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 July 2020, the $500 Home Office Mini-ITX PC Build features Intel's Pentium Gold G5420, 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 an affordable H310-based mini-ITX motherboard that has all the features you need, and none you don't! Also ensuring that you have a flawless computing experience is 16GB of DDR4 RAM (upgraded this month from 8GB, which we now consider insufficient), plus 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 Antec ISK110 case, 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 - July 2020

  • CPU:

    Intel Pentium Gold G5420

    The Pentium Gold is the best CPU for a low-cost system. It offers two cores running at a quick 3.8GHz, 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:

    This CPU sells out often, so if you see it in stock, grab it!

  • Motherboard:

    ASUS Prime H310I-PLUS CSM

    This board is the perfect backbone for a compact system. It offers HDMI, DVI, and VGA outputs for the built-in graphics, along with four USB ports, and headers for the system's four front USB ports. It also has a full-length M.2 slot on the back, which you'll be using for this system's solid-state drive. If you'd like built-in WiFi, we recommend you pick up the Gigabyte B360N WiFi motherboard, which costs an extra $25 or so and has WiFi built in!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that newer Intel Socket 1200 boards, launched in May 2020, are not compatible. Unfortunately, Intel hasn't yet launched its Pentium processors for these newer motherboards, so if you want to build today, going with the H310i is your only option!

  • Memory:

    Patriot 2x8GB Viper Elite DDR4-2666 Grey

    For this build and every build on our site, we are now recommending 16GB of RAM. It really does make a difference when some apps can take 8GB on their own. The CPU and motherboard support DDR4-2400 RAM, but we've found that more common DDR4-2666 kits sell for less, so that's what we go with here. It will simply be downclocked when used with this system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    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.

  • 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 blows away the competition in terms of performance per dollar.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Going with a 250GB 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. Of course, you can always go with the 512GB or 1TB versions of this drive listed on the same product page.

  • Case:

    Antec ISK110 VESA-U3

    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 an external 90W power supply!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this case 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:

    Seagate 2TB Barracuda 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 23-inch General-Purpose Monitor:

    HP VH240a IPS

    Offering mind-blowing value in the mid-range segment, this monitor packs in all the features you've come to expect from $150+ monitors, but for a lot less money. That includes a high-quality 24" panel with excellent viewing angles, a 1920 x 1080 resolution, and a height-adjustable stand. 

    The Guru's Tip:

    This model can accept HDMI or VGA inputs, but not the common DVI input. Also note that it does not have built-in speakers.