Pantera Pico offers incredible power in a tiny footprint

Looking for a tiny form factor PC that doesn't perform like a miniature? Jack Wallen believes the Pantera Pico is just what you want.

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Image: Pantera

Mobility takes on all shapes and forms. From smartphones to tablets to laptops: If you can take it on the go, it's part of the wonderful world of mobile technology. One other device that could easily be considered adjacent to this category is the tiny desktop; those very small computing devices that can be shoved in a pocket and taken with you.

SEE: Raspberry Pi: After launching five devices in less than a year, here's what they're doing next (cover story PDF) (TechRepublic)

Think about it: You have a PC configured to your exact specifications, and you have to move about from one location to another. Do you configure a second PC as a clone to the first, or do you just shut down, unplug, pocket and go? That's a kind of mobility I could use on the rare occasion I have to venture beyond the doors of my home office (which, I must confess, is rare these days).

But with the Pantera Pico, I can do just that. Measuring roughly 2.62 x 2.63 x 1.75 Inches, this tiny box o' computing offers far more power than you might think. I received a review Pantera Pico unit some time ago, thinking it would be just another disappointing tiny form factor device that would barely register on my impress-o-meter. I was wrong. Very wrong. 

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The Pico Pantera shown against a coffee mug for scale.

Image: Jack Wallen

When I finally got around to firing this baby up, I couldn't believe how well it ran Windows 10. That's right, Windows 10. I could have held out for a Linux version but figured I should get this review taken care of sooner, rather than later. Besides, I could always blow away Windows 10 and install my Linux distribution of choice (which I will most likely do). 

What are the Pantera Pico's specs?

Let's get this out of the way (because what's a review without some specs?). The spec list looks something like this:

  • Intel Celeron J4125 Quad Core 2.7Ghz CPU
  • Dual-Band WiFi 2.4Ghz/5Ghz 422Mbs
  • Up to 8GB LPDDR4 (two 4GB running in dual-channel mode)
  • Up to one Terabyte M.2 SSD
  • Four USB Ports—three USB3.0, one USB2.0
  • 12V USB-C power port
  • Two SSD Storage
  • MicroSD expansion card slot
  • 64-bit Windows 10 / Linux compatible
  • Combo speaker/microphone jack
  • Powerful fan
  • Robust heat-sink

The case is aluminum, with an illuminated plastic top. It's built like a tank, so it should have no problem traveling with you or being deployed in less-than-ideal situations (just don't add water). Anyone looking for a tiny PC would be remiss in not considering this device. 

How would you describe the Pantera Pico experience?

I've already mentioned how well the Pico performs. It runs Windows 10 like a champ. Granted, you won't be using this device as a node in a Kubernetes cluster (although you probably could with Linux installed—at least for development purposes), the Pico makes for an absolute beast with average usage. Nearly anything you'd do in a web browser is perfectly at home with this machine.

As a diehard Linux user, working with Windows (in any form) always seems like a step back for me. But I didn't hold that against the Pico. And even though it seemed to take forever to walk through all the Microsoft nonsense (when setting up a new PC), the whole onboarding experience was quite easy. Once that was taken care of, I expected the Pico to show its true nature—to struggle against the weight of usage. That was not the case. This baby made short shrift of everything I did. Keep in mind, everything I did was from an end-user perspective (browsing, writing, social networking, shopping, etc.). However, that doesn't mean you couldn't install a few admin tools on this box and use it as a tiny pentesting device. Or maybe you have a situation (such as a kiosk) that requires full-blown PC power but doesn't have the room to accommodate. Voila! Pantera Pico to the rescue.

How much does the Pantera Pico cost?

At the moment, the Pantera Pico is still in Kickstarter mode. According to the Pantera Kickstarter page, the devices will range from $149 (for one device with 4GB of RAM/64GB ROM) all the way up to $989 (for five devices with 8GB RAM/512 ROM). The devices are set to be delivered this November (just in time for the holidays). 

You can select which OS you want (between Windows and Ubuntu) and even purchase add-ons (such as a carrying case, keyboard, speakers, projector, keyboard, mouse, USB hub and more) during checkout. And, for those who are curious, the Pantera Pico is Windows 11 ready.

Is Pantera Pico worth it?

I wasn't expecting to be impressed by this tiny device. With that in mind, I'm always happy when my doubt is proven wrong. If you're looking for a tiny form factor PC (for either mobile reasons or deployments that won't accommodate standard PCs), I can gladly recommend the Pantera Pico. Don't let the size fool you: This device will outperform your expectations.

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