ML09

If you're looking to build up a system to serve triple-duty as a home-theater PC, media streamer, and content creation system, while blending in nicely on an AV console, this is the one! It's equally at home hooked up to your 4K TV for streaming content, editing video files, or being used as an office PC on your desk. And what we really like about it is that it looks good enough to show off, rather than hide in a corner like most PCs! 

For June 2019, this build is better than ever, thanks to price drops on CPUs, RAM, solid-state drives, and even Windows itself. The build starts with the ultra-efficient, ultra-powerful AMD Ryzen 5 2600 six-core CPU with 12 processing threads. It's the perfect fit for this home theater-focused system. To keep it running cool and quiet, we recommend the Noctua NH-L9x65 cooler, which will slip right into the ultra-slim SilverStone ML09 case. The CPU is paired with a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB video card that includes a proper HDMI 2.0 output for full 4K/60Hz support, along with more than enough power to handle most games at moderate details. Also on board is 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a fast 500GB solid-state drive, along with a 2TB hard drive for media storage (and the case has room for three more drives!). Together, these components provide impressive multi-tasking ability and responsiveness, along with excellent HTPC functionality, all in a low-cost, ultra-compact system. And by the way, if you'd like to use this system for NAS duties, it's up to the task, as it can hold up to three more 2TB 2.5" hard drives. Learn all about how this build comes together in our hands-on review of the SilverStone ML09 case.

To see previous versions of this build, just flip to the $1,000 Ultra-Slim ITX Gaming HTPC Archive. And take note: this is just one of 10 compact PC builds we feature in our do-it-yourself PC guides. If this 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 the 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 High-End Mini Home Theater PC - June 2019

    CPU:

    AMD Ryzen 5 2600

    For this system, you could probably scrape by with a dual-core processor, but why should you? Step up to AMD's awesome six-core Ryzen 5 2600, which can process a total of 12 threads simultaneously, while also offering huge overclocking headroom.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This CPU includes a 55mm-tall cooler in the box, which would work in this slim build, but we suggest a much quieter cooler later in this guide.

    Motherboard:

    Gigabyte B450 I Aorus Pro WiFi

    You get a lot for your money with this B450-based board. It boasts built-in 802.11ac 5GHz networking, Bluetooth, six USB ports, high-end audio, and an M.2 slot for a solid-state drive.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The video outputs on this board will not be used in this system, as the CPU doesn't have built-in video processing. Instead you'll be using the add-in card below.

    Video Card:

    Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1050 Ti OC LP 4GB

    This dual-slot, low-profile video card is the largest card that will fit in this system, and will max out your video processing capabilities. In addition to offering the full HDMI 2.0 spec, including HDCP 2.2 and 4K/60Hz, its 4GB of VRAM and can easily drive most modern games at 1080p.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This is the fastest low-profile GPU ever released!

    Memory:

    Ballistix 2x8GB Sport LT DDR4-3200 CL16

    For this build, we're going with 16GB of DDR4-3200 RAM, which will ensure you never run out of memory, while maximizing the performance of the Ryzen platform. The 3200MHz speed of this kit is 50% faster than standard DDR4-2133 kits, despite a price that's just a few dollas more.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To attain this kit's rated speed, remember to select the AMP profile in the motherboard's UEFI BIOS.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Western Digital Blue 3D 500GB M.2

    Given how quickly solid-state drive prices have dropped recently, you can now get a fast SATA-based M.2 drive for not much more than a hard drive! The 500GB version of the Blue 3D will get your OS and apps running smoothly at a cost per gigabyte that's truly amazing.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This drive will fit right into the M.2 slot on the motherboard we recommend, and to make installation easy, you'll want a jeweler's-type screwdriver.

    Memory:

    WD Blue WD20SPZX 2TB 2.5"

    For media storage, you'll want a high-capacity hard drive, and we recommend the latest version of WD's Blue 2TB 5400RPM drive. This drive will slot right into one of the four 2.5" hard drive bays in the case we recommend.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Don't need the extra space provided by a mechanical hard drive? Then skip this drive and use the money to pick up the 1TB version of the Blue 3D solid-state drive instead!

    Case:

    SilverStone ML09B

    Silverstone has done some serious engineering work here, and there's simply nothing else like it on the market today. Despite its compact dimensions, the ML09 can fit a mini-ITX motherboard, a low-profile dual-slot video card, four 2.5" drives, and an SFX power supply.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The ML09 can technically fit a slim optical drive, but not with the CPU cooler used in this system. Also note that you'll need to remove the included 120mm fan from this case to make everything fit. To get more tips on how to build it up, check out our hands-on review.

    Power Supply:

    Corsair SF450

    Boasting Gold-rated efficiency and fully-modular cables, this is the PSU to beat in the SFX world. It's equipped with a quiet 92mm fan that shuts off (and is thus silent!) at idle, while having the power to push a lot of air at load.

    The Guru's Tip:

    While you can theoretically fit a longer SFX-L unit in this build, it would require removing the 2.5" drive cage.

    CPU Cooler:

    Noctua NH-L9X65 SE-AM4

    While the Intel processor includes a cooler, we highly recommend this upgraded cooler, which is far quieter, and also far more capable. At 65mm tall, it will slip right into the slim case, which has 70mm of clearance when the case fan is removed.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Learn more about this great cooler in our full hands-on review.

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    Win 10 is by far the best OS Microsoft has ever produced, and it's updated ever Spring and Fall with major new feature releases and security enhancements.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This USB 3.0 version of W10 loads in under 5 minutes!