Small spaces require small appliances. Mini-computers are useful here, to see your computer needs without taking up much space. A desktop installation eventually takes up little space – on top of the computer itself, you must have a monitor and all the other necessary accessories. And when you do not have many of them, you need to minimize where you can.
However, do not take the word “mini” to mean “weak”. On the contrary, thanks to advances made by manufacturers, components are now smaller but more powerful and energy efficient. This makes them suitable for smaller settings, which means that minicomputers have become more powerful than ever.
So, whether you are installing a work computer in your small apartment, or a content creation machine in your newly built truck, or an equipped equipment gaming PC inside your 18-wheeler truck, you will find the ideal mini-computer to meet your needs. Fortunately for you, we tried to find the best minicomputers for each user, so you do not have to. Take a look at our top picks.
TL; DR – These are the best minicomputers of 2022:
1. MinisForum Elitemini X500
The best mini computer overall
The MinisForum Elitemini X500 marks all the right frames. It is affordable but powerful, palm-sized and thermally efficient. Even better, it comes with all the latest internals and connectivity standards, but leaves room for future expansion. This mini computer is defined as the right small desktop computer for most people.
With the ultra-fast AMD Ryzen 7 5700G and the built-in AMD Radeon Graphics 8, this compact box is powerful enough to meet the most demanding needs, including gaming. It also comes with Wi-Fi 6 support, Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity and many port options (although some may miss the missing USB-C). Although there are no other CPU options, 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 hard drive slot and an SD card slot on top of the M.2 PCIe Storage SSD included.
2. Corsair One i300
The best mini PC for gaming
The Corsair One i300 may not be the smallest gaming PC on the market, but it certainly tops the pile in terms of ultimate performance. There is a lot of power in the mini, but its elegant luxury chassis may be too much for some players. After all, not everyone needs an Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti GPU or a huge 32 GB of memory, which are available in case you choose to invest.
However, if you want a fully equipped platform and you can pay around $ 4,700, there is no computer game that requires graphics that this mini platform can not conquer at the highest settings. And by that, we mean modern AAA games in 4K resolution. This is a great performance coming from a computer that is smaller than most full size game keyboards, especially considering that it remains relatively quiet under pressure. More than a handful of ports are available at the back so you can connect all the gaming peripherals your heart desires.
3. Lenovo ThinkCentre M70q Gen 2
The best mini PC for business
Lenovo is a master at creating professional machines, so it is no surprise that the Lenovo ThinkCentre M70q Gen 2 receives our vote for the best work and business minicomputer. This business machine is so compact and lightweight that you can place it on the back of a screen – or at least on Lenovo’s AIO ThinkCentre Tiny-in-One Gen3 modular screen.
But do not let his name fool you. This mini PC has everything you need for a business day, including an 11th generation Intel Core i5 chip and up to 8 GB of memory. There is also plenty of storage space, so you will not have to invest in an external SSD for your work files. Of course, security protocols are included, especially for companies that want to protect their files from prying eyes. It has a TPM 2.0 chip for password encryption, Smart BIOS-based USB protection to prevent unauthorized users and a Kensington lock slot for good measurement. As it is also travel friendly, it has a military construction that allows it to survive in extreme conditions.
4. Apple Mac Studio
The best minicomputer for content creators
Apple’s mini-series has really taken off on a professional level. While the Mac mini is still available to ordinary mortals, its bigger, worse counterpart, the new M1 Ultra-powered Mac Studio M1 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 is so powerful that it can stream up to 18 8K ProRes videos and support up to 5 screens. (While this may be a bit of an exaggeration for you, the M1 Max configurations are also available.) All of this is small enough to be thrown in a cabin suitcase – a detail that nomadic creative professionals can appreciate.
There is more to love. There are many ports, just the ticket for the creators, including, for example, four Thunderbolt 4 on the back, two USB-As and one SDXC reader. Of course, you will pay at least $ 3,599 for all of this. But just think how much faster, smoother and smoother your workflow will be.
5. Asus Chromebox 4
The best mini PC for students
Students need to minimize as much as they can. Their dorms are often extremely cramped and most of them have to pack everything at the end of each school year. A mini PC can help, especially those who need a desktop option, and the Asus Chromebox 4 is just the ticket. It is light and compact to fit in any school backpack and its starting price below $ 300 is attractive to financial students.
More than just affordable and portable, it is also a ChromeOS-based computer. This means that it is very secure and does not need much power to see users respond to their multitasking needs. The Intel Celeron 5205U processor and 4 GB of storage are more than enough for students engaged in research, project completion, chatting with friends, and streaming movies between classes. They can save even more by getting the keyboard and mouse package.
6. Acer Chromebox CXI4
The best Chrome Box
If you want a ChromeOS mini PC but can spend more dough, you will probably enjoy the Acer Chromebox CXI4. More powerful than most Chromebooks out there, this minicomputer is fantastic for home, work and school use – as well as mobile games. That means it keeps its weight under two pounds, which means it is one of the lightest mini computers on the market. Yes, it is even lighter than the Mac mini.
This is great for casual users, but even better for professionals who can maximize their potential. These include support for up to three external monitors, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity, and a decent number of ports for peripherals. If you want to save more space, this Chromebox even offers a lot of placement options so you can attach it to things like a monitor stand.
7. Intel NUC 12 Extreme
Best Mini Barebones Computer
Computer creators and DIYers, listen. Intel has taken its NUC mini PC line to the next level with the new Intel NUC 12 Extreme whose barebones setting leaves plenty of room for customization without forcing you to start from scratch. This modular mini PC starts with a flagship 12th generation Intel Core processor, a mini PC case, the latest ports and the latest connectivity standards.
However, it leaves the rest to your discretion, so you can build a computer as powerful as you want it to be. It even comes with a PCIe Gen5 slot for a discrete GPU if you are building a gaming PC. Fortunately, there are three 92mm fans to keep it cool. Want more customizations? You can even customize the RGB backlight and RGB logo on the front. Remember that all these adjustments will not be cheap, so think about which accessories you definitely need before you buy.
Michelle Rae Uy is a freelance technology and travel writer, part-time production writer, and full-time traveler from Los Angeles, California. She is currently splitting her time between Los Angeles, London and the rest of the world. Follow her on Instagram @straywithRae