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Best mini PC of 2022

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
Minisforum
(Image credit: Minisforum)

When most users seek an alternative to a large PC (opens in new tab) case they are quick to make the jump to laptops (opens in new tab) and all-in-one PCs (opens in new tab). But down the road they may find themselves disappointed by the screen attached to the machine, as it limits your options. If you want to avoid a full size PC, feel constrained by a laptop or all-in-one and at the same time want to keep your freedom of choice when it comes to monitors (opens in new tab), what do you do? You can choose a Mini PC or Mac Mini, that’s where they shine. 

Mini PCs (also referred to as thin clients) can be integrated with your choice of monitors (usually one at the low end, but up to four in some devices) and peripherals such as a webcam (opens in new tab), At the same, Mini PCs can stay hidden out of sight, either under the desk (opens in new tab) or behind a monitor. Despite their small size, mini PCs are as functional and compatible with software as traditional PCs.

Lack of standards can be a good thing

If there is one constant rule in electronics is that everything is shrinking, all the time and PCs are no exception. Tasks that some years ago required a bulky tower can be achieved today with a Mini-ITX standard PC case that is one third to a quarter in size of the beige boxes of the past. Yet even Mini-ITX is getting old by today’s standards and you can get ready-made Mini PCs that fit in your pocket or the palm of your hand. 

There is a lot of variety when it comes to Mini PCs: various sizes are available and they are designed for various use cases. Some Mini PCs are designed to lay flat under a desk while others have a unique vertical design that allows them to be placed on top of your desk next to your monitor and within arm's reach. You can also completely conceal them behind your monitor if they come with VESA mounting holes.

Today's range of Mini PCs are a great alternative to bulky full-size desktops and all-in-one systems for all kinds of uses: from administrative workers doing  data entry, to customer service specialists and call center offices, to creative professionals and students learning at home.

We have done the research so you won’t have to and here, we present you with a selection of the best Mini PCs in every size and form factor and for every usage scenario. You will find entries from big PC name brands like Dell, Intel, Lenovo, along with Zotac, one of the pioneers in this category. Finally you will find rising stars like MinisForum and Beelink, and less known, niche brands in this contested market segment.

Black line

MinisForum UM700

(Image credit: MinisForum)

1. MinisForum UM700

Best overall : It can be your everyday workstation, a tiny server, or an entertainment system for light gaming

Specifications

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3750H (Quad-Core)
RAM: 16 GB
Storage: 512 GB PCIe SSD (2.5” Slot available)
Ports and connectivity: 1x USB-C (front), 1x USB 3.1 Gen-1 (front), 1x USB 3.1 Gen-2 (front), 1x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI, 2x USB 3.1 Gen-2, 1x RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet
Weight: 1.18kg / 2.6lb

Reasons to buy

+
Fast CPU and quiet fans
+
Mounting plate
+
Internal bay for a 2.5” HDD or SSD
+
Can drive up to three displays at 4K
+
Unbranded Windows installation
+
Version with Manjaro Linux available

Reasons to avoid

-
Need to use three different standards for three displays
-
Not for high-end gaming

This powerful mini PC is square and smaller than a mouse pad, making it perfect for office workers, students and creative professionals who work from home. It looks good sitting on your desk, but thanks to its mounting plate you are able to hide it from view if necessary. Additionally, its small size makes it easy to transport: simply unplug the cables and put the workhorse with its power adaptor into a backpack (opens in new tab) to take it wherever you go.

Thanks to AMD's fast, quad-core Ryzen 7 CPU and its PCI bus SSD, Windows 10 boots in less than 10 seconds. It includes 16GB of RAM, which is more than adequate for 2022 and beyond. If you want to upgrade your memory or storage, its top plate is easily removed by pressing and sliding, without a screwdriver. It uses standard SO-DIMMs like laptops do and has a 2.5-inch bay for an internal SSD or HDD.

The device has one USB-C port on the front as well as two USB 3.2 Type-A ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a power button. There are also more USB ports on its back, as well as HDMI and DisplayPort for hooking up a monitor. With this tiny machine, you can drive three 4K displays with ease, but you will have to use three different cable types for each: USB-C, HDMI, and DisplayPort. 

Early in January, the company announced that a version with Manjaro Linux (opens in new tab) preloaded would cost $70 less than the Windows version. The dual-band Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet port as the basic configuration provide excellent connectivity. 

Minisforum offers versions of this model in various RAM and storage configurations, and some have two Gigabit Ethernet ports, whereas the Linux preloaded version has a 2.5Gbps Ethernet port. Consider that when ordering and check the type and number of Ethernet ports included if wired networking is important to you.

Dell Optiplex 3090 Micro

It looks and is professional. The best Mini PC for the office is, unsurprisingly, from Dell.  (Image credit: Dell)

2. Dell Optiplex 3090 Micro

Best for the small office: A slim package with a speedy six core Intel i5 CPU and Dell’s trademark warranty and support

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i5-10500T (Six cores)
RAM: 8GB DDR4 (several configurations available. Maximum memory: 64GB)
Storage: 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD (Configurations available with 1TB SSD and 2TB HDD)
Ports and connectivity: DisplayPort (x2), USB 3.1 x4 (rear), USB 3.2 (front), Headphone jack, Microphone jack
Weight: 1.28kg / 2.82lb

Reasons to buy

+
Suitable for vertical or flat placement
+
Quiet fans
+
Three year warranty

Reasons to avoid

-
No HDMI or USB-C outputs included
-
Internal Wi-Fi is an extra-cost option
-
Only one front side USB port

Dell has been in the business of Mini-PCs for years. Since launching its Optiplex series many years ago, the company has developed it into full size PCs, SFF (Small Form Factor),  and "Micro" offerings. The Optiplex 3090 Micro came out in late 2021, replacing the 3080 of a year ago, with the main differences being its ability to support 64GB of memory on its two memory slots, and all of its  USB ports are 3.2 Gen 1. 

This unit is designed to sit vertically next to a monitor, leaving the front USB port and power button within easy reach. With microphone and headphones ports, it makes a great video conferencing tool. Windows 10 comes preloaded, but there is an option to have Windows 11 Pro (opens in new tab) installed.

The processor included is a 10th-generation Intel Core i5 10500T with six cores with speeds up to 2.30 GHz, so it's perfect for office applications. The Intel UHD Graphics 630 shared graphics works well for watching HD videos, working in office applications, and editing graphics. DisplayPort video ports on the back allow you to hook up two monitors at up to 4K resolution (60Hz). The cooler makes little noise despite the power of the CPU.

There is a 2.5-inch storage slot for a SATA-based HDD or SSD inside, as well as two M.2-based slots: one holds the bundled PCI SSD, and another holds the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth card.

On the front there is one USB 3.2 port and on the back are four USB 3.2 ports, all capable of speeds of up to 5Gbps, along with two video outputs and an RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port. There is a Kensington Lock slot for securing the device to a desk, and if you order directly from Dell there is an option to add an additional video port, which can either be VGA, DisplayPort 1.4, or HDMI.

The system can be fine tuned if ordered directly from Dell, with options ranging from a quad-core Intel i3 to an eight-core Intel i7, more RAM or replacing the SSD (opens in new tab) with a FIPS-certified self-encrypting drive. Dell offers a wired keyboard as part of the base price when ordering directly from the company. An outstanding value for money is made even better by the firm's trademark three-year warranty.

Lenovo ThinkCentre Tiny M720q

With support for up to three displays, USB-C and security features, this Mini PC is made for the corporate office. (Image credit: Lenovo)

3. Lenovo ThinkCentre Tiny M720q

Best for the corporate office: built in dual-band Wi-Fi along with security features like USB port whitelisting make this Mini PC an IT admin´s wish came true

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i5 8400T (six cores)
RAM: 8 GB
Storage: 256 GB M.2 PCIe SSD
Ports and connectivity: USB-C (front), USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A (front), USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A (x2, back), USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type A (x2, back), DisplayPort (back), HDMI 2.0 (back), Gigabit Ethernet, Microphone Jack, Headphone Jack
Weight: 1.32kg / 2.91lb

Reasons to buy

+
Easy upgrading
+
Sturdy metal housing
+
Front side USB-C port
+
Supports three monitors
+
Good security features
+
Dual-Band Wi-Fi with external antenna
+
Three-year warranty 

Reasons to avoid

-
Little expansion options
-
No discrete GPU

With its M720q, Lenovo screams "professional" from every angle. This unit has a small footprint, can be used horizontally or vertically, and measures an impressive 7 inches by 1.35 inches. It has rubbed pads to prevent it from sliding on the desk, and a stand can be used to position it vertically. It can also be mounted behind a monitor if you purchase the optional but inexpensive VESA mounting bracket. 

This sturdy metal enclosure houses a six-core Intel i5-9400T that can reach 3.4GHz. The Mini PC uses a desktop-grade processor instead of a lower-power mobile one, and the graphics are handled by an Intel UHD 630 integrated graphics card. The large air vents at the back keep the CPU and the system cool without creating a lot of noise.

There are a wide range of CPU, RAM and storage configurations available of this model, with the highest end version currently being an Intel i7-8700T with a one terabyte SSD and 32GB RAM for 2.5x the price of this mid-level configuration.

With one screw removed at the back, you can slide the top and front off to access the inside. After that's out of the way, you'll see the empty 2.5" inch storage bay where you'll be able to add a SATA SSD or HDD. The bottom panel reveals two RAM slots using SODIMM memory along with the SSD connected via a M.2 PCI express slot.

Since it is a business device, it comes with many perks IT managers will love, like the Lenovo Vantage software that allows them to do everything from perform hardware scans to update software and check warranty status. Security is another strength that makes it suitable for business environments: its "Smart USB Protection" allows network administrators to control what USB devices (besides a mouse (opens in new tab) and keyboard (opens in new tab)) can be allowed to connect to its USB ports. 

Beelink GTR-7

This tiny monster can drive up to four external monitors and has a fingerprint reader on top for secure log-in. (Image credit: Beelink)
Best for multiple screens and security: : supports up to four screens in 4K resolution, has a fingerprint reader for easy log-in

Specifications

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3750H (Quad Core)
RAM: 16 GB DDR4 (2x 8GB SODIMM)
Storage: 512 GB M.2 SSD (two M.2 slots)
Ports and connectivity: DisplayPort, HDMI 2.0 (x2), USB 3.0 (x6), Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 x2, Fingerprint Reader, Combo Headphone & Mic Jack, Built-in Internal Mics
Weight: 1.37kg / 3.01lb

Reasons to buy

+
Supports four monitors
+
Fingerprint reader
+
Dual Gigabit Ethernet
+
Two M.2 slots
+
Good looking metal enclosure

Reasons to avoid

-
Not an option for gamers

With the Beelink GTR7 Mini PC, Beelink has produced a workstation (opens in new tab)-class desktop in a small, shiny package that makes it a strong PC competitor to the Mac Mini with some extra perks and functionality that raises eyebrows.

Its fingerprint reader at the top of the case is one of its biggest advantages over almost any other Mini PC, making it  a good choice for the security conscious and well suited for both business settings and your home working space. Its two Gigabit Ethernet ports also make it an excellent firewall (opens in new tab), for running an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) like Suricata, or for other edge-of-network functions.

Its connectivity is one of its strongest points, thanks to its six USB 3.0 ports and its one USB Type C port that supports video. With the USB-C in addition to the DisplayPort and HDMI ports, you can use four monitors at once if you need an amazingly large work surface. The device supports the latest Wi-Fi 6 (opens in new tab) standard as well as Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth 5.0.

Inside you'll find an AMD Ryzen 7 3750H CPU inside, which clocks at up to 4GHz, and 16GB of DDR4 memory (eight gigabytes per memory slot) which can be expanded to 64GB with two 32GB modules. Due to the Radeon Vega 10 included, don't expect the same graphics performance as a discrete GPU, but it can still drive several monitors at full resolution.

With its support for up to four displays it is great for image editing, video monitoring, digital signage, or just the news junkie that wants to watch live news TV on one display and work on three others. The 2020 Mac Mini, which can only support two displays, cannot match this level of flexibility. 

Even if you ignore the extra perks, such as dual-Gigabit Ethernet and a fingerprint reader, it can also be a very good entertainment system hooked to a living room TV. Furthermore, thanks to its internal 2.5 inch bay for SATA HDD or SSDs, its storage can be expanded, making it a good long-term machine. Definitely worth the purchase.

Mac Mini

The Mac Mini M1 was launched in October 2020 but is still the best Mac Mini that you can get. (Image credit: Apple)
Best for Mac users: the first iteration of Apple´s Mac Mini with M1 silicon continues to be the system of choice for Mac users

Specifications

CPU: Apple M1 (8 Cores)
RAM: 16 GB Unified Memory (non-upgradeable) 8GB version also available
Storage: 512 GB SSD (mSATA)
Ports and connectivity: Thunderbolt USB 3.1 Gen 2 USB-C (x2), USB 3.1 Type-A Gen1 (x2), HDMI, Headphone Jack, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 6
Weight: 1.2Kg / 2.6lb

Reasons to buy

+
Fast M1 CPU
+
Can run the latest Mac OS

Reasons to avoid

-
RAM cannot be upgraded
-
Updated version due this year

Overall, the 2020 version of the Mac mini with its M1 CPU is still impressive and offers you a portable option to take your computing anywhere without sacrificing your favourite Apple OS and software ecosystem.

It has a compact, attractive design, and the ability to run the latest greatest OS while also running legacy Intel apps and iOS apps. Back in October of last year many fans were hoping Apple would present a new Mac mini powered by the M1 Pro or M1 Max chips at their Unleashed event, yet it failed to materialize twice last year.

One of its drawbacks is that memory doesn't go above 16GB, nor can it be upgraded on the 8GB model to 16. Those coming from Intel based Mac Minis will despair to find out they can no longer use external graphic cards (eGPUs (opens in new tab)). Besides that, it's a good alternative to get into the Apple world with minimum desk real estate.

Read the full review: Mac Mini M1 (2020) (opens in new tab) 

Zotac ZBOX CI329

If you want to pick the internal components and build your own, this is a great deal for a very affordable price. (Image credit: Zotac)

6. Zotac ZBOX CI329

Best for budget DIY: when you want to build your own Mini PC without breaking the bank, Zotac´s quality case and motherboard pays off

Specifications

CPU: Intel Celeron N4100 (Quad Core) 1.1 GHz
RAM: Any DDR4-2400 SODIMM (2 slots) up to 32GB
Storage: Any 2.5-inch SATA 6.0 HDD/SSD
Ports and connectivity: HDMI 2.0a, DisplayPort 1.2, VGA, 3-in-1 card reader, USB 3.0 Type-C (front), USB 3.0 Type A (front), USB 3.0 (x2, back), USB 2.0 (x1,back), Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45) (x2) (back), External Wi-Fi Antenna, (Dual-Band Wi-Fi AC included)
Weight: 1.70kg / 3.75lb

Reasons to buy

+
Passive cooling
+
Excellent air flow
+
Comes with CPU, just add memory and SSD

Reasons to avoid

-
Gets warm
-
You may need to get into BIOS settings

Depending on how much money you want to spend on a Mini PC, sometimes it's best to "build your own", because you can reuse components you might already have, such as an old laptop's 2.5" HDD or SSD, or buying SODIMM memory online for a good price.  

Cases and motherboards are difficult to match in this form factor, so some companies offer just the bare case with the motherboard. Zotac offers you this model with the processor already installed, so you only need to add RAM and storage.

This firm has been a pioneer in the mini-PC market with the first Mini PC created in 2008 and the Zbox series a year later. It's not surprising then that they are now offering this ready-to-assemble kit that can be described as "just add RAM and a disk". It has a small, square form factor with enough ports to meet the demands of even the most demanding users and you can connect it to old or new monitors alike. 

Powered by an Intel Celeron N4100 quad-core CPU with passive cooling, the system is totally silent and  suitable for media playback, web browsing, and office work. The Intel UHD 600 graphics delivers 4K output with H.265 and H.264 video decoding, so it is a perfect choice for becoming your little media center or home work center.

In addition to the power button, a SDHC/SDXC card reader, one Type-A and one Type-C USB 3.0 port, and a hard drive/SSD activity led, this case also has two RJ45 Ethernet ports for wired networking. It comes with monitor ports with all three popular standards: HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort, and VGA. A VESA mount is also included if you want to mount this unit to the back of a monitor. 

As soon as you have purchased the necessary memory and storage, you are able to open up its tool-less design and install the required DDR4 memory and 2.5 inch SATA HDD or SSD effortlessly. Some users found they had to enter the BIOS screen to enable "legacy" booting and to enable the sound to avoid setup and configuration headaches.

The dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, with a quality external antenna, along with its dual Gigabit Ethernet ports make it also well suited to be a router (opens in new tab) or edge firewall, if you have the knowledge and expertise to set it up. This product is for techies only, but highly recommended.

NUC 11 Extreme Kit

For the ultimate CPU horsepower, this kit lets you add a discrete GPU of your choice and features top connectivity and superb expandability. (Image credit: Intel)
Best for DIY : ultimate expandability in a DIY kit that is a bit pricey

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i9 11900KB (8 Core)
RAM: DDR4-3200 (Two slots)
Storage: None
Ports and connectivity: HDMI 2.0, USB 3.1 Type-A Gen-2 (x8), USB 2.0 Type A (x2), USB-C / Thunderbolt 4 (x2), 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet
Weight: 5.05kg / 11.13lb

Reasons to buy

+
Supports discrete GPU 
+
Great expansion capabilities
+
Thunderbolt 4 ports
+
Latest Wi-Fi 6E and 2.5G Ethernet
+
Three Year warranty

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
You could build a PC of similar size
-
Gaming vibes not for everyone

It's more of a Small Form Factor (SFF) than a Mini PC, but we included it on this lineup for two reasons: first, it's still small, about the size of a toaster, just slightly longer. And second, because it is one of the few ways in which a "mini" PC can also have full-blown graphics, so it is suitable for creative professionals who edit video, do CAD, or render 3D.

Sold in a DIY kit, you get the gamers-inspired enclosure with RGB lighting and skull at the front, the compute module with Intel i9 CPU, but with no RAM, no hard drive or SSD, and no OS. There is no constraint on what components you pick. 

Regarding the enclosure, we admit its gaming vibes with glowing skull might not be for all, and Intel apparently thinks the same, since it's on a removable plate. If you consider raw horsepower and expandability, there is little doubt the NUC 11 Extreme kit is a winner. However, it is an expensive option.

It has a card reader and two USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports on the front. Located on the back are six USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports and two Thunderbolt 4 Type-C ports. The icing on the cake is a 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port. The device offers the latest Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 wireless capabilities.

Even though we selected a pricey kit, it comes with only an 11th Gen Core i9-11900KB CPU with eight cores and a big power supply that can accommodate a full size graphics card (opens in new tab). Versions with RAM and SSD are available for varying prices at retail. This depends on how much DIY you want to do. 

Read the full review: Intel NUC 11 Extreme (opens in new tab)

Chuwi Herobox

An affordable Windows 10 PC in your living room, ideal for videos and streaming on your TV. (Image credit: Chuwi)

8. Chuwi Herobox

Best for the TV: anything that loads on a desktop or laptop can be enjoyed on your big screen TV thanks to this small Windows 10 PC with upgradeable internal storage and expandability

Specifications

CPU: Intel N4500 (Dual-Core)
RAM: 8 GB LPDDR4
Storage: 256 GB SSD
Ports and connectivity: USB Type-C, USB 3.0 (x2), USB 2.0 (x2), HDMI 2.0, VGA, Gigabit Ethernet , 802.11ac Dual-Band WiFi
Weight: 1.12kg / 2.46lb

Reasons to buy

+
Really affordable 
+
Aluminum alloy chassis
+
Internal bay for a 2.5" SSD or HDD
+
M.2 SSD can be upgraded
+
HDMI and VGA outputs
+
64-bit Windows 10 preloaded

Reasons to avoid

-
Low-spec Celeron CPU

You might mistake this tiny box with one of those Android TV boxes (opens in new tab), but inside its black aluminum chassis is a dual-core Intel Celeron processor running Windows 10. Its N4500 chip uses a low amount of power, resulting in a very low heat output and a very low current consumption, making it ideal for leaving plugged into your living room TV for streaming, playing downloaded video files, and casually browsing the web. Its integrated Intel UHD 600 graphics are also powerful enough to play back 4K video.

A separate box is a cheap way for kids to play Minecraft (opens in new tab) on a large screen television at 60FPS, or to watch movies on old televisions that are either not smart or whose capabilities are outdated. Since this Mini PC runs Windows 10 (opens in new tab) there are no restrictions on what you can watch: Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc. You can view almost everything on a television that loads on a desktop or laptop, including Microsoft Store apps. 

Would you like a different browser (opens in new tab)? You can use Edge or install Firefox, Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, etc. Do you need a VPN? Install any VPN software for PCs and stream content restricted to other countries. A further advantage is that you will receive security updates as long as Microsoft supports Windows 10, which at the time of this writing is October 2025.

This box allows you to upgrade its storage at any time, unlike most Android TV boxes that can't be upgraded.  With just a screwdriver, anyone can remove the six screws in the back and gain access to the internals. You will find an empty 2.5-inch bay where you can plug any SATA drive you like. A set of four screws is included with the unit to attach a HDD or SSD. SSD storage is also upgradeable, since it is a standard M.2 SSD. The USB-C port at the front of the unit is a nice addition to keep up with modern flash drives for mobile devices.

There is one thing that cannot be upgraded on this device - the RAM, which is LPDDR4 soldered to the motherboard - but the eight GB included are in line with what you get nowadays with laptops, so it should be more than enough for browsing and playing media. There is no remote included with this product. You can plug a standard wired keyboard and mouse, but you'll get better results by either buying 2.4GHz wireless ones with a USB dongle that mimics a wired KB-mouse, or by choosing Bluetooth versions. 

If you own an Android smartphone, an unknown gem is to use the "Serverless Bluetooth Keyboard & Mouse for PC/Phone" app available on the Play Store that turns your phone into a virtual Bluetooth keyboard and trackpad for your PC or in this case, your Chuwi Hero Box. Find it here (opens in new tab).

Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Kit

 The best mini option for gamers that don't want the bulk of the Extreme NUC option with a separate video card. (Image credit: Intel)

9. Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Kit (NUC11PHKi7C)

Best for gaming: A discrete NVidia GPU coupled with a fast Intel i7 CPU and superb connectivity

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G (Quad Core, up to 4.70Ghz)
RAM: 16 GB DDR4 (2x 8GB DDR4-3200)
Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD
Ports and connectivity: USB Type C (front), USB Type C (back), (Thunderbolt 4 support), USB 3.2 Type A (front) x2, USB 3.2 Type A (back) x4, HDMI 2.0b, Mini DisplayPort 1.4, 2.5Gbps Ethernet, Intel Wi-Fi 6E, Card reader, IR port (front)
Weight: 1.59kg / 3.5lb

Reasons to buy

+
Nvidia discrete GPU
+
Lots of ports
+
Fast 2.5G Ethernet
+
Latest WiFi 6E
+
Thunderbolt 4 support

Reasons to avoid

-
Internal GPU not upgradeable
-
Not a game console replacement

In the NUC 11 Enthusiast kit, you'll find everything you need to satisfy the gamer in you. As well as featuring a discrete Nvidia GPU (opens in new tab), it also includes multiple display support, Thunderbolt 4 support, 2.5 Gbps Ethernet and the latest Intel Wi-Fi 6E.  

If you wanted to go the extra mile, you could choose the NUC 11 Extreme kit, which allows you to install the graphics card of your choice, but that machine is more of a Small Form Factor than a Mini PC, while the Enthusiast Kit remains within a "Mini PC" style. Vertically on its stand, it  is just 1.6 inches thick.

Inside you will find a quad-core Intel i7-1165G CPU with 16GB of DDR4 RAM. We picked the version with a 256GB SSD, but it is also available with a 512GB SSD. This configuration allows it to run games like Far Cry 5 at 60 frames per second.

It has excellent connectivity, including HDMI and mini-DisplayPort ports for hooking up two monitors, two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports, an SD card reader, two USB-A ports on the front, four USB 3 ports plus one Type-C port on the back.

In summary, if you're looking for a small form factor PC that plays mainstream AAA games well, then this may be the PC for you. However, this is not a replacement for a games console or a full-size gaming rig, where you can install the graphics card of your choice to keep up with newer gaming requirements. 

Design

(Image credit: Future)
Best for business: Windows 11 Pro and plenty of memory make this mini workstation a great, compact choice for business users

Specifications

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4800U
RAM: 32GB DDR4-3200
Storage: 512GB SSD (Intel SSDPEKNW512G8)
Ports and connectivity: 3 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB Type-C, 2 x HDMI, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, audio jack, Mediatek RZ608, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
Weight: 300g

Reasons to buy

+
Great value for money
+
Windows 11 Pro by default
+
One spare slot for a hard drive or SSD
+
Wi-Fi 6e

Reasons to avoid

-
Noisy
-
Intel SSD is slower than expected

The Beelink SER4 is a rare bird, a tiny workstation PC that packs a powerful, Zen 2-based punch and comes with ample resources. Apart from running on Windows 11 Pro (opens in new tab), it comes jam packed with quality components (32GB of RAM by default, WiFi-6E) and a gamut of connectors including two HDMI 2.0 ports. 

The only two issues we found were the slightly slower than expected Intel SSD and the noise. The SER4, like other Beelink products we’ve tested, tends to be noisy. However, that shouldn’t detract from the sheer value for money that the SER4 represents. This is an 8-core/16-thread powerhouse that would fit comfortably in any adult’s palm and should easily rip through office-based tasks and creative ones alike. 

Just bear in mind that you will not receive the level of support that you will get from Dell, Microsoft or HP, especially if you are a business. If that’s a bet you’re willing (and ready) to take, then the SER4 will be a wonderful sparring partner for your organization.

Read the full review: Beelink SER4 (opens in new tab)

Geekom IT8 Review Listing

The GEEKOM IT8 Mini packs workstation-grade performance into a tiny package with plenty of ports to boot. (Image credit: Future)
Best for those that need workstation performance in a tiny package

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i5-8259U
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Storage: 512GB SSD (Kingston OM8PDP3512B-A01)
Ports and connectivity: 3 x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 2 x USB Type-C, 1 x HDMI, 1 x Mini DisplayPort, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, SD card reader, audio jack, Intel AC-7265, Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 4.2
Weight: 565g

Reasons to buy

+
Very affordable
+
VESA mount
+
Comes with Windows 11 Pro

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited after sales support
-
No Wi-Fi 6

The GEEKOM IT8 is a fantastic little mini PC with plenty of bells and whistles. Available in configurations of up to 16GB RAM and 512GB onboard storage, what sets it apart from the competition is the fact that it comes with Windows 11 Pro out of the box with an extremely low price tag. With a NUC-like chassis and tons of ports, most businesses will be able to connect their peripherals and external storage devices. It is relatively powerful thanks to its Coffee Lake-based Intel Core i5-8259U processor that has four cores and eight threads. Its integrated graphics, an Iris-grade one, is speedy enough for a number of the overwhelming majority of tasks one would find in a business environment and should be able to power up to four monitors simultaneously. Don’t expect it to be a gaming PC though; that’s definitely not what it’s meant for. Note that you will also be able to add a 2.5-inch SSD or HDD to significantly increase its capacity.

Read the full review: GEEKOM IT8 (opens in new tab)

Protectli Vault FW4B

A mini PC with passive cooling designed to run 24/7 protecting your network. (Image credit: Protectli)

12. Protectli Vault FW4B

Best for firewall: Passive cooling and low power consumption coupled with AES-NI hardware support and four Intel Gigabit Ethernet NICs makes it ideal to run pFsense or other FOSS firewalls or an IDS like Suricata

Specifications

CPU: Intel Celeron J3160 (64 bit, up to 2.2GHz)
RAM: 8GB DDR3
Storage: 120GB SSD (mSATA)
Ports and connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet (x4), USB 3.0 Type A (x2), RJ-45 COM, HDMI (x2)
Weight: 1.06kg / 2.33lb

Reasons to buy

+
AES-NI hardware support
+
No fans: 100% silent
+
Low power consumption: 10W
+
Tested with pfSense, untangle, OPNsense
+
Coreboot BIOS optional 

Reasons to avoid

-
No OS pre-installed

Network administrators will enjoy this Mini PC's flexibility when configuring edge-of-network security appliances. As there is no OS preloaded, you can install your favorite solution while connecting an external monitor via HDMI. You can remove the monitor and hang the Mini PC anywhere out of the way and forget about it: on a wall, below a desk, you name it. The manufacturer has tested it with popular firewalls and network security solutions such as pfSense (opens in new tab), untangle and OPNsense.

The internal components of the unit are carefully selected to provide optimal performance. For example, the Intel i210 Gigabit Ethernet ports ensure total compatibility with most Linux installations, so there's no need to dig around for drivers. Moreover, the CPU supports AES-NI hardware assisted encryption for better performance, and its BIOS can be replaced with the open source Coreboot, but you would have to replace it yourself. Fortunately, the manufacturer provides good technical support.

You can install it as a PFsense firewall by downloading the OS from the Pfsense website and booting it from a USB flash drive. The reviewers warned that in that case, the default boot option is legacy and you need to change it to UEFI. You can also use it as an Intrusion Detection System (IDS)  if you install the popular Suricata software. With the 8GB unit, the memory will be used at 25% and the CPU at less than 20%. In that case, the Celeron will be your bottleneck and throughput will be limited to 300 to 500 Mbps. A Six-port version sporting an Intel Core i5 is also available that is better suited for IDS usage with higher throughputs.

This device is also compatible with the commercial Untangle NG Firewall (opens in new tab) so, with just a software subscription, it can function as a WAN balancer, WAN failover, or internet traffic filter and virus scanner. Yet, the DIY nature of this Mini PC makes it more suited for DIY enthusiasts and system administrators.     

ECS EliteGroup LIVA Z3

The ECS EliteGroup LIVA Z3 is a silent mini PC that packs a punch thanks to the inclusion of an Intel Jasper Lake processor. (Image credit: Mark Pickavance)
Best for power efficiency: this mini PC has a SoC that only consumes 6W

Specifications

CPU: Intel Jasper Lake SoC Pentium Silver N6000
RAM: 4GB DDR4-2666 (2x 2GB), upgradable to 16GB
Storage: 128GB of eMMC memory, 1x M.2 2280 SSD (PCIe) slot
Ports and connectivity: 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 USB-C, 3 x USB3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x HDMI, 1x MiniDP, 1 x universal audio jack, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5.0
Weight: 1.31kg / 2.491lb

Reasons to buy

+
Very small
+
Includes a VESA mounting plate
+
Upgradable storage and RAM
+
Silent

Reasons to avoid

-
Slow boot drive
-
Poor graphics performance

Using the latest Intel Jasper Lake 10nm silicon, the Z3 is an incredibly compact NUC system that requires no active cooling.

It comes with a VESA mounting plate to connect it to a monitor, providing a way to make an easy to transport system that isn’t a laptop. Considering how tiny the Z3 is, there are plenty of USB ports, sports Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac WiFi adapter, and can connect to two monitors via HDMI and Mini DisplayPort.

However, keeping the system so small and fan-less has dictated an SoC that only consumes 6W, has four cores and lacks hyperthreading. It also uses an eMMC boot drive, reducing the mediocre performance even further.

This performance profile makes the Z3 only suitable for light office work, as it doesn’t have the power to meet more challenging tasks.

If you still want one, we recommend using the internal PCIe M.2 slot (2 lanes) to boost drive performance. And, maybe also upgrade the DDR4 RAM while you are inside.

Read the full review: ECS EliteGroup LIVA Z3 (opens in new tab)

Chuwi LarkBox Pro

A Mini PC that fits in the palm of your hand is an amazing engineering feat. (Image credit: Chuwi)
Best for size: A quad-core Celeron with six gigabytes of RAM and dual band Wi-Fi can be your Windows 10 workhorse

Specifications

CPU: Intel Celeron J4125 (Quad-Core)
RAM: 6 GB LPDDR4 (2133 MHz)
Storage: 128GB eMMC 5.1
Ports and connectivity: 2x USB 3, HDMI, USB-C (power only), Micro SD slot, Headphone jack
Weight: 127g / 0.27 lb

Reasons to buy

+
VESA mount
+
Fits anywhere
+
Perfect for travel

Reasons to avoid

-
Fan can ramp up and be loud
-
Cooling fan works only in Windows, not Linux
-
Windows build Update issues

It's not a Mini PC, it's a Nano PC, which is just slightly bigger than a phone charger brick, so you can easily take it wherever you want. You can use it for typical home PC use, including casual web browsing, Word, and YouTube, and it supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. When you look at its size, you can tell it is the result of an incredible engineering feat. However, packing so many features into such a small space isn't without its drawbacks.

Among the specs are a quad-core Intel Celeron CPU, 6GB of RAM soldered in, 128GB of internal storage and you can use a microSD card as storage expansion. It includes a full install of Windows 10. It is equipped with two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI connector, and a USB-C connector for power. It also has a MicroSD slot and a headphone jack on its side.

The system is fine if you leave its operating system alone. When you replace the OS, e.g. with Linux (opens in new tab), users report that the system becomes unusable because the cooling fan doesn't spin up in Linux, ever, so the system overheats and crashes. We hope Chuwi can overcome this little bug by submitting software patches to the Linux distros.

Windows 10 users who try to upgrade to a newer build report the same problem: the fan does not spin up during the upgrade process, leading to a BSOD. According to others, you can upgrade Windows if you do a clean installation with a newer build. Your mileage may vary. If you're looking for the smallest PC you can find, this is it. If you want to avoid trouble, leave the OS alone.

Read the full review: Chuwi Larkbox (opens in new tab)

Beelink T4 Pro

If your wallet is thin, this is the best Mini PC. It even supports dual monitors thanks to its pair of HDMI outputs. (Image credit: Beelink)
Best budget mini PC: for the cost of a hard drive, you get a full Windows 10 PC. Just don´t expect miracles out of a dual-core Celeron with four gigs of RAM

Specifications

CPU: Intel Celeron N3350 (Dual Core, up to 2.40Ghz)
RAM: 4 GB
Storage: 64 GB eMMC
Ports and connectivity: HDMI 2.0 (x2), USB 3.0 Type A (x4), RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet, 3.5mm Audio Jack (Headphones + Mic)
Weight: 0.23kg / 0.51lb

Reasons to buy

+
Dirt cheap
+
Dual-band Wi-Fi
+
Gigabit Ethernet 
+
Supports dual-monitors with its two HDMI ports

Reasons to avoid

-
Very small internal storage
-
CPU is only dual-core

Look no further if you want the lowest possible price on a Mini PC. This machine, sporting a dual-core Celeron processor and four gigabytes of RAM has been so heavily discounted that it now costs less than a single hard drive. With this astonishingly low price, you get a brand new machine with the full Windows 10 PC experience just by connecting a monitor (or two) over HDMI and plugging in the AC adapter.

Due to its pair of HDMI ports, it does indeed support dual-screen operation. The device comes with four USB 3.0 ports to connect your keyboard, mouse, webcam, and some external storage device such as a flash drive (opens in new tab) or external hard drive. 

Just don't expect miracles to happen with its internal dual-core Celeron processor and its four gigabytes of RAM. There is also a limited amount of storage space at 64GB, but you get what you pay for. This is a very handy little PC to have in a drawer as a safety device: in case that your main PC suddenly dies or begins acting crazy, all you need to do is take this little box out of a drawer, plug a few wires, and you will be back in business in no time.

Ouvislite Fanless Mini PC Stick

This HDMI dongle upgrades your monitor or TV to a basic all-in-one Windows10 PC. (Image credit: Ouvislite)

16. Ouvislite Fanless Mini PC Stick

Best dongle PC: An improved version of the original Intel Compute Stick without the fan noise

Specifications

CPU: ntel Atom X5-Z8350 (Quad Core, 1.4 Ghz)
RAM: 8 GB DDR3L
Storage: 128GB eMMC
Ports and connectivity: 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, 1x HDMI, Micro-SD card slot
Weight: 125g / 0.26lb

Reasons to buy

+
Fanless
+
Can be carried in your pocket
+
Dual-band Wi-Fi
+
Plug directly into the back of a monitor/TV

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited number of USB ports
-
No Ethernet
-
Not upgradeable at all
-
Can't run Windows 11

Intel stunned the world years ago with its Compute Stick (opens in new tab). The resulting size of a PC is just slightly larger than a thumb drive, which has some limitations, like heat dissipation and associated fan noise.  It's a sweet spot that delivers on the original promise of the Compute Stick when independent system builders go fanless.

Take this device out of your shirt pocket and plug it into the back HDMI connector of any PC monitor and you've got your PC anywhere. Alternatively, you can connect it to the side HDMI connector of any TV to make it a smart TV. Dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth ensures seamless connectivity. The best way to use it is with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, although a wireless 2.4Ghz keyboard and mouse with a male USB wireless dongle would also work.

There are eight gigabytes of RAM in this Mini PC, which should be sufficient for RAM-hungry programs like Chrome. This computer is powered by an Intel Atom quad-core processor, so do not expect miracles. However, it should suffice for casual PC tasks like using Google Docs (opens in new tab), browsing the web and playing media files. There is 128GB of eMMC flash storage inside, which is plenty for Windows 10 and a few apps. It also has a MicroSD slot to allow you to expand your storage.

There are only two USB ports, one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0. If you plan to use the device for a long time, you might want to invest in a USB 3.0 hub.

How we chose the best mini PCs

Before we get into our selection criteria we have to describe the vast array of configurations that the “mini PC” moniker encompasses: The largest mini PC is roughly the size of an electric toaster. But the majority are about the size of a stack of a handful of CDs -if you can still remember what those were. Additionally, there is the appliance type, which is usually a fan-less thin rectangular box without any fans. 

Appliance-type Mini PCs often have a metal enclosure to help with passive cooling, as well as more than one wired Gigabit Ethernet port. The Mini PCs are perfect to leave unattended in a small network cabinet, rack, or locker, where they can be used as fixed-function mini-servers, such as a firewall for an office network or a file storage for a small shop.

There's also a class of mini PCs that are really, really small. These range from palm-sized to slightly bigger than a thumb drive, often with an HDMI male connector and built to be attached to the back of a TV or monitor for entertainment or web browsing on a big screen.

Thus, selecting a “Mini PC” is no easy task, first we had to filter them based on size. We started from the tiniest ones, the thumb drive sized PCs up to the palm-sized devices, then moving up to the TV-box sized machines. In each size jump we looked for the usage scenarios for each based on the capabilities of the CPU and amount of RAM and included ports, then we  weeded out the ones with sub-par specs, this removed several dozen entries with the same Celeron CPUs and low RAM.

Once we got to the higher-spec entries is where the winners started to show up either by expansion capabilities, unique features, and suitability for the purpose. A final filtering by brand name and support considerations is how we ended up with our selection of picks for the best Mini PCs for the small office, for the corporate office, the best Mini PC for multiple-screen usage, the best one for gaming and the best Mini PC for firewall use. The higher you go in price, the more careful you need to be about the issue of after-sales support.

We've also highlighted the best business computers (opens in new tab)

Fernando Cassia is a freelance Tech Writer living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has also written for Mike Magee's The Inquirer, Theo Valich’s BSN, TechEye, and other online publications. When he's not chasing Phishers, he's procrastinating on Twitter. Find him at @fcassia