Mini-towers are the computer industry’s answer to the growing need for more computing power in smaller and smaller spaces. The idea behind mini-towers today is that they allow the brains and guts of the computer to be tucked away in a small tower that can be kept on or under a desk while taking up a minimal amount of space. They are also often designed to look good and critics of mini-towers point out that looks trump functionality for many mini-tower designs.
While mini-towers do have a number of advantages, the focus here is on the disadvantages of a computer mini-tower.
This is the biggest disadvantage of the mini-tower computer, and one that is often shared with laptops and all-in-one desktops where the monitor contains the computer as well. Mini-towers are of course smaller then standard desktop towers and naturally have less space available for adding anything on.
At first this might not seem like a big deal for the casual computer user. But technology advancements move at a stunningly fast rate and a ‘new’ computer can become obsolete in just a few months. Having the space in the form of PCI slots and the ability to add more RAM are both crucial features of a good computer. Mini-towers often have fewer slots and less space for more RAM meaning that whatever is put in them when being made is what you are stuck with.
In addition to lacking the full array of PCI slots, drive bays, and RAM expansion abilities, many mini-tower computers come with far fewer USB and Firewire ports then their standard sized counterparts. Those looking to add another hard drive or optical drive will be out of luck as most of these smaller towers simply lack the available bay space for more drives.
And upgrading the sound or video card to an after-market version is often a struggle with mini-towers as you may need to find specially made cards that are smaller to fit in.
Although the prices of powerful computers is dropping nearly every year, it is no surprise that when compared to a full desktop computer, laptop owners pay more for basically less. Less in terms of storage space and processing power. While this gap is getting smaller and smaller, if you want the fastest and most powerful computer right now, a laptop is not the way to go.
The same holds true for mini-towers; sure they may cost less when compared to laptops and ultra portable computers, but they still usually have less for the money when compared to full size laptops. You may be able to pay less for a mini-tower but you’ll generally be getting less for your money as well.
Cramming more processing power into smaller and smaller computers means that the price you pay is more for the smaller size then for the maximum possible computing power. Upgrades to mini-computers may cost more as well.
A larger desktop simply has more space inside the tower for airflow, meaning that the computer can run cooler and there is a lower risk of overheating. Mini-towers have all of their components crammed into a very small space combined with all the heat being generated by the components. This may mean that a mini-tower desktop computer is running consistently at higher temperatures then larger towers.
Overheating can lead to a shorter life-span, cause damage to the components, and basically wear out the parts faster. While improvements have been made with the advancement of heat sinks and better fan placement, mini-towers just have less space in which to fit it all in and less open space for air to flow through.
Overall mini-towers have some advantages and as you can see, some disadvantages as well. Depending on your needs a mini-tower may be right for you, but if you want the most flexibility in upgrading and the most powerful machine for your money, a full size desktop computer is still the way to go.