SG13

This system is for builders who don't want to compromise on gaming capability even in a small system. It will easily fit an ultra-high-end video card and a standard ATX power supply. In fact, this system is just as fast as our full-size High-End Gaming PC Build, yet takes up barely 1/3 the space. That's perfect for gaming on the go, whether it's winning at the local LAN party or showing off the latest virtual reality title to your friends! In other words, despite its compact size, this is a totally legit high-end gaming PC, the equal of big towers that cost the same or more!

This systems has been completely revamped from top to bottom over the past few months, so for April 2017, we carry on with what works. That means a Core i7-7700K CPU and the GeForce GTX 1070 8GB video card, which together provide absolutely exceptional performance. You're also getting a cutting-edge Z270-based motherboard, 16GB of fast DDR4 RAM, a 500GB solid-state drive, and a high-powered yet low-profile CPU cooler. And guess what... you can learn exactly how to build this system by following along with our step-by-step Ultimate Mini PC Assembly Guide. Want extra reassurance? Then check out the fantastic set of photos and tips provided by one of our readers in The TBG Forum!

We update this build every month, so feel free to flip over to The Archive to see how this build has changed over time. If you have questions about this build, post them to our Reader Forum - we'll be sure to answer.

The $1,500 Ultra-Compact Mini-ITX PC - April 2017

    CPU:

    Intel Core i7-7700K

    For this build, we're going straight to the top: Intel's new Core i7-7700K processor. Running at a base clock of 4.2GHz, it boosts to 4.4GHz under a quad-core load, making it a solid 10% faster than its predecessor the Core i7-6700K, despite a similar price. It also has serious overclocking headroom - every 7700K processor should be able to hit 4.7GHz even with the cooling provided by this compact system!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Please take note: the 7700K does not come with a CPU cooler. You must buy an aftermarket model, and we suggest a great cooler for this build later in this guide.

    Motherboard:

    Asus ROG Strix Z270I Gaming

    This Z270 board offers all the best features of the new Kaby Lake generation. It includes the brand-new premium ALC1220 audio, Intel Ethernet, RGB lighting, as well as dual-stream 802.11ac wireless networking. In addition, it offers DisplayPort and HDMI outputs, optical digital out, and eight USB ports, including a Type-C connector. It even has a USB 3.1 header, which can't be used with any current cases - talk about future-proof!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Only Z270-based ITX boards are guaranteed to support the 7700K processor. While Z170 boards can in theory do so, they need the latest firmware, and there's no way to know if they do until you try to boot them!

    Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 SC Black Edition

    The GeForce GTX 1070 is the ideal entry point for anyone looking to game at up to 2560 x 1440 resolutions or to get up and running with virtual reality. But take note: you can't use just any GTX 1070 in this build, as most custom-cooled models are either too long or too tall. This awesome, affordable model from EVGA comes in right at Nvidia's reference spec of 10.5" long, meaning it will slot right into the SG13 case with a few millimeters to spare!

    The Guru's Tip:

    To learn more about how the GTX 1070 performs, check out our hands-on review!

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000 White

    With the Skylake platform, you need to use DDR4 memory, and to get the most out of it, you want high frequency DDR4. Skylake responds more favorably to high-speed RAM than any previous platform, as we found in our recent DDR4 benchmark analysis. So we go with this awesome 2x8GB DDR4-3000 kit. Keep in mind that ITX motherboards only have two slots, so you'll be maxed out with two sticks. Luckily 16GB is the sweet spot for a high-end gaming rig!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Believe it or not, the price of tech gear sometimes go up, and this is unfortunately the case with RAM. It has gone up in price by about 40% since mid-2016, due to supply shortages that are likely to continue for many months. We update the RAM selection for this build regularly to keep up with the best high-end values.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Samsung 850 Evo M.2 500GB

    The 850 Evo is absolutely the one to beat in the high-end SATA SSD market. It offers better performance and higher capacity than anything even close to its price, and is supported by Samsung's excellent software package (SSD Magician and Data Migration Tool), which are both free downloads.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This M.2 drive is easy to install, fitting into the motherboard's bottom-mounted M.2 slot similar to a stick of RAM. Just note that you need a jeweler's-type screwdriver to affix the tiny screw.

    Case:

    Silverstone SG13

    The SG13 is the smallest ITX case available from any major manufacturer. There are smaller "kick-started" cases out there, but they often come with a whole lot of "gotchas." The SG13, on the other hand, is supported by the very biggest name in the ITX industry, SilverStone. At under 12 liters, it is truly tiny, but packs a big punch!

    The Guru's Tip:

    We just published a full hands-on assembly guide for this case - check it out!

    Fan:

    Arctic F12 PWM 120mm Fan

    The SG13 case does't include a fan, and while you can in theory run it without one, given the powerful components in this system, we strongly recommend you pick up this fan to install in the SG13's front fan mount.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that while the SG13 case has a cutout for a 140mm fan, you can't install a fan larger than 120mm and still have room for a full-size video card.

    Power Supply:

    Silverstone SX500-LG

    Just because we're using an ITX case that can theoretically fit ATX power supplies doesn't mean we actually want to fill this little case with a big fat box and lots of cables. So, we instead recommend this SFX-L unit, which is a whole lot more compact, allowing for better airflow and cable management. It's fully modular, offers Gold-rated efficiency, and at 500W, has more than enough power to support this system, which will only draw about 250W at load!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This model comes with an SFX-to-ATX adapter bracket, but it's not the one you'll need to actually make this system fit together. See below for the correct one.

    Adapter:

    SilverStone RL-PP08B Bracket

    This nifty little component is what allows you to fit both an SFX-L power supply and the powerful NT06-Pro cooler into the SG13 case. Due to its large offset, it places the power supply all the way at the top of the case, making room for your CPU cooler.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Remember, the power supply comes with a similar bracket, but it's not the same, and will not work with this build.

    CPU Cooler:

    SilverStone NT06-Pro

    The SG13 case has limited clearance for coolers, and we go with the most powerful one that will fit. This 120mm-based model maximizes cooling potential while optimizing size, and we confirmed it will work with the low-profile Corsair RAM we recommend. To see for yourself how it fits, check out our hands-on Assembly Guide.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Because we recommend the use of an SFX-L power supply with a custom bracket, you can actually use this awesome cooler - equipping an ATX power supply would require the use of a much smaller cooler.

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    Windows 10 wipes away all the bad memories left behind by Windows 8, improving enormously on the user interface, and bringing with it some important performance tweaks under the hood.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This flash drive version of Windows inmstalls in just a few minutes!