An Introduction to Building a Small Form Factor PC
Published June 8, 2017
If you're looking to build a Small Form Factor (SFF) PC and want some 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 $500 kitchen PC or a $2,500 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 confident you'll find the information you need here. We profile nine distinct compact builds - just scroll down to the bottom of the page to select the one that's right for you. Over half of these systems are what we'd call "true SFF" builds, using the mini-ITX, STX, or NUC form factor, and utilizing ultra-compact cases smaller than a shoebox. We also have two options that use mid-sized micro-ATX motherboards, one that uses the full-size ATX format, and an ITX-based build in an extra-large chassis that allows extreme gaming gear to fit.
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!
For June 2017, we're proud to announce that SilverStone, the biggest name in SFF computing, has become a sponsor of TBG's PC Buyer's Guides. That means you'll be seeing many of SilverStone's latest SFF innovations on TBG before you see them anywhere else! For example, TBG was the first (and still only!) website in the U.S. to have profiled the tiny VT02 STX chassis, shown above, which we reviewed in close detail in our step-by-step STX assembly guide! Looking forward a bit, we're excited to see whether the prototype SilverStone RVZ04 STX gaming chassis, shown at Computex 2017 and pictured here, makes it to market.
Here's what SilverStone's Tony Ou shared with us on this amazing new intitiative:
Computex was pretty good for us as we were able to get the word out on the RVZ04 and officially push to make Micro-STX a valid retail platform along with MXM [video cards]. Hopefully they become as successful as Mini-ITX and SFX someday. From what I understand NVIDIA provides the MXM card directly in addition to select board partners but they all are supposed to go to system integrators only. From some of the customers I talked to during Computex, NVIDIA does specifically "recommend" that these MXM cards should not be sold separately in the retail channels.
We're hoping that SilverStone's hard work in this arena will encourage Nvidia to release the MXM format, intended for laptops only, into the retail channel. That will allow PC enthusiasts to build desktop PCs that are not only far more powerful than gaming consoles like the Xbox One and Playstation 4, but much smaller as well!
All of our Buyer's Guides shown below 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!