SG13

This system is for gamers who don't want to compromise on gaming capability even in a small system. In fact, this system is just as fast as our full-size High-End Gaming PC Build, yet takes up barely 1/3 the space. That's perfect for gaming on the go or in your living room, making it a great pick to take to the local eSports tournament or for showing off the latest virtual reality title to your friends. In other words, despite its compact size, this is a totally legit high-end gaming PC, the equal of big towers that cost the same or more!

For December 2018, the heart of the system continues to be Intel's awesome Core i5-9600K, which delivers unbeatable gaming performance for the money, along with plenty of overclocking headroom (5GHz is a definite possibility!). On graphics duty, we go with the new, ultra-fast GeForce RTX 2070 8GB, which blows away the previous-gen GTX 1070 (by nearly 40%), and even beats the GTX 1080, despite a similar price. This system also features 16GB of fast DDR4-3000 RAM, a 500GB M.2 solid-state drive, and the most powerful low-profile cooler in the business, the SilverStone NT06-Pro. Packed into SilverStone's compact SG13 case and powered by a tiny 500W Gold-rated PSU, this is a truly unique ITX build.

We update this guide every month - feel free to flip over to The Archive to see how this components have changed over time. You can also learn how to build this PC by reading our step-by-step assembly guide, which will show you exactly to build a system in the unique SG13 case. Remember that your use of our Amazon product links helps support continued development of this guide!

The $1,500 Ultra-Compact Mini-ITX Gaming PC - December 2018

    CPU:

    Intel Core i5-9600K

    There's simply no better gaming CPU you can buy for under $300 than the Intel Core i5-9600K. With six "Coffee Lake" cores and a huge Turbo core clock (up to 4.6GHz!), it provides exceptional gaming performance, and thanks to its significant overclocking headroom, has plenty more on tap should you wish to explore its potential - 5GHz on all cores is definitely a possibility!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that you absolutely need a Z390 motherboard for this chip. Z370 boards likely will not have been updated with the appropriate firmware out of the box.

    Motherboard:

    Gigabyte Z390 I AORUS Pro WiFi

    This Z390 board offers the very best value in a feature-rich ITX motherboard. It offers 802.11ac wireless networking, high-end audio, six USB ports, dual M.2 slots, an HDMI port and a Displayport.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This board will also provide full overclocking support for both a "K" series processor and high-speed RAM.

    Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 Black 8GB

    There's a new king when it comes to high-end GPUs, and it's the RTX 2070 8GB! Easily beating the previous-gen GTX 1080, as well as every GPU AMD has ever released, the RTX 2070 is destined to become the favorite member of the new RTX family, thanks to its exceptional performance per dollar.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that we're specifically recommending a compact model, as most models are actually far too big to fit in this system. They absolutely must be 10.6" or shorter.

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000

    As with all modern CPU platforms, you need to use DDR4 memory, and to get the most out of it, you want high frequency DDR4, as we found in our DDR4 benchmark analysis. So we go with this awesome 2x8GB DDR4-3000 kit. Keep in mind two things: this low-profile kit is the tallest RAM that will fit in this system (anything taller will run right into the CPU cooler), and because ITX motherboards only have two slots, you'll be maxed out with two sticks. Luckily 16GB is the sweet spot for a high-end gaming rig!

    The Guru's Tip:

    After climbing for 18 straight months, RAM prices have started dropping quickly, and this RAM kit is now the cheapest it's been since mid-2017.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Crucial MX500 500GB M.2

    A massive price war in the SSD market is leading to better values every month. Right now, the MX500 from Crucial offers the best balance of capacity and performance for the price. It leverages 3D TLC NAND flash and a modern controller for top-shelf speed.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Thanks to this model's sleek M.2 design, it requires no cables, and will literally take up no storage space in this system, leaving space for up to three 2.5" drives. Just note that you'll need a jeweler's-type screwdriver to install it.

    Case:

    Silverstone SG13

    The SG13 is the smallest ITX case available from any major manufacturer. There are smaller "kick-started" cases out there, but they often come with a whole lot of "gotchas." The SG13, on the other hand, is supported by the very biggest name in the ITX industry, SilverStone. At under 12 liters, it's truly tiny, but packs a big punch!

    The Guru's Tip:

    We published a full hands-on assembly guide for this case - check it out to get up and running on your build!

    Fan:

    Arctic F12 PWM 120mm Fan

    The SG13 case doesn't include a fan, and while you can in theory run it without one, with the powerful components in this system, we strongly recommend you pick up this fan to install in the SG13's front fan mount.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that while the SG13 case has a cutout for a 140mm fan, you can't install a fan larger than 120mm and still have room for a full-size video card.

    Power Supply:

    SilverStone SST-SX500-G

    Just because we're using an ITX case that can theoretically fit ATX power supplies doesn't mean we actually want to fill this little case with a big fat box and lots of cables. So we instead recommend this awesome SFX unit. It's fully modular, offers Gold-rated efficiency, and at 500W, has more than enough power to support this system, which will only draw about 300W at load!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that you'll need the bracket below to mount this small PSU in the case we recommend.

    Adapter:

    SilverStone RL-PP08B Bracket

    This nifty little component is what allows you to fit both an SFX power supply and the powerful cooler listed below into the SG13 case. Due to its large offset, it places the power supply all the way at the top of the case, making room for your CPU cooler.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Remember - SFX power supplies will not work with this build unless you use this adapter!

    CPU Cooler:

    SilverStone NT06-PRO-V2

    This awesomely-powerful cooler will allow huge overclocks despite a very compact build. It will also have about 3mm of clearance above the low-profile Corsair RAM we recommend, and will slot in just under the power supply. Trust us when we say that picking a different cooler at random is almost guaranteed not to work! Another advantage of this design is that cool air is drawn through the bottom and pushed towards the top of the case, working in concert with the case and power supply's natural airflow.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Because we recommend the use of an SFX power supply with a custom bracket, you can actually use this awesome cooler. Equipping the system with an ATX power supply would require the use of a much smaller cooler and would seriously limit CPU performance.

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 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. And Microsoft has proven that it's dedicated to improving Windows 10 regularly, with major updates arriving every Spring and Fall.

    The Guru's Tip:

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

Optional Components

    Hard Drive:

    Seagate FireCuda 2TB Hybrid Hard Drive

    Need more storage capacity than a single SSD drive can provide at a reasonable price? Then go for the NAND-enhanced FireCuda from Seagate. It's a 2.5" laptop-style hard drive that will run your favorite applications like an SSD, due to the 8GB of solid-state cache on board.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that while 3.5" drives can theoretically fit in this system, we strongly recommend against using them due to the very limited space available.