RVZ02

If you want the sleekest high-powered ITX gaming system on the planet, this is the guide for you! This build we profile here may be compact, but it can pack in lots of impressive gear. It features a game console-inspired design, but of course allows you to build something far more powerful. The secret sauce is proprietary PCIe riser system, which can squeeze in even the largest of dual-slot video cards by mounting them on their side - a creative solution to an otherwise vexing problem in slim cases. 

For August 2017, this system continues to rely on the Core i5-7600K processor, which will remain our CPU of choice for the foreseeable future. It's fast, efficient, and most importantly, can easily be integrated into a slim ITX system, unlike AMD's Ryzen line of CPUs. This build also features a GeForce GTX 1060, which is in short supply due to cryptocurrency mining, although we're finally seeing a few return to store shelves. We've recently moved away from solid-state drives for this build due to rising prices, instead going for a simple, reliable Seagate hybrid hard drive, which uses 8GB of NAND cache to speed up applications you use regularly. And among many ITX cases we've tested, the SilverStone RVZ02 is among our very favorites. It's the best-designed ITX case available, providing an ultra-slim profile, impressive ease-of-use, and plenty of performance potential. 

For step-by-step instructions on how to build this system, check out our High-End ITX Assembly Guide. Remember to follow our tips on size limitations we set forth - there are some hard stops when it comes to the parts that can be used in these cases. By the way, to see previous versions of this build, just flip to The Archive. If you still have questions after reviewing this guide, stop by our Reader Forum, and if you decide to build up one of these systems, let us know and we'll add it to The Gallery!

The $1,200 Slim Gaming/HTPC ITX Build - August 2017

    CPU:

    Intel Core i5-7600K

    For this system, we want a quad-core CPU to give you the best performance in both games and media processing. And the Kaby Lake-based Core i5-7600K is the value leader among quad cores. It comes clocked at 3.8GHz, and has the ability to overclock a lot higher. Just note that we'd recommend keeping you keep your sights at 4.5GHz or below given the limited cooling of this slim system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This CPU does not include a CPU cooler, so please remember to pick up the one we recommend later in this guide!

    Motherboard:

    ASRock Z270M-ITX/ac

    You get a lot for your money with this new Z270 board. It boasts built-in dual-stream 802.11ac 5GHz networking, two Ethernet ports, eight USB ports, ALC892 audio, along with DVI and dual HDMI video outputs.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The ITX format is still dominated by Intel, both due to motherboard availability and low-profile cooler availablility.

    Video Card:

    Zotac GeForce GTX 1060 6GB Mini

    Due to its efficiency and effective fan design, the GTX 1060 will work extremely well in a slim PC, offering tremendous performance with very low noise and heat output. And with 6GB of VRAM, it's a great choice for both 1080p and 1440p gaming, and can even hold its own at 4K if you turn down a few quality settings. Of course, it has an HDMI 2.0 output, so you'll get full 4K at a full 60Hz. Alas, its features are in demand by more than just gaming and HTPC enthusiasts: nearly the entire world supply of GTX 1060 GPUs has been bought up by cryptocurrency miners, but they're finally starting to return to virtual store shelves.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The RVZ02 case we recommend can handle video cards up to 13" long, but extra-tall cards will have trouble fitting. If you'd like to go with a more powerful GPU, we recommend the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB SC, which we've actually tested in this case!

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 White

    For this build, we're going with DDR4-3000 RAM, which will provide a great boost to the system's potent Core i5-7600K processor, which craves memory bandwidth. To learn more about the effects of DDR4 speed in gaming, check out our in-depth Gamer's Bench article on the topic.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that prices on DDR4 RAM have gone up dramatically since 2016 due to a world-wide DRAM chip shortage. We expect prices to continue their climb through the remainder of 2017.

    Hard Drive:

    Seagate FireCuda 2TB Hybrid Hard Drive

    For storage, we're recommending the fast and affordable FireCuda drive from Seagate. It combines a 2TB laptop-style hard drive with 8GB of SLC NAND cache to accelerate your most often-used applications.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that 3.5" drives will not fit in this system if there's a video card in the video card bay.

    Case:

    Silverstone Raven RVZ02B-W

    Silverstone has done some serious engineering work here, and there's simply nothing else like it on the market today. With the inclusion of a custom-designed riser card allowing the use of any dual-slot video card on the market, we consider this case a true bargain. Learn how to build up your RVZ02 system by reading our step-by-step High-End ITX Assembly Guide.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Want a more subdued look? Then go for the SilverStone ML08, which uses the same internal layout, but a different exterior. It's great for HTPC users.

    Power Supply:

    Corsair SF450

    Using a 92mm fan with zero-fan support (meaning it only spins when necessary), and boasting Gold-rated efficiency, fully-modular cables, and dual PCIe power cables to support any video card on the market, this is the PSU to beat in the SFX world. And while we know many of our readers are tempted to step up to the SF600 for $30 more, it's truly unnecessary in this build - save your money!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Our hands-on Slim ITX builder's guide used the SilverStone SX500-LG SFX-L power supply. We aren't recommending it here for one main reason: its larger size makes cabling more difficult, and you simply do not need its additional wattage for this slimline system.

    CPU Cooler:

    SilverStone AR06

    The Core i5-7600K CPU does not include a cooler, but you definitely need one! We recommend the low-profile SilverStone AR06, the largest cooler that will easily fit in the case used in this build. You can learn more about the AR06 in our Low-Profile Cooler Shootout, where we named it the best compact cooler available!

    The Guru's Tip:

    You should install the cooler with the heatpipes facing the top of the motherboard. That's because the motherboard will sit in an upside-down position when this case is vertical, and heatpipes should always face down if possible.

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    Win 10 is better than Windows 8.1 in every conceivable way. Thank goodness Microsoft listened to critics and came up with an OS that's actually easy to use!

    The Guru's Tip:

    We don't recommend users buy Windows 7 or Windows 8 at this point.

Optional Components

    Optical Drive:

    LG GTC0N Slim DVD Drive

    We're moving optical drives to "legacy" status in all of our builds, and most of our SFF systems don't even have room for them. But you actually can install a slim-line optical drive in this build, and this LG drive is your best option if that's your preference. It's high-quality and affordable. 

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that you'll need a slimline SATA adapter (described in detail below) to connect it to your power supply, as it was originally designed for laptops.

    Cable:

    Startech Slim-Line SATA Adapter

    You'll need this adapter to use the slim-line optical drive listed above. That's because the power connector on the drive, designed to interface with a laptop peripheral bay, is much smaller than the SATA power connectors on standard desktop power supplies.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this adapter also serves as a power cable extender, which makes hooking up multiple drives in the Raven case a lot easier!