Looking like an old-school Mac on the outside, running Windows on the inside, this curious mini PC makes for a fun Mac Mini alternative, especially for retro gamers. Upgradeable, compact, and cool, it’s just a shame there’s only one front-facing port and an older generation chipset running the show.
Fantastic retro design
Affordable spec options
Uses an older AMD chip
Only one front-facing port and no rear USB-C
No vertical stand option
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AyaNeo is best known for making high-end PC gaming handhelds, premium devices to tempt gamers away from their Steam Decks. Taking what it’s learned from its handheld range, AyaNeo is now turning its attention to the burgeoning market for mini PCs.
The company is taking a different approach this time around, though — not only is its new AyaNeo Retro Mini PC AM01 a more budget-conscious offering compared to its handheld stablemates, but its design is directed squarely at Apple lovers. It’s like a Muppet Babies Macintosh for the modern age — and it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
AyaNeo Retro Mini PC AM01: Price and availability
Pricing is a little complex, what with the varying tiers at Early Bird pricing, the IndieGoGo retail price, and then the general retail price — and that’s before factoring in the many configuration options, so I’ll refer you to the pricing sheet below:
Taking the barebones machine 5700U model (set to have a final retail price of $259) and weaker Ryzen 3 3200U options (starting at $199) off the table, let’s look at the Ryzen 7 5700U 8GB RAM / 256GB storage option as the ‘entry’ level option most people should be considering. If you’re able to get it at the $269 Early Bird pricing option — or even the $319 full retail cost — that’s a great price for the spec, port selection, and cool novelty of the case design, even with that APU being an aging variant.
For the purposes of this review, we’re looking at the AMD Ryzen 7 5700U variant with 32GB RAM and 1TB storage, which will have a final retail price of $459.
AyaNeo Retro Mini PC AM01: Design
Let’s be real here — the true reason we’re talking today about a Windows PC on an Apple-oriented website is the design of the AyaNeo Retro Mini PC AM01. It’s a delightful homage to the original 1984 Apple Macintosh, complete with cream-colored casing, faux screen, and faux floppy disk slot. It’s a tiny little thing, measuring just 132 x 132 x 60.5mm (64.5mm with the bottom-mounted feet) and weighing a mere 486g.
There are playful touches throughout — where you’d expect to find an Apple logo is a magnetically interchangeable tab for all manner of badges (some provided in the box), while that dummy floppy drive button actually works as a power button instead. It’s a nostalgic design that carries over to the desktop, too, with AyaNeo showing attention to detail with a rainbow ‘Hello’ wallpaper that further references the old-school Mac aesthetic.
Powered by either an AMD Ryzen 7 5700U or Ryzen 3 3200U, there’s a solid port selection squeezed into the little frame. Around the front is a single USB-C 3.2 Gen1 port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Below a sizeable exhaust vent on the rear, you'll find 3x full-size USB 3.2 Gen2 ports, a full-size USB 2.0 port, an HDMI 2.0 port, DisplayPort 1.4 (both video outputs good for 4K / 60Hz), and an Ethernet jack. I’d have liked a rear USB-C port, but it’s otherwise a great selection. Wireless connectivity is provided by speedy Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 connections — though note that the 3200U chipset versions only have Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.2. AyaNeo ships the computer with storage configurations of 256GB, 512GB, or 2TB, and DDR4 RAM in 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB amounts.
If you fancy a tinker inside, that’s possible too, with the included manual talking you through how to easily and safely open up the machine. Release a few simple screws on the underside of the case, and you’ve access to RAM and M.2 2280 PCIe 3.0 and 2.5-inch SATA hard drive bays, letting you upgrade beyond what’s offered off the shelf by AyaNeo — something I wish I could say was possible in the equivalent Mac mini models sold today.
It’s a slight shame that there’s no safe way to vertically stand the AM01, which would let you see its Mac-like features most clearly. Though marketing materials would suggest otherwise, what appears to be the front of the computer is actually the top, with the AM01 designed to be laid prone. While there’s no fan vent preventing you from standing it upright, you’d lose access to the front USB-C port and headphone jack, and top-mounted ports would make the whole thing unstable. But it’s a minor criticism in an otherwise joyful design.
AyaNeo Retro Mini PC AM01: Performance
Running Windows 11 Home Edition out of the box, the AMD Ryzen 7 5700U model I tested, backed by 32GB of RAM, was a delight to use. With expectations kept in check (this is not a high-end workstation, nor AAA gaming machine), I had a blast — Microsoft’s Office applications ran breezily, Photoshop work didn’t tax the chip, and I threw dozens of Chrome tabs and simultaneous 4K streams at the device without a stutter. You could totally get some video editing done here, even if I suspect it’s really been designed with a spot under your TV as its intended place.
With a sizeable fan under the hood, there were no overheating issues, and I didn’t notice any egregious chip-throttling. Temperatures remained safe, hovering around the 80-degree mark when pushed at its top 35W TDP whilst benchmarking, but I could hear the fan whirring under load.
AyaNeo is primarily a gaming brand, and as its name suggests, this PC is primarily aimed at retro-enthusiast gamers. For those who want to marry their classic gaming tastes with a retro design, the AM01 is perfect — that processor will chew through any emulated consoles right up to even some PlayStation 3 titles, and it’s not a bad option for less strenuous PC gaming workouts, too. 2D titles like Hades and Hollow Knight ran comfortably above the 60fps mark at 1080p with v-sync switched off, though remember you’re limited to that 60Hz cap with your video output options here. A more taxing game like GTA V can hit a near-constant 60fps at 1080p with Low graphical settings, but the age of that game and the concessions made to visual fidelity should give you an indication of where your gaming experiences are going to max out. Still — it’s admirable performance for the form factor and price range all the same.
AyaNeo leaves the Windows build relatively bloat-free, but does include the AyaSpace software that ships with its handheld devices. It’s a nice interface, but a bit moot here — with no battery concerns to worry about and a confident cooling solution in its large-scale fan and heatsink, AyaSpace’s usual go-to tools of power draw and fan settings aren’t particularly useful. There are even legacy sections for controllers and gyroscopes left over from the AyaNeo handheld models. Push the TDP to its max here and then forget about it. But it does also double up as a game launcher, so it’s there if you want a custom, cross-store launcher to house all your titles under one roof.
AyaNeo Retro Mini PC AM01: Competition
It’s an apples and oranges comparison to put the AyaNeo Retro Mini PC AM01 against this year's M2 Mac mini — they’re aimed at surprisingly different audiences. But in this form factor, an Apple fan without access to macOS looking at the AyaNeo option here should really be considering the M2 Mac mini range instead, which starts at $599.
It’s more expensive, but it’s one of the best bang-for-buck computers on the market and will naturally tie in better with the Apple devices I’m going to assume the iMore readership is already in love with. The AyaNeo holds its own, especially at the lower price points, but using a Windows machine versus a Mac is a very different experience.
If you’re looking for a solid alternative to a Mac Mini, the AyaNeo Retro Mini PC AM01 ranks up there with the best of the bunch at this price point. The AceMagician AMR5 has its own fun and unique form factor at a similar price but with a weaker chipset. If you’re after more power and are willing to pay the extra for it, consider the MinisForum UM790 Pro with its Ryzen 9 7940HS — enough power to tear through general computing tasks and higher-level PC gaming, too, but at a $699 price point.
Should You Buy the AyaNeo Retro Mini PC AM01?
Buy the AyaNeo Retro Mini PC AM01 if…
- You’re a sucker for that retro Mac look
- You need an affordable, capable Windows alternative to a modern Mac
- You don’t need the power of a dedicated GPU
Don’t buy the AyaNeo Retro Mini PC AM01 if…
- You’re wedded to using macOS only
- You’re looking to do AAA PC gaming
- You want the flexibility a larger-sized PC case affords you for upgrades
AyaNeo Retro Mini PC AM01: Verdict
A great mini desktop PC with a cute, nostalgia-tinged design, AyaNeo’s first roll of the mini PC dice is great. With a solid (if slightly older) chipset, a great port selection, upgradable innards, and a sensible pricing structure, it’s as well suited to a gaming-focussed media center as a Windows desktop backup to accompany the genuine Mac in your life.
Bottom line: A wonderfully designed retro mini PC that great for lightweight gaming, office tasks, and even non-intensive media production jobs. And it looks like an old-school Mac!
Gerald Lynch is the Editor-in-Chief of iMore, keeping careful watch over the site's editorial output and commercial campaigns, ensuring iMore delivers the in-depth, accurate and timely Apple content its readership deservedly expects. You'll never see him without his iPad Pro, and he loves gaming sessions with his buddies via Apple Arcade on his iPhone 14 Pro, but don't expect him to play with you at home unless your Apple TV is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system.
Living in London in the UK, Gerald was previously Editor of Gizmodo UK, and Executive Editor of TechRadar, and has covered international trade shows including Apple's WWDC, MWC, CES and IFA. If it has an acronym and an app, he's probably been there, on the front lines reporting on the latest tech innovations. Gerald is also a contributing tech pundit for BBC Radio and has written for various other publications, including T3 magazine, GamesRadar, Space.com, Real Homes, MacFormat, music bible DIY, Tech Digest, TopTenReviews, Mirror.co.uk, Brandish, Kotaku, Shiny Shiny and Lifehacker. Gerald is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press, and also holds a Guinness world record on Tetris. For real.
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