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Mini PCs with Windows 11: Economical & compact alternative to desktop PCs from €119

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Mini PCs with Windows 11: Economical & compact alternative to desktop PCs from €119

Mini PCs running Windows can be a real boon. The devices are small and can be stored unobtrusively. They also easily replace the home PC for office applications. Not only does this save electricity, it also keeps the room cool – something that cannot be overestimated, especially in attic apartments in the summertime. Thanks to ever stronger integrated graphics units, it is now even possible to gamble – albeit with older games without complex graphics. The devices come fully assembled with Windows pre-installed and function as a plug-and-play solution.

Mini PCs have several advantages: They are small, handy and can be hidden so well. Many models also offer a standard fixture Vesa 100 × 100, which allows you to screw the mini PC tightly behind the monitor. This ensures a tidy desk, which cannot necessarily be achieved with the dongle on laptops. A possibly underestimated advantage here is the possibility of taking a mini PC with you – one wonders: where and for what? But this way you can use your own computer directly at different locations without setting it up again. People in particular who drive to work anyway and therefore do not work on the go do not necessarily need a laptop. A mini-PC that can be used at home and at work can take this place without any problems.

In addition, the systems are extremely economical, which cannot necessarily be said of classic desktop PCs. Most CPUs in mini PCs consume 15 to 30 watts, while those in desktop PCs require between 60 and 100 watts. Of course, not in idle mode without a high load, but even there the combined consumption of all components in our gaming PC is over 100 watts.

We looked at mini PCs with Windows 11 from different price ranges. Processors such as Intel Celeron or Pentium, which are only suitable for office and multimedia, can be found for up to 300 euros. There are a few models with an Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3. Finally, in the price range up to 500 euros you will find models with the significantly more powerful Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5. If you are looking for models that can even be used for photo and video editing, you will find the powerful processors Ryzen 7 and Core i7 from 500 euros.

First of all, something to watch out for: 8 GB is no longer necessarily enough for working with Windows these days. As with laptops, however, this is all the more important to note with mini PCs in particular, since main memory (RAM) is permanently reserved for the integrated graphics unit, which it needs to cache the content. Browser applications, such as Microsoft Teams or similar, can also use large amounts of RAM – in our test sometimes up to 3 GB in a meeting. If you only have 8 GB of RAM, you will quickly reach the limit here. In any case, you should plan for a certain buffer, especially since the surcharge is usually less than 50 euros.

In addition, it is important to pay attention to a reasonably current processor generation, because what five years ago was still a Ryzen 7 and thus the peak performance, today stinks quite a bit compared to some Ryzen 3 and Ryzen 5. The generation can be found in the nomenclature of the manufacturers at the first place of the designation.

If you’re looking for a cheap and office-ready mini-PC, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Models that offer enough power for classic surfing and writing work are available for less than 300 euros. For example, we tested the Blackview MP60 and can recommend it with a clear conscience. This currently costs around 170 euros at Amazon if you activate the coupon in the shopping cart. You get 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB of SSD storage and an Intel Celeron N5095.

Don’t expect miracles from this and similar processors. The system runs well, but games and heavy editing software should be avoided. In the PCmark benchmark, the device only achieves just under 2300 points, while the Digital Content Creation area with photo and video editing is bobbing around at 1700 points. However, the system is economical, only 30 to 40 watts are consumed including the monitor. This is an excellent value, especially considering that some 27-inchers with WQHD alone consume 50 watts and more.

Below we show the models under 300 euros, sorted by price:

In addition to the newer Celeron and Pentium processors, there are already Core i3 and Ryzen 3 CPUs in the price range between 300 and 500 euros. The performance is no longer strictly limited to pure document processing and surfing. You can get by with this for a few more years without hitting the performance limits. The devices offered here are perfect as a multimedia center on the television. On the other hand, if you look around on Aliexpress, you can get a lot more for your money. The Mini-PC Topton new mini pc gamer amd ryzen (203 to 555 euros) comes in the basic version with Ryzen 5 4500U without RAM and memory, but can be configured up to a Ryzen 7 7730U, 64 GB RAM and 2 TB memory. The small computer should therefore offer a performance that comes dangerously close to that of other models in the price range up to 700 euros.

We rather advise against spending between 300 and 500 euros for a mini PC that only uses an Intel Pentium or Celeron. The following applies here: Either you take more money in your hand and look around for more than 500 euros, or you reach for one of the numerous models under 300 euros, which are also based on the Celeron or Pentium series. The price-performance ratio is good up to 500 euros if you buy a model with Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7 and Core i5 or Core i7. Here it is worth taking a look at Aliexpress, Banggood and others.

We reach the extremely interesting price range in terms of performance between 500 and 700 euros, where the price-performance ratio is also right. The processors Intel Core i7 and AMD Ryzen 7, sometimes also Core i9 or Ryzen 9 have a lot of power and are therefore really suitable for a full-fledged desktop replacement – even when it comes to photo and video editing. Geekom provided us with such a mini PC with good performance – the Mini IT 11. An Intel Core i7-11390H with four cores and eight threads serves as the basis. This is worth mentioning because the 12th generation of Intel’s Core i7 processors always have at least ten cores. Since then, the manufacturer has relied on a big-little architecture, as is already known from SOCs (System on a Chip) from Android smartphones. The focus here is on more economical efficiency cores and individual performance cores with a lot of power.

In the case of the IT 11, this does not ensure an intoxicating, but very pleasant performance, which makes working with it fun. In PCmark, the system achieves a total score of almost 4800, the Digital Content Creation Score is 4900. Compared to the Blackview MP60 (test report), this is an increase in performance of 180 percent! In the test, we used the device every day in the office, which means working with documents and team meetings. The performance didn’t disappoint at any point, and the very low volume is also a positive feature. The Geekom PC also convinces us otherwise, the built-in 16 GB of RAM is absolutely up-to-date and the solid metal housing also makes a valuable impression. The IT 11 also has a wide variety of connections, including two USB-C sockets according to the USB-4 standard, a total of three USB-A ports, one Ethernet and one HDMI connection. The device currently costs around 570 euros, but with the code OQ53XL49 you still get an 8 percent discount.

In the following we show some mini PCs up to 700 euros via our price comparison:

If you are looking for mini PCs in a price comparison over 700 euros, you will find models that even have a dedicated graphics unit, such as an Nvidia Geforce RTX 3070. There is of course a lot of power in there, but the devices also cost a lot. It can go well over 1500 euros here. You always have to be aware that these are devices with mobile processors that are designed for small devices, low power consumption and moderate heat development, but not for maximum performance. But that’s what you get if you assemble a desktop PC yourself for the same price or have it delivered ready-made, as we show in our guide.

The price-performance ratio gets worse and worse as the processor and graphics card are limited by the form factor and sealed off by the manufacturers. So if you are concerned with sheer performance, you should switch to classic gaming PCs at this point. There you get more performance for less money. But if you depend on a small and still transportable form factor, you can look for gaming laptops as an alternative to mini PCs with dedicated graphics.

Another point that speaks against expensive mini PCs: Dedicated graphics cards and more powerful processors cause more heat. This is much worse dissipated in such a small housing than with a desktop PC. So the devices are loud and get very warm. For office use, they are only suitable with in-ears with ANC (best list) or over-ears with ANC (best list).

Below we show our price comparison of mini PCs from 700 euros and popular gaming laptops:

Mini PCs with Windows can definitely replace a desktop PC. For many everyday applications, domestic gaming PCs have too much power, consume more energy and generate additional heat. This can quickly become really uncomfortable, especially in summer.

Up to 300 euros is the entry-level range in the market for mini-PCs, which should already be enough for many people for surfing and office. You should make sure that you have sufficient RAM equipment here, otherwise the iGPU will quickly become tight.

The best price-performance ratio is up to 500 euros. Here you already get fast processors, with which even light work with Photoshop is fun. The new iGPU Radeon 680M and its successor 780M from AMD are particularly pleasing. We advise against buying a model with a Pentium or Celeron processor in this price range, because these are available for under 300 euros. It is also worth taking a look at online shops.

Up to 700 euros, we feel that the further leap in performance with Intel Core i9 and AMD Ryzen 9 makes sense in terms of price, but not more than that. High-performance dedicated graphics cards such as the Nvidia RTX 3070 are added for more than 1000 euros, but you get significantly more performance with a desktop PC of the same price.

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