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. 

The July 2019 edition of this build is better than ever, thanks to some huge price drops and a big new product release. It all starts with AMD's new Radeon RX 5700 XT 8GB, which has thrown Nvidia for a loop, offering tremendous high-end performance at a midrange price. To harness all its power, we recommend Intel's potent Core i5-8700, which packs in six cores plus Hyperthreading, along with a boost speed of up to 4.6GHz. In terms of storage, this system offers a ultra-fast 1TB PCIe-based solid-state drive, along with 16GB of DDR4-2666 RAM. 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 550W 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!

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

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

    CPU:

    Intel Core i7-8700

    This system gets serious processing chops from Intel's Core i7-8700, a 6-core, 12-thread powerhouse. We are specifically choosing the much lower cost "locked" version for two reasons: overclocking would require a more expensive motherboard, and more importantly, really isn't a good choice in an ultra-slim build to to excess heat. And anyway, the 8700 is fast enough as it is!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This CPU includes a cooler, adding to its value versus unlocked "K" parts that require an aftermarket cooler.

    Motherboard:

    ASRock H370M-ITX/AC

    This affordable H370-based motherboard is a perfect match for the 8700. It includes high-end audio, eight USB ports, built-in 802.11ac networking, and an M.2 slot.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that you can use this board's video ports while testing your Core i7-8700 processor, but you'll want to connect your monitor to the video card once it's installed.

    Video Card:

    Sapphire 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:

    This card, and all RX 5700 XT models, have been selling out regularly since launch on July 7th. We will update models and vendors frequently to keep up with available stock.

    Memory:

    Ballistix 2x8GB Sport LT DDR4-2666 SR

    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:

    Note that the motherboard and processor do not support anything higher than DDR4-2666, so don't waste money buying high-end kits.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Crucial P1 1TB NVMe

    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:

    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:

    EVGA Supernova 550 GM

    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 550W 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 over 300W at load, so a robust PSU is a must.

    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

    CPU Cooler:

    Noctua NH-L9i

    While the Core i7-8700 is extremely efficient and comes with a cooler that will allow it to work at full boost, it will be a bit loud, so if noise levels are a concern to you, upgrade to this excellent slim cooler from Noctua. It's completely silent!

    The Guru's Tip:

    See our review right here!

    The Budget Gaming Keyboard:

    Logitech G213 Gaming Keyboard

    For robust functionality in a low-cost keyboard, go for the G213 from Logitech. It offers RGB backlighting, a built-in wrist rest, and a stylish design.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This keyboard is even spill resistant!

    The Pro Gaming Mouse:

    Logitech G403 Prodigy Gaming Mouse

    This is our favorite all-around mouse on the market - quiet, reliable, and incredibly responsive.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This mouse is vastly superior to all the knock-off gaming mice you'll find on the 'net for just a few dollars less. Skip them and go for the real thing!

    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!