The 6 Best Mini Gaming PCs of 2020

They're tiny but mighty

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The Rundown
"Ready for pretty much any game you throw at it, plus it's VR-ready, which is great if you're keen to immerse gaming experience."
"A VR ready rig with a tiny footprint and plenty of ports."
Best Desktop-Style:
MSI Trident X at Amazon
"Whatever game you play is going to look good on this system."
"If you opt to go with a powerful mini PC, this is the best one."
"A relatively inexpensive way of getting a mini gaming PC If you already have some components going."
Best Console-Style:
MSI Trident 3 at B&H Photo Video
"An ideal step up from traditional console gaming while giving you the practicalities of a PC."

Small and mighty, the Best Mini gaming PCs are immensely powerful, but often occupy a smaller footprint than some laptops. Their compact form factors make them ideal for any situation where desk space is at a premium as well as bringing PC gaming to your living room.

While the diminutive size of these computers is their claim to fame, it's important to consider whether you plan to upgrade any of these down the road as their small and often unique form factors can make upgrades an awkward endeavor for even the most seasoned PC builder.

Whether you need something you can future proof or a beast of a machine that's ready to go out of the box, your roundup of the best Mini Gaming PCs will give you the information you need to make an informed purchase.

Best Overall: Intel NUC 9 Extreme NUC9i9QNX

What We Like
  • Compact

  • Extensive I/O options

  • Easy to customize

What We Don't Like
  • Noisy under load

  • Expensive

There's not much that the Intel NUC 9 can't handle; it sports an Intel i9-9980HK Quad-Core Processor, 64GB RAM, a 2TB SSD hard drive, and AMD Radeon RX Vega M GH graphics card. That means it's ready for pretty much any game you throw at it, plus it's VR-ready, which is great if you're keen to immerse gaming experience.

Impressively, all that power has been crammed into a small mini-PC form factor that almost looks like a console rather than a PC. It's sleek and small enough that you could bundle it into a messenger bag before taking it elsewhere (roughly six pounds). It also has enough ports to support 6 independent 4K displays if you ever need to host a LAN party.

Curiously, there's a skull on the case of the Intel NUC 9. It's a bit of a gimmick but if you want something that looks and feels more like a gaming machine rather than a ho-hum office computer, you can show off your skull however you want.

Best Budget: ASUS VivoMini PC

What We Like
  • Quiet

  • Solid specs

  • Has room for a 2.5-inch SSD

What We Don't Like
  • Difficult to upgrade

A miniature gaming PC doesn't have to cost a fortune to be competent. That's the case with the ASUS VivoMini PC. It has a 3.5GHz Intel i7-7500U processor and 8GB RAM, but you need to supply your own hard drive and operating system. That might not be ideal for some, but it's worth paying the extra few bucks for a separate hard drive and copy of Windows, as it's cheaper overall to pursue this route if you like to build your own computer rig to your personal liking.

The ASUS VivoMini PC also lacks a dedicated graphics card, instead relying on an integrated Intel chipset but it's still got just enough oomph that you can still expect to play games on it, albeit at a lower graphics quality and resolution than more expensive options. Compromise is key when purchasing a budget mini gaming PC, but the ASUS VivoMini PC's tiny footprint means you can hide it pretty much anywhere, and it only weighs two pounds.

Best Desktop-Style: MSI Trident X

What We Like
  • Compact form factor

  • Upgradeable

  • Tons of storage

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Base model is overkill for most AAA gaming

The MSI Trident X is a fairly large gaming PC considering it's still considered a mini system. But it's worth it if you can find the extra room on your desk or countertop unit. Sticking with a small form case, it has room for an Intel i9-9900k processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080Ti, 32GB RAM, a 512GB SSD drive, as well as a 2TB hard drive for storage. In a nutshell, the larger frame of the Trident X means it can include the best specs and hardware of any mini PC we recommend you buy, hands down.

The MSI Trident X is impressively powerful, whatever game you play on it is going to look and run fabulously on this system. The graphics card, in particular, is powerful enough to offer Ray Tracing technology, one of the latest graphical flourishes out there that bounces light rays in a realistic way on any surface that reflects light. It's a good looking system, too, with a tempered glass side panel so you can view the fans as they work, along with Red Green Blue (RGB) case lighting. And it has a mix of eight USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports if you love plugging in accessories.

Best Premium: Corsair One i160

What We Like
  • Sleek form factor

  • Quiet

What We Don't Like
  • Form factor restricts upgrades

  • Expensive

A small form PC rather than a truly mini gaming system, the Corsair One i160 is still small enough to not take up too much room on your desk, or slot in neatly amongst your living room entertainment equipment. Expect it to be roughly twice the size of the average games console, but half the size of a full desktop system (16 pounds).

It's whisper quiet thanks to its liquid cooling system that means you don't have to suffer from any noisy fans while it's in use. Specification wise, it's an impressive system: there's an Intel i7-9700K processor, Geforce RTX 2080 graphics card and a huge 32GB RAM. A 480GB SSD along with a 2TB hard drive means it'll be a long time till you run out of storage space.

The system has built-in RGB light pipes that are customizable so you can make it light up exactly to your tastes. It also supports up to three 4K displays for those rare times you might need it to hook up a few extra monitors.

Best for Upgrades: Intel NUC 8 Performance-G Kit

What We Like
  • Runs quiet

  • Excellent performance

  • Integrated VESA mounts

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

  • Clumsy external power adapter

The Intel NUC 8 Performance-G Kit is a barebones unit with great potential for upgrading. That means for the initial purchase, you get an Intel i7-8809G processor and Radeon RX Vega M GH graphics card, so you'll need to supply your own RAM and hard drive to use it. It's possible to add up to 32GB RAM and there's space for two different hard drives, so it's ideal if you want to have one small-but-fast SSD hard drive and a slower-but-larger regular hard drive. This is the perfect building block for gearheads who want to tweak every facet of their computer, and it's easy to do so with the lightweight NUC (it weighs six pounds).

Potentially, this means that things can turn quite expensive for those who go with the Intel NUC 8 Performance-G Kit but the flexibility is immensely useful. It supports up to six displays, has front and rear HDMI ports for connecting monitors, two mini Display ports, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and a whopping seven USB ports. If you already have some components going spare, it's a relatively inexpensive way of gaining a mini gaming PC.

The NUC looks a lot like a games console with ports at the front and a horizontal design. There's also a skull that glows according to how you set things up if you so wish.

Best Console-Style: MSI Trident 3

What We Like
  • Excellent performance

  • Plenty of connectivity, including front I/O ports

What We Don't Like
  • Comes with some bloatware pre-installed

  • No Thunderbolt 3 Port

The MSI Trident 3 looks a lot like a games console, right down to the ports that were designed in an easily accessible way just like an Xbox or Playstation. It's technically a tower-based PC, which means it's chunkier than some mini gaming PCs but it'll happily live positioned horizontally so it comfortably fits in a TV unit, for instance. Inside the case is an Intel i5-8400 processor, 8GB RAM, GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card and 1TB hard drive. It's all you could need to get started with the vast majority of games and it's also VR-ready.

For added convenience, it comes with a keyboard and mouse, although gamers may prefer to invest in their own accessories alongside it. Particularly quiet and with customizable lights on the casing, it'll suit a living room gaming setup well.

It's an ideal step up from traditional console gaming while giving you the practicalities that a Windows PC offers, and it weighs a lot less than a full desktop tower rig (the Trident 3 is less than seven pounds total).

Final Verdict

It may be somewhat expensive but the latest iteration of Intel's NUC Kit packs a remarkable amount of power into a small package. It may not have the necessary real estate for simple GPU upgrades like the MSI Trident series, but its difficult to find a computer that packs more horsepower into such a small amount of space.

How We Tested

When testing the best Mini Gaming PCs, our team of trusted experts puts each model through a series of benchmarks using free tools like Cinebench and 3Dmark to stress test the Processor and GPU. Apart from bench tests in a closed environment, our experts spend upwards of 10 hours using each model, taking note of the form factor, stress under load, and the number of ports available for connectivity.

About Our Trusted Experts

Jennifer Allen has been writing about technology since 2010. She specializes in iOS and Apple technology, as well as wearable technology and smart home devices. She's been a regular tech columnist for Paste Magazine, written for Wareable, TechRadar, Mashable, and PC World, as well as more diverse outlets including Playboy and ​Eurogamer.

What to Look For in the Best Mini Gaming PCs

Size - Form factor is an important concern when selecting the best mini gaming PC because they’re available in a fairly wide range of sizes. The smaller you go, to more limited your options become for future upgrade options. So you have to figure out what you need your mini PC to do, and then find one that can accomplish those goals while still meeting your size constraints.

Graphics - If you want to do any serious gaming, you absolutely need a system that has a dedicated graphics card. Some would argue that It’s impossible to go too big in this department, but you can save a ton of money by avoiding the latest cards in favor of an older card that’s still capable of running your favorite games at high settings.

Upgradability - One of the best things about PC gaming is that when your rig starts getting a little long in the tooth, you can replace components one at a time, or add new components. Look for a gaming PC that has enough extra PCI, PCIe, and M.2 slots, and enough room in the case, to accommodate upgrades. It’s a nice bonus if the case is easy to crack open without special tools.