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 November 2017, we're able to boost the power of this system thanks to some price drops on various key components. While we previously recommended the Ryzen 5 1600X six-core CPU, we now go with the Ryzen 7 1700, an awesome eight-core processor. In the video card department, cryptocurrency mining nearly wiped out the entire global supply of GPUs over the summer, but thankfully the GeForce GTX 1070 8GB has returned to store shelves at a great price, and it's the card you want for this build if you can get your hands on it. In light of increasing RAM prices, we're going with 16GB of DDR4-2666, which offers by far the best bang-for-the-buck. We also pick up the new, class-leading Blue 3D 500GB SSD from Western Digital, 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 - November 2017

    CPU:

    AMD Ryzen 7 1700

    The Ryzen 7 1700, launched in March of 2017, is what makes this unimposing system a wolf in sheep's clothing! It offers tremendous processing power, with eight cores and eight virtual cores, for a total of 16 available threads. It comes clocked at 3.0GHz, and will Turbo to 3.2GHz under a full load, but can actually be overclocked another 20% or so. We run ours at 3.8GHz!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This CPU comes with a very good CPU cooler, but assuming you want to push this compact system hard, we recommend a more powerful tower cooler later in this guide.

    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:

    Zotac GeForce GTX 1070 Mini 8GB

    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 quiet cooler, along with a big factory overclock. Just note that due to a massive cryptocurrency mining craze, the global supply of GTX 1070 cards has dwindled to near-zero, so unless you get lucky, 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 2666 C16 Black

    This DDR4-2666 kit is the perfect match for a 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, which will set this RAM to 2666MHz.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that due to dramatic increases in DDR4 memory over the past six months, all RAM has increased in price, and we're constantly updating the kit selection to account for rising prices.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Western Digital Blue 3D 500GB 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 new Blue 3D from Western Digital is the bang-for-the-buck winner. It uses high-speed 3D TLC NAND developed by SanDisk to beat the competition in terms of price/performance.

    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:

    Seasonic SSR-550FX

    You simply can't get a better PSU in this price range than the 550FX from Seasonic. 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. It's also ultra-compact, making it an easy fit in this system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Seasonic backs this unit up with an amazing 10-year warranty.

    CPU Cooler:

    Arctic Freezer 33

    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 fluid dynamic bearing fan.

    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 Microsoft just keeps making it better. In fact, yet another huge update was pushed out for Fall 2017.

    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.