ML08

PC usage has been dropping for years, but there's one area that's growing at an amazing rate, and that's eSports gaming. After years of publishing guides for building traditional gaming PCs, we've decided to finally put together a guide dedicated to competitive eSports gamers. What that means is hitting the sweet spot on portability, price, and performance. This build will give you just that, along with the win in your next competition!

For May 2019, this build features Nvidia's new GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB video card, backed up by Intel's Core i5-9400F six-core CPU. Both are targeted directly at gamers looking for the ultimate value, as the 1660 Ti matches the previous-gen GTX 1070 for $100 less, while the 9400F is the least expensive six-core Intel has ever released! This combo will have no trouble pushing any of the latest eSports titles to maximum settings at 1080p. Also included is 16GB of high-speed RAM, which is a tremendous bargain given how much prices have dropped over the past few months. To make sure you always get into competition as fast as possible, this system is also equipped with an ultra-fast 512GB PCIe-based solid-state drive, which will leave your competition saddled with spinning hard drives sitting in the dust. To keep this system portable, it's based on the mini-ITX format, using a compact single-slot motherboard, ultra-slim SilverStone case (with included carry handle!), and a 450W SFX power supply. Together, these components will provide an unbeatable e-Sports system at the $1,000 pricepoint. By the way, we also have some great budget-friendly accessories listed later in this guide, including our top picks for a keyboard, mouse, headphones, and 144Hz monitor.

Need help building your rig? Then check out our Step-by-Step Assembly Guide! If this build isn't quite what you're looking for, we have a feeling we have another solution that will for for you, so just flip over to our Introduction to Small Form Factor PCs to learn more about our other compact options.

We use Amazon's real-time pricing engine, so prices in this guide are always up-to-date. We also include local Amazon links for our readers in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany, making regional substitutions as necessary. If you decide to purchase any of the products listed below, please use the links provided, which helps support continued development of this guide.

The $1,000 eSports Gaming Mini-ITX PC - May 2019

    CPU:

    Intel Core i5-9400F

    PRICE DROP! You can't get a better gaming CPU for under $200 than the new Core i5-9400F 4.1GHz six-core processor from Intel. It's a "gamer's special", offers higher clocks than the more expensive Core i5-8400, but with its onboard graphics chip disabled. For gamers that will be using an add-in graphics card, that's a perfect trade off, which makes it our pick for this build.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This CPU includes a 47mm-tall cooler which will work great in this compact system.

    Motherboard:

    ASRock H370M-ITX/AC

    This board is one of the most affordable ITX models on the market, yet comes packed with features. It has eight USB ports (including a cutting-edge Type-C port), a top-mounted M.2 slot, and built-in 802.11ac wireless networking. 

    The Guru's Tip:

    This board has video outputs, but keep in mind that the Core i5-9400F has no built-in video chip, so you definitely need a video card!

    Video Card:

    Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Windforce OC 6G

    The new GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is the perfect GPU for this system, offering excellent gaming performance (equal to the last-gen GTX 1070!) in a compact, efficient package. Because most e-Sports titles don't have ultra-demanding graphics, it doesn't make sense to spend more than this on a high-end card.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Watch out for triple-slot versions of the 1660 Ti from other manufacturers. They will not fit in this system.

    Memory:

    Ballistix 2x8GB Sport LT DDR4-2666 SR

    For serious e-Sports gaming, we now recommend 16GB of RAM, as many games can use 8GB on their own. You also want speed, and that's why we go with this high-performance 2666MHz kit, the fastest speed the motherboard supports. Note that 2666MHz is the overclocked speed, and you have to engage it using the XMP profile in the motherboard's UEFI interface.

    The Guru's Tip:

    While many eSports titles don't demand that much RAM, you'll still want 16GB of RAM if you'll be streaming simultaneously.

    Solid-State Drive:

    XPG SX8200 Pro 512GB NVMe

    Thanks to a massive price war, you can now get a massively-fast PCIe solid-state drive for just a few dollare more than bargain-basement SATA models. The SX8200 Pro is quickly becoming the only SSD to consider under $100.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The last thing you want to do is load last in competition, so don't bother with hard drives for this system!

    Case:

    SilverStone ML08B-H

    The ML08B-H is custom-designed for portability. It's ultra-slim, lightweight, and has a built-in carry handle.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This case doesn't include any fans, but that's what makes it so small. The CPU, GPU, and power supply all have their own fans that get direct access to outside airflow when mounted in this case, so it's as good as if it were wide open!

    Power Supply:

    SilverStone ST45SF-V3

    You need an SFX-class power supply for this build, and our recommendation is this affordable fixed-cable model from Silverstone. Packing in 450W, it will have no trouble powering up this rig.

    The Guru's Tip:

    While SFX-L models can fit in this system, we recommend SFX to make more room for cabling.

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    PRICE DROP! Windows 8.1 was fast, stable, and secure, but it had a user interface that drove most people crazy. Windows 10 built on all the performance improvements of Windows 8.1 while bringing back a functional start menu, similar to Windows 7, but with enhanced functionality. Microsoft also released DirectX 12 alongside its latest operating system, a graphics programming interface that is giving developers new ways to tap into hardware to provide unprecedented levels of image quality.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This USB 3.0 version of W10 will load in under 5 minutes!

Optional Components

    Portable Gaming Keyboard:

    HyperX Alloy FPS Pro Tenkeyless MX Red

    The best eSports keyboard hands down is the Alloy FPS Pro from HyperX. Packing in Cherry MX Red switches, while dropping the number pad for portability, this keyboard offers supreme performance at an affordable price.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Perhaps the best part of this keyboard is the fact that its USB cable is detachable, which makes it far more portable than other models. 

    The Pro Gaming Mouse:

    Logitech G403 Prodigy Gaming Mouse

    Score one of the very best gaming mice on the market at an exceptional price with the G403. Light and ultra-tunable, this model has a fantastic sensor and a great ergonomic shape for hours of game time.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This mouse is priced like bottom-basement clones, but has the specs to compete with the very best!

    The Bargain Gaming Headset:

    HyperX Cloud Stinger

    Whether at home or at a tournment, you simply can't go wrong with the Cloud Stinger perched on your head. It offers unbeatable sound thanks to its 50mm drivers, along with legendary HyperX comfort.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Read our full review right here!

    The 24-inch 144Hz Gaming Monitor:

    Acer XFA240

    For the price, there's simply no better gaming monitor on the market than the XFA240. Its 24" 1920 x 1080 panel provides a 144Hz refresh rate and 1ms latency to give you lighting-fast reflexes.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Thanks to a long-awaited update from Nvidia, this monitor now supports frame-syncing on GeForce GPUs - just make sure you have the latest Nvidia GeForce drivers!