Is it better to buy a laptop or a mini desktop computer + portable monitor with a budget of around five to six thousand?

Portable mini PC vs. integrated laptop for different needs

It still depends on your specific usage scenario. After all, a mini desktop computer with a portable display does offer a certain degree of portability, but you must also consider peripherals such as the keyboard and speakers. On the other hand, a laptop truly integrates the keyboard, screen, main unit, and speakers into one device, and even includes a touchpad for situations where a mouse is not available.

Now let’s talk about price. With a budget of around 5000-6000, you can probably get an entry-level gaming laptop. If you can find something like the Lenovo Legion R7000 at launch price, you can get a gaming laptop with an Nvidia GTX 4060 graphics card, a 2.5K resolution, 165Hz refresh rate screen, and it even comes with a built-in keyboard and speakers. Although the battery capacity is not high, it’s still better than not being able to use it at all without a power source like a mini desktop computer.

If your main use case is for office work and you don’t often move around, or if you do move around but still have access to a power source, and you want a more minimalistic desktop setup, then you can consider a mini desktop computer. I’ve previously used the ZeroPC SER5 MAX, which is indeed lightweight and compact.

In addition, there is also the new SER7 model, which is equipped with an R7-7840HS processor and offers a certain level of gaming performance. It can meet the requirements for office work and light gaming, and there are multiple color options available.

You can also refer to my review of the ZeroPC mini desktop computer for more information.

Experience using the ZeroPC SER5 MAX:

Laptop or Mini PC for Gaming: Budget Determines the Choice

In regards to the example you brought up, buying a laptop is cost-effective.

Because you can already buy an entry-level gaming laptop at the 4050 level for five to six thousand.

And an entry-level gaming laptop has a decent dedicated graphics card, capable of running mainstream games at 2.5K resolution and 60 frames per second. This can be considered the minimum performance for a high-performance laptop. In the era of large models, performance is not worth discussing without a dedicated graphics card.

The problem with mini PCs is that their gaming performance is almost negligible. Although mini PCs can support three 4K screens, they cannot run Genshin Impact even at the lowest graphics settings on any of them – and Genshin Impact is not a game that requires extremely high performance.

Even if we don’t consider 4K large screens and only consider carrying a 2.5K 165Hz 16-inch portable display, it would still be difficult to run.

Because the performance requirements for 4K60 are similar to those of 2K120. If a hardware cannot handle 4K60, then it cannot handle 2K120 or even 2K144/2K165.

If you are only considering 1080p, then my advice is to buy a used one. Because 1080p displays have been popularized 15 years ago. Since you are planning to use a display with specifications from 15 years ago, why bother buying a new computer?

If you lower the budget to three to four thousand, you can only buy a laptop with integrated graphics. In that case, it can be compared to a mini PC.

But if the budget is as high as five to six thousand, there is no need to choose a laptop with integrated graphics.

Integrated graphics devices have always had poor sales because of their insufficient performance. The only way to sell them at a high price is to prioritize portability and make them super portable. However, it is obvious that for business people who pursue extreme portability and are willing to pay a premium for it, laptops are still more portable.

Therefore, in my opinion, I recommend a laptop because your budget is high enough. Unless mini PCs with dedicated graphics cards become more affordable, integrated graphics mini PCs are not a suitable choice for the five to six thousand price range. They are only suitable for the price range below three thousand.

The mini PC is more suitable for scenarios where you originally intended to use a desktop. If you didn’t plan to install a graphics card on your desktop and can accept lower performance, then go for a mini PC to save desktop space. This is a perspective.

“Alternative Option: NUC + Portable Screen”

题主’s思路 is a bit sly. It completely renders our CPU, the masters of problem-solving, useless, leaving us in deep contemplation.

  1. Since you already have a budget of five to six thousand,
  2. Why not put aside a regular laptop,
  3. And instead opt for a NUC + portable screen.

Why don’t you consider this approach?

Lin Dalu: Review of the ROG handheld console, the ultimate tool for gaming on the go.

Anyway, if you don’t mention it, I wouldn’t know if the budget is yours or given by your parents. If it’s your own budget, there shouldn’t be any problem:

Portable setup for work on the go.

Buy a mini desktop computer, and when you go out, bring a portable monitor, mouse, and keyboard!

When I go out, I only need to bring my laptop!

As for why I buy a laptop, it’s because it’s convenient when going out!

If you want something cost-effective, why not consider buying a desktop computer directly with a budget of 5-6 thousand?

Mini PC + Portable Monitor: Limited practicality compared to laptops.

Small and compact mini desktop + portable monitor do have some comparability with laptops in terms of portability, but they are mistaken in terms of usage direction and practicality is far inferior to laptops.

First, in terms of usage direction:

  • Mini desktops are suitable for pairing with large screen monitors for office use, providing a wide screen view, improving work efficiency, while reducing desktop space and creating a clean and refreshing office environment. They are more practical for users who work and live at home and prefer large screens.

  • Portable monitors are ideal for use as secondary screens with laptops, effectively expanding the screen area of the laptop and greatly improving the efficiency of mobile office work. They are more practical for users who frequently travel for business and need mobile office capabilities.

Of course, you can still use the mini desktop with a portable monitor if you insist on it.

However, the practicality is really lacking:

  1. Portable monitors with a size of around 15.6 inches are still considered small screens. Although they are portable, the efficiency of a single screen is not improved.
  2. Mini desktops do not have built-in power supplies, so while they are portable, they still have zero mobile office capabilities relying on battery life.
  3. Most mini desktops do not have dedicated graphics cards and can only rely on integrated graphics, with limited performance and a single purpose, mainly for desktop office use. Mini desktops with dedicated graphics cards and power supplies are not considered mini in terms of portability.
  4. Although mini desktops are small in size, when combined with a monitor, power supply, mouse, keyboard, and cables, the overall portability is not as good as a laptop, and it is not conducive to storage.

Therefore, with the screen size fixed at a small screen, comparing mini desktops and portable monitors to laptops, they do not have any advantages.

In fact, laptops can be seen as all-in-one devices with better portability and storage. They have battery life and can provide higher mobility for office work. More importantly, at this price range, you can easily find versatile ultrabooks or entry-level gaming laptops which offer much higher gaming capabilities.

Therefore, it is highly recommended that you buy a laptop.

The only correct pairing for a mini desktop is a large screen monitor.

Khadas Mind: A Compact Workstation for Various Scenarios

Thank you for the invitation! By asking this question, it shows that you have already anticipated that a laptop may not be a necessity for your future usage scenarios. Before answering this question, it is important to first understand the main differences between these two products and your primary usage scenarios, in order to make a more appropriate choice. Otherwise, it would be meaningless to make an analysis like “SUV PK T-90 Main Battle Tank” without considering the reality.

First, let’s compare the products. A laptop integrates a keyboard, touchpad, large capacity battery, and screen. In other words, a laptop is a complete device suitable for independent use. A mini PC is a smaller version of a desktop computer, which basically includes all the functions of a desktop computer but with a much smaller size than a laptop. However, it does not have a keyboard, mouse, or screen, and most of them do not come with a built-in battery, so they need to be connected to other devices for use. Of course, this is not always the case. For example, the Khadas Mind that will be discussed later has a built-in lithium battery and automatically enters sleep mode when disconnected from the external power supply. It is more convenient for switching scenarios as you can simply pick it up and go without needing to shut down the main unit.

After clarifying the differences between the products, we can provide two recommendations based on different usage scenarios:

  1. If you need to travel frequently or work on the go for extended periods of time, with an office location that is not fixed, then a laptop would be more suitable.
  2. If you usually work in several relatively fixed locations, such as in the office, conference room, home, etc., then you can consider using a mini PC.

For example, when I first started working, I used to travel frequently, flying one or two trips every week, and I had to work on the plane. In this case, a laptop is definitely necessary. However, now most of my time is spent on internal tasks, although I still have a lot of work to do, I rarely go on business trips. Therefore, I was very interested in the concept of the Intel NUC before, and I have also used the Panther Canyon for a while and found it to be very good. So when I saw that Khadas released the Mind series cross-scene workstation, I was eager to try it out. Luckily, I got my hands on it and used it for a while. Here, I will share my experience with this product.


First Experience with Khadas Mind Cross-scene Workstation

Khadas Mind uses an integrated aluminum alloy housing with a matte finish on the surface, providing a very comfortable touch. The edges are chamfered to avoid sharpness, and the large chamfered position of the power button on the front middle gives it a textured look, similar to what I’ve seen on the MacBook Pro.

There are large intake and exhaust vents on the right and left sides, designed symmetrically.

At the top back, there is a long strip-shaped intake vent with a dual layout. Below it are various data interfaces, including two full-featured USB-C ports that support 8K/60Hz and 4K/240Hz display and PD charging, with one of them supporting USB 3.2 Gen2 specifications. There is also an HDMI 2.0 (18Gbps) port that supports 4K/60Hz display, as well as two USB 3.2 Gen2 (10Gbps) ports. In normal use, the charging cable and wireless keyboard and mouse will each occupy one USB-C port and one USB 3.2 Gen2 port, and there will be no problem connecting the remaining ports to dual monitors and external storage.

In actual use, if your monitor has a USB-C input with power delivery of 65W, you can simply use a single USB-C cable to handle the power supply and DP display output of the Khadas Mind, greatly simplifying the complexity of cables, which is quite convenient.

Smaller than a laptop, this is one of the points I like about mini PCs. Khadas Mind pleasantly surprised me because it is even smaller than the NUC I previously used.

Khadas Mind measures 146mm×105mm×20mm, equivalent to a volume of only 0.3L, which is only one-fourth the size of an A4 paper. Not to mention fitting it in a laptop bag, it can easily fit in a jacket pocket.

Khadas Mind weighs only 450g, and the included 65W power adapter is similar to most phone chargers. The charging specification of 20V/3.25A is also compatible with many phone chargers. For example, my Xiaomi GaN 65W charger can directly power the Khadas Mind.

Performance Testing of Khadas Mind

Product Specifications:

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-1360P
  • Memory: 32GB LPDDR5 5200MT/S
  • Hard Drive: Western Digital SN740 1TB M.2
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
  • Battery: Built-in 5.55Wh lithium polymer battery
  • Power Adapter: 65W USB-C power adapter
  • Network Card: Intel AX211 Wi-Fi 6E
  • Dimensions: 146mm×105mm×20mm
  • Weight: 450g

Khadas Mind offers two configurations. The standard version features an Intel Core i5-1340P, 16GB memory, and 512GB SSD. The high-end version features an Intel Core i7-1360P, 32GB memory, and 1TB SSD. The price difference between the two versions is 2000 yuan, and the unit I have is the high-end version.

Because the configuration of Khadas Mind is similar to common ultrabooks and has a similar heat dissipation design, we can basically guess its performance. However, to provide a more intuitive understanding, we still conducted some conventional tests.

The Khadas Mind unit I have is equipped with the Intel Core i7-1360P processor, based on Intel’s 7nm process and Raptor Lake architecture, with a total of 12 cores and 16 threads, a maximum turbo frequency of 5.0GHz, and 18MB cache. It also features the Intel Iris Xe Graphics with 96 execution units (EU) and an accelerated frequency up to 1.5GHz.

PCMark 10 reflects the overall performance of the device. We tested PCMark 10 Extended mode, with a total score of 5353, including a productivity score of 7449 and a digital content creation score of 6704.

Lu Da Shi is also a commonly used software for testing overall system performance. In the latest version 6.1, Khadas Mind achieved a comprehensive performance score of nearly 1.12 million, surpassing 73% of users in the country. It is described as capable of smoothly running online games like DOTA 2, League of Legends, as well as graphics software like Photoshop.

For graphics performance, we chose the widely used 3DMark for testing. The Time Spy project, which reflects DirectX 12 game performance, scored 1881, with a graphics score of 1658. The Fire Strike project, which reflects DirectX 11 game performance, scored 5055, with a graphics score of 5544. In addition, we tested the Wild Life and Night Raid projects, which scored 16784 and 12802, respectively. The performance of the Intel Iris Xe Graphics with 96 EUs is comparable to that of the MX550 discrete graphics card, making it capable of smoothly running 3D online games.

For data throughput performance, we used AIDA64 to test the memory, achieving a read speed of 61175MB/s and a write speed of 75374MB/s. The high bandwidth of LPDDR5 memory meets the needs of large data processing.

For data storage, we used CrystalDiskMark to test the SSD, achieving a continuous read speed of 5204.16MB/s and a continuous write speed of 4965.10MB/s.

Considering that Khadas Mind mainly targets office application needs without adding a graphics dock, we also used UL Procyon to test its office productivity. The score was 6248. For me, who mostly works with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, the performance of Khadas Mind is more than sufficient.

For a compact device like this, I am particularly concerned about its heat dissipation performance under full load. However, compared to laptops that require direct contact during use, models like Khadas Mind, which do not require direct contact, have more relaxed temperature control requirements. We conducted a dual stress test using AIDA64 and FurMark, with the CPU core frequency maintained at around 2GHz and the GPU frequency at around 1GHz. At this time, the CPU temperature was around 70°C, and the performance remained stable, with the housing feeling warm to the touch.

Based on the actual tests, Khadas Mind uses the latest 13th generation Intel Core i7 mobile processor, paired with high-speed DDR5 memory and a PCIe 4.0 SSD, providing high office performance and overall balance. It can smoothly run various office applications, whether it is Office applications, image processing, file transfer, or compression/decompression. When I deal with large Excel spreadsheets and insert a large number of high-resolution images in PPT/Word, Khadas Mind does not experience any noticeable lag, and I feel that my work efficiency has significantly improved.

Disassembly of the Khadas Mind Cross-scene Workstation

How does Khadas Mind fit all the components in such a small space and ensure good heat dissipation? I was curious and decided to disassemble it. First, I want to mention that disassembling the Khadas Mind is very simple, you only need to remove the bottom screws.

After opening it up, the first thing you see is the back of the motherboard. The layout of the entire motherboard is quite neat, with the built-in SSD and wireless network card located on the back.

Khadas Mind comes with the Intel AX211D2W wireless network card, which supports Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 wireless transmission.

The high-end version is equipped with a 1TB NVMe SSD, which is sufficient for regular use. If you need to upgrade the hard drive, Khadas Mind also provides an additional M.2 hard drive installation location.

I have to praise the design of this SSD expansion slot. To facilitate user upgrades, Khadas Mind has designed a quick removable cover on the bottom, allowing users to install and upgrade the SSD without the need for disassembly.

By removing the Wi-Fi antenna, we can remove the mainboard. The front of the mainboard is covered by the built-in battery and heat dissipation module.

The built-in lithium-ion battery comes from Bikel. It has a rated capacity of 5.55Wh and a standard voltage of 11.1V. On the left side of the battery, there is a long strip-shaped heat dissipation fin.

The largest component is the heat sink. The bottom is a customized VC heat spreader, and there is a magnetic levitation fan on the top. The side is a pure copper heat sink, but with a black coating. With a compact and reasonable airflow design, this heat sink is highly efficient. Even under full load stress testing, it can achieve stable and quiet heat dissipation. In normal use, the noise is barely noticeable.

Applications of Khadas Mind in Different Scenarios

Based on my own experience and understanding of the Khadas Mind product ecosystem, I have summarized three usage scenarios for Khadas Mind. However, it should be noted that different usage scenarios may require different Khadas accessories, which I have not personally tested, so I cannot provide advice on the user experience.

Multi-screen Office Setup

The office is the main workplace, and for better efficiency, you can consider using a dual-screen setup. As mentioned earlier, Khadas Mind provides a variety of interfaces for multi-screen output. Dual screens are not the limit for Khadas Mind; it can even support up to three external displays when used alone. With the Mind Dock multi-function docking station, it can support up to four displays.

Based on my experience using laptops, I recommend purchasing a Mind Dock multi-function docking station for the office. It provides rich interface expansion, including two additional HDMI 2.0 ports, a 2.5Gbps Ethernet port, SD card slots, and a headphone jack. It also comes with a built-in fingerprint recognition module and speakers. With the Mind Dock, whenever we use it, we only need to place the Khadas Mind on the dock without the need to reconnect the displays, network, keyboard, and mouse, greatly improving work efficiency.

Gaming Experience at Home

In addition to the Mind Dock, Khadas is dedicated to creating an ecosystem for mini PCs, including the Mind Graphics external graphics dock, which is another interesting accessory. Its function is similar to the external graphics docks we have used for laptops, providing higher graphics performance through an external graphics card. The Mind Graphics dock is equipped with an RTX 4060Ti desktop-grade graphics card and connects to Khadas Mind via the high-speed Mind Link connector using the PCIe 4.0 standard. With an external graphics card, Khadas Mind can not only be used as a gaming computer but also meet the needs of high-performance graphics rendering and AI computing. It is worth noting that Mind Graphics will be released in June next year, providing more expansion capabilities for users with different needs.

Mobile Cross-Sector Usage

The two mentioned above are more typical usage scenarios for mini PCs and are achievable with most NUC units. However, there is a problem when moving between these scenarios. Most NUCs do not have a built-in power supply, so when switching locations, you need to manually shut down or enter sleep mode and then restart when you arrive at the new location. In such cases, a mini PC like Khadas Mind with a built-in battery is very convenient to use. It automatically enters sleep mode when disconnected from the power supply and automatically resumes work when power is restored, ensuring the continuity of the workflow. In the built-in Mind 2023 management software, you can customize the power mode after a power failure, switching between closing the display, sleep mode, and hibernation.

As for occasional outdoor usage requirements, Khadas Mind also provides a solution - the Mind xPlay portable monitor. At this time, Khadas Mind can be magnetically attached to the back of the portable monitor, providing a similar user experience to a laptop.


During the past week since I acquired Khadas Mind, I have basically maintained my habit of using a laptop: using an external monitor at the office during the day, and bringing it back home in my bag at night for handling urgent temporary work. In addition, I occasionally use it for presentations in meeting rooms or client companies, which are the relatively fixed places.

In this situation, I fully experience the convenience brought by Khadas Mind. Firstly, it is smaller in size, and I can even directly put it in my clothes pocket. Also, because of its small size, it hardly takes up any space on my desk. At the same time, its performance is similar to that of my laptop, and there is no difference in work efficiency. Obviously, a mini PC like Khadas Mind, combined with an external monitor, is more suitable for me than a laptop. As for occasional outdoor work requirements, such as replying to emails, I can directly operate on my mobile phone.


Mini PC vs Laptop: Pros and Cons

First, let’s answer the question: What is the definition of “worth it” in the questioner’s mind? Is it more about the price or the cost-effectiveness? Choose between a laptop or a mini host + monitor combination based on personal usage needs.

[Worth it 1]: For most viewers, the concept of “worth it” is believed to be synonymous with “cheap”. This idea is basically based on the belief that cheap is the best, with a budget of around 4999 or 5999 yuan.

[Worth it 2]: “Worth it” is synonymous with “cost-effectiveness”. For viewers who think this way, I strongly recommend choosing the combination of a mini host + monitor.

There are more and more brands to choose from in the mini host market in the past two years. Early on, there were only Intel and Apple, but now there are Asus, Zero Moment, Xiaomi, Mechanic, etc. In 2023, mini hosts are no longer as weak as they used to be. In addition to basic functions such as daily office document processing, internet browsing, and video playback, they can also run image processing software, large-scale games, and serve as media servers, and so on.

Advantages of mini hosts compared to laptops:

Super compact size: Smaller and more portable than laptops, mini hosts have a small volume and powerful external capabilities. They can better optimize office space and are more convenient than ordinary computer cases. For example, they can be installed behind a TV where they are completely invisible and used for streaming and meetings. Or hide it as a server in a cabinet for smart home control.

Low power consumption and low noise: Often generate less noise and heat than laptops, and can work in a quieter environment. For users who frequently download while idle, this type of computer can be kept on for a long time with extremely low power consumption.

Convenient expandability and maintenance: Compared to laptops, mini hosts are usually easier to maintain and upgrade because their internal components are modular, making them easier to replace and upgrade. Mini hosts can be customized according to requirements, allowing users to choose the desired processor, memory, hard drive, and other components to meet their personal needs.

Rich interfaces: Laptops sacrifice many interfaces for thinness. Even when gaming laptops with dedicated graphics cards are connected directly, the video output of Type-C is disabled. Mini hosts have more interfaces, usually 2-3 conventional video interfaces such as DP, HDMI, and 2 Type-C video output interfaces or Thunderbolt interfaces, making it convenient for users to connect various monitors. They support the ability to connect 3-4 external displays, which is very friendly for users with multi-screen requirements and has lower cost for using multiple screens. Some mini hosts are also equipped with high-speed 2.5G network ports, providing faster network transmission access.

Other versatile uses: Based on low power consumption, low noise, and low heat generation, mini hosts can install various systems, including router systems like OpenWrt, DD-Wrt, Tomato, pfSense, etc., and can be used for specific purposes.

In conclusion, the above recommendations for mini hosts are more suitable for users in fixed scenarios. If you are a user who needs to work on the go from 9 to 5, a laptop would be more suitable for you! Can’t really say you should choose a mini host + portable screen, right? In that case, it will be limited by power supply, whereas laptops have built-in batteries to solve power issues. The portable attribute of quick access and retrieval also aligns with the “mobile” attribute of mobile office work.

In short, as the saying goes, “Choose according to personal needs!”

Comparison between Portable Monitors and Mini PCs

Portable monitors can be purchased second-hand, which does not affect their usability and is much cheaper. When combined with a mini desktop computer, you can achieve a similar configuration to a laptop but at a price of around three thousand, compared to a laptop that costs over five thousand.

Of course, it may not be suitable to compare mini desktop computers with laptops directly.

When it comes to laptops, considering the overall price, if you break it down, there is not much difference in price compared to a complete set of a mini desktop computer.

The mini desktop computer is meant to replace the position of a desktop computer, so you can better understand the characteristics of a mini desktop computer.

Of course, mini desktop computers are more flexible compared to laptops.

Seaside Rice Fragrance: Which brand of mini desktop computers is good in 2023? An inventory of popular mini computers worth attention, which can be used as software routers and NAS.

Mini PCs may not meet your high GPU performance requirements. Consider an ITX PC within a 5k budget. It should surpass laptops in the same price range.

You have such a high budget, so I assume you have certain requirements for GPU performance. In that case, a mini computer would not be sufficient as the GPU performance is too poor.

Since you are willing to consider a mini computer, you should also consider an ITX computer. With a budget of 5k, you can get a configuration with an i5 and a 4060 graphics card.

This should be much stronger than a laptop at the same price point.

Depends on your needs and preferences.

The answer to this question depends on your personal needs and preferences.

If you need a more portable computer, buying a laptop may be more cost-effective.

However, if you have higher performance requirements for your computer, buying a mini desktop computer with a portable monitor may be more cost-effective.

Additionally, if you want to save money, you can consider buying a used computer or buying the core components of a laptop (such as CPU, memory, and hard drive) and assembling your own mini desktop.

In conclusion, whether it is more cost-effective to buy a laptop or a mini desktop computer with a portable monitor depends on your personal needs and preferences, given a budget of around 5-6,000 yuan.

For detailed purchasing guides, you can refer to:

Mo Du Li San Niang: Portable Monitor Recommendations for 2021? Mobile Office | Switch, PS4 Cost-Effective Portable Monitor Purchasing Guide.