Node 202

Sales of PCs has been dropping for years, but there's one area that's growing at an amazing rate, and that's eSports gaming PCs. What makes a gaming PC an eSports gaming PC? It's simple: hitting the sweet spot on portability, price, and performance. This build will give you all that, along with the win in your next competition!

For August 2019, this build carries on with the huge upgrade it got last month: a move from the GTX 1660 Ti to the AMD Radeon RX 5700 8GB video card, which not only beats the 1660 Ti by a wide margin, but dispatches with the more expensive RTX 2060 6GB as well. And thanks to its extra 2GB of VRAM, it will prove far more future-proof. It can easily handle any modern game at resolutions up to 1440p. Backing it up is Intel's Core i5-9400F six-core CPU, which offers unmatched performance per dollar for a gaming PC. 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 500GB PCIe-based solid-state drive, which will leave your competition still saddled with spinning hard drives sitting in the dust. To keep this system portable, it's based on the mini-ITX format, using an ultra-slim case from Fractal Design that comes in at just 10 liters (meaning it can easily be slipped into a backpack), along with a compact 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! To see how this build has evolved over time, check out our eSports Gaming PC Archive. And 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 - August 2019

    CPU:

    Intel Core i5-9400F

    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, an 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:

    XFX Radeon RX 5700 8GB

    AMD steals Nvidia's thunder with the new RX 5700, which significantly outperforms the similarly-priced RTX 2060 6GB, while also offering an additional 2GB of VRAM, which will make all the difference in the lastest games.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Being a reference-sized blower-style design, this card will work perfectly in the slim case used for this build.

    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:

    Intel SSD 660p 512GB PCIe

    Thanks to a massive price war, you can now get an ultra-fast PCIe solid-state drive for the same price as bargain-basement SATA models. The 660p from Intel is quickly becoming the only 500GB-class SSD to consider.

    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:

    Fractal Design Node 202

    Fractal Design is known for its well-engineered, professionally-styled cases, and there's no better example than the Node 202. With the inclusion of a custom-designed riser card allowing the use of nearly any dual-slot video card on the market, we consider this case a true bargain.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This case is so slim that it actually has insufficient headroom for many aftermarket coolers, even of the slim variety, given its 56mm CPU cooler limit. The Intel cooler will luckly slot right in. The casse is also limited to SFX-class power supplies, like the one recommended below.

    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

    Windows 10 is the best gaming OS ever released, and Microsoft makes it better all the time, thanks to the major feature updates it pushes out every spring and fall.

    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 Mid-Range Gaming Mouse:

    Corsair Harpoon Pro RGB Gaming Mouse

    By far the best budget gaming mouse on the market, the Harpoon comfortable, ultra-responsive, and packs in some cool RGB effects.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This mouse is priced like bottom-basement clones, but has the specs to compete with the very best! Don't be fooled into buying the no-name mice for a few dollars less (or more!).

    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!