Building a Small Form Factor PC - October 2019

Published October 2, 2019




If you're ready to build your own dream Small Form Factor (SFF) PC and need a bit of help selecting the perfect parts, you've come to the right place! Our comprehensive component buyer's guides and hands-on assembly guides will get you up and running in the world of SFF computers. Whether it's a budget-friendly kitchen PC or an ultra-high-end gaming system, we've got you covered. We think SFF systems represent the future of desktop computing, and once you've built your own SFF PC, we know you'll agree! So, if you're ready to take the plunge, keep reading and you'll find all the information you need.

For October 2019, massive changes come to the SFF guides, in the form of new cases, new CPUs, and new motherboards. our build guides again come in at seven pricepoints: one $500 model, two $750 models, two $1,000 models, and one each at $1,250, $1,500, $2,000, and $2,500. Our goal is to provide you the best alternatives at each pricepoint, whether your goal is to build a small office PC, a home theater PC, or a full-on gaming machine. We profile 9 distinct compact PCs under 25 liters in volume, which is the cutoff we've set for what qualifies as a true SFF machine, as well as one slightly larger HTPC case that's still a great fit on media consoles. At the very top of this list is In-Win's new A1 Plus case, shown above, which we previewed at CES 2019, and have been waiting for ever since! Well, it's finally here, and it's striking both in design and utility. It comes in at just 22 liters, yet can easily pack in a liquid-cooled Intel Core i9-9900K and a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. Check it out in our $2,500 Ultra-Extreme Mini-ITX PC Guide.

For Home Theater fans, any of our builds would work, but we have three dedicated systems designed to look great on an AV console while providing true 4K/60Hz output via HDMI 2.0. These include a stylish $750 mini-ITX system, a $1,000 slim micro-ATX system, and a $1,250 full-height ATX system. For gaming fans, we have a huge range of systems, starting at $1,000 for our eSports build using the Fractal Node 202 chassis and going up to $2,500 for the aforementioned In-Win-based system. Our personal favorite, and the system we personally use, is still the shoebox-shaped $1,500 Ultra-Compact ITX Gaming PC, using the SilverStone SG13 chassis.


The huge update for this month is that we've incorporated a full range of AMD's latest processors into our guides, thanks to the release of new inexpensive B450 motherboards that support them out of the box, along with some great full-featured X570 motherboards at the high end of the spectrum. AMD processors now appear in a vast majority of our SFF builds. We've also crowned a new king of low-profile coolers: the Noctua NH-L12S, shown at left. It was the clear winner in our massive CPU cooler shootout, which featured all of the most popular low-profile coolers on the market today.

As you consider building your own SFF system, keep in mind that every compact case is unique, so no single build guide can tell you exactly how certain components will fit together in that case. SFF cases often arrange components in a way that makes it difficult to install otherwise standard PC parts. That's why in addition to our many SFF Buyer's Guides, we've worked hard to put together a comprehensive set of step-by-step assembly guides covering a wide range of case layouts. We believe these are the most comprehensive step-by-step PC building guides you'll find anywhere!

All of our Buyer's Guides shown below use Amazon's real-time pricing engine to provide up-to-date prices, and we also provide direct links to Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, and Amazon Germany, with regional substitutions made where necessary. If you purchase any of the components profiled in this guide, please use our links, which helps support continued development of this guide.

Scroll down to find your dream system!