Manta

If you want a no-holds-barred extreme PC without the bulk, this system is the one for you! This build has all the power of our $2,500 Extreme 4K 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.

For July 2017, this build gets a sweet upgrade to the brand-new liquid-cooled EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB Hybrid. It's the fastest video card on the planet, even better than the Titan X! Backing this dynamo up is the powerful Core i7-7700K quad-core CPU, which runs at up to 4.5GHz out of the box, but can easily hit 5GHz with the Corsair 240mm liquid CPU cooler we recommend. You're also getting an incredible 32GB of DDR4-3200 memory, which maxes out this system's capacity from the start, along with the ultra-fast Samsung 960 Evo 1TB PCIe-based drive. Power up your system with EVGA's Platinum-rated Supernova 650W PSU, wrap it up in the top-of-the-line NZXT Manta case, and you have the ultimate ITX gaming machine!

Interested in discussing this build? Then hop over to the Forum to post your thoughts! Want to see how it's evolved over time? Then check out The Archive!

The $2,500 Ultra-Extreme Mini-ITX PC - July 2017

  • CPU:

    Intel Core i7-7700K

    There's no faster chip for gaming than the 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 5.0GHz using the liquid 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:

    MSI Z270I Gaming Pro Carbon AC

    This board features the new top-of-the-line Realtek ALC1220 audio, a full-length M.2 slot on the rear of the board, Intel wired networking, and 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:

    Please be forewarned: the similar Asus Z270I Gaming board will not work properly with this system. Asus does not include an industry-standard USB 2.0 header on its board, which means you can't use the Corsair liquid CPU cooler we recommend.

    Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2 Hybrid 11GB

    With the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, Nvidia is offering Titan X-caliber performance at a much more palatable price. It's easily the biggest video card release since the GTX 1080, which hit the market in May 2016. You want 4K gaming capability? This card will bring it! And this new liquid-cooled model from EVGA offers insanely-cool operation, keeping the GPU under 60C under almost any load, therefore maximizing boost potential!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that you'll want to remove the case's pre-installed 120mm fan and replace it with this GPU's radiator/fan assembly.

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x16GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 Black

    To get the most out of your Core i7-7700K, you want high-frequency DDR4 memory. For the Ultimate ITX Gamer, we go with ultra-high speed DDR4-3200 in a 2x16GB configuration, which gives you both incredible speed and incredible capacity.

    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 Gamer's Bench investigation, we found that on Intel's recent platforms, DDR4 speed really does matter!

    Solid-State Drive:

    Samsung 960 Evo 1TB PCIe NVMe

    Step up to next-gen performance with Samsung's awesome 960 Evo. Harnessing the potential of the NVMe protocol and the PCIe interface, it's up to 5x faster than SATA drives, including its predecessor the 850 Evo.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This drive simply has no equal in its price range, offering amazing performance and capacity at a very reasonable price.

    Case:

    NZXT Manta

    This awesome case from NZXT brings unmatched style and function to the ITX arena at an incredible price. No, it's not exactly small for an ITX case, but it is high performance. It comes equipped with dual 120mm fans in front, and a 120mm in the rear, with space for a big radiator on top.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This case is available in a variety of colors, all from the same link provided above.

    Power Supply:

    EVGA Supernova 650 P2

    Just because we're using a slightly larger ITX case for this build doesn't mean we want to fill it full of cables. So we go with the best Platinum-rated power supply on the market, the P2 from EVGA. It's fully-modular model, which you definitely want in an ultra-high-end mini-ITX system. It 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:

    Given that you'll never be using a second video card in this system, you simply cannot utilize more than about 400W with this build under even extreme circumstances (seriously!). But assuming you want to crank it to 11, we're suggesting a 650W unit, just to play it safe!

    CPU Cooler:

    Corsair Hydro H100i v2 Liquid Cooler

    Keeping a CPU cool in a compact case is always a challenge, but this awesome 240mm-class cooler from Corsair is most definitely up to the task. It will easily keep your CPU temperatures under control while also providing cooling for the rest of the system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This cooler will connect to the motherboard in two ways: via a USB 2.0 header and a fan header, which provides for both power and control.

    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!