Purchasing a computer, especially a laptop, can be really expensive. The higher the specs, the steeper the price. But what if you could put together your own portable PC setup at a fraction of the cost?
Through my journey of overcoming financial limitations, I’ve learned the value of smart solutions. Having worked with an impossibly low budget for years, I understood the importance of having the right tools to turn dreams into reality. The only obstacle? High costs.
Today, I want to share a solution I recently found—an inexpensive, yet powerful Windows computer setup I bought for myself. It’s a portable, budget-friendly alternative to expensive laptops.
I don’t want to bore you too much with my own personal journey, but it does merit a quick reminder, so you understand why I share the things I do. If you’d rather skip the personal stuff though, just click here to skip to the details of the computer setup I am recommending.
Why I Feel the Need to Recommend This
If you know me or you’ve read about my history, then you know that despite any of my successes throughout my career, the income that came with those successes was generally at the poverty level. Most of that was my own fault, but one thing it taught me is that everyone has something worthy within them. Everyone can find a way to use their own brains, creativity, or talents to make a living. But the tools that people need to make that happen are often too expensive, so their dreams are never realized. I’ve tried over the past few decades to help people reach their dreams, but the one thing I could never do was provide them with the kinds of tools that cost actual money. I was only ever able to provide them with knowledge or inspiration. That isn’t always enough.
I still can’t provide the tools to anyone, but I figure I can at least pass along information about alternatives to expensive tools whenever I come across them.
So long story short, today, I’m going to tell you about a little Windows computer setup that I got for myself, and I thought you might want to know about it too.
I use a Mac for my daily work, but that is basically “on loan” to me for as long as I work for my employer. Now, I hope I’ll be at Automattic until the day I retire, but you never know what might happen in the future, so I always like to be prepared. For that reason, I decided to purchase a Windows computer because I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on a Mac. But I really wanted a laptop so I could take it anywhere. But even Windows laptops don’t come cheap, so I thought to myself…
“Self, what if you bought yourself one of those teeny tiny mini PCs, along with a small portable monitor, and a small keyboard and mouse? Would that work? Could I fit all that in a backpack or laptop bag? And if so, would it be cheaper?”
Whew, lots of questions and a bit of research later, and I did, indeed, purchase exactly what I described above. I’ve had it for about 9 months now. I use it for non-work stuff and to do a few odds and ends that I couldn’t emulate to my satisfaction on a Mac. So it doesn’t get heavy use, but it’s not sitting around doing nothing either. I’ve actually only had the keyboard and mouse for about 5 months, and I haven’t had to recharge either of them yet.
Cut to the chase; I love this little setup. It does everything I need it to do, and it’s as portable as a laptop would be. I’ll give you all the specs and pricing and links below, so you can get your own if you’d like. I will make zero money off of this recommendation, by the way. I don’t have any affiliate account with Amazon, which is where I bought everything, so I have no monetary incentive to share this with you. I just want to make sure people know that this kind of thing exists in case it might be useful to them.
My Setup – The Details
I purchased 3 items: a mini PC, a portable monitor, and a compact keyboard & mouse combo. My setup doesn’t compromise on power but significantly cuts the cost compared to a new laptop. And yes, it all fits nicely into my cool backpack, as you can see in the photo below. The teal and purple backpack is in the background.
Here’s the breakdown of all the components:
Beelink Mini PC U59
- 16 GB DDR4 SDRAM
- 500 GB M.2 SSD HD
- Intel 11th Gen Quad-Core Celeron N5105 processor
- Pre-installed with Windows 11 Pro
- 2 HDMI ports
- 4 USB 3.0 PORTS
- 1 Type-C data port
- 2 RJ45 1000M ports
- 1 audio jack (HP & MIC) port
- The 2 HDMI ports allow for dual-screen display
- Comes with 2 HDMI cords
- Uses Intel UHD graphics to support 4K HD video playback
- 1 year factory professional support and 7/24 hour online customer service
It’s small, powerful, and comes pre-installed with Windows 11 Pro. No, really, it’s very small. Here’s a pic of my hand on it, and I have small hands with super-short fingers.
ForHelp 15.6″” Portable Monitor
- 1080P (1920×1080 resolution)
- 16:9 aspect ratio
- 2 USB-C ports
- 1 HDMI port
- Extremely lightweight and portable
- Comes with a smart cover that doubles as a stand and a screen protector
The Keyboard / Mouse Combo:
Ultra Compact Rechargable Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo
- Plug and play; both connect automatically in seconds
- Autosleep saves power
- Long battery life (up to 3 months or more)
- One tiny USB dongle connects both to computer
- Solid, sturdy aluminum metal keyboard body
- Includes a silicon cover for the keyboard, which is a really nice touch
- Includes micro-usb charging cable
The Cost of This Mini PC Setup
The total cost? $367.
Compared to the price of similar spec laptops, this is a clear bargain. And as a bonus, since the 3 pieces are separate, you can buy them one at a time, as you save up the money. That’s exactly what I did.
To compare, here’s the cheapest laptop I could find at Walmart. It defaults to $249, which is a nice low price, but that only comes with 4GB of RAM. Trust me! You don’t want any computer with just 4 gigs of RAM. The thing will be far too slow. To upgrade to 16GB, though, ups the price to $399, and even then, you still only get 128GB of hard drive space, instead of the 500GB my little computer comes with. So you get less but get charged more. No thanks. My setup beats that laptop any day.
I hope this solution inspires you to explore alternative ways to get the tools you need. In other words, don’t let high costs hinder your dreams. There may be excellent alternatives.