If you are on the market, looking for some of the best budget mini desktop PCs, check out our post.
A mini PC serves two purposes, i.e., it boasts performance comparable to a decent laptop and offers upgradeability relative to a full-size desktop PC. These benefits and many more are packed in the size of a book. The lightweight and portable design make no compromise with the performance.
Also Read: Best Budget Fanless Radeon Desktop Graphics Cards
Generally, mini PCs operate pretty quickly for most tasks except high-end gaming. Contrasting to some laptops, they are equipped with all vital ports you may require to connect multiple monitors, mice, and keyboards. The market is packed with plenty of mini PCs, but the ProDesk 600 G5 from HP provides superb performance, comes with plenty of ports, and is affordable.
Related Reading: Best Fanless Laptops
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The mini desktop PCs powered by the Ryzen Embedded processors feature outstanding graphics, 4K multi-display capability, and an IoT-ready ecosystem. These PCs are widely used to turbocharge the media, industrial, and enterprise space through energy-efficient computing in a small form factor. Being complete with RAM, OS, and memory installed, these PCs can be used readily out of the box. Before looking at the details of the best Ryzen mini-desktop PC, let’s first look at the reason to use a mini-desktop PC.
Equipped with a high-performance AMD Ryzen processor, this mini PC is persistently powerful. It fulfills your expectations regarding performance and durability. You can enjoy smooth web browsing, video watching, office tasks, etc. It is pretty small and quiet. It weighs approx. 1 kg, it feels convenient to carry around, or you can carry it in your pocket. A silent turbo cooler and the aluminum alloy body lead to efficient heat dissipation. It keeps the mini PC working steadily for a long time.
Featuring a compact form factor motherboard, this mini desktop PC supports an AM4-socket APU (accelerated processing unit from AMD). The use of an APU implies that your graphics are integrated over the CPU. Moreover, these graphics are competent in streaming web browsing content and videos.
One of the noteworthy aspects is it supports three simultaneous display outputs. You can extend your desktop by simply multiplying your screen area. Through support for multiple monitors, you will enjoy an immersive gaming experience. Besides, workstations turn out to be more practical, and you would become more productive. With Radeon Graphics and high-speed memory, DeskMini presents an excellent 3D performance.
An aluminum MOSFET heat sink delivers efficient heat dissipation. So, it promises system stability. There is no operating system included. You have to install and activate it in compliance with the acceptable EULA terms.
If you want a compact, fanless, high-performance desktop PC, then go for the ML100G-40. It is an industrial mini-desktop PC equipped with AMD R1505G or V1605B processor. The quad-core processing leads to high-performance output. Moreover, it comes with dual LAN, Bluetooth/WiFi support, and a long embedded lifecycle.
This Baiwei mini PC is famous for its versatility. You can use it for office, multimedia, entertainment, education, monitoring host, digital signage, etc. It presents a lifelike and ultra-clear image experience. The central component is the AMD Ryen 5 3550H processor.
It is pre-installed with Windows 10 Pro (64-bit) and also supports Linux. When it comes to wireless connectivity, it supports 2.4 GHz/5 GHz dual-band WiFi, 1000 Mbps LAN, and Bluetooth 4.2. The compact size saves space around.
This Barebone mini PC is well-known for supporting up to 8K resolution @ 60 Hz or a maximum of 4 displays concurrently (up to 4K resolution @ 60 Hz). The visuals appear lifelike. Various hardware interface options are 3 USB 3.2 Gen 1, Type-A ports, 2 USB 3.2 Gen 2, Type-C port, HDMI. Card reader slots are SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC.
Enjoy robust wireless connectivity with Bluetooth 5 or Intel Wi-Fi 6. Dual-band antennas facilitate strong wireless reception. An IR receiver port is available for remote control. The dual-microphone supports Cortana. Accessories included are the Kensington lock slot, VESA mount kit, and 65W power adapter.
Asus presents this Barebone PC equipped with AMD Ryzen 3 4300U processor. This processor delivers fast yet quiet performance. The support for up to 8K resolution denotes a lifelike visual experience. The lightweight and compact design allow users to set it up anywhere. Also, you can mount it on the rear of a display. The contemporary and space-saving design features sleek lines and a brushed finish. This is why the PN50 complements well with most home and office decors.
It delivers powerful performance for a broad range of home and business applications. Any demanding workloads accomplish easily. It is highly suitable for applications where traditional PCs cannot work. You can also use it for home-theater setups and digital signage.
The unique aspect to note about this mini PC is it can operate at various rotational speeds with multiple temperatures. Hence, the temperature of the entire machine is lower. The compact form factor and elegant design complement most decors. The metal frame design enhances durability. It is easy to set up, upgrade, and configure. Various scenarios where you can use it are office, gaming, media center, education, digital signage, etc. It is pre-installed with Windows 10 Pro (64-bit) for a smooth user experience.
Power consumption is less than some of its equivalent alternatives. The intelligent fan leads to efficient airflow and quiet operation overall. Hardware interfaces it supports are USB 3.1, USB Type-C, HDMI, Ethernet, and DisplayPort.
COOFUN designs this mini PC to drive a maximum of 3 video displays. All the display outputs will boast astounding clarity. The display outputs are delivered through DisplayPort, HDMI, and USB-C output. Generally, this mini PC is broadly used for office applications, image editing, light games, mini servers, media centers, and more.
Being small in size, it is hassle-free to set up and configure. Compared to equivalent alternatives, the power consumption is less. Due to the metal frame design, the durability is excellent. Moreover, the VESA mount is available for easy installation on the rear of monitors or TVs. A large air outlet is available for heat dissipation. Ultimately, it boosts the performance.
Beelink equipped this mini gaming PC with the 12 nm lithography technology and AMD Ryzen 5 3550H. The mentioned processor and technology are responsible for extraordinary performance. The fast version lets the PC deal with intensive computing tasks very smoothly. So, this PC is recommended for multitasking. This PC is highly suitable for applications like image editing, programming, browsing, and light games.
It facilitates multi-screen interaction between a phone and a PC. So, you obtain visual effects with great clarity. The same presents you with the ultimate gaming experience. The PC is pre-installed with Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); it also supports Linux OS.
For heat dissipation, it comes with anti-dust technology, dual fans, and 3 copper tubes. The entire operation is quiet.
Owing to its fast performance, the X400 can deal with intensive computing tasks and multitasking. It is broadly suitable for browsing, movie watching, light games, image editing, programming, etc. The heat dissipation takes place from the aluminum heat sink and the quiet fan.
Dual displays support 4K resolution at 60 Hz. These displays are driven through DisplayPort and HDMI 2.0 ports. It is possible to connect 2 displays and enjoy smooth navigation simultaneously. This feature lets you expand multiple workspaces for a boost in productivity.
The storage space supports up to 2 TB, makes sure all apps run smoothly, and you can watch huge media files clearly. The pack contains an HDMI cable, a power adapter, a US manual, and a mounting bracket.
The Ryzen 5 Pro processor in the UM250 leads to fast performance. It can handle intense computing tasks for smooth performance and multitasking. For any PC enthusiast, this mini-PC is an attractive choice. Perceive superior performance, whether it is YouTube video watching or content creation, or gaming.
With an EC control intelligent fan, the PC automatically detects the cooling state. Accordingly, it varies the CPU temperature. Moreover, this fan t saves energy and avoids thermal runaway resultant of hours of work. A list of included accessories is an HDMI cable, a power adapter, a DP cable, an instruction manual, and a mounting bracket.
The Ryzen 5 Pro processor in this HP mini-PC provides enough power and responsiveness to boost your productivity. You can edit videos and photos much faster than ever. The file transfer speed is also great. 3 display ports facilitate the easy setup of 3 monitors.
This super-small PC is super quiet. It is possible to mount behind a monitor before mounting to a wall. Alternatively, you can plug it into a wall-mounted TV. Since the overall size is compact, it stays concealed. It is easy to put in those spaces where wiring is challenging to get to. The well-built outer casing offers enough durability. The box contains a USB mouse, a keyboard, and a power adapter.
At an affordable price, you benefit from efficient performance with this Gigabyte mini-PC. It works quietly and comes in a small form factor. Multiple internal expansion ports are available to make sure the PC becomes suitable for various use cases.
obtain high-performance output, whether for professional tasks or gaming, with this Beelink mini desktop PC. It comprises all features of an old desktop computer. Moreover, it can work with office equipment, monitoring equipment, a server, a projector, TV, a monitor, and more.
There is adequate memory to enable multitasking, perform video editing, play games, play 4K movies, etc. With the 2 fans and 3 copper tubes, the heat dissipation is quite fast. You will hardly hear any noise. Good heat dissipation leads to reliable performance and saving in energy.
Boasting 57 W high-performance output, this Beelink mini-PC is a fast, power-saving mini PC. You can use it for various scenarios like gaming, office tasks, entertainment, etc. Don’t worry about heating issues since it comes with 2 fans and 3 copper tubes. The entire operation is quiet.
You can realize multi-screen interaction between a mobile phone and a PC. During this interaction, the phone immediately clones to the PC. Moreover, it is possible to manage the mobile phone interface from the PC screen directly. The real-time interaction and seamless switching let you work smoothly and boost your work productivity.
The GTR PRO mini-PC also excels in terms of audio performance. It presents Game-Hi-Fi sound with the built-in ESS Hi-Fi decoder chip. This chip is implemented with ESS 9018 Audio 2.0 channel decoding to offer Hi-Fi lossless audio quality.
GTR mini-PC from Beelink not just excels at processor performance but also in terms of visuals. You can notice lifelike visuals on its quadruple displays because GPU is the Radeon Vega 8 Graphics.
This mini-PC supports 4K HD resolution to let you enjoy TV watching, video playback, 4K web surfing, home theater, and more. Use the Type-C interface, DP port, and dual HDMI ports to connect 4 monitors simultaneously. Connecting displays this way reduce waiting time. Besides, the PC can manage multiple tasks and windows simultaneously. 2 fans and 3 copper tubes are present for heat dissipation. There is no noise during the operation. A wall-mounted bracket is available for ease of installation. The small form factor saves space around and enhances the decor of the desktop.
Without consuming much space, these Ryzen mini-desktop PCs guarantee high-performance output. Most of them operate quietly and are suitable for diverse applications.
The qualities like decent performance, ample ports, noiseless fan, and upgradability make this mini PC the best one on the list. It comes with a 3-year warranty which makes it a suitable choice for a lot of people. Everything you expect from a mini PC is included in this device.
HP sells different mini PCs equipped with a similar fundamental design. Examples of these PCs are EliteDesk 800 and ProDesk 400. However, the ProDesk 600 G5 provides the most delicate blend of price and functionalities. The front panel is equipped with a USB Type-C port that is useful to connect new accessories. Moreover, 2 Type-A ports are included for connecting USB drives and old cables. At the rear, there are 3 DisplayPort connectors. Hence, you can effortlessly use multiple monitors.
The built-fan operates quietly and is quite durable even when subjected to rigorous workloads. The fan’s noise is hardly perceptible during everyday use. It is audible only when you encode a video, play a game, or perform tasks that need intensive resources. You simply need to detach a thumbscrew for accessing its M.2 storage as well as two memory slots. By doing this, you can make easy upgrades in the future.
Generally, the configuration we recommend costs approx. $800. There is a 6-core Intel i5-9500T, 8 GB of RAM, and 256 GB of SSD. The mentioned processor functions rapidly for day-to-day tasks like browsing, video and photo editing, and working on documents. Furthermore, there are lots of ports available for USB monitors and external accessories. It is pretty simple to open and upgrade. The device comes with more pre-installed bloatware compared to the other models. But, this is a manageable problem to resolve.
When it comes to professional image and video editing, this mini PC works reliably. To use software like professional Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, or Premiere work, it is recommended to upgrade it to 16 GB of RAM and purchasing a larger SSD. You can buy an external SSD from HP or install it yourself if you wish to save money.
The assortment of different ports suggests that there are fewer odds of using converters or hubs. At the front, there is a USB Type-C port and a USB 3.1 Type-A port. The front also consists of headphones and line-in jacks. There are 4 USB 3.1 Type-A ports, 3 DisplayPort connections, and a Gigabit Ethernet port at the rear. When you go for the built-to-order version of this mini PC, there will be one of such DisplayPorts removed. Other options include VGA, HDMI, or USB-C. When you choose the USB-C port, it is possible to connect a USB-C power adapter (rated 65 W and higher) or USB-C monitor for operating this mini PC—no need to use the contained power brick.
All the EliteDesk and ProDesk models from HP are simple to upgrade. You simply need to undo a large thumbscrew on the rear to detach the top of the system. By doing this, you will reveal the majority of its upgradable parts like 2 M.2 storage slots, 2 memory slots, the Bluetooth/WiFi card, and the third DisplayPort (optional). The model we suggest is devoid of the cable or bracket required to set up an SSD or 2.5-inch SATA hard drive. However, you can add it to the built-to-order model. Consequently, when you do this, it becomes a mini PC capable of accommodating 3 drives.
Discussing the power consumption, it is identical to that found in other Windows mini PCs already tested. In the idle state, the power consumption is 8 Watts, whereas its peak value is 60 Watts while encoding videos.
In the ProDesk 600 G5, HP equips plenty of preinstalled software. It is not possible to find this much number of preinstalled software in other Windows PCs. Typically, the users need not care about system update apps, business-class apps, and customer support. The uninstall process is easy.
A Thunderbolt 3 port or SD card reader is absent. Whether you want any one of them or both, go for the Intel NUC (runner-up pick in this list). However, if you only require an SD card reader and need to use it infrequently, a USB card reader works well.
Intel’s NUC is made compact than the ProDesk 600 G5. The performance is quick in our testing. However, we preferred it less since there are fewer ports and the fan makes noise.
Despite the small size, it is equipped with a quad-core processor. The small size suggests that it cannot accommodate lots of ports on the front o rear. Moreover, during regular and intense use in our testing, its fan noise was loud and noticeable. In our testing, this is the only Windows mini PC we tested. It comes with a micro SD card reader and a Thunderbolt 3 port. We endorse the NUC’s tall version that adds 0.5 inches to the height of the PC and is equipped with a 2.5-inch 1 TB SATA hard drive as well as a 256 GB M.2 SSD. The mentioned SSD is responsible for the quick booting of apps. Moreover, the ample storage space of the hard drive lets you store huge video files and other media files. If you don’t require the additional internal drive space, go for the NUC10i5FNKPA.
Though it has fewer display outputs and USB ports, it has few ports which are not found in several other Windows mini PCs. For example, it comes with a Thunderbolt 3 port (to connect high-speed storage or graphic docks) and an SD card reader.
Initially, we considered that the quad-core Core i5-10210U processor from NUC could not offer identical performance to the 6-core processors found in the other mini PCs already tested. The performance observed was fast in our video encoding tests, benchmarks, and tested games. Keep in mind that similar to nearly all other mini PCs, the NUC is not designed to play anything much more challenging than Minecraft). It suggests that, like the ProDesk 600 G5, this NUC mini PC is excellent for tasks like document editing, web browsing, and photo and video editing that does not need dedicated graphics.
Since this NUC mini PC is not as spacious as the ProDesk 600 G5, there is limited space to accommodate ports.
At the front, it comes with a USB Type-C port, a USB 3.1 Type-A port, and a headphone jack. On the left, there is an SD card reader. Looking at the rear, it comes with additional 2 USB 3.1 Type-A ports, an HDMI port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Thunderbolt 3 port. When the situation is such that you want to connect plenty of accessories and want to use 3 monitors, this mini PC is a good choice. If you are using a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, with the need to connect single or two monitors, then this NUC is acceptable to use. Contrasting our Chromebox pick and the ProDesk 600 G5, the NUC cannot be operated through a USB-C power adapter. Even if you have a USB-C monitor, it cannot power up. You will need its bunch of power bricks.
At the base, there are 4 Phillips-head screws that you have to unscrew. You need to do this to reveal its M.2 storage slot, 2 RAM slots, and a 2.5-inch drive bay. There is only one M.2 slot, unlike that in the ProDesk 600 G5. Furthermore, the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth component cannot be upgraded. When you go for the Intel NUC10i5FNKPA, the size is 0.5 inches smaller, and space is absent for the 2.5-inch drive. However, it is preferable to have the option to append more storage in the future.
The fan is louder than that in the ProDesk 600 G5. It rotates more often for everyday tasks. If you work in a room with excessive ambient noise or if you listen to music, you will not notice the fan’s noise. However, when you work in a quiet room, the fan’s noise seems irritating. The Windows 10 it comes with is bloatware-free. Hence, there is no need to wipe off harmful software you would never use. For peace of mind, it comes with a 3-year warranty. Typically, the power consumption is the same as found on the other Windows mini PCs being tested. It lies in the range of 5 to 7 Watts in the idle desktop state. The maximum limit is 64 Watts while encoding a video.
CTL’s Chromebox is equipped with the same ports and processor as other reasonably priced Chromeboxes. What makes it stand out from the crowd is that it comes with 4 times more storage space than cheap Chromeboxes. You can consider the addition of some extra memory to boost its speed.
With the inclusion of Google’s Chrome OS, this mini desktop PC is faster than a Windows PC falling in a similar price range. It works excellently for movies, web browsing, and fundamental word processing. Contrasting a Mac or Windows PC, mostly a Chrome OS device could not use the desktop apps. The app you use on a Chrome OS device for nearly all tasks is nothing but the Chrome web browser. It is mandatory to connect to the Internet for the majority of the tasks. There are ample ports available, and Chrome OS deals with 4 GB memory efficiently than Windows. If you spend about $20 on an extra 4 GB memory stick, it lets it operate efficiently. The majority of the people possessing a Phillips-head screwdriver must be capable of handling this kind of upgrade.
If your budget for buying a mini PC is less than $500, it is better to go for the one that executes Google’s Chrome OS. This operating system runs efficiently on low-end processors and PCs with less memory. Since this OS depends on cloud storage, using a small SSD will fulfill the storage needs. This CTL Chromebox is our favorite pick for cheap mini PCs because it operates quickly for fundamental tasks. Moreover, the ample ports and SSD space of 128 GB make it a preferred choice compared to Chromeboxes available in this price range.
The Chrome OS comes with some limitations. Generally, the Chromeboxes and Chromebooks are decent computers for internet browsing, watching videos on YouTube, browsing social networks, using web apps, etc. Furthermore, they are easier to use than a Windows PC. There is an absence of bloatware. The installation of updates is quick in the background. However, you cannot operate full desktop versions of some apps such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop. Though Chrome OS can execute the Android versions of such apps directly from the Google Play store, the point is, they are not so much functional as their desktop competitors. Occasionally, they are uncomfortable using a mouse and keyboard. Apart from that, Chrome OS too provides trial support for Linux apps. But keep in mind that their performance is not excellent. Besides, several of the complex desktop apps not found in Chrome OS are also absent from Linux.
The incorporated dual-core Intel Celeron processor is significantly slower than other 4-core or 6-core processors, which we endorse in other picks. However, it is quick enough for everyday tasks. Typically, you will notice the sluggish speed for tasks like editing photos and videos and gaming. If you frequently open plenty of browser tabs simultaneously and notice the sluggish behavior in your PC’s performance, use the RAM slot. There is an open RAM slot whose memory can be enhanced to 8 GB through a Phillips-head screwdriver and an extra stick of RAM available for $20.
Another specialty of this CTL Chromebox is it provides a nice assortment of ports. At the front, you will find 2 USB 3.1 Type-A ports, a microSD card reader, and a headphone jack. On the other hand, the rear section comprises a USB 3.1 Type-A port, a USB-C port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, 2 USB 2.0 Type-A ports, and a power jack. Furthermore, a power brick is available so that users can use it to drive the Chromebox. However, if you have a USB-C monitor or third-party USB-C charger capable of offering approx. 65 W of power, then use any of these options to plug the Chromebox.
Looking at the physical appearance, the plastic exterior in black does not seem appealing. The practical design of this Chromebox will be helpful for anybody willing to have an efficient computer. The noise from the fan is not perceptible even when connected to heavy loads. Moreover, the processor does not work so quickly, so it does not produce excess heat. It is easy to make the upgrade. Initially, remove the edges of the rubber strips present at the base. By doing this, you will reveal the 4 Phillips-head screws. Next, expose the plastic bottom and discard 4 more screws from the VESA mounting bracket of the PC. Finally, pick it up to render the M.2 SSD and RAM slots.
Our Windows picks to present a warranty period of 3 years. But CTL only offers a 1-year warranty on this device. It is acceptable considering the price.
Belonging from the acclaimed brand Apple, it is easy to accept that this Mac Mini is an expensive device. Though Apple does not often update it with the latest processors, it is efficient enough for those who insist on macOS.
The Apple Mac mini (2018) is a perfect device for you if you prefer macOS. Recognized as the base model, it is equipped with a quad-core Intel Core i3-8100B CPU. It has built-in RAM of 8 GB and a storage space of 256 GB SSD. For those willing to get a 6-core processor like the one found in the ProDesk 600 G5, it is better to go for the Mac mini’s core i5 version. It comes with 512 GB of storage. It is bigger than the Windows mini PC already tested by us. It operates quietly, and instead of a power brick, it possesses a power supply.
The Mac mini contains 4 Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports. This number of these ports is not found in any other mini PCs which we tested. Additionally, it comes with 2 USB 3.1 ports, an HDMI, an Ethernet port, and a headphone jack. Contrasting several of its Windows competitors, the Mac mini is devoid of redundant preinstalled software. Moreover, the macOS is equipped with practical software for editing video, photos, audio, software for documents editing, etc. Hence, the setup is simpler than Windows; you can start using it immediately. But after you buy it, it is difficult to upgrade. It is difficult to work on the DIY memory upgrades, and you cannot make internal storage upgrades. Consider these aspects before purchase.
The 3 vital characteristics of this device are ample memory, ample storage space, and quick processors. Though the upgrades are costly, with some struggles, you can add memory on your own. When you want more power, it is recommended to buy the Apple mini PC with a 6-core i5 processor and with 512 GB storage space.
Generally, this Mac mini flawlessly deals with tasks like simultaneously opening lots of browser tabs in Chrome, working on spreadsheets, and photo editing. We found that it is more efficient than a MacBook Pro (2017) for basic computing with gradual use. Even when 10 applications are operating various tasks, the performance is uncompromised. There is the absence of a discrete GPU. Therefore, similar to the majority of the mini-PCs, it is not practical for games. The content creators need to consider an external GPU to accomplish complex video editing. Based on the software being in use, the Mac mini base model may make some noise.
The size is double that of an Intel NUC. The length, width, and height are respectively 7.7 inches, 7.7 inches, and 1.4 inches. VESA mounting options are absent. This is why it requires more space on a desk unless you use a third-party mount.
The connectivity options are famous as the most revolutionary mini PC from those we tested. There are 2 USB 3.1 Type-A ports, 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports, an HDMI 2.0, an Ethernet, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. Using the Thunderbolt 3 ports, the video editors can easily append an external GPU. It is easy to add more storage through a quick portable SSD.
The upgrade is not easy because Apple solders over the SSD. Make sure to make an upgrade all through the checkout process in case you want additional storage. The process of adding memory demands 16 steps with special tools. It is miserable, and we hope Apple streamlines this process.
The warranty period from Apple is 1 year. It is shorter than that provided by Intel, i.e., 3 years. But the warranty coverage from Apple is outstanding and fast for the majority of the repairs. Moreover, you can obtain in-person support from Apple Stores. Choose AppleCare+ for $100 to obtain 2 years additional warranty coverage.
Contrasting to nearly all Windows PCs, Apple does not set up any bloatware in macOS. The manufacturer has included excessive value through macOS and the corresponding stock apps. The same highlights the number for spreadsheets, Keynote for presentations, pages for word processing, and Garageband for music production. Right from unboxing to usage, this device is faster and easier to set up than the NUC or the ProDesk 600 G5.
The entire operation is noise-free. When you compare with the loud NUC, the fans of the Mac mini are hardly audible. The power consumption is lesser than other PCs involved in the test. The maximum power consumption is 13W in an idle state and approx—94W during video encoding.
The M1 chip is based on Apple’s implementation of an ARM-based CPU. It performs 3x better than its x86 counterparts and 6x integrated GPU performance. For deep learning algorithms, the CPU-assisted 16-core Neural Engine helped accelerate advanced machine learning code.
Go for this Intel mini PC if you intend to get your own memory, storage, and OS, at an affordable cost.
Whether you opt for explicit parts for your PC or there is no need for a Windows license, it is possible to save money through a barebones mini PC. This device contains a processor, but it is devoid of storage, memory, or OS. At nearly the same cost as the Intel NUC’s prebuilt version, you can purchase the barebones NUC10i5FNH. It comes with a 500 GB 3.2 NVMe SSD and 16 GB memory. These memory and storage are double that in pre-configured systems recommended by us. Moreover, there is support for Windows 10 licenses. Although it is not the finest option for everybody, it is easy to set up provided you have built or upgraded a PC earlier.
If you don’t intend to install your own memory, storage and dislike loading Windows, this Intel NUC mini PC is a suitable pick. Space is absent for SSD or a 2.5-inch hard drive, and therefore, the size is 0.5 inches shorter. The alternate names of this device are mini PC kits and barebones systems. When you invest in this device, you can save a considerable amount of money. There is an option to customize the components to place within, depending on the storage and memory you require.
Though you don’t have an extra SSD or copy of Windows, creating your own NUC significantly saves you money. The NUC10i5FNH presently comes at a price less than $700 suggesting that it is cheaper than the prebuilt system. At a reasonable price, it contains twice the storage and memory. Within 5-10 minutes, any beginner can complete the installation. Take an hour to install Windows and the corresponding software updates.
Gaming mini PCs guarantees an outstanding PC gaming experience in a smaller form factor than most game consoles. Such devices are significantly pricier than other models discussed in this guide. Moreover, it is quite expensive than creating a bigger PC on your own. Their operation dissipates a lot of heat, leading to a reduced lifetime of the components. Compared to the components found in a low-priced midrange gaming PC, the components in the gaming mini PCs are slower. There are limited GPU and CPU upgrades that you can accomplish when you desire more speed. In nearly all cases, you must adhere to a gaming PC equipped with a Mini-ITX case. Consider this if you want something compact since it assures efficient cooling, less cost for the build, and upgrades are easier. If portability is your priority, a gaming laptop is your option.
Intel provides 2 high-performance mini PCs, namely the NUC 9 Extreme and the NUC 9 Pro. Both of them provide a wide range of 9th generation Intel Core processors along with a workstation-class Intel Xeon processor. We included the Xeon model in our tests. However, all of them provide the same expansion alternatives and ports. These NUCs possess enough space for accommodating 2 RAM sticks, a PCI Express slot, and 2 M.2 SSDs. Furthermore, there are 6 USB Type-A ports, 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports, an SD card reader, and Gigabit Ethernet ports.
Intel NUC9i9QNX – NUC 9 Extreme Kit
Intel NUC 9 Pro Model: NUC9VXQNXKit: Xeon CPU
These gaming mini PCs can fit into a 9.4 inches x 8.5 inches x 3.8 inches box. It seems bigger than the 3 Mac Mini PCs staked one above another. Perhaps, a custom-built type Mini-ITX PC is yet a better alternative for most users. It is found that the NUC 9 Pro and Extreme are quite more complex to open as well as upgrade than some other NUCs. Moreover, you may find hassles accommodating speedier graphics cards within the case. There is support for dual-slot cards with lengths up to 8 inches. However, high-end GPUs usually contain extensive and tall fans to house the restricted NUC.
The price is too a problem: the most affordable NUC 9 Extreme’s quad-core version comes at approx. Price of $1,200 prior you add storage, memory, or a GPU. At a price lesser than this, you can build a fully loaded and considerably faster Mini-ITX PC. You can consider these NUCs if you require the fastest PC with decent upgradability in the smallest possible form factor.
A few other efficient barebones gaming mini-PCs haul from companies like Shuttle, Zotac, and ASRock. Such PCs are usually devoid of the upgradability of the NUC 9 Extreme and Pro. Though the memory, storage, and processor are replaceable, you cannot replace GPU. They have limited warranties and bad customer support. Even though certain features are absent, they are too much costly. For instance, a barebones Zotac Magnus PC with a 9th generation Intel i5 CPU and a GTX 2070 comes for $1,500. When aspects like storage, memory, and Windows OS are categorized, it is easy to build a bigger and efficient PC, on your own, at a reasonable cost.
Intel’s recently launched 10th generation desktop processors do not consider an enormous enhancement over the 8th or 9th generation models in nearly all mini PCs we recommended. Notwithstanding, they have encouraged the majority of PC manufacturers to launch new models.
Like ThinkCentre M70q, M80q, and M90q, Lenovo models have slight differences in configuration options, port layout, and price. All of them include 10th generation Intel processors. It implies that they work significantly quicker than the ThinkCentre M720 already being tested for this update. We will evaluate a minimum of one of these PCs at the soonest.
The ProDesk 400 G6, ProDesk 600 G6, and EliteDesk 800 G6 from HP are varied versions of the same PC. They have restructured versions of our main pick possessing 10th generation Intel Core processors. They will be evaluated soon.
The OptiPlex 3080 Micro, OptiPlex 5080 Micro, and OptiPlex 7080 Micro from Dell are the best alternatives to the latest HP and Lenovo models. Apart from the 10th generation Intel Core processors, the working mechanism is identical to the OptiPlex 5070 Micro already tested for our eventual update. These models will be evaluated soon.
HP Business Desktop ProDesk 400 G6: Pentium Gold Desktop
HP EliteDesk 800 G6 (10th Gen i7-10700T Octa-core)
Lenovo ThinkCentre M720
Dell OptiPlex 5080
Lenovo ThinkCentre M920
Apple launched the latest version of the Mac mini incorporated with a processor designed by Apple itself. The processor is identical to the ones present in the iPads and iPhones. As an alternative to using Intel chips, as found in earlier Mac minis and a few other PCs, this version has an Apple processor. Its appearance resembles the earlier model. However, Apple mentions that its Apple M1 chip will let it perform more efficiently than its predecessors. But the shortcoming is that it comes with two Thunderbolt ports lesser than the Mac mini (2018). As a result, there are a total of 2 USB-A ports, 2 Thunderbolt ports, and an Ethernet jack. We will test the new Mac mini and give recommendations soon.
We dive deep into the specifications on 80+ mini PCs, but only a few fulfilled our requirement of including at least an 8th-generation Intel processor and an SSD for a price below $800. Depending on testing various Windows 10 cost-effective systems with low-performance processors for earlier versions of the present guide, we still deem Chrome OS the finest alternative at a price less than $250.
The Lenovo ThinkCentre M720 Tiny and Dell OptiPlex 5070 Micro are the greatest competitors to the HP ProDesk 600 G5. From the perspective of functionality, there is a slight difference between these 3 models. All of them utilize the same 9th-generation Intel Core processors and 2 RAM slots. The included M.2 storage is simple to upgrade. Moreover, the price is nearly the same, and power usage is identical.
The ThinkCentre and OptiPlex can accommodate a 2.5-inch hard drive or SSD substitute for a second M.2 SSD. The key benefit of using the ProDesk 600 G5 is its second USB Type-A port available at the front. The Lenovo and Dell model mentioned here does not have this port. In the ProDesk 600 G5, there is Wi-Fi 6 support and a 3-year warranty.
The ProDesk 400 G5 is identical to the ProDesk 600 G5; it is devoid of a USB-C port at the front. The EliteDesk 800 G5 from HP comes with the ports like the ProDesk 600 G5 and an optional Radeon RX 560 dedicated GPU. It is a conventional low-end GPU that will not play the latest game titles at high settings. The compact size of the EliteDesk 800 reduces its speeds to avoid overheating. However, the dedicated GPU depicts a considerable boost over incorporated graphics. It may be satisfactory for professional 3D projects and gaming.
We have tested HP EliteDesk 705 G5 which is based on an AMD Ryzen processor. The design and ports resemble that of the ProDesk 600 G5. But the model which we already tested comes with a quad-core Ryzen 3400GE processor. For tasks that demand intense processing power, for example, video encoding, the Ryzen processor was nearly 75% faster than the Intel processor. However, its Vega 11 integrated GPU performed better in terms of gaming.
The Intel UHD 630 could hardly manage ‘Fortnite’ at low settings. It is found that the Vega 11 can comfortably play at medium settings. Actually, it is not a gaming PC, and its faster processor does not fulfill the expectations for gaming performance. The EliteDesk 705 G5 may be a decent alternative for a family PC that seldom requires playing multiplayer games.
In our tests, Lenovo mini PC based on a Ryzen processor, i.e., the ThinkCentre M75q Tiny, was not included. From the exterior, it is similar to the Intel mini PCs from Lenovo. We anticipate its performance to be identical to that of the EliteDesk 705 G5 from HP already tested. Moreover, it may be a good fit for casual gaming if you purchase at a price lower than $700. Overall, we still insist on better processor performance from Intel.
The conventional NUCs that worked on Intel’s 8th-generation processors encompassing our earlier main pick, i.e., the NUC8i5BEKPA1, are available yet. The mentioned NUC PC contains an Intel Iris graphics processor that works faster than the Intel UHD 630. Though, the NUC is still not an excellent choice for gaming. It is recommended to go for the latest 10th-generation models, particularly because the 8th-generation models are not cheaper.
Intel provides Core i3 and Core i7 versions in the NUC10i3FNHFA and NUC10i7FNHAA, respectively. The former is cheaper and is equipped with a dual-core processor and a 1 TB hard drive. These components make it significantly slower than our recommended pick, i.e., NUC10i5FNHCA. Moreover, the Core i7 version provides a 6-core i7-10710U CPU. Since the Core i5 version is sufficiently fast, it is not worth paying $200 extra for the Core i7 NUC.
The Dell OptiPlex 3070 Micro is nearly similar to the OptiPlex 5070; the only difference is the absence of a USB-C port at the front. Moreover, the OptiPlex 7070 Micro is costlier than the OptiPlex 5070 and possesses an upgrade option for the Core i9-9900T processor. Except for that, it provides no significant improvements than the 5070.
The M720 Tiny’s version Lenovo ThinkCentre M920 comes with the 8-core Intel Core i7-9700T in the form of an upgrade option. Most people don’t need so much high performance, but it is possible to configure the ProDesk 600 G5 using the same processor if you require it.
ASUS Chromebox 3, Model: N017U
We liked the CTL Chromebox, and its price is affordable. Still, the Asus Chromebox 3-N017U (a great budget pick), the Acer Chromebox CX13-4GKM4, and the HP Chromebox Enterprise G2 are identical computers equipped with the same ports, motherboard, and nearly all other components are identical. To benefit from an aesthetically appealing look than the CTL Chromebox and not prioritize the additional storage space, you can try any of these 3 options.
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