Mini-ITX Game PC - November 2016
The Mini-ITX Game PC is a desktop computer that is small enough to be portable, but has better performance than a gaming notebook. Previous time, we built a compact system that offered almost the same performance as a full-fledged gaming rig, but this time we try to keep the cost low for Full HD gaming.
Please note: the PC Buyer’s Guide is compiled based on independent component tests performed by Hardware.Info. If no new, superior products are released that should replace one or more of the components, then the component(s) will remain the same as the previous month.
If you want to know more about how we compile our PC Buying guides, have a look at this article.
If you aren't going to overclock - and let's be fair, that's not really necessary anymore for the average user - a mid-range Core i5 delivers more than adequate performance. You can read all about Intels new Skylake generation in our review.
The i5 6500 is lower clocked than the i5 6600K and lacks an unlocked multiplier, so you can't overclock it. Also, the GPU clock is a tad lower.
We knew Scythe Big Shuriken in different revisions, but this CPU cooler stays popular due to its limited height and good cooling performance. When it's needed, the fan is able to move a lot of air, but it can me whisper quiet at low speeds too. You get all that for a friendly price.
The Kingston HyperX Fury series has a compact heatspreader, which makes the memory look nice and makes it fit in all cases. For gaming, 8 GB is sufficient, but you can always upgrade to 16 Gigs by putting a second strip in the empty slot.
The B150N Phoenix-WiFi seems like an ideal choice for this gaming PC. Inside a Mini-ITX form factor, it offers a Intel based ethernet solution and on-board 802.11ac WiFi with two antennas. If you want to have as little cables as possible running through your computer, you can even put a M.2 SSD with four lanes bandwidth on the back.
The graphics card is one of the most important components of the Mini-ITX Game PC. The AMD Radeon RX 470 is an excellent choice, which will enable you to play at high settings and Ful HD resolution in almost every game. Even WQHD with lower settings should be possible. Thanks to the Freesync support, your gaming experience will be fluid even at lower framerates.
In our round-up, MSI went home with all the prizes. The RX 470 Gaming X is very silent, performs well and also comes with an attractive price.
There isn't much difference in performance between SATA600 SSDs these days. Due to its 'weird' capacity of 525 Gigs, you get more storage for the same price as the competition with the Crucial MX300. That's more than enough for all your software and games.
If you want to run as little cables as possible through your case, you can choose a somewhat more expensive M.2 version and mount it to the back of the mainboard.
The SilverStone Raven RVZ02 is finally available and is able to fit a Mini-ITX motherboard, an SFX power supply, a long graphics card and a 58 mm high CPU cooler in no more than 12 litres of volume. We choose the version with a side-window, which exposes your graphics card thanks to the built-in PCI-Express riser. You can also opt for the window-less version or the Milo 08, which has a more HTPC-like design but the exact same internal lay-out.
At the front, you'll find two audio jacks and two USB 3.0 ports hidden behind a flap, so you can easily plug something in. The installation wil take a bit longer than in a normal case, but the result will be worth it.
The chosen graphics card is very energy efficient and we don't have to reckon with a future SLI configuration in a Mini-ITX system. The Corsair SF450 performs very good being a SFX PSU, with excellent voltage stability and very low ripple. We measured a low noise production, too.
For a friendly priced mechanical gaming keyboard, we need to shop at Corsair. Its Strafe keyboard won an Excellent Choice award in our review. Of course, it uses the popular Cherry MX Red switches, but also things like macro's, lighting and game profiles are included.
If you want a so-called tenkeyless keyboard, we would recommend the CM Storm NovaTouch TKL. If you want to save a few bucks, Cooler Master has a few nice basic mechanical keyboards in its product range.
The Logitech G502 is one of the most popular gaming mouses in our price comparison engine. After our test, we know why: the buttons are extremely easy to press and very well-positioned. The scroll wheel can be used as a flywheel for fast movements, but also for low-sense usage with clear steps. Logitech's Gaming-software is very comprehensive and you can change the weight of the mouse by using the supplied weights.
The Zowie FK2 could be an alternative if you are looking for a mouse with less frills.
Not only should you get a quality mouse for a gaming PC, but the mousepad matters as well. Everyone has different preferences in material choice, so you should really try a few pads both in a store. The SteelSeries QcK is one of the candidates for your shortlist and a really popular store.
As a gamer, you want a fast display, so you will end up with a TN panel. Nothing wrong with that, proofs the Iiyama GB2488HSU-B2, a worthly successor of the B1 which was our recommendation before. It's a 144 Hz monitor with remarkable good viewing angles and color fidelity. The contrast and response times are even better than its predecessor. Due to the reasonable pricing, this is the perfect display for this advice. The new Freesync ability is fully supported by the chosen GPU.
Are response times and refresh rates less important to you, and do you care more about the image quality? We've got you covered with the Dell UltraSharp U2515H in the same price range. An excellent choice, but maybe you'll have to lower a few settings a notch to be able to game at WQHD.
For a long time, we recommended the Kingston HyperX Cloud. While it continues to be a good choice if you want to do more than gaming, like listening to music, we liked the surround of the new Corsair Void a lot better. The combination with a very good microphone makes it our new first choice.
The Void Surround Hybrid is available in 'gaming red' and with carbon accents, for those who prefer a more neutral look.
|Processors||Intel Core i5 6500 Boxed||$194.85|
|CPU coolers||Scythe Big Shuriken 2 Rev. B||$35.89|
|Memory modules||Kingston HyperX Fury Black 8GB DDR4-2133 CL14||–|
|Motherboards||Gigabyte B150N Phoenix-WiFi||–|
|Graphics cards||MSI Radeon RX 470 Gaming X 4GB||–|
|Hard disks/SSDs||Crucial MX300 525GB||$149.99|
|Cases||SilverStone RVZ02B-W Black||–|
|Power supplies||Corsair SF450||–|
|Keyboards||Corsair Strafe MX Red||$119.99|
|Mice||Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum||–|
|Mouse pads||SteelSeries QcK||$9.99|
|Monitors||Iiyama G-Master Red Eagle GB2488HSU-B2||–|
|Headsets||Corsair Void Surround Hybrid||–|
|Save as your own wish list||Average total price:||$510.71|