Best $500 mini-itx home office pc build

If you want to build the best ultra-compact small office or work-from-home PC possible for just $500, this is the guide for you! Based on the mini-ITX form factor, it packs in everything you need, and nothing you don't. This ensures that your new PC Build can be tucked away anywhere or put on display as a conversation starter!

For March 2020, the $500 Home Office Mini-ITX PC Build sees some big changes to ensure you're getting the best performance possible for under $500. We now go with Intel's Pentium Gold G5400, a dual-core CPU that offers tremendous processing power for the price, especially in everyday applications like web browsing and word processing. It's paired with a fantastic B360-based mini-ITX motherboard that has a huge range of features, including built-in 802.11ac networking and Bluetooth. Also ensuring that you have a flawless computing experience is 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 256GB M.2 PCIe- based solid-state drive, which slips right into the motherboard, minimizing cable clutter. The system is housed in the stylish and ultra-compact In-Win Chopin case, a version of which we reviewed right here. This system can even fit dual 2TB hard drives, which we list in the optional upgrades section at the end of this guide.

You can browse the various past versions by flipping flip to The $500 Home Office Mini-ITX PC Build Archive. As always, please keep in mind that your use of the links we provide below helps support further development of these guides.

The $500 Home Office Mini-ITX PC Build - March 2020

  • CPU:

    Intel Pentium Gold G5400

    The Pentium Gold is the best CPU for a low-cost system. It offers two cores running at a quick 3.7GHz, plus Hyperthreading, which provides a 50% speed boost in multi-tasking. Plus it comes with a slimline cooler that will fit in this system, which saves the cost of buying an aftermarket version.

    The Guru's Tip:

    After being sold out for about 6 months, a new supply of the G5400 has finally arrived, and we suggest you pick one up quickly!

  • Motherboard:

    Gigabyte B360N WIFI

    This board is the perfect backbone for a compact system. It offers dual HDMI outputs for the built-in graphics, along with six USB ports, a USB 3.0 header for the system's front USB ports, and plenty of SATA ports. It also has an M.2 slot on the back of the board, which you'll be using for this system's solid-state drive. 

    The Guru's Tip:

    This board even has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth!

  • Memory:

    Corsair 2x4GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-2400 C16

    For this build, we recommend an economical but fast 2x4GB kit. The CPU and motherboard support DDR4-2400 RAM, and that's what we go with here. Note that we specifically recommend equipping this system with two RAM sticks rather than one, as it results not only in 2-3% faster CPU performance, but also a very significant 20-25% boost in graphics performance.

    The Guru's Tip:

    If you'd like to completely future-proof your system, go for the 2x8GB version of this kit. 16GB is probably more RAM than you'll need now, but with current prices, it's very tempting to buy yourself a bit of future-proofing.

  • Solid-State Drive:

    Sabrent 256GB Rocket NVMe

    There's no better way to make a PC feel really fast than to equip it with a fast solid-state drive, and this PCIe-based model from Sabrent blows away the competition in terms of performance per dollar.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Going with a 256GB model provides enough space for typical office and "kitchen PC" duties, while allowing us to equip this system with a blazing-fast PCIe-based drive.

  • Case:

    InWin Chopin with 150W Power Supply

    Our favorite ultra-compact ITX case is back in stock, after a long hiatus! You'll wonder why you ever had a giant tower PC on your desk after seeing this little guy in person. It's the perfect home for any family or small office PC. It has space for a mini-ITX motherboard, dual 2.5" data drives, and has a built-in 150W power supply!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This continues to be the most stylish utlra-compact case ever released! Note that it only has room for coolers up to 47mm tall, which is the height of Intel's reference cooler. 

  • Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    Windows 10 was released way back in July 2015, yet Microsoft is adding new features to it all the time, with complete OS updates every spring and fall. It's a truly stable, powerful OS, and one that will go down in history as a true success story, much like the pioneering Windows 95.

    The Guru's Tip:

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

Optional Components

  • Hard Drive:

    WD Blue WD20SPZX 2TB 2.5"

    Want to turn this tiny system into a home server? No problem - just add this high-capacity 2TB hard drive to your build!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This is the largest capacity you'll find in any 2.5"-class drive that fits into standard 12mm-thick drive bays. All 2.5" drives with higher capacities are much thicker and won't fit in this system.

  • The Basic Wireless Keyboard/Mouse Combo:

    Logitech Wireless Combo MK270

    Complete your system with this incredibly-economical wireless keyboard and mouse system from Logitech!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This combo uses a single tiny USB receiver, ensuring you'll still have plenty of USB ports left over for other devices.

  • The 24-inch General-Purpose Monitor:

    ViewSonic VA2359-SMH 23 Inch IPS

    Offering mind-blowing value in the mid-range segment, this monitor from Viewsonic packs in all the features you've come to expect from $150+ monitors, but for a lot less money. That includes a high-quality 23" IPS panel with excellent viewing angles, a 1920 x 1080 resolution, and built-in speakers.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This model can accept HDMI or VGA inputs, but not the common DVI input.