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5 Mini PCs pack a punch at under R5k

Hidden home computing gems take form in the mini PC. AARON THORNTON, MD of Dial a Nerd, rounds up the top 5 mini PCs under R5000.

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While we’re not preaching a life of minimalism, who doesn’t need a little extra office space – and for that matter, extra cash at month end? That’s why we’ve taken the time to hunt down five mini PCs priced under R5 000…first, to make your life easier, and second, to introduce you to the multiple benefits of mini PCs!  Also, did we mention that mini PCs reduce your carbon footprint, while also cutting down on expensive power usage? 

Here are a few models that can replace your home PC, while still running the same operating system you’re familiar with…Windows. 

Welcome to our Top 5 picks under R5k.

1. Acer Aspire Mini PC

The sleek Acer Aspire is a superb start for anyone wanting to go “mini”. It has the basic RAM, CPU and power consumption you would expect from a mini PC…and comes at a very fair price tag of R4 200. 

2Revo One Windows PC

Admittedly, the specs on the Revo One are a bit older compared to other PCs on the market, as it comes with Windows 8.1. However, a nice add on is the smartphone app – which allows you to control the PC from your phone. The Revo One would pack a pretty powerful punch if you were to upgrade the disk storage and the RAM. (And yes, that’s a hint)

3. Mecer Extreme Jupiter Mini PC

The Acer Aspire and Mecer are very similar in terms of specs, however, the Mecer can be upgraded to 32GB RAM. Notably, the Mecer also has an upgrade option to SSD to make for a faster machine. On the downside, the Mecer has the highest power consumption of our top 5. 

4. Asus VivoMini UN45 Mini PC 

This device is an excellent example of a versatile PC packed into an impressively small and affordable package. The main benefits of its sleek and seductive design are its compact size, low power consumption, silent operation, and low cost. The attractive UN45 comes with a minimum of 32GB of M.2 SSD storage, with a maximum capacity of 128GB. For the worker bees looking for an inexpensive PC for business purposes, the UN45 offers ASUS Business Manager and the Remote Management Tool to help business owners manage and maintain the system remotely.

5. CloudGate X

The CloudGate X is the silent – and stealthy – winner on our list. With no moving parts, the CloudGate X is a startlingly quiet mini machine. The CPU is powerful enough for the device to be used as a home centre or business computer, making it an extremely valuable and efficient work tool. Like the Mecer, it uses SSD technology to give it speed. Above this, you can run Windows, Linux or Chrome OS on the CloudGate. This device is the most energy efficient out of the devices that we looked at: using 15 – 24W of energy. 

Comparison table: 

 Acer Aspire XC830 Celeron J4005 Acer RevoONE Windows PCMecer Extreme Jupiter Intel PentiumCloudGate SquareVivoMini UN45
Processor NameIntel Celeron J4005Intel Celeron Dual-coreCoffee Lake Pentium G5400Intel Quad Core Apollo LakeBraswell Dual Core 2957U (Optional Quad-Core Pentium N3700 ,N3150 Processor)
Processor Speed2.7Ghz1.40 GHz3.7GHzUp to 2.2 GHz1.4GHz
RAM4GB DDR4 (upgradeable to 8GB)2 or 4 GB DDR3 (upgradeable to 8GB)4GB DDR4 (upgradeable to 32GB)4 or 8 GB DDR42 GB DDR3L (upgradeable to 8GB)
Storage Capacity500GB 3.5 sata500GB Sata(Upgradeable to 2TB,2.5″)500GB 2.5 Sata(supports 1 x m2 For SSD)64 GB EMMX SSD (Upgradable to  128GB/256GB2.5″ 500GB Up to 1TB SATA III Hard Drive,32GB Up to 128GB M.2 SSD .100G ASUS Webstorage for 1 Year free usage.
Graphics CardIntel UHD Graphics 600Intel HD GraphicsIntel HD GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 500Intel HD Graphics
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64-BitWindows 8.1 64 bitWindows 10 Home 64-BitWindows 10 , Linux or Chrome OSWindows 10 SL, Home or Pro 64-Bit
Power consumptionN/A65 W19V, 90W AC15 W , 24W max45 W
Price incVAT*R4 200R4 806R5 189R4 255. R3 999
Seller Detailshttps://www.takealot.com/acer-aspire-xc830-celeron-j4005-4gb-500gb-win10h-desktop-pc/PLID53824721https://www.takealot.com/acer-revo-one-windows-pc-media-player/PLID40362316/product-informationhttps://www.takealot.com/mecer-extreme-jupiter-intel-pentium-mini-pc/PLID54712977www.cloudgate.co.zahttps://www.evetech.co.za/PC-Hardware/asus-vivopc-vm42-mini-pc-1798.aspx?gclid=CjwKCAjw-7LrBRB6EiwAhh1yX23xeX6ZivBLh9R8RG3k9RZszX4ToqBbwaijUvCk139hnrmuohJrkBoCJdIQAvD_BwE

*Prices are as of August 2019 and are subject to change.

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Lenovo unveils world’s smallest desktop PC

ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano is powered by 8th generation Intel processors and SSD storage, catering to flexible working

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Lenovo has introduced the world’s smallest desktop PC, the ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano, to the South African Market. It says it is designed to support diverse workplaces with the power of a full-size desktop and the space-saving convenience of a laptop.

“The ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano is further proof of Lenovo’s commitment to helping small businesses drive efficiency in their operations,” says Thibault Dousson, General Manager at Lenovo South Africa. “In South Africa, SMEs make up a third of the country’s GDP and play an integral part in boosting the economy and creating jobs. Lack of capital, investment, resources or support are among the major challenges faced by our country’s entrepreneurs. 

“Lenovo wants to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses through giving them better access to critical tools and services, such as our financial services offering and leasing option. The ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano is ideal for small business owners as it is reliable and powerful yet compact and easily transportable.”

Delivering powerful performance in an ultra-portable size, the ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano is the most compact commercial desktop series in the world. Compact models are one-third the size of the ground-breaking ThinkCentre Tiny, at just 0.35L in volume.

With fully functional USB Type-C Gen2 and USB 3.1 Gen2 ports located on the front and back of the device, multiple displays, docks and other hardware options can further boost productivity. The ability to be powered using just one cable to a USB Type-C monitor makes the M90n-1 Nano ideal for a clutter-free workspace, whether it be placed behind a screen or under a desk.

The ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano is MIL-810G SPEC tested – built to withstand extreme conditions including shocks, drops, dust and humidity. The desktop’s HW TPM 2.0 chip encrypts data to keep sensitive data secure, while its Kensington lock slot enables users to physically secure the device to an immovable object, protecting it from theft.

With its Modern Standby feature, users can receive emails, VoIP calls and instant messages while remaining in standby mode. When ready to commence work, the M90n-1 Nano resumes full functionality in under one second.

These features make the ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano an easy fit across all office environments, or wherever space is limited, and staff are mobile. The ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano also reduces energy consumption by as much as 30 percent annually over the ThinkCentre Tiny. 

Powered by the 8th generation Intel processors and backed by SSD (solid state drive) storage, the ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano offers diverse connectivity and multi-user options to keep users connected.

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Hackers target hotels

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Kaspersky’s research of the RevengeHotels campaign aimed at the hospitality sector, has confirmed over 20 hotels in Latin America, Europe and Asia have fallen victim to targeted malware attacks. Even more hotels are potentially affected across the globe. Travelers’ credit card data, which is stored in a hotel administration system, including those received from online travel agencies (OTAs), is at risk of being stolen and sold to criminals worldwide.

RevengeHotels is a campaign that includes different groups using traditional Remote Access Trojans (RATs) to infect businesses in the hospitality sector. The campaign has been active since 2015 but has gone on to increase its presence in 2019. At least two groups, RevengeHotels and ProCC, were identified to be part of the campaign, however more cybercriminal groups are potentially involved.

The main attack vector in this campaign is emails with crafted malicious Word, Excel or PDF documents attached. Some of them exploit CVE-2017-0199, loading it using VBS and PowerShell scripts and then installing customised versions of various RATs and other custom malware, such as ProCC, on the victim’s machine that could later execute commands and set up remote access to the infected systems.

Each spear-phishing email was crafted with special attention to detail and usually impersonating real people from legitimate organisations making a fake booking request for a large group of people. It is worth noting that even careful users could be tricked to open and download attachments from such emails as they include an abundance of details (for instance, copies of legal documents and reasons for booking at the hotel) and looked convincing. The only detail that would reveal the attacker would be a typosquatting domain of the organisation.

phishing email sent to a hotel impersonating a booking request from an attorney’s office

Once infected, the computer could be accessed remotely not just by the cybercriminal group itself — evidence collected by Kaspersky researchers shows that remote access to hospitality desks and the data they contain is sold on criminal forums on a subscription basis. Malware collected data from hospitality desk clipboards, printer spoolers and captured screenshots (this function was triggered using specific words in English or Portuguese). Because hotel personnel often copied clients’ credit card data from OTA’s in order to charge them, that data could also be compromised.

Kaspersky telemetry confirmed targets in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, France, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Thailand and Turkey. However, based on data extracted from Bit.ly, a popular link shortening service used by the attackers to spread malicious links, Kaspersky researchers assume that users from many other countries have at least accessed the malicious link – suggesting that the number of countries with potential victims could be higher.

“As users grow wary of how protected their data truly is, cybercriminals turn to small businesses, which are often not very well protected from cyberattacks and possess a concentration of personal data. Hoteliers and other small businesses dealing with customer data need to be more cautious and apply professional security solutions to avoid data leaks that could potentially not only affect customers, but also damage hotel reputations as well,” comments Dmitry Bestuzhev, Head of Global Research and Analysis Team, LatAm.

To stay safe, travelers are recommended to:

  • Use a virtual payment card for reservations made via OTAs, as these cards normally expire after a single charge
  • When paying for a reservation or checking out at hotel desks, use a virtual wallet, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay, or a secondary credit card with a limited amount of debit available

Hotel owners and management are also advised to follow these steps to secure customer data:

  • Conduct risk assessments of the existing network and implement regulations regarding how customers data is handled
  • Use a reliable security solution with web protection and application control functionality, such as Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business. Web protection helps to block access to phishing and malicious websites while application control (in white list mode) allows to make sure that no application except the white listed ones can run on hospitality desk computers.
  • Introduce staff security awareness training to teach employees how to spot spear-phishing attempts and show the importance of remaining vigilant when working with incoming emails.

Read the full report, RevengeHotels: cybercrime targeting hotel desks worldwide, on Securelist.

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