Best Mini PCs and NUCs Windows Central 2021
Windows PCs come in all shapes and sizes, and whatever your needs, there'll be a computer out there to suit you. A mini PC is a particularly good choice for your school-age kids, too, since you'll be able to pack a full PC to work on into something that will fit in even the tightest of spaces. If a mini PC is what you're going for, though, the first place to start is the outstanding Intel NUC 10.
- Best Overall: Intel NUC 10 Performance
- Budget Buy: Chuwi HeroBox
- Build it Yourself: ASRock DeskMini
- Good for Media: Chuwi CoreBox
- Best for Gamers: Zotac Magnus
- Pocket PC: Azulle Access3
Best Overall: Intel NUC 10 PerformanceStaff favorite
Intel continues to push the boundaries, and its latest high-end Next Unit of Computing (NUC, another name for mini PC), the NUC 10, is very impressive. You now get a 10th Gen Core i7 processor inside, though it is the variant without the Iris Plus graphics. You need to supply RAM and solid-state drives (SSDs), with up to 32GB of DDR4 and both Intel Optane and 2.5-inch drives supported, alongside more ports than you'd find on many larger desktop rigs.
Budget Buy: Chuwi HeroBox
This neat looking little box is a full PC with 8GB of RAM, expandable storage, and even the latest USB-C connectivity. It's limited to an Intel Celeron processor, but at this price, that's expected, but the HDMI port on the back can still output 4K video. It comes with a 180GB SSD, and your options to expand it include microSD card or adding a 2.5-inch mass storage drive. The icing on the cake is a VESA mount to attach it to the back of your monitor.
Build it Yourself: ASRock DeskMini
This affordable little box from ASRock is a brilliant barebones kit that comes in forms for both 8th Gen Intel CPUs and AMD Ryzen APUs with integrated graphics. You get the chassis and the motherboard with an external power brick while supplying your CPU, storage, and RAM. The end result can be either a budget build or a high-performance system; the choice is entirely yours.
Good for Media: Chuwi CoreBox
With this stylish little PC, Chuwi took a different route to offer decent performance but also keep the cost down. Instead of a Celeron, you get an older, 5th Gen Intel Core i5 processor inside with 8GB of dual-channel RAM, a 256GB SSD, and the ability to output 4K video while also supporting DX12. With two video outputs, too, as well as plenty of USB ports and gigabit Ethernet, this little PC comes packing.
Best for Gamers: Zotac Magnus
How about a tiny PC that also has enough power to properly game on? Would an RTX 2080 Super suffice? Zotac has done the impossible and produced the Magnus, a tiny little PC which at the top end does have NVIDIA's latest RTX Super GPUs inside along with 9th Gen Intel processors. At the entry-level, you're getting a 7th Gen Core i3 and a GTX 1050 Ti, which is still nothing to sneer at in something this small.
Pocket PC: Azulle Access3
You can't get smaller than a PC stick, and this little number from Azulle is a neat little system in something that quite literally fits in your pocket. Despite this, it has both Ethernet and Wi-Fi, a pair of USB ports and Bluetooth, and is powerful enough to drive a 4K video output. All from something you can plug in to any HDMI display and power over micro USB.
Choosing what's best
Despite their size, all of these machines are full, capable Windows 10 PCs. But when it comes to the small PC, Intel continues to lead the way with its NUC line. The latest NUC 10 packs the latest CPUs from the company, performance, a tiny size and plenty of chance to tailor the PC to your own needs.
When going for a mini PC, it's always going to be worth considering a barebones kit, and the Intel or AMD flavored ASRock Deskmini is a stunning choice. You'll have to provide the CPU, RAM, and storage, but ASRock makes it so you can wrap it all up in a stylish, capable little PC when you're done.
Equally, it's impressive how much you can stuff inside a mini PC nowadays. Zotac has gone bananas with the outrageous Magnus, squeezing a full gaming PC into a box you can easily hold in one hand. It shouldn't be possible to have an RTX 2080 Super in something this size, but here we are!
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