PC Build: $1,750 Mini ITX Beast Gaming PC

901 Build

Gonzo65’s 901 Build

Inspired by the Holiday sales, I decided to put together a quiet, clean, small Mini ITX build to handle any current game at max settings at 2560×1440. Total build price: $1,750.

It’s a little more expensive and harder to put together than a comparable full-sized build, but it turns out gorgeous and powerful.

CPU:

i7-4790k

Intel i7-4790K, $330

The i7-4790K is still the best gaming CPU around. The newer i7-6700K offers minimal benefits for an increased price, and uses newer, more expensive DDR4 RAM. Both are good options, but the 4790K is easily the better value.

Cheaper alternative: For even more value but slightly less performance, go with the $240 i5-4690K.

N0te: if you do go with an i7-6700K or other Skylake CPU, you will need to get a socket 1151 motherboard and DDR4 RAM.

HSF:

H60

Corsair H60, $50 after $10 rebate

Closed loop watercooling will help maintain low temperatures in this small Mini ITX case with constrained airflow. The H60 will fit in the 120mm radiator spot of the In-Win 901, and is nice and quiet. The larger H80 would have to be mounted on the outside of the case.

GPU:

980 Ti

Nvidia GTX 980 Ti, $630

The reference 980 Ti has an excellent blower-style heatsink, and of course the fantastic performance of the 980 Ti. This blower heatsink will work well in the small, low-airflow Mini ITX case, and this particular blower heatsink avoids the normal downside of blower heatsinks: hairdryer level noise.

Cheaper alternative: GTX 970 for $290. You will lose about 30% gaming performance, but will still be able to handle most games very smoothly at 2560 x 1440 at high settings. The normal GTX 970 blower coolers will be louder too. Search eBay to find one of the original 970s with the same great cooler as the 980 Ti.

Motherboard:

ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac, $120 after $10 rebate

This motherboard has everything I want: Overclocking support, decent AC1150 audio, USB 3.1, an M.2 socket on the back, and built-in 802.11AC Wi-Fi. I would prefer it in different colors, but for the price I can’t resist this one.

RAM:

RAM

16GB DDR3-1600, $65

This unknown branded RAM looks nice, and has the same RAM chips inside as anyone else: Micron, Samsung, or Hynix. 16GB is more than enough, although would come in handy for video editing or running multiple VMs. Most people would be fine with 8GB.

Cheaper alternative: 8GB for $30.

SSD:

950 Pro PCIe

512GB Samsung 950 Pro M.2 PCIe, $330

The fastest consumer SSD. Ridiculous performance, measured in GB/s.

Cheaper alternative: 500GB Crucial BX100 for $166. Absolute measurable performance is much lower than the 950 Pro, but it doesn’t feel much slower in normal everyday use.

Power Supply:

RM650

Corsair RM650, $60 after $20 rebate

The newer RMi and RMX series are better, but the RM is now an excellent value, as prices have fallen. This is still an excellent quality, modular, efficient (80+ Gold), reliable, stable power supply that will be silent at idle and quiet under load.

Case:

IN WIN 901

In Win 901, $140

Arguably the most attractive Mini ITX case. Excellent build quality. A bit cramped and limited on airflow, but that is unavoidable when building Mini ITX. Check out the NCase M1 for a slightly roomier case of equally high quality, with more cooling options including space for a 240mm radiator. You will want to get fans for both fan locations: one 120mm, and one 92mm.

Case Fans:

AF120

120mm Corsair AF120 Quiet Edition, $17

You’re going to want as much airflow as possible in the cramped Mini ITX case, without making things too noisy. The Corsair AF120 is an excellent balance of airflow and low noise. LED versions in different colors are available.

Nexus 92mm fan

92mm Nexus, $8

This one is less important than the 120mm fan, but will still help. Nexus makes high-quality, quiet fans.

Hard Drive (optional):

hitachi-hard-drive

Hitachi Ultrastar 2TB, $68

Personally, I’m not even bothering with a hard drive in my build, as the 512 GB SSD is enough for me. But this build has space for a few hard drives, if you want the extra storage for media.

Cheaper alternative: Seagate 1TB for $48. You can save $20 if 1TB is enough extra space.

Total Price: $1,750

Using the recommended cheaper alternatives, you could get a powerful Mini ITX build for $1,100. It will still have great performance for an even better value.

  • Ferris

    Awesome build, I really want to do a mini itx build for 2016. This is slightly more than I wanted to spend but we’ll see what my tax return looks like this year 🙂

    • Thanks!
      How much do you want to spend? I’ve been wanting to put together some Mini ITX builds at different prices, since I’m just getting into Mini ITX.

      • Ferris

        Including tax and shipping I would like to stay at the $1,000 mark if possible. If I use the alternatives you suggested I’m at 1100 but with taxes and shipping I’m guessing I’ll hit at least 1200. It’s doable but I was also looking forward to getting either a rift or a Vive so wanted to keep about 500 handy for when those come out

        • Hmm, you will want as much graphical horsepower as possible for the Oculus Rift or Vive, and that budget is right on the edge of being good enough for. I would suggest a MicroATX build, which will still be fairly compact, but will get you more performance for your money.

          Something like:

          i5-4590
          8GB DDR3-1600
          GTX 970
          ASRock H97M Pro4
          250GB BX100
          Enthoo Evolv mATX
          RM650
          Total, 865 + tax + shipping + Windows or anything else you need.

          Still very small, excellent performance, excellent value.

          • Ferris

            Very cool, I am already running an i5-4590, 8GB DDR3-1600, and my Gigabyte Mobo is still treating me right. I think I just need to upgrade my R9 285 2GB to something beefier, jump from this Seagate Hybrid drive to an SSD, and add another 8 gigs to max out the ram. Possibly look at a better PSU depending on the card. I might hold off on the Mini ITX and just dump most of my money into the graphics card and a solid PSU so I can handle the Rift.

          • Oh, very nice!

            You’re right that the GPU will be the big bottleneck for the Rift.

            For a cheap upgrade, get a second R9 285 and run them in Crossfire. Two of those will perform a little better than a single GTX 970. They are power hungry though, each uses about the same amount of power as the GTX 970. So your total load power would be around 450W.

            Otherwise, spend significantly more and get a GTX 980 or 980Ti.

            The SSD should be a pretty noticeable upgrade. I wouldn’t bother with the RAM though, unless you know you’re running out with 8GB.

  • Aksel Kryhlmand

    That’s a strong build right there Orion ;).
    Are you guys doing Mini ITX for smaller prices as well?
    Greetings a lifetime gamer

    • Matthew Zehner

      I am unsure if we are, but it is something that we will definitely consider!

  • ComputerGameLPer

    I really like the build Orion. I am planning to build a gaming computer myself, but I don’t really know where to begin with the parts and would like some help. The build doesn’t need to be a mini ITX. I am planning to stay at $1000 (like Ferris), but I would like for it to be cheaper for windows/such. The types of games I will want to be playing a Skyrim and League of Legends.

    • Matthew Zehner

      The tier on our site that corresponds with your budget is right around the “Excellent” tier. You could definitely downgrade the GPU if you want!

      Let me know if I can be of further help.

      • Skyrim is still fairly demanding. I completely agree with Matthew’s recommendation of something like our Excellent build.

  • Mike Tinari

    What would be a alternative ATX motherboard?

    • Matthew Zehner

      Well, if you want an ATX motherboard then, naturally, you would also want an ATX case, as it would no longer be a micro-ATX build.

      Regardless, here is a solid option: http://www.amazon.com/Gigabyte-GA-Z97X-UD3H-Durable-DualBIOS-Motherboard/dp/B00JKCHDC2/?tag=logicaincrem-20

      Hopefully this helps!

      • Mike Tinari

        Don’t get me wrong, I love this build for sure. I was looking at the thermaltake x1 ITX case and then figured ill just hop up to an ATX and use this build because it will be easier with the space.

        • Matthew Zehner

          That makes sense! Personally, I would go for the 980 Ti because I have had good experiences with all their cards and like their software, as it contains features such as ShadowPlay. However, the FuryX is an extremely solid card if you do want to go that way!

          • Mike Tinari

            You guys are awesome! Thanks!!

          • Matthew Zehner

            No problem, we’re glad to help!

          • Matthew Zehner

            No problem, glad to help!