Difference between Mainframes and Mini Computers

Mainframe and Mini computers are two different types of machines designed to perform computations for different requirements. By reading about difference of Mainframe and MiniComputer, you will able to compare them. A computer is a machine that is programmable. Information is received by it in the form of digital data and then it processes the information based on programming into useful results. Lets start this article with basic introduction of mainframe computers and mini computers.Mainframe and Mini Computer

Mainframe Computers

Mainframe are computers of very large size and they also have high level of reliability, processing power and storage. Large organizations make use of mainframe when they have to deal with greater volume of the data to be processed. Parallel processing is its key feature. Mainframes have capability to host multiple operating systems. There are many users that are connected to a single mainframe at the same time.  World’s largest 1000 companies make use of mainframes for their daily operations. In this era of modern business, mainframes are typically used in finance, banking,  insurance, health care,  government, a host of other private and public enterprises, public utilities etc.  Out of all the computing platforms, mainframes are considered as secure, stable and compatible.

Examples: System z9, IBM zSeries, System z10 servers etc.

Mini Computers

Minicomputers has most of its capabilities and features similar to larger computer but it is physically smaller in size than large computers. The first companies that manufactured mini computers are Data General, DEC and Hewlett Packard. A minicomputer is in between mainframe and microcomputer. It is smaller than mainframe and larger than microcomputer. Mini computers are used in many scientific applications and can be used as mid-range servers that operate business. They support multiprocessing and are used for performing high workloads. Mini computers are also called as mid-range computer.

Examples: Honeywell 200, IBM System/3, TI-990 etc.

Comparison table of Mainframe and Mini Computer

Mainframe ComputerMini Computer

Disk Size

It has a larger disk size.It has a smaller disk size.

Memory Storage

It has memory storage of high capacity.It has memory storage of low capacity.

Processing Speed

Its processing speed is faster. It can process millions of instructions per second.Its processing speed is slower as compared to mainframe computers.

User Support

It can support from thousand up to millions of the users at the same time.It supports hundreds of the users working connecting at the same time.


It is relatively expensive. It costs 1 to 5 million dollars.It is inexpensive. It costs 5 to 15 lac.


More ComplexLess Complex


Integrate into larger networks.Unable to integrate into larger networks.

Data Handling capacity

It has high data handling capacity.It has low data handling capacity.

Built in features

It has built in security features.It lacks built in security features.


They cannot be used as personal computers.They can be used as personal computers.


More reliableLess reliable

Heat Production mechanism

Enhanced heat production mechanismNormal heat production mechanism.


Can handle high volumes of workload and data transactions.Can handle medium level of workload and data transactions.

Key differences

  • Mainframe computers have large storage elements like disk as compared to mini computers.
  • The operating speed or instructions execution rate is very high for mainframe computers as compared to mini computers.
  • Mainframe computing devices are expensive because of high storage elements and high speed processing element i.e. processor.
  • Mini systems are used for small or mid level computations like low speed servers, scientific computing for mid range while mainframe computers are used for high critical applications where high very high volume data processing needed.


In short main frame computers consists of a lot of memory, multiple processors and many I/Os for servers and mini computers are just stand alone personal computers we use at home. Mainframe’s are multiple user machines but mini computers are single user system with alot of storage element and computational power.

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