Best Mini PCs with Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 4

This post includes affiliate links, for which we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase using our links. As an Amazon Associate, we can earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more.

The best mini-PCs combine the portability of a laptop and the power and upgradability of a desktop in a compact, configurable chassis. These small PCs pack enough power for just about anything, including web browsing, media streaming, video editing, VR, and gaming.

We’ve rounded up the best mini-PCs with Thunderbolt 3 and 4 ports to easily connect multiple 4k displays and enjoy ultrafast data transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps

A mini-PC takes less desk space than a typical full-size desktop without sacrificing performance and productivity.

They are compact and portable enough to carry when moving or changing office spaces. You can connect multiple monitors and accessories with many ports and connectivity options than you would in a thin and light laptop.

If you’re looking for the best accessories for your new mini PC with Thunderbolt 3 or 4 ports, check out our other buying guides about the best mac mini and mini PC mountsThunderbolt 4 monitors Thunderbolt 3 monitors, and the cheapest Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosures.

Best Mini PCs with Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 4 Comparison Table

Image Product Details Check Price
Dell OptiPlex 7000 7090 Desktop Computer on Amazon
Dell OptiPlex 7000 7090 Desktop Computer CPU: Intel Core i7 3 GHz
GPU: Intel® Iris® Xe graphics
Storage: 256GB SSD
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Thunderbolt 4 Ports: 1
Size: 19.8 x 96.01 x 256 mm
Check on Amazon
GMKtec Mini PC on Amazon
GMKtec Mini PC CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7
GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Storage: 512 GB NVMe SSD
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Thunderbolt 4 Ports: 1
Size (Inches): 6.42 x 6.22 x 3.98
Check on Amazon
Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Mini PC and Kit on Amazon
Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Mini PC and Kit CPU: Intel Core i7 11th Gen
GPU: GeForce_RTX 2060
Storage: 512 NVMe SSD
RAM: Max. 64GB DDR4
Thunderbolt 4 Ports: 1
Size: 221 x 142 x 42 mm
Check on Amazon
MinisForum Elitemini TL50 on Amazon
MinisForum Elitemini TL50 CPU: Core i5
GPU: Intel Iris Xe
Storage: 512GB SSD
RAM: 12GB DDR4
Thunderbolt 4 Ports: 1
Size: 149.6×149.6×55.5mm
Check on Amazon
Intel NUC 10 Performance Kit (NUC10i7FNHC) on Amazon
Intel NUC 10 Performance Kit (NUC10i7FNHC) CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10710U
GPU: Integrated Intel UHD Graphics
Storage: N/A
RAM: N/A
Thunderbolt 3 Ports: 1
Size (Inches): 4.6 x 4.4 x 2
Check on Amazon
MSI MEG Trident X on Amazon
MSI MEG Trident X CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10900K
GPU: GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
Storage: 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD, 1TB HDD
RAM: 64GB DDR4
Thunderbolt 3 Ports: 1
Size (Inches): 5.1 x 15.06 x 15.6
Check on Amazon
CHUWI CoreBox Pro on Amazon
CHUWI CoreBox Pro CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i3-1005G1
GPU: Integrated Intel UHD Graphics
Storage: 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD
RAM: 12GB LPDDR4 (soldered)
Thunderbolt 3 Ports: 1
Size (Inches): 6.8 x 6.2 x 2.9
Check on Amazon
Asus ProArt PA90 on Amazon
Asus ProArt PA90 CPU: 9th Gen Intel Core i9-9900K
GPU: NVIDIA Quadro P4000 Graphics
Storage: 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD, 1TB HDD
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Thunderbolt 3 Ports: 2
Size (Inches): 6.9 x 6.9 x 14.4
Check on Amazon
Gigabyte Brix 11th Generation Mini-PC CPU: Core i3, i5, and i7
GPU: Intel Iris Xe
Storage: Two M.2 Slots
RAM: Max. 64GB DDR4
Thunderbolt 4 Ports: 1
Size: 196.2 x 44.4 x 140 mm
Check on Gigabyte

1. Dell OptiPlex 7000 7090 – Most Sleek and Compact mini-PC with Thunderbolt 4

Dell’s offering in the mini-PC range combines a sleek design with excellent processing power. This is backed with the added benefits of a Thunderbolt 4 port.

You get the flexibility to build and scale up the configurations when your need grows. Their focus instead is on offering some of the best technology straight up.

Design

The Dell OptiPlex is a slim yet tall design. You get a computer that measures under 20mm in thickness and about 256mm in height.

Once installed, it merges seamlessly with the back of the monitor stand, leaving you wondering where the PC is. Alternately, you can use the VESA mount to place the PC onto a wall bracket.

The sleek black design boasts a modular structure and conceals the connections between the monitor and PC.

Processing Power

The Dell OptiPlex 7090 has an Intel i7 Quad Core 11th generation processor. This takes care of the processing needs of most users.

The Optiplex 7090 comes with Intel® Iris® Xe graphics. Thus, gamers will miss a dedicated GPU to play AAA games. Unfortunately, there isn’t a provision for the same should you want to install one later. But you do get a Thunderbolt 4 port, and pairing an eGPU is a breeze if you don’t mind sacrificing the only Thunderbolt 4 port you get.

Memory and Storage

The mini-PC some with 16GB DDR4 RAM and 256GB SSD storage.

The 16GB DDR4 RAM will take care of all productivity needs and more. However, when you feel the need for more, you have the option to scale this to a maximum of 64GB 3200MHz DDR4.

Similarly, the SSD storage uses the M.2 interface and RAID for incredible speed and security. You get support for Dual-storage with provision for up to 2TB SSD and 2TB SATA HDD.

Connectivity

The Dell focuses on its form factor, and as a result, you do not get an extensive list of connectivity ports. However, it offers enough to cover the basics. You get:

  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 1 x Thunderbolt 4
  • 3 X USB 3.2 Type-A
  • 1 x USB 3.2 Type-C
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet port
Our Take

The Dell OptiPlex 7090 is a sleek and ultra-compact mini-PC. You must consider it if your workstation real estate is at a premium. It offers some of the best specifications and allows you to scale the configuration when your need grows.

PROS
  • Support for Intel’s 11th generation CPU ensures you get some of the best processing capabilities.
  • The scalability of RAM and storage allows you to start small and build as your need grows.
  • Sleek and an ultra-compact design means you save space on the workstation
  • Up to four Displays are supported using DisplayPort Multi Streaming Technology
CONS
  • Only one Thunderbolt 4 port means you need to get a Thunderbolt docking station for more ports.
  • Expensive
  • Installing with an integrated stand means you lose the portability advantage of the PC

2. GMKtec Mini PC – Thunderbolt 4 with Triple HD Display

This mini-PC from GMKtec packs a punch with what it has to offer. It offers you an excellent set of configurations that are practical for home and office use.

You also get a considerable number of options for display connectivity. This includes Dual HDMI 2.0 for [email protected] & One Thunderbolt 4 for [email protected]

Design

The PC is housed in a sleek 2-tone box. The black and grey combination give it elegant look that sits well in office and homes. The front panel features the Thunderbolt 4 and USB port. Since there is only one Thunderbolt 4 port, you would feel the need for using a Thunderbolt 4 docking station. This is especially true if you intend to connect an 8K display with the PC.

Processing Power

The GMKtec mini-PC features Intel i5 11th Generation Quad-Core processor. This is ideal to take care of the needs of most offices and the everyday use of home users. Meaning you get plenty of work done thanks to this PC that focuses its efforts on ensuring productivity.

This becomes apparent when you realize that the PC does not offer a dedicated GPU. Instead, it uses the Intel Iris Xe Graphics. You will be able to get some measure of gaming but we suggest you do not keep your expectations very high.

Memory and Storage

The mini-PC comes with 16GB DDR4 3200MHz RAM. You have the option to expand this up to 64GB thanks to the 2XSODIMM slots.

For storage, you get a 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD. This is expandable up to 2TB. Alternately, you can choose to have a 2TB SATA SSD/2TB SATA HDD 2.5inch.

However, these would be considered excessive by most users. Further, most actual use cases will find the pre-configured GMKtec mini-PCs adequate.

Connectivity

This PC does not go overboard with its connectivity options. It offers you a modest set of ports that get the job done. You get,

  • 1 x Type-C-Thunderbolt 4
  • 4 x USB 3.2 Type-A
  • 2 x HDMI 2.0
  • 1 x Audio Jack
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1 x Micro SD Card Slot

Additionally, the PC comes with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2. Thus, you remain connected to the internet via high-speed wireless internet. And you get to connect all your Bluetooth devices simultaneously.

Our Take

This mini-PC from GMKtec focuses on the users who are looking for productivity. It takes care of all the essentials like CPU, RAM, and Storage and pairs it with the advantage of scalability.

PROS
  • SD card reader helps you transfer all your photos and video with great ease
  • Easy scalability for RAM and Storage components help you expand as and when your need grows.
  • Gigabit ethernet card get you high-speed internet
  • VESA mounts allow you to install the PC on the monitor; thus, making space at your workstation
  • Triple HD display with support for [email protected]
CONS
  • Does not offer Wi-Fi 6E for low-latency and interruption-free wireless internet.
  • Only one Thunderbolt 4 port means you will have to pay extra to get a docking station.
  • It is expensive for the features it offer

3. Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast Mini PC and Kit – No one knows Thunderbolt like Intel!

It makes sense that Intel is at the top of a Thunderbolt products list. After all, the tech giant is the proprietor of the Thunderbolt specification. Intel’s NUC series has been quite successful, and the NUC 11 Enthusiast Kit follows the same pattern of success.

This particular mini-PC sits at the top of our list simply because it delivers portability, connectivity, power, and design in every aspect. Before we get into the specs, we should probably mention that the PC is also one of the most expensive ones on our list.

Design

The PC stands vertically and measures 221 x 142 x 42 mm. Vertically standing Mini PCs are always better for saving up desk space, and Intel’s done a great job by integrating such power into a small, portable device.

The NUC 11’s good looks are second to none in the mini-PC market. Sharp and high-end finishing on the material, smooth edges, and a customizable lighting panel make it unique to the mini-PC stage.

If you’re looking to customize the PC, you’ll need some specific tools since the PC is not exactly easy to get into. The inner frame is metallic with a replaceable lid and Kensington lock with base security.

Processing Power

The NUC 11 packs a punch in this section. The 11th Generation Intel Core i7 processor with 2.7GHz (4.7GHz turbo boost) is one of the most powerful available today. In addition, there is an integrated graphics card, the Intel Iris Xe G7, with up to 1.7GHz clocking capability.

In addition to the Integrated Graphics, there is a treat for gamers, the discrete GeForce_RTX 2060 graphics processor! Mini PCs are not known for including separate graphics processors. With Thunderbolt 4 connectivity, most manufacturers would have just left the improvements to the buyer, but this device is an exception.

Memory & Storage

You’ll have to buy your RAM and storage. There are two dual-channel SODIMM sockets on which you can install up to 64GB, sufficient for gaming and professional work.

There are two M.2 PCIex4 slots on which you can install NVMe or SATA SSDs. Instead of providing memory and storage onboard, Intel has provided the latest specifications for installing any memory/storage you want.

Of course, this means you’ll need to spend more money, but if you’re already coughing up the big bucks for NUC 11, you wouldn’t want to be limited by mediocre memory and storage.

Connectivity

The PC has Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 cards installed on it. There are also two Thunderbolt 4 ports, one on the back and front. Additionally, there is an exceptional assortment of USB, Ethernet, and video ports. The details are all jotted down below.

  • 2 x Thunderbolt/USB 4 (1 front, 1 rear)
  • 1 x Mini DisplayPort (1 rear)
  • 1 x HDMI (1 rear)
  • 1 x LAN (2.5Gigabit Ethernet) – RJ-45 (1 rear)
  • 1 x TOSLINK (1 rear)
  • 6 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 – Type A (2 front, 4 rear)
  • 1 x USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 (1 front, 1 rear)
  • 1 x IrDA (1 in front)
  • 1 x audio line-out/microphone – stereo mini-jack (1 in front)
Our Take

Intel’s NUC Enthusiast Kit is the most powerful mini-PC with Thunderbolt 4 connectivity. The extensive array of connectivity options and its sleek and stylish design make Intel’s latest mini-PC the best product.

PROS
  • Unlike most mini-PCs, there are two Thunderbolt 4 Ports instead of one, thus giving you greater connectivity options.
  • Sleek and stylish design makes the workstation look aesthetic
  • A Dedicated Graphics processor, in addition to the integrated graphics card, gives gamers a great gaming experience
  • Extensive connectivity allows you to connect numerous peripheral devices
CONS
  • No memory/storage onboard, so you’ll need to spend extra.
  • No VESA mount means the mini-PC will occupy desk space
  • Expensive

4. MinisForum Elitemini TL50 – Minisforum get in on the Thunderbolt 4 action!

MinisForum offers you its first Thunderbolt 4 mini-PC and plenty of fanfare surrounding it. Minisforum is a relatively new manufacturer, but since it is solely dedicated to small-sized products, its R & D has allowed it to immerse itself in the mini-PC market better.

The X35G with Thunderbolt 3 was a massive success for the young manufacturing company, and so Minisforum correctly predicted that its Thunderbolt 4 variant would be huge even in presales.

Design

The product follows the design template of its predecessors, but you can’t blame Minisforum for sticking to it. We were impressed by the design of its earlier products too. The manufacturer is trying to set a brand image in its early days, so we weren’t surprised by the decision.

The dimensions of the box are 149.6×149.6×55.5mm, and it is VESA-compatible so that you can stick it at the back of a monitor. The edges are curved, and the surface looks high-end, so you won’t have second thoughts about placing it on your desk.

Intel 11th Generation processors are much better at reducing heat dissipation of their setups. Still, Minisforum has included a heatsink and a fan with the 28W processor, which means you’ll be able to clock it at turbo mode for several hours.

Processing Power

The TL50 packs the 11th Generation Core i5 processor, which has more Cache memory, better cooling profile, and performance than its predecessors. Intel’s Tiger Lake processors are the reason Thunderbolt 4 was taken to the market so quickly.

Intel’s Iris Xe integrated graphics card is included along with the Tiger Lake processor, which is enough for light gaming. For portability, Iris Xe Graphics is the best choice in the market right now.

Memory & Storage

A 12GB low-power DDR4 RAM is present onboard the TL50, sufficient for most computing tasks and gaming. In addition, the TL50 comes with a built-in 512GB PCIe SSD. So, the machine provides more than adequate memory and storage for such a mini-PC. There are two 2.5-inch SATA ports available for HDD expansion.

Connectivity

TL50 offers excellent data transfer options. The M.2 Wi-Fi slot boasts Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5, both of which ensure you get fast wireless internet and device connections. The complete set of ports is given below. In addition, a Thunderbolt 4 interface is present for high-speed data transfer, connecting a Graphics Card, or getting 4K video output!

Our Take

The Minisforum TL50 is a portable, well-designed mini-PC that can deliver reasonably high computing and graphics performance. The PC has a good connectivity profile, boasting USB 3.0 and HDMI in addition to Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6. It is a good choice for users who conduct heavy daily tasks and enjoy light gaming.

PROS
  • 11th Gen Intel Tiger Lake CPU support and 12GB DDR4 RAM provide excellent processing power
  • 512GB SSD and offers plenty of storage
  • Stylish and portable design with VESA compatibility to mount onto the monitor; thus, freeing up desk space
  • Both HDMI and DisplayPort allow you to connect monitor of your choice
  • Thunderbolt 4 port allows the best data transfer rates
CONS
  • No Wi-Fi 6E or Bluetooth 5.2 mean you do not get the latest wireless technology
  • No dedicated GPU leave the avid gamer disappointed
  • Confusing dual-power delivery system to the mini-PC can cause it to crash

5. Intel NUC 10 Performance Kit (NUC10i7FNHC) – The Best Mini PC with Thunderbolt 3 Port

Intel NUCs are still top of the pile when it comes to mini-PCs. The Intel NUC 10 Performance Kit (NUC10i7FNHC) comes with a powerful 10th gen processor and a fully upgradable chassis. It’s sold as a barebone kit, so you’ll need to buy most of the components, giving you the flexibility to build just the perfect rig for your needs.

This mini-PC does not come with any operating system, but it is fully compatible with Windows 10 and various Linux distros.

Design

The NUC 10 NUC10i7FNHC is packed in a smaller 0.668L chassis, measuring 4.6 by 4.4 by 2 inches (LWH). The case is ventilated on either side for excellent airflow and cooling, including a rear extraction vent for the fan. Thus, the unit looks clean with a black finish and no RGB lighting. You can safely use it in an office.

Opening the case couldn’t be any easier. Remove the bottom panel by opening the four screws at the bottom of the case. Inside there is an M.2 slot for solid-state drives and two SO-DIMM memory slots. The bottom panel also houses the 2.5-inch drive bay for SATA SSDs or HDD.

The NUC 10 Performance Kit has plenty of clearance for an SFF system, which provides better cooling performance.

This mini-PC is designed to be placed horizontally, but it doesn’t take up much space. If you’re tight on desk real estate, you can mount it at the back of a monitor or TV with 75 x 75mm or 100 x 100mm VESA mounting holes.

Processing Power

Powered by a 10th gen Intel Core i7-10710U processor, the NUC 10 NUC10i7FNHC provides power for everyday tasks such as browsing, VR, multitasking, and working on Microsoft Office documents.

The integrated Intel UHD Graphics is good for basic photo and video editing, including light gaming. But we recommend using an eGPU for more graphics-intensive tasks. The CPU is powerful enough to get the best of high-end graphics cards.

Memory & Storage

This configuration is sold as a barebone kit with no memory or storage. However, you can add two memory sticks with up to 64GB of capacity, an M.2 SSD for faster boot times and loading of apps, and an additional SATA/HDD drive to store large files and other files.

Connectivity

The NUC 10 NUC10i7FNHC may be one of the most compact mini-PCs on the market, but it still packs a decent number of ports. It can support three displays via Thunderbolt 3 and the HDMI 2.0b port. There are multiple ports for peripherals, including 10Gbps USB-C and USB Type-A ports.

  • 1 x Thunderbolt 3
  • 1 x HDMI 2.0b
  • 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C
  • 3 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A
  • SDXC Sd Card reader (UHS-II)
  • Ethernet
  • Headphone/Microphone combo
Our Take

The NUC 10 Performance Kit (NUC10i7FNHC) ticks all the boxes with a powerful processor, easily upgradeable design, and the latest connectivity standards. It’s powerful enough for most everyday tasks and gives you the option to add ideal components for your needs and budget.

PROS
  • Powerful 10th gen processor gives you good processing power
  • Compact, easily upgradeable design makes it convenient to install on desks or carry in your bag
  • More ports, including additional USB-C, adds to the connectivity options
  • VESA mountable to install on the back of your monitor
CONS
  • No bundled operating system means you spend extra to get one
  • Less powerful integrated GPU leaves gamers wanting more
  • It is expensive, considering you get a bareboned chassis that you need to kit out.

6. MSI MEG Trident X – Best Mini PC for Gaming

If you want the best gaming performance in a small form factor PC, MSI MEG Trident X is one of the best options you’ll find in the market. The Trident X is the smallest and most powerful gaming mini-PC in the market, powered by no other but Intel’s powerful 10900K processor.

It gives you excellent gaming performance in a compact chassis. And the PC comes bundled with an RGB-lit gaming keyboard and mouse from MSI and a copy of Windows 10 home.

Design

The MEG Trident X ticks all the boxes of a good gaming PC with an excellently cooled design and lots of RGB lighting. MSI packed everything in a small 10-liters chassis, which occupies less desk space and makes it easy to move when reconfiguring your gaming setup.

The chassis is highly perforated to allow for airflow and cooling. The unit stands on a permanently attached base with two fans and exhaust vents. Inside, there are additional fans for the graphics card, power supply, and CPU cooler. Despite its miniature size, the Trident X is well optimized for cooling, eliminating thermal issues.

Light up your gaming setup with customizable RGB lighting on Trident X powered by Mystic Light. There is RGB lighting on the front and the side with a sizeable RGB-lit fan for the CPU cooler. You can also swap one of the side panels with a tempered glass one to showcase your rig and appreciate the beauty of RGB lighting.

Another great feature of the Trident X is that it comes with all the components intact. The side panels are held with two screws each, making it easy to access the internals. Swapping the metal side panel for the tempered glass one allows you to open it like a door for ease of accessibility.

Processing Power

A 10th gen Core i9 10900K processor powers the flagship Trident X, providing enough power to handle AAA games at higher refresh rates.

If you’re on a tight budget, you can select a different configuration with Core i7-10700K(F) with RTX 2070 Super or Core i7-10700K with an RTX 2080Ti. Both models provide a buttery-smooth gaming performance when paired with the right gaming monitor.

Memory and Storage

The MEG Trident X comes with 64GB of DDR4 memory, 1TB M.2 SSD, and an additional 1TB HDD to expand the storage capacity.

Connectivity

  • 1 x Thunderbolt 3
  • 1 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C
  • 3 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A
  • 3 x USB 2.0 Type-A
  • 3 x DisplayPort 1.2
  • 1 x HDMI 1.4
  • 1 x RJ45 (2.5 GbE)
  • 1 x Mic In
  • 1 x Headphone Out
  • 5 x Audio Jacks

More ports are always better. You can connect more screens and peripherals at once. The MEG Trident X also has Wi-Fi 6 for wireless connectivity and is excellent for busy networks.

Our Take

MSI MEG Trident X brings the performance of a mid-tower in a compact ten-liter chassis. Its powerful hardware can drive very high refresh rates on triple-A games at high resolution. It’s expensive, but if you want a no-compromise gaming performance in a compact mini-PC with the benefits of Thunderbolt 3, the MEG Trident X is the best of the bunch.

PROS
  • Powerful performance and graphics give gamers the best mini-PC gaming experience.
  • Slim, compact design with RGB saves space and adds aesthetics to the PC
  • Optimized for cooling; thus, heavy demand on processing unit does not cause overheating issue
  • Bundled keyboard and mouse with backlights and RGB lighting add to the gaming setup
CONS
  • Complicated disassembly for the average user
  • Vertical orientation only may not be the best setup for some users
  • Gamers may miss the benefits of low latency with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2.
  • Bulky for a mini-PC step

7. CHUWI CoreBox Pro – Best Cheap Mini PC with Thunderbolt 3

Mini PCs with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity used to be expensive, but not anymore since the release of the Minisforum X35G and CHUWI CoreBox Pro. The CoreBox Pro is the cheapest Thunderbolt 3 mini-PC in the market and packs excellent features to deliver the biggest bang for your bucks.

While it does not include a bundled keyboard or mouse, the CoreBox Pro comes with a pre-installed Windows 10 operating system and Microsoft Office Suite to get started with your productivity work. It is also compatible with Linux OS.

Design

CoreBox Pro comes with a combination of black and gray finish, giving it a clean look that fits anywhere in a smart office smart home. It’s very portable at 2 pounds and 2-liters in size, the perfect mini-PC if you’re always on the go.

One of the best features of the CoreBox Pro is that you can choose to place it horizontally or vertically, with the latter occupying even less desk space.

The CoreBox Pro relies on the CPU cooler and ventilated body for cooling and airflow, averaging 65 degrees Celsius when gaming, according to ETA PRIME. The fan runs incredibly quiet compared to the Minisforum X35G.

The CoreBox Pro comes with all components installed and provides an additional HDD slot to upgrade the storage capacity. Open the top side panel by removing the four screws on the sides to update storage.

The HDD Bay is attached to the side panel. However, the memory is soldered and not upgradeable.

Processing Power

This mini-PC is powered by a 10th gen Intel Core i3-1005G1 processor with UHD graphics. It’s great for everyday desktop computing and multimedia but not powerful enough for AAA gaming.

While you can connect an eGPU to accelerate the graphics performance in this PC, don’t use a powerful GPU like the RTX 2080Ti or RTX 3080 because the Core i3 processor will bottleneck your GPU.

You can get an excellent boost in performance with a GTX 1650 or GTX 1660 and save money.

Memory and Storage

CHUWI CoreBox Pro is packed with 12GB of LPDDR4 memory and 256G PCIe SSD, providing fast boot times, quick data rates, and reduced loading times. You can add more storage up to 2TB with the additional HDD slot.

Connectivity

  • 1 x Thunderbolt 3
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1 x Headphone Out
  • 1 x Mic In

With the set of ports, you can connect up to three 4K displays and multiple accessories. But connecting a wired keyboard and mouse leaves you with just two USB ports, which might not be enough for power users. Also, there is no SD card, a bummer when using it for multimedia.

On the upsides, the CoreBox Pro supports Wi-Fi 6 connectivity and Bluetooth 5.1.

Our Take

There are many reasons to love the CHUWI CoreBox Pro. It is the cheapest mini-PC with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and provides a decent performance you’d get in more expensive machines. While the I/O might be limited for power users, that’s something you can fix with a Thunderbolt 3 docking station.

PROS
  • Versatile and sturdily built; thus, making it great to travel with
  • Cheap and affordable
  • Plenty of video ports to connect 4K display of your choice
  • It runs silently; thus, causing a minimal disturbance and preserving productivity
CONS
  • No SD card reader means you need to invest docking station for transferring photos of your cameras.
  • Intel Core i3 has minimal processing power and hence limits the use of the PC
  • A limited number of I/O ports may mean you have to leave some peripherals disconnected.
  • Soldered RAM means you cannot change or expand when you need to grow.

8. Asus ProArt PA90 – Best Thunderbolt 3 Mini PC for Video Editing

If you want the best mobile workstation without sacrificing performance, the Asus Mini PC ProArt PA90 is an excellent recommendation. This mini-PC combines high-end components for professional creative work in a miniature size. You’d mistaken it for a humidifier.

The ProArt PA90 comes with a wireless keyboard and mouse, a great addition if building a new editing rig. However, you must be ready for some cable management with two power bricks.

Design

The ProArt PA90 features a unique look that blends well in the creative workspace. It is available in a midnight blue finish and measures only 14-inches tall and 11-pounds heavy. It stands vertically, taking up very little desk space.

ProArt PA90 is highly optimized for cooling to keep up with the demanding workflows of video editing. It has an AIO Liquid CPU cooler and a ventilated body with an adaptive exhaust vent at the top. The top extends on maximum loads to allow for more airflow and cooling.

Processing Power

Choose between a 9th gen Intel Core i9-9900K or Core i7-9700K for the processor. Both models come with NVIDIA Quadro P4000 Graphics, which can support up to six 4K displays, five 5K displays, or dual 8K monitors, allowing you to edit highly-detailed images and videos.

Quadro P400 is a high-end GPU great for graphics-intensive tasks such as video editing, CAD workflows for engineering and architecture, 3D modeling, and VR. The ProArt PA90 scored 13,897 points in 3DMark Pro Fire Strike, beating the NUC 9 Pro (9,944) with an Intel Xeon E-2286M processor and Nvidia Quadro P2200 graphics. It also transcoded a 4K video clip to 1080p in 5 minutes 48 seconds, compared to 8 minutes 23 seconds on the NUC 9 Pro.

Memory and Storage

Asus ProArt PA90 comes with 16GB of DDR4 memory, 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD for faster boot times and transfer speeds, and an additional 1TB HDD for more storage capacity.

Connectivity

  • 2 x Thunderbolt 3
  • 4 x DisplayPort 1.4
  • 4 x USB 3.1 Gen2
  • 1 x Ethernet
  • 1 x Headphone Out
  • 1 x Mic In
  • 1 x Audio Line Out

The only downside with the ProArt PA90 is the lack of HDMI ports, which most monitors use. However, you get two Thunderbolt 3 ports that support daisy-chaining to connect multiple devices through a single port.

Our Take

The Asus ProArt PA90 is the mini-PC to beat when it comes to workstation level performance. It packs very powerful hardware in a sleek, compact design optimized for cooling. The design, performance, and ports make PA90 the best workstation mini-PC in the market with Thunderbolt 3.

PROS
  • Industry-leading performance with support for high-end CPUs and GPUs
  • Sleek, compact vertical design add to the aesthetics of the workstation
  • Can support up to six 4K displays or dual 8K displays ideal for image and video editing
  • Dynamic airflow and liquid cooling ensure that the system remains cool in times of peak performance
  • Dual Thunderbolt 3 ports support a high data transfer rate that is ideal for editing high-resolution videos and images
CONS
  • No HDMI ports; hence most users would have to look for DisplayPort monitors
  • Bulky dual power bricks compromise the portability factor of the computer
  • Expensive

9. Gigabyte Brix 11th Generation Mini-PC – The cheapest Thunderbolt 4 Mini-PC

Gigabyte has been eager to jump onboard the Thunderbolt bandwagon, and having a Mini PC with lightning-fast USB-C ports is a step in the right direction. Gigabyte packs a lot of punch into its latest Brix Series.

The series makes use of the 11th Generation Tiger Lake processors. The main difference between the three variants in this series is the processor. They have Core i3i5, and i7 processors.

The core i3 PC cuts back on the Graphics card, while the other two have Intel Xe integrated graphics. We will be talking about the Core i7 variant in this article. There is one Thunderbolt 4 port, apart from the USB ports available in the PC.

Design

We were pretty impressed by the compact design of Gigabyte’s Brix. The box might be a bit larger than others on this list, but the fact that it stands vertically means you can save up more space on your desk.

The PC’s dimensions are 196.2 x 44.4 x 140 mm. The 44mm thickness is great for your desk space. You get a stand in the box to place it vertically.

You can also place the PC on a VESA-compatible mount. If you’ve got a larger VESA-compatible monitor, you can mount the PC at its back, which means it’s like it’s not even there.

The aesthetics are pretty generic. It’s a rectangular box with a fine finishing on the surface and smooth edges. All the extra ports on the PC make it look crammed at the back, but that extended connectivity is also part of the charm for this PC.

Processing Power

The PC comes in three variants, i.e., Core i3, i5, and i7. All processors are 11th Generation Tiger Lake.

The Core i5 and i7 variants have the new Intel® Xe Graphics integrated into the system architecture. The Xe Graphics is the first integrated Graphics card capable of supporting light gaming by modern standards.

Memory & Storage

The PC has two SO-DIMM DDR4 RAM slots capable of up to 3200MHz. Both spaces have dual-channel memory architecture, so you can go up to 64GB, which is fantastic for a mini-PC.

You’ve got two M.2 slots for storage, one PCIe Gen4 x 4 and the other is PCIe Gen3 x 4/SATA. The slots are standard for what you find on most PCs and mini-PCs, and you won’t have problems getting an SSD from any of the manufacturers for these slots.

Connectivity

The Gigabyte Brix series offers more connectivity than most mini-PCs on the market today. There’s an assortment of USB ports, LAN, and HDMI ports listed below.

Unfortunately, you’ll only get one Thunderbolt 4 port for all that connectivity.

  • 4‎ x HDMI 2.0
  • 1x Thunderbolt 4/USB4.0
  • 6 x USB 3.2 (2 X Gen 2)
  • 2 x GbE LAN ports
  • 1 x Headphone / Mic Jack
Our Take

Gigabyte’s Brix series offers a range of connectivity to make exclusive use of the latest Tiger Lake Processors, unlike most mini-PCs which understandably have to provide fewer ports to save space. The VESA mount is a great feature for saving desk space. We only wished there was more than one Thunderbolt 4 port.

PROS
  • Excellent connectivity with plenty of USB ports lets you connect all your peripheral devices.
  • VESA mount allows free up precious desk space
  • Reasonably priced
  • All Core i3, i5, and i7 are offered; thus, you can flex your choice based on your need.
CONS
  • Only one Thunderbolt 4 port
  • No support for Wi-Fi 6E that bring interruption-free low-latency wireless internet

Choosing the Best Mini PC with Thunderbolt 3 Ports – The Ultimate Mini PC Buying Guide

Buying the best mini-PC for your business or home office shouldn’t be difficult. With our buying guide, you can find the right Thunderbolt 3 mini-PC for your needs and budget. Here is what to look for in a good mini-PC with a Thunderbolt 3 or 4 port:

CPU

The CPU is the brains of your Mini PC. You want a powerful processor to handle everyday desktop tasks such as web browsing, opening documents, light photo editing, and light productivity tasks. If you won’t play AAA games or edit high-resolution videos, you can skimp on the CPU and spend money

elsewhere.

It would help if you had a powerful processor for high-end AAA gaming and professional creative work, at least a 9th- or 10th-gen Core i7 processor. A less powerful processor will bottleneck your GPU (assuming you’re using a powerful dedicated GPU).

The MSI MEG Trident X with a 10900K is powerful enough for AAA gaming. If you’re a professional content creator, engineer, or architect working with 3D workflows and high-resolution video editing, we recommend the Asus ProArt PA90 with an Intel Core i9-9900K.

Graphics

You don’t need a dedicated GPU for basic productivity work like browsing and light photo editing. In most cases, the integrated graphics work just fine.

But if you want to step up and play modern AAA games or your business demands workstation capabilities, a dedicated GPU is required. With Thunderbolt 3 or 4 ports, you can easily connect an eGPU to accelerate the graphics performance. However, be careful to use a capable processor to avoid bottlenecking the GPU.

For instance, a Core i3 processor is not powerful enough to bring out the best of an RTX 2080, let alone an RTX 3080. The ideal dedicated GPU for a Core i3 is GTX 1650 or 1660.

eGPUs work great and can significantly boost the performance of integrated graphics. But with Thunderbolt 3 or 4 bandwidth limitations, you cannot squeeze every juice from your GPU.

If you’re building the ultimate gaming rig, ensure the mini-PC offers a full PCIe x16 slot to install a GPU such as the Intel NUC 9 Extreme Kit and MSI MEG Trident X.

On the other hand, you need a workstation-class graphics card such as the NVIDIA Quadro P4000 Graphics for high-end creative work and graphics-intensive workflows. Independent software vendor (ISV) certification is another feature to look out for when choosing a mini-PC/graphics card with workstation capabilities. ISV ensures your GPU is compatible with many software vendors such as Adobe, AutoCAD, etc.

Memory

Usually, most mini-PCs allow you to upgrade the memory, which is excellent as you can add more RAM as your bandwidth requirements increase. However, some budget mini-PCs, such as the Minisforum X35G Mini-PC and Chuwi CoreBox Pro, come with soldered memory, meaning there is no way to upgrade them.

If you’re a power user, multitasker, content creator, or gamer, you’ll benefit more from 16GB of memory. We recommend choosing a mini-PC with upgradable memory for power users and creators. This means you can add more RAM to match your demanding workstation needs instead of buying a new mini-PC.

Storage

The best mini-PC comes with a solid-state drive for storage and offers an easy way for upgrading. An SSD provides faster boot times, application loading times, and transfer speeds. Ensure you’re getting at least one SSD or an M.2 slot for storage.

Some mini-PCs feature additional storage capabilities with 2.5-inch HDDs. HDDs should be used to increase the storage capacity but not as a boot drive because they are super slow. The storage amount you need in a PC depends on your workflow and needs.

Design & Size

One of the advantages of buying a mini-PC over a desktop is saving desk space. If everything remains the same, select the smallest mini-PC you can get. You can save even more desk space by buying a mini-PC with a VESA mount to hide behind the monitor.

Minisforum Mini-PC is the smallest mini-PC available with a Thunderbolt 3 port. It takes less desk space and is easy to carry when changing offices or relocating.

Packing so much power in a small chassis reduces airflow and cooling capabilities. The fans might run more often than desktops, so it’s good to select a less noisy mini-PC. Most mini-PCs use adequate ventilation to improve airflow and cooling efficiency.

Asus ProArt PA90 has the best design in terms of aesthetics and cooling. It implements liquid cooling with an adaptive vent at the top that extends to improve airflow on heavy loads.

Upgradability

Like desktops, you want a mini-PC that allows you to add more components as your business or office needs to increase. Most mini-PCs will enable you to swap some parts, but the accessibility differs across different mini-PCs.

You want a mini-PC that is easy to swap or add more memory and storage without technical expertise. Intel NUCs are the best mini-PCs for upgradability in the market.

If you’re a beginner or don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can select a ready-to-go mini-PC with all the components pre-installed instead of a barebone mini-PC. A barebone mini-PC comes with the processor only and requires you to add memory, storage, and GPU (for dedicated graphics).

Connectivity

In addition to Thunderbolt 3 or 4, you should have enough ports to connect multiple peripherals, including a monitor, mouse, keyboard, external drives, and more. It’s good to look out for more USB Type-A ports and video output ports such as HDMI and DisplayPort.

While all the mini-PCs features in this guide have a Thunderbolt 3 or 4 port, some include a second port for daisy-chaining.

Daisy-chaining allows you to connect multiple devices through a single port. A mini-PC with two Thunderbolt 3 or 4 ports ensures you have an extra port for accessories if using one for an eGPU or monitor. The Intel NUC 9 Extreme Kit and Asus ProArt PA90 come with two Thunderbolt 3 or 4 ports each.

Bundled Keyboard and Mouse

While not as vital as the other factors, a mini-PC with a bundled keyboard and mouse can save you some money when building a new setup. However, it is not a bigger deal since most manufacturers cheap out on the included keyboard and mouse.

Best Mini-PCs with Thunderbolt 3 or 4 Ports – Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a mini-PC and a desktop?

A mini-PC is smaller and compact than a desktop, allowing it to fit in tighter spaces and occupy less desk space.

Why aren’t there a lot of Thunderbolt 4 mini-PCs?

Simply because it’s a new specification released only in 2020, plus, it only works with the latest 11th Generation Intel Tigerlake processors and rarely with an AMD processor. We’re sure the number of devices will increase quickly in the next couple of years in the future.

Are mini-PCs better than laptops?

Yes, mini-PCs are more powerful and customizable than laptops. You can fit a dedicated desktop-class graphics card in a mini-PC and access more ports to connect multiple displays and peripherals.

What is the smallest PC with a Thunderbolt 3 port?

Minisforum X35G Mini-PC is the smallest mini-PC with a Thunderbolt 3 port in the market. It comes with a 10th gen Intel processor great for office productivity and multimedia.

Should I buy a barebone or ready-to-go mini-PC?

If you want to choose specific components for your PC, a barebone mini-PC is the right option. However, if you don’t have much technical know-how, you’ll be better off with a ready-to-go mini-PC.

Are mini-PCs good for gaming?

Mini-PCs with a dedicated graphics card and powerful CPU can run demanding games such as Call of Duty, League of Legends, CS:GO, cyberpunk 2077, and more AAA titles with smooth frame rates.

Related Posts