The 7 Best Mini PCs to Buy in 2017

Shop for the best budget, over-the-top and customizable Mini PCs

Looking to buy a Mini PC? Chances are performance isn’t the top reason for wanting one (as these units are not positioned nor made for muscle), but they offer a sleek, compact design and have just enough computing power to fulfill a variety of everyday tasks. Unsure of where to start? Check out our top six mini PCs. From Apple's over-the-top and hard-to-beat Mac Mini to the budget-friendly Asus Chromebox, you're sure to find a Mini PC that suits your needs.

No matter how you slice it, Apple’s Mac Mini is still the Mini PC to beat. Between the processor, RAM, included software and its compatibility with a slew of monitors, there’s little question the Mac Mini is still the best Mini PC available today. It has a 1TB 5400-rpm hard drive and the Intel Iris graphics offer 90 percent faster performance than previous models. The onboard 802.11ac Wi-Fi is up to three times faster than previous generation Mac Mini devices. The dual Thunderbolt 2 ports on the rear of the computer offer up to 20Gbps of bandwidth for file transfers, as well as connections to high-resolution displays. As just 7.7 inches square and 1.4 inches tall, the Mac Mini weighs a very manageable 2.7 pounds, so it's both lightweight and easy to hide on a desktop. Getting it up and running is a snap, although it requires your own display, keyboard and mouse.

The fully equipped Acer Revo One has a 2.1GHz Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM and 1TB hard drive. There’s nothing particularly breathtaking about its aesthetic, but it’s small enough that you’ll set it on a desk and forget its even there. As with most Mini PCs, the Revo One won’t score off the charts in any benchmark tests, but that’s not its intent. There’s more than enough capability here for day-to-day tasks, but you’ll want to look elsewhere if gaming is high on your priorities list.

There are two USB 2.0 ports on the back for adding a keyboard and mouse, things you’ll want to add on your own as the ones that come with the Revo are not the best quality. There are also two additional USB 3.0 ports for future-proofing and HDMI out for plugging into a monitor and/or TV. And you'll want to use that, because the mini PC comes equipped with Intel HD Graphics 5500.

There’s a lot to like about the Revo One: It’s well-designed and has plenty of expansion capabilities to add more hard drive space as your needs grow.

If basic computing needs and a welcoming price tag are at the top of your Mini PC wish list, the Asus Chromebox might be exactly what you’re looking for (just be prepared to use rely on Google docs heavily, as you won't be able to use Microsoft Office).

The Chromebox box is just 12.8 x 8.3 x 2.3 inches and manages to fit four USB ports for a keyboard, mouse and additional items. Overall performance is surprisingly good: There's a 1.4 GHz Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM and 16GB of SSD memory (plus two years free of 100GB Google Cloud Storage).

If all you really need is a sensibly priced small computer to get online and perform basic web tasks, you’ll find the pricing and Chrome OS combination to be very attractive.

Don’t let the small size fool you: Dell’s Inspiron i3050 is a fully functional Windows 10 desktop PC. Slightly smaller than the Mac Mini, Dell’s design won’t win any awards with its simple black chassis, but inside you’ll find a modest 2.41GHz Intel Dual-Core Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. It comes with three USB 2.0 ports and one USB 3.0 port, as well as a wired mouse and keyboard.

This might be the perfect option if you just want something dedicated to Amazon Instant Video, HULU and Netflix. You’ll still find enough power to run a wide selection of Windows apps, but you’ll need tempered expectations for how well a machine like this can handle. (Don't expect it to run more power-intensive apps like Photoshop and video-editing.)

The low price point doesn’t present additional expansion options but we really can’t argue with a perfectly usable PC that costs less than some high-end keyboards. For just the basics, unless you want to look at learning Chrome OS, you can’t do much better than Dell’s entry-level Mini PC.

This deck-of-cards-sized mini PC not only looks cool, but offers a whole suite of features that it’s larger counterparts don’t. Powered by a 2.24-GHz Intel Atom "Cherry Trail" x5-Z8500 processor and 2GB of RAM, it delivers solid performance. If that’s not enough for you, you can add additional storage memory via a microSD card or USB hard drive. On top of that, it has a super fast fingerprint reader, a removeable ports dock and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

At 4.9 x 3.2 x 0.5 inches and weighing under a pound, it’s not as compact as a stick PC, but its larger size means you’ll have more room for ports, plus a built-in battery that gives you four hours of power. It’s perfect for use as a secondary home PC, home theater PC or an on-the-go option for presentations. And the option to connect it to an iPad screen via the preloaded OSLinx app makes it even better for mobile use. As one Amazon reviewer says, it’s “a delightful addition to your IT wardrobe.”

When it comes to standout features, few Mini PCs do it better than the Lenovo Ideacentre 610s Mini Desktop. Standing just 5.5 inches tall, this Mini PC is more than meets the eye; it even has a built-in projector capable of bringing the big screen to walls of all shapes and sizes. Positioned as a compact entertainment center, the 610s still offers 16GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive and 2.8GHz Core i3 processor. And it weighs just 9.9 pounds.

On top of the PC, the detachable projector projects 220 lumens and 720 pixels of resolution, which is more than enough for games, videos, photos or wirelessly streaming from your PC or Xbox directly onto any flat surface up to 100 diagonal inches. If it’s business purposes that you really need, the 610s has you covered as well (it’s just as easy to project a presentation or video on a wall to show your colleagues). Built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi keeps things moving along at the right pace and Lenovo’s Home Cloud allows you to back up all of the family’s (or office) photos, videos, documents and more.

Between its looks and performance, the ASUS GR8 II-T069Z Mini PC is ready to roll and handle just about anything you throw at it. With impressive hardware inside, including 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD and a 7th generation Intel Core i5 processor, the ASUS is boosted by the GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card that’s more than suitable for HD gaming and 4K streaming. Ultimately, the ASUS has enough power under the hood to be considered VR (virtual-reality) ready, which says exactly what kind of performance this computer will put out.

Running those kinds of applications aren’t easy on a machine’s hardware, so ASUS included an ultra-quiet thermal chamber to help maximize cooling during gaming sessions all while staying 25 percent quieter than similar systems. Supporting both the gaming and streaming are the Sonic Studio III and Studio Radar III for incredible sound in a small package.

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