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Best Mini PCs 2019

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)


Forget about clearing off desk space for your next desktop PC. Today, you can get a powerful desktop PC the size of a peanut butter sandwich. 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. 

Among the best mini PCs we've reviewed are the Apple Mac mini (2018) and the Azulle Access3 stick PC.

See all of our recommendations below, and also check out our picks for the best gaming desktop PCs and best laptops if you want more power.

Latest News and Updates (August 2019)

  • The Dell OptiPlex 7070 Ultra is a new spin on the mini PC and All-In-One designs, thanks to a modular set up that hides a potent mini PC in the stand.
  • The Azulle Access3 is our new favorite stick PC, updating the Azulle Access line with more powerful processing and faster ports.
  • Chromebook maker CTL has announced a powerful new Chromebox that packs an Intel Core i7 processor and up to 32GB of RAM to deliver professional-grade power for business users. The new CTL 4K Core i7 Chromebox Workstation comes with a 4K monitor and starts at $799.

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.

Our Favorite Mini PCs

The Mac that helped introduce the mini PC is back and better than ever. The Apple Mac mini (2018) has a new look and excellent performance. The new design stays cooler, runs quieter, and offers more power, putting up impressive performance results despite using an 8th-generation Intel Core i3 processor. Putting better-equipped systems to shame, the new Mac mini (2018) is a no-brainer for any Mac mini user looking to upgrade, and a smart choice for anyone else.

The Azulle Byte3 is a perfect fit for cord cutters and streaming fanatics, sinc ethe compact mini PC is small enough to add to an home theater system, but capable of streaming 4K video without hiccups. The fanless mini PC runs silent, the packs an Intel Apollo Lake Celeron processor (perfect for streaming, but not for multitasking productivity) and lets you add storage after purchase. It even comes with a slick remote control for easy control from the couch.

The Azulle Access3 is the best we've seen with the stick PC design. The tiny PC has an Intel Gemini Lake Celeron N4100 processor, giving it the power to run your day-to-day apps and browse the web with capable comfort, and a built in micro SD card slot lets you bolster the included 32GB of eMMC storage. But small touches like a positionable Wi-Fi antenna, built-in Gigabit Ethernet port and speedy USB 3.0 ports make this one of the best mini PCs around, regardless of the design.

If you're more concerned with getting online than with having a full Windows experience, consider a Chromebox. Built around Google's Chrome operating system – the same OS used on Chromebooks – it uses web apps like Google Drive and Google Docs instead of traditional software. As an inexpensive way to get online and get things done, Chromeboxes are a great option. Our favorite is the Acer Chromebox CXI3.

Want something for hardcore gaming? Check out  the Intel Hades Canyon NUC because of its compact, console-like design; speedy performance; and support for the fastest solid-state drives. It's its Intel Core i7-8009G/AMD Radeon RX Vega M GH hybrid chip is not only up for gaming, it can even handle VR.

For the office, there’s the Lenovo ThinkCentre M710q Tiny, which puts a whole lot of desktop hardware into its compact 7 x 7-inch chassis. The little work PC offers plenty of configuration options, several handy accessories and even the option to turn it into an All-in-One PC with Lenovo’s Tiny-in-One monitors.

If you need even more horsepower, the HP Z2 Mini G4 packs a workstation PC into a compact size. Built to support AutoCAD and other demanding applications, the Z2 Mini boasts an Intel Xeon processor and Vendor-certified Nvidia Quadro graphics. It's the most powerful mini PC we've reviewed, and the smallest workstation we've seen.

Best Mini PC Overall

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.

Best for Home Theater

Azulle Btye3 Fanless Mini Desktop PC

(Image credit: Future)

Azulle Btye3 Fanless Mini Desktop PC

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 a mini PC with a compact fanless design that will easily fit into your home entertainment setup, providing a great tool for media streaming and 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 NUC (Hades Canyon)

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.

Best Stick PC

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.

Best Mini Workstation

HP Z2 Mini G4

(Image credit: Future)

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.

Best Office Mini PC

Lenovo ThinkCentre M710q Tiny

(Image credit: Future)

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.

Best Chrome Desktop

Acer Chromebox CXI3

(Image credit: Future)

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.

Best for VR

Asus VivoPC X

(Image credit: Future)

Asus VivoPC X

Best for VR

Size (Inches): 10.2 x 11 x 3 inches | Weight: 5 pounds | CPU: Intel Core i5-7300HQ | Storage: 1TB SATA hard drive | Geekbench 3 Score: 10,176

Wonderfully compact design
Affordable
VR-ready
Performance trails that of some competitors
Limited configurations
Can't upgrade components

If you want to experience virtual reality but don't have the space (or budget) for a huge tower, the Asus VivoPC X is for you. This slick mini desktop will barely make a dent in your desk or entertainment center, and its Core i5 processor and Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics card are more than capable of handling mainstream gaming and VR. Priced at just $799, the VivoPC X is a great starting point for folks looking to get VR ready without spending over $1000 on a desktop.

Best for Tinkerers

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

(Image credit: Future)

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

Best for Tinkerers

Size (Inches): 3.4 x 2.2 x 0.7 | Weight: 1.8 ounces | CPU : ARM Cortex A53 | Storage: No onboard storage | Geekbench 3 Score: N/A

Expanded processing power and connectivity
Flexible design is great for projects
Free software
Great for makers and students
Some basic parts needed unless you buy in a kit
Linux and DIY features have a learning curve

We're in a golden age for DIY tech, and the Raspberry Pi is a big part of that. The latest model, the $35 Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ offers a tremendous value for projects ranging from simple to complex, offering more processing power, faster networking speeds, and better flexibility for add-ons than ever before. Whether you buy it alone or in a kit, the Raspberry Pi is hard to beat.

We put each mini PC we review through a series of tests to determine how it performs. Synthetic benchmarks Geekbench 4 and 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited provide scores that represent overall system speed and graphics prowess, respectively.

Our real-world Spreadsheet Macro test matches 20,000 names with their addresses to demonstrate productivity performance, and our File Transfer Test measures the hard drive or SSD's capabilities by copying 4.97GB of mixed media files. To see how well a mini PC plays games, we run Dirt 3 and other 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. If a system is sold as bare-bones (i.e., lacking RAM, storage or OS), we install 8GB of memory, a compatible SSD and, where appropriate, the latest shipping version of Windows (currently Windows 10).