Small-form-factor PC Desktops Reviews

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Samsung Chromebox Series 3 2013

The internals remain the same, but Samsung's Chrome OS-powered budget PC gets a new look.

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.

Gateway SX2370-UR10P

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.

Dell Inspiron Zino HD AMD Phenom II X4

With its thoughtful features, Dell's charming little Inspiron Zino HD is perfectly suited to serve up HD content to your living room. We wish it had more general computing speed, and design purists will find the Mac Mini more sophisticated, but on balance we recommend it, especially to more casual home theater PC enthusiasts.

eMachines ER1402-05

eMachines ER1402-05 is a strong living-room Nettop among others like it, but it doesn't compete well in the larger picture of living-room entertainment devices like game consoles, media streamers, and video service-equipped Blu-ray players. It's worth a look if you need a desktop of this particular type, but keep shopping if you need a connected living-room media device.

Editors' Choice
$549.99 MSRP

Gateway SX2801-01e

The Gateway SX2801-01e is just one of several new budget slim tower systems available this season. We're impressed by its compact design and the HDMI port makes it easy to use in the living room. For a $520 system, the SX2801-01e's performance and upgradability put it in the same top tier as the Editors' Choice-winning models that came before it, and we recommend it to anyone shopping for a powerful, flexible, cost-effective computer.

Apple Mac Mini Spring 2010

Apple's new Mac Mini includes an elegant new design and some long asked-for features, including HDMI output and user-accessible memory. The system still faces a value challenge for its given specs, but Apple has done enough to improve the Mac Mini's appeal for Apple loyalists and design fans looking for a living room computer.

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.

Apple Mac Mini 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 320GB, Fall 2009

With strong competition among small PCs on the Windows side of the aisle, the latest Mac Mini faces a greater challenge than older models. If you demand a small, relatively affordable Mac, we suppose the Mac Mini is your only option. Otherwise, you can find Windows-based small form factor desktops that offer more interesting features with better value.

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.

Asus Essentio CM5570-AP002

The Asus Essentio CM5570-AP002 isn't an overly remarkable desktop, but it has a few extra features that help it stand out. Its Wi-Fi and HDMI video out port give it some unique capabilities, and the best part is that Asus still manages to keep the price down. It's hard not to like this system, even though we wish Asus had more comprehensive support.

eMachines EL1300G-01w

We cringe at the idea of recommending such a slow PC when you can get significantly better performance for just a few more dollars. That said, it's hard to argue with the eMachines EL1300G-01w's low price, clean good looks, and relatively complete budget feature set. As long as you have no ambitions for this PC performing anything resembling serious work, it will make a fine second or third home system.

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.

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