A mini PC comes in handy for a (home) workplace with little space. Unlike a laptop, you can connect your own monitor, keyboard and mouse to it. Some models can even be placed on the back of a screen or television with the help of a VESA adapter. Want to buy a mini PC? In this article we discuss seven models in various price ranges.
Virtually all mini PCs contain components originally designed for the laptop industry. Think of mobile processors, SO-DIMM memory modules and M.2 SSDs. These parts take up little space and have low energy consumption. In addition, these components often work well in combination with passive cooling. In short, they are ideal features for the small housings of mini PCs.
Compared to traditional desktop PCs, mini PCs offer less expandability. Logical, because after all, the space is more limited. Sometimes you can store an extra memory module, M.2 SSD or 2.5-inch disk. The processor is usually soldered to the motherboard and can therefore not be upgraded. Also pay attention to how many monitors you can connect to the machine.
The cheapest models are fine for basic tasks such as surfing the internet, e-mailing and editing documents. More expensive systems allow you to do more complex things, such as photo and video editing. For 3D gaming, the mini systems generally fall short.
Medion Akoya S23002 (€ 329,-)
This mini PC is currently only available in Medion’s own webshop for sale. Despite the limited availability, we don’t want to deprive you of this Akoya S23002. With a purchase price of 329 euros, this product is very cheap. It is an interesting model for those who do not place so many system demands on the mini PC.
You can mount the 5.4 × 21.1 × 19.8 centimeter housing on the back of a monitor with the included VESA mounting bracket, and the manufacturer also includes a wired mouse. The Intel Celeron J4105 processor is responsible for the calculation. Four computing cores are tuned to a nominal clock speed of 1.5 GHz. Incidentally, according to Intel, this CPU can work with a maximum clock frequency of 2.5 GHz. The case also contains 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of SSD storage. There are no expansion options, because all slots are occupied.
The Akoya S23002 controls a maximum of two monitors. One downside is that the machine supports the outdated VGA video port in addition to HDMI. The front has two USB ports, while the back contains another four USB connections. For internet you can use Ethernet or the integrated WiFi adapter.
Finally, the machine also supports bluetooth 4.1, so that you can connect a wireless keyboard, for example. There is also a version of this PC with 512 GB of storage space, 8 GB of RAM and a faster processor.
Zotac ZBOX CI625 nano (Approx. €500)
With a volume of 1.8 liters, the recently released ZBOX CI625 nano is a compact PC. The housing measures 20.4 × 6.8 × 12.9 centimeters, so you can easily place this device out of sight. If desired, use the supplied VESA adapter. The machine uses passive cooling to dissipate heat. As a result, the mini PC hardly produces any sound. Incidentally, the system cabinet offers no space for a power supply. This part is located in the adapter cord.
Although it is a barebone, an Intel Core i3 processor is already installed. The two computing cores of the i3-1115G4 achieve a clock speed of 4.1 GHz in turbo mode. There is also room for two DDR4 memory modules (SO-DIMM) with a maximum capacity of 64 GB. A SATA connection for a 2.5-inch disk and an M.2 slot is available for data storage. In addition, the front contains a memory card reader. Users can install an operating system themselves. According to the computer manufacturer, the ZBOX CI625 nano is compatible with Windows 11.
At the back, the housing has two video ports, namely HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.4. The maximum resolution is 4K at a refresh rate of 60 hertz. For networking purposes, users can rely on the dual gigabit port or Wi-Fi 5 adapter. For the latter option, the manufacturer provides a WiFi antenna. Finally, this barebone supports bluetooth 5 and thunderbolt 4.
ASUS PN41-BC031ZV (Approx. € 330,-)
Under the PN41 umbrella, ASUS is developing several affordable mini PCs, including the widely available PN41-BC031ZV. If you look carefully, you can purchase this product for less than three hundred euros. The square box of brushed aluminum is 11.5 × 11.5 centimeters in size. Thanks to a height of 4.9 centimeters, the housing fits perfectly in an audio furniture. Handy in case you want to set up a home theater PC (HTPC). The total capacity is only 0.62 litres. Logically, there is no room for a fan. Nevertheless, the device produces no sound due to the passive cooling.
Despite the compact size and the relatively low purchase price, the PN41-BC031ZV has interesting features. Connect up to three screens via HDMI, USB-C and/or DisplayPort and start Windows 10 Pro. This operating system is pre-installed on a 128 GB SSD. The maximum resolution for the video output is 4096 × 2160 pixels at a refresh rate of 60 hertz. You can connect various peripherals using the five USB ports. Furthermore, the machine can handle Ethernet and WiFi 5.
The existing Intel Celeron N4500 processor is not a high-flyer, which makes this mini PC especially suitable for simple computer tasks. Two computing cores are set to a nominal clock speed of 1.1 GHz. According to Intel, the CPU is suitable for a maximum clock frequency of 2.8 GHz. Furthermore, the case contains a SO-DIMM memory module of 4 GB RAM.
Apple Mac mini (2020, M1) (€799.10)
apple asks almost eight hundred euros for his cheapest Mac mini, but this computer can be found at a lower price at several (web) stores. If you look carefully, you will pay about 730 euros for this product. The case is not as compact compared to some of the other mini PCs in this review. The flat system cabinet measures 19.7 × 19.7 × 3.6 centimeters and therefore has a volume of 1.4 liters.
For the computing performance, Apple’s own chipset has been integrated. The so-called Apple M1 processor contains eight cores. In addition, the system has 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD storage. This version of the Mac mini is also available with more RAM and storage space at an additional cost. If you store a lot of apps and your own data, you can consider a copy with an SSD of 512 GB or 1 TB. There are also models with an Intel processor.
Users connect up to two displays via HDMI and thunderbolt. For connecting peripheral accessories, the sturdy housing contains four USB ports and two Thunderbolt connections. For Internet access, plug a network cable into the Ethernet port or register the system on the wireless network. With support for Wi-Fi 6, the Mac mini communicates with the fastest wireless networks. Finally, a bluetooth5 adapter is also integrated.
Acer Chromebox CXi4 i7429 (Approx. €880)
Laptops with Chrome OS are of course well known, but there are also desktop PCs with Google’s operating system. The Chromebox CXi4 i7429 from the Acer stable is only 4 × 14.85 × 15 centimeters in size, so you can easily attach it to the back of a monitor. The calculation performance is fine. Four computing cores of the Intel Core i7-10610U processor are tuned to a clock frequency of 1.8 GHz. If that turns out to be insufficient for heavy Android apps, the CPU in turbo mode will reach a clock speed of up to 4.9 GHz. There is also 16 GB DDR4 memory.
The operating system boots from an NVMe SSD. It is 256 GB in size. If you find the storage capacity too small, you can store a microSD card on the front. In addition, the front offers access to two USB3.2 ports. The back contains another four USB connections, one of which is USB-C. Connect as many displays via two HDMI2.0 ports. You can also connect a third monitor with a USB-C connection. For internet access, this system has Ethernet and a WiFi 6 adapter. If desired, you can connect a headset, headset or keyboard via Bluetooth 5.1.
The i7429 is a pricey version of the Chromebox CXi4. Acer also produces this mini PC in cheaper variants. If you mainly perform light PC tasks in Chrome OS, then you can consider a more affordable copy with an Intel Core i3 or Celeron processor. For the cheapest version of the Chromebox CXi4 you pay less than three hundred euros at certain (web) stores.
MSI Cubi N JSL-043EU (Approx. € 279,-)
The MSI Cubi N JSL line includes multiple affordable mini PCs. The recently released JSL-043EU is a good example of this. This product is for sale at various well-known (web) stores for less than three hundred euros. All technology is housed in a black housing of 11.6 × 5.05 × 11.2 centimeters. The Taiwanese manufacturer supplies a VESA mounting bracket, so that you can attach the mini PC to the back of a monitor or television.
Under the hood is an Intel Celeron N4500 processor with a nominal clock speed of 1.1 GHz. According to Intel, the two computing cores tolerate a clock frequency of up to 2.8 GHz. A module with 4 GB DDR4 memory is integrated. Two memory slots allow users to upgrade to up to 16 GB of RAM on their own initiative. Windows 11 Pro is on a 128 GB M.2 SSD.
Despite the small size, the most important connections are available, although we do miss USB-C and a memory card reader. The front and back each have two USB3.2 connections. For video throughput, you can use the HDMI1.4 port. It is possible to connect a second screen, although this is done via the now outdated VGA output. Finally, the MSI Cubi N JSL-043EU supports Ethernet, WiFi and Bluetooth.
Bleujour Kubb (From € 645,-)
Bleujour develops fashionable mini PCs. Such is the Kubb available in just about every color of the rainbow. Useful in case the system is placed in a prominent place, for example in the living room or presentation room.
As the product name suggests, it is a square box of 12 × 12 × 12 centimeters. In the cheapest version, the French brand does not provide the machine with an operating system. Interested parties can optionally choose Windows 10 or Windows 11 (Pro) during the ordering process.
Conveniently, you can compose the content of the Kubb to your own liking. You can choose from an 11th generation Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processor. Keep in mind a hefty surcharge if you opt for a faster processor. For example, Bleujour asks no less than 550 euros extra for the i7-1185G7. In addition, you can choose between 8, 16, 32 or even 64 GB DDR4 memory.
For housing the operating system and apps, the mini PC contains a 500 GB, 1 TB or 2 TB NVMe SSD. Optionally, you can add a second 2.5-inch storage carrier of up to 2 TB. The most expensive version of the Kubb costs more than two thousand euros. Due to the high computational potential, the system has a fan. By the way, a version with passive cooling is also available under the name Kubb Fanless.
The connection ports are identical on each copy. Connect all kinds of peripherals via eight USB ports. Two of them have a USB-C input with support for Thunderbolt 4. The striking housing also has two HDMI 2.0b connections, Ethernet, WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5. The manufacturer gives a three-year warranty.