The best mini PCs in 2024

Best mini PCs: Quick Menu

The best mini PCs might be tiny compared to standard-sized rigs but they pack enough power to perform a wide range of tasks — including web browsing, content creation and gaming. These minuscule computers are not only more convenient than enormous PC towers, but they're also super quiet. For some people, mini PCs could be the perfect personal computer.

Mini PCs range from smaller desktops to stick PCs you can slip into your pocket. Mini PCs also leverage the small, energy-efficient components of laptops to provide you with a surprising amount 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.

Below, we've listed the best mini PCs for everything from home entertainment to gaming and professional workstations. We'll continue updating and adding to this list as we receive new units to review.

Disclaimer

Editor's note: We've called in a few new mini PCs to add to this list so stay tuned for that update.

The quick list

Here's a quick overview of the best mini PCs you can buy right now based on our testing and reviews. Even if some of the machines listed aren't the latest models available, they still provide plenty of power for whatever you're working on.

Tony Polanco author photo
Tony Polanco

Tony is a senior staff writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iPadOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on Twitter. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.

The best mini PCs to buy now

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The best mini PC overall

Mac mini M2 on a desk

(Image credit: Future)

Specifications

Size (Inches): 7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4
Weight: 2.6-2.8 pounds
CPU: Apple M2/M2 Pro
Storage: 256GB - 8TB SSD
Geekbench 5 Score: 15,038

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful, especially with M2 Pro
+
Small, quiet and looks good on a desk
+
$100 cheaper than predecessor

Reasons to avoid

-
Not user-repairable or upgradable

Apple outdid itself with the Mac mini M2, a pint-sized powerhouse that’s cheaper and faster than its predecessor thanks to the speedy M2 chip. The option to upgrade it with an M2 Pro sweetens the deal, turning this into a decent Mac for gaming or light photo/video editing. Best of all, it barely takes up any space on your desk.

Of course, you get more than just speed when you pay for Pro: the entry-level Mac mini with M2 Pro is not only more powerful, but it also has more memory and storage than the entry-level Mac mini, as well as more ports. It’s a great mini PC for Mac fans, one that showcases macOS Ventura to good effect. It also looks great on almost any desk setup. A perfect balance of elegance and power.

Read our full Mac mini M2 review.

The best mini PC for creatives

Apple Mac Studio on desk

(Image credit: Future)

Specifications

Size (Inches): 7.7 x 7.7 x 3.7 inches
Weight: 5.9/7.9 pounds (M1 Max/M1 Ultra)
CPU: Apple M1 Max - M1 Ultra
Storage: 256GB - 2TB
Geekbench 5 Score: 23,931

Reasons to buy

+
Blazing-fast performance from M1 Ultra
+
Great design
+
Plenty of ports
+
Whisper-quiet

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive for what you get, especially at the high end

The Mac Studio can deliver more power than any Apple computer on the market save the Mac Pro, and it packs it all into a quiet, well-designed chassis that looks good on a desk. It's bigger than the Mac mini, but still discreet enough for any desk setup.

As much as we love seeing Apple silicon put to good use in MacBooks, where its power efficiency helps deliver some of the best battery life in the business, the Mac Studio with M1 Ultra proves that Apple’s chips have the chops to compete with the best desktop PC silicon from Intel and AMD. You're not sacrificing power with this small computer.

Since this is Apple, you’ll have to pay a premium. The Mac Studio’s $1,999 starting price isn’t too bad for what it offers, and that gets you the entry-level model with the same M1 Max chip that's in the 2021 MacBook Pros, which means this mini-computer packs a serious punch. To get a Mac Studio with Apple's top-of-the-line M1 Ultra chip will cost you at least $4k, though it's worth it if you want one of the fastest, most powerful Macs on the market.

Read our full Mac Studio review.

The best mini PC for tinkerers

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

(Image credit: Future)

Specifications

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

Reasons to buy

+
Significantly more powerful than past models
+
Supports dual 4K video output, USB 3.0 and USB Type-C for power

Reasons to avoid

-
Not compatible with older Raspberry Pi cases
-
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. This $35 Raspberry Pi 4 Model B offers enormous value for projects ranging from simple to complex, from its enhanced processing and graphics to broad compatibility with older accessories.

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.

Since our review, the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B has been updated with a new model that has 8GB of RAM, significantly improving on the 2GB memory of the base model. If you can, get that model over the one we reviewed since it'll run significantly faster.

If the Rasberry Pi is sold out, you can buy the Raspberry Pi 400 All-in-One.

Read our full Raspberry Pi 4 Model B review.

The best mini PC for the office

Dell OptiPlex 7070 Ultra review

(Image credit: Dell)

Specifications

Size (Inches): 10.08 x 3.78 by 1.1
Weight: 1.16 pounds
CPU: Intel Core i7-8665U
Storage: 512GB SSD
Geekbench 4 Score: 16,684

Reasons to buy

+
Great performance
+
Mini PC meets All-in-One desktop
+
Excellent port selection
+
Dizzying number of configurations and coverage plans

Reasons to avoid

-
Locks you into a new, untried ecosystem
-
Setup is a pain

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 the OptiPlex 7070 is sold out, you can purchase the 7090 for $889 at Dell.

Read our full Dell OptiPlex 7070 Ultra review.

How to choose the best mini PC

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.

How we test the best mini PCs

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.

For performance, we use the Geekbench processor test to measure a system's overall processing capabilities. We run custom spreadsheets to see how long it takes to handle large data sets and number-crunching tasks. We also test the file transfer speeds, copying large files to see how long a system takes to copy multimedia files, documents and other content.

To test the graphics capability, we run a number of benchmark tests from 3DMark. When a system has the capability, we'll also run individual game tests and the SteamVR performance test to see how capable a system is at handling the demands of modern gaming.

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.

Tony Polanco
Computing Writer

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on X/Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.