Some of the most impressive technology around can be found in the best mini PCs, which shrink the bulky desktop computer into a size small enough to hide behind your TV or slip into a pocket.
We test each mini PC we review to get a clear picture of how well it performs, what uses it's best suited to and what sort of capability you get for the price. These tests include synthetic benchmarks to measure system speed and graphics capability, as well as number crunching with large data sets to measure processing power in a way that can be easily compared across a wide variety of mini PC systems.
- Want something bigger? Check out the best all-in-one computers
- Need a screen? We've got the best gaming monitors of 2020
From storage speed to gaming chops, we test every aspect of a mini PC's performance to tell you exactly what it can do, and what it does well. Most importantly, we use each mini PC for several hours, trying out its unique features and any preloaded software.
And new mini PCs are on the way, with the recently announced Intel NUC 9 'Ghost Canyon' gaming miniPC. And check out our recent review of the Asus ProArt PA90 workstation, one of the most powerful mini PCs we've ever tested.
The best mini PCs to buy now
1. 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
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.
Read our full Apple Mac mini (2018) review.
2. 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
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.
Read our full Azulle Byte3 Mini PC review.
3. 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
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. It's the best mini PC you can get for gaming without compromise.
Read our full Intel Hades Canyon NUC review.
4. 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
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, and the best mini PC you can slip into your pocket.
Read our full Azulle Access3 review.
5. 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
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. It's also the best mini PC you can get for workstation performance while maintaining that compact size.
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.
Read our full HP Z2 Mini G4 review.
6. 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
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.
It's the best mini PC for most office users. 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.
Read our full Lenovo ThinkCentre M710q Tiny review.
7. 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
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.
For one of the best mini PC designs without the bloat of Windows, there's no beating the Acer Chromebox CXI3. Plus, it’s cheaper than any similarly equipped Windows machine.
Read our full Acer Chromebox CXI3 review.
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
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.
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.
Read our full Raspberry Pi 4 Model B review.
What do mini PCs cost?
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.