Manta

If you want a no-holds-barred extreme PC without the bulk, this system is the one for you! While it's big compared to most Small Form Factor systems (we wouldn't even call it a true SFF PC), 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 November 2017, this build features the fastest gaming CPU ever released, the new Core i7-8700K. It's a six-core, twelve-thread monster capable of hitting 5GHz with the right cooler (which we of course recommend in this guide). Note that while it was "launched" on October 5th, it didn't become available at retail until mid-November, and even then, it's $50 over its MSRP and requires a backorder. Hey, you gotta pay to play!

Also on board is the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB SC2 Hybrid, which is strapped to a massive liquid cooler for the ultimate in boost levels, along with 16GB of DDR4-3466 memory, which provides awesome bandwidth to keep your hot-blooded CPU going. You'll also be getting the ultra-fast Samsung 960 Evo 1TB PCIe-based drive, a Gold-rated 750W PSU, and the top-of-the-line NZXT Manta case. What you'll end up with is truly the ultimate ITX gaming machine!

Interested in discussing this build? Then hop over to the Forum to post your thoughts! Want to see how it's evolved over time? Then check out The Archive!

The $2,500 Ultra-Extreme Mini-ITX PC - November 2017

    CPU:

    Intel Core i7-8700K

    Well, it seems like Intel's Core i7-8700K is finally hitting the market, and while it's a month and a half late, it's better late than never! Indeed, this chip is a big enough jump up from its predecessor, the 7700K, that it can rightfully be considered next-gen. Based on the exact same architecture, it adds two additional cores, meaning it has up to 50% more processing power, with the same ~5GHz overclocking limits. It's quite a beast, but you'll have to pay a premium for it right now, and you'll certainly have to backorder it.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this chip doesn't come with a cooler, so definitely pick up the one we recommend later in this guide.

    Motherboard:

    Asus ROG Strix Z370-I Gaming

    Building on the tremendous reputation of its predecessors, the Z370I from Asus is no doubt the best of its generation. Featuring top-of-the-line Realtek ALC1220 audio, dual full-length M.2 slots (one in front, one on the rear of the board), Intel wired networking, and 802.11ac wireless networking with Bluetooth, it's got it all.. In addition, it offers HDMI, DisplayPort, digital audio out, and eight USB ports, including a USB 3.1 Type-C port.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Please be forewarned: only Z370 boards support 8000-series CPUs. Z270 boards will not work.

    Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2 Hybrid 11GB

    You want 4K gaming capability? This card will bring it! And this new liquid-cooled model from EVGA offers insanely-cool operation, keeping the GPU under 60C under almost any load, therefore maximizing boost potential! Just note that it sells out on a regular basis due to being a limited-run model, but don't worry - it always comes back in a day or two!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that you'll want to remove the case's pre-installed 120mm rear fan and replace it with this GPU's radiator/fan assembly.

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance RGB DDR4-3466

    To get the most out of your Core i7-8700K, you want high-frequency DDR4 memory. For the Ultimate ITX Gamer, we go with ultra-high speed DDR4-3466 in a 2x8GB configuration, which gives you both mind-blowing speed and plenty of capacity. It even features Corsair's sweet RGB illumination, which you can control through its CorsairLink software.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Look, we know that an extreme system may not seem that extreme with just 16GB on board, but honestly, RAM is so absurdly expensive right now that it simply makes no sense to buy 32GB for gaming, since it adds nothing to performance over 16GB (whereas the speed of this kit versus mainstream kits does). To stick to our $2,500 budget, we've allocated the extra $200 it would cost to jump up to 32GB to other performance-improving gear.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Samsung 960 Evo 1TB PCIe NVMe

    Step up to next-gen performance with Samsung's awesome 960 Evo. Harnessing the potential of the NVMe protocol and the PCIe interface, it's up to 5x faster than SATA drives, including its predecessor the 850 Evo.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This drive simply has no equal in its price range, offering amazing performance and capacity at a very reasonable price.

    Case:

    NZXT Manta

    This awesome case from NZXT brings unmatched style and function to the ITX arena at an incredible price. No, it's not exactly small for an ITX case, but it is high performance. It comes equipped with dual 120mm fans in front, and a 120mm in the rear, with space for a big radiator on top.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This case is available in a variety of colors, all from the same product page.

    Power Supply:

    Seasonic SSR-750FX

    Just because we're using a slightly larger ITX case for this build doesn't mean we want to fill it full of cables. So we go with the best new Gold-rated power supply on the market, the Focous from Seasonic. It's fully-modular model, which you definitely want in an ultra-high-end mini-ITX system. And at an ultra-short 140mm long, it offers all the quality of more expensive units, but with a size perfectly-suited to this machine. 

    The Guru's Tip:

    Given that you'll never be using a second video card in this system, you simply cannot utilize more than about 450W with this build under even extreme circumstances (seriously!). But assuming you want to crank it to 11, we're suggesting a 750W unit, just to play it safe and keep right in the power supply's efficiency sweet spot!

    CPU Cooler:

    Thermaltake WATER 3.0 Riing RGB 240

    Keeping a CPU cool in a compact case is always a challenge, but this awesome 240mm-class cooler from Thermaltake is most definitely up to the task. It will easily tame an overclocked CPU, and its Riing fans offer sweet RGB illumination along with exceptionally low noise levels.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To learn more about this cooler, read our review of its bigger 280mm brother in our liquid cooler shootout!

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Download

    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 downloadable version of Windows, so you might want to pick up a USB 3.0 thumb drive if you don't have any spares laying around.

Optional Components

    The Gamer's Dream Monitor:

    Acer XB271HU

    Get the most out of your new gaming rig with this sweet high-refresh rate G-Sync monitor from Acer. Offering a big 27", 2560x1440 panel running at up to 165Hz, this is the ultimate high-speed gaming mointor. 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 Acer also makes a reduced-cost version of this monitor with a TN panel. If you're going for a premium experience, you definitely want this "full-fat" IPS model isntead.