The 5 Best Mini PCs of 2023

Small, but mighty PCs for work, gaming, and more

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Mini PCs are small and portable versions of the larger towers you might be accustomed to, which allows them to fit in more confined areas, like a small desk, a portion of a dorm room, or a collaborative office workspace. They're portable enough to carry around with you and slip into a bag, though, unlike a laptop, you'll need to provide a mouse, keyboard, and monitor. They're also tricky to upgrade compared to larger desktops.

Best Overall

Razer Tomahawk Gaming Desktop with GeForce RTX 3080

Razer Tomahawk Gaming Desktop with GeForce RTX 3080


What We Like
  • Incredibly power for such a small PC

  • Tool-free Modular design

  • Professional appearance with RGB for optional gaming flair.

  • Full sized GPU

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • High demand limits availability

When it comes to mini PCs, "no compromises" isn't a term you expect to encounter, but to a shocking extent, it's what the Razer Tomahawk has achieved. The only absolute limit to this powerhouse of a PC is your pocketbook, as it can be configured with almost any full-sized GPU and outfitted with an 8-core Intel i9-9980HK. This is in addition to a 512GB SSD, 2TB HDD, and 16GB of RAM, all packed into a 12.6"x5.51"x1.36" case. This dense bundle of beefy components is all well-cooled so as not to overheat and offers performance on par with almost any full-sized desktop PC.

The unique modular design also solves another traditional caveat of mini PCs, making it easy to open up and tinker with the Tomahawk. In some respects, it's easier to upgrade and maintain the Tomahawk than it would be the biggest and most spacious of full-sized tower cases. It can pull off this level of compact, uncompromising power in part thanks to intel's Next Unit of Computing (NUC) architecture. The system is perfect for everyone, from hardcore gamers to graphics designers. The only real downsides are the price and the difficulty of obtaining it due to its popularity.

CPU: Intel Core i9-9980HK | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB SSD

Best Kit

Intel NUC 9 Extreme NUC9i9QNX

Intel NUC 9 Extreme NUC9i9QNX


What We Like
  • Latest Intel processor

  • Neat design

  • Easy to customize

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

  • BYO Ram and SSD

One of the first mini PCs to hit the scene was Intel's "Next Unit of Computing," or NUC for short. Intel designs the NUC with the latest processor, but that's all that comes on board. Users generally need to provide their RAM and hard drive. That's not always the case since Intel sells the NUC to manufacturers who can add those components and sell customized NUCs.

The case is designed to optimize airflow, so it's still roomy enough for whatever components you want to add. The plus side is you get the best processor from a company that makes great processors. You can build this mini PC with whatever components you want to make this a very highly portable rig. If you take it to a friend's house for a night of gaming, it's easy. This is an excellent start if you want a portable computer for life on the go. Mostly this is a computer designed for people that want to build their custom PC in a small package.

CPU: 9th generation Core-i9 | GPU:Intel UHD Graphics | RAM: N/A | Storage: N/A

Best Apple

Apple Mac Mini

Apple Mac Mini


What We Like
  • Great price

  • Very Powerful

  • More and more ARM-based apps

What We Don't Like
  • Minimal I/O

  • Pricey upgrades

Since the debut of the M1 processor, Apple has put the chip in Macbooks, iMacs, iPads, and the Mac mini. Apple has thrown all its support behind this processor, and our review shows its effectiveness. Our reviewer Jeremy put this mini PC through many benchmarks, achieving 7,662 on Cinebench, 60.44 fps on GFXBench Metal Car Chase, and 17,930 and 1078 on Wildlife from 3D Mark, which are undoubtedly good results.

Since the new M1 chip is based on ARM technology, apps for macOS need to be rewritten to support that processor. Developers have gotten on board with names like Adobe, Microsoft, Blizzards, Mozilla, and more, all porting their flagship applications to the M1 processor. Apple also developed the Rosetta 2 compatibility layer, which allows non-ARM apps to run on the new processor.

As for the hardware itself, Apple didn't offer as much as we'd like to see. You'll get just two USB-C ports, two USB-A ports, and a single HDMI port. You can add more RAM and swap out the SSD on the inside, but both are pricey upgrades. The latest Mac mini has tons of power in a tiny footprint.

CPU: Apple M1 | GPU: Integrated 8-core GPU | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB SSD

"The Mac mini seems to do the impossible in both bringing down the price and massively improving performance compared to its predecessor." Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Best for Business

HP ProDesk 400 G5



What We Like
  • Great price

  • Many ports

  • Ports on the front

  • Easy upgradability

What We Don't Like
  • No wireless connectivity

  • Included peripherals are bad

If you're looking for a mini PC that comes in a small form factor but is still upgradable, the HP ProDesk 400 G5 is a great choice. This is not the latest model available; HP is up to the G7, and the case size increased significantly with the G6 and G7, putting them outside the definition of a mini PC. The G5 has a 9th gen Core-i5 processor and a lot of ports on the front and the back. Having ports on the front is essential for office environments where people move around with their mouse and keyboard. Speaking of the mouse and keyboard, the ones that come with this computer are pretty bad, so you'll probably want to replace those soon.

Another important note is that this PC does not have wireless connectivity. There's no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth built-in. You can add connectivity, but not having it built in is a bit of a bummer. The PC's inside is upgradeable, which is rare for a mini PC form factor. A system that can grow with you is essential because this computer will last longer than usual.

CPU: 9th Gen Core-i5 | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 512GB HDD

"The HP ProDesk 400 excels at everyday productivity tasks thanks to its Intel Core i5 CPU." — Emily Ramirez, Product Tester

Best Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi 400

Raspberry Pi 400

Erika Rawes / Lifewire

What We Like
  • Great for Raspberry Pi beginners

  • Compact design in the keyboard

  • Great community support

What We Don't Like
  • Not really in the "spirit" of Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi 400 is a mini PC, albeit in an unusual form factor. All the components you need for a PC are built within the keyboard. Just plug in a mouse and a monitor, and you're off to the races. So in one sense, you've got a compact computer ready to go anywhere with you, but on the other hand, the Raspberry Pi 400 lives outside the spirit of the Raspberry Pi. This isn't a circuit board for tinkers; it's a computer.

Raspberry Pi OS comes preinstalled on the computer, which gives you some games, a web browser, and LibreOffice for productivity. What's more, the Raspberry Pi 400 is a much more accessible computer for people who are curious about Raspberry Pi but fall short of being the tinker that previous generations have courted.

CPU: Broadcom BCM2711 | GPU: Broadcom VideoCore VI | RAM: 4GB | Storage: MicroSD

"Whether you want to learn programming, create a gaming system, create a streaming system, or get into 3D modeling, the Pi 400 is a good starting point." Erika Rawes, Product Tester

What to Look For in a Mini PC

How is a Mini PC Different? 

Before you go any further, it’s essential to understand that a mini PC is simply a personal computer (PC) significantly smaller than the norm. Beyond that basic qualifier, you can find mini PCs that can act as desktop replacements and competent gaming rigs, barebones systems that excel at streaming media, and low-powered pocket-sized computers that can’t handle much more than basic productivity tasks.

While there are a lot of affordable mini PCs out there, you can typically expect to pay somewhat of a premium for a mini PC compared to a full-sized computer with the same specifications. Mini PCs are also harder to upgrade, and some can’t be upgraded. So if you have the space for a full-sized computer, you can usually save some money and leave the door open for an upgrade in the future.

"Small systems don’t have as much expansion room or USB slots as full-sized systems. They’re also more heat-sensitive, so their components tend to fail faster." — Greg Scott, Tech Author and Cybersecurity Professional

If you need the portability of a mini PC, or your available space is minimal, then mini PCs are available to fit just about any need. Most mini PCs run either Windows or Linux, and a few run Chrome OS, but the venerable Apple Mac mini, running macOS, also fits neatly into this category.

HP Pavilion Wave
Lifewire / Emily Ramirez

Usage Scenarios: What Do You Need a Mini PC For?

Before choosing a suitable mini PC, it’s essential to think about why you need a mini PC. This is important because you can save money by buying a regular PC if space isn’t an issue. Still, it also comes into play due to the wide variety of sizes and configurations in the mini PC market.

Size and portability are probably your main concerns if you’re looking for a mini PC, so you may want to consider whether or not a tiny laptop might meet your needs. Unlike mini PCs, laptops have a display and keyboard built right in. Laptops also have the option to run on battery power, which you don’t get with a mini PC. Most laptops also include an HDMI output, so you can always plug into a larger monitor whenever one is available.

If you’ve determined that a mini PC fits your needs better than a standard PC or laptop, it’s time to start thinking about how you plan on using your mini PC.

One of the best uses for a mini PC is as a video and music streaming device. If you’re after that, you’ll want to look for smaller, lower-powered devices. Some of these mini PCs are so small that they can fit into the palm of your hand and plug directly into an HDMI input on your television.

If you’re after a desktop replacement or a gaming rig dealing with limited space, you’re looking for what has sometimes been called a book-size PC. These mini PCs are very small, often the size of a book, but they can pack a lot of hardware in that space.

Mini PCs designed for basic productivity tasks and light gaming bridge the gap between the last two categories in terms of performance and size, and they’re often quite affordable.

Lenovo Legion C530 Cube
 Lifewire / Emily Ramirez

Size: Is Bigger or Smaller Better?

The most important consideration when choosing a mini PC is size, and the power of the hardware largely dictates the size of a mini PC. Smaller is typically seen as better in the mini PC sector, but there’s a limit to the power of the hardware that you can squeeze into a mini PC that isn’t much larger than a USB stick.

If you’re after the smallest of the small, you must temper your expectations in system performance. The smallest mini PCs are capable of basic productivity tasks, like word processing, web browsing, and email, and some of them are even capable of basic gaming.

If your needs are a little more demanding than that, then you’ll have to step up to a slightly larger mini PC. The term larger is relative, of course, since powerful mini PCs that can act as desktop replacements and even decent gaming rigs are significantly smaller than your average desktop PC.

Basic Hardware: Choosing a System on a Chip or Upgradeable System

The general rule is that you shouldn’t upgrade your mini PC after buying it because most computers in this category don’t provide that option. This is especially true of system-on-a-chip mini PCs, which represent the smallest of the small. These mini PCs are remarkably small due to clever engineering that most of, if not all, of the components necessary for the computer to run on a single chip.

If you have more space to work with, you may want to look at mini PCs on the larger end of the scale that include some upgradeable components. Depending on the system, you may be able to upgrade the RAM, onboard storage, or even components like the graphics card.

Mini PCs built on Micro ATX and Mini ITX motherboards are significantly smaller than standard PCs. Still, they typically allow you to upgrade at least some of the components over time to prolong the life of the device.

HP ProDesk 400 G4
 Lifewire / Emily Ramirez

Processing Power: CPU and GPU

This is where you start to dig into system specifications, so it’s important to have a good idea of how you will use your mini PC if you want to make an informed decision. If you’re looking for a basic productivity machine, you can skimp on the CPU and go for a unit with integrated graphics.

The CPU and GPU aren't that important if you want to use your mini PC as a streaming device. It would be best to have a machine that’s powerful enough to stream, but you don’t need to chase system specifications. Look for a mini PC designed to stream in full HD or 4K, depending on your television, and you’ll do just fine.

If you’re looking for a desktop replacement or want to play pretty new games, you must pay close attention to the CPU and GPU. Check the minimum and recommended system requirements for some of the games you’re interested in playing, and select a mini PC that meets or exceeds those requirements.

Memory and Storage: Internal Storage and RAM

Memory refers to random access memory (RAM), a volatile memory used when the computer is on and lost when the computer is turned off. It’s useful for multitasking because each program or app takes up memory while running, and it’s also essential for tasks like image and video editing and gaming.

For a basic mini PC intended primarily for streaming, you want a minimum of 2GB of RAM, with a strong preference for 4GB or more. Basic productivity rigs should have at least 4 GB, with more required if you do tasks like image editing and video editing. If you want to play games, look for a bare minimum of 8GB with a preference for 16GB or more, and check to see if there is any dedicated memory for the graphics. If there isn’t, the memory is shared, and it’s all the more important to go for a setup that includes 16GB or more of memory.
Storage refers to non-volatile memory that doesn’t go away when the mini PC is turned off. You may be familiar with this memory as hard drive space, but most mini PCs don’t have hard drives. Solid-state drives take up less space, and some mini PCs have their non-volatile memory soldered right onto the mainboard.

The amount of storage you need in a mini PC depends on how you plan on using it. Mini PCs used primarily for streaming don’t need much memory, just enough for the operating system and a little left over to buffer videos.

More storage is needed if you plan on using your mini PC as a desktop replacement or gaming rig, although the specific amount depends on your situation. Some people can get by just fine with 250GB of storage, while others will fill that up very quickly.

Check if the mini PC you’re interested in includes USB ports or a dedicated SD card slot. If it does, you can always add more storage with an external USB drive or an SD card.

HP Pavilion Wave
 Lifewire / Emily Ramirez

Operating System: Windows, Linux, or even Chrome?

When choosing a mini PC, the operating system is up to your preference. If you’re familiar with Windows, then the path of least resistance is choosing a mini PC with Windows preinstalled.

While Windows isn’t designed for streaming devices, and the interface is a bit cumbersome for that purpose, it works fine if that’s what you’re used to. Linux has a steeper learning curve. It’s an acceptable choice for streaming devices, even if you don’t have much Linux experience, but less so if you need to use your mini PC for productivity.

Chrome OS is a simple operating system built on Linux, so the learning curve is gentler. If you use Google docs, Gmail, and the Chrome browser already, you’ll find Chrome OS very easy to use for streaming and productivity.

Windows is the best choice if you want to game on your mini PC. While many games are available on Linux, Windows is still the platform of choice for PC gamers. 

Ports and Connectivity: Accommodating Inputs, Outputs, Peripherals, and More

The smallest mini PCs typically have built-in Wi-Fi, and some have built-in Bluetooth, but that’s typically it. If you need to plug in headphones, USB devices, or additional monitors, the smallest mini PCs can’t accommodate any of that.

Mini PCs that trend toward the larger end of the scale still don’t have as many ports and connectivity options as your average-sized PC, but they provide many other options. You can find mini PCs with standard USB ports, USB-C ports, Ethernet ports, headphone jacks, auxiliary audio outputs, and more.

To avoid headaches, identify the peripherals you need to connect to your mini PC, write down all the ports required by those peripherals, and use that to guide your decision-making process. You can get around some obstacles by adding accessories like USB hubs, but try to find a system that can accommodate your needs immediately if possible.

Lenovo Legion C530 Cube
 Lifewire / Emily Ramirez

Accessories: Some Systems Need More Than Others

Mini PCs typically have everything you need to get up and running immediately, but some exceptions exist. Some systems are more barebones than others, so checking what comes in the box is essential.

If your mini PC isn’t designed to plug directly into a TV or monitor, ensure it comes with an HDMI cable and is long enough. Otherwise, you’ll want to pick up an HDMI cable of sufficient length.

Similarly, you’ll also want to ensure that your mini PC comes with an ethernet cable and that the cable is long enough if it has an ethernet port.

If you’re starting from scratch, the minimum you’ll need to add to your mini PC to get it operational is a mouse, a keyboard, and a monitor. Some mini PCs have Bluetooth for a wireless mouse and keyboard, or you can use a USB mouse and keyboard if the mini PC has enough free USB ports.


Most of the well-known PC manufacturers you’ve heard of make at least one mini PC. 


While Acer is best known for its budget-priced laptops, it has a decent slate of affordable desktop computers and some surprisingly competent mini PCs. It has some intriguing options if you’re looking for a mini PC with Chrome OS installed instead of Windows for basic productivity or streaming 4K video.


This is another manufacturer that is better known for its laptops than desktop hardware, but that expertise in working with tight spaces translates quite well into the mini PC field. Its VivoMini line, in particular, is a series of great little barebones mini PCs that are affordable and come with surprising features like VESA mounts that allow you to bolt directly to the back of a monitor.


This manufacturer made its name producing high-quality components like motherboards before entering the surprisingly-affordable laptop market. Its products still tend to be a bit more affordable than the competition, and its mini PC options range from tiny gear like the CubiN to the slightly larger and much more powerful, Trident 3 gaming PCs.

HP ProDesk 400 G4
Lifewire / Emily Ramirez  


This manufacturer has been one of the more popular desktop and laptop manufacturers for a long time and has some exciting mini PC offerings. Prices tend to be pretty high, but some of its options, like the Pavilion Wave, pack in extra functionality.


Best known for furnishing CPUs to other manufacturers, Intel is also in the hardware game with many highly capable mini PCs. Its offerings range from powerful barebones kits that require you to finish building the system to palm-sized mini PC sticks that plug directly into your monitor. 

Conclusion: How to Pick the Best Mini PC 

The mini PC category is pretty broad and services many different usage scenarios, so it’s important to know what you need your computer to do before you start looking. Focus on your specific needs, whether streaming video, playing games, or just basic productivity and then go from there.

Size is a significant concern when selecting the best mini PC because they’re available in a relatively wide range of sizes. If you’re dead, set on a mini PC that will fit in your palm; for instance, your gaming options will be limited, as will your 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.

Performance and specifications are predicated on how you plan on using your mini PC, just like any computer. Go with a mini ITX system with a discrete video card if you want to play games now with the option to upgrade later, or a smaller, less expensive system on-chip if the size is more important than performance.

  • Do mini PCs run hot?

    Like full-sized desktop towers, whether or not a mini PC will tend to get excessively hot depends on its components, internal layout, and the efficacy of its cooling system. The difference is that, unlike a big tower PC, mini PCs have little or no extra space inside and are more likely to run hot. However, it's important to note that this limitation can be avoided with a low-power system or high-end liquid cooling.

  • Should I get a mini PC or a laptop?

    There's an argument to be made that you might as well get a laptop instead of a mini PC. A laptop is better for travel since it is entirely self-contained, but they have fewer ports and are typically less powerful than a comparably priced mini PC. Mini PCs are best viewed as a desktop tower in a smaller, space-saving box.

  • What is a VESA mount and why is it important?

    A VESA mount is an excellent addition to a computer that allows you to mount a mini PC to the back of a monitor. TVs and monitors use a mounting standard called VESA. If your mini PC has that, and you have a monitor with a stand and a VESA mount, you can mount the computer to the back of your monitor. It's a smart space-saver that more mini PCs should have.

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