Almost one year on to the day from Alienware's Project UFO announcement at CES 2020 and we're still waiting on the promise of a Nintendo Switch-style mini PC. It's cool, I'm not bitter about it. Well, things are looking up for our portable PC dream, as NEC Personal Computers (a joint venture between Lenovo and NEC Corp.) has announced a prototype for a product called the Lavie Mini that'll do nicely... if it actually ships.
It looks the part, at least. Following the tried and tested approach, the Lavie Mini features twin controllers on either side of an 8-inch touchscreen. That's a touch bigger than the Nintendo Switch's 6.2-inch touchscreen, and it's also higher resolution at 1920 x 1200. To round off the Switch-a-like operation, there's an optional dock attachment for 4K60 TV output, with additional USB Type-C and Type-A ports.
The Lavie Mini differs in a couple of ways pivotal for PC gaming. For one, it's actually a tiny 2-in-1, complete with diminutive keyboard that swivels away behind the unit. It's also powered by Intel Xe graphics and a Tiger Lake CPU in the Intel Core i7 1180G7 chip. That's a chip not currently listed on Intel's ARK database, but it has appeared in a couple of benchmarks brandishing 96 EUs and a 15W TDP. That would have it sit below the 25W Core i7 1185G7, the current flagship.
That chip also delivers Wi-Fi 6 support, and to round off connectivity there are two USB Type-C ports on the unit itself, a headphone and microphone combo jack, and Bluetooth 5.1 support.
Inside there's also a 256GB NVMe SSD, and 16GB of LPDDR4X RAM running at 4,266MHz effective. Those dual-channel sticks are soldered, mind, as you might imagine at this size, and therefore your lot for the lifetime of this product.
Although that's not really an issue you need worry about today, as this Lavie Mini remains in prototype status for the course of CES 2021. Therefore no price, no availability. CES is a popular prototype destination, and last year the Alienware Project UFO delivered a similar product for us to gawk at. Sadly, that hasn't seen the light of day all year, but there is one glimmer of hope for mini PC fans looking for a fix.
That's the GPD Win 3, a product that's soon to be available on Indiegogo and likely to actually launch after that, judging by the company's track record with such projects.
So perhaps we'll see more of the Lenovo x NEC Corp Lavie Mini in good time, perhaps not. At least we're seeing some further interest in the concept, and that should mean at least some availability in 2021. Fingers crossed.