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!

For February 2017, we're bringing huge updates to this system. While we carry on with the brand-new Core i7-7700K, offering 10% faster performance than any quad-core that's come before, just about everything else changes. We've picked up a new Z270 motherboard and switched over to the most compact shoebox-style case on the market, the SilverStone SG13. We've also selected the ideal CPU cooler and power supply to use with this ultra-compact system, meaning you'll have both a great build experience and a great computing experience.

Of course, no gaming system is complete without a serious video card, and so we're recommending the EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB, which is both amazingly fast and impressively efficient. The fact that it's dropped in price about 10% over the past few months makes it even more appealing! Due to its compact size, it's a perfect match for the case we recommend, and in fact is the largest card that will fit! In other news, we're now recommending Crucial's MX300 525GB solid-state drive to provide a great combination of speed and capacity.

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 VR-Ready Mini-ITX PC - February 2017

    CPU:

    Intel Core i7-7700K

    For this build, we're going straight to the top: Intel's brand-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 4.8GHz!

    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:

    MSI Z270I Gaming Pro Carbon AC

    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 six USB ports, including a Type-C connector!

    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! Note that Z270 ITX motherboards are in very short supply, so we substitute boards when necessary.

    Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 SC

    Whether you're a VR gamer or a 1440p gamer, there's only one card to consider: the GeForce GTX 1070. 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! To run the HTC Vive (which is currently the best VR system to consider, based on our testing and industry interviews) you need a ton of pixel-crunching power, and the GTX 1070 can deliver that power, making VR a great experience.

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000 Black

    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, prices on technology 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.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Crucial MX300 525GB M.2

    The MX300 is absolutely the one to beat in the mid-priced SATA SSD market. It offers higher performance and higher capacity than anything even close to its price, and is backed by Crucial's spotless track record when it comes to SSD reliability.

    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'll be publishing a full review of this case soon - stay tuned!

    Fan (Optional):

    Arctic F12 PWM 120mm Fan (Opt.)

    The SG13 case does't include a fan, and while you can run it without one, we recommend you pick up this optional 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 the necessary SFX-to-ATX adapter bracket to allow you to mount it in the case's ATX PSU cutout.

    CPU Cooler:

    Scythe SCBSK-2100 BIG Shuriken 2 Rev. B

    The SG13 case has limited clearance for coolers, so we go with the most powerful one that will fit with room to spare. This 120mm-based model maximizes cooling potential while optimizing size, and it is confirmed to work with the low-profile Corsair RAM we recommend.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Because we recommend the use of an SFX-L power supply, your cooler will actually have a bit more breathing room than it would with an ATX power supply. This 58mm-tall cooler would be just 3mm away from an ATX power supply, but with the SFX unit and its included ATX adapter bracket, you pick up another 10mm or so.

    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:

    At this point, we do not recommend that anyone choose the older Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 over Windows 10.