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Best mini PCs

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Forget about clearing off desk space for your next desktop PC. Today, the best mini PCs pack the power of a desktop PC into the size of a peanut butter sandwich, or smaller. Whether you're trying to save space at home, fit more computers into your office or squeeze a media server into your entertainment center, there's a mini PC made for you. 

We put each mini PC we review through a series of tests to determine how it performs. This includes running synthetic benchmarks like Geekbench and 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited for measuring system speed and graphics prowess, respectively. We also use a Spreadsheet Macro test to demonstrate productivity performance, and our File Transfer Test measures the hard drive or SSD's capabilities by copying about 5GB of mixed media files.

To see how well a mini PC plays games, we run relevant games at various resolutions, including 1080p, and record the frame rate. Most importantly, we use each mini PC for several hours, trying out its unique features and any preloaded software. 

Among the best mini PCs we've reviewed are the Apple Mac mini and the Azulle Access3 stick PC.

Expect some seriously strong mini PCs in 2020, including the Intel NUC 9 'Ghost Canyon' which the company just revealed at CES 2020. It's the first to support discrete graphics. And check out our review of the Asus ProArt PA90 workstation, one of the most powerful mini PCs we've ever tested.

See all of our recommendations for the best mini PCs below.

Apple Mac mini (2018)

(Image credit: Future)

Apple Mac mini (2018)

Best Mini PC Overall

Size (Inches): 7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4 | Weight: 2.6 pounds | CPU : Intel Core i3-8100B | Storage: 128GB SSD | Geekbench 3 Score: 12,844

Same compact dimensions with a space-gray finish
Upgradable RAM
Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
Healthy 4K display support
Impressive performance
Improved Mac OS Mojave
Limited upgradability
Very limited internal access
Can get pricey

Apple took its sweet time updating the Mac mini, but the Mac mini (2018) was well worth the wait. The new Mac mini has a slick new look and a speedy collection of ports, and even offers (a bit) of upgradability. Despite rocking an older 8th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, the littlest Mac managed to put up numbers that bested better-equipped systems, and offers a surprising amount of power in a pleasantly compact design. It's the best mini PC overall based on our testing.

Azulle Btye3 Fanless Mini Desktop PC

(Image credit: Future)

Azulle Byte3

Best for Home Theater

Size (Inches): 5.6 x 4 x 1.5 | Weight: 14 ounces | CPU: Intel Celeron J3455 | Storage: 32GB eMMC | Geekbench 4 Score: 4,011

Great for 4k streaming
Fanless design is silent
Upgradable design
Good port selection
Better than expected performance
IR remote included
Lousy multitasking
No RAM upgrades available
Included remote is sparse on features

The Azulle Byte3 is the best mini PC for home entertainment, with a compact fanless design that will easily fit into your entertainment center. It's a great tool for media streaming and provides a full PC experience on your TV. With an Intel Apollo Lake Celeron processor, it's perfect for streaming 4K video and offers all the connectivity you need with a healthy selection of ports.

The small size of the Byte3 (5.6 x 4 x 1.5 inches) will easily mount to the back of a TV or monitor. The compact design still offers options to upgrade after purchase, and the slick looks means that even though you can easily hide it away, you might not want to. If you want a great mini PC for home entertainment use, the Azulle Byte3 mini is our favorite.

Intel NUC (Hades Canyon)

(Image credit: Future)

Intel Hades Canyon NUC

Best for Gaming

Size (Inches): 8.7 x 5.6 x 1.5 | Weight: 4.75 pounds | CPU : Intel Core i7-8009G/AMD Radeon RX Vega M GH | Storage: Bring Your Own

Impressive graphics performance
Compact, attractive design
Tons of ports
Customizable RGB lighting
Expensive after adding parts

Intel’s Hades Canyon NUC is a mini PC that delivers desktop-gaming-grade performance thanks to its Intel Core i7-8009G/AMD Radeon RX Vega M GH hybrid chip, which combines processing and discrete graphics on a single chip. If you buy the barebones kit, you’ll need to provide memory and storage, and your own installation of Windows, but this pint-sized gaming machine can go toe-to-toe with an Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti-powered gaming tower, and it even handled a bit of VR.

Azulle Access3

(Image credit: Azulle)

Azulle Access3

Best Stick PC

Size (Inches): 5.5 x 2.36 x 0.76 | Weight: 5.12 ounces | CPU : Intel Celeron N4100 | Storage: 32GB | Geekbench 4 Score: 4,541

Elegant design combines fanless cooling with stylish looks
Improved port selection boasts USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet
Zippy performance
Supports 4K video at 30Hz
Slow data transfer speeds
Optional bundled keyboard is clunky

The Azulle Access3 takes our favorite tiny stick PC and makes it even better. With a design small enough to slip in your hip pocket, and flexible enough to be used with any monitor or TV, the Access3 gets a faster processor, speedier USB 3.0 ports and adds Gigabit Ethernet for better performance and connectivity than any other stick PC we've reviewed.

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 Azulle Access3 is our new favorite stick PC.

HP Z2 Mini G4

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HP Z2 Mini G4

Best Mini Workstation

Size (Inches): 8.5 x 8.5 x 2.3 | Weight: 4.85 pounds | CPU : Intel Xeon E-2176G | Storage: 1TB HDD + 256GB SSD | Geekbench 3 Score: 25,064

Powerful processing and graphics hardware
Internals are easy to access
Category-leading performance
Highly configurable components and ports
Security is built in
Cooling fans get loud
Windows 10 Pro still includes dumb bloatware

The HP Z2 Mini G4 is an ultrasmall workstation PC, cramming workstation-level components and ISV-certified graphics into a desktop PC that's smaller than some books. Equipped with a beefy 6-core Intel Xeon E-2176G processor, 32GB of RAM and Nvidia Quadro P1000 graphics, the Z2 Mini easily handles workloads that other mini PCs struggle with, and is certified to work with a variety of mission-critical programs, from vendors like Autodesk, Avid, Siemens, Solidworks and Vectorworks.

Lenovo ThinkCentre M710q Tiny

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Lenovo ThinkCentre M710q Tiny

Best Office Mini PC

Size (Inches): 7.05 x 7.20 x 1.36 inches | Weight: 2.91 pounds | CPU : Intel Core i5-7500T | Storage: 256GB SSD | Geekbench 3 Score: 10,007

Compact design
Plenty of ports
Strong performance
Integrated graphics only

The Lenovo ThinkCentre M710q Tiny desktop puts business-grade productivity into a package that’s smaller than a paperback book. It offers all sorts of business-friendly features into it’s small, square chassis, with plenty of ports, speedy Wi-Fi, and options to add an optical drive or even transform the mini PC into an All-in-One desktop using Lenovo’s Tiny-in-One monitors. The small size belies the capabilities inside, with configurations that offer up to an Intel Core i7 processor, as much as 32GB of memory, choices of HDD or SSD storage (with Opal-compliant options), and accessories for added functionality.

Acer Chromebox CXI3

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Acer Chromebox CXI3

Best Chrome Desktop

Size (Inches): 5.9 x 5.9 x 1.6 | Weight: 1.2 pounds | CPU : Intel Core i5-8250U | Storage: 64GB SSD | Geekbench 3 Score: N/A

Compact design can be mounted or stashed out of sight
Includes plenty of ports
Has excellent performance
Runs cool
Limitations of Chrome OS
High price

The Acer Chromebox CXI3 may be the best desktop version of Chrome OS available. Made for educational and professional use, the Chromebox CXI3 delivers everything that’s great about Chrome – ease of use, simple security, and all the online capability you want – in a mini PC that boasts plenty of ports, multiple mounting options, and speedy performance. Plus, it’s cheaper than any similarly equipped Windows machine.

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

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Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

Best for Tinkerers

Size (Inches): 3.4 x 2.2 x 0.4 | Weight: 1.6 ounces | CPU : ARM Cortex A72 | Storage: No onboard storage | Geekbench 3 Score: N/A

Significantly more powerful than past models
USB 3.0 ports
supports dual 4K video output
Convenient USB Type-C power
Not compatible with older Raspberry Pi cases
Potential compatibility issues with some USB Type-C power cables
Software compatibility is hit or miss

The Raspberry Pi ushered in a new era of DIY tech, and the latest model, the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, pushes that to new heights with a more powerful processor, 4K video output and an improved part selection. The latest model, the $35 Raspberry Pi 4 Model B offers enormous value for projects ranging from simple to complex, from its enhanced processing and graphics to offering broad compatibility with older accessories. Whether you buy it alone or in a kit, the Raspberry Pi is hard to beat.