturize PCs. A new chip known as the APU is able to perform the tasks of both a CPU and a GPU, while using less power. For the average computer user's demands, an external graphics card is no longer needed.

The exclusion of optical media drives in most computers has also allowed for additional size reduction. CDs and DVDs are no longer commonly used as a means to transfer and store data. Instead there are a number of more efficient alternatives, like USB drives and cloud storage.

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