The Best $1,000 eSports Mini-ITX Gaming PC Build – September 2021

By Ari Altman | Published September 6, 2021 | Updated September 13, 2021

Silverstone RVZ02 The Super-Slim Powerhouse!

While sales of PCs have been up and down over the past few years, there’s one area that’s growing at an amazing rate, and that’s eSports gaming PCs. What makes a gaming PC an eSports gaming PC? It’s simple: hitting the sweet spot on portability, price, and performance. This build will give you all that, along with the win in your next competition!

This Month’s Build, Powered by Intel and Nvidia

For September 2021, the $1,000 Slim Mini-ITX Build features Intel’s Core i3-10100F, a four-core, 8-thread CPU that boosts to 4.3GHz and offers tremendous gaming performance for the price. We’re recommending you pair it with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB video card for this build, which is plenty fast for any eSports title.

In terms of storage, this build gets an ultra-fast 500GB PCIe-based solid-state drive, along with 16GB of DDR4-2666 RAM. Once you have all your new gear in hand, you’ll be installing it in the easily portable SilverStone RVZ02 chassis, and powering it up with a 450W Gold-rated power supply. You can learn more about this build and ask any and all questions in our YouTube assembly guide featuring the nearly identical ML08 case.

Parting Thoughts

We also list some of our very favorite peripherals for gamers looking for maximum performance at a fantastic price. Scroll all the way down to check them out! And if this build isn’t quite what you’re looking for, we have a feeling we have another solution that will for for you, so just flip over to our Introduction to Small Form Factor PCs to learn more about our other compact options.

We provide Amazon, Newegg, or B&H links for our readers in the United States, and our Amazon links will auto-convert for readers in Canada, the UK, and parts of the EU, with automatic substitutions made where necessary. If you decide to purchase any of the products listed below, please use the links provided, which helps support continued development of this guide.

The Pre-Built Option

  • The Slim Gaming/HTPC

    Zotac MEK1 9400F/RTX 2060

    $1300

    Want to jump into small form factor gaming but don’t want to build your own? Well, Zotac has the answer for you with its stylish MEK1. Powered by an Intel Core i5-9400F six-core CPU and the potent Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060, this system has serious gaming chops. Also onboard are 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a 240GB NVMe solid-state drive, and a 1TB hard drive. Zotac also packs in perks like 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, dual Gigabit LAN, and full RGB lighting.

    The Guru’s Tip

    This powerful system is a bit above the budget we set for this guide's DIY build, but it's actually an incredible bargain thanks to the much more powerful GPU... so grab one if you can!

The DIY Build

  • CPU

    Intel Core i3-10100F

    $102

    While AMD ruled the budget sector for a while, Intel has come roaring back, and its Core i3-10100F is simply unbeatable at the price, thanks to its 4 cores, 8 threads, and high clock speed. It’s by far the best gaming CPU at its pricepoint.

    The Guru’s Tip

    This CPU includes a cooler that is more than adequate, but if you'd like lower noise levels, go for the optional model listed later in this guide.

  • Motherboard

    ASRock B460M-ITX/AC

    $147

    This low-cost mini-ITX board offers all the features you need for a compact build. That includes an M.2 SSD slot, dual RAM slots, four USB ports, and built-in WiFi and Bluetooth.

    The Guru’s Tip

    All ITX boards are in short supply, so if you see this in stock, grab it.

  • Video Card

    Zotac GeForce GTX 1650 OC 4GB

    $300

    This powerful and efficient GPU offers 4GB of fast GDDR6 VRAM and an efficient cooler to keep noise and temps down, making it perfect regardless of how much you push it!

    The Guru’s Tip

    In all likelihood, this GPU will be sold out when you're ready to buy, so just prepared to use an old GPU or backorder this one.

  • Memory

    Crucial 2x8GB Ballistix DDR4-2666

    $80

    With 16GB of RAM, you’ll have plenty of capacity for any typical task. Why do we choose this kit in particular? It offers great speed for the price thanks to tight CL16 timings, rare on 2666 kits. Most are actually much slower.

    The Guru’s Tip

    ITX systems only have two RAM slots, so if you have a specific need for 32GB, you may want to go with a 2x16GB kit now, which you'll find on the same product page.

  • Solid-State Drive

    Samsung 980 500GB

    $60

    There’s lots of competition in the SSD market, but SSD pioneer Samsung has put all the other mid-priced offerings to shame with its 980 500GB, launched in early 2021. You simply can’t do better than this awesome SSD, which uses the speedy PCIe 3.0 interface and Samsung’s superior TLC NAND to vastly outperform every other PCIe 3.0 drive! Note that to install this drive, you’ll affix it in an M.2 slot on your motherboard using a jeweler’s-type screwdriver.

    The Guru’s Tip

    Due to this drive's M.2 form factor, it will slip right into the motherboard, taking up zero space in your case, and eliminating typical SATA cable clutter!

  • Case

    SilverStone RVZ02B

    $110

    The RVZ02 is a fantastic choice for a mainstream ITX system. It’s small, at just 12 liters, and yet can fit plenty of high-end gear. It’s also very easy to work in.

    The Guru’s Tip

    Note that this case has a maximum CPU cooler clearance of 58mm, and that's exactly the height of the optional cooler we recommend later in this guide.

  • Power Supply

    EVGA Supernova 450GM

    $70

    This high-quality SFX-class power supply offers 450W of Gold-rated power, fully-modular cables, and and impressive 7-year warranty, backed by EVGA’s legendary customer service. You simply cannot go wrong with this well-priced unit!

    The Guru’s Tip

    This system will draw around 225W at load, putting it right in the sweet spot of this PSU!

  • Operating System

    Windows 10 Home USB Flash Drive

    $130
    Windows 10 was a big step up from Windows 8.1, and Microsoft continues to support Windows 10 users not only with regular security updates, but with major content releases every six months. And the USB version installs in under 5 minutes, meaning you can get right into using your system!
    The Guru’s Tip

    Windows 11 is launching in late-2021 and will be a free upgrade for all owners of W10!

Optional Products

  • Low-Profile CPU Cooler

    Scythe Shuriken 2

    $40
    If you want a quiet system, the best change you can make is to upgrade the CPU cooler, and this powerful model from Scythe will max out the cooling capacity of a low-profile system while minimizing noise. Learn more about this cooler in our recent low-profile cooler shootout!
    The Guru’s Tip

    In order to fit in a system, a cooler not only has to stay below the height limit of the case (which in this build is 58mm), it also has to clear standard-height RAM sticks, and most low-profile coolers don't, but this one does!

  • The Budget Gaming Keyboard

    Logitech G213 Gaming Keyboard

    $47
    Pick up a great keyboard at a great price with the G213. It’s quick, quiet, and responsive, and it also has sweet RGB backlighting, of course!
    The Guru’s Tip

    Note that while we really like wireless mice, we typically recommend wired keyboards unless you're shopping in the ultra-premium market, as wired keyboard don't need to move around much!

  • The Pro Gaming Mouse

    Razer Basilisk X HyperSpeed Wireless

    $38
    Offering cutting-edge performance, there’s nothing like the Basilisk X for anywhere near the price. Ultra-sensitive sensor, Razer’s awesome HyperSpeed wireless system, and perfect ergonomics. It’s a great mouse!
    The Guru’s Tip

    This mouse is priced like bottom-basement clones, but has the specs to compete with the very best! Don't be fooled into buying the no-name gear for a few dollars less (or more!).

  • The Budget Wireless PC Headset

    ‎SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless

    $80

    SteelSeries has made a name for itself in the gaming headset world with its no-nonsense focus on performance. The Arctis 1 follows in this tradition with high-end drivers, lossless 2.4 GHz wireless for ultra-low latency wireless connectivity on both PC and PS4/PS5, a detachable bidirectional microphone, and 20 hours of battery life.

    The Guru’s Tip

    This headset is as stylish as it is functional!

  • The 24-inch 144Hz Gaming Monitor

    Acer XFA240

    $190
    If you want to pick up a true “gaming” monitor, you want something with a high refresh rate. And this is the very best value out there in high-refresh-rate monitors. It features a 24″ 1920×1080 IPS panel capable of displaying images at up to 144Hz, which makes it infinitely smoother than a standard 60Hz monitor that costs just a bit less. And thanks to its FreeSync technology, it will run with zero lag or screen-tearing. Another nice feature of this model is the height-adjustable stand, which allows you to dial in just the right setup!
    The Guru’s Tip

    Once you've experienced a frame-synced image, you'll never want anything else!

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