KL06

PC builders looking for an ultra-compact system that still offers plenty of expandability will appreciate this micro ATX-based build. Going with the mATX standard opens up a lot more options than you get with a mini-ITX PC, while still being a far cry from the typical big tower. If you want something that's truly small, quiet, and easy to work with, this is the build for you!

For August 2017, we've made some big changes to this build, the most significant being a switch from Intel's Kaby Lake platform to AMD's new Ryzen platform. That gets you the potent Ryzen 5 1600X six-core CPU, along with a feature-rich B350-based motherboard, which together provide exceptional value. In the video card department, cryptocurrency mining has nearly wiped out the entire world supply of GPUs, but we're finally seeing the GeForce GTX 1070 8GB return to store shelves, and it's the card you want for this build if you can get your hands on it. In terms of memory, we're going with 16GB of fast DDR4-3200, which will maximize the potential of the AMD Ryzen CPU. On the storage side, we go with a 500GB-class solid-state drive, which provides a very good balance of capacity and performance. All told, by following this guide, you'll be able to put together a stylish, compact, quiet system with great all-around performance.

To see how this month's build compares to previous months, flip over to the Archive. You can also compare this build to all of our other builds on the PC Build Comparison Page. Feel free to post them in our Reader Forum. And if you decide to build this system, let us know so we can add your system to The Gallery!

The $1,400 Compact Micro ATX PC - August 2017

    CPU:

    AMD Ryzen 5 1600X

    The new Ryzen 5 1600X, launched in Spring of 2017, is what makes this unimposing system a wolf in sheep's clothing! It offers tremendous processing power, with six cores and six virtual cores, for a total of 12 available threads. It comes clocked at 3.6GHz with Turbo to 4.0GHz, and can be easily overclocked another 10% or so.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This CPU does not come with a CPU cooler, so please remember to pick up the one we recommend later in this guide - you can't run it without one!

    Motherboard:

    MSI B350M Mortar

    This mid-priced model offers tremendous value for the price. And going with the B350 chipset brings additional advantages as well, including overclocking support and the latest RGB controller powered by MSI's Mystic Light system. This board also has cutting-edge connectivity, in the form of an M.2 SSD slot (the future of solid-state storage!) and a USB 3.1 Type-C connector.

    The Guru's Tip:

    While this board does not support dual video card configurations, that shouldn't be of concern to builders of mATX systems. Running two video cards back-to-back is very difficult, as overheating is nearly sure to occur. Trust us - we've tried it multiple times!

    Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 SC Black Edition

    A few years ago, building a compact gaming system with a GPU as capable as the GTX 1070 would have cost another $500, and would have run hot and loud. Not so with the GTX 1070, a GPU with unmatched efficiency. This version of the GTX 1070 features a great triple-fan heatsink, along with a big factory overclock. Just note that due to a massive cryptocurrency mining craze, the world supply of GTX 1070 cards has dwindled to near-zero, so you'll probably need to pre-order one to get your place in line.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To learn more about what makes the 1070 so great, read our hands-on review!

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 White

    This fast DDR4-3200 kit will unleash the full potential of the Ryzen CPU. And in a 2x8GB configuration, you get dual-channel operation along with a huge amount of capacity. Just remember to enable the enhanced speed profile in the motherboard's UEFI to take full advantage of it!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that due to dramatic increases in DDR4 memory over the past six months, all RAM has increased in price, with the cheapest kits increasing the most. In fact, we've now switched to this ultra-high-end DDR4-3200 because it costs just a few dollars more than a basic DDR4-2666 set!

    Solid-State Drive:

    Crucial MX300 525GB M.2

    There's no better way to improve a system's responsiveness than to use a solid-state drive, and among many options, the MX300 from Crucial is the bang-for-the-buck winner.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that you'll need a jeweler's type screwdriver to install this drive into the M.2 slot of the motherboard.

    Case:

    SilverStone KL06

    SilverStone's KL06 builds on the pioneering micro-ATX SilverStone cases that have come before it, including the amazing TJ08-E that we previously reviewed. It uses an inverted layout to provide exceptional CPU cooling, and features two front-mounted 120mm fans, which allow for tremendous direct-path airflow through this compact case. While cube-shaped cases are all the rage, the truth is that the standard compact tower format is actually far more efficient for purposes of both cooling and minimizing total volume. Despite its small dimensions, this case can hold any video card plus a tower-style CPU cooler and high-end power supply.

    The Guru's Tip:

    If you use the data drives recommended in this guide, you can fully remove the large hard drive cage in this case, allowing for better overall airflow. The 3.5" hard drive will fit in the bottom bay, and the M.2 drive of course slots into the motherboard.

    Power Supply:

    EVGA Supernova 550 G2

    You simply can't get a better PSU in this price range than the G2 from EVGA. It features Gold-rated efficiency, ultra-quiet operation, fully-modular cables, and enough power (and PCIe cables) to support any gear you could pack into this system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    EVGA offers the best power supplies at every price point, along with the best customer service!

    CPU Cooler:

    MSI Core Frozr L

    Offering tremendous cooling capacity in a compact design, this 120mm tower cooler is a perfect match for this build. It will remain quiet thanks to the fluid dynamic bearing in its high-quality fan, and it will look great thanks to MSI's awesome styling.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Very few coolers include the AM4 bracket you need for use with AMD's Ryzen CPU line - this one does!

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    Windows 10 was a big step up from Windows 8.1, and the Creator's Update released in the spring of 2017 made it better than ever!

    The Guru's Tip:

    The USB version of Windows installs about 5x faster than the more traditional DVD version!

Optional Components

    Optical Drive (Optional):

    LG 24x DVD Burner (Opt.)

    We're moving optical drives to "legacy" status in all of our builds, but if you have a need for an optical drive, there's no reason not to add this LG 24x DVD burner. It will work perfectly with this system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The motherboard comes with the SATA cable you'll need to hook this drive up.