Small spaces call for small appliances. That’s where mini PCs come in, helping you get through your PC needs without taking up too much space. After all, a desktop PC setup takes up some space – on top of the computer itself, you need a monitor and all other necessary accessories. And if you don’t have a lot of it, you should minimize where possible. These machines are also much more portable than a traditional PC, so if you need to take these to work or on a business trip with a portable monitorit’s not much of a hassle.
However, don’t take the word “mini” to mean “substandard.” On the contrary, thanks to the advancements made by manufacturers, components are now smaller yet more capable and energy efficient. That makes them conducive to smaller setups, meaning mini PCs have become more powerful than ever.
So whether you install a work PC in your tiny apartment, a content creation machine in your newly built custom van or a stripped down gaming pc in your 18 wheeler truck you will find the ideal mini pc to meet your needs. Lucky for you, we’ve done our best to find the best mini PCs for every user so you don’t have to. Check out our top picks.
TL;DR – These are the best Mini PCs of 2022:
MinisForum Elitemini X500
Best mini PC overall
The MinisForum Elitemini X500 meets all requirements. It is affordable yet powerful, palm-sized yet thermally efficient. Better yet, it comes with the latest internals and connectivity standards while managing to leave 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 needs, including games. While tied to the CPU, it comes with two DDR4 slots for up to 64 GB of memory, as well as an M.2 2242 SATA SSD slot, a 2.5-inch HDD slot, and an SD card slot. However, the 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of PCIe SSD storage already in the machine should satisfy the average user. It also offers Wi-Fi 6 support, Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity and plenty of port options. You get [email protected] dual display output via HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort, so you can even connect multiple monitors for added productivity, though some might miss the absent USB-C.
Corsair One i300
Best mini PC for gaming
The Corsair One i300 may not be the smallest gaming PC out there, but performance-wise it’s definitely at the top of the pile. There’s a lot of power packed into its mini yet luxurious chassis that it might be overkill for some gamers. After all, not everyone needs a beastly Intel Core i9-12900K processor and Nvidia RTX 3080Ti GPU paired with a whopping 32GB of memory and 2TB of storage, which is what you’ll have on hand if you choose to invest.
However, if you want a full-featured setup and can afford around $4,700, there are no graphical requirements PC game that this mini rig cannot overcome on the highest settings. And by that we mean modern AAA games on 4K resolution. That’s an excellent performance from a PC that’s smaller than most full-size ones gaming keyboards. The little machine manages to stay relatively quiet even under pressure and has a handful of ports so you can plug in whatever 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 making business machines, so it’s not surprising that the Lenovo ThinkCentre M70q Gen 2 gets our vote for the best mini PC for work. Made for business, this machine is so compact and light 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 a problem connecting monitors or other peripherals, as the setup includes plenty of ports, including two DisplayPorts and an 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 has military-grade construction so it can survive in some extreme conditions.
The Lenovo ThinkCentre M70q Gen 2 comes with everything you need for a workday, including an 11th Gen Intel Core i5 chip and up to 8 GB of memory. There’s also plenty of storage space, so you don’t have to invest in an external SSD for your work files. Naturally, security protocols are included, especially for companies that want to protect their files 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 for good measure.
Apple Mac Studio
Best mini PC for content creators
Apple’s mini PC line has really crossed over to the professional level. While the Mac mini still available to mere mortals, its bigger, badder counterpart, the M1 Ultra-powered Mac Studio is every content creator’s dream. At its core, of course, is the dual M1 Max system on a chip that Apple has dubbed the M1 Ultra, which includes a 20-core CPU, 48-core GPU, and 32-core Neural Engine. On top of that, you get 64 GB of RAM and 1 TB of storage. This machine 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 overkill for you, M1 Max configurations are also available.
There’s even more to love. You get a variety of ports, just the ticket for makers, including four Thunderbolt 4 on the back, two USB-As, and an SDXC reader, to name a few. Of course, you’ll pay at least $3,599 for all that. But just think how much faster, smoother and seamless your workflow will be on it. And it does it all while being small enough to throw in a carry-on suitcase – a detail that nomadic creative professionals can appreciate.
Best Mini PC for Students
Students should minimize their stuff as much as possible. Dorms are often notoriously cramped and you often have to pack everything up at the end of each school year. A mini PC can be useful, especially for those who prefer a desktop computer over one Laptop, and the Asus Chromebox 4 is the perfect option. It’s lightweight and compact to fit in any school backpack, and its sub-$300 starting price tag will appeal to thrifty college students.
Not only is it affordable and portable, it’s also a ChromeOS-based PC. That means the Asus Chromebox 4 is very secure and doesn’t need much power to get users through their multitasking needs. The Intel Celeron 5205U processor and 4GB of storage 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 grab something with a bit more oomph under the hood. This mini PC is a bargain though, 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 aren’t on a student budget, you’ll probably enjoy the Acer Chromebox CXI4 instead. More powerful than most Chromebooks out there, this mini pc is fantastic for use at home, work and school, as well as mobile games. The Intel Core i7-10610U processor and 16GB of RAM chug through most things you throw at it. That’s while maintaining an ultra-compact form factor and weighing less than two pounds, so you can easily pop it into your backpack or bag to take it anywhere.
Acer Chromebox CXI4 is great for casual users, but it’s even better for professionals who can maximize its features. You get support for up to three external displays, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity. There’s even a fair number of ports for peripherals. If you want to save even more space, this Chromebox also offers multiple mounting options for attaching it to things like a monitor stand.
Intel NUC 12 Extreme
Best mini barebones PC
PC builders and DIY enthusiasts, listen up. Intel has taken its NUC mini PC line to the next level with the Intel NUC 12 Extreme. This barebones setup leaves plenty of room for adjustments without having to start from scratch. You start with a high-performance 12th generation Intel Core processor, a mini PC case, the latest ports and the latest connectivity standards.
However, this modular mini PC leaves the rest to your discretion, so you can build as powerful a PC as you want. A RAM of up to a monstrous 64 GB can be pre-installed, while three M.2 slots provide ample storage space. It even has a PCIe Gen5 slot for a discrete GPU if you are building a gaming PC. Fortunately, there are three 92mm fans to keep things cool. Want more customization? You can even personalize the RGB underglow lighting and RGB logo on the front. Remember, all those modifications aren’t going to come cheap and things get tight quickly, so think about what components you absolutely need before you buy.
Michelle Rae Uy is a freelance tech and travel writer, part-time production editor, and full-time traveler from 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.