Desktop Computer Recommendations

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We’ve updated this guide to include the M2 Mac mini as our first choice and the M2 Pro Mac mini as an upgrade.

Desktop Computer Recommendations

Desktop Computer Recommendations

If you’re looking for a simple, small desktop computer that won’t take up much space in your home or office, consider a mini PC. These computers are best for everyday tasks like working on documents and spreadsheets, browsing the web, taking video calls or watching TV. However, our top picks are also strong for editing light media, and our editing options are fast enough even for professional photo and video editors.

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For those who prefer Windows, the HP Pro Mini 400 G9 is the best choice, and MacOS users should buy the Mac Mini with Apple’s M2 processor. They are smart little computers that you can stick under the monitor or behind the monitor, saving space on your desk. A more powerful innovation is the Apple Mac Mini with the M2 Pro processor, which competes with high-end desktops in the ability to edit photos and videos.

The HP Pro Mini 400 G9 is a basic PC that is perfect for home or office use. It runs on Intel’s latest processors, which are energy efficient and more powerful than everyday tasks. It has all the ports you need to connect multiple monitors, and offers the latest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. We love that the Pro Mini 400 is so customizable; You can change and upgrade the storage drive, RAM and processor. And HP’s competitive pricing on this model means you can get more RAM and storage for $300 less than you’d pay for a refurbished Apple Mac Mini.

The Mac Mini offers great performance, and the system’s fans are quiet even when you’re editing photos or videos or compiling code.

If you like macOS, get the Apple Mac Mini with Apple’s M2 processor. This fast little Mac desktop can sync with your iPhone or iPad, as well as Apple services like FaceTime and iMessage. For daily touring and general use, an M2 Mac Mini with 8 GB of memory is enough, even if you plan to use yours for professional photo and video editing or application development, then the memory should increase to 16 GB. Keep in mind that you can’t upgrade your Mac Mini’s memory or storage after you buy it, so you need to make that decision beforehand. Apple’s internal storage upgrades are quite expensive so you should look into external hard drives or portable SSDs if you need more space.

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The Mac Mini with the M2 Pro and 32 GB of RAM can speed up most media editing applications, and can connect up to three monitors.

By upgrading the processor in Apple’s Mac Mini to the M2 Pro, you get the same blistering processing speed found in the almost new MacBook Pro half price. Compared to the previous upgrade options, the Mac Studio with the M1 Max chip, the Apple Mac Mini with the M2 Pro processor has lost some useful features, such as the USB-C port on the front. and an SDXC card reader, but you pay a little more — a measly $700, in fact — for a faster drive. It’s also whisper quiet, even under heavy processing load, so you can keep it on your desk and forget it’s there.

Dave Gershgorn has analyzed and covered technology since 2015 in publications such as Popular Science, Quartz, Medium and now Wirecutter. As a senior staff writer, he covers all computer displays for Wirecutter and is a certified display calibrator through the Imaging Science Foundation. He has also been designing, building and maintaining his own computer coolers since 2006.

Desktop Computer Recommendations

A mini PC is a small computer that packs all the components of a desktop tower into a briefcase-sized box. There’s no built-in display, mouse or keyboard, so you’ll have to buy your own. (See our guide to the best monitors for our recommendations on what’s best for you.) Despite the small size of these desktops, they’re more powerful for browsing. the web, for basic image and video processing and working with large documents or spreadsheets.

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Unlike ultrabooks or most PCs, Windows mini PCs are easy to upgrade if you want to add more memory or storage, and have all the ports you need to connect two or three monitors and your favorite keyboard. , mice and. Web camera. The mini PC’s size prevents much expansion, but you can upgrade the storage and memory on most Windows models, and some even let you swap out the CPU. Instead of a dedicated graphics card, you’re usually stuck with integrated graphics, so don’t expect your mini PC to have enough power to play many modern games; You can add an external graphics dock if your mini PC supports Thunderbolt 3 or higher, but such docks tend to be bulky and expensive.

Two of Apple’s flagship desktops fit into this mini PC category, and they’re not the same as Windows mini PCs. They are not upgradeable or customizable, but there are powerful versions available in the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Their chips are energy efficient, and they’re almost silent, because they don’t need a lot of fan cooling to run properly; The Mac Mini has one, but it’s almost imperceptibly quiet.

You can find a mini PC for less than $250, but a Windows PC in this price range has an unusably slow processor and less memory and storage than most people need. We didn’t look at low-cost standalone computers, such as those from the Raspberry Pi, and we won’t include them in our definition of the term “mini PC”. ARM-based computers are slow, designed for hobbyists and designed to run standard Linux software.

After we established our hardware requirements, we searched the websites of major PC manufacturers such as Acer, Apple, Asus, Dell, HP, Intel, and Lenovo – and went through the listings of smaller manufacturers such as Gigabyte, MSI , Shuttle, and Zotac – to find models to test.

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We started our tests by powering up each mini PC and then running all available operating system and hardware updates. Then we ran the benchmarking program Geekbench 5 and ran 10 minutes of single-core and multi-core benchmarks in Cinebench R23 – this process gave us a good idea of ​​​​how the computer performs in general use and when running at full speed. for a long time.

We then connected each mini PC to a set of 24-inch, 27-inch and 4K monitors to test the display results and used them for a few days of hard work. A typical process involves running a web browser with at least 15 tabs open at once (Google Docs, Sheets, Gmail, Slack and more), streaming music through the Spotify desktop app, video chatting and sound recording. This test allowed us to get a feel for how each mini PC performs on a day-to-day basis, and also gave us time to spot any bloatware-related quirks or driver issues.

The HP Pro Mini 400 G9 is a simple, customizable laptop that’s fast enough for everyday tasks and general use. It’s small enough to fit behind a monitor, which you can easily fit into a computer’s VESA mounting holes, and the fan isn’t too noisy.

Desktop Computer Recommendations

Inside the Pro Mini 400 there is a 12th generation Intel Core i5-12500T processor, which in our tests felt fast to use and did not crash with several functions at once. The model we tested also had 16GB of RAM, which was more than enough for us to have a lot of tabs open, stream videos and run apps with ease.

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In this guide, we have linked to the configuration of the Pro Mini 400 which in our opinion offers the best value and options, but you can configure the PC on the HP website to include more RAM, processor better or Wi-Fi Fi antenna, if you want. (We had no problems with the standard antenna.) One upgrade that might be worth using is the Flexible Port option to add an extra USB-C port on the back of the PC, as HP says it can work with the power of the port. The whole mini PC if you have a monitor that can produce 100W of power via USB-C. This means you only need one power cable for your display and have one USB-C cable connecting your display to your Pro Mini 400, providing video and power. If you place the PC behind the monitor, your setup will be clean and save space.

Keep in mind that if you are building your own PC, you should be sure to include a wireless card for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as this option is not selected by default.

If you’re agnostic about your computer’s operating system, that’s an advantage

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