In this new world of innovation, the need for a full-sized desktop has reduced dramatically, mainly because of the space it occupies on our desks. Thanks to their condensed footprint, ease of maintenance, and the powerful components, the mini computer, or mini PC, has taken the computing world by storm.
There is a wide assortment of mini PCs being sold in the market today. With many factors that must be considered before any purchase is completed, the process of trimming down your scope to a single mini PC that works for you can be exasperating.
To take the pressure off, we’ve put together the very best mini PCs the market has to offer. We present to you the best performing mini PCs that are surely going to cater to all your needs in 2020.
What to Look for in a Mini PC?
Finding the perfect mini PC begins with identifying what you’re looking for. Mini PCs are all compact, but within the category, there are a variety of options, from sticks tiny enough to slide in your pocket to desktop towers compact enough to store out of sight.
You also want to look at upgradability and configuration options. Most mini-computers have two or three configuration options, which can accommodate everything from storage to top-of-the-line processors and graphics cards.
Furthermore, there’s also the question of upgrades. Most mini PCs leave no room for further hardware modifications, but some are designed to allow you to add extra storage, or even equipped with ports that allow for an external GPU for increased capacity.
The Best Mini PCs in 2020
Of all the mini PCs we’ve seen storm the market, several stand out as la crème de la crème. Whether you’re looking for a general use desktop or a compelling system that can be stored out of sight, we’ve got you covered.
Apple Mac Mini
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
You can never go wrong with Apple products. The Mac mini (2018) is still a top contender two years later. The latest Mac mini has a sleek new design with its shaded space grey anodized coating, despite maintaining the same dimensions and body design as its former model.
The Mac Mini also picks up some improvements, like the collection of ports, including four Thunderbolt 3 ports for storage, connecting displays, and more. It even allows a bit of upgradability, with traditional SO-DIMM slots for supplementing memory.
Despite carrying an older 8th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, the little Mac succeeded in putting up numbers that bested even the better-equipped systems. The best part? It offers a remarkable amount of power in a charmingly compact design. Overall, Mac Mini is the best mini PC, delivering exceptional power and value.
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
Stick fans, where are you at? The Azulle Access3 takes the tiny stick PC to a whole new level. It has a design that’s compact enough to stow on your keychain and flexible enough to be used on any monitor. The Access3 features speedier USB 3.0 ports, a faster processor, and Gigabit Ethernet for more reliable connectivity and performance than any other sticks out there. The cool part? The zippy performance even supports 4K video output, making it the best option for streaming.
Whether you plan on using it in your home theater or looking for a way to watch those 4K Netflix shows on your hotel TV, Access3 is your best bet.
Size (Inches): 5.6 x 4 x 1.5 | Weight: 14 ounces | CPU: Intel Celeron J3455 | Storage: 32GB eMMC | Geekbench 4 Score: 4,011
Do you have a home theater? Well, time to take things up a notch. With a compact fanless design, the Azulle Byte3 is the best mini PC for home entertainment. It’s a perfect device for media streaming and provides a full PC experience right there on your TV.
With a high-end Intel Apollo Lake Celeron processor, it’s excellent for streaming 4K video and offers all the connectivity you need with a good collection of ports. The compact design also provides options for upgrading, and with the sleek design, you can effortlessly hide it.
Intel Hades Canyon NUC
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: Supply your own
Intel’s Hades Canyon NUC is a great mini PC that delivers desktop-gaming-grade performance in a case the size of a book.
The Intel Core i7-8009G/AMD Radeon RX Vega M GH hybrid chip combines processing and discrete graphics on a single chip. Furthermore, the Hades Canyon NUC can handle AAA games and even VR in a compact, black cube that can be easily tucked away.
Despite its small size, the Hades Canyon NUC has multiple ports, including Thunderbolt 3 ports and HDMI output. If you purchase the barebones kit, you’ll need to implement memory as well as storage, and your own installation of Windows, but this small gaming machine can rival an Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti-powered gaming tower.
Acer Chromebox CXI3
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 is the best desktop version of Chrome OS available. Created for use in the office or classroom, the Chromebox CXI3 carries everything great about Chrome; security, ease of use, and all the online capability you desire.
The small Chromebox can be installed almost anywhere and possesses lots of ports, including several USB 3.0 ports, HDMI output, and a USB-C port. This model is equipped with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 64GB SSD, consolidating to offer rapid performance and effortless multitasking. The best part? It’s cheaper than any similar Windows machine.
HP Z2 Mini G4
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 a super small workstation PC, compressing workstation-level components and ISV-certified graphics into a desktop that’s smaller than some notepads.
Its sleek looks, easily accessible interior, and high-powered processing and graphics options make it the best mini PC you can get for workstation performance while keeping the dimensions compact.
Equipped with a strong 6-core Intel Xeon E-2176G processor, 32GB of RAM, and Nvidia Quadro P1000 graphics, the Z2 Mini efficiently handles heavy workloads. It is guaranteed to work with a variety of mission-critical programs like Avid, Autodesk, Solidworks, Siemens, and Vectorworks. If you’re a designer or engineer looking for a workstation desktop that won’t take up your entire desk, this powerful mini PC is the real deal.
Note: Cooling fans can get loud.
The mini PC category is extensive and caters to a lot of different usage situations, so it’s always a good idea to find out what you need your mini-computer to do before you start your mini-quest. Consider your specific needs, whether that’s streaming, video games, or just general productivity, and then go from there.