If you want the sleekest high-powered ITX gaming system on the planet, this is the guide for you! This build we profile here may be compact, but it can pack in lots of impressive gear. It features a slim Raven RVZ02 chassis from SilverStone that allows you to build a system the size of a game console, but with far more power. The secret sauce is a proprietary PCIe riser system, which can squeeze in even the largest of dual-slot video cards by mounting them on their side - a creative solution to an otherwise vexing problem in slim cases. 

The March 2019 edition of this build is better than ever, thanks to some major price drops on high-speed components. But before we touch on that new gear, we'll focus on the heart of the system that is carrying over from last month: AMD's value-packed Ryzen 5 2600 six-core CPU, which maintains its massive price dominance over Intel's CPUs, and is in fact the only CPU worth buying between $120 and $180. With the ability to be overclocked to 4GHz and beyond, this 12-thread workhorse is an absolute bargain. Also on board is Nvidia's new GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GPU, which endows this build with a serious gaming boost while coming in at the same price as the previous-gen GTX 1070. New this month is an upgrade from 16GB of DDR4-2666 to 16GB of DDR4-3000, which ow comes in at the same price for a free performance boost. Also new is the Crucial P1 1TB PCIe solid-state drive, which offers substantially higher performance than competing SATA drives, despite costing just a few dollars more. Once you have all your new gear in hand, you'll be installing it in the ultra-slim SilverStone Raven chassis and powering it up with a silent 450W Gold-rated power supply. Once complete, your system will be ready for any gaming or HTPC challenge!

To see how this build compares to past months, just flip to The Archive. And for help building your new PC, simply turn to our step-by-step assembly guide!

The $1,250 Slim Mini-ITX Gaming HTPC - March 2019


    AMD Ryzen 5 2600

    Prices have risen dramatically on all of Intel's current CPUs, but AMD is going the other way, giving consumers a gift with huge price cuts on its awesome line of Ryzen processors. Thank goodness for competition! In fact, AMD is now the only game in the $150 price range, so we suggest you head straight for the Ryzen 5 2600, a six-core, 12-thread powerhouse that can be easily overclocked to 4GHz with just a bit of tuning, even using the included 55mm-tall cooler included in the box!

    The Guru's Tip:

    At stock settings, this CPU is massively efficient, which makes it a great pick for a small system.


    MSI B450I Gaming Plus AC

    This affordable B450-based motherboard is a perfect match for the Ryzen 5 2600. It includes six USB ports, built-in 802.11ac networking, and an M.2 slot.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that while this board has video ports, you'll be using a video card for video output in this system.

    Video Card:

    MSI GeForce RTX 2060 Ventus 6G OC

    The new RTX 2060, launched in January 2019, provides a huge gaming boost to this build for the same price as the outgoing GTX 1070 (it's an impressive 20% faster!). And thanks to its Turing architecture, it also offers support for the latest Ray Tracing effects in new game releases.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that while this build can fit long video cards, many RTX 2060 models will actually be too tall to fit in this build, and some may be too wide as well, so stick with our recommendation here.


    Ballistix 2x8GB Sport LT DDR4-3000 CL16

    For this build, we're going with a generous helping of RAM to make sure you never get bogged down while multi-tasking. 16GB will truly be more than enough for anything you can throw at this system!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that to get this kit to run at its overclocked speed, make sure to select the enhanced memory profile in the motherboard's UEFI. Also note that on Ryzen system's, DDR4-3000 registers as 2933MHz - this is not an error!

    Solid-State Drive:

    Crucial P1 1TB NVMe

    Thanks to the huge price war going on in the SSD market, you can now get PCIe-class speed and massive capacity at a bargain-basement price. This 1TB is now selling for well below what 500GB drives sold for a year ago, despite being far faster!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Thanks to this drive using the M.2 form factor, it will slip right into the motherboard, taking up zero space in your case!


    Silverstone Raven RVZ02B-W

    Silverstone has done some serious engineering work here, and there's simply nothing else like it on the market today. With the inclusion of a custom-designed riser card allowing the use of any dual-slot video card on the market, we consider this case a true bargain. Learn how to build up your system by reading our step-by-step High-End ITX Assembly Guide, which used this exact case!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This case is so slim that it actually has insufficient headroom for many aftermarket coolers, even of the slim variety. Luckily, the stock 55mm-tall AMD cooler slips right under this case's 58mm CPU cooler limit!

    Power Supply:

    SilverStone SST-SX500-G

    Using a 92mm fan that runs at lower RPMs and noise levels than previous 80mm-based power supplies, this Gold-rated, fully-modular power PSU may be pint-sized, but it packs in the power. With 500W on tap, plus dual PCIe power cables to support any video card on the market, it's a perfect match for this build.

    The Guru's Tip:

    We've increased the recommended PSU from 450W to 500W for this build with the upgrade to the RTX 2060, which draws substantially more power than the GTX 1060 and GTX 1070 models that were previously recommended in this guide.

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    Win 10 is better than Windows 8.1 in every conceivable way. Thank goodness Microsoft listened to critics and came up with an OS that's actually easy to use!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Windows updates W10 every six months, although the most recent Fall 2018 update was delayed due to quality control issues. Note that in the long run, Microsoft is almost certain to move to a yearly subscription plan, but buying a copy today locks in "permanent" ownership!

Optional Components

    Optical Drive:

    LG GUD0N Slim DVD Drive

    We've moved optical drives to "legacy" status in all of our builds, and most of our SFF systems don't even have room for them. But you actually can install a slim-line optical drive in this build, and this LG drive is your best option if that's your preference. It's high-quality and affordable. 

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that you'll need a slimline SATA adapter (described in detail below) to connect it to your power supply, as it was originally designed for laptops.


    Startech Slim-Line SATA Adapter

    You'll need this adapter to use the slim-line optical drive listed above. That's because the power connector on the drive, designed to interface with a laptop peripheral bay, is much smaller than the SATA power connectors on standard desktop power supplies.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this adapter also serves as a power cable extender, which makes hooking up multiple drives in the Raven case a lot easier!

    Hard Drive:

    Seagate FireCuda 2TB Hybrid Hard Drive

    If you need more storage for media or a huge game collection, you can't do better than Seagate's Firecuda. It runs quietly, thanks to its moderate 5400RPM rotational speed, and yet outperforms every other 2.5" hard drive due to the 8GB of solid-state cache it has on board.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this system does not support 3.5" desktop-class hard drives unless you forego putting a video card in the video card bay.

    The Ultimate Universal Remote:

    Azulle Lynk Multifunctional Remote Control

    If you'll be using this system from a couch, do yourself a favor and pick up the awesome Lynk from Azulle. Thanks to its six axis gyroscope, it can take the place of your mouse, allowing you to "point" at items on screen from mid-air!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Thanks to its tiny built-in keyboard, this device can even replace a keyboard in a pinch, although for extended typing (i.e., more than typing in searches into Google, YouTube, or retail sites), you'll want a true keyboard like the one listed below.

    The Home Theater Keyboard/Trackpad Combo:

    Microsoft Wireless All-In-One Media Keyboard

    For robust functionality is a lightweight, wireless format, Microsoft's All-in-One keyboard can't be beat! You get a full-size tenkey-less keyboard plus a laptop-style trackpad for navigation.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This keyboard even has an ingenious "mouse" button on the left of the keyboard, so you can mouse with your right hand and click with your left index finger or thumb.