Small form factor computers such as laptops and all-in-one desktops have taken the world by storm, as nearly everyone wants smaller devices, but that has made it more difficult to get top-notch performance. This is because small form factor computers such as laptops and some small desktops are more costly than their bigger counterparts. As a result of that, I usually end up buying larger models because value is my top priority!
Bear in mind that the computers i’m about to recommend are still a little more expensive than their ATX counterparts in some cases, but they pack a hell of a punch, performance-wise.
ASUS GR8 II-T043Z Mini Gaming PC
This little beast is powered by an Intel Kaby Lake Core i7-7700 3.6 GHZ quad-core processor (4.2 GHZ is the maximum turbo frequency) and an NVIDIA GTX1060 with a whopping 6 GB of video memory to handle the most impressive games on the market. It’s backed up with 16GB of modern DDR4 RAM, and a 512GB SSD (solid-state drive) to run programs as fast as a gaming PC should.
It is also equipped with a 1TB HDD (which is a regular hard drive) to store infrequently accessed and larger files. SSD + HDD configurations like this have become popular in recent years because they provide the storage capacity that regular hard drives are capable of, and the performance that SSDs offer without breaking the bank.
The ASUS GR8 II-T043Z gaming PC is one of the biggest computers in this article (it isn’t the cutest either), but it comes with a reasonable 6 USB ports, one of which is a USB-C and a lot of power. Smaller PCs usually come with fewer ports and are less expandable overall.
Alienware Alpha R2
The Alienware Alpha R2 is significantly smaller than the ASUS ROG GR8 model mentioned above, but still packs a hell of a punch with regards to performance. It comes in a variety of configurations, but the one i’m referring to in this article has 16GB of DDR4 RAM, an i7 6700T 2.8 GHZ CPU (up to 3.6 GHZ with Turbo Boost), an NVIDIA GTX960 with 4GB of video memory, and a 256GB SSD.
Alienware touts its ability to play The Witcher 3 at 60 FPS, which is very encouraging, as The Witcher 3 is an extremely resource-intensive game.
While it is $100 cheaper than the ASUS ROG GR8 II (this configuration is $1,099.99), it has 2GB less video memory, half the SSD storage, and it doesn’t have the 1TB HDD. It’s also worth noting that the Alienware Alpha R2 has a PCIe SSD, which is the fastest type of SSD around. That helps to justify the higher price. The ability to hook it up to an Alienware graphics amplifier helps too.
Apart from that, you’re likely paying for the significantly smaller (and overall nicer) chassis that the Alienware has to offer. To see just how tiny this little monster is, watch Austin Evans unbox it below.
ASUS VivoMini – A Cheaper Option For Less Extreme Games
The ASUS VivoMini configuration i’m recommending offers great specs overall, but the Integrated Intel video card has a fairly ordinary 1GB of video memory. The VivoMini VC66-B007Z is significantly cheaper ($300-400) cheaper than the other two gaming machines mentioned above, and is equipped with a DVD-RW drive unlike the other two.
It is equipped with an Intel Core i5-7400 3.5GHZ processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, six USB ports, and a 512GB SSD, which is becoming more of a must-have in today’s world. SSDs are among the fastest secondary storage options around. Secondary storage refers to permanent storage for your downloads and whatever else you might want to store on a hard drive.
This ASUS VivoMini configuration can be found here.