Best small gaming PCs 2024: Mini, compact, and SFF (2024)

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Best small gaming PCs 2024: Mini, compact, and SFF (1)

The list in brief
1.
Best overall
2. Best alternative
3. Best tiny PC
4. Best productivity
5. Best portable

Having a Windows PC doesn't have to mean giving up a ton of space on your desk.

There are some options out there where you can get a quality computer for playing games or getting work done without sacrificing huge amounts of room. Mini PCs aren't all winners, but some are pretty great, and our team has done a great job examining what you need to know if you're going to go for a more bite-sized computing approach while still playing some of the best PC games available.

Obviously, some cuts are going to be required, and you shouldn't expect to play the newest games at the highest settings. Here's some great options to consider, depending on your exact budget:

The quick list

In a rush? No worries, just check out our quick list below that gives you everything you need to know about buying a mini-PC at a glance. There's a few different options available, so take a moment to consider which one will best suit your needs.

Best Overall

1. MSI MPG Trident 3

Best overall

With RTX 30-series technology, the MSI MPG Trident 3 provides great performance without breaking your bank, all in a tiny, compact shell that doesn't take up too much room. If you want the best overall gaming experience on a mini-PC, this is a pint-sized winner.

Best Alternative

2. Zotac Magnus One

Best alternative

The Zotac Magnus One isn't as new as some of the other options, meaning it's best for someone who is looking to save some money while still getting decent performance with its Intel chipset.

Best Tiny PC

3. Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast

Best Tiny PC

This option is best for someone whose main goal is to have the tiniest computer setup available, sacrificing some performance in older games, while running newer games quite well thanks to its ARC A770 graphics card.

Best Productivity

Best Productivity

Maybe you don't want to play games, but instead you want a mini-PC that's great with productivity software? If so, the Geekom MiniAir 11 is just the right option, giving you a small way of easily getting your office work done.

Best Portable

5. Steam Deck

Best Portable

Okay, so in the strictest sense the Steam Deck isn't a desktop. It can be docked however, and you can also choose to load Windows on it, so if you're willing to squint it fits the definition of a mini-PC. It's also perfect for taking your games on the go.

The best small gaming PCs

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Below, you'll find a complete breakdown with the exact positives and negatives of each option. This will provide context for the decisions made in this buying guide, and give you full context for what you'll be getting with any purchase you make.

Best overall

Best small gaming PCs 2024: Mini, compact, and SFF (7)

1. MSI MPG Trident 3

Best overall

Reasons to buy

+

NVME SSD options

+

Intel i7 and RTX 3050 mean great performance

+

32GB RAM

Reasons to avoid

-

Expensive

-

Weighs more than other options

For the serious player that wants a smaller PC capable of tackling more recent games at higher settings, the MSI Trident 3 is by far the best option to choose from. You're getting great Intel and NVIDIA technology that can tackle graphically-intensive games like Starfield or Alan Wake 2, and you've got some options for how you'd like to handle the storage situation.

Getting that kind of performance comes at a cost though, it's just that simple. If you want a top-end NVME SSD for ultra-fast load times, then you can expect this mini-PC to run you around $1600, with some fluctuation depending on available sales. If you've got that kind of money and want the best gaming performance? It's worth it. If not, you should look at another model.

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Best alternative

Best small gaming PCs 2024: Mini, compact, and SFF (8)

2. Zotac Magnus One

Best alternative

Reasons to buy

+

16 GB RAM and 512GB SSD ensure solid performance

+

Cheaper than the MSI Trident 3

Reasons to avoid

-

Can't run newest games at the highest setting

-

Still more expensive than some offerings

Maybe you still want to play some of the newest PC games, but you don't feel like spending a huge amount of money, and you're alright with turning a couple of settings down here or there? In that case, the Zotac Magnus One is going to be the smaller PC for you to grab.

An Intel 5-10400 CPU and RTX 3060 ensure it can play new games, but maybe not with all the settings at max. If you're okay with that kind of performance, then it's hard to beat this option, especially since it's often available around $1000, or about $600 lower than the MSI Trident 3.

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Best tiny PC

Best small gaming PCs 2024: Mini, compact, and SFF (9)

3. Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast

Best tiny PC

Reasons to buy

+

Inexpensive

+

Tiny

+

Range of options for RAM and SSD

+

Good for newer games

Reasons to avoid

-

Poor performance in older games

-

ARC A770 means spottier support than for NVIDIA or AMD cards

The Intel NUC 12 Enthusiast is one of the more curious small gaming PCs on our list. This thing is tiny at a super-compact 13 pounds, and it's also far less expensive than the prior two options. Even the higher-end option with 32GB RAM and a 512GB SSD will only cost you $800, meaning this is perfect for someone who wants to save a fair bit of cash.

Equipped with an ARC A770 graphics card, this PC is pretty good with more recent games, but may run into issues with older games running in DirectX 11 formats, which weren't designed with supporting this third entrant to the market in mind. As a result, it's really important to consider what's more important, old games or new games, if you're thinking of buying this.

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Best productivity

Best small gaming PCs 2024: Mini, compact, and SFF (10)

4. Geekom MiniAir 11

Best Productivity

Reasons to buy

+

Extremely cheap

Reasons to avoid

-

Can't play majority of games

-

Only 8GB RAM

The Geekom MiniAir 11 is a fair bit different from the other computers on this list. It's only really suitable for playing much older games, since it uses Intel integrated graphics instead of a dedicated graphics card. As a result, you'll be limited in your options, though you'll still be okay for playing games like League of Legends.

The benefit is that you won't be spending as much money. The Geekom MiniAir 11 is usually available for under $300, making it the most affordable mini-PC on this list by a mile and a half.

Read our in-depth Geekom MiniAir 11 review.

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Best portable

Best small gaming PCs 2024: Mini, compact, and SFF (11)

5. Steam Deck

Best portable

Reasons to buy

+

Can be used docked or in handheld

+

Can load Windows if desired

+

Large number of compatible games

Reasons to avoid

-

Not amazing with newest games

The Steam Deck isn't technically a PC...immediately out of the box, anyway. But load Windows on it, and you've got yourself a portable computer. Even if you don't want to do that, the Steam Deck has found its role as a successful way to play games on the go, provided you're willing to turn some settings down.

The screen quality of the original model isn't the best, but you're looking at spending only around $500 or less (depending on the exact model and the amount of storage you want) in order to play games like Marvel's Spider-Man and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on the go. There's also a new OLED model with an improved screen and battery life, so keep your options open!

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Choosing the best small gaming PC

Getting into PC gaming doesn't mean you need a monstrous tower on your desk, flooding the room with RGB neon lights. You can pack a lot of power into some seriously compact pre-built computers, with the Trident 3 from MSI being a shining example. It's packed to the gills with gaming-centric hardware, and that's reflected in its price. If you'd prefer to cut some costs, you can step down to the Zotac Magnus One without sacrificing much gaming power.

The NUC series from Intel are some of the best mini PCs available for the seriously small. Whether you choose the NUC 11 Enthusiast for an out-of-the-box PC ready for action or the barebones NUC 9 kit to complete yourself, they're impressive little space savers. If you want it tiny and portable, the Steam Deck can act as a mini gaming PC when using the official dock and connected to a screen of your choice, and a fully-fledged Linux OS lurks underneath.

Grabbing a small PC means making some choices. Interested in seeing what Alan Wake 2 looks like with path tracing? Then you should be looking elsewhere. If you're looking to play some games without spending more money than required, however, then you've got some great options that'll make you extremely happy.

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Best small gaming PCs 2024: Mini, compact, and SFF (12)

Samuel Tolbert

Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.

With contributions from

  • Tyler Colp
  • Ben WilsonChannel Editor
Best small gaming PCs 2024: Mini, compact, and SFF (2024)

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