However, don’t take the word “mini” to mean “underpowered”. On the contrary, thanks to the advancements manufacturers have made, components are now smaller yet more powerful and energy-efficient. That makes them conducive to smaller setups, which means that mini PCs have become more powerful than ever.
So, whether you’re setting up a work PC in your small apartment, a content creation machine in your newly-minted custom-built van, or a kitted-out gaming PC Inside your 18-wheeler truck, you’ll find the ideal mini PC to see to your needs. Luckily for you, we labored through finding the best mini PCs for every user so you won’t have to. Take a look at our top picks.
TL;DR – These are the best mini PCs of 2022:
1. MinisForum Elitemini X500
Best mini PC overall
The MinisForum Elitemini X500 ticks all the right boxes. It’s affordable yet powerful, palm-sized yet thermal-efficient. Better yet, it comes with all the latest internals and connectivity standards yet leaves room for future expansion. This mini PC has set itself as the right 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 the more demanding needs, including games. It also comes with Wi-Fi 6 support, Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity, and plenty of port options (though some might miss the absent USB-C). While there aren’t other CPU options, it comes with two DDR4 slots for up to 64GB of memory, as well as an M.2 2242 SATA SSD slot, a 2.5-inch HDD slot, and an SD card slot on top of the M.2 PCIe SSD storage that comes included.
2. Corsair One i300
Best mini PC for gaming
The Corsair One i300 might not be the smallest gaming PC out there, but it sure is at the top of the pile in terms of sheer performance. There’s a lot of power inside its mini yet stylishly luxurious chassis that it might be overkill for some gamers. After all, not all need an Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti GPU or a whopping 32GB memory, which are what’s on hand should you choose to invest.
However, if you want a fully-kitted out rig and you can shell out around $4,700, there’s no graphics-demanding PC game that this mini rig can’t conquer at the highest settings. And by that, we mean modern AAA games at 4K resolution. That’s an outstanding performance coming from a PC that’s shorter than most full-sized gaming keyboards, especially considering that it stays relatively quiet under pressure. More than a handful of ports are available in the back, so you can connect all the gaming peripherals of your heart desires.
3. Lenovo ThinkCentre M70q Gen 2
Best mini PC for businesses
Lenovo is a master in creating business machines, so it’s hardly surprising that the Lenovo ThinkCentre M70q Gen 2 gets our vote for the best mini PC for work and business. This made-for-business machine 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.
Don’t let its name fool you, however. This mini PC comes with everything you need for a work day including an 11th-generation Intel Core i5 chip and up to 8GB of memory. There’s plenty of storage as well, so you won’t have to invest in an external SSD for your work files. Naturally, security protocols are included, especially for businesses who want to keep their files safe from prying eyes. It boasts a TPM 2.0 chip for password encryption, BIOS-based Smart USB Protection to deter unauthorized users, and a Kensington lock slot for good measure. Since it’s also travel-friendly, it boasts a military-grade build that allows it to survive extreme conditions.
4. Apple Mac Studio
Best mini PC for content creators
Apple’s mini PC line has truly crossed over to the pro level. While the Mac mini is still available for mere mortals, its bigger, badder 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 it can stream up to 18 8K ProRes videos and support up to 5 displays. (Though if that’s a bit of an overkill for you, M1 Max configurations are also on hand.) That’s all while being small enough to toss in a cabin suitcase – a detail that nomadic creative professionals can appreciate.
There’s more to love. There are many ports, just the ticket for creators, including but not limited to four Thunderbolt 4 in the back, two USB-As, and an SDXC reader. Of course, you’ll be shelling out at least $3,599 for all of that. But just think of how much faster, smoother and more seamless your workflow will be on it.
5. Asus Chromebox 4
Best mini PC for students
College students need to minimize as much as they can. Their dorm rooms are often notoriously cramped, and most of them have to pack everything up at the end of every school year. A mini PC can help, especially those who need a desktop option, and the Asus Chromebox 4 is just the ticket. It’s lightweight and compact to fit into any school backpack, and its sub-$300 starting price tag is appealing for thrifting students.
More than just affordable and portable, it’s also a ChromeOS-based PC. That means that it’s very secure, and it doesn’t need a lot of power to see users through their multitasking needs. It’s Intel Celeron 5205U processor and 4GB of storage are more than enough for students who juggle research, finishing up projects, chatting with friends, and streaming movies in between classes. They can save even more by getting the keyboard and mouse bundle.
6. Acer Chromebox CXI4
Best Chrome Box
If you want a ChromeOS-based mini PC but can shell out more dough, you will likely enjoy the Acer Chromebox CXI4 instead. More powerful than most Chromebooks out there, this mini PC is for home, work and school use fantastic – as well as mobile games. That’s while keeping its weight under two pounds, which means it’s one of the lightest mini PCs out there. Yes, it’s even lighter than the Mac mini.
This is great for casual users, but it’s even better for professionals who can maximize its features. These include support for up to three external displays, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity, and a decent number of ports for peripherals. If you need to save space further, this Chromebox even offers multiple mounting options so you can attach it to things such as a monitor stand.
7. Intel NUC 12 Extreme
Best Mini Barebones PC
PC builders and DIYers, listen up. Intel has taken its NUC mini PC line to the next level with the new Intel NUC 12 Extreme whose barebones set up leaves a lot of room for customizations without forcing you to start from scratch. This modular mini PC starts you off with a high-end 12th-gen 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 as powerful of a PC as you want it to be. It even comes with a PCIe Gen5 slot for a discrete GPU if you’re building a gaming PC. Luckily, there are three 92mm fans to keep it chill. Want more customizations? You can even personalize the RGB underglow lighting and the RGB logo on the front. Remember that all those customizations won’t come cheap, so think about what components you absolutely need before buying.
Michelle Rae Uy is a freelance tech and travel writer, part-time production editor, and a full-time traveler from Los Angeles, California. She currently splits her time between Los Angeles, London and the rest of the world. Follow her on Instagram @straywithRae