The Best $500 Home Office Mini-ITX PC Build – August 2021
Build It Small!
If you want to build the best ultra-compact small office or work-from-home PC possible for just $500, this is the guide for you! Based on the mini-ITX form factor, it packs in everything you need, and nothing you don’t. This ensures that your new PC Build can be tucked away anywhere or put on display as a conversation starter!
This Month’s Build
For August 2021, the $500 Home Office Mini-ITX PC Build features Intel’s budget-friendly Celeron G5905, a dual-core CPU that runs at an impressive 3.5GHz. It uses Intel’s latest Socket 1200 standard, allowing for great upgrade potential, and despite its low price, it also has built-in graphics.
To ensure that you have a flawless computing experience, this system features 16GB of DDR4 RAM, rather than the 8GB used in most larger pre-built systems, which means you’ll never run out of memory. The build also features a 256GB PCIe-based solid-state drive. This drive uses the M.2 form factor, which slips right into the motherboard, minimizing cable clutter and providing tremendous responsiveness. The system is housed in the ultra-stylish and compact In-Win BQ656 case, which includes a 150W power supply. It can even fit dual 2TB hard drives, listed in the optional upgrades section at the end of this guide. Learn more about the nifty case in our hands-on review.
To set up a complete home office system, don’t miss our recommendations for a keyboard, mouse, monitor and other accessories at the end of this guide. Throughout our guides, we provide Amazon, Newegg, and B&H links for our US readers, and our Amazon links will auto-convert for our readers in Canada, the UK, and parts of the EU. As always, please keep in mind that your use of the links we provide below helps support further development of these guides.
Intel Celeron G5905$60
The Intel Celeron is the least-expensive modern CPU available, and packs in a ton of value. It offers two cores and a speed of 3.5GHz, plus a onboard graphics. It even includes a CPU cooler in the box, which will fit perfectly in this system.The Guru’s Tip
This CPU uses Intel's latest Socket 1200 (also known as LGA 1200), meaning you can use the newest motherboards, providing a great upgrade path. Just make sure you don't mistakenly buy a Socket 1151 board.
This low-cost mini-ITX board offers all the features you need for a compact build. That includes an M.2 SSD slot, dual RAM slots, four USB ports, and built-in WiFi and Bluetooth.The Guru’s Tip
Triple check that you are buying a socket LGA 1200 motherboard before you choose any ITX model other than the one we recommend. And note that these specialty ITX boards are in very short supply, so we'll do our best to provide links to ones you can actually buy!
Silicon Power 2x8GB DDR4 2666 Grey$58This cost-effective 16GB RAM kit will give you plenty of capacity to use your PC to its fullest! While 8GB is passable, there’s a good chance that modern apps will use the entire amount, leaving nothing for your OS and slowing the system down to a crawl.
Given that many apps today require at least 8GB, and the built-in graphics chip will reserve some of the RAM for its own use, we cannot recommend a cheaper 2x4GB setup for this system.
Solid-State Drive –
Silicon Power 256GB NVMe$38
There’s no better way to make a PC feel really fast than to equip it with a fast solid-state drive, and this PCIe-based model blows away the competition in terms of performance per dollar. Note that you’ll need a jeweler’s screwdriver to install this drive in the motherboard’s M.2 slot. Luckily, no cables are required!The Guru’s Tip
We feel that 256GB is more than enough capacity for any PC intended for basic home office tasks.
IN-Win BQ656 Mini-ITX Case with 150W PSU$96
This is our all-time favorite low-cost mini-ITX case! It features a built-in 150W power supply, plus space for dual 2.5″ drives and a CPU cooler up to 47mm tall (which is what this build’s CPU includes).The Guru’s Tip
The 150W power supply allows you to upgrade over time to higher-powered CPUs. The CPU we recommend will use quite a bit less than 100W at load.
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 USB 3.0 version of W10 will load in under 5 minutes!
Hard Drive –
WD Blue 2TB 2.5″$75 The Guru’s Tip
You can of course also use this system's 2.5" bays for SSDs, but we figure that most people adding storage to this system will need it for photos, music, and data, rather than for apps, and hard drives are still far cheaper than SSDs.
The Basic Wireless Keyboard/Mouse Combo –
Logitech MK270 Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo$25 The Guru’s Tip
This combo uses a single tiny USB receiver, ensuring you'll still have plenty of USB ports left over for other devices.
The 24-inch Small Office Monitor –
Sceptre E248W-19203R$148 The Guru’s Tip
We recommend connecting this monitor to your PC with an HDMI cable, which will provide both display and sound.
Logitech C925-e Webcam$80 The Guru’s Tip
You'll also need speakers for video conferencing, so if you don't have a monitor with built-in speakers (like the one above), make sure to add the speakers below.
The Basic PC Speakers –
Creative Pebble 2.0$20 The Guru’s Tip
Despite the name, these are far larger than a pebble!