Intel NUC 8
Apple Mac Mini (2018)
ASUS Chromebox 3-N017U
Even though they are rare, there are some great mini computers out there which you can take with you wherever you go. I tested a lot of different models and was able to come up with the 5 best mini PCs out there for this year. Even though they are not as powerful as a full-tower computer, they can still get the job done flawlessly. Let’s take a look.
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Which Is The Best Mini PC?
5. Lenovo Legion C530
Best Mini Gaming PC
We are going to start our best mini PCs list with a great option for gaming. The Lenovo Legion C530 Cube is a relatively cheap gaming mini-tower coming in with Intel CPU, Nvidia graphics, and other performances that will help you get the best 1080p gaming experience at moderate settings. Thanks to its affordable price, you will not have to spend tons just to complete your setup, it provides good value, and the case itself looks very well made and gives the powerful vibes.
Generally speaking, gaming PCs have the classic tower design that takes up just too much size on your desk, however, the Lenovo Legion C530 has a different shape. It has an oblong shape that measures 9.5×9.1×13.1-inches, meaning that it is not exactly a cube as it is marketed, but it is still pretty small. For portability, it has a handle on top, and it even has a quick-access latch on the back to give you easy access to swap parts or maintain. On top of the PC you will see a see-through tempered glass that gives you the view of the graphics card.
I really like the design of this PC, it is different and very refreshing, also it is worth stating that this is the perfect PC for folks that move their towers for LAN parties on in house frequently, that is also due to its light weight of just 24.3-pounds. Furthermore, it will right into many compact desk setups or those with limited location, as it will comfortably fit into the corner of your desk.
With the Lenovo Legion C530, the manufacturer has included a mouse and a keyboard, that are very plain and basic, but the mouse was particularly comfortable to use though.
The Lenovo Legion C530 performance-wise packs an Intel Core i5-8400 CPU with 8GB of RAM and 1TB of HDD, and topped with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti with 4GB of VRAM, these performances make this PC great gaming focused machine. In productivity tests it worked pretty well and it was able to get through all the tasks in daily use. In gaming use, it provided great framerates at 1080p and in moderate settings, it was a joy to play in as it did not lag or stutter, overall a smooth experience.
4. ASUS UN65U-M022M
If you are a budget conscious buyer and want to get the most performance out of your hard earned dollar, then your best bet is the ASUS UN65U-M022M. It comes complete with the Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system and it is available in different variants depending on your budget, with 7th generation Intel Core i7, i5, and i3 processors.
It is really a compact unit, and you would even mistake it for a router or some other small gadget, on top of that thanks to its VESA mount it can be mounted to the back of your PC, making it even more impressive. The front of the device are two USB 3.0 ports and the power button, on the left you can find multi memory card port that supports SD, SDHC, SDXC, and MMC cards. On the opposite side, you can find a Kensington lock that is very useful when you need to secure your device, for example, if you are using it in public, and on the rear you can find other ports such as two more USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, Ethernet port, and etc.
The included operative system means that the system has some bloatware installed in it, especially the McAfee anti-virus software which is pretty annoying. But other than that the Windows 10 Home 64-bit OS was pretty useful from the get-go.
The ASUS UN65U-M022M is definitely not a gaming PC, and you can’t install an external GPU unit to it, because it lacks Thunderbolt 3. However, it does include Windows 10, 5GHz WiFi, and Ethernet, this could make it a very useful companion for streaming your Steam library.
The device that I tested came with an Intel i7-7500U CPU, with a base clock speed of 2.7GHz and a turbo clock speed of 3.5GHz, it also has an Intel HD Graphics 620 GPU unit, that supports 4K resolution at 60Hz refresh rate. When it came to RAM memory it was equipped with 16 GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD and 1TB of HDD, interestingly the tiny ASUS UN65U-M022M could house both of them.
A pretty good performer for everyday tasks and productivity you will be pleased with the performance output of this mini PC.
3. ASUS Chromebox 3-N017U
Best For Light Use
ASUS Chromebox 3-N017U is a Chromebox as its name implies, for those that are not familiar with the term, these are simplified desktop computers running on Google’s Chrome OS. And interestingly they are pretty good, their main task is to get you online and thanks to their low price they are pretty attractive packages. I liked the idea pretty much and it did its job with excellence, let’s dive deeper and see what else this mini PC offers.
The main selling point of the ASUS Chromebox 3-N017U is its tiny dimensions, it measures just 5.8×5.8×1.6-inches and weighs just under a kilogram. Personally, I expected the ASUS Chromebox 3-N017U to be heavier, this makes it easily transportable in your backpack as it won’t put more burden on your shoulders, this is definitely one of the most portable options you can find. Furthermore, the box looks pretty attractive and it is very stylish with its brushed metal design that gives the device its premium look. The power button is integrated into a cut-off corner with a LED light to let you know if the device is on or not.
ASUS Chromebox 3-N017U has plenty of ports despite its tiny size, with 5 USB ports, three of which are 3.1 and two 2.0 ports, 3.5mm audio jack, one USB type C port that offers DisplayPort, an HDMI port, Ethernet port and DCIN. Maybe the device has only 32GB of memory, from which only 20 can be used for downloading apps and stuff, but ASUS has included a 3-in-1 card reader, from which you can expand the memory of the device up to 256GB.
Setting up the ASUS Chromebox 3-N017U is very easy and straight forward, just like setting up an Android smartphone, here you just have to connect the peripherals additionally, and all done.
The ASUS Chromebox 3-N017U has an Intel Celeron 3865U Processor with 4GB DDR4 Memory, that is capable of outputting 4K visuals, and is a great package for light work and productivity. Everything is optimized to work within the system, there are packages with more powerful processors but I don’t see why would anyone consider them, as you won’t miss anything in this package.
2. Apple Mac Mini (2018)
Best MacOS Mini Computer
If you are looking for a solid all-around package for a mini PC and are familiar with the Apple ecosystem then the Apple Mac Mini the 2018 version is the perfect Mac PC for you. It has improved everything that its predecessor offered from performance, to the looks, and it also offers some upgradability, it may be a little pricey but the Apple Mac Mini will offer one of the best mini PC experiences.
The Apple Mac Mini is very tiny and lightweight, coming it at 7.7×7.7×1.4-inches and just 2.6-pounds in weight, translating into a very portable package. It may not be the smallest of the bunch, but its unibody design looks amazing, you can spot Apple’s minimal aesthetics. It has a space-gray anodized finish, the design looks contemporary and futuristic, but it doesn’t look over the top in any part.
The internal design is changed from its predecessor, as the new design has large vents and a considerably huge fan, giving it double the airflow to cool the processor more effectively. To support the necessary power for the new components the power supply has also got an upgrade, on the bottom of the device you can find a black plastic disk that offers internal access to the device.
Thanks to the aforementioned black plastic disk the Apple Mac Mini can be upgraded, it doesn’t offer tons of it, but you can swap out its RAM memory for a bigger one if you want. However, Apple has stated that the device is service upgradable, meaning that only professionals can upgrade it but you can do it without much of a hassle.
The Apple Mac Mini has tons of ports, including four Thunderbolt 3 ports, and thanks to them the PC can support an external GPU and external storage upgrades. Performance-wise it is equipped with quad-core Intel Core i5, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD and Intel UHD Graphics 630 unit, and during use, I have seen that this setup performs amazingly through all tasks that you can think of. It even has Gigabit Ethernet, and also you can find different models with different performances depending on your preference and needs. The definite best Mac mini PC on the market.
1. Intel NUC 8
Best Mini Pc For TV
If you want the absolute best mini PC, then look no further than the Intel NUC 8. The Intel NUC 8 is capable of everything you can throw at it and it is maybe the only one on the list that can squeeze out respectable gaming performance, thanks to its specifications. This mini PC also has a design that gives the gamer vibes and if you consider yourself a gamer you will love it.
The Intel NUC 8 is a very compact small brick, that you can easily toss it in your backpack, as it measures just 8.7×5.6×1.5-inches and weighs just 2.4-pounds, it is really the smallest gaming package that you can find. Until you turn the Intel NUC 8 on it looks pretty plain and boring, however, once you power it on, the PC shines an attractive skull-shaped light out of its top panel, and using its LED Manager app you can customize the color of it and its glowing pattern as well, you can even turn them completely off but I wouldn’t see myself doing that.
Despite its compact and tiny size, the Intel NUC 8 has tons of ports that range from USB ports that a ton of them including Thunderbolt ones, SD card ports, 3.5mm audio jack, HDMI ports, two Ethernet ports, and etc.
Buying the Intel NUC 8 on its own may look cheap but the complete setup will get pricy, as it arrives only with Intel Core i7-8009G with AMD Radeon RX Vega M GH hybrid chip, but other than those you have to buy and set them up yourself. But there are some complete packages on Amazon you can choose from, there are different options available from more basic to more advanced.
For testing I installed a 512GB SDD and 16GB of RAM, this alone proved enough through initial testing and it was better than any entry-level gaming PC, it was even capable of some light VR. It ran all AAA games in 1080p with amazing framerates and it did not lag in any instance.
It even excelled in everyday tasks, proving to be the very best. Besides the pricey costs and the requirements to complete the PC yourself, the Intel NUC 8 is an absolute beast of a mini PC.