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The best mini gaming PCs are almost like a Playstation 5, but they do more stuff and look cooler. These pint-sized powerhouse computers are perfectly suited to fill that console-sized void in your life.
Also, while they are more versatile than most game consoles, setting up and maintaining a gaming PC can be slightly more demanding from a technical standpoint.
While the diminutive size of these computers is their claim to fame, it’s important to consider whether you plan to upgrade any of these down the road as their small and often unique form factors can make upgrades an awkward endeavor for even the most seasoned PC builder.
Our Top 3 Picks Of Best Small Factor Gaming PC
Intel NUC 9
Customizable Small Factor Gaming PC
There’s not much that the Intel NUC 9 can’t handle; it sports an Intel i9-9980HK Quad-Core Processor, 64GB RAM, a 2TB SSD hard drive, and AMD Radeon RX Vega M GH graphics card. That means it’s ready for pretty much any game you throw at it, plus it’s VR-ready, which is great if you’re keen to immerse gaming experience.
Impressively, all that power has been crammed into a small mini-PC form factor that almost looks like a console rather than a PC. It’s sleek and small enough that you could bundle it into a messenger bag before taking it elsewhere (roughly six pounds). It also has enough ports to support 6 independent 4K displays if you ever need to host a LAN party.
Pros and Cons
- Extensive I/O options
- Easy to customize
- Noisy under load
Speedy Small Factor Gaming PC
The Aurora R11 could replace its predecessor as the best gaming desktop of the year. In some of the lower-tier models, you can opt for an AMD card. In the second tier, you can swap out an AMD Radeon RX 5700 (8GB GDDR6) graphics card for the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 (6GB GDDR6) at no additional cost. You can choose your chassis, liquid or air cooling, different wattages, single or dual drives, and different amounts and types of storage.
While some gaming PC towers boast bold designs with transparent glass, RGB fans, and enough colors to make you feel like you’re at a rave, the Aurora R11 takes a much different design approach.
The R11 is unassuming—not too flashy and not too loud. It’s elegant and simple in appearance with subtle strips of lighting on the front trim of the oblong chassis. This looks like a computer for someone with refined taste, as opposed to a colorful spectacle.
There are ports galore on this rig. It has multiple USB ports, and it even has USB-C ports. One of the front USB ports has PowerShare, which is a nice feature for charging devices.
When you connect a hard drive to one of the fast USB ports, games loaded up with impressive efficiency. The Aurora R11 is able to handle pretty much anything you throw at it.
As long as you have a good router, the R11 will hold a great connection for gaming. The adapter is rock solid, and can maintain a stable 5G connection. Of course, you can also choose to hardwire and connect an Ethernet cable if you prefer.
Like most gaming PCs, the R11 runs on Windows 10 Home. You can opt for additional software like Microsoft Office and McAfee antivirus protection while you’re customizing the PC during purchase.
The R11 also includes the Alienware Command Center, which is one of the more useful applications. This proprietary app allows you to tune and create custom profiles for different games and programs.
You can create special light settings for the tower, view your temperature history, adjust thermal settings for your fan or liquid cooling, customize audio tuning settings, set up power schedules, and more. Gamers can also view overclock settings for their GPU.
The R11 comes in air cooled or liquid cooled configurations. I tested an air-cooled configuration. There’s a fan in the front that sucks air into the PC, and then there’s larger venting along the top and sides that helps push the air through the PC to cool down the processors. The fans are strategically placed for the optimal airflow, with a fan on the top that helps promote air circulation
Pros and Cons
- Speedy 10th Gen Intel processor
- Several customization options
- Liquid or air cooling available
- High-end configurations are pricey
- Puts out substantial heat
MSI Trident X
Upgradable Small Factor Gaming PC
The MSI Trident X is a fairly large gaming PC considering it’s still considered a mini system. But it’s worth it if you can find the extra room on your desk or countertop unit. Sticking with a small form case, it has room for an Intel i9-9900k processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, 64GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD for storage. In a nutshell, the larger frame of the Trident X means it can include the best specs and hardware of any mini PC we recommend you buy, hands down.
The MSI Trident X is impressively powerful, whatever game you play on it is going to look and run fabulously on this system. The graphics card, in particular, is powerful enough to offer Ray Tracing technology, one of the latest graphical flourishes out there that bounces light rays in a realistic way on any surface that reflects light.
It’s a good looking system, too, with a tempered glass side panel so you can view the fans as they work, along with Red Green Blue (RGB) case lighting. And it has a mix of eight USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports if you love plugging in accessories.
Pros and Cons
- Compact form factor
- Tons of storage
- Base model is overkill for most AAA gaming
The Aurora R11 is extremely customizable, and you can choose exactly the components you want. You can select either a 10th Gen Core i5, i7, or i9 processor, and for graphics, you can get the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER if you go for the base model, or go all the way up to two (yes, two!) NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti cards in the highest tier model
With the shortages of next-gen consoles showing no signs of stopping, snagging a brand new mini gaming PC is the best way to experience the latest games at tier best possible quality.
These machines do come with a series of trade-offs, however. While lower-end models won’t cost any more than a current-gen console, some of the more premium models can cost upwards of triple what you’d pay for your typical console.
With a 10th Gen Intel Core processor, optional liquid cooling, and dual NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti cards in the highest level model, the Alienware Aurora R11 is an absolute monster. Visit Amazon.com to see other options.