Mini Desktops, Full Power
Ditch those hulking tower PCs. These days, you can get quad-core processors, built-in wireless, multiple hard drives, and even DX11 high-end 3D graphics in compact PCs. Here are the top 10 mini desktops today.
It’s likely that when you bought your first desktop computer years ago, you absolutely had to have a tower PC, otherwise you would’ve felt short changed out of the computing experience. Adding additional features like wireless networking, wired networking, modems, and 3D graphics via PCI and AGP cards was the rule of the day up until the mid-2000s. But these days, buying a tower can be overkill, unless you’re a professional gamer or video editing virtuoso.
Now, you can get quad -core processors, built-in wireless, multiple hard drives, and even DX11 high-end 3D graphics in compact PCs that give up very little to their humungous tower cousins. Compact desktop computers can include tiny non-expandable boxes like the Apple Mac mini, but they can also entail slightly larger PCs with a Small Form Factor (SFF) chassis like those on the HP Compaq 8200 Elite. You’ll even find compact PCs like the Alienware X51 on the game grid with enthusiast-level 3D graphics cards. Along with the touch screen all-in-one desktop, the compact form factor allows you to maximize the technology in your computer versus the space it takes up in your workspace.
One of the best things about the new mini desktops is that many of them are priced below $1,000. Back in the day when tower PCs reigned over all, $1,000 was the base price of the cheapest PCs. About $1,000 will buy you an entry-level gaming PC that will destroy the $5,000 PC from a half-decade ago. More often than not, the sub-$750 small form factor PC will seem fast enough to last your family or business two, three, or even five years into the future.
FEATURED IN THIS STORY
Apple Mac mini (Thunderbolt)
In addition to being as powerful as a tower PC, the Apple Mac mini (Thunderbolt) innovates and sounds the death knell for the optical disc. Read the full review ››
Acer Revo RL100-UR20P
For such a slim PC the Acer Revo RL100-UR20P is able to squeeze a Blu-ray player, a wireless trackpad/keyboard remote, and a slew of other features for an inexpensive price. Read the full review ››
Acer Veriton L4610G-Ui5240W
The compact Acer Veriton L4610G-Ui5240W has the chops to complete many general business tasks, but it’s a bit limited compared with larger competitors. Read the full review ››
The Shuttle X6100 is a very compact quad-core desktop PC with a speedy SSD. If those words are Greek to you, then this swift system may not be the right choice. It’s a Small Form Factor (SFF) system for people who care about speeds and feeds and who are willing to pay for it. Read the full review ››
If you have a need for an inexpensive system for your undemanding business users, the Cybernet ZPC-D5 nettop delivers a full PC for not a lot more than what you’d pay for a tablet. Read the full review ››
HP Pavilion Slimline s5-1060
The HP Pavilion Slimline s5-1060 is one of the smartest buys in the small form factor PC space, thanks to its Core i5 processor, 1TB drive, and a rich selection of entertainment options, like Blu-ray, a TV tuner, and Beats Audio. Read the full review ››
Polywell Poly ITX-Z6800
The Polywell Poly ITX-Z6800 is a mini-PC with a polished design and premium parts, but a complicated hybrid-drive causes more problems than it solves. Read the full review ››
HP Compaq 8200 Elite USDT
The HP Compaq 8200 Elite USDT is a compact desktop that isn’t burdened by legacy hardware, which makes it a good choice for businesses dealing mainly with information on the LAN or on the Internet. Read the full review ››
Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p
The Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p defines the enterprise-class desktop, with an easy-to-service yet sturdy chassis. Its Intel Core i5 processor will satisfy your workers for a while. Read the full review ››
By Joel Santo Domingo, PCMag