1,250

If you want the sleekest high-powered ITX gaming system on the planet, this is the guide for you! The build we profile here may be compact, but it can pack in lots of impressive gear. It features a slim chassis that allows you to build a system the size of a game console, but with far more capability. The secret sauce is a 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 September 2019, this build features the best bang-for-the-buck CPU and GPU on the planet, Intel's Core i5-9400F six-core CPU and AMD's new Radeon RX 5700 XT 8GB. The 9400F drops onboard graphics to deliver a mind-blowing price on an Intel six-core CPU, while the RX 5700 XT has thrown Nvidia for a loop, offering tremendous high-end performance at a midrange price, and importantly, a compact form factor that fits in this slim system. In terms of storage, this system offers a ultra-fast 1TB PCIe-based solid-state drive, along with 16GB of DDR4-3200 RAM. Once you have all your new gear in hand, you'll be installing it in the slim SilverStone RVZ02 chassis and powering it up with a 500W Gold-rated power supply. This system will truly be ready for any gaming challenge, and can of course pull double duty as an ultra-sleek HTPC!

You can learn how to build up this system by following our step-by-step guide. To see how this build compares to past months, just flip to The Archive.

The $1,250 Slim Mini-ITX Gaming PC - September 2019

    CPU:

    Intel Core i5-9400F

    This system gets serious processing chops from Intel's Corei5-9400F, a 6-core. It offers the best gaming performance you'll find anywhere near its pricepoint!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This CPU includes a cooler, but we suggest a much more effective low-profile cooler later in this guide.

    Motherboard:

    ASRock Z390M-ITX/AC

    This affordable Z390-based motherboard has eight USB ports (including a Type-C port), built-in 802.11ac networking, and an M.2 slot. It also allows for overclocking, and while the 9400F processor is locked, this system features overclocked memory.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this board's video outputs will not work with the 9400F installed, so make sure to attach your monitor to the video card's outputs.

    Video Card:

    MSI Radeon RX 5700 XT 8GB

    The RX 5700 XT is a game-changer from AMD, beating Nvidia's RTX 2070 in performance at a much lower price. Its blower-style cooler is also a good fit for a compact case, as it will exhaust heat directly out the back. Another reason that the RX 5700 XT is a good choice is that it uses a reference-sized cooler; many aftermarket coolers are too wide to fit in the slim case used for this build.

    The Guru's Tip:

    RX 5700 XT models have been selling out regularly since launch on July 7th. We update models frequently to keep up with available stock.

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 Black

    For this build, we're going with a generous helping of RAM to make sure you never get bogged down while multi-tasking. 16GB will truly be more than enough for anything you can throw at this system!

    The Guru's Tip:

    To get this kit to its 3200MHz speed, make sure to enable the XMP profile in the motherboard's UEFI.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Intel SSD 660p 1TB PCIe

    Thanks to an all-out price war in the SSD market, prices keep dropping on high-quality drives. This model uses the ultra-fast PCIe interface, while keeping the price equivalent to SATA drives thanks to the use of cutting-edge QLC NAND. It offers the best value in its price class.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Due to this drive's M.2 form factor, it will slip right into the motherboard, taking up zero space in your case!

    Case:

    Silverstone Raven RVZ02B-W

    The RVZ02B is custom-designed for portability. 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! Learn more in our full assembly guide!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This case can also support a slimline laptop optical drive if you use a SATA cable adapter.

    Power Supply:

    SilverStone SST-SX500-G

    Using a 92mm fan that runs at lower RPMs and noise levels than previous 80mm-based power supplies, this Gold-rated, fully-modular SFX PSU may be pint-sized, but it packs in the power. With 500W on tap, plus dual PCIe power cables to support high-wattage video cards, it's a perfect match for this build.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This system will draw around 300W at load, meaning this unit will operate right in its sweet spot for efficiency.

    CPU Cooler:

    SilverStone AR06

    While the Core i5-9400F comes with a cooler, it will be a bit loud. For a better overall experience, we suggest this much more capable cooler. At 58mm tall, this is the tallest cooler that can fit in this system! 

    The Guru's Tip:

    Learn more about the performance of this cooler in our full shootout review!

    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:

    Windows updates W10 every six months, adding new features and enhancing security. Note that in the long run, Microsoft is almost certain to move to a yearly subscription plan, but buying a copy today locks in "permanent" ownership!

Optional Components

    The Gaming Keyboard/Mouse Combo:

    Corsair Gaming K55 Keyboard + Harpoon RGB Gaming Mouse

    For robust functionality in a low-cost keyboard and mouse set, go for the Harpoon and K55 combo from Corsair. You get high performance plus great RGB effects, which you can control via Corsair's iCUE software.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This set 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 gear for a few dollars less (or more!).

    The Deluxe Home Theater Keyboard:

    Corsair K83 Wireless Keyboard

    For the ultimate home theater experience, you'll want a keyboard you can use from the couch, and there's no better option than the new K83. Clad in aluminum and featuring white backlighting, this innovative peripheral packs in two additional input devices: a touchpad and a joystick, making it a true three-in-one device.

    The Guru's Tip:

    You can even use the K83 to control smart TVs and streaming sticks thanks to its Bluetooth connectivity!