Previously, we discussed some of the best Mini PCs (https://linuxhint.com/best-mini-pc/) along with top-of-line Linux compatible Mini computers (https://linuxhint.com/best_mini-computers_linux_compatible/). For this article, we are taking a look at the best Core i7 mini PCs available today. These mean little machines give you enough power to run everything – from browsing to content creation as well as gaming.
1. Intel NUC 8 Mainstream Kit
Intel’s NUC8 mainstream NUC8i7BEH has an impressive build quality. And it’s incredible how much power Intel can put into these SFF systems. Depending on your needs, you can equip a decently usable system with its help well under $800. Plus, it works right out of the box with Linux distros such as Ubuntu 18.04 and Proxmox VE.
You get an 8th Generation Intel Core i7 8559U Processor, M.2 22×42 / 80 slot for NVMe or SATA SSD, Dual Channel DDR4 2400 SODIMM support with up to 32GB support, 2.5 inches SSD/HDD bay, and an Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655. The integrated graphics are adept enough to play AAA titles such as Assassin’s Creed Origins, Witcher 3, Far Cry 5 in full HD at low settings, averaging approximately 27fps.
Sure, there’s a bit of intermittent noise from the fan, but it’s almost unnoticeable. It also has excellent connectivity with its four external USB 3.1 ports and a USB Type-C Thunderbolt connector. The hard drive support is a bit limited as it only supports a single SATA drive.
The CPU and GPU duo would work well as mid-range gaming or video/audio system. If you want a tiny PC to run as a home media or a home control server, this could be your machine.
Buy Here: Amazon
2. Intel NUC 9 Extreme Kit
Intel NUCs pioneered SFFs computers back in 2013. But, it took quite a while for the manufacturer to develop their first model explicitly designed for high-end gaming. The NUC 9 Extreme supports AAA titles like any pro gamer’s PC. But of course, it depends on which graphics card you pair it with.
Inside, there is a 9th Generation Intel Core i7-9750H (NUC9i7QN) with Intel UHD Graphics 350 MHz – 1 15 GHz. Besides, it supports Intel Optane SSD along with Intel Optane Memory M10. It’s also H10 ready. It’s also highly upgradeable. You can add a dual-slot desktop graphics card up to 8 inches in length. That’s insane, considering the PC itself is merely half an inch longer.
The design of this NUC is also pretty unique, which helps with better cooling and low fan noise. Both sides being mesh allow better inflow, and the dual fans at the top serve as a vertical exhaust. As for connectivity, the kit can take care of up to three 4K displays at the same time as it comes with 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports and an HDMI 2 0a for maximum performance boost.
Overall, the Intel NUC 9 is a massive leap for SFF PCs. Thanks to its desktop-level upgradability, the NUC 9 is one of the best long-term investments. However, its higher cost may not be suitable for people on a tight budget.
Buy Here: Amazon
3.HUNSN 4K Fanless Mini PC
The HUNSN’s 4K Fanless model is another one of the best Core i7 mini PC available today. And it provides even more customization options. In addition to choosing your favourite Core i7 processor, there are over a dozen configuration options to suit everyone’s needs.
For starters, you can choose between Intel Quad Core I7 models such as 8550U, 8565U, 8559U, 8569U, and 8650U. Additionally, this kit is compatible with up to 65Gb RAM, 512 GB SSD NVME, and a 5TB HDD. It runs two large monitors in full HD with no problem. One HDMI to HDMI and the other with the help of the Display Port out from the system to VGA via an adapter.
The computer has no fans and is completely silent. So much so that the silence is quite eerie. The outer part is metallic in the form of an aluminum heatsink which helps dissipate heat when overclocking.
So, this is an excellent tiny computer for online video game streaming. It can even decode H.265 for much better compression than the previous H.264. Last but not least, It is compatible with both Windows and Linux OS and can even dual boot very quickly.
Buy Here: Amazon
4. MSECORE Mini Desktop PC
If getting a bare-bones kit isn’t your cup of tea, go for MSECORE’s fully assembled Mini Desktop PC. Sure, it’s not one of the cheapest options on the block, but the sheer performance it brings to the table is unmatchable. And did I say it’s super fast?
The reason? this system packs an Intel Core i7-9700 3.00 GHz chip, 16GB DDR4 RAM, and a 256G SSD. What’s more, it even has a 4GB GTX 1650 Discrete Graphics card to give you the graphics performance you have come to expect from mid-range computer systems. As for connectivity, it supports DP, DVI, USB 3.0, and HDMI video output. There’s no USB C port, though.
Because it has a full aluminum outer shell, its heat dissipation is exceptionally well. On top of that, the graphics card has dual fans to help cool down the temperatures. So there is no throttling when you are pushing this mean little machine to its limits.
If you don’t mind paying a premium, this mini desktop PC will take care of most of your gaming and productivity needs. However, as it is a fully assembled kit, don’t expect to upgrade it in the future.
Buy Here: Amazon
5. WEIDIAN Mini Desktop PC
You know that adage, looks can be deceiving? Well, it’s true for this little beast from a less familiar brand. The Weidian mini desktop PC delivers rock-solid gaming performance without taking up much space on your desk. You can mount it on the back of your monitor so that all the wires are nicely tucked away.
It packs a Quad Core i7 7820HK processor and comes with Intel HD Graphics 630. You can pair this combo with up to 64GB RAM and 512 GB SSD to get a maximum performance boost. Additionally, it comes with all the connectivity options you have come to expect from the leading computer brands, including Bluetooth, Wifi, DP, HDMI (4K out), and USB 3.0
The nicely contrasted black and white mini PC measures just 5.91 * 5.39 * 2.56 inches. This makes it one of the smallest Mini PC available today. It uses a built-in fan for cooling, which can get a bit noisy when the specs are pushed to their max. So far, this is the only limitation of the WEIDIAN Mini Desktop PC.
That said, in terms of performance, this i7 mini PC is surprisingly fast for the price. You have to pay 2-3 times for a similar spec of a famous brand. Weidian also offers a three years manufacturer warranty, so this unknown brand is definitely worth checking out.
Buy Here: Amazon
Buyer’s guide – best Core i7 Mini Pc
Below are the three most important things to keep in mind when shopping for an i7 mini PC.
Mobile CPU or a Desktop CPU
In Core i7 chips, there are mobile-grade CPUs as well as desktop-grade CPUs. Choose one depending on your usage. Mobile grade CPUs don’t offer the same juice in performance as a desktop-level CPU. So how do you differentiate between the two? A dead giveaway is a letter such as K or T (Core i7 7820HK) for a desktop-grade chip. Mobile chips have either U, Y, or G7, etc.
Already configured or Bare Bones.
A mini PC comes in two forms. You can get it pre-configured in which all the components along with the OS are pre-installed. On the other hand, a bare-bones kit is just a casing with a motherboard, a processor, and built-in connectivity. For instance, take a look at Intel NUCs on this list. You have to purchase additional components to get started. It gives you more flexibility in terms of what you want to get but can be a hassle for non-techies.
Integrated or Dedicated Graphics
A small form factor of these mini desktops leaves little room for dedicated graphics. However, some top-of-the-line models, like the Intel NUC 9 Extreme Kit on this list, allow you to add your preferred graphics card. Keep in mind, though, and your options will still be limited due to the small form factor of these PCs. If you are building a gaming PC, look for dedicated graphics card support.
The options you have for connectivity, the better it will be. Wifi, Bluetooth, USB 3.0, USB C thunderbolt, DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort are essential ports. Not all models come with all of these ports. Some brands even require a mini PCIe express card for Wifi, which can be a hassle.
Mini PCs come with mounting kits. These kits let you attach (and hide) them to the back of your monitor. If you want to save some space, make sure your preferred model has an option for mountability. But first, make sure your monitor complies with the VESA mounting standard. Some don’t.
Best Core i7 Mini PC systems are used by enthusiasts who want a home lab in minimal space, custom builders who configure them for a specific purpose such as gaming, home users who love a quiet, small computer. And others who want a system that takes up the bare minimum workspace. Try any of the i7 Mini PC above, and we are sure you will not be disappointed. That’s all for now. Have a great day!