Mount a mini PC to your TV or monitor
ONE OF THE MAIN BENEFITS of buying a mini PC is the space you can reclaim on your desk. These miniature machines take up much less room than a conventional tower PC, or even an open laptop plugged into your monitor. To increase the benefit even further, you can go beyond this setup and tuck your mini PC behind the screen itself, creating a totally clean workspace and something that looks akin to having an all-in-one, at least when viewing from the front. And compared to buying most all-in-ones from manufacturers like HP and Apple, buying a monitor and one of these mini PCs is likely to be a much cheaper option.
These machines also make for popular media centers, so if you’re using it as the hub of a home entertainment system, you can also attach one to the back of your TV. All you need is a VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association) mount adapter or cradle, a screwdriver, and some time to plan for the cabling and put it all together. This is one of those projects that once other people see what you’ve done, they’ll be wanting to do the same!
1 MEASURE YOUR MOUNT POINTS
Start by taking some accurate measurements of the mount points on your mini computer and the back of your screen. They may not align, but this isn’t a problem, as we’ll explain.
» On our mini PC (we used a Chillblast WAP Ultimate AMD 3500U Micro System) there are two mounting points, 85mm apart (pictured below left). However, the mounting points on the back of our monitor—of which there are four—are 100mm apart, and arranged in a square (pictured). Thankfully, each of these is a common measurement catered for in the VESA specifications. You can convert between the two using a VESA mount adapter.
2 CHOOSE THE RIGHT ADAPTER
Even if the mount points on your computer and your monitor line up, you’ll almost certainly still need to use an adapter. That’s because you can’t use double-ended screws to attach your computer to your monitor directly. Rather, you need to connect the computer to an adapter, then attach the adapter to the monitor, offset so that the computer doesn’t obscure the mount points on the back of your screen.
» However, we have a different problem here. Although the mount points on our computer are closer together than the ones on our monitor, these are obscured by the computer case, which measures 130x127mm.
» If you don’t have this problem, you may be able to attach your PC with one of the simplest adapters available—a single plate with multiple mount points for different fixings. For example, the Mount-It! VESA Mount Adapter Plate ($18) caters for nine different widths between 50mm and 420mm and six different heights between 50mm and 200mm.
» Alternatively, you can use a cradle, as we’re going to do. In this scenario, the height of your PC also becomes important. Our mini PC is 52mm tall, so we need to make sure the cradle can accommodate at least that height, plus a few extra millimeters for padding and adjustment.
» We’ve therefore chosen a Suptek Thin Client Mount Bracket ($17), which has enough space for a PC case of up to 68mm. On the rear plate, it has mount points for 75x75mm and 100x100mm, the latter of which matches
the points on our monitor. The fact it doesn’t have 85mm-spaced mount points to match our computer isn’t a problem because we won’t be screwing it into place.
3 FIX THE ADAPTER TO YOUR MONITOR
The adapter consists of two cross-shaped plates with a base. The plate with the shorter base sits within the other one and has two screws that protrude through the cut-outs in the base of the larger L and are topped off with a pair of nuts. Unscrew these and separate the two plates, then apply the supplied protective strips to each inner surface (pictured below). These are spongy and will be compressed when you slide the plates together with your computer between them, so should hold your PC in position and protect against scratches.
» Now fix the larger plate to the back of your monitor using four of the supplied screws (as pictured). The kit includes four sizes of screws for different mounting scenarios (see boxout). For the moment, though, we found the screws marked H2 were the perfect fit for our monitor, and in fitting them we worked on diagonal opposites, first lightly screwing in the top left, then the bottom right, after which we screwed the top right, then bottom left, before gently tightening each one. If the H2 screws don’t fit your monitor, check whether the monitor’s manufacturer included dedicated screws in the box.
» Once you’ve attached the larger plate, position the smaller one so that its integrated bolts are sticking through the cut-outs in the bottom of the larger plate. Loosely attach the wing nuts, then position your computer between the two plates. Slide the bundled strap behind your computer so that it loops around the computer and the outside of the smaller L plate (as pictured).
» Now, holding your mini PC in place, push the two plates together until the protective pads come into contact with the chassis, then tighten the wing nuts to secure your device. Tighten the strap to prevent your computer from falling out of either side of the bracket should you swivel or knock your monitor.
» When positioning your PC, it’s important to think about where the ports, power socket, power switch, and ventilation holes are located. Ours has ventilation on all four edges, and on its underside, so we couldn’t avoid partially obscuring vents. If you can avoid this without also blocking a port or switch, orientate your computer to maximize its cooling potential. The back of your monitor can get hot, especially if it’s large, and this heat may transfer to the computer.