The Real Difference Between Thin Clients and Zero Clients

Competitive organizations maintain an organized workplace using leading technology, like Thin and Zero Clients, that allow them to focus solely on improving business and not have to worry about clutter. These businesses store their data and applications on a central server using these high-performance endpoints that give them all the benefits of a PC, but with added security, more powerful connectivity, seamless hardware/software upgrades and cutting-edge functionality.

But how is this possible? Thin and Zero Clients are lightweight computers that replace traditional desktop PC hardware to introduce the benefits of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). In a virtual environment supported by these devices, computing power resides on networked servers. This provides reliable internet access, lower power consumption, and reduced risk of security vulnerabilities as well as standardized and consistent IT experience on any desktop, tablet, laptop, or mobile device.

Although Thin and Zero Clients share many similarities, they also differ when it comes to connection types, specifications, and more. Moving forward, we will explore what Thin and Zero Clients are, and the real differences between them.

What Are Thin Clients?

Thin Clients are lightweight, low-cost devices that derive support from a server to perform IT functions. They have components one would expect to find in their fat client counterparts including processors, memory, storage, USB ports, and OS. Easy to install and manage, Thin Clients are cost-effective computing solutions that can be used to operate protocols like Microsoft RDP, Teradici PCoIP, Citrix HDX, and VMware Blast Extreme. This will facilitate connectivity to your virtual or physical remote machine and from there, you can access virtualized applications.

Apart from memory and storage capacity, the majority of data from a Thin Client is stored on a remote server. And even if a client malfunctions, it can be disassociated from the rest of the devices in a matter of seconds. Administrators can then provide users with another machine containing the same data present on the old system, thus maintaining consistent productivity. Enterprises that need an effective platform for affordable and simplified management of IT applications across a variety of devices can benefit from a VDI Thin Client solution. Employees can access virtual desktop environments that are centrally stored and managed in the data center, which offers a safe working environment while providing users with access to applications from any location and device.

What Are Zero Clients?

Zero Clients can be defined as ultra-thin computing models with a very small form factor that is used with VDI. Similar to Thin Clients, Zero Clients are easy to set up and use. Additionally, they require little to no updates, and configuration is not needed. However, unlike Thin Clients which use an OS, Zero Clients install firmware that helps you connect to your remote machine. Many displays and decoding developments occur in specific hardware, thereby increasing the efficiency of Zero Clients. The Teradici Tera2 chip-set supports many of the most recognized Zero Clients. These Zero Clients use PCoIP protocol to facilitate remote connection, accelerate dedicated hardware at the endpoint, and promote user experience.

Customized Work From Home Solution

Try it Now

Difference Between Thin Clients and Zero Clients

If you study the features and benefits that Thin and Zero Clients offer, you will see that they work more or less in the same way as one another. Both are high-performance endpoint devices that you can use to connect to a remote machine and manage in centralized computing infrastructure.

Thin and Zero Clients integrate varying VDI connection types. A Thin Client device includes a variety of connection types that are managed within a central repository. A Zero Client incorporates at least two connection types that, although not required, can be centrally supervised. Hence, Thin Clients are more flexible, while Zero Clients offer more dynamic video and graphics performance using a particular protocol.

Meeting individual user needs with a Thin Client involves installing or hosting the right apps. The device provides a seamless desktop experience with e-mail clients, browsers, office or PDF viewers, and connectivity to legacy client-server apps. Conversely, a Zero Client can access apps that are found in the data center server. This device is capable of handling the most graphics-intensive apps and supporting high-end multimedia. Enterprises can easily use either of these endpoints to cater to workloads leveraging quad monitors, without sacrificing precision.

Although Thin Clients have minor and less frequent software updates, they still require more overall as compared to Zero Clients. These devices are typically configured by leveraging a template from previous Thin Client configurations, making the process very straightforward. Even though Thin Clients have longer updates, they can be scheduled for off-peak hours so that end users can plan accordingly and ensure maximum productivity. Updates and maintenance cycles are minute when it comes to Zero Clients, and configuration is quick as well as simple.

Zero Clients represent the most secure devices in virtualization. They have no operating systems that one can infect, and data is not stored on the endpoints. Users cannot install unauthorized or malicious software on a Zero Client, mistakenly delete system files, or copy intellectual property to removable media/flash drives.

Difference Between Thin and Zero Clients

Thin Clients vs Zero Clients – Remote Work Capabilities

Thin and Zero Clients can help an enterprise build a remote work solution to address the challenges introduced by COVID-19. Implementing social distancing is the only way forward for an organization to facilitate work from home solutions.

These endpoints offer employees the ability to work from anywhere around the globe. They provide the same performance capacity and access to information as they would when users work onsite. Organizations can continue to manage workloads and team members within a centralized structure on account of VDI capabilities. Intellectual property is stored on a remote server, making work from home initiatives inherently secure.

With Thin and Zero Clients, updating software programs can be done quickly and efficiently from a single interface instead of physically visiting every machine. Also, advancements in virtualization have given businesses smarter and more affordable alternatives to implement the technology. One such example is PC re-purposing software such as ClearCube Cloud Desktop OS that offers organizations the best of both worlds. It extends the life of existing IT hardware by transforming outdated PCs into Thin Client terminals that connect to remote hosts like computers, instantly delivering the benefits of VDI.

How ZERO+ Clients Can Improve Your Operational Capability?

ClearCube ZERO+ Clients empower work from home initiatives. These compact hardware Zero Clients allow users to work on computers that remotely reside in data centers. ZERO+ Clients incorporate hardware and firmware components that improve Zero Client security while offering ultra HD graphics and PC-like user experience in VDI deployments. They are Wi-Fi enabled and come with multiple remote connection protocol support. Organizations also receive the benefits of ClearCube Zero Clients with a virus-proof, no-app OS.

Difference Between Thin and Zero Clients

Thin Clients, Zero Clients, or ZERO+ Clients: What’s the Best Choice?

Thin Clients effortlessly support both SMBs and large enterprises seeking remarkably flexible configurations that deliver unmatched desktop experiences. Large organizations with intensive workflows and workloads are recommended to opt for Zero or ZERO+ Clients that incorporate impressive graphics capabilities and quick boot-up times.

Still not sure how to choose between Thin and Zero Clients? Check out our Free Demo evaluation to take our industry-leading Thin and Zero Clients for a spin. Or contact us by clicking on the live chat widget at the bottom right of your screen or email us at We’d be happy to consult with you to recommend the best endpoint for your business and answer any questions you may have.

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00