Forget cleaning the space of your next desktop PC. Nowadays, you can get a powerful desktop PC the size of a peanut butter sandwich.
Whether you’re trying to save space in the home, or find more space for computers in your office or install a media server in your entertainment center, there’s a mini PC made for you.
How to choose the best mini PC
Here are some tips for anyone in the market for a new mini PC.
First, we must determine if your ideal mini PC is turnkey or ready to use. In short, if you are looking for a quick and easy configuration, your best option is to connect and go. Otherwise, if you prefer to add, improve and periodically update your own hardware, that is, memory and storage, you will want a configurable PC.
To be clear, many ready-to-use mini PC manufacturers allow upgrades and updates. The main difference between configurable and ready to use is in the initial configuration, not necessarily in the ability to update.
Compared to the desktop PCs of yesteryear, today’s mini PCs are microscopic. Literally, you can stack a dozen or more mini PCs inside the tower of an old desktop computer.
Such a large reduction in size offers more freedom in terms of portability and how your workspace is used. Typically speaking, mini PCs range in size from 4 x 4 x .5 inches to 8 x 8 x 2.5 inches. (W x L x H)
What are you using your machine for?
For example, mini PCs designed to handle state-of-the-art video games and A / V editing can be equipped with the latest Windows operating system, 32GB (or more) of RAM, fast SSDs and the most advanced graphics technology fully compatible with VR, 4K UHD, surround sound 7.1.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a simple device to transmit movies, you can do well with 2 GB of RAM, less than 16 GB of storage and the Android operating system.
The ability to update your machine can also be a factor. If your mini PC is intended to be an entertainment device, the ability to update may be important to you.
As technology continues to progress and decrease, you may want to equip your PC with improved and more updated parts.
Characteristics / Capacities:
Finally, you’ll want to consider what features are required to get the most out of your machine. For example, do you need USB 3.1, or will USB 3.0 work? How many USB ports do you need? Would you like to connect a Thunderbolt device or two (or more)? Would you like to have the possibility to install your own operating system? Do you know the maximum amount of memory you will need?
In general, there are a lot of options. Continue reading to discover what mini PC is best for you.
1. Lenovo ThinkCentre M710 Mini computer.
Lenovo offers a wide range of processors, memory, storage and port options for the ThinkCentre M710 Tiny Desktop, but the configuration we recommend generally has an Intel Core i5-7500T processor, 8 GB of RAM, a solid 256 GB disk, an 500 GB hard drive, six USB ports and two DisplayPort connections so you can connect it to multiple monitors.
That equates to a little more power than you would get from something like an ultrabook or a similar business laptop, but it’s cheaper because you do not pay for the screen or the battery. You can easily access and update storage and memory through a removable bottom panel, and this model worked cooler and quieter than any other mini PC we tested.
See prices on eBay: Lenovo ThinkCentre M710
2. HP ProDesk 400 G3 Mini Desktop PC
If the ThinkCentre M710 increases in price or is hard to find, the HP ProDesk 400 G3 Mini Desktop PC is a good second choice.
It’s still a capable mini PC, but compared to our first selection, it usually costs a bit more and performs worse. The fan is noisier, the SSD is not as fast and does not get an additional 500GB hard drive as in the Lenovo system.
The three-year warranty is much better than the coverage of the ThinkCentre M710, but HP installs more bloatware that it will have to spend time eliminating.
See prices on eBay: HP ProDesk 400 G3
3. Zotac Zbox CI325 Nano – One of the cheapest mini PC
If you need a small and inexpensive computer for very basic tasks such as email, text editing and Netflix, or if you are looking for something economical to use as a media server or retro game box, the Zotac Zbox CI325 Nano can do the job and much plus.
It is the most useful mini PC you can get for less than $ 250 US, although most people should spend more. Instead of a replacement for your desktop PC, the Zbox CI325 Nano is better suited as a media server running software such as Plex or as a system for emulation software such as RetroArch.
You can not multitask without a drop in performance, and you can not run anything more demanding than Minecraft, but it’s fine as long as you do not have to do more than that. The Zbox CI325 Nano uses passive cooling instead of a fan, so it works silently, but the lack of a fan means that the CPU can not run quickly because it would generate too much heat.
See prices on eBay: Zotac Zbox CI325 Nano
4. Intel Mini PC NUC7i5BNH
If you prefer to have more control over the parts of your PC, or if you do not need a Windows license, you can save $ 70 or more by purchasing a basic mini PC and providing your own storage, memory and operation. system. The Intel NUC7i5BNH is the best basic option for its solid specifications, excellent support and update software (optional). Intel offers several NUC models, but the best combination of price and performance for most people includes an Intel Core i5-7260U processor and costs around $ 350. The NUC can run hot and your fan can make noise, but the Upgrade is easy, it has a wide selection of ports (including Thunderbolt 3), Intel covers it with a three year warranty and you will not have a filler software installed (because you need to install Windows yourself).
5. Intel Mini PC Kit NUC NUC6i7KYK
The Intel NUC6i7KYK (NUC 6) offers you the best performance when it comes to complete kits. This 8 x 4.5 x 1 inch mini PC, which revolves around a 6th generation Core i7 6770HQ, has enough power to meet all your entertainment needs.
The NUC 6 is one of the best mini PCs for your living room or game room. This is because Intel engineers worked tirelessly to perfect the advanced Iris Pro graphics system. Iris Pro allows the NUC 6 to deliver a sharper, more detailed 4K experience. With this picture, you can enjoy YouTube, Netflix and Hulu like never before. Through its HDMI or DisplayPort, this mini PC can connect to a wide range of flat screens.
These miniature desktop computers are sold as plug-and-play machines. In your package, you will receive an interchangeable case and its processor. You are responsible for purchasing and installing your memory, storage and operating system.
See prices on eBay: Intel NUC6i7KYK (NUC 6)
6. HP Elite Slice
If you are looking for an all-in-one mini PC, look no further. The HP Elite Slice easily takes the cake when it comes to functionality, upgradeability and capabilities. This 6.5-inch square measuring less than 1.5 inches is designed as a modular personal computer.
Until now, most of the modules provided by HP are aimed at business users. There is a conference sound bar, a wireless phone charger, an optical drive and a VESA mounting module. Therefore, you can add modules to improve the functionality of your HP Elite Slice.
See prices on eBay: HP Elite Slice
7. MINIX NEO N42C-4
The MINIX Neo N42C-4 is an excellent option if you are simply looking for small jobs. The ability to browse the web, play ultra high definition HD content, access KODI, Skype and more is included in a 5 inch square that is less than 1 inch wide!
The Neo has been carefully designed to provide the most impactful home theater experience possible. Powered by Windows 10, the Neo is capable of emitting 4K at 60 Hz sharp. Going one step further, MINIK engineers have incorporated a set of patented technologies that improve the 4K standard and further enhance sharp images.
However, all these cutting-edge improvements would be useless without robust connectivity. An irregular connection can easily ruin a pleasant transmission experience. No corners were cut when it comes to the high-tech antenna architecture found in the MINIX Neo N42C-4. The designers have used the latest 802.11ac technology. A set of dual band antennas covers 2.5 GHz and 5.0 GHz, which results in very fast and highly stable connections.
See prices on eBay: MINIX NEO N42C-4
8. ASUS CHROMEBOX2-G095U
If you are looking for a smooth introduction to the world of mini PCs, you should consider the Asus Chromebox 2. Powered by the Google Chrome operating system, the Chromebox 2 offers all the advantages of the most advanced mini PCs and at the same time keeps the price low .
Inside, the board is powered by the Intel Celeron 3215U processor, which comes with 2GB of RAM and an instant-start SSD of 16GB M.2.
The Asus Chromebox 2 is designed to be plug and play. Once this 5-inch x 5-inch x 1.6-inch miniature desktop arrives, all you need to do is connect your television or monitor and connect the PC to your access point. The connection is made through Ethernet or Wi-Fi dual band.
When compared to other mini PCs on our list, Chromebox 2 has some drawbacks. That is, this mini PC can leave users wanting more when it comes to online games. However, despite not being a good mini PC for games, the Chromebox 2 is a good option for casual shoppers looking for a simple web browsing / streaming experience.
See prices on eBay: ASUS CHROMEBOX2-G095U
9. Dell Inspiron i3050-3000BLK
The Inspiron i3050, powered by an Intel Celore Dual Core 2.4 GHz processor, 2GB SDRAM and a 32GB SSD, has our vote when it comes to the best mini PC for college students.
Each i3050 comes with Windows 10 pre-installed, as well as a Dell KB216 keyboard and an MS116 mouse. One drawback that “practical” owners may find disappointing is the lack of update capability. Essentially, what you see is what you get. In other words, storage is limited and clogged with a maximum of 2 GB of RAM.
Despite its shortcomings, the Inspiron i3050 has everything college students need to successfully complete their assignments.
See prices on eBay: Dell Inspiron i3050-3000BLK
10. ASUS VM65N-G063Z VivoMini
No matter if you are in a cubicle, conference room, home office, children’s room or entertainment room, you will find that the Asus VivoMini PC is a great mini PC in terms of multipurpose functionality.
The VivoMini PC has enough power to transmit UHD content without problems, to run intensive games, surf the Internet, compile reports, presentations, documents and perform any other personal or business task.
If we take a look inside this mini PC of 7.5 inches x 7.5 inches x 2.2 inches, we will find a i5-7200U of 6th generation, 8GB of DDR and 1 TB of storage. When it comes to graphics, VivoMini uses the powerful and compact NVIDIA GeForce GT 930M graphics card, which makes playback in 4K easy and a game as intensive as possible. Outside, there are two USB 3.1 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, as well as a port for HDMI and DisplayPort.
After all, the VivoMini PC is one of the best mini PCs for TV and games.
See prices on eBay: ASUS VM65N-G063Z
11. HP ProDesk 400 G4
If you are a small business owner looking for a good mini PC for business, you should consider the HP ProDesk 400. The different configurations of this mini PC include a seventh generation i3 / i5 / i7 processor, up to 32 GB of RAM, and A solid state unit or your choice.
There are eight USB ports, surely more than enough to handle all your devices, as well as Bluetooth for your wireless I / O devices.
HP is no stranger when it comes to adding proprietary features to its products. Pro Desk 400 G4 uses the HP Client Security Suite. In summary, this set of consumer protection tools is composed of a multi-factor authentication, a device access manager, a password manager and other tools to keep your data protected.
The HP ProDesk 400 has been designed to work perfectly with Windows 10, however, it will not have problems to run alternative operating systems.
See prices on eBay: HP ProDesk 400 G4
12. Intel Compute Stick CS125
With a format that is only slightly larger than your typical USB flash drive, this Compute Stick is more than capable of performing most of your personal computing tasks.
Whether you use the Internet to surf, learn, tweet or play, the Intel Compute Stick has it covered. With this unique device you can convert virtually any screen with an HDMI input on a Windows 10 PC.
The Compute Stick is powered by the Intel Atom x5 Quad-Core, 2GB of memory and 32GB of flash storage.
With that said, the Compute Stick is an excellent mini PC for anyone looking for an ultra-compact Windows 10 plug-and-play device.
See prices on eBay: Intel Compute Stick CS125
13. ASUS GR8 II-6GT024Z
Arriving at a form factor of 11 x 3 x 11 inches, the Asus GR8 II-6GT024Z is a bit larger than some of the other mini PCs on our list. Although it is technically classified as a mini PC, there is nothing miniature about its bestial performance. Asus GR8 is the best undisputed mini PC for games created so far.
The Asus GR8 uses an i7-7700, up to 32 GB of DDR4 RAM and an M.2 SSD or SATA HD of your choice. This revolutionary game system has been designed to work without problems with the main VR headsets. Windows 10 comes pre-installed.
See prices on eBay: ASUS GR8 II-6GT024Z
14. ZOTAC ZBOX-EK71080-U-W2B MAGNUS EK71080
The Zotac ZBOX is another cutting-edge gaming system on our list. While not as small as Intel’s NUC 7 or as beautiful as the Asus GR8, Zotac’s Zotac ZBOX is certainly capable of standing on its own in comparison to the best gaming PCs on the market.
Although, in our humble opinion, the Asus GR8 takes the crown to the best mini PC for games, the ZBOX is nothing to refuse. If you are looking for the most realistic and immersive gaming experience, the ZBOX should be seriously considered.
In terms of specifications, the ZBOX can be powered by Core i3 / i5 / i7 processors, supports up to 32 GB of DDR4 and M.2 RAM, as well as SATA drives. You can run more than 4 monitors via HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.3. Even cooler, most mini PCs take advantage of 4K UHD, but the ZBOX can do up to 8K!
See prices on eBay: ZOTAC ZBOX-EK71080-U-W2B MAGNUS EK71080
15. Azulle Access Plus
The Azulle Access Plus is a mini PC stick available in several different configurations. There is an entry-level model that is equipped with 2 GB of DDR3L RAM and 32 GB of storage.
There is also a more advanced model that offers 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. Each Access Plus is powered by Intel’s 1.44GHz Atom Z8300.
While those specifications are not spectacular, in the era of Netflix, YouTube TV, Hulu, HBO GO and other streaming platforms is more than enough.
See prices on eBay: Azulle Access Plus
16. APPLE MAC MINI
Apple took the time to update the Mac mini, but the Mac mini was well worth the wait. The new Mac mini has a sleek new look and a quick collection of ports, and even offers (a little) upgrade capability.
Despite having an Intel Core i3 processor of the previous eighth generation, the smaller Mac managed to put the numbers that improved the best-equipped systems and offers a surprising amount of power in a pleasantly compact design.
See prices on eBay: APPLE MAC MINI
17. HP Z2 MINI G4
The HP Z2 Mini G4 is an ultra-small workstation PC, which contains workstation-level components and ISV-certified graphics on a smaller desktop PC than some books.
Equipped with a sturdy 6-core Intel Xeon E-2176G processor, 32GB of RAM and Nvidia Quadro P1000 graphics, the Z2 Mini easily handles the workloads that other mini PCs struggle with, and is certified to work with a variety of mission critical programs. from vendors such as Autodesk, Avid, Siemens, Solidworks and Vectorworks.
See prices on eBay: HP Z2 MINI G4
18. ACER CHROMEBOX CXI3
The Acer Chromebox CXI3 may be the best desktop version of Chrome OS available.
Made for educational and professional use, the Chromebox CXI3 offers everything that is great about Chrome: ease of use, simple security and all the online capacity you want, in a mini PC that has a large number of ports, multiple options of assembly and fast performance.
In addition, it is cheaper than any Windows machine with similar equipment.
See prices on eBay: ACER CHROMEBOX CXI3