SG13

This system is for gamers who don't want to compromise on gaming capability even in a small system. In fact, this system takes up barely 1/3 the space of a typical gaming desktop, despite packing in the same performance. 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 March 2019, this system continues to harness the awesome performance-per-dollar of Intel's Core i5-9600K, which delivers fantastic gaming performance, along with plenty of overclocking headroom (5GHz is a definite possibility!). On graphics duty, we go with a compact but ultra-fast EVGA 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 and the most powerful low-profile cooler in the business, the SilverStone NT06-Pro. New this month is the ultra-fast but bargain-priced Crucial P1 500GB PCIe-based solid-state drive. For the case, there's no better choice than SilverStone's compact SG13 chassis, enhanced with the awesome cooling potential of a Noctua Redux 120mm case fan, and powered by a tiny SFX-class 500W Gold-rated PSU.

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 - March 2019

    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:

    Due to massive production shortfalls, Intel processors have been selling out constantly. If you see this CPU in stock, grab it while you can!

    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, an Intel LAN ports, six USB ports (including a Type-C port), dual M.2 slots, plus an HDMI and a Displayport in case you need to use onboard graphics.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that we've received word from readers that the Asus Z390-I motherboard is incompatible with this build due to its oversized plastic I/O port cover, which intrudes into the heatsink clearance area for all low-profile heatsinks (which are required for this build).

    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 ratio.

    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. Many readers have asked us whether this will work given the 10.5" limitation listed in the specs for the SilverStone SG13 case used in this build. Don't worry, we know it will because we tested this case with the identically-sized EVGA RTX 2080 Ti! Yes, you actually can run that beast in this tiny system, but it runs loud!

    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).

    The Guru's Tip:

    Because ITX motherboards only have two slots, adding more RAM in the future isn't possible. Luckily, RAM prices have dropped 50% over the past year, so feel free to pick up Corsair's 2x16GB Vengeace LPX kit if you'd like to max out your RAM capacity.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Crucial P1 500GB

    A massive price war in the SSD market is leading to better values every month, and Crucial has burst the doors wide open with its new P1 line, which offers PCIe-class speed at a downright SATA-class price. The P1 500GB leverages cutting-edge QLC NAND flash and a modern controller to offer performance previously unheard of in the under-$100 market.

    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:

    Noctua NF-S12B redux-1200 PWM

    The SG13 case doesn't include a fan, and with the powerful components in this system, we strongly recommend you pick up this excellent noise-optimized fan from Noctua, installing it in the SG13's front fan mount.

    The Guru's Tip:

    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-sized 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

    Solid-State Drive:

    Crucial P1 1TB NVMe

    Need more than 500GB of storage capacity? Then step up to the 1TB P1 from Crucial, which doubles your storage from the 500GB P1 listed in our guide, without taking up any additional space in your system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Take note that we intend this to be used instead of, not in addition to, the P1 500GB listed earlier in this guide, but because the motherboard has two M.2 slots, you can in fact use both if you want!