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

By Ari Altman | Published June 11, 2021 | Updated June 17, 2021

Critical Update: if you actually want to start gaming on a new PC any time before Fall 2021, you have three options: go for one of the very few pre-built PCs still on the market, or build up a system using the onboard graphics featured on Intel’s latest CPUs, or an older GPU that you have on hand.  That’s because all new GPUs are sold out worldwide due to the ongoing cryptocurrency mining crisis. We present both pre-built and DIY options in this guide. Based on current estimates, we believe that GPUs will not be available at retail prices until September 2021 at the earliest.

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!

For June 2021, the $1,000 Slim Mini-ITX Build features Intel’s Core i5-11400, a six-core, 12-thread CPU that boosts to 4.4GHz offers tremendous performance for the price, along with very capable onboard graphics, which is priceless these days since GPUs are unavailable. Once GPUs restock, we recommend the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super 6GB for this build. In terms of storage, this build gets an ultra-fast 500GB PCIe-based solid-state drive, along with 16GB of DDR4-3200 RAM. Once you have all your new gear in hand, you’ll be installing it in the easily portable SilverStone ML08 chassis and powering it up with a 500W Gold-rated power supply. You can learn more about this build and ask any and all questions in our YouTube assembly guide!

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 Ultra-Compact Home PC

    MSI Trident 3 10SI-002US

    $1489
    Want a positively-tiny gaming system that will look great wherever you put it? Go for MSI’s Trident 3, which is under 9 liters in volume but packs in an Intel Core i5-10400F six-core processor, a GeForce GTX 1660 Super 6GB video card, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB solid-state drive, plus a 1TB hard drive.
    The Guru’s Tip

    The best part is that this system is tiny, about 2/3 the size of the DIY build we post below, and among the smallest gaming systems in the world!

The DIY Build

  • CPU

    Intel Core i5-11400

    $210
    There’s plenty of competition in the mid-range CPU market, which is a great thing for you, the consumer! And Intel’s new Core i5-11400 6-core, 12-thread CPU is the sweetspot, offering awesome multi-threaded capability plus plenty of single-threaded speed to power you through any game thanks to its modern Rocket Lake architecture. It also has built-in Intel UHD 750 graphics, which is priceless these days. Note that even CPUs are selling very fast these days, so we change vendors often to ensure you the best price and availability.
    The Guru’s Tip

    This CPU includes a cooler, and for this build we recommend you use it.

  • Motherboard

    ASRock H570M-ITX/AC

    $135

    This board is the perfect backbone for a compact system. It offers both HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs for the built-in graphics, along with six USB ports (one being Type-C). It also has dual full-length M.2 slots, one of which you’ll be using for this system’s solid-state drive. Finally, it packs in WiFi and Bluetooth, making it a true all-in-one solution.

    The Guru’s Tip

    While you wait on a video card, you'll be able to use this board's HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort outputs to drive any high-resolution monitor.

  • Video Card

    Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 Super 6GB

    $230
    Offering high performance in a compact package, along with very low power use, the GTX 1660 Super 6GB set new standards for GPUs under the $250 pricepoint. It’s significantly faster than the original 1660 due to a much more advanced memory subsystem.
    The Guru’s Tip

    We anticipate that GPUs will not return to retail until at least September 2021 due to massive supply constraints and unprecedented demand.

  • Memory

    Crucial 2x8GB Ballistix DDR4-3200 Black

    $88
    Thanks to great price on mainstream RAM, we can now squeeze a whole lot of performance and capacity into your system by going with a 16GB DDR4-3200 kit. It will help you make the most of your snazzy new system, which fully supports this ultra-high RAM speed!
    The Guru’s Tip

    One of the new features of Intel's 500-series chipsets is the ability to support DDR4-3200 RAM out of the box, which provides a nice speed bump!

  • Solid-State Drive

    WD Blue SN550 500GB NVMe

    $55

    Experience blazing-fast drive performance at a bargain price with WD’s Blue SN550 500GB solid-state drive. Utilizing the PCIe-interface and the NVMe protocol, it can achieve sequential speeds of up to 2,400MB/s, making it nearly five times faster than any SATA-based SSD, and orders of magnitude faster than a hard drive! To install this drive, affix it in the motherboard’s M.2 slot 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 ML08B

    $90
    The ML08 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. Learn more about this case in our full assembly video! You can also get the ML08 with a built-in handle.
    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

    SilverStone SX500-G

    $100
    To power up this build, we 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.
    The Guru’s Tip

    This system will draw around 250W at load, meaning this unit will operate right in its sweet spot for efficiency.

  • 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 updates W10 every six months, adding new features and enhancing security. Note that in the long run, Microsoft is almost certain to move to a yearly subscription plan, but buying a copy today locks in "permanent" ownership!

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

    $46
    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 Deluxe PC Headset

    Corsair HS70 BT

    $100
    Great sound, a great look, and wireless freedom. That’s what the HS70 from Corsair gives you, along with a great price!
    The Guru’s Tip

    The best part of this headset is the included Bluetooth functionality, allowing this headset to be used with smartphones and tablets in addition to your PC.

  • The 24-inch 144Hz Gaming Monitor

    Acer XFA240

    $200
    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.
    The Guru’s Tip

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