Small spaces require small devices. This is where mini PCs come in handy, guiding you through your PC needs without taking up too much space. After all, a desktop PC setup takes up some space – on the computer itself, you must have one monitor and all other necessary accessories. And if you don’t have much of it, you need to minimize where you can. These machines are also much more portable than a traditional PC, so if you need to take it to work or on a business trip portable monitorit’s not that much effort.
However, don’t take the word “mini” to mean “underpowered.” On the contrary, thanks to advances made by manufacturers, the components are now smaller but more powerful and energy efficient. That makes them conducive to smaller setups, which means mini PCs have become more powerful than ever.
Whether you’re setting up a work PC in your small apartment, a content creation machine in your redesigned custom van, or a full-featured one gaming pc In your truck with 18 wheels you will find the ideal mini pc for your needs. Luckily for you, we’ve made an effort to find the best mini pc for every user so you don’t have to. Take a look at our top picks.
TL;DR – These are the best mini PCs of 2022:
MinisForum Elitemini X500
Overall the best mini PC
The MinisForum Elitemini X500 ticks all the boxes. It’s affordable yet powerful, palm-sized yet heat-efficient. Better yet, it features the latest internals and connectivity standards while leaving room for future expansion. This mini PC has become the ideal small desktop computer for most people.
Powered by the exceptionally fast AMD Ryzen 7 5700G and the integrated AMD Radeon Graphics 8, this compact box is powerful enough to handle more demanding demands, including gaming. While sticking with the CPU, it has two DDR4 slots for up to 64GB of storage, along with an M.2 2242 SATA SSD slot, a 2.5-inch HDD slot, and an SD card slot. However, the 16GB of RAM and 512GB of PCIe SSD storage already packed into the machine should satisfy the average user. It also offers Wi-Fi 6 support, Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity and plenty of connection options. You get [email protected] dual display output via HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort, so you can even connect multiple monitors for extra productivity, although some might miss the missing USB-C.
Corsair One i300
Best Mini PC for Gaming
The Corsair One i300 might not be the smallest gaming PC out there, but it tops the list in terms of sheer power. Packed into its small but luxurious body is a lot of performance that might be overkill for some gamers. After all, not everyone needs a nasty Intel Core i9-12900K processor and Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti GPU paired with a whopping 32GB of memory and 2TB of storage at your fingertips should you decide to invest.
However, if you want a full-featured rig and have around $4,700 to spend, then there are no graphics requirements computer game which this mini rig cannot conquer at the highest settings. And by that we mean modern AAA games 4K resolution. That’s excellent performance from a PC that’s shorter than most full-size PCs gaming keyboards. The small device remains relatively quiet, even under pressure, and offers a handful of ports so you can connect any gaming peripherals your heart desires. To top it off, there’s customizable RGB lighting, giving you that classic gamer aesthetic.
Lenovo ThinkCentre M70q Gen 2
Best mini pc for business
Lenovo is a master at designing business machines, so it’s hardly surprising that the Lenovo ThinkCentre M70q Gen 2 gets our vote for the best mini PC for work. This business device is so compact and lightweight that you can mount it on the back of a monitor—or at least Lenovo’s ThinkCentre Tiny-in-One Gen3 modular AIO monitor. And you won’t have any trouble connecting monitors or other peripherals, as the rig packs plenty of ports, including two DisplayPorts and one HDMI. It’s also travel-friendly, so you can throw it in your bag and take it to work, or vice versa. This machine even features military-grade construction, allowing it to survive in extreme conditions.
The Lenovo ThinkCentre M70q Gen 2 comes equipped with everything you need for a workday, including an 11th Gen Intel Core i5 chip and up to 8GB of memory. There’s also plenty of storage space, so you don’t need to invest in an external SSD for your work files. Of course, security logs are included, especially for businesses that want to keep their files safe from prying eyes. It features a TPM 2.0 chip for password encryption, BIOS-based Smart USB Protection to deter unauthorized users, and a Kensington lock slot.
Apple Mac Studio
Best Mini PC for Content Creators
Apple’s line of mini PCs has really gone to the pro level. While Mac mini is still available to mere mortals, its bigger, badder counterpart, the M1 Ultra-powered Mac Studio, is a content creator’s dream. The focus, of course, is the dual M1 Max system on a chip that Apple has dubbed the M1 Ultra, which houses a 20-core CPU, a 48-core GPU and a 32-core Neural Engine. You also get 64GB of memory and 1TB of storage. This device is so powerful that it can stream up to 18 8K ProRes videos and support up to 5 displays – but if that’s a bit too much for you, M1 Max configurations are also available.
There’s more to love You get a plethora of ports, just right for developers, including four Thunderbolt 4s on the back, two USB-As, and an SDXC reader to name a few. Of course, you’ll be spending at least $3,599 for all of this. But just think how much faster, smoother and more seamless your workflow will be with it. And it does it all while being small enough to throw in a cabin case — a detail nomadic creative professionals will appreciate.
Asus Chromebox 4
Best mini pc for college students
College students need to minimize their stuff as much as possible. Dorms are often notoriously cramped, and at the end of each school year everything has to be packed up. A mini PC can be helpful, especially for those who prefer a desktop computer to a computer Laptop, and the Asus Chromebox 4 is the perfect option. It’s lightweight and compact to fit in any school backpack, and its entry-level price of under $300 is attractive for thrifty students.
Not only is it affordable and portable, but it is also a ChromeOS-based PC. That means the Asus Chromebox 4 is very secure and doesn’t require a lot of power to keep users going through their multitasking needs. Its Intel Celeron 5205U processor and 4GB of memory are more than enough for students to juggle research, complete projects, chat with friends, and stream movies between classes. If you’re planning on doing more graphics-heavy tasks like video editing or gaming, you might want to get something with a little more oomph under the hood. However, this mini PC is a steal, and there’s even an option to add a mouse and keyboard.
Acer Chromebox CXI4
Best Chrome Box
If you want a ChromeOS-based mini PC but don’t have a student’s budget, you’ll likely enjoy the Acer Chromebox CXI4 instead. Stronger than most Chromebooks Out there, this mini PC is fantastic for use at home, work and school – as well as for mobile gaming. The Intel Core i7-10610U processor and 16GB of RAM will take care of most things that throw in your way. And it does so in an extremely compact form factor and weighing less than two pounds, making it easy to slip into your backpack or purse to take with you wherever you go.
Acer Chromebox CXI4 is great for casual users, but it’s even better for professionals who want to maximize their features. You get support for up to three external displays, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity. There’s even a decent number of ports for peripherals. If you’re looking to save even more space, this Chromebox also offers multiple mounting options to attach it to things like a monitor stand.
Intel NUC 12 Extreme
Best Mini Barebone PC
Attention PC builders and do-it-yourselfers. Intel has taken its NUC mini PC range to the next level with the Intel NUC 12 Extreme. This barebones setup leaves plenty of room for customization without forcing you to start from scratch. You start with a high-end 12th Gen Intel Core processor, a mini PC case, the latest ports and the latest connectivity standards.
However, this modular mini PC leaves the rest up to you, so you can build a PC as powerful as you want it to be. Up to a monstrous 64GB of RAM can be preinstalled, while three M.2 slots provide ample storage. It even has a PCIe Gen5 slot for a discrete one graphic card if you are building a gaming PC. Luckily there are three 92mm fans to keep it cool. Want more customization? You can even personalize the RGB backlight and RGB logo on the front. Keep in mind that all of this customization doesn’t come cheap, and things get tight quickly. So before you buy, think about what components you absolutely need.
Michelle Rae Uy is a freelance technology and travel writer, part-time production editor and full-time traveler based in Los Angeles, California. She currently divides her time between Los Angeles, London and the rest of the world. Follow her on Instagram @straywithRae.
Danielle Abraham is a freelance writer and unpaid music historian.