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Can you game with the 2023 Mac mini? If you’re willing to install Windows 10 using our Boot Camp tutorial, and you have an eGPU at your disposal, the answer is yes. Watch our video showing you how to transform the 2023 Mac mini into a legit Windows 10 gaming machine.The setup
For this tutorial, I’m using a 2023 Mac mini with a 6-core Intel i7 processor. I upgraded the Mac mini RAM from 8GB to 32GB, and I attached a 1TB Samsung’s T5 SSD for the purpose of housing large games.
Instead of using macOS, I installed Windows 10 using our 2023 Mac mini Windows Boot Camp tutorial. This provides me with substantially more gaming options, as Windows remains miles ahead of macOS as far as game title support and (non-Metal) performance is concerned.Video walkthrough
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As I noted in our 2023 Mac mini review, it’s the most versatile computer in Apple’s lineup thanks to its small form factor and I/O. Sporting four Thunderbolt 3 ports on its rear, the 2023 Mac mini has a seemingly endless amount of expansion options at its disposal. Considering that the Mac mini has terribly underpowered integrated graphics, an external GPU is an obvious choice to beef up the machine’s capabilities.
For graphics, I’m using the Razer Core X eGPU (review) chassis with an AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 inside. I opted for an AMD card because of its compatibility with both macOS and Windows. In a forthcoming post, I’ll show what it’s like to game with an Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU, which unfortunately is Windows-only.
For a console-like experience, I purchased an Xbox controller, which pairs nicely with Windows 10 machines via built-in Bluetooth settings. This is especially nice for playing games like Forza Horizon 4.How to turn the 2023 Mac mini into a Windows gaming machine
Step 1: Install Windows 10 on your machine using our Mac mini Windows 10 tutorial.
Step 2: Connect your eGPU to your Mac mini via Thunderbolt 3. As noted, I’m using an AMD RX Vega 64 inside the Razer Core X eGPU chassis.
Step 3: Install the latest drivers for the AMD RX Vega 64 using the AMD Radeon installer tool.
Step 4: Connect the Xbox Controller to Windows via Bluetooth settings.
Step 5: Download your game of choice, and configure it to your liking. In my video demonstration above, I was able to run Rocket League, Madden 2023, and Forza Horizon 4, all at full resolution (5120×2160) with high settings.
All of the games were playable, even when running my display at such a high resolution. The LG UltraWide 5K2K (review) features a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz, so it’s not really designed for gaming, but playing games in a 21:9 aspect ratio at such a high resolution is quite engrossing.9to5Mac’s Take
The Mac mini becomes a capable gaming machine if you’re willing to connect an eGPU and run Windows 10. I was pleasantly surprised at how well every game ran, especially when at native 5120×2160 resolution. The Mac mini isn’t a gaming machine by nature, but with the addition of an eGPU + Windows, I think it performs surprisingly well.
What do you think?
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Buying a new Mac computer can be an expensive affair. However, if you have an old Mac Mini lying around, like we do, you can easily upgrade it to work like a new computer. Here we show you how you can upgrade a 2011 Mac Mini for use in the current year.What you need
You will need the following items for this project:1. Prep the Mac Mini
Flip over the Mac Mini so the open and closed dots are facing you. Twist the black base counter-clockwise to unlock the base, and gently lift the base clear of the device.2. Remove the wireless shroud
Using the Torx T8 screwdriver bit, unscrew the screws for the wireless shroud. Gently start to remove the shroud until you see where the wire connects to the logic board. Gently loosen the wire from the connection to pull the wireless shroud clear.3. Remove the fan
Using the Torx T5 screwdriver bit, unscrew the 3 screws connecting the fan to the device and begin to remove the fan until you can reach where the fan connects to the logic board. Pull the connector from the logic board and remove the fan entirely. Using the same screwdriver bit, remove the screws holding the black piece that was next to the fan and remove that piece for ease of access.4. Remove the logic board
To remove the logic board, first you need to move it out by half an inch first. If you have trouble, you can use any small screwdrivers you may have in two screw holes to pry it loose. From there, disconnect any connections still on the logic board, which at this point should only be the hard drive SATA cable and the power pack.
From this point forward, my pictures aren’t going to be a direct reflection. I rebuilt first to make sure my methods would work, and upon reopening my device, the screw for my fan was stripped and unable to be removed currently. Let this be a word of caution, be very careful with the Torx screws to not strip them, as they have a proclivity to do so.5. Remove the old hard drive
Place a credit card or a small nylon tool underneath the hard drive to pry it out of place and remove it entirely. Save the SATA cable for use with the new hard drive.6. Remove/Replace RAM 7. Remove the hard drive plastic
There is a piece of plastic that guides around the power pack, the logic board, and the hard drive. It is connected in the back of the power pack, farthest from where you have the device placed. To remove it, with the power pack being grounded into place on this model, you have to gently wiggle the plastic to get it free. You can then pull it out all the way.8. Install the new hard drive
Connect the SATA cable into the new hard drive. Using the T5 screwdriver bit, remove the screws from the side of the old hard drive. Guiding the new hard drive into the plastic insert, you can screw the hard drive into place using the same screws you just used. The new SATA cable kit will also have some rubber inserts. Put those through the plastic before inserting the screws. You can guide the plastic back into the place you pulled it from, working the connection back into place.9. Install the new SSD
Attach the new SATA cable from the hard drive kit (make sure to use the one that faces up when placed into the Mac Mini). Gently lay the SSD on top of the new hard drive, and slide it until it secures into place.10. Connect the hard drive, the SSD, and the other connections to the logic board
Slide the logic board back into the Mac Mini housing. Once it is about a half inch away, connect the power pack back into the logic board. Once that is connected, slide the logic board the rest of the way in. Connect the 2 SATA cables to the logic board. (The cables required some work to fit perfectly, so make sure to embrace patience. It’s so worth it!)11. Reconnect the fan
Place the black piece back in place and screw it on. Connect the cable for the fan to the logic board, then place the fan back in place. Put the screws back in place and secure them.12. Reconnect the wireless shroud
Connect the wire for the wireless adapter to the logic board in the only remaining spot in that area. Place the wireless shroud back in place and screw the final screws back in. Place the base back on top and spin it clockwise to fasten it into place. You’re done with the hardware part!13. Enter Internet Recovery Mode
The next thing to do upon booting your Mac for the first time is to hold the Command, Option, and R keys at the same time once you hear the Mac startup chime. This enters the machine into Internet Recovery Mode.14. Reformat the hard drive and the SSD
Go to “Disk Utility” to erase and format the new hard drive and SSD to reformat to “Mac OS Extended (Journal).”
Once finished, go back to the main screen.15. Reinstall MacOS
My computer came with Mountain Lion, so that’s the OS that installed automatically. This process does take about 30 minutes, so find something to do in the meantime.16. Install Mac High Sierra (the most recent supported for this model of Mac mini)
This part was frustrating because Safari was not supporting any websites. You have to find a copy of Mac High Sierra and install it on your Mac mini.
At this point, you’re done! You now get to enjoy an upgraded Mac Mini at a fraction of the cost of a new one. If, after everything, your Mac Mini refuses to boot up, you can check some of the fixes here.
Image Credit: “2011 Mac Mini 2.5ghz 14-5-2024”
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Compare the rental cost versus the labor cost before investing in a weekend rental. Typically, mini excavators rent for about 150 dollars (US) per day, plus delivery, pick up, fuel charges, and insurance, so for a weekend project you will be spending about 250-300 dollars(US).
Check out the range of machines at your rental business, and ask if they do demonstrations and allow customers to become familiar with the machine on their premises. Many large equipment rental businesses have a maintenance area where they will allow you to get the feel of the machine with some experienced supervision.
Find a level, clear area to try the machine out in. Minis are stable, with a very good balance and fairly wide footprint for their size, but they can be overturned, so start out on firm, level ground.
Take a look around the machine to see if there is any loose or damaged parts that will make operating it hazardous. Look for oil leaks, other fluids dripping, lose control cables and linkages, damaged tracks, or other potential problems. Find your fire extinguisher location and check the engine lubricant and coolant levels. These are standard operating procedures for using any piece of construction equipment, so make a habit of giving any machine you operate, from a lawnmower to a bulldozer a once over before cranking it.
You will find the arm rest/control assembly on the left (from the operator’s seat) side of the machine flips up and out of the way to access the seat. Pull the lever (or handle) on the front end (not the joystick on top) up, and the whole thing will swing up and back. Grab the handhold attached to the rollover frame, step on the track, and pull yourself up to the deck, then swing in and have a seat. After being seated, pull the left armrest back down, and push the release lever to lock it into place.
These sticks control the bucket/boom assembly, also known as the hoe(hence the name trackhoe for any track carriaged excavator) and the machine rotating function, which swings the upper part (or cab) of the machine around when operated. These sticks will always return to a neutral position when they are released, stopping any movement which is caused by their use.
Each controls the rotation of the track on the side it is located on, and pushing them forward causes the machine to move forward. Push an individual stick forward will cause the machine to turn in the opposite direction, pulling a stick backward will turn the machine in the direction of the stick pulled, and counter rotating (pushing one stick while pulling the other) the tracks will cause the machine to spin in one place. The farther your push or pull these controls, the faster the machine will move, so when it is time to crank up and go, operate these controls slowly and smoothly. Make sure you are aware of what direction the tracks are pointed before you travel. The blade is on the front. Pushing the levers away from you (forward) will move the tracks forward but if you have rotated the cab it will feel like you are traveling backwards. This can cause an unexpected side effect. If you try to move forward and the machine moves back your inertia will tend to make you lean forward, pushing the controls harder. This can be similar to the way the you must change your steering when driving a car in reverse, you will learn with time.
On the left, you will see either a small pedal or a button operated with your left foot, this is the high speed control, used to boost the drive pump and speed the machine’s travel when moving it from one location to another. This feature should only be used on smooth, level terrain in a straight path. On the right side is a pedal covered with a hinged steel plate. When you flip up the cover, you will see a two way pedal. This pedal pivots the machine’s hoe left or right, so the machine doesn’t have to swing to reach the location you need the bucket in. This should be used sparing and only on stable, level ground because the load will not be lined up with the counterweight so the machine can tip over much easier.
Look on the right side, in front of the instrument cluster and you will see two more levers or control sticks. The rear one is the throttle, which increases in the engine’s RPMs, usually the further back it is pulled, the faster the engine speed. The larger handle is the front blade (or dozer blade) control. Pulling this lever raises the blade, pushing the handle lowers it. The blade can be used for grading, pushing debris, or filling holes, just like a bulldozer on a very small scale, but is also used to stabilize the machine while digging with the hoe.
Start up your engine. With the engine running, you must be careful to avoid accidentally bumping any of the control sticks previously described, since any movement of any of these controls will cause an instant response from your machine.
Start out maneuvering your machine. Make sure the front blade and the hoe boom are both raised, and push the steering control levers forward. If you are not planning to do any grading work with the machine, using the dozer blade while in motion, you can control one stick with each hand. The sticks are located very close together so they can both be gripped with one hand, which is then twisted to push or pull the sticks while in motion, allowing your right hand to be free to raise or lower the dozer blade, so that it can be kept at the right height for the work you are doing.
Always watch for hazards as you move the machine, since the boom may be farther away than you think, and can cause serious damage if it hits something.
Find a suitable place in your practice area to try out the digging function of the machine. The joysticks on the armrests control the boom, pivot, and bucket motion, and they can be operated in one of two modes, commonly called backhoe or trackhoe mode, which is selected with a switch behind or on the left side of the seat on the floor board. Usually, these settings are labelled A or F, and the descriptions of the stick operations in this article are in the A mode.
Lower the dozer blade pushing forward the control handle on the front of the console on your right until it is firmly on the ground. Grip both joysticks, being careful not to move them until you are ready. You will want to start out by raising and lowering the main (inboard) boom section first. This is done by pulling the right joystick straight back to raise it, pushing it forward to lower it. Moving the same joystick right or left either pulls the bucket in (scooping)by moving the stick to the left, or throws the bucket out (dumping) by moving it to the right. Raise and lower the boom a few times, and roll the bucket in and out to see how they feel.
Move the left joystick forward, and the secondary (outboard) boom segment will swing up (away from you). Pulling the stick in will swing the outer boom back toward you. A normal combination for scooping dirt from a hole is to lower the bucket into the soil, then pull back the left boom to pull the bucket through the soil toward you, while pulling the right stick to the left to scoop earth into the bucket.
Move the left joystick to your left (being sure the bucket is clear of the ground, and there are no obstacles on your left). This will cause the complete cab of the machine to rotate on top of the tracks to the left. Move the stick slowly, since the machine will rotate pretty suddenly, a motion that takes some getting used to. Push the left joystick back to the right, and the machine will pivot to the right.
Keep practicing with these controls until you have a good feel for what they do. Ideally, with enough practice, you will move each control without consciously thinking about it, focusing on watching the bucket do its job. When you feel confident with your ability, maneuver the machine into position, and get to work.
If you’d like to know some tips on how you can best utilize big data to boost your earnings, here are some suggestions you can consider
Companies use big data to analyze their customer base and explore opportunities in their market space. Big data refers to technologies that store, analyze, and manage large and complex data. Through customer data, the needs of the consumers can be easily identified and catered to by providing improved goods or services. It also eliminates the guesswork for marketing strategists as they can quickly determine a customer’s purchasing behavior and use it as a basis for campaigns.
Ultimately, the goal of collecting and analyzing customer data is to know their profile, study their interests and product preferences, and guide them towards a successful sale or transaction with the company. In essence, big data is turned into marketing revenue through various methods.
If you’d like to know some tips on how you can best utilize big data to boost your earnings, here are some suggestions you can consider:Employ Big Data To Enhance Marketing Strategies
Customer data is an excellent tool to help you design effective marketing campaigns. By analyzing customer profiles, you can better understand your target audience. In effect, this understanding will help you curate a campaign that would attract attention, pique the market’s curiosity, and invite new and repeat business.
For example, you can utilize cookies gathered from the customer’s web activity to learn their interests, purchase histories, and general profile. With this information, you can tailor your subsequent campaigns in a manner that would best suit your target audience. This way, you can minimize strategic errors that may hinder the success of your campaigns. In addition, you can also help your enterprise save time, effort, and resources in your marketing strategies moving forward.Create Data-Based Customer Engagement Strategies
You can also use big data to design strategies that augment customer engagement. For instance, you can study how your target audience interacts with your brand and the factors that boost their engagement. You can also identify
how to increase customer value
through these interactions, online or otherwise.
Big data analysis can also provide you with crucial information to make adjustments where needed. For instance, you can observe which of your existing products gets the most and least engagement. This way, you can devise a plan to help attract more attention towards less-engaging items or realign your resources towards developing new and improved products.Boost Brand Awareness And Customer Acquisition Through Big Data
As you collect digital information based on your customer’s responses on your online platforms, you can also determine how to widen your brand’s reach and boost awareness in other market platforms. One way you can do this is to increase your brand’s presence on the sites that your target audience frequents.
For instance, you can design an online campaign via social networking sites popular across your customer base. This way, it will be easier for them to engage with your brand and share your product information with their network. Also, while you promote brand awareness, you can improve customer acquisition by engaging with audiences connected to your current customer base.Use Big Data As Basis For Adjusting Price Points
Product prices can significantly influence a customer’s purchasing behavior. As such, it’s crucial to be aware of price movements in your market and how your brand stands against the competition. While offering lower-priced products may seem like the best way to beat competitors, it can backfire if the price adjustments are not justified. For instance, the customers may question quality or brand credibility if the prices are too low compared to other brands.
With these factors in mind, you’ll need to make price point comparisons using customer data that shows how product selections are influenced. You may see specific purchasing patterns that may help you point out the audience’s primary considerations in choosing a brand or an item. This way, you can make reasonable price adjustments that won’t hurt your brand and your revenue.
Meanwhile, you can also explore other options to make your prices more competitive. For example, you can consider adding discounts and freebies, which can help your products stand out from other brands.
If you know about computing systems, you also know the industry is fragmented into two sides: iOS and Windows users.
Moreover, both manufacturers have differentiated their brands in small but significant ways, making it challenging for users to shift between them.
For instance, not only do iOS products have their collapse boxes on the top right corner of their user interface, but their keyboard’s layout is also different from a Windows one.
This got us thinking. Are the differences between the two computing giants so great that you can’t use Mac’s keyboard on your Windows PC?
Join us as we explore this question and explain how to use a Mac keyboard on a Windows PC. We will also include the configuration process and tips for using the keyboard effectively.
Keep reading to learn more.
There are several key differences between Mac and Windows keyboards, both in layout and functionality. Here are some of the main ones.
One of the most noticeable differences between Mac and Windows keyboards is the location and function of the Command and Control keys. On a Mac keyboard, the Command key is located next to the spacebar and is used in combination with other keys to execute keyboard shortcuts. On a Windows keyboard, the Control key is located in the same position, but its functions differ.
Another key difference between Mac and Windows keyboards is the location and function of the Option and Alt keys. On a Mac keyboard, the Option key is located next to the Command key and is used in combination with other keys to execute certain functions, such as typing special characters or accessing hidden menus. On a Windows keyboard, the Alt key is located in the same position and has a similar function, although the shortcuts are different.
The function keys on a Mac keyboard have different default functions than those on a Windows keyboard. Mac’s keyboard function keys are labeled with icons representing common Mac functions, such as adjusting the screen brightness or volume. On the other hand, Windows’ keyboard function keys are labeled with F1, F2, etc., and are used for various functions, such as accessing the Help menu or refreshing a web page.
The Delete key on a Mac keyboard functions differently than the Delete key on a Windows keyboard. On a Mac keyboard, the Delete key functions like the Backspace key on a Windows keyboard, deleting text to the left of the cursor. On a Windows keyboard, the Delete key deletes text to the right of the cursor.
The Home and End keys on a Mac keyboard are located in a different position from a Windows keyboard. The Home and End keys are next to the arrow keys on a Mac keyboard. While on a Windows keyboard, the Home and End keys are located in a separate block of keys above the arrow keys.
Overall, while the basic layout of Mac and Windows keyboards is similar, there are significant differences in the location and function of certain keys. If you’re used to a Windows keyboard, you may need to adjust to the layout and functionality of a Mac’s when using it for the first time.
To connect a Mac keyboard to a Windows PC, you can follow these steps:
Check the type of connector on your Mac keyboard. If it has a USB-A connector, plug it directly into your Windows PC’s USB-A port.
Your PC will present the available pairable devices. Select your keyboard and type in the number that will appear to pair the two.
Once connected, wait for your Windows PC to recognize the Mac keyboard.
If the Mac keyboard doesn’t work immediately, you may need to install drivers for the keyboard on your Windows PC. You can find the drivers on the manufacturer’s website or by searching online.
Once the keyboard is recognized and working, you can start using it with your Windows PC.
You should also note some Mac-specific keys like Command, Option, and Control may behave differently on a Windows PC. You may need to remap these keys to make them work properly. You can use third-party software like SharpKeys or KeyTweak to remap keys on a Windows PC.
Download your preferred third-party remapping software to remap keys on a Mac keyboard for a Windows PC. Then follow these steps to remap keys using SharpKeys.
Download and install SharpKeys on your Windows PC.
Restart your PC and connect your Mac keyboard.
In the Type Key section, press the key on your Mac keyboard that you want to remap. This will show up in the From key box.
In the Type Key section, press the key on your Windows PC to map it to the Mac key. This will show up in the To key box.
Repeat the process for the other keys you want to remap.
Restart your Windows PC to access the changes.
Apple Magic Keyboard
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
The Apple Magic Keyboard is a sleek and stylish wireless keyboard designed for Apple devices but can also work with Windows PCs. It features a slim profile and low-profile scissor mechanism, providing a comfortable and responsive typing experience. The keyboard has a built-in rechargeable battery that can last up to a month on a single charge.
Apple Wired Keyboard with Numeric Keypad
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
The Apple Wired Keyboard with Numeric Keypad is a durable and reliable keyboard designed for Mac and Windows users. It features a full-sized layout with a numeric keypad, making it a great option if you frequently work with numbers. The keyboard connects to your computer via USB and is easy to set up and use.
Logitech MX Keys
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
The Logitech MX Keys is a high-end keyboard designed for both Mac and Windows. It features a comfortable design with a low profile, a responsive typing experience, as well as backlit keys. The keyboard also has a built-in rechargeable battery lasting up to 10 days on a single charge.
Another standout feature of the Logitech MX Keys is its ability to seamlessly switch between up to three devices, making it an excellent option if you frequently switch between multiple devices.
The war between Macs and PCs has existed since the introduction of home computers and is still ongoing. Moreover, if you’re like us, you enjoy the friendly banter and probably have a thing or two to say. However, you may also need to use your Mac keyboard with a Windows PC, and it’s great to see this is much easier than you’d expect.
But as with everything when crossing the two ecosystems, you might need to manually map out some of the keys to help you keep the same workflow as using a Windows keyboard. Besides that, the experience of using a Mac keyboard on a Windows PC is quite painless.
You can connect a Mac keyboard to a Windows PC using a USB cable or via Bluetooth. Simply plug in the USB cable or turn on Bluetooth on both devices and then pair the devices using the standard pairing process.
Most Mac keyboards work with Windows PCs, but some models may have specific function keys or features that only work with Apple devices. Before purchasing a Mac keyboard for a Windows PC, it’s a good idea to check the product specifications and compatibility.
You can use a Mac keyboard on a Windows PC, but you may need to remap some keys to get the best experience.
Microsoft and its PC partners are producing a seemingly endless variety of tablets, from 8-inch slates that can practically fit into a (large) pocket to 10-inch tablets that still aren’t quite ideal for long hours at a desk. They won’t hesitate to tell you these devices are full PCs running full versions of Windows 8.1. Many Windows tablets even come with a free copy of Microsoft Office!
In fact, today’s Windows tablets offer such solid productivity chops that they can easily become the heart of a potent sit-down workstation with the help of a few peripherals and some smart software choices and tweaks. Even better, you can take that productive heart with you when you have to leave your desk.
Here’s how to transform a Windows tablet into a full-fledged Windows PC.A quick note on performance
It’s important to temper your expectations before we dive in.
While Microsoft’s own Surface Pro 2 packs an Ultrabook-class Core i5 processor, and the Dell Venue 11 offers Core i3 and Core i5 options, most Windows laptops run on Intel’s tablet-class “Bay Trail Atom” processors. Bay Trail processors provide solid performance in day-to-day computing tasks like web browsing, checking your email, watching high-definition videos, and Office-type productivity tasks.Video-out options
You’ll really want a tablet with some sort of video-out port if you want it to double as a PC. Some of the cheaper Windows tablets out there don’t offer video-out ports at all, leaving you to fend with inferior wireless solutions. You’ll find different types of ports on different tablets. For example, the Lenovo ThinkPad 8 offers a micro-HDMI port, while Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2 offers a Mini DisplayPort instead. You’ll need a micro-HDMI-to-full-HDMI adapter or a Mini-DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapter, which will allow you to connect your tablet to a standard computer monitor or TV.
Some cheaper tablets don’t have any video-out ports. You’ll want to avoid these if possible, because you’ll have to use the Miracast wireless display technology built into Windows 8.1 with them them. Miracast theoretically lets you wirelessly stream your tablet’s display to a nearby monitor. However, Miracast often doesn’t work very well, and devices that are certified as compatible may not actually be compatible. If you want to try Miracast, you’ll probably need to pick up a wireless Miracast adapter for your display, too.
Some Android phones offer Mobile-High-Definition-Link (MHL) support, which allows you use a Micro-USB-to-HDMI adapter. This would mean a Windows 8.1 tablet with a standard Micro-USB port could output to HDMI with the proper adapter, if the display also supported MHL. However, we’re not aware of any Windows 8.1 tablets actually implementing this feature yet.
Check your tablet’s specifications to see what it supports and pick up the appropriate adapter. If you’re shopping for a tablet you want to also use as a desktop PC, be sure to get one with a video-out port so you’re not stuck fiddling with Miracast.USB keyboards, mice, storage devices, and printers
Input will be easier to handle. Practically every Windows 8.1 tablet should support Bluetooth, so you can easily use Bluetooth mice and keyboards without worrying about ports.
However, there’s a good chance you’ll want to use standard wired keyboard and mice, or wireless keyboards and mice with a receiver that plugs in via USB. In this case, you’ll just need to plug your USB mouse and keyboard into your tablet’s USB port.
Yes, sometimes this is easier said than done! Some tablets will have only a micro-USB port, for example. You’ll need a micro-USB-to-full-size-USB adapter to connect your USB devices to such tablets.
A powered USB hub like this 7-port Anker model makes it much easier to use a Windows tablet as a Windows PC.
Other tablets will offer a full-size USB port, but only a single one. You can get around this limitation by purchasing a USB hub. You’ll probably want an external USB hub with a power cable of its own that connects to a wall outlet. Your tablet will only provide so much power through its single USB port, and it may not be enough to power a mouse, keyboard, and all the storage devices you may want to connect.
Printers can be connected directly with USB, too. Plug that printer into the USB hub—or directly into the tablet—and you’ll be able to print.
You can connect a wide variety of peripherals to your tablet PC with via USB. For example, you could read and burn optical discs from a tablet if you buy an external optical drive and connect it via USB. Leave your peripherals plugged into the USB hub and you’ll only have to disconnect a single USB cable from your tablet if you ever want to pick it up and walk away.
Tablet hard drives tend to be far skimpier than PC drives, often topping out at 32GB or 64GB. Your tablet probably has a microSD card, so you can consider using it for additional storage. Simple USB flash drives or external hard drives can also augment your tablet’s storage capacity, and you can leave them plugged into your USB hub if you’d like.
Image: Michael Homnick
Dell offers a docking accessory for its Venue 11 Pro that adds three USB 3.0 ports (two in the back, one in front), both HDMI and DisplayPort connectors for attaching a second (or third) display), 10/100 ethernet, and analog audio and video connectors.
Some manufacturers produce docks designed to make all this easier, like Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2 dock or the tablet dock Dell offers for its sublime Venue 11 Pro. The dock connector on the device connects to the dock, where you can plug in your various cables. This makes it easier to remove the tablet without disconnecting multiple cables each time. You may also find third-party docks for some tablets.External monitor setup
You can use your external monitor in several different ways. Your tablet can become one of your two displays in a dual-monitor setup, or it can simply mirror its contents to the larger display.
Fiddling with multiple monitor options in Windows 8.1.
The “Multiple displays” section of the taskbar’s properties tab lets you customize how the taskbar behaves across two or more monitors.
Optimize that tablet for the desktop
Windows 8.1’s recent update attempts to use the ideal settings for the specific device you’re using. This means booting to the desktop on desktop PCs, but it also means booting to the Start screen and using the “Store apps” by default on tablets. Luckily, you can still adjust these settings yourself.
Stardock’s ModernMix software lets you run Metro apps in desktop windows when you’re using your tablet as a PC, but also lets you switch apps back to full-screen mode when you’re on the run.
If you like using the new Store apps on your tablet, but prefer using traditional desktop software when using your tablet as a PC, try Stardock’s $5 ModernMix. It lets you use confine those touch-first apps to traditional desktop windows when you’re using your tablet as a PC, at the mere touch of the F10 button on your keyboard or menu bar introduced by the software.
Beyond MetroMix, you can also use Windows 8’s built-in Snap multitasking feature to run Modern-style apps alongside the desktop, or just display Modern apps on your tiny tablet display and the desktop on your larger display. Both screens can be used at the same time in a tablet-as-PC setup, which can create some handy scenarios if, say, you want to use the touchscreen potential of the tablet itself to create diagrams, take notes, or mark up PDF files.
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