In this guide we will show you closely the best Mini Desktop PCs that we can buy, choosing from the various categories available. The prices are very accessible and allow, with little expense, to obtain a small computer with a complete operating system, able to perform all the daily tasks (reading emails, working with Office, surfing the Internet, etc.). Obviously we cannot expect great power from these devices, but the models that we will illustrate allow you to use two or three programs together without too much slowdown.READ ALSO: How the Android TV Box Mini PCs work
The best Mini PC desktops
When we talk about Mini PC we are dealing with Real PCs, slightly larger than a DVD box or as a book but complete with all the connectors to connect a mouse, keyboard, monitor, printer, audio speakers and other things. This type of computer can be used in two ways: to replace the fixed PC or connected to the TV to use the computer while sitting on the sofa, watching movies, surfing and listening to music. Being very small and very portable, it is perfect for those who want something compact to keep on the desk or on a dining table, both for those who want a PC to carry around, maybe in the hotel (where the monitor can be the TV in the room) or in another house, both for those who want a TV media center.
The nice thing is that they can be attached behind the TV or monitor, hiding completely from view.
Let’s start with Intel NUC, an acronym that stands for Next Unit of Computing. NUCs are small PCs, the size of an external hard drive, which works like normal desktop PCs and can have Windows as their operating system.
It is practically a minimal-sized case with inside all the components of a computer: processor, various slots, network interfaces, sockets to connect keyboard, mouse, and screen.
A NUC unit can do practically anything that a standard desktop PC can do, however, much quieter (thanks to the use of passive cooling processors), we hardly notice its presence!
Intel’s NUC is sold only with the case, motherboard and CPU and then we need to add at least one bank of RAM memory and an M.2 SSD to be able to exploit it properly. These NUCs are quite powerful for their size, with an i3 or i5 processor and support for up to 16GB of SO-DIMM memory.
The Intel NUCs for sale currently are on Amazon I’m:
- Intel NUC 1356 2.40GHz i3-7100U (€ 279)
- Intel NUC Kit 8th Generation Intel Core (€ 280)
- Intel NUC Intel Core i5-7260U (€ 435)
These devices can be combined with the 8 GB Crucial DDR3L RAM (€ 36), the 8 GB HyperX DDR4 RAM (€ 39) and an M.2 Transcend M.2 256 GB Solid State M.2 module (€ 43) ).
ASUS Mini PC
ASUS is another big company that develops very powerful Mini PCs, able to fully satisfy the needs for home office and home entertainment. Their cases are slightly larger than NUCs but offer more space for all the typical components of a desktop computer.
These Mini PCs are sold complete with RAM and SSD, so they can be used immediately on our desk or next to our TV.
The best ASUS Mini PCs that we can view are:
- Asus PN60 Mini PC, Intel Core I3 Processor Integrated Graphics Card Intel 4K Uhd (€ 495)
- Asus PB60-B5136MD Mini PC, Intel Core I5 8400T Processor (€ 676)
The prices compared to the NUC are definitely higher, but they are compensated by the fact that they mount much more powerful CPUs and that they already have RAM modules and an SSD mounted.
ACEPC Mini PC
Another little-known brand of Mini PC is theACEPC, which makes computers very compact and beautiful to look at (they almost look like mini-game consoles).
These Mini PCs are designed for home use and, compared to the models previously seen, they already have Windows 10 installed, so you can immediately start working without having to get a copy of the operating system to install.
The best ACEPCs on the market are:
- ACEPC AK1 Mini PC, Windows 10 (64 bit) Intel Celeron desktop computer Apollo Lake J3455 (€ 176)
- ACEPC AK1 Mini PC, Intel Celeron J3455,6GB RAM + 64 GB storage, Windows 10 Home (€ 209)
The two Mini PCs are virtually identical in terms of power, the only difference being the amount of RAM and the capacity of the mounted SSD (4 + 64 on the cheapest model and 6 + 64 on the most expensive model).
Chrome OS Mini PC
If we want to try an operating system different from Windows but still fast and practical to surf the Internet and take advantage of online services, we can try the ASUS Chromebox (€ 289).
This mini PC is equipped with Intel processor, Wi-Fi network card and Intel HD graphics, able to run smoothly the operating system Chrome OS, based on Google Chrome (in fact it is an extended browser with operating system functionality, thanks to dedicated apps and Chrome extensions). Alternatively, if we want an even more compact Mini PC (as big as a USB stick), we can also try the Asus Chromebit (€ 148), which can bring the benefits of Chrome OS to any monitor or TV with an HDMI port.
About Chrome OS we invite you to read our article on Reasons to buy a Chromebook PC, so you know right away what to expect and how to use it instead of Windows.
This type of computer could be the future, at least in the offices and homes of those who want that computers are less visible as possible, considering that by now most of our activities are carried out on a smartphone or tablet.
If we want to personally build our compact mini PC, choosing every single component, we invite you to read our guide to Components for a compact mini PC. If instead we look for a small motherboard freely programmable as a media center or mini PC, we recommend the Raspberry Pi, described in our guide on how to Use the Raspberry Pi as a mini PC or media center for TV.