Get ready to maximize your desktop computing power while minimizing the space taken up on your desk. Mini tower desktop computers are a fantastic option for those looking for a more compact PC without sacrificing performance. In this post, we’ll count down the top 5 mini tower desktops on the market today. We’ll also provide some guidance on how to select the right model to suit your specific needs. Let’s get started!
What are Mini Tower Desktop Computers?
First things first – what exactly are mini tower desktop computers? Mini towers are a type of desktop computer form factor that is shorter and narrower than a typical full-sized tower. The more compact build makes them perfect for use when desk space is at a premium.
Mini towers first became popular in the early 2000s as a space-saving alternative to bulky, full-size tower PCs. While not as small as the ultra-compact micro PC form factors, mini towers strike a nice balance by housing powerful desktop components while taking up minimal room on or under your desk.
Compared to full towers, mini tower computers have some key differences:
- Smaller physical size – Typically around 14-18 inches tall. Much less bulky.
- Less expandability – Only 2-3 external bays compared to 4-6 in full towers.
- Limited component choices – Must use smaller motherboards and low-profile expansion cards.
- Creative cooling solutions – Less space requires good airflow and heat dissipation.
But don’t let the smaller size fool you – mini towers can still pack quite the punch thanks to modern compact, high-power components. Let’s look at some of the best…
The Top 5 Mini Tower Desktops
1. Dell Optiplex 7070 Ultra
The Dell Optiplex 7070 Ultra is a stylish, flexible mini tower with strong performance and management features.
- Intel Core i5 and i7 processor options
- Up to 64GB DDR4 RAM
- Up to 2TB M.2 SSD storage
- Intel UHD 630 integrated graphics
This system can be configured to order with your choice of CPU, memory, storage, and operating system. It includes dual display support via DisplayPort and HDMI. There are also plenty of USB ports and it has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth.
Pros of the Optiplex 7070 Ultra:
- Lots of configuration options for CPU, RAM, storage
- Toolless access to internals
- Quiet, efficient cooling design
- Available mounting bracket for behind monitors
Potential cons to consider:
- Can get expensive when fully specced out
- Limited graphics power for gaming or creative work
Overall the Optiplex 7070 Ultra is one of the best balances of value, performance, size, and business-friendly features. It’s easy to see why Dell’s Optiplex line has long been a staple in offices.
2. HP EliteDesk 800 G5 Mini
If security and manageability are your top concerns, the HP EliteDesk 800 G5 Mini is an excellent choice. As the name suggests, it’s one of the most compact mini towers available.
Here are some of its vital stats:
- 6th/7th gen Intel Core i7 CPU
- 16GB DDR4 RAM (up to 32GB)
- 256GB NVMe SSD (up to 2TB SSD)
- AMD Radeon RX 560 graphics
- Extensive security features via HP Sure Start
Despite the small size, it still fits in a good selection of ports including USB-C, DisplayPort, VGA, and RJ-45 Ethernet. It ships with Windows 10 Pro.
Key advantages of the EliteDesk 800 Mini:
- Rock-solid build quality with metal chassis
- Enterprise-level security and management
- Easily serviceable with tool-free access
- Supports up to 3 displays
- High starting price
- Limited configuration options
- No WiFi built-in
The EliteDesk 800 Mini is a top choice for businesses wanting powerful hardware and security in a dense, rugged mini tower design. Just be prepared to pay a premium for its commercial-friendly capabilities.
3. Lenovo ThinkCentre M75n Nano IoT
Lenovo’s ThinkCentre M75n Nano IoT is all about packing workstation-like power into an incredibly small footprint.
Here’s a quick look at the specs:
- AMD Ryzen Pro processors
- Up to 32GB DDR4 RAM
- Up to 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD
- AMD Radeon integrated graphics
- Built-in wireless, Bluetooth, and 4G LTE
Despite being only 1.3 liters in volume, it can accommodate processors up to 65W TDP to deliver solid performance. There are plenty of ports for connectivity and it can drive up to 3 displays.
Where the ThinkCentre M75n excels:
- Extremely compact size
- Powerful performance for the form factor
- Great integrated graphics
- Built-in wireless connectivity
- Can run loud under heavy loads
- Limited internal expansion
- Proprietary case and parts
If you want workstation-like specifications in a package that takes up almost no space, the Lenovo ThinkCentre M75n is a top contender. Just be prepared for some fan noise when pushing it hard.
4. Acer Aspire TC-885
If you’re looking for an affordable, no-frills mini tower desktop, the Acer Aspire TC-885 is a great budget-friendly option.
Some key specs:
- Up to 8th gen Intel Core i7 processor
- 12GB DDR4 RAM
- 1TB 7200RPM HDD storage
- Intel UHD 630 graphics
- Windows 10 Home
- DVD-Writer optical drive
While not exactly a speed demon, the Aspire TC-885 can handle everyday home and office tasks just fine while keeping costs down. And it still retains a decent selection of ports plus dedicated video outputs.
Benefits of going with the Aspire TC-885:
- Very low starting price
- Optical DVD drive included
- Clean, compact design
- Great value for general use
Drawbacks to note:
- HDD only, no SSD option
- Limited internal expansion room
- No WiFi built-in
- Lower performing integrated graphics
If you just need basic desktop computing on a tight budget, the Aspire TC-885 gets the job done. Just don’t expect to play AAA games or crunch through video editing workloads.
5. Apple Mac Mini (M1, 2020)
No mini PC roundup would be complete without mentioning the Mac Mini. Apple’s compact Mac line has long been popular with those looking for a space-saving Mac desktop. The latest M1 model steps performance up big time thanks to Apple’s own powerful M1 system-on-a-chip.
Specs of the Mac Mini:
- Apple M1 chip (8-core CPU, 8-core GPU)
- 8GB or 16GB of unified memory
- Up to 2TB SSD storage
- Gigabit ethernet, WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
- macOS Big Sur (or later)
Benefits of choosing the Mac Mini:
- Class-leading performance from Apple M1
- Super quiet, fanless operation
- Seamless integration with rest of Apple ecosystem
- Can drive up to two displays
- Higher starting price than competitors
- Fewer ports than some mini PCs
- Requires separate keyboard, mouse, and monitor
- Limited DIY upgradeability
The Mac Mini is hard to beat for those already bought into the Apple ecosystem. And the M1 chip’s performance per watt is extremely impressive. For a fully standalone mini PC, others may offer better value. But the Mini shines when part of the wider Mac experience.
How to Choose the Right Mini Tower For You
Now that you’ve seen the top options available, how do you choose the right one? Here are some key factors to keep in mind as you shop for a mini tower desktop:
- Performance needs – Entry-level browsing and office work? Or more demanding creative and gaming needs? Match the CPU, RAM, storage, and graphics to the workloads you plan to throw at it.
- Operating System – Most run Windows but Mac mini requires Apple’s macOS. Some offer both Windows and Linux support.
- Available ports – Need specific or plentiful USB connections? Multiple display outputs? Choose a model with the I/O options you require.
- Expandability – Limited internal expansion slots and bays in mini towers. Max out what you can initially if upgrades are important.
- Budget constraints – Mini towers span from affordable general computing to high-end workstations. Set a budget and find the best fit.
- Brand and Support – Stick with recognizable brands unless you want to tinker and tweak. Lenovo, HP, and Dell provide excellent mini tower lineups.
- Size and Placement – Measure the space you have available. Can you fit it on your desk or will it need to sit on the floor? Consider a mount or VESA stand.
- Usage Environment – Special needs for challenging conditions? Rugged mini towers can take more abuse and contaminants than consumer models.
By carefully weighing factors like these against the top mini tower options covered above, you can zero in on the perfect model to meet your needs and maximize your available space.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mini Tower Desktops
Here we’ll address some of the most common questions that get asked about mini tower desktop PCs:
What are the differences between mini tower and micro/mini PCs?
Mini towers use standardized internal components but a smaller case size than mid or full towers. Micro and mini PCs often use proprietary, laptop-like parts to achieve an ultra-small footprint, but with less upgradeability.
What components can be upgraded in a mini tower desktop?
Common upgrades include adding more RAM, adding a secondary hard drive or SSD, installing a more powerful graphics card (size permitting), or swapping out the CPU if the motherboard supports it.
Is a mini tower desktop powerful enough for high-end gaming?
It depends on the specific components selected but mini towers can be configured for solid 1080p or even 1440p gaming by choosing a discrete graphics card from NVIDIA or AMD. Just don’t expect the same performance as a full-size desktop with room for the biggest, hottest GPUs.
How difficult is it to build your own custom mini tower compared to a regular tower?
It requires some additional planning around component sizes and cooling considerations, but building a DIY mini tower is definitely doable for those comfortable assembling standard PCs. Expect a bit more effort making sure everything fits and runs cool.
What accessories will I need for a mini tower computer?
At minimum you’ll need a display, keyboard, and mouse since mini towers don’t include integrated monitors. You may also want external speakers, a webcam, docking station, cable locks, or other peripherals depending on how you use it.
Are mini tower PCs suitable for graphic design and video editing?
Configuring a mini tower with a fast multicore processor, lots of RAM, a strong GPU, and fast SSD storage can definitely create a capable creative workstation. You give up some ultimate performance versus a full workstation tower build but gain desk space.
Is it better to get a prebuilt mini PC or build your own?
If you value convenience, warranty coverage, and included support, a prebuilt from Dell, HP, or Lenovo is a safe bet. If you want complete control over components and customization, a DIY build is rewarding but requires time and technical skill.
How much storage do mini tower desktops typically include?
Base models usually come with a 256GB-512GB SSD, sometimes accompanied by a 1TB or larger hard drive. There’s often room to add more M.2 SSD and/or 3.5″ HDD storage down the line if needed.
What types of memory do mini towers support?
Most modern mini towers use standard 288-pin DDR4 desktop memory sticks in capacities up to 64GB per module. ECC server-grade memory is also supported on some business-oriented models.
Do mini tower PCs have decent graphics capabilities?
Many rely on basic integrated graphics, but there are definitely mini tower options that support full-power dedicated graphics cards from AMD or NVIDIA. These are great for gaming or GPU-accelerated workloads when properly configured.
Are mini towers easy to transport?
Their smaller size and weight makes mini towers probably the most portable desktop form factor while still using standard internal components. Just be sure to package it carefully if you plan to move it around frequently.
We hope these FAQs help provide additional context around mini tower PCs. They really can be a “just right” option balancing performance, expandability, and compact dimensions.
The Tiny Towers Deliver Big Value
In closing, mini tower desktop computers let you maximize your computing power while minimizing used space. Models like the Optiplex 7070 Ultra, EliteDesk 800 G5 Mini, ThinkCentre M75n Nano, Aspire TC-885, and Mac Mini (M1) demonstrate you don’t need a hulking full tower system to get excellent desktop PC performance.
Just be sure to honestly assess your usage needs and pick a mini tower with components that align with how you plan to use it. Need lots of graphical horsepower? Choose a model that can accommodate the GPU you require. Have a tight budget? Seek out more affordable options that still deliver sufficient speed for general tasks.
With their compelling balance of capability and compactness, it’s no wonder mini tower PCs have carved out an enduring niche in the desktop ecosystem. Hopefully this guide gives you a head start in finding the right one to house your home or business computing needs while saving valuable space. Happy shopping for your micro-sized powerhouse!