KL06

PC builders looking for a bit more flexibility than what a typical mini-ITX build can offer will appreciate this micro ATX-based alternative to ITX systems. Going with the mATX standard opens up a lot more options in terms of motherboards. If you're looking for something a bit different from the big tower systems of yesteryear, but still want to pack in lots of power, this is the build for you!

For June 2017, most of our parts recommendations stay the same. That means you're getting the potent Intel Core i7-7700K processor, the fastest consumer CPU ever released, along with the advanced Z270 chipset. The 7700K runs at a 4.2GHz base clock, but actually boosts to 4.4GHz under most loads, giving it a big advantage over the outgoing Core i7-6700K (we've found it to be 10-15% faster out of the box!). Combined with the GeForce GTX 1070 video card recommended in this guide, this system will provide exceptional gaming or productivity performance. On the storage side, we recommend a speedy Crucial MX300 525GB solid-state drive, specifically in the M.2 format, which reduces cable clutter, along with a 1TB hard drive for data storage. The biggest changes to the build this month come in the form of the updated SilverStone KL06 case and the new EVGA Supernova 550 G3 power supply, which builds on the success of the 550 GS we previously recommended, while offering even better performance!

To see how this month's build compares to previous months, flip over to the Archive. You can also compare this build to all of our other builds on the PC Build Comparison Page. Feel free to post them in our Reader Forum. And if you decide to build this system, let us know so we can add your system to The Gallery!

The $1,400 Compact Micro ATX PC - June 2017

  • CPU:

    Intel Core i7-7700K

    The brand-new Core i7-7700K, launched in January, is what makes this unimposing system a wolf in sheep's clothing! It offers tremendous processing power, with its Hyperthreading technology making it far faster in modern games and productivity applications. It comes clocked at 4.2GHz with Turbo to 4.5GHz, and can be easily overclocked another 10% or so. Note that for less intensive applications, you can easily substitute in the Core i5-7600K and save $100, although we view the 7700K as the better long-term investment.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This CPU does not come with a CPU cooler, so please remember to pick up the one we recommend later in this guide - you can't run it without one!

    Motherboard:

    MSI Z270M Mortar

    This mid-priced model offers tremendous value for the price. While the Core i7-7700K can technically run in older Z170 boards, they require a firmware update, which any models that have been warehoused for any length of time probably do not have. And going with the Z270 chipset brings additional advantages as well, including better memory overclocking support and the latest RGB controller powered by MSI's Mystic Light system. This board also has cutting-edge connectivity, in the form of an M.2 SSD slot (the future of solid-state storage!) and a USB 3.1 Type-C connector.

    The Guru's Tip:

    While this board does not support dual video card configurations, that shouldn't be of concern to builders of mATX systems. Running two video cards back-to-back is very difficult, as overheating is nearly sure to occur. Trust us - we've tried it multiple times!

    Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 SC

    A few years ago, building a compact gaming system with a GPU as capable as the GTX 1070 would have cost another $500, and would have run hot and loud. Not so with the GTX 1070, GPU with unmatched efficiency. This version of the GTX 1070 features a quiet dual-fan heatsink, along with a big factory overclock. Just note that due to a massive cryptocurrency mining craze, the world supply of GTX 1070 cards has dwindled to near-zero, so you'll probably need to pre-order one to get your place in line.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To learn more about what makes the 1070 so great, read our hands-on review!

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x4GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000

    This fast DDR4-3000 kit will unleash the full potential of the Core i7-7700K chip and cutting-edge Z270 platform. And in a 2x4GB configuration, you get dual-channel operation along with more than enough capacity. Just remember to enable the XMP profile in the motherboard's UEFI to take full advantage of it!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that due to dramatic increases in DDR4 memory over the past few months, we've cut back from 16GB to 8GB, and reallocated the budget to other components. Luckily, because this system's micro ATX motherboard has four RAM slots, giving you plenty of room for upgrades down the line. ITX motherboards, by contrast, are always limited to two RAM slots.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Crucial MX300 525GB M.2

    This model from Crucial offers an unbeatable combination of performance and capacity per dollar. The MX300's 525GB of solid-state storage will provide plenty of room for the OS and all your critical apps, and the M.2 format means you'll have fewer cables to deal with in your case.

    The Guru's Tip:

    You'll need a jeweler's screwdriver to install this drive, which slots right into the motherboard.

    Hard Drive:

    Western Digital Blue 1TB

    To provide a lot more capacity at an affordable price, we recommend the WD Blue 1TB, a fast, reliable 7200RPM-class drive. Combined with the M.2-style SSD above, you'll have a total of 1.5TB of capacity.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The case we recommend for this build can fit a 3.5" drive at the bottom of the case. By going with an M.2 SSD and a 3.5" hard drive, you can remove the huge multi-drive cage entirely!

    Case:

    SilverStone KL06

    SilverStone's KL06 builds on the pioneering micro-ATX SilverStone cases that have come before it, including the amazing TJ08-E that we previously reviewed. It uses an inverted layout to provide exceptional CPU cooling, and features two front-mounted 120mm fans, which allow for tremendous direct-path airflow through this compact case. While cube-shaped cases are all the rage, the truth is that the standard compact tower format is actually far more efficient for purposes of both cooling and minimizing total volume. Despite its small dimensions, this case can hold any video card plus a tower-style CPU cooler and high-end power supply.

    The Guru's Tip:

    If you use the data drives recommended in this guide, you can fully remove the large hard drive cage in this case, allowing for better overall airflow. The 3.5" hard drive will fit in the bottom bay, and the M.2 drive of course slots into the motherboard.

    Power Supply:

    EVGA Supernova G3 550W

    While this system can use standard ATX power supplies, its compact dimensions mean that the smaller the PSU, the better. So we recommend the newly-designed 550 G3 from EVGA, which is only 150mm in length, ensuring that there won't be any issue fitting it into our recommended case. It features Gold-rated efficiency, fully-modular cables, and enough power (and PCIe cables) to support any gear you could pack into this system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    EVGA offers the best power supplies at every price point, along with the best customer service!

    CPU Cooler:

    Arctic Freezer i32

    Offering tremendous cooling capacity in a compact design, this 120mm tower cooler is a perfect match for this build. It easily outperforms every cooler in its price range.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The i32 is tuned for quiet operation, and in fact has an optional mode that shuts off the fan during low loads to eliminate noise completely.

    Optical Drive:

    LG 24x DVD Burner GH24NSC0B

    It's cheap, and will easily fit in this build, so there's no reason not to add this LG 24x DVD burner.

    The Guru's Tip:

    LG is the last remaining major manufacturer of DVD drives!

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10

    Windows 10 was a big step up from Windows 8.1, and the Creator's Update released in the spring of 2017 made it better than ever!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Because this system has an optical drive, we go with the less expensive DVD-based version of Windows 10.