An Introduction to Building a Small Form Factor PC
Published January 12, 2017
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 January 2017, we've upgraded nearly all our systems to the new Intel Kaby Lake platform, which means you're getting a 7th-Generation Core processor, along with a new B250, H270, or Z270 chipset. In addition to the Intel updates, many of our builds use the Crucial MX300 solid-state drive, which can't beat in terms of performance and capacity per dollar (although prices have been rising as of late on the MX300, as with all SSDs). Note that two systems in our guides stick with previous-gen chips: the Intel NUC, which won't be updated to Kaby Lake until February, and the $400 Home Office/Theater Mini-ITX PC, which uses a Pentium processor that likewise hasn't been refreshed quite yet. We're actually hoping to provide a top-to-bottom update to our $400 system, using the brand-new STX format that's even smaller than ITX. You can learn more about STX in our coverage of the latest PC innovations exhibited at CES 2017.
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!