The Best $2,000 Ultimate Mini-ITX Gaming PC Build – May 2021
Critical Update: if you actually want to start gaming on a new PC any time before July 2021, you have two options: try to grab one of the few pre-built PCs still for sale, or build up a PC using Intel’s onboard graphics. That’s because GPUs are sold out worldwide due to the latest cryptocurrency mining crisis. We present both options to you in this guide.
This system is designed for gamers who want a compact system but aren’t willing to sacrifice performance to get it. The $2,000 Ultimate Mini-ITX Gaming PC Build has all the power of a full-blown desktop gaming PC, packed into a compact, stylish case that’s dwarfed by standard towers. Amazingly, there’s no price premium to pay to get such a unique PC, making this PC a pretty good value too.
For May 2021, the $2,000 Ultimate Mini-ITX Gaming PC Build continues to feature Intel’s awesome Core i9-10850K processor, which offers 10 cores, 20 threads, and the ability to clock all the way to 5GHz. Shockingly, it offers far more performance per dollar than anything AMD sells, and more importantly, has built-in graphics, which is priceless given the non-availability of video cards at retail. Of course, eventually you’ll want to add a GPU to your system, and we recommend Nvidia amazing GeForce RTX 3080 10GB, which has been sold out practically since its release in September 2020.
Perhaps just as important as all the computational firepower used in this system is the case, which truly defines this build. The Cooler Master NR200 brings high-end capabilities down to a compact size and a very reasonable price. With competitors only available from boutique manufacturers at twice the price, the NR200 stands alone. Inside, you’ll be installing 16GB of fast DDR4-3600 RAM, a speedy 1TB PCIe-based solid-state drive, and our favorite cooler of all time, the Scythe Fuma 2. Keeping the system running is a compact 650W Gold-rated SFX power supply, which will have more than enough power for all the gear in this build.
To see recommended accessories for this build, just scroll down to the bottom of this page Throughout this guide, you’ll see direct links to Amazon or Newegg for US readers, and our Amazon links will auto-convert for readers in the UK, Canada, and parts of the EU, with automatic reginal substitutions made where necessary. To support continued development of these guides, please use these links when you’re ready to buy your ITX machine!
The $2,000 Ultimate Mini-ITX Gaming PC Build – May 2021
Intel Core i9-10850K @Newegg$395The Core i9-10850K is the absolute value leader among ultra-high-end CPUs, offering up ten cores and 20 threads that can run above 5GHz, making it a true dream gamer’s dream chip. In most games, it will provide the exact same performance as any chip from AMD, regardless of cost, and it outperforms newer 8-core chips from Intel as well. At its current price, it’s a clear winner!
Remember, you need a socket 1200 motherboard for this CPU - it will not even fit in older motherboards!
Gigabyte Z490I AORUS Ultra$290This board has all the features you need for a high-end build, despite its reasonable pricepoint. It offers dual M.2 slots, built-in 802.11ax (WiFi 6) networking, 2.5Gbps LAN, and eight USB ports (including Type-C). And of course it supports overclocking of both the CPU and RAM, with a robust 8+2 phase power stage. It also is confirmed to work with the cooler we recommend, while the Asus Z490I board unfortunately does not.
We recommend this Z490 board over newer Z590 boards because it offers better compatibility with the 10th-Gen processor used in this build. Z590 models will shut off one M.2 slot when used with 10th-Gen CPUs. It also is confirmed to work with the cooler we recommend, while the Asus Z490I board unfortunately does not.
Video Card –
EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 XC3 Black @EVGA$800CRITICAL UPDATE: The RTX 3080 definitely has the performance you want for this build, it’s just a matter of when you can get one. Due to limited production by Nvidia and tremendous demand from cryptocurrency miners, the 3080 sells for 2-3x its MSRP on eBay.
Our suggestion is to use built-in video on the Intel CPU for now, or use an older GPU if you have one. There's really no point in searching for a video card given current market conditions.
Crucial 2x8GB Ballistix DDR4-3600 C16 Black$94To 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!
Watch out for 3600 kits with CL18 timings... many are 18-22-22, making them pretty slow.
Solid-State Drive –
XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB NVMe$110Harnessing 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.
This will slip right into an M.2 slot on the motherboard, meaning no bulky cables. That's critical in an ITX build!
Cooler Master NR200$95This amazing case is one of a kind. Coming in at 18 liters, it has space for just about every component you could imagine, and looks fantastic too! Just note that availability is extremely limited, and as of our latest update, it’s only shipping in the US and Canada.
Note that Cooler Master also sells a more expensive "NR200P", which we strongly discourage you from buying. It has a tempered glass panel that not only cuts down on airflow tremendously, it also cuts into interior space, meaning you cannot use the CPU cooler we recommend in this guide.
Power Supply –
SilverStone SST-SX650-G$125For the $2,000 Ultimate Mini-ITX Gaming PC Build, you need an SFX-class power supply, and this awesome 650W Gold-rated unit is our top pick. It’s incredibly powerful for its size, with more than enough output to handle the ultra-high-end CPU and GPU featured in this build (including 4 PCIe power connectors – a single RTX 3080 can use up to 3 on its own!).
This PSU will have no problem handling any GPU you can install in this system, even the latest RTX 3000 series models!
CPU Cooler –
Scythe Fuma 2$60Offering amazing performance thanks to its big heatsink and dual 120mm fans, along with excellent compatibility thanks to its offset design, this is our favorite cooler at any price.
This cooler is 155mm tall, which is absolutely the largest cooler you can fit in this build! Note that there is no other air cooler we recommend for this system. Its popularity among users of the NR200 chassis is one of the reasons it's often sold out!
Operating System –
Windows 10 Home USB Flash Drive$130Windows 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!
This is the USB 3.0 version of W10, which loads in under 5 minutes!
The Ultimate Gaming Keyboard –
Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 Rapidfire Low Profile @Newegg$177 The Guru’s Tip
This is hard to find in stock sometimes, because it really is quite exclusive!
Corsair Dark Core RGB Pro SE$90 The Guru’s Tip
The SE version of the Dark Core RGB Pro adds Qi charging to its list of features, allowing you to use any Qi charging pad you have to give its battery a boost.
The 27-inch G-Sync Gaming Monitor –
Gigabyte M27Q$320 The Guru’s Tip
This model is significantly better than models with similar specs but which use TN panels.
The Deluxe PC Headset –
Corsair Virtuoso Wireless Headset$180 The Guru’s Tip
We've used these since they were released in late 2019, and they have never let us down.
Total Cost: $2094
- CPU – Intel Core i9-10850K @Newegg ($395)
- Motherboard – Gigabyte Z490I AORUS Ultra ($290)
- Video Card – EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 XC3 Black @EVGA ($800)
- Memory – Crucial 2x8GB Ballistix DDR4-3600 C16 Black ($94)
- Solid-State Drive – XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB NVMe ($110)
- Case – Cooler Master NR200 ($95)
- Power Supply – SilverStone SST-SX650-G ($125)
- CPU Cooler – Scythe Fuma 2 ($60)
- Operating System – Windows 10 Home USB Flash Drive ($130)