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.
See all of our recommendations for the best mini PCs below.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Small and mighty
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.