HP's Haswell mini PCs start at $180

HP is jumping on the mini PC bandwagon with a pair of affordable systems based on Haswell processors. These NUC-like machines have diminutive 5.7" x 5.7" x 2.1" dimensions and weigh just 1.4 lbs, but they're not short on connectivity. Each one has quad USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and both DisplayPort and HDMI video outs.

The Pavilion Mini. Source: HP

The entry-level offering is the Stream Mini, which comes with a Celeron 2957U processor clocked at 1.4GHz. This dual-core, dual-thread chip should be faster than the Atom-based hardware found in some budget mini PCs. The slightly more upscale Pavilion Mini (PDF) employs a Pentium 3558U clocked at 1.7GHz. That chip has the same Haswell cores and 15W thermal envelope as the Celeron in the Stream system.

Interestingly, both Minis have dual SO-DIMM memory and M.2 storage slots. The base configurations sport single-channel RAM and only one storage device, but users will presumably have some configuration (and possibly DIY upgrade) options.

The Stream Mini

The base Stream Mini comes with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of solid-state storage for $179.99. It runs Windows 8.1 with Bing and includes a basic keyboard and mouse. The starting point for the Pavilion Mini is $319.99, which gets you 4GB of RAM and 500GB of 7,200-RPM mechanical storage. Other amenities include the standard version of Win8.1, plus a wireless keyboard and mouse.

Both of HP's Minis are due to be available online on January 14. Expect to see the micro machines at "select retailers" on February 8.

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