Building a Small Form Factor PC – The January 2024 Update
By Ari Altman | Published December 29, 2023 | Updated December 29, 2023
If you’re ready to build your own dream Small Form Factor (SFF) PC and need help picking the perfect parts, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve been publishing our comprehensive SFF component buyer’s guides and hands-on assembly guides since 2013, so no one else can get you up and running in the world of SFF PCs better than we can! Whether it’s a budget-friendly kitchen PC, a compact yet powerful small office PC, or an ultra-high-end gaming system, we’ve got you covered.
We define SFF systems as anything having a total volume of under 25 liters, although that’s just a starting point, and every system in our guides is actually under 20 liters, which is the point where systems start to feel uniquely compact. We fully believe these PCs represent the future of desktop computing. Once you’ve built your own SFF PC, we know you’ll agree. We’ve tested every shape and size of PC, and right now, we personally run nothing but SFF systems (five, in fact!). If you’re ready to take the same leap we have, keep reading and you’ll find all the information you need.
The Latest Updates
For January 2024, we profile six different SFF PCs, catering to just about every user out there. They start at $500 for an ultra-compact home office PC shown below using the NUC form factor, and go all the way up to $3000 for a shockingly small, incredibly powerful, and impressively efficient gaming powerhouse. Overall, we like AMD CPUs a lot more in SFF systems due to their better efficiency, especially at the high end, where Intel CPUs are practically unusable in small cases due to their heat output. In terms of GPUs the tables turn a bit, as Nvidia does better at the high end when it comes to efficiency. This is an especially key factor when building an SFF PC, because GPU heat output is even harder to manage that CPU heat output. With that said, as much as we’d like to, we cannot recommend the RTX 4090 to SFF builders – in addition to not fitting into any legitimately-small SFF case, it pumps out way too much heat thanks to its 450W power rating!
As you consider building your own SFF system, keep in mind that every compact case is unique, so no single build guide can tell you exactly how certain components will fit together in that case. SFF cases often arrange components in a way that makes it difficult to install otherwise standard PC parts. That’s why in addition to our many SFF Buyer’s Guides, we’ve worked hard to put together a comprehensive set of step-by-step assembly guides covering a wide range of case layouts. We believe these are the most comprehensive step-by-step PC building guides you’ll find anywhere!
One last thing: all of our Buyer’s Guides shown below provide product links to select retailers. If you purchase any of the components profiled in this guide, please use our links, which helps support continued development of this guide.
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