The Ultimate $3,000 Mini-ITX Content Creation PC Build

With the exponential growth of the content creation market, the demand for compact, workstation-class PCs is growing, and the $3,000 Portable Content Creation PC Build is the ultimate choice for serious content creators. 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 August 2020, the $3,000 Portable Content Creation PC Build features the highly-refined Lian-Li TU150 chassis, the ultimate case for your portable workstation! With a brushed metal finish and an integrated handle, it's both eye-catching and extremely practical! Of course, this PC build's strengths go more than skin deep; inside it's packing the shockingly-powerful AMD Ryzen 9 3950X, a 16-core, 32-thread CPU that puts everything Intel offers to shame. It's joined by a GeForce RTX 2070 Super 8GB for application acceleration duties, plus an absolutely mind-blowing 64GB of DDR4-3600 RAM in a dual-stick configuration - an ultra-dense kit that allows for seriously-powerful ITX workstations. Also on board are both a 1TB PCIe Gen 4 drive and a 2TB PCIe Gen 3 drive, giving you 3TB of ultra-fast storage and plenty of options for swap and content storage. To keep things cool, this system uses a compact liquid CPU cooler, which offers immense cooling capacity along with low noise operation. Powering the system is a quiet and ultra-efficient 700W Platinum-rated power supply.

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The $3,000 Ultimate Mini-ITX Content Creation PC Build - August 2020

  • CPU:

    AMD Ryzen 9 3950X @Newegg

    With the Ryzen 9 3950X, AMD has delivered a knockout blow to every ultra-high-end CPU Intel has ever offered. There's simply no reason to get anything else, especially in a small form factor system, where motherboard real estate is at a premium and typical workstation-class CPUs can't be used. But don't worry: with 16 cores and 32 threads, along with a boost clock that goes up to 4.7GHz, it's definitely a workstation-class CPU in everything but name!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This CPU does not come with a heatsink, for good reason: no standard box heatsink will do. We recommend a powerful liquid CPU cooler later in this guide.

  • Motherboard:

    Gigabyte X570 I AORUS Pro WiFi @ Newegg

    This board has all the features you need for an ultra-high-end build, despite its reasonable pricepoint. It features dual M.2 PCIe slots, both with full Gen 4 speed, 2.5Gbps LAN, built-in 802.11ax wireless networking with Bluetooth, and six USB ports, including a Type-C port.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The AMD motherboard stock situation has been very bad for months, so if you see this in stock, grab it right away.

  • Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 Super KO 8GB @Newegg

    CRITICAL UPDATE: Nvidia killed off the RTX 2080 Super months in advance of its replacement (the 3080) hitting the market, so here's our very strong recommendation to you: rather than buy one used at a markup, get one of the last remaining 2070 Super models, and register it with EVGA within 14 days to use EVGA's 90-day Step-Up program. It allows you to trade that card in for a 3080 when it arrives, likely by the end of September at the $900 pricepoint.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The EVGA 90-Day Step-Up Program is open to residents of the US, Canada, and the EU.

  • Memory:

    Patriot 2x32GB Viper 4 Blackout DDR4-3600

    For this ITX build, we want to max out our RAM capacity, which means going with a gargantuan 2x32GB kit. Running at 3600MHz, it will keep your CPU well fed, maximizing the throughput of the Zen architecture's Infinity Fabric.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This is the only way to get 64GB of ultra-high-speed RAM in your ITX system, given that it has just 2 RAM slots!

  • Solid-State Drive:

    Corsair MP600 1TB PCIe 4.0

    Blazing a trail opened up by AMD's adoption of the PCIe 4.0 interface, this drive provides previously-unheard of throughput, up to 5,000MB/s. That combined with its 1TB capacity makes it the obvious choice for a serious workstation PC.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This M.2 drive will work in the top motherboard M.2 slots - we recommend you use its built-in heatsink for better thermals.

  • Solid-State Drive:

    XPG SX8200 Pro 2TB

    Take advantage of this system's rear-mounted M.2 slot by dropping this PCIe 2TB drive in, bringing your total capacity up to 3TB!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that we're recommending a PCI Gen 3 drive here, as the motherboard only supports Gen 4 on the top slot, and for Gen 4 drives like the one listed above, you really do want the additional airflow available in that top slot.

  • Case:

    Lian Li Tu 150-WA Silver

    Lian-Li knocks it out of the park with the beautiful TU 150, the ultimate professional ITX chassis. Coming in at 24 liters, it can fit just about any high-end gear you can imagine (including triple-slot video cards) and a liquid CPU cooler, and looks absolutely awesome. The tempered glass side panel offers a great view of the components, while the magnetic handle retracts sleekly into the top of the chassis. To set up this system, mount our recommended CPU liquid cooler to the rear of the chassis, and mount the fan recommended below to the front.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The case's built-in USB Type-C port unfortunately cannot be used with any current AMD Mini-ITX motherboards. Consider it a feature for the future!

  • Fan:

    Scythe Kaze Flex 120mm PWM

    Easily the best 120mm case fan ever released, this model from Scythe offers up tremendous airflow but also extremely-low noise levels. It's one of a kind! Don't believe us? Check out our full 120mm case fan shootout!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Mount this to the front of the chassis as an intake fan. The chassis doesn't include any fans of its own.

  • Power Supply:

    Silverstone SX700-PT

    Power up your $3,000 Content Creation PC Build with this awesome 700W Platinum-rated unit from SilverStone, which conforms to the SFX form factor required by the Lian-Li case. It has plenty of power to keep this build going at full load all day long!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that many power supplies are now sold out due to the pandemic, so grab this great deal while it's still in stock!

  • CPU Cooler:

    SilverStone PF120-ARGB

    Keeping a 16-core CPU cool in a compact case is always a challenge, but this awesome liquid cooler delivers the performance you need. It offers massive cooling capacity packed into a sleek format that actually fits inside a compact chassis!

    The Guru's Tip:

    To mount this cooler in the case, you'll affix the radiator inside the chassis, with the fan on the bottom blowing into the radiator.

  • Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 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. We go with Pro here for its built-in encryption.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This USB 3.0 version of W10 will install in under 5 minutes!

Optional Components

  • Solid-State Drive:

    Sabrent Rocket Pro 1TB USB 3.2 External SSD

    So, while we know a lot of creatives will want to load this system up with 3.5" drives (note, it can't fit any), we view that as an opportunity to think out of the box, quite literally. There's simply no reason a PC has to have all its storage inside of it - that's what gave us a legacy of clunky desktops in the first place. So for a secondary drive, we suggest something that almost any creative will appreciate: a blazing-fast, ultra-portable external SSD, which can be connected to the motherboard's rear USB 3.1 Type-C port. The Sabrent Rocket Pro 1TB can hit transfer speeds of 1000MB/s, which matters a whole lot when you're transferring files, which is what a secondary drive is used for almost exclusively. Most external SSDs are limited to 550MB/s due to the use of legacy SATA internals and USB 3.0 ports.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Want even more speed and capacity? Then go for the insane P50 from WD, which offers speeds up to 2,000MB/s and 2TB of capacity. No, it doesn't come cheap, but yes, it is the fastest external drive on the planet!

  • The Ultimate Wireless Keyboard:

    Logitech G915 Wireless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard (Linear)

    This is the very best gaming keyboard on the market, bar none, thanks to its use of Logitech's incredible proprietary low-profile switches. It makes for an ultra-slim, ultra-light keyboard, that also happens to be the only wireless mechanical keyboard on the market with RGB lighting!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Learn more in our hands-on review of this awesome keyboard.

  • The Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse:

    Razer Basilisk Ultimate HyperSpeed Wireless

    Want the very best gaming mouse on the market? Look no further than this wireless model from Razer, which offers performance that beats all wired mice, thanks to the revolutionary Hyperspeed wireless system and an insane 20,000dpi sensor!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This mouse will run for up to 100 hours before needing a charge!

  • The 32-inch Professional 4K Monitor:

    ViewSonic VP3268-4K PRO

    Pair your new workstation with a fantastic 4K monitor from Viewsonic, allowing you to view your 4K video the way it was meant to be viewed!

    The Guru's Tip:

    While we like ultra-wide monitors for a lot of systems, a big 4K monitor is best for content creation.