best small office pc build

Want to build the best work-from-home or small office PC possible for $750? Then this is the guide for you! For November 2020, this system features Intel's Core i5-10400 processor, which offers 6 cores, 12 threads, plus built-in graphics. It's the perfect match for a high-end home office PC build on a budget! Also onboard are 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a fast 512GB NVMe solid-state drive. Giving this system its sleek profile is the ultra-compact SilverStone ML09 case, our favorite slim case of all time, and providing the power is a quiet 300W Bronze-rated power supply. Despite this system's tiny size (just 7 liters!), it can fit plenty of upgrades, including an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 video card, which is perfect if you want full 4K/60Hz video output to a 4K TV, or if you're interested in doing some light gaming (Fortnite with the kids, anyone?!?). There's also room for a variety of storage devices: it can fit a Blu-Ray drive and up to four 2TB hard drives, bringing the total capacity to over 8TB including the SSD! Learn more about this build, which is truly one of our favorites, in our YouTube overview, and then post all your questions in the YT comments section:

Note that if you're a serious home theater PC enthusiast, you may want more options than this system can deliver, like large add-in graphics cards for serious gaming, video capture cards for media, and a few full-size hard drives for storage. For all those folks, we have our much larger $1,000 High-End HTPC Buyer's Guide, which is based on the SilverStone GD09 case, shown below. It uses an ATX motherboard and provides space for up to three 3.5" hard drives and plenty of expansion cards, all without approaching the size of typical ATX cases!

best home theater pc build

To see previous versions of the $750 Home/Small Office PC Build, simply flip to the PC Build Archive. By the way, any HTPC needs a good set of peripherals to get the most out of it, so definitely scroll down to the end of this guide to see our favorite accessories.

Throughout this guide, we provide direct Amazon or Newegg links for our readers in the US, plus links to Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, and Amazon Germany for other readers, making regional substitutions as necessary. If you decide to purchase any of the products listed below, please use the links provided, which helps support continued development of this guide.

The $750 Home/Small Office PC Build - November 2020

  • CPU:

    Intel Core i5-10400

    There simply is no better CPU around $200 than the Core i5-10400 six-core, 12-thread processor. One of its huge advantages over AMD is that it has built-in graphics, unlike any of AMD's current six-core CPUs available at retail, which means there's no need to spend money on a video card for typical office PC use.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This CPU includes a 47mm-tall cooler that will fit in this system, but we recommend a much quieter model later in this guide.

  • Motherboard:

    ASRock H470M-ITX/ac @Newegg

    You get a lot for your money with this H470-based mini-ITX board. It boasts built-in 802.11ac networking, Bluetooth, eight USB ports (including a Type-C), and dual M.2 slots for modern solid-state drives.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This board also includes a DisplayPort and an HDMI 1.4 port. The DisplayPort is what you'll want to use to connect to ultra-high-resolution monitors (anything between 2560x1440 and full 4K).

  • Memory:

    Patriot 2x8GB Viper Elite DDR4-2666 Grey @Newegg

    For this build, we're going with 16GB, which will ensure you never run out of memory. And thanks to the incredible speed of this bargain-priced kit, you'll also get a bump in performance!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Intel's latest platform allows a maximum speed of 2666MHz, which is why we're going for that speed here. You can install faster RAM, but it won't run any faster.

  • Solid-State Drive:

    XPG SX8200 Pro 512GB NVMe

    Get fantastic speed at an amazing price with this 512GB NVMe drive from XPG. It features TLC NAND and the cutting-edge PCIe interface for great performance that will make your $750 PC Build feel ultra-responsive.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This drive will fit right into the M.2 slot on the motherboard we recommend, and to make installation easy, you'll want a jeweler's-type screwdriver.

  • Case:

    SilverStone ML09B

    Silverstone has done some serious engineering work here, and there's simply nothing else like it on the market today. Despite its compact dimensions, the ML09 can fit a mini-ITX motherboard, a low-profile dual-slot video card, four 2.5" drives, and an SFX power supply. It's amazing!

    The Guru's Tip:

    To get tips on how to build it up, check out our hands-on review.

  • Power Supply:

    SilverStone SX300

    This ultra-compact, Bronze-rated SFX PSU is a perfect fit for this build, offering just the right amount of output for an efficient build like this one.

    The Guru's Tip:

    SilverStone actually recommends fixed cables, rather than removable cables for the ML09 case, as the single cable output is easier to route around the case's 2.5" drive cage.

  • CPU Cooler:

    Noctua NH-L9x65

    While not strictly required, this cooler will make your PC a whole lot more pleasant to use. The cooler included with the Intel CPU is capable of maintaining a safe operating temperature, but only by running its fan at high speeds. So if your system will be right next to you on your desk, you'll want this upgraded cooler from Noctua. 

    The Guru's Tip:

    This cooler measures 65mm tall, which means it will fit perfectly in the case, which has 70mm of clearance. You'll need to remove the pre-installed fan that comes mounted in the case, but the resulting cooling and noise levels will be far superior.

  • Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    Windows 10 is by far the best OS Microsoft has ever produced, and it's updated ever Spring and Fall with major new feature releases and security enhancements.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This USB 3.0 version of W10 loads in under 5 minutes!

Optional Components

  • Video Card:

    MSI GeForce GT 1030 2G LP OC

    This card provides dual ultra-HD output for your system: an HDMI 2.0 port (for full 4K TV compatibility), plus a DispayPort for high-end monitors. It's the only GT 1030 of its kind - most substitute in a much older DVI port!

    The Guru's Tip:

    You only need this card if you want full 4K/60Hz output (the system can output 4K/30Hz without it), or if you want solid gaming capability. The system's built in video is not suitable for gaming.

  • Video Card:

    MSI GeForce GTX 1650 4GT LP OC

    OK, say you want not just good gaming performance, which is what the video card above provides, but the best gaming performance possible from a low-profile PC? Then you go for this GTX 1650, the fastest low-profile card ever released!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this card is 6.7" long and two slots wide, meaning it will just fit in the SilverStone ML09 case. Cards over 6.9" long will not fit!

  • Hard Drive:

    Seagate 2TB Barracuda 2.5"

    If you have a large media collection, you'll want a high-capacity hard drive, and we recommend the latest version of Seagate's Barracudea 2TB drive. You can add up to four of these drives to this system, for a total of 8TB of storage!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Given that a lot of HTPC users are switching to streaming content, we no longer view a large hard drive as mandatory, especially in a lower-cost HTPC like this one.

  • Optical Drive:

    OSGEAR Internal Slim Blu-Ray Burner

    Tap into your catalog of DVD and Blu-Ray discs with this slimline Blu-Ray burner, which can read CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Rays, and can write to all of them as well. A few restrictions you'll need to keep in mind though: (1) you have to use the stock Intel cooler, not the upgraded Noctua one we list in this guide, (2) the burner takes the place of the case fan, and (3) you have to add the SATA adapter listed below.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To play commercial movies, you'll need licensed software, and we recommend Cyberlink PowerDVD 20.

  • Cable:

    Startech Slim-Line SATA Adapter

    To connect the Blu-Ray drive, or any slim optical drive, you'll need this adapter, which converts the drive's laptop-style power connector for use with a desktop-class power supply.

    The Guru's Tip:

    We've also tried Startech's all-in-one adapter, but find that it can cause clearance problems.

  • The Home Theater Keyboard/Trackpad Combo:

    Logitech K600 TV Keyboard

    Want a great HTPC keyboard to go with your new PC? Then go for Logitech's K600. It has two modes of navigation (touchpad and joystick), and uses Logitech's proven wireless connection system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This model even works with Smart TVs and phones, making it a universal input device!