The Best $1500 High-End Mini-ITX Gaming PC Build – October 2021

By Ari Altman | Published September 29, 2021 | Updated September 29, 2021

SilverStone SG13

CRITICAL UPDATE:

Due to the ongoing cryptocurrency mining craze, it’s currently impossible to buy video cards at retail prices. You therefore have two options if you want to game now. Either buy a pre-built PC or build up a new PC using a GPU selling for over the retail price. We present both options in this guide. At this point, we do not believe any current GPUs will return to MSRP. It’s more likely that prices will not reset until next-gen GPUs launch in late 2022.

Serious Gaming Power in a Tiny Box!

Are you a gamer who wants extreme gaming capability in a tiny package? Then the $1,500 High-End Mini-ITX Gaming PC Build is for you! This system takes up barely 1/3 the space of a typical gaming desktop while packing in the same performance. That’s perfect for gaming on the go or in your living room, making this small form factor PC 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, the $1,500 Mini-ITX Gaming PC Build is a totally legit high-end gaming PC, the equal of big towers that cost the same or more!

This Month’s Build, Featuring AMD and SilverStone!

For September 2021, this build features the awe-inspiring AMD Ryzen 5 5600X 6-core, 12-thread CPU, which offers exceptional gaming performance at a fantastic price! It will be mounted in a cutting-edge B550-based ITX motherboard with all the bells and whistles. This combo will be supporting the GeForce GTX 1660 6GB, which thanks to its compact size, will slip easily into this tiny PC. It packs plenty of power, and unlike most GPUs, is actually available for purchase (on good days!).

Also on the build list is 16GB of speedy DDR4-3600 RAM, along with a quick 1TB PCIe-based solid-state drive, which has made SATA drives obsolete. But the defining component of the $1,500 Mini-ITX Gaming PC Build is the legendary SilverStone SG13 chassis, which has no equal in terms of price or compactness-per-dollar (yeah, we just made that up, but it’s real, trust us!). Amazingly, this tiny chassis has room for a 500W power supply and SilverStone’s impressive PF120 liquid cooler, which easily puts all low-profile air coolers to shame. We know because we’ve tested it! Want to learn more about this build or ask questions? Then check out our YouTube video walking you through how to build this PC!

Parting Thoughts

We also our favorite accessories for the $1,500 Mini-ITX Gaming PC Build at the end of this guide, including a great keyboard and mouse, so don’t forget to scroll down to check those out! Note that in our buyer’s guide below, we have dedicated links to Amazon or Newegg for our US readers, and the Amazon links will auto-convert for readers in Canada, the UK, and many countries in the EU. Your use of these product links is the only thing that will keep this site going!

The Pre-Built Option

  • The High-End Mini PC

    ZOTAC Magnus ONE 10400/RTX 3060

    $1800

    HOT DEAL – GRAB IT IF YOU CAN! This pre-built system is simply amazing, not just in terms of performance per dollar but also performance per liter! Coming in at an insanely-small 8 liters, the Magnus One packs an epic punch. It starts with Zotac’s custom-designed GeForce RTX 3060 Mini video card, which only Zotac is able to offer. Then you have an Intel Core i5-10400 6-core, 12-thread processor, along with 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a 512GB solid-state drive, and a 1TB hard drive. It’s all running through a custom Zotac mini-ITX motherboard, equipped with the latest enhancements, including Killer AX1650 WiFi 6 , Bluetooth 5, and Killer 2.5Gbps Ethernet. Yeah, you could just call this a Killer box!

    The Guru’s Tip

    The RTX 3060 GPU in this PC, which is unavailable at retail, is nearly 50% faster than the one we spec in the DIY build below. Luckily Zotac manufacturers GeForce cards, so getting them direct from Zotac is no problem!

The DIY Option

  • CPU

    AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

    $310
    AMD’s Zen 3 architecture made a huge splash in the PC industry. Beating Intel on a clock-for-clock basis for the first time in decades, and with far lower power consumption, the Ryzen 5 5600X is the perfect CPU for this build. And it brings along with it the most advanced platform in the business, which will provide you tremendous upgrade potential down the line should you wish to drop in an even more powerful CPU.
    The Guru’s Tip

    This CPU comes with a cooler, and while it would fit in this build, it will run hot. We recommend a liquid cooler later in this guide.

  • Motherboard

    ASRock B550M-ITX/AC

    $147

    This B550-based mini-ITX board packs in a ton of features for the price. That includes full support for the latest AMD processors, overclocking capability, six USB ports (including a Type-C port), built-in 802.11ac wireless networking plus Bluetooth, and an M.2 SSD slot with integrated heatsink.

    The Guru’s Tip

    ITX motherboards are always in short supply, so if you see this in stock, don't hesitate to grab it!

  • Video Card

    Zotac GeForce GTX 1660 6GB

    $449

    The GTX 1660 is the card that unleashed true high-end gaming potential at a mainstream pricepoint. With 6GB of VRAM on board, it’s a great match for running the latest games at 1080p, and it’s massively efficient, making this model cool and quiet.

    The Guru’s Tip

    This is the perfect card for this system, thanks to its dual-slot design (the limit of the case), and compact length. Yes, it's selling for above the MSRP right now, but that's better than being completely unavailable, like most GPUs.

  • Memory

    Crucial 2x8GB Ballistix DDR4-3600 C16 Black

    $85
    To get the most out of your PC Build, you want 16GB of RAM, and this kit comes in at a great price. But more importantly, with a combination of serious speed (3600MHz) and serious timings (16-18-18), this isn’t just a slow 3200 kit rebranded to sell at a higher price, it’s the real deal!
    The Guru’s Tip

    This kit will make the most of the Zen 3 platform, maximizing the speed of the "Infinity Fabric" for optimal performance.

  • Solid-State Drive

    XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB NVMe

    $100
    Harnessing the power of cutting-edge TLC V-NAND, the NVMe protocol, and the PCIe interface, this SSD is by far the fastest drive at its pricepoint. It can hit sequential speeds of up to 3500MB/s! Note that you’ll need a jeweler’s-type screwdriver to affix it.
    The Guru’s Tip

    Thanks to this model's sleek M.2 design, it requires no cables, and will literally take up no space in the $1,500 Mini-ITX Gaming PC Build.

  • Case

    SilverStone SG13

    $52

    Coming in at under 12 liters, the SG13 created a whole new class of high-performance cases, and it’s still the only one available at a reasonable cost! There are smaller “kick-started” cases out there, but they often come with a whole lot of “gotchas”, one of which is always an exorbitant price! The SG13, on the other hand, is a value-packed option supported by the biggest name in the ITX industry, SilverStone. It can fit video cards up to 10.6″ long, and in its default configuration, CPU coolers up to 61mm tall.

    The Guru’s Tip

    To get the most out of this case, we recommend an optimized configuration using a smaller power supply and adapter bracket, both listed below. This will give you much more room to install a high-performance CPU cooler.

  • Power Supply

    SilverStone SX500-G

    $115
    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

    You'll need the adapter below to use this power supply in this build.

  • Adapter

    SilverStone PP08

    $15
    This nifty little component is what allows you to use an SFX-class power supply in this build, despite the case having only an ATX power supply bracket.
    The Guru’s Tip

    You can mount your PSU with the fan facing up or down. Facing the fan down will draw more heat out of the chassis but put a bit more stress on the PSU. We think it's a fair tradeoff.

  • CPU Cooler

    SilverStone PF120-ARGB

    $83
    Keeping a CPU cool in a high-powered, compact PC can be a challenge, but this liquid cooler has what it takes to get the job done. In our testing, it was far superior to any low-profile air cooler, and it matches many of the best tower coolers. All that and it’s easier to install too!
    The Guru’s Tip

    We recommend you mount this cooler with the fan as an intake, right up against the front panel, pushing air in through the radiator. That has the added benefit of allowing you to see its cool ARGB effects!

  • 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 coming soon, and it will be a free update to all Windows 10 users!

Optional Products

  • Video Card

    Zotac GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Twin Edge 8GB

    $910
    The new king-of-the-hill in the midrange segment is the RTX 3060 Ti 8GB, which offers simply exceptional performance per dollar, beating last-gen’s RTX 2080 Super! Sure, you’re going to pay over MSRP for it, but that’s just the going rate!
    The Guru’s Tip

    If you want to build a serious ITX gaming PC today, this is the GPU you want. It's what we originally intended for this build when it was announced, but of course the price has gone up since then. It's the most powerful GPU that will fit in the SG13 case, and is over 2x faster than the GPU we listed earlier in this guide. It adds about $500 to the cost, but that's just 33% more for 200% better gaming performance. That's a value in our book!

  • 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

    You can control the RGB effects of this keyboard using Logitech's GHub software.

  • The Pro Gaming Mouse

    Razer Basilisk X HyperSpeed Wireless

    $37
    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

    Whether you're using your PC from a desk or the couch, this is the perfect mouse!

  • The 27-inch G-Sync Gaming Monitor

    Gigabyte M27Q

    $300
    Offering up a 27″ 2560×1440 IPS panel capable of a 170Hz refresh rate, and enhanced with FreeSync frame-syncing technology, this is a true high-end monitor that won’t break the bank! Gigabyte may be new to the monitor market, but it’s making a huge splash, offering up tremendous quality at low prices. Previously, you couldn’t get anything but an inferior TN panel for this price!
    The Guru’s Tip

    Gigabyte has recently entered the monitor market, and is really making a splash with its awesome value per dollar!

  • The Budget Wireless PC Headset

    ‎SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless

    $74

    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

    We figure if you're building a small PC, it's very likely going to be tucked far enough away from you that using a wired headset will be a no-go!

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