If you want the sleekest high-powered ITX gaming system on the planet, this is the  guide for you! This build may be compact, but it can pack in lots of impressive gear. It features a game console-inspired design, but of course allows you to build something far more powerful! The secret sauce is proprietary PCIe riser system, which can squeeze in even the largest of dual-slot video cards by mounting them on their side - a creative solution to an otherwise vexing problem in slim cases. 

The April 2017 edition of this guide features the new Intel Kaby Lake platform, released in January. Our CPU pick for this build is the Core i5-7600K processor, which is about 8% faster than its predecessor, despite coming in at the same price, and also boasts better efficiency and higher overclocking headroom. We pair it with a new Z270-based motherboard, packing in all the latest features, including a front-mounted M.2 slot and dual-stream 802.11ac wireless networking. On graphics duty is the best video card on the market for a slim system: the GeForce GTX 1060 6GB. When combined with the new 7600K, you'll have an incredible duo for a compact gaming PC, providing exceptional gaming performance at 1080p resolutions! And among many ITX cases we've tested, the SilverStone RVZ02 is the one we've chosen for our own gaming HTPC. It's the best-designed ITX case available, providing an ultra-slim profile, impressive ease-of-use, and a proprietary riser system that allows the use of large, high-powered video cards. 

For step-by-step instructions on how to build this system, check out our High-End ITX Assembly Guide. Remember to follow our tips on size limitations we set forth - there are some hard stops when it comes to the parts that can be used in these cases. By the way, to see previous versions of this build, just flip to The Archive. If you still have questions after reviewing this guide, stop by our Reader Forum, and if you decide to build up one of these systems, let us know and we'll add it to The Gallery!

The $1,200 Slim Gaming/HTPC ITX Build - April 2017


    Intel Core i5-7600K

    For this system, we want a quad-core CPU to give you the best performance in both games and media processing. And the brand-new Kaby Lake-based Core i5-7600K is the value leader among quad cores. It comes clocked at 3.8GHz, and has the ability to overclock a lot higher. Just note that we'd recommend keeping you keep your sights at 4.5GHz or below given the limited cooling of this slim system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this CPU does not include a CPU cooler, so please remember to pick up the one we recommend later in this guide!


    ASRock Z270M-ITX/ac

    You get a lot for your money with this new Z270 board. It boasts built-in dual-stream 802.11ac 5GHz networking, two Ethernet ports, eight USB ports, ALC892 audio, along with DVI and dual HDMI video outputs. And being Z270-based, it has built-in support for the new Kaby Lake Core i7-7600K, which many Z170 boards will not!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This board also has a front-mounted M.2 SSD slot, which you'll be using for this build to keep it clutter free!

    Video Card:

    Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1060 6GB Windforce

    Due to its efficiency and effective fan design, the GTX 1060 will work extremely well in a slim PC, offering tremendous performance with very low noise and heat output. And with 6GB of VRAM, it's a great choice for both 1080p and 1440p gaming, and can even hold its own at 4K if you turn down a few quality settings. Of course, it has an HDMI 2.0 output, so you'll get full 4K at a full 60Hz.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The RVZ02 can handle video cards up to 13" long, so the sky's the limit in terms of size. But anything higher-powered than the GTX 1060 should use an externally-exhausting design, like this MSI GeForce GTX 1070 8GB Founders Edition.


    Corsair 2x4GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000

    For this build, we're going with DDR4-3000 RAM, which will provide a great boost to the system's potent Core i5-7600K processor, which craves memory bandwidth. To learn more about the effects of DDR4 speed in gaming, check out our in-depth Gamer's Bench article on the topic.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that due to rapidly-escalating prices on memory due to a worldwide DDR4 chip shortage, we've cut back from 16GB to 8GB for this system this month.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Samsung 850 Evo M.2 500GB

    This drive from Samsung takes the crown when it comes to best bang for the buck on the market today. It offers tremendous speed, and is backed by Samsung's well-deserved reputation for quality and reliability. If you decide you want additional storage space, go ahead and pick up Seagate's 2TB 2.5" hard drive. Note that standard 3.5" desktop drives will not fit in this system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Going with an M.2 SSD greatly simplifies installation, as no cabling is required. Just make sure you have a jeweler's-type screwdriver handy.


    Silverstone Raven RVZ02B-W

    Silverstone has done some serious engineering work here, and there's simply nothing else like it on the market today. With the inclusion of a custom-designed riser card allowing the use of any dual-slot video card on the market, we consider this case a true bargain. Learn everything you ever wanted to know about the RVZ02 in our step-by-step High-End ITX Assembly Guide!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Want a more subdued look? Then go for the SilverStone ML08, which uses the same internal layout, but a different exterior.

    Power Supply:

    Corsair SF450

    Using a 92mm fan with zero-fan support (meaning it only spins when necessary), and boasting Gold-rated efficiency, fully-modular cables, and dual PCIe power cables to support any video card on the market, this is the PSU to beat in the SFX world. And while we know many of our readers are tempted to step up to the SF600 for $30 more, it's truly unnecessary in this build - save your money!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Our hands-on Slim ITX builder's guide used the SilverStone SX500-LG SFX-L power supply. Many of our readers are still drawn to this unit, but we aren't recommending it anymore for two reasons: its larger size makes cabling more difficult, and SilverStone had to remove its zero-fan mode, as it did not function correctly.

    CPU Cooler:

    SilverStone AR06

    The Core i5-6600K CPU does not include a cooler, but you definitely need one! We recommend the low-profile SilverStone AR06, the largest cooler that will easily fit in the chassis we recommend in this guide. In fact, we have no doubt the AR06 is the best option for this build, based on the findings published in our Low-Profile Cooler Shootout

    The Guru's Tip:

    You should install the cooler with the heatpipes facing the top of the motherboard. That's because the motherboard will sit in an upside-down position when this case is vertical, and heatpipes should always face down if possible.

    Optical Drive:

    LG GTC0N Slim DVD Drive

    This drive is your best option for reading and writing to optical discs. It's slim, sleek, and affordable. 

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that you'll need a slimline SATA adapter (described in detail below) to connect it to your power supply, as it was originally designed for laptops.


    Startech Slim-Line SATA Adapter

    You'll need this adapter to use the slim-line optical drive listed above. That's because the power connector on the drive, designed to interface with a laptop peripheral bay, is much smaller than the SATA power connectors on standard desktop power supplies.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this adapter also serves as a power cable extender, which makes hooking up multiple drives in the Raven case a lot easier!

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10

    Win 10 is better than Windows 8.1 in every conceivable way. Thank goodness Microsoft listened to critics and came up with an OS that's actually easy to use!

    The Guru's Tip:

    We don't recommend any users buy Windows 7 or Windows 8 at this point.