We like the budget Foxconn A3500 at just £170, although you'll need to add in the cost of internal memory and storage, plus extras like a remote control for media-centre use. It offers flexibility not always found in other mini form-factor PCs, which can be less powerful, physically larger and less capable of playing 1080p video.
It gives you complete freedom to choose your own operating system, where most PCs cannot be bought without Windows. Foxconn's Nettop nT-A3500 is sold as a bare-bones PC with a motherboard, CPU and case, but no memory or storage installed. It's spectacularly thin, measuring just 25mm in height – smaller than the average router, or even a paperback book.
The Foxconn nT-A3500 could be useful as a low-profile office PC, media server or underneath a television for watching video, either stored on its hard disk, or streamed from network storage or the internet.
Although the glossy-black chassis attracts fingerprints, there's nothing ugly about the device. There are both DVI and HDMI video outputs, four USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports, audio connectors, a card reader, ethernet port and a red hard disk activity LED.
A single antenna attaches to the back for 802.11n wireless and there are power and sleep buttons (although no reset button).
There's a single memory slot for a DDR3 SODIMM and space for a 2.5in hard drive, although you could use an SSD instead for snappy performance. Importantly for a PC intended for media playback, the fan covering the CPU is near-silent, and when idle, the Foxconn nT-A3500 remains cool as well.