More and more enterprises and SMBs have implemented their own virtual desktop infrastructure which gives them the flexibility to connect to their desktop on any device from any location. This creates a level of increased productivity for workers that are on the go, constantly in the airport, or those of us that have to work from home at times. VDI has become a great aid in flexibility in the workplace. Another benefit of VDI is that you can have a noticeably smaller footprint in the user’s workspace/cube/office, etc., by replacing that hulking piece of equipment under our desk, or gasp, on top of our desk with a much smaller lightweight piece of hardware called a thin client. Thin clients connect to the network and point back to the server that is housing your VDI solution, you plug your monitor, keyboard and mouse into the thin client, and work as you normally would. This decreases the space a normal PC would take up, even less than a SFF PC, it also decreases the amount of heat that is generated from under your desk not to mention the sound of the fan, and HDD spinning.

There are many Thin Client options in the marketplace today. I look to cover the three that I have used, and that I think will hold their ground in the thin client wars. thin clients are only going to be in higher demand in the years to come, so finding a thin client solution that best fits your needs and one that works well, is of the utmost importance.

My Top 3 Thin Client devices

1. Wyse R90LEW Thin Client

Wyse offers a full line of Thin Client options, all of which offer equally great performance and display back in a VDI environment. The Wyse R90LEW thin client is the one that I have purchased and deploy in my VDI environment. The display back is rich and the picture is crisp, on my dell 24″ widescreen monitors.

Best Power, Expandability and Display Performance – Now with Windows Embedded Standard. The ideal combination of performance, functionality and display capability, the Wyse R90LEW thin client joins the range of Wyse Thin Computing hardware and software solutions.The new Wyse R90LEW thin client features high performance central and graphics processors coupled with full support for multiple screens. Supporting Wyse Collaborative Processing Architecture and Wyse TCX, it delivers the best PC experience available on a thin computing platform, yet still lowers your organization’s carbon footprint, with power usage and emissions that are a fraction of traditional PC desktops. Wyse Device Manager supports the Wyse R90LEW thin client with scalable enterprise-wide management including simple deployment, patching and updates and asset management – all with secure end-to-end encrypted communications.

SPECS: PROCESSOR 1.5GHz AMD Sempron Processor MEMORY Standard: 1G RAM / 2G Flash Maximum: 2G RAM / 4G Flash I/O PERIPHERAL SUPPORT One DVI-I Port, One DVI-D Port, Two PS/2 ports, Two serial ports, Six External USB 2.0 ports (2 front; 4 back), Four Internal USB 2.0 ports, One Mic In, One Line Out, One Parallel port NETWORKING 10/100/1000 Base-T Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.0 (optional) DISPLAY VESA monitor support with Display Data Control (DDC) for automatic setting of resolution and refresh rate, Dual monitor supported, Single: 2560X1600 32 bits 60Hz, Dual: 2560X1600 32 bits 60Hz, AMD ATI 690E, Vista Premium ready PHYSICAL SPECS Dimensions: 307mm x 225mm x 82mm (12.1 in. x 8.8 in. x 3.2 in.)

2. HP t5630w Thin Client

HP is making its case to be the top thin client vendor in the battle, with their recent acquisition of Neoware in 2007, they have had a sizeable increase in their market share in the last 3 years. HP has focused on making their thin client solutions stand out as more of a ‘mobile thin client’ solution, and will have an edge when it comes to customer base as HP’s is much broader than Wyse’s.

Familiar Windows environment, With its familiar look and feel and support for current desktop applications, Windows® Embedded Standard offers the most up-to-date thin client connectivity to Windows, mainframe, and feature-rich web applications. Expanded VDI support, Expanded out-of-box support for industry leading brokers from HP, Citrix, and VMWare. HP Virtual Client Essentials, Enhance the remote user experience with HP Remote Graphics Software and HP RDP Multimedia and USB Redirection Enhancements. Easy to deploy and manage, Choice of deployment and management solutions from SMB to Enterprise. HP ThinState, HP Device Manager, and Altiris Deployment Solution license is included. HP Client Automation Starter Edition available via download. More secure, Enhanced Write Filter and Symantec Endpoint Protection provide multilayered security. Lock down user settings and external ports or add smart card security. Protect USB peripherals with two USB ports in a secure compartment. See it all, The dual-monitor and widescreen support in high resolution gives you ample screen real estate. Leading-edge design Supports the HP Quick Release and HP Integrated Work Center Stand (both sold separately) for flexible mounting. Front ports enable easy peripheral connectivity.

SPECS: PROCESSOR VIA Eden Processor 1.0 GHz MEMORY 1 GB DDR2 SDRAM (64 MB of system RAM reserved for video graphics usage) I/O PERIPHERAL SUPPORT 4 USB 2.0, 1 DVI-D, 1 headphone, 1 microphone in, 1 serial, 1 parallel, 1 RJ-45, 1 VGA, 2 PS/2 (2 additional USB 2.0 in secure compartment) NETWORKING 10/100/1000 Ethernet DISPLAY VIA Chrome9 HC3 DX9 PHYSICAL SPECSWeight: 3.4 lb (1.54 kg), Dimensions (w x d x h): 8.65 x 2.05 x 8.5 in (21.97 x 5.21 x 21.59 cm)

3. NComputing L300 Access Device

NComputing is probably my most favorite device particularly due to its size and design. NComputing is more of a PC sharing vendor. With the L300 device you can share 1 PC with a maximum of 30 users. The idea is based on the end user’s computing needs. The company claims that 99 percent of all PCs users aren’t doing any supercomputing, and that most of the memory intense applications and video streaming isn’t even related to their job. What a waste of energy and space. The L300 device presents users with a tidy, out of sight solution for a virtual desktop experience, the device comes with a mount that enables it to be mounted to the back of a flat screen monitor, cool!

With the L300, watching DVD-quality video on up to a 1920×1080 display comes standard for most common media formats. The game-changing access device comes packaged in a sleek low-power package that can be easily mounted on a monitor or secured to a desk. Powered by a new NComputing Numo System on a Chip (SoC), the L300 uses patent-pending hardware technology to decode and scale multimedia locally, eliminating network strain. The L300 access device costs less any other thin- or zero-client options and a quarter of the cost of desktop PCs.
In combination with the NComputing vSpace software, it enables VDI solutions at one-third the price of traditional offerings.

SPECS: PROCESSOR NComputing Numo System-on-Chip with embedded NComputing operating firmware (no local user OS) MEMORY All solid-state design. No moving parts, no fans, no local user storage. I/O PERIPHERAL SUPPORT 2 remote USB 2.0, microphone jack, speaker jack, USB 1.1 keyboard & mouse, 10/100 Ethernet, VGA monitor. NETWORKING 10/100/1000 Ethernet DISPLAY Normal display resolutions (16 or 24 bit color) @60Hz, Wide display resolutions (16 or 24 bit color) @60Hz
PHYSICAL SPECS Weight: 154 g / 0.34 lbs. Shipping weight (includes power adapter, packaging, documentation, etc.): 0.77 kg / 1.7 lbs. Width: 115 mm / 4.5 inches, Depth: 115 mm / 4.5 inches, Height: 30 mm / 1.2 inches

With so many good options out there, I’ve obviously left some devices off of this list. Dell should get a nod here simply due to the length of time they’ve been involved in the thin client war, I’ve actually tested their FX100 thin client, and it just didn’t match up to my needs, and provided poor display back to my 24″ wide-screen monitor, so we passed on it. Hopefully you can find a thin client vendor that will meet your needs, I urge you to try these three out and see which one you like the best. Maybe you are already using one of these, if so, reply and let me know what your thin client situation is.

-GStuart

Greg W Stuart
Greg is the owner and editor of vDestination.com. He's been a VMware vExpert every year since 2011. Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 kids. He works as a Sr. Consultant at VMware and resides in Northern Virginia, 15 minutes west of Washington DC.

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