Evolv

This system is for builders who want a compact system, but simply aren't willing to sacrifice performance. This box has all the power of our $2,000 Premium ATX Build packed into a compact, stylish case. While it's big compared to most Small Form Factor systems, it's dwarfed by standard towers, despite being able to go toe-to-toe with them. And amazingly, there is no price premium for getting a system of this caliber down to a portable size, making this build a pretty good value too.

For August 2017, we are continuing to recommend the potent combination of the Intel Core i7-7700K, the fastest quad-core on the market, and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB, specifically a dual-fan model from EVGA, which will fit perfectly in this system. It will handily outperform any reference card, including the Titan Xp, and in so doing, endows this system with game-crushing performance! Luckily, the cryptocurrency mining craze that has swept every other video card off virtual store is finally ending, and most days you can actually buy this powerhouse at its retail price. To complete the build, we suggest 16GB of blazing-fast DDR4-3000 RAM and a 1TB solid-state drive, specifically the new Intel 600p 1TB PCIe model, which is faster than any SATA-based drive, despite coming in at around the same cost. Also new this month is a Seasonic 650W Gold-rated power supply, which at 140mm long will slip right into the compact Fractal Design Core 500 case we recommend. You can learn how to build this system by following our hands-on Extreme ITX Assembly Guide!

To see past month's builds, just flip over to The Archive. Interested in discussing this build? Then hop over to the Forum to post your thoughts!

The $2,000 Ultimate Gaming Mini-ITX PC - August 2017

    CPU:

    Intel Core i7-7700K

    There's no faster chip for gaming than the Kaby Lake-based Core i7-7700K. With a 4.2GHz base clock and Hyperthreading on board, it will make quick work of any game you throw at it. It actually operates at 4.4GHz with a quad-core load, and and can be overclocked to a minimum of 4.7GHz using the cooler we recommend later in this guide!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Remember, the 7700K does not come with a cooler in the box, so an aftermarket cooler isn't optional... it's required!

    Motherboard:

    Asus ROG Strix Z270I Gaming

    Over the years, Asus has delivered some of the best ITX boards on the market, and the new Z270I is no exception. This board features the new top-of-the-line Realtek ALC1220 audio, a full-length M.2 slot on the top of the board, where it will get ample cooling, plus 802.11ac wireless networking with Bluetooth. In addition, it offers HDMI, DisplayPort, digital audio out, and six USB ports, including a USB 3.1 Type-C port.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This board even has built-in LED lighting, although it's not something you'll see from outside this build's ITX chassis.

    Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC Black Edition

    Nvidia has brought a new level of performance to the table with the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. It equals the original $1,200 Titan X Pascal released in the summer of 2016, yet costs $500 less. Now that's progress! And how fast is it? Just check out our new 4K benchmarks of the 1080 Ti! With that kind of performance, the 1080 Ti, launched in March, was clearly going to be in high demand for a long time, and indeed it's still sold out from day to day, so you may need to backorder it.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that most aftermarket 1080 Ti models will not fit in this system, as they are too tall, too wide, or both. This model is among the most compact 1080 Ti cards on the market, which allows it to avoid interference with the optical drive bay and power supply.

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000 White

    To get the most out of this system, you want high frequency DDR4, and we're now recommending high-speed DDR4-3000 in a 2x8GB configuration. Note that we previously recommended DDR4-3200 RAM, but after increasing in price dramatically over a few months, it's no longer a good pick for this system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Like all DDR4 memory, this kit will default to 2133MHz. Enable the XMP profile in the motherboard's UEFI to unleash this kit's full potential. In our Gamer's Bench investigation, we found that on Intel's recent platforms, DDR4 speed really does matter!

    Solid-State Drive:

    Intel SSD 600p 1TB PCIe M.2

    The new Intel 600p 1TB offers the best bang-for-the-buck of any 1TB drive. It harnesses the huge throughput advantage of the PCIe interface to speed past every SATA-based model on the market, despite costing just slightly more. And being an M.2 drive, it eliminates the need for any power or data cables. Yes, there are faster drives out there, but they'll cost you at least $100 more. This model strikes a great balance for a $2,000 PC.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that as with all M.2 drives, you'll need a jeweler's-type screwdriver to install this model.

    Case:

    Fractal Design Core 500

    This awesome case from Fractal Design may be affordable, but that doesn't mean it doesn't bring a whole lot of performance to the table. It has a silent 140mm exhaust fan, plus plenty of venting to keep air flowing. It's also one of the very few shoebox-style cases that can be equipped with a tower-style cooler, which means you can really crank up your CPU's overclock without worrying about overheating.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To learn how to build up your own system in this case, check out our Extreme ITX Assembly Guide!

    Power Supply:

    Seasonic SSR-650FX

    There's no better power supply on the market for this build than the new model from Seasonic. It's fully-modular, which means you'll only use the cables you need, and this system in fact needs very few. It of course offers Gold-rated efficiency (which means 90% at 50% load), and is backed by an incredible 10-year warranty, which speaks to the quality that Seasonic provides in its PSUs.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that at 140mm long, this is the shortest ATX power supply you can buy, and it will make building a system in the Core 500 case much easier. While larger models will "technically" fit, they in fact don't fit very well at all! We don't recommend you use anything longer than 150mm in this system.

    CPU Cooler:

    Cryorig H7

    Keeping a CPU cool in a compact case is always a challenge, but this awesome cooler from Cryorig will deliver the performance you crave. Despite coming in at a low price, it features an ultra-silent fan and exceptional performance, keeping up with many 140mm-class coolers while using a more compact 120mm frame.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This cooler's offset design will ensure you'll have no RAM clearance issues, which most other tower coolers suffer from in ITX form factors.

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    Windows 10 wipes away all the bad memories left behind by Windows 8, improving enormously on the user interface, and bringing with it some important performance tweaks under the hood.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This version of Windows 10 comes on a USB 3.0 flash drive, allowing it to install in under five minutes, literally!

Optional Components

    Optical Drive (Optional):

    LG 24x DVD Burner (Opt.)

    While not strictly required, we're listing a DVD burner because it will fit in the case used for the system, which is actually quite unusual these days when it comes to ITX cases.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The motherboard comes with sufficient SATA data cables to support this drive. You won't need to buy extras.