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Best Mini PC 2023. Lenovo mini pc gaming

Best Mini PC 2023

If you’re looking for a mini PC, the Corsair One i300 is the best one going. For more great options, click to check out our detailed looks at the best mini PCs of 2023, or take a look at the list of our picks below:

TL;DR – These are the Best Mini PCs of 2023:

Small spaces call for small devices. That’s where mini PCs come in handy, seeing you through your PC needs without taking up too much room. A desktop PC setup, after all, does take up some space—on top of the computer itself, you have to have a monitor and all the other necessary accessories. And sometimes, you must minimize where you can. These machines are also much more portable than a traditional PC, so if you need to take it along to work or on a business trip with a portable monitor, it’s not as much of a hassle.

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 capable and energy-efficient. 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. Take a look at our top picks.

Corsair One i300

Best Mini PC

This mini PC is ready to game thanks to powerful processors, high-capacity memory and storage, ample cooling, and a healthy dose of RGB lighting to top it off.

CPU: Intel Core i9-12900K | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 | RAM: 32GB | Storage: 2TB NVMe SSD | Weight: ‎9.73 pounds | Dimensions: ‎7.87” x 6.79” x 14.96”

Though the Corsair One i300 is not nearly as compact as our top option, it’s at the top of the pile in terms of sheer performance. In fact, it might be overkill for some gamers toting a beastly Intel Core i9-12900K processor and Nvidia RTX 3080 GPU. And to ensure your games continue to run smoothly and load up quickly is a whopping 32GB RAM and 2TB of SSD storage. There’s no graphics-demanding PC game that this mini rig can’t conquer at the highest settings, modern AAA games at 4K resolutions included.

Even with all that power behind it, you still get a PC shorter than most full-sized gaming keyboards. The Corsair One i300 even remains relatively quiet, featuring liquid cooling, while a high-airflow fan exhaust pushes all the heat through the top like a chimney. To top it off is a handful of ports for peripherals and customizable RGB lighting, giving you that classic gamer aesthetic.

Apple Mac mini

Best Mini PC for Content Creators

Powered by Apple’s M2 Pro chip with a 10-Core CPU, a 16-Core GPU, and a 16-Core Neural Engine, this tiny computer breezes through heavy tasks like video editing.

CPU: 10-core Apple M2 Pro | GPU: 16-core GPU | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512TB | Weight: 2.8 pounds | Dimensions: 7.75” x 7.75” x 1.41”

The M2 Pro-powered Mac mini is every content creator’s dream. With it, you get a 10-Core CPU that offers six performance and four efficient cores, a 16-Core GPU, and a 16-Core Neural Engine. When you pair that with 16GB of memory and 512 GB of storage, this machine is powerful enough to edit multiple streams of ProRes, H.264, and HEVC video at an 8K resolution and support up to three high-res displays. For even more oomph, it’s possible to boost the RAM to 32GB and storage up to a wild 8TB.

Beyond being one of the fastest, quietest, and smoothest machines available, the Mac mini somehow manages a compact, lightweight design making it easy to toss in a carry-on bag—a detail that nomadic creative professionals can appreciate. Even though this beast is tiny, it’s still packing all the ports you need, including four Thunderbolt 4, two USB-A, an HDMI, a headphone jack, and a 10Gb Ethernet for faster network speeds.

MinisForum Elitemini X500

Best Mini PC for Everyday Tasks

This mini PC can handle just about any task you throw at it, including gaming, thanks to the powerful AMD Ryzen 7 5700G CPU, upgradeable 16GB RAM, and ample connectivity options.

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5700G | GPU: AMD Radeon Graphics 8 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB | Weight: 4.2 pounds | Dimensions: 6.06” x 6.02” x 2.4”

The MinisForum Elitemini X500 ticks the right boxes as it’s affordable yet powerful, palm-sized yet thermal-efficient. Powering it all is an exceptionally-fast AMD Ryzen 7 5700G with AMD Radeon Graphics, so this PC is ready to take on some demanding needs, games included. The 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage pair perfectly with that processor and should be plenty for the average user, making it a multitasking maven.

While you’re stuck with the CPU, the MinisForum Elitemini X500 is very upgradable, thanks to two DDR4 slots to amp the memory up to 64GB, along with an M.2 2242 SATA SSD slot, a 2.5-inch HDD slot, and an SD card slot for additional storage. Beyond that, this machine packs tons of connectivity, including a 4K@60Hz dual display output via HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort to hook up multiple monitors. Though, we’re slightly disappointed about the lack of USB-C.

Asus Chromebox 4

Best Mini PC for Students

An affordable mini PC ready to tackle more basic tasks with its Intel Celeron 5205U processor and 4GB of RAM.

CPU: Intel Celeron 5205U | GPU: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB eMMC | Weight: 2.2 lbs | Dimensions: 5.85” x 5.85” x 1.57”

If you’re a student living in a dorm and are tight on space, a mini PC can be helpful, especially to those who prefer a desktop computer over a laptop. The lightweight and compact Asus Chromebox 4 is a great solution, easily fitting on a desk or in a school backpack. Thrifty students will also love a price that hovers around 300—that happens to include a mouse and keyboard too.

than just affordable and portable, this ChromeOS-based PC is secure and doesn’t need excessive power, seeing users through research, writing papers, and movie streaming when taking a break from studying. The support for up to three 4K displays through its Dual HDMI and USB-C port can also come in handy. But if you’re doing more graphics-heavy tasks like video editing or gaming, you may want to grab something with a bit more oomph and storage under the hood.

Acer Chromebox CXI4

Best Chrome Box

Running on an older Intel Core i7-10610U CPU and 16GB RAM, this ChromeOS-based mini PC can still handle most workflows, some light gaming, and supports up to three displays.

CPU: Intel Core i7-10610U | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 256GB | Weight: 1.34 pounds | Dimensions: 5.8” x 5.9” x 1.6”

powerful than most Chromebooks out there, the ChromeOS-based Acer Chromebox CXI4 is fantastic for home, work, and school use—as well as mobile games. Though several generations behind, the Intel Core i7-10610U processor is still a solid option. And when you combine that CPU with 16GB of RAM, it can chug through almost everything you throw at it.

Acer Chromebox CXI4 is great for casual users, but it’s even better for professionals who can maximize its features. You get support for up to three external displays, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.1, along with a decent number of ports for peripherals. Though it’s already supremely compact and weighs under two pounds, you can save even more space using this rig’s multiple mounting options attaching it to things like a monitor stand.

Intel NUC 12 Extreme

Best Mini Barebones PC

A modular mini PC that comes with just an Intel Core i9-12900 processor, integrated graphics, and tons of connectivity, letting you decide how to build out the rest of the computer

CPU: Intel Core i9-12900 | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 770, PCIe Gen5 slot for a discrete GPU | RAM: Up to 64GB | Storage: 3x M.2 slots | Dimensions: 14” x 7.44” x 4.72”

PC builders and DIYers will instantly fall for the next level Intel NUC 12 Extreme. This barebones setup leaves ample room for customizations without forcing you to start from scratch. You begin with a high-end 12th-gen Intel Core processor, a mini PC case, the latest ports, the newest connectivity standards, and three 92mm fans to keep everything chill.

However, this modular mini PC leaves the rest to your discretion, so a monstrous RAM up to 64GB can come pre-installed, while three M.2 slots leave plenty of space to add in SSD storage. It even totes a PCIe Gen5 slot for a discrete GPU and customizable RGB lighting if you’re building a gaming PC. But remember that all those customizations won’t come cheap and things get cramped quickly, so think about what components you absolutely need before buying.

Lenovo ThinkCentre M90q Tiny Gen 3

Best Mini PC for Businesses

Its compact, lightweight build, ample security protocols, and impressive internals with upgradeable RAM and storage make this mini PC an ideal option for business.

CPU: Intel Core i5-12500T | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 770 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB | Weight: 2.76 pounds | Dimensions: 7.2″ x 7″ x 1.4″

Lenovo is a master in creating business machines, so it’s hardly surprising that the Lenovo ThinkCentre M90q Tiny Gen 3 gets our vote for the best mini PC for work. It’s compact, lightweight, and durable, so you can throw it in your bag to take to and from work or even travel. Naturally, you get security protocols, including 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.

Besides ultra portability and ample security, the ThinkCentre M90q Tiny Gen 3 is high performing machine thanks to a 12th-generation Intel Core i5 chip paired with 8GB of memory, ensuring it breezes through all your workflows. But if you want to upgrade that RAM to something beefier or add in more SSD storage, both slots are easily accessible and ready for expansion. And this rig’s even packing tons of ports to plug in up to four displays and additional peripherals.

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.

Danielle Abraham is a freelance writer and unpaid music historian.

CES 2023: Lenovo Thinkcentre Neo 50q Gen4 Mini PC unveiled

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Lenovo used the stage of CES 2023 to announce numerous technology highlights for 2023. One of them was the Lenovo Thinkcentre Neo 50q Gen4, a mini-PC that is supposed to offer impressive computing power despite its tiny dimensions. This is made possible by processors from Intel’s Raptor Lake series.

Lenovo Thinkcentre Neo 50q Gen4 gets performance boost

Mini PCs are especially popular in the business sector. But in times of increasing home offices, more and more private users are also using the inconspicuous mini computers. One of the slimmest representatives of favor has always been the Thinkcentre Neo 50q from Lenovo. Just in time for the popular tech show in the Nevada desert, the Chinese tech company presented the now fourth generation of the tiny PC with a volume of less than one liter alongside potent gaming notebooks and other highlights. The main reason for the new edition in the form of the Lenovo Thinkcentre Neo 50q Gen4 is certainly Intel’s brand-new Raptor Lake-type chip solutions.

best, mini, 2023, lenovo, gaming

The slim dimensions of just 183 x 179 x 34.5 mm don’t initially raise much hope in terms of performance. However, a closer look at the technical specifications quickly reveals that appearances are deceptive. An Intel Core i5 chip is supposed to work in the small case. According to first rumors, this could be the Intel Core i5-13400. This makes sense because the predecessor of the chip was installed in Lenovo’s Thinkcentre Neo 50q Gen3. If the rumors are true, we can expect a performance boost of almost 30 percent in the fourth generation.

best, mini, 2023, lenovo, gaming

The CPU gets support from either 16 GB or 32 GB of RAM. In terms of storage space, there is talk of a 1 TB SSD in the M.2 form factor. There is also supposed to be room for an additional 2.5 inch drive to match. A combination of a fast SSD and a large HDD would be a good choice. Of course, no real graphics card is possible in view of the compact dimensions. However, the Intel SoC comes with a suitable Xe graphics unit. In view of the fact that the mini-PC will primarily be used for office applications anyway, that should probably be enough.

Price and Availability

The Lenovo Thinkcentre Neo 50q Gen4 then shows itself to be a real office stallion when you take a look at the port diversity. Besides 5x USB-A, there is 1x USB-C, 1x HDMI 2.1, 1x DisplayPort 1.4 and 1x Ethernet. Thus, Lenovo’s Thinkcentre Neo 50q Gen4 should offer everything that is expected from a solid office PC, at least on paper. The price also sounds attractive. You should be able to buy the tiny PC for an MSRP starting at 350 Euros (~350) in June 2023.

I bought this tiny workstation — and it’s almost the perfect mini PC

Getting a new computer to replace a dying one is usually a big investment even if you decide to pick out the parts and build it yourself. However, as I wasn’t looking to replace my main PC, I decided to go a different route and pick up a refurbished system instead.

Back in the summer, I used an old monitor and an underpowered mini PC to build a digital dashboard for my office. Unlike the Echo Show 15 that now hangs in my kitchen, it’s highly customizable with all the important information I need each day — like my calendar and the latest stories from Tom’s Guide — available at a glance despite the fact that it’s running on four-year-old hardware.

Last week though, the mini PC powering my digital dashboard began acting strangely and turning off on its own. As someone who’s familiar with building PCs, I opened it up, cleared the CMOS, reseated the RAM and even reapplied thermal paste to its CPU, to no avail. My mini PC had gone to the great parts bin in the sky.

Although I could have replaced it with one of the best mini PCs, I wanted a cheaper option and knew if I looked hard enough, I could find something to meet my needs without breaking the bank. While I’m satisfied with the end result, there were certainly some surprises along the way.

Searching for an affordable Raspberry Pi alternative

Even before my mini PC officially bit the dust, I knew it was on its last legs, so I was already searching for alternatives to power my digital dashboard.

As I used DAKboard to set it up, I knew any device with a browser would work, which is why I considered using a Raspberry Pi. However, supply chain issues still remain a problem and while the Raspberry Pi 4B could be had for as little as 35 at launch, good luck finding one for less than 175 today.

In an effort to simplify my digital dashboard setup, I also considered using one of the best streaming devices as I had a Fire Stick 4K Max on hand that I picked up during Prime Day. Although I could access my DAKboard using Amazon’s Silk browser, there isn’t a way to use a Fire Stick in portrait mode.

My search for an affordable Raspberry Pi alternative also took me back to DAKboard’s site where I considered picking up a DAKboard CPU 4. However, this device is actually just a Raspberry Pi 4B with a custom case for 170 and I wanted the additional flexibility that Windows offers, since I do enjoy using a vertical monitor to get some work done.

This led me back to Amazon where, during a search for a suitable mini PC, I stumbled upon several used business workstations. These machines may not be as glamorous but they have more than enough power for my use case. While I found several models from the likes of Dell and HP under 200, I settled on a Lenovo ThinkCentre M910q Tiny (169, Amazon) as I’ve always had a fondness for its design as well as its black and red color scheme.

Plenty of ports, just not the ones you’d expect

My new — well renewed in this case — mini PC arrived a few days later in a large brown box from Amazon. Besides the device and its power supply, there was also a wireless keyboard and mouse along with a USB Wi-Fi adapter. Wait, what?

Although the listing page specified that this particular configuration came with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, my new Lenovo ThinkCentre Tiny had neither. Fortunately, the lack of on-board Wi-Fi wasn’t a deal breaker, as I recently moved my router into my office and planned to connect it via Ethernet cable anyways. As for not having Bluetooth, I actually prefer using the USB 2.4 GHz dongles that ship with many mice and keyboards instead, as there’s no pairing involved and less lag.

I was so excited to find a PC which I’ve had my eyes on since 2015 for a great price that I didn’t fully inspect the rear I/O before clicking ‘Buy Now’. Since this was a modern PC, I expected it to have at least one HDMI port instead of two DisplayPorts. A DisplayPort-to-HDMI cable let me test the system before putting it in its final home where I used a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter instead, since I had already ran an HDMI cable to my wall-mounted monitor.

I went back to Amazon and looked to see if other used business workstations came with an HDMI port — none of them did. A bit more research into the matter and I had my answer: adding a DisplayPort to a PC doesn’t cost device manufacturers a thing but it costs “10,000 per high-volume manufacturer plus 0.04 per device” to include an HDMI port according to the comparison site Diffen.

As for the rest of the specs on my renewed Lenovo ThinkCentere M910q Tiny, the device has an Intel Core i5-6500T with four cores and a base clock speed of 2.50 GHz that can reach 3.1 GHz, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a 256GB M.2 SSD and Windows 10 Pro pre-installed. Lenovo likely skipped paying the HDMI licensing fee in order to pay for the one from Microsoft.

Loads of power at a great price

With my renewed business workstation installed, my digital dashboard is now back up and running on the side of my office. In fact, I glanced at it just now to check the Tom’s Guide RSS feed in order to see the most recently published stories.

Unlike my old Zotac ZBOX CI329 though, it has enough power that I can actually use it to get some work done when I want a break from using my main PC. It’s great for checking the news to see what stories to cover next and I’ve even toyed with the idea of having Slack open on it in the background so I don’t miss any important work messages. As it’s currently hardwired to one of the best mesh Wi-Fi systems, I may even use it to test some of the best VPNs next time we update our reviews.

Sure, I could have gone with a newer mini PC instead, but at less than 200, I would have ended up with a much less capable device when it comes to raw power. This would have given me some modern conveniences like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and an HDMI port but repurposing old hardware — even if it wasn’t mine originally — is something I really enjoy. It also goes to show that if you wait long enough, you’ll be able to get a PC that caught your eye at launch for a great price.

The best gaming PCs in 2023

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Prebuilt gaming PCs have everything you need to start gaming right out of the box, plus you get a manufacturer’s warranty should anything go wrong. Buying off the shelf may not meet your needs as precisely as building your own gaming PC, but if you haven’t figured those out yet, or just want to get started right away, a prebuilt machine makes a ton of sense.

We’ve spent countless hours testing some of the most popular desktops out there by playing many hours of video games (it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it) in a bid to find the best desktop gaming PC currently available. We tested seven desktops, and out of that bunch, two builds rose to the top: a high-end option that’ll set the pace for years to come, along with a budget model that’s a good starting point with room for expansion.

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The MSI Aegis RS delivers high-end performance in blockbuster games for an affordable price, and has plenty of space for future upgrades.

best, mini, 2023, lenovo, gaming

Lenovo’s Legion 5i is a perfect budget gaming PC. It may not set any performance records, but it can provide smooth 1080p performance at a price that won’t empty your bank account.

Best gaming desktop overall: MSI Aegis RS

3,031.40 at Amazon

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MSI Aegis RS (11TE-089US Gaming) has the largest desktop enclosure of any gaming desktop we tested, but it’s arguably the best looking as well. It’s loaded with high-end components that can keep up with current AAA titles like Call of Duty or Dirt 5, but is well spec’d enough that it should survive the upcoming onslaught that is Halo Infinite later this year. The total cost of the build we tested tallies up to 2,499, and while that may sound like a lot, it’s a very competitive price for a high-end desktop.

Inside and out, the entire Aegis RS build is made up of MSI components. The matte black housing has three RGB fans in the front and another RGB fan inside the case that keeps the liquid running through the CPU cooler at a reasonable temperature.

On top of the case, you’ll find a dedicated LED button you can use to quickly change the RGB colors instead of using the software. Also located on top are the power button, a button that reboots the PC, a USB-C port, two regular USB ports, and audio in/out jacks.

Our review sample came equipped with an Intel Core i7-11700K processor, Nvidia’s RTX 3080 GPU, 32GB of memory and a 1TB solid-state drive for the operating system and some games, along with a 2TB hard disk drive for additional storage. If all of those numbers are gibberish to you, just take comfort in the fact you won’t have to make any changes or upgrades for at least a few years. Although, if you did want to add more memory or another SSD, the motherboard has space for you to do so.

On the backside of the case is where you’ll find a plethora of ports. Seriously, there are enough ports here to connect whatever kind of accessories you need. It’s also where you’ll need to attach the included antennas that provide Wi-Fi 6 connectivity. If you’d rather go hardwired, there’s a 2.5 Gigabit LAN port.

Oh, before we forget, included in the box you’ll find an MSI gaming keyboard and gaming mouse. They’re a fantastic starting point for new PC gamers, and it’s a selling point we found hard to ignore.

But enough about what’s inside the case, let’s talk performance. According to benchmarks, the Aegis RS wasn’t the fastest gaming desktop we tested, but in real-world use, it edged out the 3,799 Corsair One a200, and was powerful enough to deliver high-end performance for every demanding PC game we threw at it.

When playing Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War at 4K resolution with all the graphics settings on ultra, the system averaged 95 frames per second. The higher the framerate the better when it comes to gaming, and we generally look for at least 60 fps for smooth performance. And when we switched over to 1080p in the same game, that number went up to 137 fps. For reference, the next closest system was the Corsair One a200, which averaged 93 fps at 4K and 127 fps at 1080p.

This dependable performance extended to everyday use. Opening the Edge browser with multiple tabs, including one dedicated to YouTube videos, and working in Google Docs all at once didn’t cause a single slowdown.

MSI hasn’t installed any bloatware or anti-virus software you’ll have to deal with. It’s a clean Windows install, adding only a couple of apps you can use to manage the RGB lighting or see system stats. Controlling the RGB lights in the app is confusing and doesn’t offer many options outside of MSI’s custom presets. We stuck to using the button on the case to alter the case’s lighting. RGB lights don’t make you a better gamer, but when they look as slick as they do on the Aegis RS, you can’t help but feel like they do. We appreciate the light-handed approach, which is a somewhat rare attribute when it comes to PC manufacturers.

The only downside to the MSI Aegis RS 11TE is that the case itself is big. You’ll need to find some extra space next to your desk, or you’ll need a fairly large desktop if you want to keep it up off the ground.

The MSI Aegis RS we tested is a heck of a deal that’s loaded with modern components and provides you plenty of room to grow and upgrade in the future. But you aren’t limited to the 2,499 model we tested. Aegis RS builds start at 1,599 for a PC equipped with an RTX 3060, and max out at 3,499 with an RTX 3080 Ti.

Best budget gaming desktop: Lenovo Legion 5i

1,199 at Amazon

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Looking at price tags on gaming desktops can be panic-inducing. The Lenovo Legion 5i, on the other hand, gives you respectable performance in even the most demanding games at an affordable price. And, if you’re feeling adventurous down the road and want to boost its capabilities, all you have to do is remove a pane of glass and swap out a component or three.

The Legion isn’t as flashy as the Aegis RS, but it’s still clearly a gaming PC. The Legion logo on the front of the case has an RGB light behind it, and a single strip of RGB lights along the top of the inside of the case lights up the components behind the glass. You can change the lights through the Lenovo Vantage app, but don’t expect full control. Instead of having every color of the rainbow available to you, you’re given three choices for which lights to have on, and one color: blue. You can, however, swap out any of the fans inside the case with RGB fans of your choice if you want a more colorful experience.

The top of the case has two USB ports, audio in/out jacks, and a power button. On the rear of the case, you’ll find four USB ports and a lone USB-C port, a minimal amount compared to other desktops, but you should have enough to connect your keyboard, mouse and an external storage drive or two. There’s a Gigabit Ethernet port if you want a wired internet connection, and Wi-Fi 6 if you don’t.

Rounding out the specs is an Intel Core i5-11400 CPU, Nvidia GTX 1660 Super, 8GB of memory, a 256GB SSD and a 1TB HDD for additional storage.

The sum of those parts is a gaming PC that can handle 1080p gaming at 60 fps with ease, as long as you’re willing to tinker with graphics settings for the most resource-intensive games, like Black Ops. Heck, you might even get away with some 4K gaming on games that don’t require every ounce of processing power.

To be clear, the Legion 5i scored the lowest out of the testing group on benchmarks and real-world tests. But that’s plenty in the real world, so long as you aren’t looking for extreme graphics performance. When playing Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, the Legion easily hits a respectable 89 fps on max settings at 1080p. At 4K, though, the system starts to struggle. In the same game, it reached 29 fps, borderline unplayable for a fast-paced first-person shooter like Call of Duty.

But the Legion just isn’t built for 4K gaming anyway. Down the road, if you find you’re not happy with the level of performance, you can always buy a more powerful graphics card, gaining improved graphics with more advanced features like real-time ray-tracing and better 4K performance. Alternatively, some other Legion 5i models offer better graphics and processor performance out of the box, but cost nearly twice as much as the model we tested.

When it comes to preinstalled software, the Legion 5i doesn’t have a whole lot. The previously mentioned Lenovo Vantage is installed, but so is McAfee’s antivirus software. That’s par for the course on entry-level computers, and the Legion 5i is no different. Thankfully, once your free trial ends you can remove it with a few clicks of the mouse. And the Legion 5i handled more common computing tasks like browsing the web or bouncing between work documents with ease.

The Legion 5i didn’t blow us away, but for the money we don’t have much to complain about. For 950, you’re getting a capable gaming computer that pushes pixels perfectly well at 1080p and provides an enjoyable gaming experience. And when you’re ready, you can slowly upgrade and tweak your system. Or don’t do that at all. That’s what’s great about owning a gaming PC.

How we tested

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We tested every gaming desktop using the same 4K monitor, gaming keyboard and gaming mouse. After we connected each desktop in our testing pool to the necessary accessories, we ran a mix of performance-based benchmarks to obtain quantitative metrics that we could then combine with our personal experience during real-world use. We used Geekbench 5 along with PCMark 10’s extended benchmark test to measure multitasking capabilities.

Our daily use consisted of some work but mostly play. specifically, we ran gaming benchmarks with built-in tools for Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Dirt 5, both at 1080p and 4K, with graphics settings cranked to ultra. This gave us a good baseline of how the different PCs would handle modern blockbuster games. Benchmarks don’t tell the whole story, though. So we also spent a ton of time playing Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, noting the frame rate in 4K and 1080p, again with graphics settings as high as they could go.

To measure frame rates while simultaneously gaming, we used the Xbox Game Bar’s frames-per-second overlay, which averages the frame rate over the last 60 seconds. We would then take note of the average five times during a gaming session, and average those numbers. The end result gave us a solid baseline of what frame rate you can expect. We also paid close attention to how loud the cooling system of each PC is, while monitoring for any graphic anomalies or performance hiccups.

Outside of hands-on time, we also noted how easily these systems could be taken apart for owners to add or upgrade components on their own.

Others we tested

889.88 at Amazon

A NUC is supposed to be impressively small by design, and the NUC Ghost Canyon (or NUC 11 Extreme) is just that, with the smallest footprint out of our testing group. Don’t be fooled, however, there’s still enough room inside to fit an RTX 3080 next to the mainboard. But compactness comes at the cost of some performance, inability to easily upgrade some components, and a higher price tag than similarly spec’d standard-sized machines.

1,599 1,499 at NZXT

NZXT has several prebuilt gaming PCs in its Mini series. Each model is for a different price point and purpose. The H1 Mini Plus is the middle-of-the-road option, offering a unique computer case, with respectable components and performance at the sub-2,000 price point. We like the H1 build a lot, but the performance was on the lower end among our test group, and placement was made difficult by the fact that you have to lay the H1 on its side to access the majority of ports.

3,799.99 at Corsair

When it comes to benchmarks, the Corsair One a200 was the fastest desktop computer we tested in nearly every metric, though it wasn’t the fastest real-world performer. The case for the a200 is a sight to behold and exudes quality. It’s very expensive, however: the build we tested at 3,800 is the least expensive Corsair offers in this line.

2,389 at Origin PC

We like the playful design of the Origin Chronos. It has multiple build options, including a glass or mesh side panel, and customizable graphics panels for the opposite side. You can craft a custom gaming PC build using Origin’s intuitive website, but be careful — it quickly adds up. The RTX 3070 gave us middle-of-the-road performance just as we expected, but ultimately we found the MSI Aegis RS to be a better deal.

2,399.99 at Corsair

Corsair’s Vengeance i7200 has plenty to offer when it comes to custom configurations, spanning price points from 1,999 to well over 4,000, depending on what you want inside your PC. The tower has plenty of RGB to light up your room at night during gaming sessions and provides lots of space for the experienced and novices alike to make upgrades on their own. The i7200 was a contender for our top overall pick, but cost a bit more while offering slightly lesser performance.

Read more from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing:

Note: The above reflect the retailers’ listed price at the time of publication.

The Best Mini PCs That Deliver Compute Power In A Small Package

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Mini PCs are surprisingly capable computers whose performance often rivals that of the best laptops and desktops despite their tiny size. These mighty minis are great fits for small home offices, bedrooms or even taking to and from a workspace. While you may need to make some compromises in performance, the best mini PCs—like our top pick, the Apple Mac Mini M2—can still pack in high-end components to get the job done.

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Computers in this category are tiny and low-cost all-in-one systems that will work with a wide range of monitors, keyboards and mice (plus any extra equipment you opt to connect, such as a printer). Some of our top picks pack surprising power, like our best overall pick and our pick for best mini PC for gaming, the Intel NUC 12 Extreme Dragon Canyon (with an Intel Core i9-12900 processor, Intel UHD graphics 770, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD).

Whether you’re looking for something small and affordable, or don’t mind sizing up a little for better desktop performance, there’s a mini PC for you. After research and testing, here are all of our top pics.

  • Best Mini PC Overall:Apple Mac Mini (M2 Processor)
  • Best Mini PC For Gaming:Intel NUC 12 Extreme Dragon Canyon
  • Best Stick Mini PC: MeLE PCG02
  • Best Budget Mini PC:Beelink Mini-S 12
  • Best Budget Mini PC For Gaming:Acemagician Mini Gaming PC
  • Best General Use Mini PC: Asus ExpertCenter NP52
  • Best Mini PC For The Office: Dell OptiPlex 5000 Micro

Best Mini PC Overall

The Latest Apple Silicon Power In A Tiny Desktop

best, mini, 2023, lenovo, gaming

Apple Mac Mini (M2 Processor, 2023)

CPU: M2 | Graphics: 10-core GPU | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB | Size: 7.8 x 7.8 x 1.4 inches

Best for: Mac enthusiasts or the Mac curious.

The Apple Mac Mini M2 delivers tremendous performance and efficiency in its compact design. The highly capable Mac Mini M2 can handle most computing tasks, and it has the benefit of not taking up too much space. The Mac Mini 2 does not have the same raw power as the company’s physically massive and crazy expensive Mac Pro and Mac Studio, but its performance is nonetheless stellar–whether web browsing, researching for work or school, or editing video. It can even handle casual gaming. Inside sits the same M2 processor as in Apple’s latest MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops, but this model costs less than either of those, making it the least expensive path to a Mac computer (assuming you have a compatible keyboard, mouse and monitor around).

This mini PC is quiet too. You’d have to put your ear right up to the casing to hear its near-silent fan. And you have a choice of configurations, starting with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD (priced here) and going up to 24GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD. Plus, if you need more space, you can easily expand it externally with a Thunderbolt 3 drive for maximum performance. The Mac Mini M2 has two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, two USB-A ports, HDMI, a headphone jack and gigabit ethernet. It supports Bluetooth 5.3 and Wi-Fi 6E.

  • Impressive CPU performance
  • Multiple configuration options
  • Solid selection of ports

Honorable Mention: Home Or Office Computing Without The High Price

best, mini, 2023, lenovo, gaming

Beelink Mini PC SER5 Pro

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800H | RAM: 16GB | Graphis: Integrated AMD Radeon Graphics 8 Core 2000MHz | Storage: 500GB | Size: 4.9 x 4.5 x 1.6 inches

Best for: General purpose computing.

This configuration of the Beelink SER5 Pro comes with 16GB of RAM and a 500GB NVMe M.2 SSD. It comes with two HDMI ports, three USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, one USB 2.0 port, one USB Type-C port, one RJ-45 port and a 3.5mm audio jack. The entire unit weighs just 2 pounds, so you can hold it in your hands. Of course, you will need to connect a compatible monitor, mouse and keyboard of your choosing, but its small size is highly compelling—and its AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor can handle casual and older games.

The Beelink Mini PC’s chassis is compact and lightweight. The bottom metal panel has rubber feed to keep in from slipping around on a flat surface.

Best Mini PC For Gaming

A DIY Chassis That Handles A Full-Size GPU

best, mini, 2023, lenovo, gaming

Intel NUC 12 Extreme Dragon Canyon

CPU: Intel Core i7-12700 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 770 | Size: 7.4 x 4.7 x 14 inches

Best for: DIYers who want a petite and customizable casual and Cloud gaming machine.

This Intel NUC 12 Extreme Phantom Canyon stands out for having the space to accommodate a full-size desktop graphics card inside. The trim chassis is easy to store in tight spaces. It comes with a capable 12th-generation Intel Core processor and integrated graphics inside, but it does not include memory (it supports DDR4 RAM) or storage (it supports SATA- and M.2 PCIe-based drives). You also need to buy a Microsoft Windows license separately. Those extra costs, along with that of a monitor, keyboard and mouse, add up—and mean you can’t buy this PC and expect to use it straight out-of-the-box. But this is the ultimate system you can customize as your own.

The chassis has a ton of ports on the front and the back, including USB Type-C and USB Type-A connectors, and a convenient SDXC memory card slot. Plus, it supports Bluetooth 5.2, ethernet and Wi-Fi 6E for fast connectivity. It also supports 7.1 channel audio. Vents keep the internal components cool. While this system requires a bit of work and expense to get where you want it to go, you can fully tailor it to your needs.

  • Lacks memory, storage and operating system
  • Expensive
  • Requires you to add components to use

Best Stick Mini PC

Tiny, With Excellent Connectivity

best, mini, 2023, lenovo, gaming

MeLE PCG02

CPU: Intel Celeron J4125 | Graphics: Intel UHD 600 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB | Size: 5.5 x 2.3 x 0.3 inches

Best for: Home media server, or simple web browsing.

The MeLe PCG02 stick PC is a truly tiny computer. Measuring a similar size to dedicated streaming devices, this diminutive device is a full-function Windows 11 Pro (or Linux) PC, complete with a robust selection of ports for expanding its functionality. With twin USB 3.0 ports, an ethernet port, Micro SD card slot, and support for Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.2, you can connect just about anything to this stick PC. If you want to expand the storage, just add an external drive. Want to connect it to multiple networks? You have different ways to do that. There’s even an adjustable aerial to make sure you get good Wi-Fi coverage.

The 128GB of onboard storage isn’t big or fast, but it’s plenty for an operating system and a few of your favorite applications, and you can easily expand it with an SD card or additional hard drive. There’s support for up to 4K resolution, so you can use this as a powerful streaming device. And it has full support for Wake on LAN, so you can power it up without pressing a button. The CPU and GPU aren’t powerful, but they’re enough for basic tasks.

  • Works well as a media server or streaming device
  • Comes with Windows 11 Pro pre-installed
  • Robust port selection

Honorable Mention: An Affordable Stick PC Option

best, mini, 2023, lenovo, gaming

Aladawn S7 Mini PC Stick

CPU: Intel Celeron J4125 | Graphics: Intel Ultra HD Graphics 600 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB | Size: 5.5 x 1.9 x 0.8 inches

Best for: Handling basic computing needs at home, while traveling, or at work.

The Aladawn S7 Mini PC Stick isn’t the most high-end computer in the bunch, but it’s small, portable and comes with 64-bit Windows 11 Pro pre-installed. Weighing in at a just 0.3 pounds, you can carry this computer in a backpack, briefcase or and set it up in minutes using a monitor, mouse and keyboard of your choosing.

The S7 Mini PC Stick outputs 4K video at 4,096 x 2,160, with a 60Hz refresh rate, and it works with any monitor or projector. Its Intel Celeron processor is enough to power the basics, with a 256GB SSD, plus three USB 3.0 Type-A ports and a gigabit ethernet port. It also has Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.1 for wireless connectivity.

Best Budget Mini PC

Get The Basics For Under 200

best, mini, 2023, lenovo, gaming

Beelink Mini-S 12

CPU: Intel Celeron N95 | Graphics: Intel UHD | RAM: 8GB DDR4 | Storage: 256GB SSD | Size: 4.5 x 4 x 1.5 inches

Best for: An affordable office work machine, or a tiny HTPC.

The Beelink Mini-S 12 is larger than a stick PC, but not by much. It’s 4.5 x 4 inches, and it stands just 1.5 inches tall—which makes it sufficiently small enough to fit into a tight space. This upgraded version packs a 12th-generation quad-core Intel N95 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. This processor works well for video playback and easily handles web browsing and managing emails, for example. It’s no Intel Core or AMD Ryzen CPU, but it’s enough for a mini PC.

Even on such a small chassis, this unit has an impressive selection of ports, including four USB 3.2 Gen2 (10 Gbps) Type-A ports, perfect for fast data transfers. It also has a pair of HDMI outputs, a headphone jack and a gigabit ethernet port, but no USB Type-C ports. Plus, it has 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.2 wireless. Its small chassis has a VESA mount so you can pop it up on a wall and out of the way. It comes with a one-year warranty.

Best Budget Mini PC For Gaming

What You Need For Indie And Esports Play

best, mini, 2023, lenovo, gaming

Ace Magician Mini Gaming PC

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5500U | Graphics: AMD Radeon 7-core GPU | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Storage: 512GB SSD | Size: 7.5 x 3.7 x 9.7 inches

Best for: Esports gaming and lightweight office work.

The Acemagician Mini Gaming PC packs an AMD Ryzen 5500U mobile CPU, which includes seven AMD Radeon Vega graphics cores to deliver performance on a par with most affordable gaming laptops. That means it has enough power to handle most esports games—especially the older ones, like League of Legends or Counter Strike:GO—at high frame rates. And it can handle other Cloud and casual games, too. Serious gamers will want more than this machine offers, such as one of the best gaming laptops or the best gaming PCs. But for a basic bedroom or productivity machine you can also use to play games, this system is a solid, relatively low-cost option.

Also of note: This model packs 16GB of DDR4 memory and a 512GB SSD, making this machine snappy and responsive during everyday use. It’s a little larger than some of the other mini PCs on this list, but it’s no bigger than a console game system. Plus, this mini PC has a unique look and fancy RGB lighting which together help it stand out from the competition. It comes pre-fitted with three different performance modes, so it can easily drop its noise levels and temperatures when it matters the most.

  • Basic gaming performance
  • Impressive memory and storage configuration
  • Unique looking case with RGB lighting

Best General Use Mini PC

Handles Common Computing Tasks With Ease

best, mini, 2023, lenovo, gaming

Asus ExpertCenter PN52

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 | Graphics: Integrated Radeon Graphics| RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB | Size: 5.1 x 4.7 x 2.3 inches

Best for: Perfect for home or business computing using a compact device.

The core configuration of the Asus ExpertCenter PN52 stands out for its use of an AMD Ryzen 5 processor, and you can upgrade the system with more RAM and a larger SSD if needed. This mini PC comes with a solid collection of ports, including two HDMI, one DisplayPort, one USB Type-C, a 2.5 gigabit ethernet and a 3.5mm audio port. In other words, it’s ready to handle most everyday computing tasks you throw at it (once you add a monitor, keyboard and mouse, of course). The ExpertCenter PN52 can support up to four 4K displays. And it has Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity.

The Asus ExpertCenter PN52 stands up to military STD-810D durability tests, so it can withstand extreme temperatures, humidity and minor drops. And it comes with Windows 11 Pro pre-installed. You also get Xbox Game Pass integration, so this mini PC can handle basic gaming.

Best Mini PC For The Office

Big Dell Power In A Small Form Factor

best, mini, 2023, lenovo, gaming

Dell OptiPlex 5000 Micro

CPU: Intel Core i7-12700T | Graphics: Intel UHD 770 graphics | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 256GB | Size: 7.2 x 1.4 x 7 inches

Best for: Handling mid-level computing tasks running Windows.

While the Dell OptiPlex 5000 Micro comes with Windows 10 Pro pre-installed, you can upgrade to Windows 11 Pro for free. At the time of purchase, you can also easily customize your system configuration by adjusting the RAM, storage and whether to bundle a keyboard and mouse combo.

This configuration includes the Dell Pro Wireless Keyboard and mouse, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD for storage. It also has Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 wireless connectivity. For ports, you get a strong selection—one ethernet, one HDMI, four USB 3.2 Type-A, one USB Type-C port and two DisplayPort 1.4 inputs—not too shabby for a computer that weighs a mere 2.1 pounds. This model targets IT departments with software that facilitates managing the PC client and security, and ProSupport and priority access in case you have questions.

  • Plenty of configuration options at time of purchase
  • Variety of inputs
  • Very portable

Honorable Mention: Less Than 1,000 Gets You This Lenovo Mini PC

best, mini, 2023, lenovo, gaming

Lenovo ThinkCentre M80q Tiny

CPU: Intel Core i7-10700T | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 256GB | Size: 7.2 x 7 x 1.4 inches

Best for: Computer users looking for a balance between small size and good performance.

The Lenovo ThinkCentre M80q Tiny packs solid performance into a small chassis. This unit uses an older 10th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, and pairs that still-capable processor with 16GB of RAM. On the front of the unit sits a 3.5mm audio port, one USB Type-A port and one USB Type-C port, along with a power button. On the back, there’s an ethernet port, three more USB Type-A ports, a slew of additional ports—VGA, serial, DisplayPort, HDMI and RJ-45. You can use the Lenovo ThinkCentre M80q Tiny with up to three monitors.

Since this model targets business users, it includes a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 chip to encrypt passwords and BIOS-based Smart USB Protection to prevent unauthorized users from plugging in and accessing your files. You also get a Kensington lock slot so you can lock the computer to your desk. It comes with Windows 11 Pro pre-installed.

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