The 8 Best Mini PCs of 2022 for Work and Gaming

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. Their small form factor 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 usually fairly restrictive when it comes to upgradeability compared to larger desktops.

Because of this relative lack of upgrade potential, when shopping for a mini PC, it's important to make sure you get the specifications you want when you buy it, or at least be aware of which components can be easily swapped out. It's also important to make sure that the mini PC comes with everything you need to use it. Our experts have tested and researched many mini PCs and we've rounded up our favorites below.

Best Overall: Razer Tomahawk Gaming Desktop with GeForce RTX 3080

Razer Tomahawk

Amazon

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 term you expect to encounter, but to a shocking extent it's what the Razer Tomahawk has achieved. The only real limit to this powerhouse of a PC is your pocket book, 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 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, as it makes it possible to easily 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's able to 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 being the price and the difficulty of obtaining it due to it's 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

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 on board, but that's all that comes on board. Users generally need to provide their own RAM and hard drive. That's not always the case though, 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 want to take it to a friend's house for a night of gaming, it's easy. If you want to have a portable computer for life on the go, this is a great start. Mostly this is a computer designed for people that want to build their own custom PC in a small package.

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

Best Compact: ZOTAC ZBOX CI622

ZOTAC ZBOX CI622

Amazon

What We Like
  • Small design

  • No tools necessary

What We Don't Like
  • No HDD or RAM

The ZOTAC Zbox is another mini PC that is designed for people who want to build their own towers while keeping the form factor as small as possible. The Zbox is not made by Intel but it comes in configurations from Core-3 all the way up to Core-i7, depending on how much power you want. Like the NUC, this does not come with RAM, hard drive, or graphics card, so that's going to cost you more. The box doesn't require tools to access it. This is truly built for people who want to build their own computers. But, if you don't want to, you can also purchase different configurations that include memory and storage if you don't want to do it yourself. 

There are seven total USB ports, six of which support USB 3.1. Of the seven, two of them are USB-C ports and there's also a 3-in-1 card reader, HDMI port, Display port, and there's even a connection for an external. In short, this is a highly customizable box that fits into a lot of budgets and slides into your bag when you need to move it. That's a powerful combination that makes it one of the more popular mini PCs out there.

CPU: 10th Gen Core-i3 | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics | RAM: N/A | Storage: N/A

Best Chromebox: Acer Chromebox CXI3

4.2
The Acer Chromebox CXI3 is a nice little ChromeOS computer.

Amazon

What We Like
  • Good performance

  • Included VESA mount

  • Very compact

What We Don't Like
  • ChromeOS is not mature

ChromeOS is most often found on laptops, like in the best Chromebooks, but this entry on our list is for those who love ChromeOS and still want the mini PC form factor. Acer has long been a champion of ChromeOS and that includes mini-PCs like the Chromebox CXI3. This box comes with a Core-i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, a USB Type-C port, five Type-A ports, and an HDMI out. Don't let that spec sheet scare you off though; ChromeOS is renowned for its ability to run well on just about any hardware.

One particularly neat thing about this Chromebox is that it comes with a VESA mount that allows you to mount the mini PC onto the back of your monitor, turning it into a de facto All-in-One PC. It gets the mini PC up off your desk, and according to our reviewer Emily, mounting the mini PC actually makes cable organization easier.  The ports on the Chromebox are on the back and the front making cable management difficult when it's on the desk, but mounting makes it work a lot better.

This Chromebox is mainly for people who love ChromeOS.  It's the least mature of the desktop operating systems. You can do almost everything you can do in a web browser or an Android phone on a Chromebox, so it'll suit many people, but for some, it can be quite limiting. If you're used to the OS, it's quite productive. If not, it can be frustrating.

CPU: Intel Core i3-8130U | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 64GB Flash Solid State

"Acer’s ChromeBox CX13 is one of the smaller desktop computers available, but it still packs a punch in spite of its shrunken size." — Erika Rawes, Product Tester

Best console killer: MSI MEG Trident X 11th

The MSI MEG Trident X 11th.

Newegg

Best Apple: Apple Mac Mini

4.7
Apple Mac Mini

 Best Buy

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. Needless to say, Apple has throw all its support behind this processor, and our review shows just how effective it is. 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 certainly respectable 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 over 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 here in terms of I/O. You'll get just two USB-C ports, two USB-A ports, and a single HDMI port. On the inside, you can add more RAM and swap out the SSD, but both are pricey upgrades. Overall, the latest Mac mini has tons of power in a tiny footprint so it can go anywhere with you.

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

HP ProDesk 400 G5

Courtesy of B&H

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 at this point, but the size of the case increased greatly 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 important for office environments where people tend to move around with their own mouse and keyboard. Speaking of mouse and keyboard, the ones that come with this computer are pretty bad, so you'll probably want to replace those soon.

One other important note is that this PC does not come with wireless connectivity. There's no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth built-in. You can add connectivity for sure, but not having it built in is a bit of a bummer. The inside of the PC is upgradable, which is rare for a mini PC form factor. Having a system that can grow with you is important because it means this computer will last longer than normal.

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

4.1
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 that you probably know has been a circuit board for tinkers. That all changed with the introduction of the Raspberry Pi 400. This is a true 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 definitely lives outside the spirit of the Raspberry Pi. This isn't a circuit board for tinkers, it's a full 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. Basically what you get here is a cheap mini PC that also lets you into the work of electronics and fun that being a Raspberry Pi tinker can be. We dig it, and we hope to see more from Raspberry Pi like this.

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

Final Verdict

From demanding creative tasks in a professional office environment, to a gaming den at home, the Razer Tomahawk the perfect machine for any setting. This mini PC doesn't compromise in terms of power despite its diminutive size, and it's unique tool-free modular design makes it remarkably easy to tinker with and upgrade. So long as you can stomach the price, the Tomahawk easily wins our pick for the best mini PC.

About Our Trusted Experts

Andy Zahn has written for Lifewire since 2019 covering a wide range of consumer technology including gaming PCs, laptops, and related accessories. and been building his own gaming PCs for more than a decade. Andy is an avid gamer and content creator, and knows the importance of choosing the perfect computer to suit your needs.

Adam Doud has written in the technology space for almost a decade. He's reviewed phones, tablets, laptops, and pretty much any other kind of consumer tech you can think of for a number of publications, including Lifewire.

Jeremy Laukkonen is Lifewire's tech generalist with a background in trade publications. He reviewed the new Mac mini (M1, 2020) and came away impressed by its performance capabilities and reasonable price.

Emily Ramirez has written for MassDiGI and the MIT Game Lab as a blogger and narrative designer. She is active in the innovative media scene, tinkering with the latest tech in XR to understand how the average consumer could benefit from it.

Erika Rawes has been writing for Lifewire since 2019. She's previously been published in Digital Trends, USA Today, Cheatsheet.com, and more. She specializes in the latest gadgets on the market, particularly smart home, streaming, and computing devices.

FAQs

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 thus overall are more likely to run hot. However, it's important to note that this limitation can be avoided either with a low-power system such as the Acer Chromebox or via high end liquid cooling such as is found in the Maingear Apex Turbo.

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. After all, isn't a laptop basically just a mini PC with a screen and keyboard attached? The truth is that each serves a particularly purpose. and comes with its own pros and cons. A laptop is better for travel since it is entirely self contained, but they are more likely to overheat, have less ports, and are typically less powerful than a comparably priced mini PC. Mini PCs are really best viewed as a desktop tower in a smaller, space saving box.

What is a VESA mount and why is it important?

Only one of our PCs had a VESA mount, but it's a cool 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.

What to Look For in a Mini PC

The world of the mini PC is a strange one, where size and style often win out over raw power, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore hardware specifications altogether. The process of finding and buying the best mini PC comes down to determining why you want a mini PC instead of a traditional desktop PC or laptop, what you need a mini PC for, and where you plan on using it. Once you’ve figured out those basic questions, you’ll be ready to focus down on more technical questions like system performance and hardware specifications.

"Mini PCs need a similar level of security [as full-sized PCs] to prevent cyber crimes. Implementing a disk-level encryption mechanism will reduce the risk of an unauthorized user getting access to your data. Enabling remote device management capabilities ensures that even you lose your mini PC you can still remotely locate and wipe out any sensitive information. Their relatively smaller size also makes them more susceptible to be misplaced or stolen." — Sammy Basu, Founder of Careful Security

What's Inside

Mini PCs generally come in two flavors - ones that are basically shrunken down desktop PCs with everything just packed in more tightly such as the Zotac Zbox, or ones that are built for a specific purpose such as the Acer Chromebox. The former is generally speaking the best choice as it's more versatile and upgradeable, but in some cases a more fixed and specialized system may be preferable.

What Operating Systems Do You Want?

As a rule of thumb, the latest version of Windows is the jack of all trades operating system that will suit the widest range of use cases. However, this is not to say that any other is an inferior pick. Many people prefer MacOS from apple, and Linux has it's small but enthusiastic group of fans. ChromeOS is also a good option for lower power budget systems. Keep in mind that generally any operating system can be installed on any computer if you're comfortable working through the installation process.

How is a Mini PC Different? 

Before you go any further, it’s important to understand that a mini PC is simply a personal computer (PC) that’s significantly smaller than the norm. Beyond that basic qualifier, you can find mini PCs that can act as full 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 exact same specifications. Mini PCs are also harder to upgrade, and some can’t be upgraded at all. 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 really need the portability of a mini PC, or your available space is really limited, 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 as well.

HP Pavilion Wave
Lifewire / Emily Ramirez

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

Before you can choose the right mini PC, it’s important to think about why you actually need a mini PC. This is important because you can save money by just buying a regular PC if space isn’t an issue, but it also comes into play due to the wide variety of sizes and configurations found 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 small laptop might meet your needs. Unlike mini PCs, laptops come with 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 really does fit your needs better than a standard PC or laptop, then 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 that’s what you’re after, then 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, but you’re dealing with limited space, then you’re looking for what has sometimes been called a booksize 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 that are designed for basic productivity tasks and light gaming bridge the gap between the previous two categories both 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 size of a mini PC is largely dictated by the power of the hardware. 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, then you will have to temper your expectations in terms of 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 booksize mini PCs that are able to act as desktop replacements and even competent gaming rigs are significantly smaller than your average desktop PC.

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

The general rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t plan on upgrading your mini PC after buying it, because most of the computers in this category just 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, then you may want to look at mini PCs on the larger end of the scale that actually 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, but 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 just looking for a basic productivity machine, then you can skimp on the CPU and go for a unit with integrated graphics.

If you want to use your mini PC as a streaming device, the CPU and GPU still aren’t that terribly important. You need a machine that’s powerful enough to stream, but you don’t really need to chase system specifications. Look for a mini PC that’s specifically 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 you want to play fairly new games, then you need to 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), which is volatile memory that is used when the computer is on and lost when the computer is turned off. It’s useful for things like 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 very basic mini PC that’s 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, then 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 sort of memory as hard drive space, but most mini PCs don’t actually have hard drives. Solid-state drives take up less space, and some mini PCs have their non-volatile memory actually soldered right on to the mainboard.

The amount of storage you need in a mini PC depends on how you plan on using it. Mini PCs that are used primarily for streaming don’t need much memory at all, 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 is highly dependent on your own situation. Some people can get by just fine with 250GB of storage, while others will fill that up very quickly.

Check to see 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 really up to your own personal preference. If you’re familiar with Windows, then the path of least resistance is to choose a mini PC that comes with Windows preinstalled.

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

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

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

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

If you have a specific need for some type of port or connectivity, then it’s important to keep that in mind when looking at mini PCs. 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, any USB devices, or additional monitors, the smallest mini PCs simply 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 do provide a whole lot of other options. You can find mini PCs with standard USB ports, USB-C ports, Ethernet ports, headphone jacks, and auxiliary audio outputs, and more.

To avoid headaches down the line, identify the peripherals you need to connect to your mini PC, write down all of 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 right out of the box if possible.

Lenovo Legion C530 Cube
 Lifewire / Emily Ramirez

Accessories: Some Systems Need More Than Others

Mini PCs typically come with everything you need to get up and running right away, but there are some exceptions. Some systems are more barebones than others, so it’s important to check what comes in the box.

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

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

If you’re starting from scratch, the bare 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 built-in 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.

Brands/Manufacturers

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

Acer

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

Asus

This is another manufacturer that’s 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 quite affordable and come with some surprising features like VESA mounts that allow you to bolt directly to the back of a monitor.

MSI

This manufacturer made its name producing high-quality components like motherboards before moving into 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 booksize gear like the CubiN to the slightly larger, and much more powerful, Trident 3 gaming PCs.

HP ProDesk 400 G4
Lifewire / Emily Ramirez  

HP

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

Intel

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

Conclusion: How to Pick the Best Mini PC 

The mini PC category is fairly broad and services a lot of 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 that be streaming video, playing games, or just basic productivity, and then go from there.

Size is an important concern when selecting the best mini PC, because they’re available in a fairly 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 all predicated on the way 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 size is more important than performance.

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