The Best $1,500 High-End Mini-ITX Gaming PC Build – September 2021

By Ari Altman | Published August 25, 2021 | Updated September 17, 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. 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!

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, 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

  • CPU

    AMD Ryzen 5 5600X @Newegg

    $273
    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

    Gigabyte B550I Aorus Pro AX

    $210
    This board has all the features you need for an ultra-high-end build, despite its reasonable pricepoint. It features dual M.2 PCIe slots, with the top slot supporting full Gen 4 speed, 2.5Gbps LAN, built-in 802.11ax wireless networking with Bluetooth, and six USB ports, including a Type-C port.
    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

    Offering high performance in a compact package, along with very low power use, the GTX 1660 Ti  6GB is the best GPU you’ll find at its current pricepoint. It’s significantly faster than the 1660 due to a much more advanced memory subsystem.

    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

    $110
    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

    $101
    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 in early 2022, and it will be a free update to all Windows 10 users!

Optional Products

  • 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

    $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

    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
    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

    $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

    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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