Apple Mac Mini

Last updated date: July 1, 2019

DWYM Score

8.2

Apple Mac Mini

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We looked at the top Desktop Computers and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Desktop Computer you should buy.

Update as October 14, 2020:
Checkout The Best Desktop Computers for a detailed review of all the top desktop computers.

Overall Take


In our analysis of 80 expert reviews, the Apple Mac Mini placed 8th when we looked at the top 15 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

From The Manufacturer

Expert Reviews

Expert Summarized Score

7.7
10 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

9.1
2,381 user reviews

What experts liked

The most notable change is that instead of using older Intel i5 and i7 laptop processors, the new Mac mini uses newer four- and six-core Intel i3, i5, and i7 desktop processors, which should offer much better performance.
- New York Times Wirecutter
One of the benefits of having a flexible system like the Mac Mini is that you can hook it up to any display you have sitting around, and you're not locked into the included screens built into the iMac desktops.
- CNET
February 11, 2015 | Full review
It’s the same old Mac mini, in the familiar frame, but with a new and attractive space gray finish.
- The Verge
November 16, 2018 | Full review
The most impressive thing about the new Mini is its selection of ports.
- Engadget
As we mentioned before, the Mac Mini is the cheapest way to dive head-first into Apple’s Mac operating system, otherwise known as macOS.
- Tech Radar
November 27, 2017 | Full review
You can connect common external devices such as hard drives and Blu-ray burners using Thunderbolt for maximum performance.
- Consumer Reports
The Mac mini is the cheapest of Apple's desktops, but each of Apple's home computers has its own advantages.
- Tom's Guide
October 30, 2018 | Full review
Apple touted the Mac Mini's performance on Tuesday, noting that it was up to five times faster than the previous generation.
- Wired
October 30, 2018 | Full review
As is often true of Macs, the hard drive is a stunner, hitting a read speed of 2,753MB/s and a write speed of 1,238MB/s
- Digital Trends
Otherwise, this design has stood the test of time. It still looks great with its slick and simple design, which should appeal to those looking for something elegant to side beside their monitor.
- Pocket-lint
November 19, 2014 | Full review

What experts didn't like

but you should get as much storage as you need when you buy it, since Apple uses proprietary solid-state storage that you can’t easily upgrade after the fact.
- New York Times Wirecutter
Upgrades are expensive, and aftermarket upgrades are nearly impossible.
- CNET
February 11, 2015 | Full review
but limited graphics performance holds it back in certain cases.
- Engadget
RAM isn't user-upgradable, No quad-core options, Can't run 4K at 60Hz.
- Tech Radar
November 27, 2017 | Full review
There's no VGA video connector, or a separate adapter is required.
- Consumer Reports
Bigger and heavier than other mini PCs.
- Tom's Guide
October 30, 2018 | Full review
No discrete graphics option is available. That means you’re out of luck if you want to play even the least demanding 3D games.
- Digital Trends
Sadly in 2014 those options are gone. There's no option to upgrade the RAM even if you do get into the casing, as it's soldered to the board, as revealed in an iFixit teardown.
- Pocket-lint
November 19, 2014 | Full review

Our Expert Consultant

Patrick Ward 
Editor-in-chief of High Speed Experts

Patrick Ward is the editor-in-chief of High Speed Experts, a broadband connectivity-, search engine- and IT-industry education blog that empowers consumers by open-sourcing information about tech services. He earned his bachelor’s degree in commerce with an emphasis on communications at the University of Sydney. His expertise spans the digital, emerging tech and telecommunications fields.

An Overview On Desktop Computers

The PC market has definitely shifted — today, you see more laptops and tablets in people’s homes than desktops.

“What used to be a staple of households, has now been taken over by the convenience and portability of laptops and tablets,” DWYM’s resident technology expert Patrick Ward, editor-in-chief of IT industry education platform and search engine blog High Speed Experts, says. “The key reason why you should buy a desktop over a laptop is simple: power.”

Desktops have come a long way over the years. You no longer need a large tower connected to a monitor. Instead, you can get peak performance from a small box tucked away in the corner of your desk. You also have the option of an all-in-one desktop, with the processing power packed into the display itself. These options free up your workspace, leaving plenty of room on your desk for stacks of forgotten reports and junk mail.

Don’t be fooled by the space savings, though. Technology companies have simply found a way to do far more in a smaller space. There’s a reason for that. Today’s applications require peak performance. You’ll need to search for a computer with the processing power to handle what you’ll be doing.

Playing games online specifically requires high-quality graphics and computing power, which makes desktops essential. More than that, they allow you to improve various elements without buying a whole new unit: “Not only can desktops be more powerful when you initially purchase them, they also can be upgraded with increased memory space and processing power,” says Ward.

One of the major components to consider is RAM, or random access memory.

“RAM speeds up your computer by storing real-time system information that you request,” Ward explains. “In other words, if you are using a video editing software or playing video games that make many requests a second, you’re going to want a lot of RAM. 8GB is the recommended minimum, but consider getting higher RAM if you’ll be running multiple programs at once (e.g. rendering a video while playing a video game).”

Next, you’ll want to explore storage capabilities. You’ll likely come across two main types of storage devices, internal hard-disk drives (HDD), and internal solid-state drives (SSD). An SSD can house 120-240GB, while an HDD holds 400GB-2TB. Many desktops will have both types of drive, but only need one.

“The generally accepted best practice is to place large media files on the HDD (videos, music, family photo albums) and essential programs, plus the operating system,” Ward says.

Video streaming quality is also a consideration. If you plan to stream video from your computer to a TV or large monitor, you’ll want to make sure you choose a computer with the power to handle the video resolution you desire. Some desktops have the graphics power to support high-definition displays. It’s important to look for this functionality upfront in case you’ll want it down the road.

No matter what your level of tech proficiency, setup can be a big consideration. Many all-in-one computers are designed to be put together quickly, so that may be a bonus. A kit is for those who want to put serious time into building a computer to be exactly how they want it.

Peripherals are also worth considering. Your all-in-one computers will probably come with a keyboard and mouse in the box, giving you everything you need to get started. However, these accessories aren’t typically of the highest quality, so if you’re picky about peripherals, you may end up replacing them anyway.

Lastly, there’s price. All-in-one pricing runs the gamut, but if you’re a gamer, you may find yourself paying more. For a bargain, you can’t go wrong with the Acer Aspire Desktop Computer. Just make sure you factor in the cost of a monitor. A kit setup requires so many add-ons, you’ll want to price everything before you make the decision to go that route.

The Desktop Computer Buying Guide

  • Before you start shopping, consider the type of desktop you want. The HP Pavilion All-In-One Desktop is an all-in-one unit. This means everything you need is in the monitor. Simply connect the keyboard and mouse to the monitor and you’re ready to go.
  • Some models connect to a monitor in the traditional sense, but they’re really small. You’ll have to attach it to a monitor or TV, so keep that in mind. You’ll also have to buy a keyboard and mouse that’s compatible with the unit.
  • The Intel NUC 6 Mini MC Kit is designed to be part of a do-it-yourself desktop setup. You’ll need to purchase RAM, a hard drive and an operating system, but it works with Linux if you want to avoid the hefty price for Windows 10.
  • If you’re a gamer, the HP Pavilion All-In-One Desktop is the best option. It offers solid gaming performance. The Dell Inspiron All-in-One Desktop, 27″ has an 8-core, 3 GHz processor that will easily handle the upcoming increase in virtual reality games. The HP Pavilion All-In-One Desktop has AMD Radeon R5 graphics designed to tackle even the most intense games.
  • The performance of the Intel NUC 6 Mini MC Kit is best for non-gaming applications. It has a 6th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, as well as an Intel Iris Pro Graphics. If you’re a casual gamer or just use it for work, though, you’ll find it suffices.
  • One of the best uses of the Intel NUC 6 Mini MC Kit is streaming TV shows and movies. Intel Iris Pro Graphics powers higher resolutions, making it perfect for watching video on 4K displays. This feature is also great for video and photo editors.
  • Your computer naturally becomes part of the aesthetics of the area where you set it up, so design can be an important consideration. The HP Pavilion All-In-One Desktop has a thicker, more standard bezel, but it’s still very attractive.
  • Look for a desktop computer with a vibrant 4K matte display that makes images pop. You’ll get more color contrast, thanks to an HDR 10 screen.
  • You’ll also get impressive video with the Intel NUC 6 Mini MC Kit, which provides Iris Pro 580 high resolution, giving you crisp images and offering 4K resolution even when spread across multiple monitors.
  • Another big decision you’ll need to make is whether you want a touchscreen monitor. The HP Pavilion All-In-One Desktop has a touchscreen, while other desktops don’t.
  • The Intel NUC 6 Mini MC Kit doesn’t come with a display, mouse or keyboard, so you’ll need to have to be prepared to purchase those separately. With the HP Pavilion All-In-One Desktop, a mouse and keyboard are included. However, these aren’t top-of-the-line peripherals, so you may end up replacing them anyway.
  • The Intel NUC 6 Mini MC Kit looks portable, but its power brick is surprisingly heavy. If you’re looking for portability, you may be disappointed.
  • When purchasing any computer today, ports are a big part of the decision. Some models have an HDMI in, HDMI out, seven USB ports and a universal headset jack. The HP Pavilion All-In-One Desktop has only three USB ports. The Intel NUC 6 Mini MC Kit has a full-sized HDMI port, Thunderbolt 3, a Mini DisplayPort and two USB ports.
  • As far as setup’s concerned, the easiest options only require you to screw on the base to get started. A single screw does the job. You don’t even need a screwdriver. The Intel NUC 6 Mini MC Kit is not geared toward the novice or even intermediate computer user. You’ll need to purchase peripherals and parts and ensure they’re compatible, then hook everything up and track down an operating system to install.
  • As complex as the Intel NUC 6 Mini MC Kit can be to set up, it does offer more compatibility than other desktop options. With the HP Pavilion All-In-One Desktop, though, you can upgrade the processor, graphics, RAM and storage.
  • Models that use Windows Hello login utilize the computer’s infrared camera to log you in using facial recognition.
  • It may not be a top priority, but if you plan to sometimes use the webcam, you’ll want to check to make sure your desktop has that feature. Some models tend to provide odd angles. With the HP Pavilion All-In-One Desktop, Intel NUC 6 Mini MC Kit, you’ll have to purchase a camera separately.
  • If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, you can’t go wrong with the Acer Aspire Desktop Computer, although you’ll also need to budget for a monitor if you don’t already have them. The HP Pavilion All-In-One Desktop is the more budget-friendly all-in-one option.
  • One benefit of the HP Pavilion All-In-One Desktop is that it runs quietly.
  • Some desktop computers come with Chrome OS installed. This means you won’t have Windows preinstalled. Still, you can fully operate using the Chrome operating system once you get used to it.