FTZ01

If you're looking for a no-holds-barred extreme PC in a sleek, compact chassis, this is the one for you! This system might be dwarfed by standard towers, but it can easily keep up with them thanks to its extreme components. And amazingly, there is virtually no price premium for getting a system of this caliber down to a portable size, making this PC a pretty good value too.

For May 2019, this build continues to feature Intel's ultra-fast Core i9-9900K eight-core, 16-thread processor. The big news is that thanks to big price drops, we can now fit the all-conquering GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB video card into this build too. It puts us slightly over budget, but having a system this small that can handle such serious firepower is an opportunity too good to pass up. With taht said, being "Ultra-Extreme" doesn't begin and end with the CPU and GPU. That's why this build also features an ultra-fast PCIe-based 1TB solid-state drive, 32GB of high-speed DDR4-3200 RAM, and a 700W Platinum-rated power supply.

Bringing it all together is the ultra-slim, ultra-sleek SilverStone FTZ01 case, featuring an aluminum unibody design. It truly stands out in terms of aesthetic appeal. To keep things cool in this ultra-slim case, you need an advanced cooling solution, and we suggestion a semi-custom setup, using the excellent Noctua NH-L12S low-profile CPU cooler enhanced with a second fan, namely Scythe's ultra-slim SlipStream fan. This will keep your processor humming along at full boost. By the way, you can also go for a little more flash by trading the FTZ01 for the RGB-equipped SilverStone RVZ03, listed later in this guide.

To learn how to build up this system, check out a fantastic write-up by one of our readers, published in The Gallery. By the way, if you decide building a high-end PC isn't for you, don't worry, we have you covered: featured in this guide is our top pick for an ultra-slim pre-built PC, the MSI Trident X, which at 10 liters is positively tiny! Just scroll down to learn about this fantastic new option in the Small Form Factor market!

Want to see how this guide has evolved over time? Then check out The Archive! To support continued development of this guide, please use the Amazon links we provide in the guide. Not only do we have dedicated links for the US, Canada, UK, and Germany, but we've also set up link conversions for our readers in France, Italy, and Spain - just click on the main US link to see our component picks in your regional Amazon storefront!

The $2,500 Ultra-Extreme Gaming Mini-ITX PC - May 2019

    CPU:

    Intel Core i9-9900K

    The Core i9-9900K is the ultimate gamer's chip, making it the perfect pick for this build. It offers eight cores and 16 threads of processing power and can be overclocked to 5GHz, providing simply unbeatable performance when it comes to gaming. To manage the heat output of this power-hungry CPU (it pulls 140W at stock settings!), we've come up with a semi-custom cooling solution, which you'll read more about later in this guide! 

    The Guru's Tip:

    This CPU has been selling out on a regular basis, and when it's out of stock for more than a few days at Amazon, we will switch our product links to B&H Photo Video.

    Motherboard:

    Gigabyte Z390 I AORUS Pro WiFi

    This tiny board truly has it all: a 7 power phase design, top-of-the-line Realtek ALC1220 audio, dual full-length M.2 slots (one in front, one on the rear of the board), seven USB ports (including a true Thunderbolt 3 Type-C port), Intel wired networking, 802.11ac wireless networking with Bluetooth, DisplayPort and HDMI.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Avoid the Asus Z390I motherboard - it will not work with this build, as the heatsink shroud is too large to fit any low-profile coolers over it. That's a serious oversight from Asus in terms of product testing.

    Video Card:

    ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Twin Fan 11GB

    Thanks to a massive drop in the price of the RTX 2080 Ti 11GB GPU over the past few months, it's time to finally equip this build with the ultimate GPU. While it still puts us slightly over budget, it's well worth it at this point to get the fastest gaming GPU on the planet

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that you can only use reference-sized models, as all larger models are over two slots wide and won't fit. We've listed the best-priced two-slot model here.

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x16GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 Black

    To get the most out of your Core i9-9900K, you want high-frequency DDR4 memory. For the Ultimate ITX Gamer, we go with high speed DDR4-3200 in a 2x16GB configuration, which gives you both tremendous speed and mind-blowing capacity. 

    The Guru's Tip:

    This is in fact the tallest RAM kit that will fit in this build - please don't go with RGB-lit modules, as they will not fit under the CPU cooler.

    Solid-State Drive:

    XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB NVMe

    For an extreme ITX build, nothing less than an ultra-fast PCIe drive will do, and the best pick today is the XPG SX8200 Pro, which has made every other PCIe drive seem massively overpriced. Offering top-tier performance at a mid-range price, it's the best drive you can buy anywhere near its price.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that you'll need a jeweler's-type screwdriver to install this into one of the motherboard's M.2 slots, and we recommend you use the top-mounted slot for better cooling.

    Case:

    SilverStone FTZ01S

    This awesome case from SilverStone brings equal doses of style and class to the ITX arena. Featuring an aluminum unibody frame and an ultra-slim profile, it looks better than any other ITX case on the market. It even comes with two slimline 120mm fans, which we recommend you install above the video card as intakes and connect them to the motherboard using the included fan splitter (one fan comes pre-installed on the CPU side, but will not fit over the CPU cooler we recommend). And while the silver color looks stunning, this case is also available in matte black.

    The Guru's Tip:

    SilverStone released an updated version of the FTZ01 called the FTZ01-E, but we think it was a step in wrong direction. It dropped the SFX power supply bay for a larger ATX bay, but really couldn't fit ATX cabling. The FTZ01 also has the advantage of accommodating a slot-loading optical drive, although they're pretty hard to source at this point.

    Power Supply:

    SilverStone SX700-LPT

    The case above can use either 100mm-long SFX or 130mm-long SFX-L power supplies, and for the best combination of cooling and noise levels, you definitely want to go SFX-L. Our pick: the awesome Platinum-rated SX700, which is incredibly powerful and ultra-quiet, thanks to a very effective zero-fan mode. It has more than enough output to handle the ultra-high-end CPU and GPU featured in this build

    The Guru's Tip:

    Read all about this PSU in our hands-on review!

    CPU Cooler:

    Noctua NH-L12S

    Keeping a CPU cool in a compact case is always a challenge, but this exquisitely-crafted slimline cooler from Noctua exemplifies the very best of the best in compact cooling design. You can read more about it in our shootout review!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This cooler is 70mm tall, leaving 13mm between it and the case side panel above it. And you know what you're going to slip into that space? The 12mm SlipStream fan listed below! It will greatly increase the cooling capacity of the NH-L12S.

    Fan:

    Scythe SY1212SL12M Slip Stream 120 mm

    Scythe has been in the fan business for decades, making some of the most award-winning models on the market. And with its slim Slip Stream, it offers the only 12mm-thick fan on the market, which makes it a perfect fit for this build. Attach it as an exhaust fan to the side panel above of your SilverStone case to help pull more air through the Noctua CPU cooler, effectively making it a "push-pull" setup. This is what's required to keep a Core i9-9900K cool in this system!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this fan is only available in a two-pack, but it's still worth buying because it's the ONLY 12mm-thick fan on the market! Do not buy any other "slim fan", as they are all 15mm thick, and will not fit in this build!

    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 is the USB 3.0 version of W10, which loads in under 5 minutes!

Optional Components

    Case:

    SilverStone RVZ03B-ARGB

    Want a lot more flash from your extreme ITX PC? Then go for the addressable RGB version of SilverStone's RVZ03. It trades the FTZ01's aluminum cladding for a steel exterior with a brilliant multi-LED RGB lightstrip embedded in the front panel, which can be controlled via the motherboard we recommend! Just note that you'll need the SilverStone PP08 SFX adapter to mount the recommended power supply in its ATX PSU bay.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The difference between addressable RGBs and standard RGBs is that each LED in a given strip can display a different color at any given moment. The way motherboards typically control this is to display a moving rainbow or gradient down the strip, which provides a very cool motion effect.

    The Ultimate Gaming Keyboard:

    Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 Rapidfire Low Profile

    Corsair overwhelms the competition with its one-of-a-kind K70 Rapidfire Low Profile, which uses Cherry's revolutionary low-profile mechanical switches. They provide ultra-fast response while maintaining the benefits of a true mechanical keyboard. The one thing they lose: the clicky-clack noise of every other mechanical model.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Learn more about this amazing keyboard in our full hands-on review.

    The Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse:

    Logitech G703 Lightspeed

    We've tested dozens of mice over the years, and we have one favorite: the G703. Comfortable to hold, conservatively styled, and yet absolutely packed with the highest-end tech, it's an unstoppable force. Featuring the Lightspeed wireless system and compatibility with Logitech's proprietary PowerPlay wireless charging mat, it simply has no competition.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Learn more about this awesome mouse in our full hands-on review.

    The 35-inch Widescreen Monitor:

    Acer Predator Z35P

    Get the most out of your new gaming rig with this sweet high-refresh rate G-Sync monitor from Acer. Offering a huge 35", 3440x1440 panel running at up to 120Hz, this is the ultimate ultra-wide. And with G-Sync, you don't notice any hitching or lagging, because the frames displayed will always sync with the frames delivered by the GPU.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that there a number of other widescreen monitors top out at a resolution of 2560x1080. We suggest you avoid them, as that vertical resolution (1080p) is simply too low for a high-end monitor.