Best Buy Mini Desktop
Design-wise, mini PCs range from smaller desktops to stick PCs you can slip into your pocket. Mini PCs leverage the small, energy-efficient components of laptops to provide you with a surprising among of power in sizes that can be hidden behind a monitor. With mini PCs made for everything from media streaming to gaming and VR, there are mini stick PCs and mini desktops for almost everyone.
best buy mini desktop
Below, we've listed the best mini PCs for everything from home entertainment to gaming and professional workstations. 2022 was a great year for mini PCs, so you have a lot of options, from Apple to Intel, to choose from in 2023.
Each review involves extensive testing and hands-on evaluation. This allows us to tell you exactly which are the best systems. We've put every mini PC on this list through its paces and have the top models you can get today,
Whether it's for use in your home theater, powering digital signage, or just giving you a way to watch Netflix on your hotel TV, the Access3 presses forward in a form factor that larger manufacturers have largely forgotten. The Azulle Access3 is our new favorite stick PC, and the best mini PC you can slip into your pocket.
While this affordable mini PC packs an older 8th gen Intel Coffee Lake CPU, it still has more than enough power for day-to-day tasks. From web browsing to word processing, the Mini IT8 is quite up to what most people need. The Geekom Mini IT8 is also VESA-mountable, meaning that you can slap it on the back of your monitor for a clean desk.
And while getting Windows 11 Pro pre-installed is awesome, our mind immediately begins to dream about what we can do with it if you turn this mini PC into, say, a streaming media hub or virtualization host for your home network. You can install Linux or whatever you want on the Mini IT8, making it a great mini PC for tinkerers and enthusiasts.
The Intel NUC 9 Pro is a workstation mini PC that offers huge power and a surprising amount of upgradability. A workstation desktop isn't an uncommon offering in the PC world, as they're the standard for many computationally demanding uses, ranging from architecture to animation. What is unusual is to see that level of performance packed into a tiny design that's smaller than a 5-liter SFF desktop.
Throw in room for huge amounts of RAM, added drives and up to an 8-inch graphics card, and the Intel NUC 9 Pro is a rare beast indeed. And that's before discussing Intel's innovative Compute Element motherboard, which weds the modularity of the motherboard with the built-in cooling and self-contained design of a GPU to create a unique basis for a truly potent PC. Add it all up, and it's definitely the best workstation available in mini PCs today.
Our new favorite office desktop does a cool disappearing trick, with a funky design that hides the powerful mini PC inside a specially designed monitor stand that turns it into a low-profile all-in-one PC. Packing plenty of capability into its tiny size and offering a modular solution for offices that want to upgrade often, the Dell OptiPlex 7070 Ultra is a cool twist on the mini PC in the workplace.
The mini PC itself is so slim it might get mistaken for a laptop battery pack or a desktop dock, but inside it boasts an Intel Core processor, up to 64GB of RAM and as much as 1TB of storage. It has plenty of ports and performance that puts it squarely among the best productivity-focused mini PCs you can buy.
If you want to do something different with your technology, the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is the best mini PC for tinkering and experimenting. Whether you buy it alone or in a kit, the Raspberry Pi is hard to beat.
Mini PCs range from small project PCs for under $50 (50/AU$75) to compact desktops that can cost $1,000 or more. Stick PCs are the most versatile, and generally cost between $100 (100/AU$150) and $200 (200/$AU300), and will work with most TVs or monitors. Mini PC prices vary considerably based on hardware.
Know what you want: Finding the right mini PC for you starts with knowing what you're looking for. Do you want something small enough to tuck behind a TV as a dedicated streaming box, or are you looking for something with gaming capability? Do you want a basic internet-browsing machine, or do you need serious processing and graphics capability? Our best picks above do a good job of highlighting the use cases different systems are best suited to.
Find the right size: Then there's the question of form factor. Mini PCs are all small, but there is a range of options within the category, from stick PCs small enough to slip in your pocket to desktop towers that are still compact enough to stow out of sight. You'll sacrifice power for a smaller system, but you can still get a capable desktop that's small enough to carry in a backpack, even if you're after gaming capability or workstation performance.
Make sure you like your configuration and upgrade options: Finally, you want to look at configuration options and upgradability. Many mini PCs have two or three configuration options, which can change everything from the amount of included storage to the presence of high-end processors and discrete graphics cards. There's also the question of upgrades. Many of the smallest mini PCs leave no room for future hardware changes, but others are designed to let you add memory or storage, or even outfitted with ports that allow for an external GPU for expanded capability. When in doubt, check our reviews, which include configuration details and will discuss the potential for future upgrades.
We put every mini PC we review through a number of benchmark tests and real-world uses to get the clearest picture we can of how well it performs, what uses it's best suited to and what sort of capability you get for the price.
Most importantly, we spend a ton of time simply using each mini PC for everyday activities. We watch movies, do work, play games, and blast music on the speakers, all to get a better sense of which ones are worth your money.
We then connected each mini PC to a series of 24-inch, 27-inch, and 4K monitors to test its display outputs and used it for a few days of ordinary work. This process usually consisted of running a web browser with at least 15 tabs open at a time (Google Docs, Sheets, Gmail, Slack, and plenty more), streaming music through the Spotify desktop application, video chatting, and recording audio. The testing allowed us to get a feel for how each mini PC performed on a daily basis, and it also gave us time to discover any quirks related to bloatware or driver issues.
For video and photo editors, or anybody who does processor-intensive work, the Apple Mac mini with an M2 Pro processor is a tiny powerhouse that can fit under a monitor. Its processor is wickedly fast at the multi-core processing necessary for converting file types or accomplishing rendering tasks. Because the unified 16 GB of RAM works with either the central processing unit or the graphics processor, you can more quickly handle enormous video files. The Mac mini with the M2 Pro also has two more USB-C ports than the standard model, so you can have peripherals aplenty.
Upgrading to the M2 Pro chip also upgrades the number of ports you get. The M2 Pro version of the Mac mini has two more USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports than the standard version, for a total of four, and the computer can support three monitors instead of two. It also has two USB-A ports, an SD Card reader, an HDMI port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a headphone jack. Thanks to this collection of ports, you should be able to connect just about any accessory, peripheral, storage drive, or monitor with little issue.
Measuring 7.7 inches wide, 7.7 inches long, and 1.4 inches tall, the Mac mini system is extremely quiet even under heavy load, and the noise is almost unnoticeable even when the computer is on a desk.
For 10 years, Intel has sold a line of mini PCs called NUC, or Next Unit of Computing. These little PCs, which are mainly intended for enthusiasts, have laptop components crammed into a tiny box, rather than the desktop processors and RAM found in our Windows pick.
Most of the acceleration toward super-small desktop PCs has happened over the last decade or so. Of course, it's still easy enough to find ordinary business boxes and hulking power towers packed with big video cards and multiple platter-based hard drives. But starting with the "small-form-factor" (SFF) PC revolution of the '00s, many desktops have gone from half-size towers to compact cubes to, in their most extreme reduction, sticks not much bigger than a USB flash drive.
A big reason why? Graphics acceleration and other essential features, handled in the past by separate chips or bulky cards, have been subsumed under the CPU. Nowadays, miniaturization is getting to the point where you can't go all that much smaller. You need to leave some space for ports to plug in a thing or two.
Our guide here will explore the nuances of today's smallest PCs. First, we've broken out the best mini PCs we've tested below, according to the usage case. Following that is a detailed breakdown of how to buy the right model for you. We wrap up below that with a chart-style spec breakout of all our top picks.
The Core i7 chip and Iris Xe integrated graphics give the NUC 12 Pro solid productivity performance, while three USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports, two HDMI ports, 2.5Gbps Ethernet, and Wi-Fi 6E give it a ton of connectivity. It's the current flagship from the mini-PC leader, with particular appeal to picky configuration choosers. Ready for a dual-monitor desk setup, the little Intel is a great choice for any office job shy of a professional workstation's.
It's bulkier than an Intel NUC Pro (2.2 by 8 by 8.2 inches), but only one-tenth the size of the midtowers that dominate the budget desktop market. Yet MSI's Pro DP21 delivers surprisingly perky performance in a petite package that can rest on your desk horizontally, perch on edge in the included stand, or hide behind a monitor or cling to the underside of your desk thanks to a VESA mount. It also starts at just $329, with our review unit ringing up at $471 with a quad-core Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of memory, a 256GB solid-state drive, Windows 11 Home, and a basic USB keyboard and mouse. 041b061a72