For anyone looking to slim down their rig, one of the best mini PCs for gaming is perfect for packing lots of power in a very small space. You’d be surprised at the speed, sound, and graphics that smaller PCs can put out, at a fraction of the size of the typical PC gaming tower. Some may even qualify as being portable, with a few extra accessories and a couple of compromises. Here is our thorough compilation of the best and most impressive mini PCs for gaming available right now.

Best Overall: Intel NUC 9
Best Under $500: ASUS Mini PC PN63
Best for Retro Gaming: Beelink SER3
Best Compact: MeLe Quieter 2Q
Best Splurge: Alienware Aurora R10 Liquid-Cooled Gaming Desktop

How We Picked the Best Mini PCs for Gaming

Everything from smartphones to gaming consoles is getting smaller and more powerful, so it only makes sense that the gaming PC world follows suit. Mini gaming PCs aren’t a new concept, but recently, they’ve gotten mighty impressive, and perhaps more importantly, affordable. Here are some things we considered when picking out the best mini PCs for gaming. 

Speed: It’s almost impossible to do any modern gaming on a PC that lags behind in the speed department, and even some of the quicker models will heat up pretty quickly when you overclock them. The best of the best stay cool even when running demanding titles like “Crysis 3” and “Cyberpunk 2077.”

Graphics: After processing speeds, graphics are perhaps the most crucial things for mini PCs for gaming to get right. What good is a Steam library full of triple-A titles if you’ll be forced to run them in 720p to get your PC running right? While an external GPU can give a boost to cheaper models, a well-made device will run great right out of the box. 

Ports: How many USB, display, and HDMI ports should a mini gaming PC have? The short answer is “enough”. It depends on what kind of gaming you plan on doing on your new mini marvel. Some will be happy with a fast mouse and mechanical gaming keyboard; others will need to accommodate multiple gamepads and at least one arcade fight stick. More is better, in any case. 

Aesthetics: Good form doesn’t always mean good function, but in the case of mini PCs for gaming, a sleek-looking number usually means that your little device will at least pack some power. Plus, considering it will be small enough to park on your desk, you want something that looks good enough to show off.

Best Mini PCs for Gaming: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Intel NUC 9

Impressive Build. Intel

Why It Made The Cut: A solid CPU and great operating system make this mini PC for gaming an emulation beast. 

Specs: 

Dimensions: 10 inches L x 8.5 inches W x 4 inches H
Weight: Seven pounds
CPU: Intel Core i7
RAM: 16 GB
Operating System: Windows 11 Home
Hard Disk Space: 1 TB

Pros: 

— Unique shell with great build-quality
— Fast processing
— Great emulation machine 

Cons:

— Runs pricey

The Intel NUC 9 is the latest in a line of popular mini PCs for gaming, and this iteration is one of the best out-of-the-box offerings available on the market right now. 

A gaming PC, mini or not, lives and dies by its CPU, and the one inside the Intel NUC 9 is no slouch. The Intel Core i7 makes for fast, gorgeous processing to play plenty of your favorite triple-A titles. It’s also powerful enough to run more demanding emulators for legacy consoles, like Nintendo 3DS and PS3. With 1 TB of hard disk space, you’ll be able to download a good chunk of your Steam library, or at the very least, the games you play regularly. Its shell sports a cool-looking skull, and the honeycomb screen provides some of the best cooling for a mini PC. Considering the processing speed and CPU, this could easily work as your dedicated desktop PC. Two USB-C and an SD card port on the front of the device make for great accessibility too. The only clear downside is that it’s one of the priciest models offered here, especially when you consider you have to provide your own peripherals, including at least one good gaming monitor

Best Under $500: ASUS Mini PC PN63

Built To Last. Jaime Carrillo/Futurism

Why It Made The Cut: A visually powerful and fast mini PC, even if you've got to bring provide your own storage solution. 

Specs: 

Dimensions: 6.89 inches L x 11.25 inches W x 2.7 inches H
Weight: 3.38 pounds
CPU: Intel Core i5
RAM: 32 GB
Operating System: None
Hard Disk Space: None

Pros: 

— Incredibly easy to customize
— Up to 5K display resolution
— Put through the ringer for the best protection 

Cons:

— BYOS (Bring your own storage)

It's incredibly impressive what ASUS has done with its Mini PC PN63 device, which is great for gaming. It comes with one catch, and depending on how you feel about hardware upgrades, it's a biggie. 

The ASUS Mini PC PN63 doesn't have a hard disk, so you'll have to install one if you plan on using it. It doesn't come with an OS either, but it does support Windows 11 Pro and Linux. And despite the fact that you need to provide your own storage solution, ASUS makes updating your device as easy as Apple used to do with its mini PCs and laptops. All you need is a screwdriver, and about 10 minutes of spare time. No need to hire it out to one of your techy friends. What it lacks in hard disk space, it more than makes up for in technical prowess. It can support up to three displays and is 5K resolution ready. Even some PCs in this price range still struggle with that. ASUS Mini PC has been tested to survive everything from vibrations to drops, and exceeds even the highest industry standards for safety. Out of the box, and with some storage, this mini PC is more than ready for gaming, and you can even give it an extra edge by upgrading the ram, which tops out at 64 GB. Not too shabby, especially considering its price. 

Best for Retro Gaming: Beelink SER3

Emulation Beast. Beelink

Why It Made The Cut: A solid CPU and great operating system make this mini PC for gaming an emulation beast. 

Specs: 

Dimensions: 4.4 inches L x 4.96  inches W x 1.57 inches H
Weight: 2.25 pounds
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7
RAM: 16 GB
Operating System: Windows 11 Pro
Hard Disk Space: 500 GB

Pros: 

— Comes with Windows 11 Pro
— Efficient cooling
— Great emulation machine 

Cons:

— Loud fan

There are gamers who are still stuck in the past when it comes to the titles they enjoy playing. Beelink SER3 will run just about any legacy console emulator with ease. 

While NES, N64, and even GameCube emulators will run on most smartphones nowadays, newer legacy consoles don’t always run so well on mini PCs. With the AMD Ryzen 7 CPU, not only can Beelink SER3 run PS3 games but will likely also be able to handle Wii U and some Xbox 360 titles. With five USB ports, you’ll be able to set up at least a couple of 16-button gamepads, and even some dedicated classic-style controllers for full retro immersion. There’s nothing like playing a classic title like “Super Mario World” on a big, bright OLED screen in glorious 4K. Beelink SER3 can connect up to three 4K displays, so it can double as a workhorse when you’re not gaming. It comes with Windows 11 Pro, the most up-to-date system built to get the most out of your specs. Unlike many mini PCs for gaming, this device cools efficiently, even when you overclock. However, it does this using a loud fan, though it may not trigger unless you’re playing everything on the highest possible performance settings. 

Best Compact: MeLe Quieter 2Q

Pint-Sized Powerhouse. MeLe

Why It Made The Cut: Good specs in a size no larger than most modern smartphones make this one an impressive entry.

Specs: 

Dimensions: 4.3 inches L x 6.54 inches W x 2.6 inches H
Weight: 1.12 pounds
CPU: Intel Gemini Lake Celeron J4125 Quad-Core
— RAM: Eight GB
Operating System: Windows 10 Pro
Hard Disk Space: 120 GB

Pros: 

— Very low profile
— Expandable storage
— Easy setup

Cons:

— Runs hot

There’s a growing trend in gamers using Android phones as their go-to gaming devices, considering devices like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra are almost as powerful as some PCs. The MeLe Quieter 2Q splits the difference, being an unfathomably small mini PC for gaming.

It’s about the size of a standard smartphone and is so small you can likely tuck it behind your monitor. If you plan on taking your PC with you, this is easily the most portable, especially if you pack it along with a good-quality, portable monitor. It comes with an impressive 8 GB of RAM, but a measly 120 GB of storage, though like any great mini PC, it’s upgradeable. You can expand the storage with a new solid-state drive or micro SD card. Setting it up is about as easy as setting up a new smartphone too. And while it does come with Windows 10 Pro, don’t expect this tiny machine to perform miracles. Even when it is performing surprising feats, expect it to run hot considering it doesn’t have a fan. Keeping this device cool will be half the battle, but its price point makes this a good backup. It’s also the most portable and tucks into any desk drawer easily. 

Best Splurge: Alienware Aurora R10 Liquid Cooled Gaming Desktop

Glorious Performance. Alienware

Why It Made The Cut: This scaled-down tower is the priciest in the pack, but can square up against the big boys with powerful performance and an intuitive cooling system. 

Specs: 

Dimensions: 8.7 inches L x 17 inches W x 18.96 inches H
Weight: 39.4 pounds
CPU: AMD Ryzen 9
RAM: 32 GB
Operating System: Windows 11 Home
Hard Disk Space: 2 TB

Pros: 

— Amazing processing and graphics
— Easy port accessibility
— Improved chassis with quiet cooling 

Cons:

— Incredibly pricey
— On the chunkier side 

Mini PCs rarely deviate from looking like off-brand Mac Minis, but smaller tower gaming PCs like the Alienware Aurora R10 are becoming more and more popular. 

Its attractive shell will look fantastic whether it's tucked under a desk or on top of it, complete with case lighting. Inside the chassis are quad 10mm copper heat pipes with integrated vapor chambers which means fast and steady cooling, even when you’re overclocking those specs. Load times will become a mere memory, as Alienware Aurora R10 comes powered by the AMD Ryzen 9 CPU and the latest Windows operating system. Massive as it is, it’s built with accessibility in mind, with four USBs and two audio ports on the front of the PC, so you won’t have to struggle and fuss with wires behind the massive device. And for a mini PC for gaming, this processing beast is easily one of the biggest, not to mention, the heaviest. It’s also the priciest model featured here, but it may last you a bit longer than others considering how powerful it is right out of the box. You can always update parts down the line, and get even more life out of the gorgeous and sturdy shells. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Mini PC for Gaming

Realistic Expectations

Impressive as they are, mini PCs can’t perform miracles. While they are getting better and better, they will always lag behind tower gaming PCs when it comes to performance, speed, graphics, and overall reliability. That said, for many, a tower gaming PC may simply be too much. Not everyone is looking to overclock “Doom: Eternal” or “Cyberpunk 2077.” Mini PCs are great for emulation and indie titles, which are far less demanding when it comes to specs. Of course, the more you spend on a mini PC for gaming, the better you can expect its performance to be. The Beelink SER3 is impressive and can likely run most of the games you own, even if you have to turn down the performance settings. While it's a good bit larger than many in the pack and incredibly expensive, the Alienware Aurora R10 Liquid-Cooled Gaming Desktop is a scaled-down tower that can run just about every game under the sun with relative ease. 

Optional Add-Ons

The best part about opting for a smaller, lighter gaming PC is the prospect of making it at least a little portable. Sure, you’ll need a power supply, but even airports and trains usually offer outlets for anyone to use, including PC gamers on the go. All you need is a good portable monitor like the ASUS ROG Strix 17.3-inch Gaming Monitor. It runs for up to three hours before needing to be charged with an ungodly 240Hz refresh rate. A good portable gamepad, the PB Tails Choc is lightweight and feels great in your hands, and takes up about as much space as a package of Reese’s Cups. 

Of course, the potential for portability aside, any great accessory made for gaming PCs will work equally well on a mini PC for gaming. A good mechanical keyboard and gaming mouse will help you get the most out of your mini PC for gaming. We recommend the Alienware Trimode Mouse and the Razer Huntsman Mini, both of which will allow you to save some space on your desktop, no matter which mini PC you opt for. 

Adding an eGPU to Your Mini PC for Gaming

Like any great gaming PC, mini PCs are customizable and upgradeable. Granted, some are easier to switch up parts than others, but there’s one addition to a mini PC that doesn’t require you to break out a screwdriver. Plugging in an external GPU (eGPU) is the easiest way to get better performance out of even the most lackluster specs. This allows you to dip your toes in the mini PC for gaming space, and likely save a bundle compared to a new tower PC. If you find that your new mini PC is struggling to run your favorite games, plugging it into an eGPU will bump up graphics, speed, and overall performance. You’ll need an enclosure for the GPU, and we recommend Razer Core X because it's compatible with both NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards. You will also need a graphic card of course, but make sure that you get the right one for your gaming needs. This may require a little research on your part, considering how polarizing opinions can get when it comes to graphic cards. 

FAQs

Q: Are mini PCs good for gaming?

Even the best mini PCs will occasionally struggle to play new games, but they’re excellent for playing older titles and emulating legacy consoles.

Q: Is the Beelink mini PC good for gaming?

Beelink mini PCs, including the Beelink SER3, are great for playing less demanding games, streaming, and emulating retro games.

Q: What is the best brand of mini PC for gaming?

Intel NUC 9 is a great brand for gaming mini PCs, but the AMD-powered Alienware Aurora R10 Liquid-Cooled Gaming Desktop is also good. 

Q: Are mini PCs powerful enough for gaming?

Yes, mini PCs are powerful enough to game, though expect to make a few compromises with more demanding titles like “Crysis 3.” 

Q: Do mini gaming PCs overheat?

Many mini PCs have a hard time staying cool, so ensure that you get one with effective cooling if you want to overclock your specs. 

Q: Can you play “Minecraft” on a mini PC?

You can play “Minecraft” on just about any mini PC, including every device listed in this roundup. 

Q: How much does a mini PC cost for gaming?

Mini PCs for gaming run anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to upwards of a thousand, depending on the specs they sport. 

Final Thoughts on Mini PCs for Gaming

Mini PCs for gaming are getting better and better, and more importantly, more affordable. They make for a well-rounded device that can run a good number of modern games and emulate some of the more demanding consoles like PS3 and Wii U. For an incredibly small mini PC, the MeLe Quieter 2Q clocks in at a size smaller than many smartphones with a surprising amount of power to boot. For those looking for a smaller gaming PC with unmatched performance, speed, and graphics, the Alienware Aurora R10 Liquid-Cooled Gaming Desktop is a beast built for gaming and comes in smaller than many tower PCs.

This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.


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