While I have a lot of time for big bulky gaming PCs—you know, the type that light up like a Christmas tree and hum with the sweet sound of whirring fans—there is room in my life for other types of PC as well. Not much room to be fair, but room all the same. Which is why this Christmas sale of tiny PCs on Minisforum (opens in new tab) piqued my interest. Saving up to $220 while picking up a compact system is a good deal in my book, especially where there's a surprising amount of power on offer.
Head over to the Minisforums website and you'll be met with an array of Intel and AMD systems that can be kitted out in a variety of ways, with prices starting as low as $299. That'll net you an AMD Ryzen 7 2700U machine (opens in new tab), which won't do much for your hopes of gaming on the cheap, but it'll handle boring office stuff easily enough. At least it will when you add some memory and storage.
The cheapest option for a more up-to-date system starts at $479. That gets you the barebones version of the EliteMini HM90 (opens in new tab), which packs an AMD Ryzen 9 4900H into its tiny form, although you'll need to add your own memory and SSD to actually make it a usable system. You can buy it with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD for $649 instead if you'd prefer.
If you've got a bit more to spend, then the new Ryzen 9 5900HX in the EliteMini HX90 (opens in new tab) should be of interest. That's also an eight-core, 16-thread mobile CPU, but it has a higher boost clock of 4.6GHz as opposed to 4.4GHz and it benefits from being based on AMD's Zen 3 architecture as opposed to the 4900H's Zen 2. Again the cheapest model is the barebones kit, lacking RAM and an SSD, but coming in at $649. Add 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD and you're looking at $829.
While there are plenty of good mobile APU-powered machines to be had from the lineup, the machine that stands out most makes use of the AMD Ryzen 7 5700G (opens in new tab). It's a bit on the pricey side, but if you're looking for a tiny machine that can turn its hand to some gaming, then this is a surprisingly capable little system.
EliteMini X500-5700G | AMD Ryzen 7 5700G | 16GB RAM | 512GB SSD |
$959 $859 at Minisforum (save $100) (opens in new tab)
With a footprint of just 6-inches square, this tiny machine is surprisingly capable when it comes to serious work and it's not too bad when it comes to gaming either. Set the settings in games a little lower than you're used to, and you can hit decent framerates in plenty of games at 720p and even 1080p.
One of the neater features of these machines is they come with VESA mounting kits, so you can hide them out of sight by attaching them to the rear of your monitor. Although that almost feels like a crime given how dinky they are.
Obviously, none of these machines are going to replace your main gaming machine, but as a second system—one for the home office, say—they are all surprisingly capable. They're tricked out with plenty of ports and connectivity options, with the latest models packing Wi-Fi 6 support and 2.5Gb ethernet as standard.