Small Case, Big Performance
I’ve featured a wide range of builds here but none of them have been built with the living room or couch gamer in mind.
Today that changes! Instead of relying on gigantic ATX and micro-ATX cases I’m aiming to pull together a powerful gaming system that also benefits from a reduced form factor that wouldn’t look out of place in the living room next to your TV. Read on for my mini-ITX gaming build.
Originally developed as a niche product for gamers low on space or people wanting to build a home theater PC system, the mini-ITX motherboards and case are pretty small, fitting all of your usual motherboard features on to a circuit board that’s only 17cm by 17cm.
That’s pretty small, so you’re going to need tiny hobbit-sized hands to put this PC together (or at least know someone who does).
If this is your first PC build I would recommend looking at my simple guide to building a gaming PC, it contains clear and easy to follow steps on building a computer, the tools required and safety precautions to take.
I want this system to be small enough to sit comfortably next to my TV, but it also needs to be powerful enough to let me enjoy games at a high frame rate and a high level of detail on the big screen, as such I’m going to include the AMD R9 Nano graphics card.
AMD has cut its price by $150 to $499, which for what you get, is probably one of the best graphics card deals on the market – anywhere.
Let’s recap: the card offers top tier performance at a mid-tier price. In tests this card easily ranks up there alongside Nvidia’s GTX 980 Ti and GTX 980 cards, plus it delivers outstanding performance using a fraction of the power of these cards.
If you’d like to read more about this card check out my R9 Nano $950 budget build.
Plus, it also delivers performance for anyone wanting to game in 4K screen resolutions, that is 3840 pixels by 2160 pixels (3840 x 2160), so it’s a perfect fit for this mini-ITX gaming build.
With 4K televisions now firmly in place as the new standard model offered by television manufacturers, having a system that allows you to game at 4K is becoming more and more popular.
Additionally, streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime are producing more and more 4K content driving the uptake of the new standard.
The Other Bits
I’ve already mentioned the graphics cards this mini-ITX gaming build will use, and to keep pace with it I’m going for an equally powerful CPU, that means using an unlocked CPU from the latest series of processors developed by Intel .
I’ve already written about Intel’s Skylake architecture and have built a few systems that feature it. If you’re coming to this fresh though let’s recap: Skylake is Intel’s 6th generation of processors. Opting for this generation helps builders future proof their system (to a degree), and building a system using this CPU allows you to gain the benefits of using the z170 motherboard chipset and DDR4 RAM – both of which are required.
If you’re interested in a range of Skylake builds to suit all budgets take a look at these setups:
I’ve chosen the Intel Core i5-6600K CPU.
Its quad cores are clocked at a factory default speed of 3.5GHz, while the turbo mode – when activated – will bump the speed up to 3.9GHz.
These speeds aren’t to be sniffed at, but if you’re feeling the need you can overclock the processor further (just make sure you have adequate air or water cooling in place first).
The motherboard I’ve chosen is Asus Z170I Pro Gaming board, it supports a maximum of 32GB of DDR4 RAM.
I’m not going to include quite that much RAM in this build, and have instead opted for 16GB of Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000 memory, which offers blistering performance for the price.
Here’s a complete list of the components:
(Please note the below prices are subject to daily fluctuations):
- CPU: Intel Core i5-6600K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor $264
- CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler $30
- Graphics card: Asus Radeon R9 Nano 4GB Video Card $499
- Motherboard: Asus Z170I PRO GAMING Mini ITX LGA1151 Motherboard $165
- Hard drive: Samsung 840 Series 250GB 2.5″ Solid State Drive $88 and Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive $55
- Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 Memory$110
- Case: Fractal Design Node 304 Mini ITX Tower Case $86.90
- PSU: EVGA SuperNOVA GS 550W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply $82.30
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If you’re interested in other PC systems please check out my other guides, or for the latest news and reviews head to the blog.
If you’ve got any questions about this build, or would like recommendations on other components or hardware you could use, drop me a line on Twitter, send me a picture on Instagram, check out my Awesome board on Pinterest, or join my community on Facebook.
For details on the best Steam Machine build for your budget have a look at my earlier post.
If you want a simple to follow overview of how to put a gaming PC together, including short video tutorials, have a look at my guide.
So have you built one yet?
Have you managed to put together your own mini-ITX gaming system yet? Got any questions on building one? Let me know in the comments or send me a message.