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The 5 Best Mini PCs for Gaming

You don’t need a massive gaming rig to play the latest video games on ultra-settings. You can purchase a mini gaming PC instead, packed with the same high-spec hardware as a regular gaming desktop.

So, if size is a concern or you demand portability from your gaming PC, you should check out the best mini PCs for gaming.

1. Zotac Magnus Mini Creator

Zotac Magnus Mini Creator Zotac Magnus Mini Creator Buy Now On Amazon $1,899.99

Let’s kick things off with a mini gaming PC powerhouse: the Zotac Magnus Mini Creator. Under the hood, the Zotac Magnus Mini Creator packs a mighty six-core 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-9750H, along with the 8GB GDDR6 Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080. Out of the box, the Mini Creator comes with 8GB RAM, although this is upgradeable up to 32GB DDR4 RAM.

The Intel Core i7-9750H is a power-efficient CPU with a thermal design power rating of 45W. The 9750H also features integrated UHD Graphics 630, which you can use to take the load off of the discreet GPU for further power savings. The Zotac Magnus Mini Creator includes two HDMI ports, one DisplayPort, four USB 3.0 ports, one USB Type-C port, and a handy SD card slot.

This mini PC is ideal for gaming, but it is also well-suited to other creative tasks as well. The high-performance processor allows you to perform intensive functions like photo and video editing, 3D animation, and you can even use it to stream your gaming sessions. That’s not to mention that it’s capable of handling home theater media centers, too.

2. Corsair ONE i164

From one mini PC behemoth to another, the Corsair ONE i164 is another impressive tiny gaming system. The Corsair One i164’s Intel Core i9-9900K is an eight-core 3.6GHz CPU, one of the best consumer CPUs on the market at the time of writing.

Working with the 9900K is an 11GB GDDR6 Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, backed up with a whopping 32GB DDR4 RAM. One of the things that sets the Corsair ONE i164 aside from other mini PCs is the integrated liquid cooling system.

Corsair builds the ONE series of mini PCs with high and ultra-level quality gaming leading the design, and it shows. The ONE i164 packs in the external connections too. It features three DisplayPort, one VR-ready HDMI, two USB 2.0, four USB 3.1 Gen 1, and two USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Type-A and Type-C).

While the physical size of this computer is inline with other mini PCs, it uses the more familiar desktop PC format. So, rather than a compact box on your table, you can put the smaller desktop tower instead.

3. MSI Trident X

MSI Trident X MSI Trident X Buy Now On Amazon $2,299.00

As far as aesthetics go, the MSI Trident X is up there with the best looking mini gaming PCs. The Trident X looks similar to a modern gaming console, standing tall on your desktop or next to your TV. Throw in some RGB lighting effects and a nicely crafted case, and you have a visual winner.

But gaming is about what’s on the inside of the case. And in the MSI Trident X setup, you’ll find a top of the line Intel Core i7-10700KF, an eight-core 3.6GHz beast. Working alongside the CPU is an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super, which comes with 8GB GDDR6 RAM.

Finally, the Trident X has a whopping 32GB DDR4 RAM, future-proofing your mini gaming PC for the medium-to-long term. In terms of connectivity, you’ll find a Thunderbolt 3 port, three DisplayPorts, one HDMI, one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C, three USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, and three USB 2.0 Type-A ports.

4. HP ProDesk 405

HP ProDesk 405 HP ProDesk 405 Buy Now On Amazon $512.88

The HP ProDesk 405 is an AMD-powered mini gaming PC with a similar style to a set-top cable box. Okay, it is slightly more appealing than your old cable box, but it certainly won’t win any awards, with the black and silver design fitting in with HP’s wider off-the-shelf PC designs.

Powering the ProDesk 405 is an AMD Ryzen 5 2400GE, a quad-core 3.2GHz CPU, which is decent enough. The AMD Ryzen 5 2400GE comes bundled with the AMD Radeon Vega 11 onboard graphics.

Again, the Vega 11 is decent enough but not world-beating, allowing some 1080p gaming at reasonable specs for games that are a few years old. Still, this is one of the more affordable options out there if you’re looking for a space-saving mini PC, but still want to jump into more than a few PC gaming sessions.

5. Intel NUC 8 Hades Canyon

The Intel NUC 8 Hades Canyon is a powerful mini PC for gaming—although you should note that it is not the latest generation of Intel NUC. However, the CPU and GPU combination make the NUC 8 Hades Canyon worth your consideration.

The Intel NUC 8 Hades Canyon uses an Intel Core i7-8809G, a quad-core 3.1GHz CPU, with onboard Intel HD Graphics 630. However, you don’t have to use the onboard graphics for gaming, as the NUC 8 Hades Canyon also packs in an AMD Radeon RX Vega M GH discreet graphics card.

The RX Vega M GH offers similar performance to the Nvidia GeForce 1060, allowing for some decent gaming at 1080p. The NUC 8 Hades Canyon also features one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A, four USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, two Mini DisplayPort, and two HDMI ports.

Which Are the Best Mini PCs for Gaming?

If you scan through the listings on Amazon, you’ll find a vast number of mini gaming PCs. The prices look brilliant—until you actually consider the specs. Many of these entry-level or barebones systems come with a low to medium tier CPU and do not have a discreet GPU.

You will manage some gaming on a machine like this, but you certainly won’t roam the streets of GTA V’s San Andreas on ultra-settings. The simple fact of the matter is that a powerful mini gaming PC, like those we’ve listed here, will set you back a bit more than the alternatives.

You don’t have to buy an off-the-shelf mini gaming PC. If you want to keep costs down, check out our guide on how to build a small PC with the Mini-ITX form factor.

Read the full article: The 5 Best Mini PCs for Gaming

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The Fruitiest Pi Yet: Raspberry Pi 4 8GB Is As Smooth As Cream

Our verdict of the Raspberry Pi 4 8GB:
Representing the latest evolution of the tiny project board, the Raspberry Pi 4 8GB offers a desktop-like experience for under $100. All the usual hobby projects are compatible with the board, although some distros seem to be lagging in support.
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Since its first release in 2012 the Raspberry Pi has gone from strength to strength. An amazing 14 models have been released, with three form factors: 11 of them are still in production.

The most recent addition to the family is the Raspberry Pi 4 8GB model. It is the most powerful Raspberry Pi yet, with twice the RAM of its predecessor. It’s also the main feature of the Pimoroni Raspberry Pi 4 8GB Amazebundle.

A Slice of Pi

Whether you’re new to the Pi or you’re upgrading from an earlier device, this is a great stepping on point. The Raspberry Pi 4 8GB is the 2020 revision of the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B board, released in 2019. While the earlier Raspberry Pi 4 releases featured 1GB, 2GB, and 4GB models, this new release doubles the RAM.

And while the 1GB model is discontinued, we’re assured that the “Raspberry Pi 4 Model B will remain in production until at least January, 2026.”

But should you take a bite of this Pi?

What’s So Good About the Raspberry Pi 4 8GB?

Well, there’s a good chance you probably should. The Raspberry Pi 4 release was significant, but this is a game-changer. Everything is (unsurprisingly, given the additional RAM) just so fast.

From installing an operating system from the bundled NOOBS installer to adding Kodi add-ons, the speed that additional 4GB of RAM brings to the table is considerable.

Raspberry Pi 4 8GB

Given early versions of the Raspberry Pi had just half a gig of RAM, it’s not a total surprise. For those of us who used the Raspberry Pi back in 2012/13, the evolution of the platform is evident. If you’re new to Raspberry Pi, however, 8GB will not seem particularly unusual. After all, it’s the baseline RAM for most laptops these days.

It’s what people expect from a computer. In some ways, the Raspberry Pi now feels more like a PC than a hobby device.

What You Get in Pimoroni’s Raspberry Pi 4 8GB Amazebundle

The compact Amazebundle box contains an impressive list of components.

Primarily there is the Raspberry Pi 4 8GB model itself, along with the official USB-C power supply adaptor. This has a 15.3W maximum power output and removes any worries about using a phone charger. You’ll find is a micro-HDMI to HDMI cable, and a 32GB microSD card with the NOOBs operating system installer, so you can get started right away.

Also included is the Fan Shim, an easily assembled fan component to help manage the Pi’s cooling and performance. Given that other Raspberry Pi 4 models have struggled with heat management, this is a smart inclusion.

Note that no case is included in this bundle. Fortunately, Raspberry Pi 4 cases for all purposes are easy to get hold of.

Raspberry Pi 4 Tech Specs

Three types of Raspberry Pi board have been used: A, B, and Zero. Of those, A and B models have had revisions designated “+”.

The Raspberry Pi 4 8GB is a B board using the standard “credit card-sized” form factor (85.6mm × 56.5mm). It features Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, a USB-C power supply, and two Micro HDMI ports, capable of supporting two 4K displays. There is also a combined stereo audio and composite video port.

GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi 4 8GB

Along with these standard hardware ports, the Pi 4 also features a two-lane MIPI DSI display port and two-lane MIPI CSI camera port. These ports accept ribbon cables only. The GPIO, meanwhile, is 40-pin and can accept connections from a range of devices, from fans to audio amplifiers.

The Pi’s SoC is a 64-bit Broadcom BCM2711 with a quad-core Cortex-A72 running at 1.5Ghz, and 8GB of SDRAM. Wireless internet is 802.11ac, capable of 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz networks, with Bluetooth 5.0 BLE.

This Raspberry Pi Needs a Cooling Fan

Earlier Raspberry Pi 4 models have been found to generate heat in ways the earlier devices did not. Linked to the enhanced overall speed and performance, various solutions have been suggested, from heatsinks and fans to standing the Pi 4 4GB model on its horizontal edge (no, really).

Offering a smarter, more complete solution, the Amazebundle features a Pimoroni Fan Shim.

Designed for “simple, effective Pi cooling” this is a fan that can be easily added to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO. It features a button, RGB LED, and a cable to attach the fan to the shim’s body. This then sits on the GPIO using friction connectors, so it’s solder-free!

Setting Up the 8GB Raspberry Pi

Preparing a Raspberry Pi for use is straightforward. However, it makes sense to attach the Fan Shim before powering up the Pi.

This is thankfully straightforward. Simply attach the fan unit to the PCB using the nylon screws and bolts. Connect the wire to the socket on the PCB, then place the shim onto the Pi’s GPIO, over pins 1-12.

With this firmly in place, insert the microSD card, connect the HDMI cable, and hook up the USB Type-C power. A USB keyboard and mouse is handy at this stage, too. While you can remotely access the Pi later using SSH or VNC, initial setup requires direct input.

What Can You Do With 8GB of Raspberry Pi?

When the Pi boots for the first time the NOOBs menu appears. The version of NOOBs bundled with the Pi 4 8GB model features:

  • Raspberry Pi OS Full, Desktop, and Lite versions (all based of the 32-bit Debian OS)
  • Lakka
  • LibreElec
  • a 30-day trial of the TLXOS thin client from ThinLinX

As such, you have plenty of options for using this top-end Raspberry Pi. And that’s just the pre-installed options. Many more projects are available, from game streaming to managing amateur space programs. Or you might prefer to manage your greenhouse, set up a wildlife camera, or build a robot. (There’s also a 64-bit test version of Raspberry Pi OS available to install, although this is some way from being ready for all uses.)

The possibilities are endless.

But it’s important to check first that they will run with the Raspberry Pi 4 8GB model. For example, while LibreElec ran like a dream, Lakka wouldn’t boot, displaying this error:

Raspberry Pi 4 8GB Lakka error

Apparently, this is a common fault and seems to be due to the new Pi having more RAM than expected. For retro gamers there are workarounds, e.g. waiting for Lakka to release a Pi 4 8GB build, installing 32-bit builds

It’s not a massive issue, but one that you should be aware of. It seems booting from an older Pi 4 SD card with RetroPie already installed will work, however.

Comparing the Raspberry Pi 4 8GB With Other Models

With the Raspberry Pi 4 8GB model’s higher system spec and 64-bit architecture, comparison with the earliest models is tough. The Raspberry Pi 4 devices essentially represent a different generation—much like comparing the Xbox One with the Xbox 360.

In many ways, therefore, comparison is unfair.

There is little difference between the Raspberry Pi 4 8GB and older models. In terms of the Pi 4 range, this board is indistinguishable from the 2GB and 4GB versions aside from the RAM. It’s the power user board of the Raspberry Pi world, the equivalent of buying a top of the range phone. Running a basic benchmarking tool on the Pi 4 4GB and 8GB models, we found obvious advantages.

It is likely that that the Pi 4 8GB is a product of its time. A device that can double up as a competent desktop computer and thin client, as well as all of those other uses—media streamer, retro game hub, development device, robot brain, Twitter bot, the list goes on—is extremely valuable when events force people and students to work at home.

You probably don’t need it, but that 8GB is very nice to have.

Using the Raspberry Pi 4 8GB

To explore some of those possibilities, I spent a few days playing with the Pi 4. In that time, I used it mainly for desktop tasks, to explore the advantages of the 8GBs.

Raspberry Pi 4 8GB

Everything performed well, leaving me with the strange sensation that I was using a desktop PC. For comparison, it felt a little like using a Pinebook, a budget ARM laptop not dissimilar to the Raspberry Pi. That extra RAM adds a dimension to the performance that is completely new to the Pi.

This is unparalleled with the Raspberry Pi. There has always been a trade-off between the device’s size and performance and the usual expectations of a computer. But with the addition of 8GB of RAM that trade-off is almost non-existent.

The implications of this are considerable. While a 16GB Raspberry Pi 4 is unlikely, when the next generation of boards comes along 16GB would not be out of place.

The Raspberry Pi 4 8GB: Basically, a Spare PC for Under $100

Retro gaming and media streaming is perhaps the most popular use for the Raspberry Pi, but there is so much more you can do with it. At a time when so many people are forced to work at home, this inexpensive computer makes an excellent desktop replacement. Alternatively, it can also work as a thin client to access a virtual desktop environment if that’s what your employer uses.

And then there is the endless list of enthusiast-developed projects. All of these, and more, work on this tiny budget British computer, available for under $100 without accessories.

The Raspberry Pi 4’s enhanced power represents a new stage in its evolution, and in the projects it can handle. To get you started, the Pimoroni Amazebundle Raspberry Pi 4 kit features everything you need.

Enter the Competition!

Raspberry Pi 4 Amaz Bundle from Pimoroni

Read the full article: The Fruitiest Pi Yet: Raspberry Pi 4 8GB Is As Smooth As Cream