Apple Mac Mini ( fall 2012)
With or without its new Fusion hybrid drive, Apple finally has a Mac Mini that competes well against mainstream Windows PCs in the same price range.
Budget desktops might not be all that exciting, but the Gateway SX2870-UR10P slim tower shows you can still find a worthwhile day-to-day PC for under $500.
Samsung Chromebox Series 3
The attractive, fairly priced Samsung Chromebox desktop turns Google's Web-based Chrome OS into a not entirely unreasonable option for certain low-cost PC shoppers.
Acer Revo 100 RL100-U1002
Not everyone wants a living-room computer, but the Acer Revo 100 is one of the better low-cost HTPCs we've seen thanks to a wisely chosen feature set, its attractive design, and a mostly well-conceived input device.
Acer Aspire X1920-UR20P
The Acer Aspire X1920-UR20P is a poorly configured, overpriced budget desktop with little to recommend it. Look instead to Acer's Gateway subsidiary for better slim-tower options.
Asus Eee Box EB1501
We like the looks of Asus' Eee Box EB1501, but it's pricier than Blu-ray players that stream content from the Web, and not as powerful as slightly more expensive slim tower PCs that offer significantly more speed and power. Asus made a decent attempt at the Nettop-as-set-top-box replacement with this system, but it's crowded out by too many alternatives.
Apple Mac Mini ( 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 160GB, Fall 2009)
The lower-cost Mac Mini offers respectable budget performance and Apple's usual compelling design, but a puny hard drive and a lack of HDMI hurt this system's value and overall potential. It's actually more versatile next to its budget-priced Windows competition than the higher-end Mac Mini, but this entry-level Mac is still best left to Apple loyalists.
Available direct from Apple. Starting price $599.00
Acer Aspire Revo AR1600-U910H
Acer's Aspire Revo 1600 might be the first Nettop we don't actively dislike. We'd rather have an Xbox 360 in the living room, but the Aspire Revo 1600 would be suitable as a PC for young kids or as a low-profile cloud kiosk. Thanks to its $199 price tag, you won't feel too much remorse if it breaks or you outgrow it.
Apple Mac Mini ( 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 120GB, Winter 2009)
Apple's newest high-end Mac Mini maintains its small, stylish footprint, and as with the cheaper version, this $799 model has impressive multitasking capabilities. You'll like this desktop if juggling apps with attractive hardware is important to you, but you get much better all-around value in a Windows PC for the same price.
Acer Aspire X1200-U1520A
The Acer Aspire X1200-U1520A is a speedy, compact, low-end desktop that's powerful enough to serve as a light-duty home theater PC. Expansion is limited by an especially cramped interior (even for a small PC), but the total package is worthwhile for PC shoppers on a budget.
Pricing not available