Evolv

This system is for builders who want a compact system, but simply aren't willing to sacrifice performance. This rig has all the power of our $2,000 Premium ATX Build packed into a compact, stylish case. While it's big compared to most Small Form Factor systems, it's dwarfed by standard towers, despite being able to go toe-to-toe with them. And amazingly, there is no price premium for getting a system of this caliber down to a portable size, making this build a pretty good value too. And in case you're wondering, it can absolutely crush any game available on the leading VR platform, the HTC Vive, making it a perfect companion for a new VR setup!

For March 2017, we welcome the greatest GPU ever released, the might GTX 1080 Ti. It equals the vaunted Titan X Pascal for $500 less, and endows this system with game-crushing performance! Backing it up is the brand-new Kaby Lake-based Intel Core i7-7700K processor, which offers the best performance of any quad-core processor ever released. To complete the build, we suggest 16GB of blazing-fast DDR4-3200 RAM and a 1TB solid-state drive, which allows you to skip old-school hard drives all together! We recommend powering up all this gear with a 650W Gold-rated power supply, and wrapping it up in the excellent Fractal Design Core 500 case, which offers plenty of style and substance, along with an amazing price. You can learn how to build this system by following our hands-on Extreme ITX Assembly Guide!

To see past month's builds, just flip over to The Archive. Interested in discussing this build? Then hop over to the Forum to post your thoughts!

The $2,000 Ultimate Gaming Mini-ITX PC - March 2017

    CPU:

    Intel Core i7-7700K

    There's no faster chip for gaming than the brand-new Kaby Lake-based Core i7-7700K. With a 4.2GHz base clock and Hyperthreading on board, it will make quick work of any game you throw at it. It actually operates at 4.4GHz with a quad-core load, and and can be overclocked to a minimum of 4.7GHz using the cooler we recommend later in this guide!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Remember, the 7700K does not come with a cooler in the box, so an aftermarket cooler isn't optional... it's required!

    Motherboard:

    Asus ROG Strix Z270I Gaming

    Over the years, Asus has delivered some of the best ITX boards on the market, and the new Z270I is no exception. This board features the new top-of-the-line Realtek ALC1220 audio, a full-length M.2 slot on the top of the board, where it will get ample cooling, plus 802.11ac wireless networking with Bluetooth. In addition, it offers HDMI, DisplayPort, digital audio out, and six USB ports, including a USB 3.1 Type-C port.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This board even has built-in LED lighting, although it's not something you'll see from outside this build's ITX chassis.

    Video Card:

    MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB Founders Edition

    Nvidia has brought a new level of performance to the table with the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. It equals the $1,200 Titan X Pascal, released in the summer of 2016, yet costs $500 less. Now that's progress! And how fast is it? Just check out our 4K benchmarks of the Titan X Pascal! With that kind of performance, the 1080 Ti, launched on March 10th, is clearly going to be in high demand for a long time, virtually guaranteeing that you'll need to backorder it.

    The Guru's Tip:

    We specifically recommend the Founders Edition for this build. Custom-cooled models are much taller and wider, making installation extremely tricky if not impossible, and won't be available until April.

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 White

    With the Skylake platform, you need to use DDR4 memory, and to get the most out of it, you want high frequency DDR4. For the Ultimate ITX Gamer, we go with ultra-high speed DDR4-3200 in a 2x8GB configuration.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Like all DDR4 memory, this kit will default to 2133MHz. Enable the XMP profile in the motherboard's UEFI to unleash this kit's full potential. In our recent Gamer's Bench investigation, we found that on Intel's recent platforms, DDR4 speed really does matter!

    Solid-State Drive:

    Samsung 850 Evo 1TB M.2

    The 850 Evo is the best SATA-based 1TB drive on the market. It uses Samsung's 3D V-NAND to provide exceptional performance. And to eliminate the need for all SATA power and data cables, we go with the M.2 version of this drive. Just note that you'll need a jeweler's-type screwdriver to install it.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Want even higher performance? Then go with the new Samsung 960 Evo 1TB, which uses the PCIe interface to allow up to 5x the performance of the 850 Evo!

    Case:

    Fractal Design Core 500

    This awesome case from Fractal Design may be affordable, but that doesn't mean it doesn't bring a whole lot of performance to the table. It has a silent 140mm exhaust fan, plus plenty of venting to keep air flowing. It's also one of the very few shoebox-style cases that can be equipped with a tower-style cooler, which means you can really crank up your CPU's overclock without worrying about overheating.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To learn how to build up your own system in this case, check out our Extreme ITX Assembly Guide!

    Power Supply:

    EVGA Supernova G3 650W

    There's no better Gold-rated power supply on the market than the new G3 from EVGA. It's fully-modular, which means you'll only use the cables you need, and this system in fact needs very few. The G3 offers all the quality of more expensive units, but with a size and power rating matching the needs of this machine.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that at 150mm long, this is the largest power supply that will comfortably fit in the Core 500 case we recommend. While larger models will "technically" fit, they in fact don't fit very well at all!

    CPU Cooler:

    Cryorig H7

    Keeping a CPU cool in a compact case is always a challenge, but this awesome cooler from Cryorig will deliver the performance you crave. Despite coming in at a low price, it features an ultra-silent fan and exceptional performance, keeping up with many 140mm-class coolers while using a more compact 120mm frame.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This cooler's offset design will ensure you'll have no RAM clearance issues, which most other tower coolers suffer from in ITX form factors.

    Optical Drive:

    LG 24x DVD Burner GH24NSC0B

    While not strictly required, we're listing a DVD burner because it will fit in the case used for the system, which is actually quite unusual these days when it comes to ITX cases.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The motherboard comes with sufficient SATA data cables to support this drive. You won't need to buy extras.

    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 version of Windows 10, on a USB 3.0 flash drive, will install in just five minutes!