Building a Small Form Factor PC - April 2019

Published April 6, 2019

 

 

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If you'd like to build a Small Form Factor (SFF) PC and need help finding the perfect parts, you've come to the right place! Our comprehensive component buyer's guides and hands-on assembly guides will get you started building the system of your dreams, whether it's a budget-friendly kitchen PC or an ultra-high-end mini-gaming system. We publish these guides because we think SFF systems are the future of desktop computing, and once you've built your own SFF PC, we know you'll agree! If you're ready to take the plunge, keep reading and you'll find all the information you need.

For April 2019, we continue to profile ten distinct compact PCs, all under 25 liters in volume (the cutoff we've set for what qualifies as SFF). Our builds come in at multiple pricepoints: two $500 models, two $750 models, two $1,000 models, and one each at $1,250, $1,500, $2,000, and $2,500.

We happen to like SFF cases for use in our personal home office and home theater PCs, which is why we feature four such build guides. With that said, we know a lot of our readers are looking to squeeze as much performance into a compact chassis as possible (and more often than not that means gaming performance!). So we profile a number of great mini-gaming systems, starting at just $1,000. One that we think will interest a lot of gamers is the $1,250 Slim Mini-ITX Gaming PC, shown below, which uses the sleek Fractal Design Node 202 case that can fit just about any video card on the market. Our recommended build features the new high-performance GeForce RTX 2060.

Node

In order to always stay on the cutting edge of SFF design, we take every opportunity we can get to build and test systems that you won't find anywhere else, like when we recently benchmarked the $1,000+ GeForce RTX 2080 Ti in a 12-liter SFF chassis! So when AMD recently asked us if we'd like to review its new Athlon series of processors, we jumped at the opportunity. The Athlon is AMD's low-cost "APU", which features both a CPU and an integrated graphics processing unit. That makes it an ideal all-in-one solution for compact PCs. You can read our full review, just published in early April, right here. Based on our findings, we strongly recommend the value-packed Athlon 220GE in our $500 Home Office/HTPC build.

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!