An Introduction to Building a Small Form Factor PC

Published February 5, 2017

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If you're looking to build a Small Form Factor (SFF) PC and want a little help getting started, you've come to the right place! Our comprehensive set of component buyer's guides and hands-on builder's guides will help you create the system of your dreams, whether it's a $400 kitchen PC or a $2,000 ultra-high-end gaming system. We publish these guides because we think SFF systems are the future of desktop computing, and once you've put your own SFF PC together, we think you'll agree!

If you're ready to take the plunge, we're pretty sure you'll find the information you need here. We profile eight distinct builds - just scroll down to the bottom of the page to select the one that's right for you. Most are true SFF systems, using the mini-ITX form factor, which makes possible incredibly-capable systems smaller than a shoebox. We also have two options that use larger micro ATX motherboards, which offer a bit more expandability with the tradeoff of a larger footprint. 


For February 2017, we've upgraded all of our Small Form Factor systems to the new Intel Kaby Lake platform, including the brand-new Intel NUC, shown at left. Going with Kaby Lake means you're getting a 7th-Generation Core processor, along with a brand-new chipset, incorporating all the latest updates and features. Perhaps the most exciting change comes in our lowest-priced build: the book-sized Home Office/Theater Mini-ITX PC. It's now equipped with the Kaby Lake-based Pentium G4560, released on February 1st. It's a dual-core processor featuring Hyperthreading technology, unlike any previous Pentium. That allows it to to blow past its similarly-priced predecessors. Note that later this year, this bookshelf system will get yet another huge update, moving from the venerable ITX standard to the brand-new STX standard, which is even more compact. You can learn more about STX  in our coverage of the latest PC innovations exhibited at CES 2017. In fact, read closely and you'll be rewarded with a sneak peak of the prototype SilverStone VT02 case, which we'll soon get in for testing!


Keep in mind that every SFF case is unique, so no single build guide can tell you exactly how certain components will fit together in that case. SFF cases often arrange components in a way that makes it difficult to install otherwise standard PC parts. That's why in addition to our many SFF Buyer's Guides, we've worked hard to put together a comprehensive set of step-by-step assembly guides covering a wide range of case layouts. We believe these are the most comprehensive step-by-step PC building guides you'll find anywhere!

All of our Buyer's Guides use Amazon's real-time pricing engine to provide up-to-date prices, and we also provide direct links to Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, and Amazon Germany, with regional substitutions made where necessary. If you purchase any of the components profiled in this guide, please use our links, which helps support continued development of this guide. If you decide to create your own SFF masterpiece, we'd love to add your build to The Gallery - just contact us to get your system listed.

Scroll down to choose your dream system!