Ultimate Guide to Thunderbolt 4 Mini PCs: Top Picks and Installation Tips

Ultimate Guide to Thunderbolt 4 Mini PCs: Top Picks and Installation Tips

Thunderbolt 4 Mini PCs: Everything You Need to Know

What is Thunderbolt 4

Thunderbolt 4 is an advanced connectivity standard developed by Intel, designed to provide high-performance data transfer and versatility. It offers fast, reliable connections between computers and peripherals, widely used in laptops, desktops, external storage devices, displays, and docking stations. Here are the main features and advantages of Thunderbolt 4:

Key Features

  • High-Speed Data Transfer: Supports data transfer rates up to 40Gbps, ideal for applications requiring high bandwidth such as video editing and data backup.
  • Versatility: Compatible with USB4 and USB-C, allowing data transfer, video output, and power delivery through a single port.
  • Video Output: Supports dual 4K displays or a single 8K display, providing high-resolution, multi-screen displays for designers and video editors.
  • Power Delivery: Through USB-C, can deliver up to 100W of power, suitable for charging laptops and other high-power devices.
  • Enhanced Security: Features stringent standards and certification to ensure device compatibility and security, including Intel VT-d based DMA protection against direct memory access attacks.
  • Daisy Chain Connectivity: Supports daisy-chaining up to five Thunderbolt devices, simplifying desktop cabling by connecting multiple devices through a single port.
Thunderbolt 4 Mini PCs: Everything You Need to Know
Thunderbolt 4 Mini PCs: Everything You Need to Know


  • Efficient Workflows: High-speed data transfer and multi-screen support significantly enhance productivity, especially for professionals handling large data and multitasking.
  • Simplified Connectivity: Multi-functional ports reduce the number of required interfaces, making the workspace cleaner and device connections more convenient.
  • Broad Compatibility: Compatible with USB4 and USB-C devices, ensuring good compatibility with existing equipment and protecting user investment.
  • Flexible Expansion: Users can easily expand their setup by adding extra storage, monitors, and peripherals through docking stations or daisy-chaining.

Features of Mini PCs

Mini PCs are compact but powerful computing devices with the following characteristics:

  • Compact Design: Small size takes up less space, suitable for desks or confined spaces.
  • High Performance: Despite their size, they often come with high-performance processors and sufficient memory to handle various tasks.
  • Low Power Consumption: Typically consume less power than traditional desktops, making them more environmentally friendly.
Advantages of Thunderbolt 4 Mini PCs
Advantages of Thunderbolt 4 Mini PCs

Advantages of Thunderbolt 4 Mini PCs

Mini PCs with Thunderbolt 4 combine compact design with advanced connectivity technology, offering:

  • High-Speed Data Transfer: Thunderbolt 4 provides data transfer rates up to 40Gbps, making file transfers, backups, and data access faster and more efficient, suitable for professionals needing to process large amounts of data quickly.
  • Multi-Functional Expansion: Thunderbolt 4 ports support data transfer, video output, and power delivery, allowing users to connect multiple devices such as external displays, high-speed storage, and docking stations through a single port, reducing cable clutter.
  • Multi-Screen Support: Can connect multiple high-resolution displays, supporting up to four 4K displays, ideal for professionals requiring a multi-screen work environment, such as designers, video editors, and financial analysts.
  • High Performance: Equipped with Intel® Alder Lake or Raptor Lake-U processors, offering strong computing performance for handling complex tasks and multitasking.
  • Compact Design: The small size saves space, making it suitable for desks or confined workspaces. Additionally, fanless designs ensure quiet operation, reducing noise distractions.
  • Reliable Network Connectivity: With 2500Mbps network speed, ensuring fast and stable internet connections, suitable for streaming, video conferencing, and online collaboration.

Use Cases

  • Business Office: Provides an efficient work environment, supporting multitasking and multi-screen displays to enhance productivity.
  • Creative Work: Capable of quickly handling complex tasks like video editing, graphic design, and 3D modeling.
  • Home Office: Compact design and high performance make it ideal for home office and remote work setups.
  • Industrial Applications: Fanless design and robust construction make it suitable for use in demanding industrial environments.

Recommended Thunderbolt 4 Mini PCs from Well-Known Brands

Top Thunderbolt 4 Mini PC Brands Recommended
Top Thunderbolt 4 Mini PC Brands Recommended
  1. Apple
    • MacBook Pro (2021 and later): Equipped with M1 Pro or M1 Max chips, featuring multiple Thunderbolt 4 ports.
    • MacBook Air (2022 and later): With M1 or M2 chips, supporting Thunderbolt 4.
    • iMac (2021 and later): With M1 chip, providing Thunderbolt 4 connectivity.
  2. Dell
    • XPS Series: Including XPS 13, XPS 15, and XPS 17, typically equipped with multiple Thunderbolt 4 ports.
    • Latitude Series: Such as Latitude 9420, Latitude 9520, designed for business users with high performance and security.
  3. HP
    • Spectre x360 Series: Including Spectre x360 14 and Spectre x360 15, supporting Thunderbolt 4, suitable for creative and professional users.
    • EliteBook Series: Including EliteBook 840 G8, EliteBook 850 G8, aimed at business users with excellent connectivity and security.
  4. Lenovo
    • ThinkPad Series: Including ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9, ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6, popular among business users for reliable performance and connectivity.
    • Yoga Series: Including Yoga 9i, suitable for consumers and creative professionals.
  5. Acer
    • Swift Series: Including Swift 3 and Swift 5, offering slim design and Thunderbolt 4 connectivity, suitable for daily use and office work.
    • ConceptD Series: Including ConceptD 7 Ezel, designed for creative professionals with high performance and versatile connectivity.
  6. ASUS
    • ZenBook Series: Including ZenBook 14, ZenBook Duo, offering portability and high performance with Thunderbolt 4 support.
    • ROG Series: Including ROG Zephyrus G14, designed for gaming and high-performance computing.
  7. Microsoft
    • Surface Series: Including Surface Laptop 4, Surface Pro 8, typically equipped with Thunderbolt 4 ports, providing excellent portability and performance.
  8. Razer
    • Blade Series: Including Razer Blade 15, Razer Blade Stealth 13, designed for gamers and creative professionals, offering powerful performance and Thunderbolt 4 connectivity.

Current Fastest Thunderbolt 4 Mini PCs

  1. ASUS NUC 14 Pro Plus
    • Equipped with Intel Meteor Lake processors and up to Core Ultra 9 185H, supporting up to 96GB DDR5 memory and PCIe Gen 4 storage. It has two Thunderbolt 4 ports, offering excellent expandability and connectivity.
  2. Intel 13th Mini PC i7 Thunderbolt 4
    • Featuring Intel 13th Gen i7-1360P processor with up to 5.0GHz frequency, supporting 32GB DDR5 memory (expandable to 96GB) and 1TB NVMe SSD. It includes dual 2.5Gbe Ethernet ports and WiFi 6, ensuring strong network connectivity, and supports 8K dual HDMI displays.
Best AMD Thunderbolt 4 Mini PCs Recommended
Best AMD Thunderbolt 4 Mini PCs Recommended

Recommended AMD Thunderbolt 4 Mini PCs

  1. Minisforum UM790 Pro
    • Powered by AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS processor, providing two USB4 (supporting Thunderbolt 4) ports and supporting 8K resolution displays. It also offers up to 64GB DDR5 memory support and multiple video output options.
  2. ASRock 4X4 BOX-7840U
    • Equipped with AMD Ryzen 7 7840U processor and two USB4 (supporting Thunderbolt 4) ports, suitable for users needing efficient processing performance and multi-display support.

How to Install a Thunderbolt Card on a Windows PC

Hardware Installation Steps:

  1. Check Compatibility:
    • Ensure your motherboard supports a Thunderbolt expansion card.
    • Verify an available PCIe slot.
  2. Prepare Tools and Equipment:
    • Screwdriver and Thunderbolt expansion card with related cables.
  3. Power Down and Disconnect:
    • Shut down your PC and unplug all cables.
  4. Open the Case:
    • Remove the side panel using a screwdriver.
  5. Install the Thunderbolt Card:
    • Insert the card into the PCIe slot and secure it with screws.
  6. Connect Necessary Cables:
    • Connect any required power cables and the Thunderbolt header cable if available.
  7. Close the Case and Reconnect Power:
    • Reassemble the case and reconnect cables.

Software Installation Steps:

  1. Start the Computer:
    • Boot into Windows.
  2. Install Drivers:
    • Use the provided driver disc or download the latest drivers from the manufacturer’s website.
  3. Update BIOS/Firmware if Necessary:
    • Ensure the latest BIOS and Thunderbolt firmware are installed.
  4. Verify Installation:
    • Check the Device Manager to confirm proper installation and test with a Thunderbolt device


  • Use anti-static measures during installation.
  • Refer to all relevant documentation.
  • Contact technical support if needed.

Best Thunderbolt4 mini PCs of 2024

Intel NUC 13 Pro: Known for its powerful performance and compact size, it comes with the latest Intel Core processors and features multiple Thunderbolt 4 ports. Ideal for both professional and personal use.

HP Z2 Mini G9: Targeted at professionals, this mini PC features robust performance with options up to Intel Core i9 and professional-grade GPUs. It includes multiple Thunderbolt 4 ports, making it perfect for high-demand applications and multitasking.

Apple Mac Mini (M2): For users in the Apple ecosystem, the Mac Mini with the M2 chip offers excellent performance and energy efficiency. It includes Thunderbolt 4 ports and is well-suited for creative and professional workflows.

ASUS ProArt PA90: Designed for creative professionals, this mini PC features Intel Core i9 processors and NVIDIA Quadro graphics. It provides multiple Thunderbolt 4 ports and robust performance for demanding applications like video editing and 3D rendering.

Differences Between Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 Mini PCs

Performance and Features:
Thunderbolt 4: Ensures consistent 40Gbps speeds, supports two 4K displays or one 8K display, and mandates PCIe data transfer rates of 32Gbps.
Thunderbolt 3: Also offers up to 40Gbps speeds, but support for dual 4K displays and PCIe bandwidth can vary by device.

Compatibility and Certification:
Thunderbolt 4: Backward compatible with Thunderbolt 3 devices, guarantees minimum performance standards, and includes more rigorous certification requirements.
Thunderbolt 3: Compatibility and performance can be more variable depending on the specific implementation.

Security and Usability:
Thunderbolt 4: Includes Intel VT-d based DMA protection for enhanced security against direct memory attacks.
Thunderbolt 3: May lack some of the security features standardized in Thunderbolt 4.

Docking and Connectivity:
Thunderbolt 4: Requires support for docks with up to four Thunderbolt 4 ports.
Thunderbolt 3: Dock support is less standardized and can vary by manufacturer.

Overall, Thunderbolt 4 provides enhanced performance, security, and standardization compared to Thunderbolt 3, making it a better choice for future-proofing and ensuring consistent capabilities across devices.

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