The Best $1,500 High-End Mini-ITX Gaming PC Build – September 2021
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. While GPUs may return to MSRP in early 2022, 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 Ti 6GB, which thanks to its compact size, will slip easily into this tiny PC. It packs plenty of power, and unlike most GPUs these days, is actually available for purchase.
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!
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, Newegg, or B&H 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 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 system comes in at 19 liters, which is a bit bigger than the DIY system profiled below, but still super-portable, thanks to its ultra-slim profile (just 4.65" thick). And it's actually a faster too, thanks to the superior GPU (Zotac, being a GPU manufacturer, gets better GPU prices than you do, LOL!).
The DIY Option
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X @Newegg$273 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.
Gigabyte B550I Aorus Pro AX$210 The Guru’s Tip
This is the ITX motherboard we use for our ITX test bench, and it's been flawless!
Video Card –
Zotac GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB$592 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.
Crucial 2x8GB Ballistix DDR4-3600 C16 Black$85 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$110 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.
SilverStone SG13$52 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$101 The Guru’s Tip
You'll need the adapter below to use this power supply in this build.
SilverStone PP08$15 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 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 The Guru’s Tip
Windows 11 is coming in early 2022, and it will be a free update to all Windows 10 users!
The Budget Gaming Keyboard –
Logitech G213 Gaming Keyboard$47 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$38 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$297 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$80 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!
Total Cost: $1651
The DIY Option
- CPU – AMD Ryzen 5 5600X @Newegg ($273)
- Motherboard – Gigabyte B550I Aorus Pro AX ($210)
- Video Card – Zotac GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB ($592)
- Memory – Crucial 2x8GB Ballistix DDR4-3600 C16 Black ($85)
- Solid-State Drive – XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB NVMe ($110)
- Case – SilverStone SG13 ($52)
- Power Supply – SilverStone SX500-G ($101)
- Adapter – SilverStone PP08 ($15)
- CPU Cooler – SilverStone PF120-ARGB ($83)
- Operating System – Windows 10 Home USB Flash Drive ($130)