1,250

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 slim chassis that allows you to build a system the size of a game console, but with far more power. 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. 

The May 2019 edition of this build continues to feature AMD's value-packed Ryzen 5 2600 six-core CPU, which maintains its massive price dominance over Intel's CPUs. With the ability to be overclocked to 4GHz and beyond, this 12-thread workhorse is an absolute bargain. Also on board is Nvidia's new GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GPU, which endows this build with a serious gaming boost while coming in below the same price of the previous-gen GTX 1070. In terms of storage, this system offers a fast 1TB M.2 solid-state drive for the OS and all your apps, along with a 2TB hard drive for media. Also on board is 16GB of DDR4-3200, the latter which has dropped in price tremendously over the past few months, providing a huge free performance boost. Once you have all your new gear in hand, you'll be installing it in the ultra-slim Fractal Design Node 202 chassis and powering it up with a 500W Gold-rated power supply. Once complete, your system will be ready for any gaming or HTPC challenge!

To see how this build compares to past months, just flip to The Archive.

The $1,250 Slim Mini-ITX Gaming HTPC - May 2019

    CPU:

    AMD Ryzen 5 2600

    AMD is continuing to provide unmatched value in the mid-range market with its awesome line of Ryzen processors. In fact, AMD is now the only game in town in the under-$200 price range, given that Intel has basically exited the market due to ongoing production problems. We suggest you head straight for the Ryzen 5 2600, a six-core, 12-thread powerhouse that can be easily overclocked to 4GHz with just a bit of tuning, even using the included 55mm-tall cooler included in the box!

    The Guru's Tip:

    At stock settings, this CPU is massively efficient, which makes it a great pick for a small system.

    Motherboard:

    Gigabyte B450 I Aorus Pro WiFi

    This affordable B450-based motherboard is a perfect match for the Ryzen 5 2600. It includes high-end audio, six USB ports, built-in 802.11ac networking, and an M.2 slot.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that while this board has video ports, you'll be using a video card for video output in this system.

    Video Card:

    MSI GeForce RTX 2060 Ventus 6G OC

    The new RTX 2060, launched in January 2019, provides a huge gaming boost to this build for less money than the last-gen GTX 1070 (it's an impressive 20% faster!). And thanks to its Turing architecture, it also offers support for the latest Ray Tracing effects in new game releases.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that while this build can fit long video cards, many RTX 2060 models will actually be too tall to fit in this build, and some may be too wide as well, so stick with our recommendation here.

    Memory:

    Ballistix 2x8GB Sport LT DDR4-3200 CL16

    For this build, we're going with a generous helping of ultra-high-speed 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:

    Note that to get this kit to run at its overclocked speed, make sure to select the enhanced memory profile in the motherboard's UEFI.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Western Digital Blue 3D 1TB M.2

    Thanks to an all-out price war in the SSD market, prices keep dropping on high-quality drives. This model uses ultra-fast 3D TLC NAND and offers the best value in its price class. And since it comes in the ultra-small M.2 form factor, it's a perfect pick for this build - it will slot right into the motherboard without the need for any cables.

    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!

    Memory:

    WD Blue WD20SPZX 2TB 2.5"

    Assuming you'd like to add some additional storage space for media, we suggest you go for WD's Blue 2TB 2.5" drive. It runs quietly and efficiently, thanks to its moderate 5400RPM rotational speed.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this system does not support 3.5" desktop-class hard drives.

    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. Luckily, the stock 55mm-tall AMD cooler slips right under this case's 56mm CPU cooler limit! It's also limited to SFX-class power supplies, like the one recommended below.

    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:

    We've increased the recommended PSU from 450W to 500W for this build with the upgrade to the RTX 2060, which draws substantially more power than the GTX 1060 and GTX 1070 models that were previously recommended in this guide.

    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 Ultimate Universal Remote:

    Azulle Lynk Multifunctional Remote Control

    If you'll be using this system from a couch, do yourself a favor and pick up the awesome Lynk from Azulle. Thanks to its six axis gyroscope, it can take the place of your mouse, allowing you to "point" at items on screen from mid-air!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Thanks to its tiny built-in keyboard, this device can even replace a keyboard in a pinch, although for extended typing (i.e., more than typing in searches into Google, YouTube, or retail sites), you'll want a true keyboard like the one listed below.

    The Home Theater Keyboard/Trackpad Combo:

    Microsoft Wireless All-In-One Media Keyboard

    For robust functionality is a lightweight, wireless format, Microsoft's All-in-One keyboard can't be beat! You get a full-size tenkey-less keyboard plus a laptop-style trackpad for navigation.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This keyboard even has an ingenious "mouse" button on the left of the keyboard, so you can mouse with your right hand and click with your left index finger or thumb.

    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!