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Recommended parts summary
Detailed recommendations

Choose Your Gaming PC:

About Hardware Revolution’s Small Form Factor Gaming PC Builds

This is 1 of 2 articles where I, Mathieu Bourgie, a computer hardware consultant with over 19 years of experience, recommend to you all the required parts, to help you build your Small Form Factor (SFF from now on) Gaming PC.

These are regular Gaming PCs, the main difference is a smaller case with a smaller footprint. This requires a few different components, to ensure that everything is compatible and fits within a smaller case.

See our regular size DIY Budget Gaming PC guide if you want lower costs regular sized builds.

We also have a guide for the Best Prebuilt Budget Gaming PCs if you don’t want to build a PC.

Is a Budget Gaming PC powerful enough for you?

That depends on the resolution of your monitor/HDTV and the games that you want to play.

There are three (3) recommended Budget Gaming PC levels of performance (Tier) in this article.

The recommended parts for each Tier are indicated by a number: 1 and 2, through the article.
Tier 0.5 is what I recommend for gaming on a 720p HDTV or a monitor with a 1366 x 768 resolution. Gaming at 1920 x 1080 (Full HD / 1080p) is possible with less demanding games and lower graphic settings. Ideal if you’re on a tight budget.
Tier 1 for gaming at 1920 x 1080 (Full HD / 1080p). You may have to lower graphic settings for newer, more demanding games.
Tier 2 for gaming at 1920 x 1080 (Full HD / 1080p) with higher frame rates.

I may also suggest alternatives or upgrades, in Italic, that may interest you. Changing a part to a suggested alternative doesn’t require you to change anything else.

Want a Gaming PC that is more responsive with higher performance storage, more RAM and that can handle modern games at 1080p with 120+FPS, 2560 x 1440 or 4K or multiple monitors?
You’ll need a more powerful Gaming PC. We’ll have an article on SFF High-End Gaming PCs coming soon.

See The Best Mid-range & High Performance Gaming PCs if you want a regular sized Gaming PC.

Need help picking the right level of performance for your Gaming PC?

Leave a comment at the end of the article. Give us details about the video game(s) that you want to play, the level of details that you want and the resolution of the monitor or HDTV that you’ll use.

Not interested in a Gaming PC?

Want an inexpensive PC for general use?
Tier 0.5 in this guide have integrated graphic processors (GPUs), with video outputs on the motherboard, meaning that you can connect your monitor or HDTV directly to them, without requiring a dedicated video card. So if you want to a standard desktop PC and don’t intend to play video games, get Tier 0.5.

You may also be interested in other articles, such as other Do-It-Yourself Computer Systems, Prebuilt PCs, the Best Parts For Your Money and/or The Best Laptops For Your Money.

Recommended Parts Summary:

Things to keep in mind when reading this article:

Prices for B&H as of April 24th 2020. Click on Amazon links to see prices. Note that I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Prices and availability are subject to change.

  • This is a worldwide guide. If you live outside the USA, B&H offers worldwide shipping. In the USA, Amazon and B&H offer the best prices and customer support.
  • This list is based on the best prices for new parts from B&H and Amazon. No used, open box or refurbished parts are included. While you may be able to score a nice discount, those parts come with trade offs, such as unknown reliability, a limited return policy and a limited warranty. I want your PC to function without issues.
  • Prices and availability often change. I can’t keep up with ever changing prices, but I only recommend to you parts that I would buy myself. Reliable and great performance for the price.

This table can be scrolled sideways on mobile.

Part Tier Name and Amazon link (click to see the price) B&H
CPU 0.5
1
2
AMD Ryzen 3 3200G
Intel Core i3-9100F
AMD Ryzen 5 3600
$94
$74
$174
MoBo .5/2
Alt
1
Alt
ASUS Prime A320I-K Mini-ITX AM4 (AMD)
Gigabyte B450 I AORUS PRO WIFI AM4 (AMD)
ASUS Prime H310I-Plus LGA1151 (Intel)
Gigabyte Z390 I AORUS PRO WIFI (Intel)
$104
$119
$92
$165
RAM .5
1-2
Alt
8GB (2x4GB) Kit DDR4 3200MHz
16GB (2x8GB) Kit DDR4 3200MHz
32GB (2x16GB) Kit DDR4 3200MHz
$39
$79
$159
GPU 0.5
1-2
Ryzen 3 3200G: Integrated AMD Vega 8
GeForce GTX 1650 Super 4GB
Free
$159
Storage All
Alt

0.5
1-2

Alt
Alt
Alt
Alt
Alt
Alt
Alt
Seagate Barracuda 2TB Hard Drive
Higher capacities: Best internal hard drives article
Crucial BX500 120GB SATA SSD
Crucial BX500 240GB SATA SSD
Crucial BX500 480GB SATA SSD
Crucial BX500 1TB SATA SSD
Crucial BX500 2TB SATA SSD
Crucial P2 250GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Crucial P2 500GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Crucial P1 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD
Intel 660p 2TB PCIe NVMe SSD
Higher capacities/performance: Best SSDs article
$49

$27
$39
$59
$99
$199
$54
$64
$109
$219
ODD Alt Optional USB DVD or Blu Ray Burner  
PSU All
Alt
Alt
Alt
EVGA 500W 80+ White Non-Modular
EVGA 450W 80+ Bronze Non Modular (B&H)
SeaSonic M12II 520W 80+ Bronze Modular (B&H)
Seasonic FOCUS GM 550W 80+ Gold Modular (B&H)

N/A
$59
$69
$89
Case All Cooler Master Elite 110 mini-ITX $49
Cooling All
Stock CPU Cooler: Included with CPU Free
Sound All Integrated sound card
See detailed section for alternatives
Free
Network All
Alt
Alt
Alt
Alt
Alt
Integrated Wired Ethernet 1Gbps
Upgrade motherboard to get integrated WiFi/BT or
EDIMAX WiFi AC600 Dual-Band USB
Linksys AC1200 MU-MIMO USB Wi-Fi
ASUS USB-AC68 AC1900 Dual-band MU-MIMO
TP-Link Bluetooth 4.0 USB
Free

$18
$59
$89
$9
OS All
Alt
Windows 10 Home Retail USB Flash Drive
Windows 10 Home, OEM, DVD 64-bit
$139
$129
Price Tier 0.5: $531 / Tier 1: $717 / Tier 2: $817

Never built a PC before and need help? No problem.

You don’t have to be a Geek to build a PC!
Building a PC has never been easier. Thousands of our readers, many of whom with no experience, built their own PC with the help of Hardware Revolution. If they can do it, so can you!

Start by reading our “Building Your First PC?” article, which covers everything that you need to know to get started. We also have videos on how to build a PC and on how to install Windows at the end of the article.

Once you’re comfortable with the idea of building your own PC, simply pick a Tier and buy the recommended parts for it. When you get your parts, assemble your PC, install Windows and enjoy. Also, be proud of a job well done!

Recommendations in details:

CPU:

Tier 0.5:

AMD Ryzen 3 3200G Processor: 4 cores/threads 3.6-4.0GHz
with Radeon Vega 8 Graphics: 512 GPU cores 1250MHz

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $88.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Excellent integrated graphic performance, for a gaming PC on a small budget.

The AMD Ryzen 3 3200G feature the AMD Radeon Vega 8 integrated graphics, which offer gaming performance that is far better than Intel integrated graphics.

For less than $90, you get a high performance quad-core CPU, with much better integrated graphic performance than what Intel offers.

On top of that, you can overclock the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G, unlike most Intel CPUs. Not that I recommend that in a small case with the stock cooler though.

Note that you want to pair it up with dual-channel (two sticks) of DDR4 RAM, for the best performance possible in video games. Avoid using a single stick of RAM: It can halve gaming performance.

Rest assured that the motherboard is compatible with the Ryzen 3 3200G out of the box and that I recommend adequate RAM for optimal performance.

Upgrade to the Ryzen 5 3400G?

The Ryzen 5 3400G does provide better integrated graphic card performance, up to 40-50% more, as you can see in this PCMag’s review.

That said, while a significant improvement, the up to 40-50% more performance is still no where as good as a dedicated graphic card. Instead of spending more on the Ryzen 5 3400G, you should save your money to go for Tier 1, which has a dedicated graphic card for the best gaming performance possible.

Tier 1:

Intel Core i3-9100F 3.6-4.2GHz Quad-Core LGA1151:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
$74.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

The Core i3-9100F brings some much welcome change to the Intel Core i3 series. This is the first generation of Core i3 desktops CPUs that supports Turbo Boost, resulting in higher frequencies and thus, higher gaming performance!

In other words, you’re getting the performance of the previous generation Intel Core i5 (Quad-Core, 4 threads), at a much lower price!

You can also choose to upgrade to a more powerful Core i5, Core i7 or Core i9 down the road.

Note that the Core i3-9100F does not feature integrated graphics. Not that we care, Tier 1 features a dedicated graphic card and the Core i3-9100F is for sale at a significantly lower price than the regular Core i3-9100.

Tier 2:

AMD Ryzen 5 3600 3.6-4.2GHz Six-Core / 12 Threads AM4:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
$174.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

The main competition to the $175 AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is the $150 Intel Core i5-9400F. While the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is slightly more expensive, it outperforms the Core i5-9400F in gaming performance and completely outclasses it in productivity workloads, according to Techspot.

You can also choose to upgrade to a more powerful Ryzen 5, 7 or 9 down the road.

Note that the Ryzen 5 3600 does not feature integrated graphics. Not that we care, Tier 2 features a dedicated graphic card and the Core i5-9100F is for sale at a significantly lower price than the regular Core i3-9100.

Motherboard:

Tier 0.5 and 2, AMD CPUs only:

Get the ASUS Prime A320I-K Mini-ITX AM4 (AMD)

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $104.49 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

About the MSI B450M Pro-M2 MAX Micro-ATX AM4
This motherboard offers support for AMD’s AM4 CPUs, is based on the small Mini-ITX form factor, has a reasonable cost, making it a good choice for Tier 0.5 and 2 of the SFF Budget Gaming PCs.

Most importantly, it’s compatible with the newer Ryzen 3 3200G and Ryzen 5 3600 out of the box.

Its low price allows you to invest your budget on the parts that matters the most for gaming performance.

Despite its low cost, you still get a fairly decent onboard sound solution. The audio chipset and traces are isolated from the rest of the motherboard to reduce interference. ASUS is also using separated layers in the motherboard to ensure equally clear sound quality for both left and right audio channels. Finally you get high quality audio capacitors for a warmer sound.

Pros:
1. Low price for a reliable Mini-ITX motherboard that supports AMD’s AM4 CPUs.
2. Six USB ports on the back: four USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0
3. HDMI and Displayport video outputs
4. USB 3.0 onboard header: This means that you can use USB 3.0 ports on the front of the case.
5. 4x SATA III ports and 1x NVMe M.2 slot, if you want higher performance storage
6. Fairly decent onboard sound
7. RAID 0/1/10 support
8. Supports overclocking, although not recommended in a small case with stock CPU cooling
9. Four fan headers

Cons:
1. Two included SATA cables: You may need to buy more if you want more than one hard drive and one optical drive, if you get a SATA SSD, a hard drive and another drive
2. Only two RAM slots: More of a limitation of a Mini-ITX motherboard
3. No USB Type-C
4. No integrated WiFi or BLuetooth, see alternative below

Alternative for Tier 0.5/2 (AMD CPUs):

If you want integrated WiFi, Bluetooth and better integrated audio, for Tier 0.5/2 with AMD CPUs, without paying much more money nor having to deal with USB adapters, I recommend the Gigabyte B450 I AORUS PRO WIFI.
I couldn’t find it on Amazon but it’s available from B&H: $119.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Tier 1:

ASUS Prime H310I-Plus LGA1151 (Intel):

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
$92.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

About the ASUS Prime B360M-A motherboard:
This Mini-ITX motherboard is reliable, affordable and supports the Intel 9th generation Core CPUs out of the box, making it a great choice for Tier 1 of the Budget SFF Gaming PCs.

Its low price allows you to invest your budget on the parts that matters the most for gaming performance: the video card and the CPU.

Despite its low cost, you still get a fairly decent onboard sound solution.

Pros:
1. Low price for a reliable motherboard that supports Intel’s LGA1151 Coffee Lake CPUs out of the box.
2. Four SATA III ports
3. Fairly decent onboard sound.
4. USB 3.0 (3.1 Gen 1) onboard header: This means that you can use USB 3.0 ports on the front of the case.

Cons:
1. Only two included SATA cables: Won’t be enough if you decide to get an optical drive and a SATA III SSD.
2. No RAID support.
3. H310 chipset limitation: Overclocking isn’t supported. Mind you, the Core i3-9100F doesn’t support overclocking either, only K-series of Intel CPUs.
4. No USB Type-C
5. No integrated WiFi or Bluetooth, see alternative below
6. Chipset limitation: M.2 PCIe SSD is PCIe 2.0, not 3.0. That limits transfer rates to 2000MB/s, which is pretty much the speed of the PCIe SSDs that I recommend, so hardly an issue.
7. Using a M.2 PCIe SSD will disable the SATA III #2 port.
8. Only two RAM slots: More of a limitation of a Mini-ITX motherboard

Alternative for Tier 1 (Intel CPUs):

If you want integrated WiFi, Bluetooth, better integrated audio, a full speed PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD slot and USB Type-C for Tier 1 with Intel CPUs, without having to deal with USB adapters, I recommend the Gigabyte Z390 I AORUS PRO WiFi:
Click here to see the price on Amazon, $164.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Graphic Card:

A few important recommendations and notes regarding graphic cards:

  • Get the latest version of the graphic card drivers directly from AMD or Nvidia.
    That way, you’ll be sure to get the latest bug fixes as well as the best performance possible from your video card(s).
  • Most video cards require one or two PCI-Express 6 or 8 pin power connector(s) to be plugged into them to function properly.

Tier 0.5:

Integrated in the Ryzen 3 3200G APU:
Radeon Vega 8 Graphics: 512 GPU cores 1250MHz

Integrated in the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G APU, the Radeon Vega 8 GPU offers 512 shader processors and uses the PC’s RAM as its memory.

The motherboard offers VGA, DVI and HDMI outputs.

Gaming performance wise, you can play most games, with high graphic settings, at a resolution of 1280 x 800, 1366 x 768 or on a 720p HDTV. Gaming at 1080p (1920 x 1080 or Full HD) is possible with most games, although with low graphic settings.

The most demanding games might not be playable at 1920 x 1080, in that case either reduce the resolution in game settings, or get a more powerful Gaming PC Tier.

Tier 1-2:

GeForce GTX 1650 Super 4GB:

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $159.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Note that with the increasing price and harder to find stocks of the Radeon RX 570, I no longer recommend it for Tier 1, hence why I now recommend the GeForce GTX 1650 Super for both Tier 1 and 2.

Nvidia launched the GeForce GTX 1650 Super on November 22nd 2019.

Performance wise, it trades blows with the Radeon RX 580, while costing less and consuming way less power, resulting in a more quiet card and a lower electricity bill.

Being on the small side and not consuming much power, it will be easier to install and won’t dump a ton of heat in your case.

What video games can the GeForce GTX 1650 Super 4GB run smoothly?

It will run pretty much any games at 1920 x 1080, but you may have to turn down visual quality a bit to have high FPS with smooth rendering, depending on how demanding the game is.

RAM (Memory):

Why do I sometimes recommend different RAM kits at Amazon and B&H?
Prices and available products vary depending on the vendor. I simply recommended reliable kits that offer great performance at a low price. Performance is highly similar for all kits from the different vendors.

Is it worth it to get 16GB of RAM?
For Tier 0.5, the integrated graphics card will be limiting the gaming performance before you’ll need more RAM.

For Tier 1 and 2, it is worth it, seeing as 8GB will be limiting gaming performance, as you can see in this Techspot article. It is also a good future-proofing move. RAM prices are currently low, so it’s a good time to buy more RAM.

Do you want better performance in video games? Then you’re better off picking a higher Tier or a faster CPU and/or video card.

Do you like to run demanding programs (Photo, video or 3D editing, etc.), run more programs at once (multitask), leave your PC open for a long time between restarts and want to be able to run the latest games and/or programs for many years with higher performance? If you said yes, then you definitely want 16GB of RAM, if not 32GB for video editing. Note that you don’t need to change any other part if you choose 32GB of RAM instead of 16GB.

Tiers 0.5:

8GB (2x4GB) Dual-Channel Kit DDR4 3200MHz

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
$39.95 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Tier 1-2:

16GB (2x8GB) Dual-Channel Kit DDR4 3200MHz

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
$79.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Alt: 32GB kit:
If you want 32GB of RAM, for video editing, virtualization and other tasks that require loads of RAM, here’s my recommended 32GB kit:
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $159.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Why DDR4 3200MHz?
Tier 0.5, with the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G CPU and its integrated graphics, benefits from higher frequency RAM. So do Tier 1 and Tier 2, for gaming performance. 3200MHz is the sweet spot between performance and price, offering higher performance while costing hardly more than 2400MHz or 2666MHz RAM.

Why not recommend higher frequency RAM?
It’s more expensive, forcing you to cut somewhere else to fit in your budget.

You’ll get far more performance by spending the same amount of money on a better CPU and graphic card than on slightly better RAM. Higher frequency RAM only makes sense on high-end Gaming PCs.

Maximum amount of RAM:
All motherboards supports up to 32GB (2x16GB).

RAM Heatsinks height and aftermarket CPU cooler clearance:
Every kit that I recommend in this guide feature either no heatsinks or small heatsinks that don’t raise too much above the RAM sticks.

Why?

  1. Because RAM heatsinks barely make any difference when it comes to RAM temperatures. Besides, even if you overclock it/raise the voltage (at your own risk), RAM temperatures aren’t a problem.
  2. Tall RAM heatsinks can get in the way of larger aftermarket CPU Coolers, preventing their installation.

So if you ever decide to upgrade your CPU Cooler, you don’t have to worry about that.

Important note:

RAM may require manual configuration within the UEFI/BIOS to reach its full potential

By default, some RAM kits will boot at lower frequencies than they are rated for. This is not unusual and it does not mean that your RAM is defective.

You simply have to go within the BIOS/UEFI (The first thing that you see when your PC starts) and enable the enhanced performance profile (XMP, DOCP, EOCP), for your RAM to function at its rated speed.

You can also adjust the RAM settings manually, such as frequency (In MHz, usually linked to the CPU, look for a CPU:RAM ratio), voltage (e.g. 1.35v) and timings (a series of numbers, such as 15-15-15-35). Refer to your motherboard manual and your RAM specifications for more information.

Storage:

  • Quick tip #1: Get the most performance out of your SSD, by selecting AHCI in your BIOS/UEFI options. Unless you use multiple SSD or HDD in RAID that is, in which case you want to select RAID.
  • Quick tip #2: Save storage capacity on your SSD by moving your documents default location to your hard drive. The trade off is that access to your documents will be slower of course.
  • Quick tip #3: Curious to see what are the best SSDs? Check out our article on The Best SSDs (Solid State Drives) For Your Money.
  • Quick tip #4: Not sure what storage capacity you need for your SSD? See our article on How to choose the right SSD storage capacity and pay less for your computer.

All Tiers:

Seagate ST2000DM008 2TB 7200rpm Hard Drive

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
$49.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

The Seagate 2TB hard drive is affordable, offers 2TB of storage capacity, great performance for a standard 7200rpm hard drive, and most importantly, it’s reliable.

Do you want more storage capacity for your hard drive?

Visit our The Best Hard Drives article and just buy the drive with the amount of storage that you want instead of the model above. You don’t have to change anything else.

I recommend hard drives with great reliability and high performance at the best prices. Because why would you want anything else, right?

Tier 0.5:

Crucial BX500 120GB SSD

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
$27.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Tier 1-2:

Crucial BX500 240GB SSD

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
$39.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

The Crucial BX500 is a low-cost, low-performance SSD. Low performance, that is compared to higher-end, more expensive SSD. It still offers far higher performance than a hard drive as a boot drive.

Considering that is a budget gaming PC and that most games will be stored on the hard drive, a low-cost, low-performance SSD makes sense to me.

What matters is that it’s highly reliable.

Solid State Drives
SSDs dramatically improve storage performance. SSDs are for you if you want:

  1. Much faster OS boot, Shutdown, Sleep and Hibernation
  2. Much faster program and game loading, meaning that you don’t have to wait as long for your program or your game to load.
  3. A system that feels more responsive.

Do you want an higher capacity SSD?

For the lowest cost, I recommend higher capacity versions of the Crucial BX500:
– Crucial BX500 SATA III SSD:
480GB:
– Click here to see the price on Amazon / $59.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
1TB: – Click here to see the price on Amazon / $99.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
2TB: – Click here to see the price on Amazon / $199.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Do you want an higher performance SSD?

The Crucial BX500 SSDs recommended above use the SATA III protocol. The SATA III protocol limit SATA III SSDs to less than 600MB/s transfer rates.

PCI-Express SSDs don’t have that limitation and can reach far higher rates!

In other words, PCI-Express SSDs enable much higher performance than SATA III based SSD.

The Crucial P1/P2 and Intel 660p recommended below, if you want much higher performance, are PCIe NVMe SSDs, with sequential read speeds of up to 1800MB/s (Intel 660p), 2000MB/s (Crucial P1) or 2100MB/s (Crucial P2), more than three times higher than the Crucial BX500.

They are also easier to install. You simply plug it into the M.2 slot on the motherboard and secure it with a tiny screw. No data nor power cables to plug in!

If you don’t mind spending a little more to get significantly higher storage performance and to make your PC assembly easier and faster, I recommend getting one of the following PCie NVMe SSDs. They are compatible with all Tiers.

– Crucial P2 PCIe NVMe SSD:
250GB: – Click here to see the price on Amazon / $54.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
500GB: – Click here to see the price on Amazon / $64.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)


– Crucial P1 PCIe NVMe SSD:
1TB: – Click here to see the price on Amazon / $109.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)


– Intel 660p
2TB: – Click here to see the price on Amazon / $219.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Otherwise, click here to visit The Best SSDs (Solid State Drives) For Your Money article for our latest SSD recommendations.

Do you need to buy additional SATA cables?
Only if you get an additional hard drive, SATA SSD or SATA optical drive, because the recommended motherboards include two SATA cables, so you’ll use one for the SSD (if you get a SATA SSD) and one for the hard drive. I recommend 18″ SATA cables.

Optical Drive:

Optional:

USB DVD or Blu-Ray Burner

The recommended case doesn’t support a 5.25″ drive.

Besides, games are downloaded online, hardly anyone buys audio CDs anymore, same goes with movies, everything can be streamed or downloaded nowadays.
Windows is installed with a USB drive, making the installation much faster than with a DVD.

Now, I know that some of you will believe that having the ability to listen to audio CDs and watch DVDs, rip CDs and DVDs (double-check the laws in your country) as well as burn CDs and DVDs, is worth the cost.

If that’s the case, just get an USB DVD or Blu-ray drive.

Case:

Double-check your case dimensions to ensure that your computer will fit where you’ll want it to be!

All Tiers

Cooler Master Elite 110 Mini-ITX

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
$49.99 at B&H – (Worldwide Shipping)

The toughest choice of a small form factor PC is the case. What choice you make here will dictate which power supply, graphic card, hard drive(s) and CPU Cooler that you can use.

This being a Budget Gaming PC, I don’t want to use an expensive after-market CPU Cooler, nor a more expensive smaller SFX power supply.

The Cooler Master Elite 110 mini-ITX is inexpensive and fairly good looking (subjective, I know).

More importantly, it allows you:
– Use a regular size ATX power supply up to 180mm long
– Use a dual-slot graphic card up to 210mm (8.26″) long
– Supports CPU Cooler up to 76mm / 3 inch high, which means both the Intel and AMD stock CPU Cooler fit
– Support 3.5″ hard drives (3.5″ HDD x 3 (or 3.5″ HDD x 2 + SSD x 2 or 3.5″ HDD x 1 + SSD x 3 ​or SSD x 4))

I’m recommending a 3.5″ hard drive and 2.5″ SSD. That means that you can add a second 3.5″ hard drive and a second 2.5″ drive, or two more 3.5″ hard drives.

The power supply sticks out the back a bit, giving you more space.

For a Mini-ITX case, it’s relatively easy to work with and build a PC in it.

  • Cooling wise, this case includes one 120mm front case fan, which is enough to keep your components running at safe temperatures. You may want to change it if you find it too noisy

Features wise, you get:

  1. 120mm rear fan
  2. 2x USB 3.0
  3. The inside of the case is painted in black
  4. Power Supply rear bracket sticks out the rear of the case, giving you more space within the case

Power Supply Unit (PSU):

Recommendations:

All Tiers:

EVGA 500W 80+ White Non Modular: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
– EVGA 450W 80+ Bronze Non Modular: – $59.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– SeaSonic M12II 520W 80+ Bronze Modular: – $69.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– Seasonic FOCUS GM 550W 80+ Gold Modular: – $89.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Tier 0.5 has a CPU with an integrated GPU, so it does’t require a very powerful power supply.

Tier 1 and 2 use low-power 65W CPUs and efficient graphic cards, so 450W is plenty enough.

Note that I recommend a few different power supplies, depending on if you’re shopping at Amazon or B&H and if you a modular power supply or not. Any of those 4 power supplies will do the job for any Tier.

Fewer quality power supplies in stock right now, especially on Amazon
It has been tougher, with the current worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and disruption to supply chains, to find quality power supplies that are in stock on Amazon. B&H has a smaller in stock selection that usual, but it’s still a good selection, especially compared to Amazon. This is why I recommend a few different models.

The power supply is one of the most important components when it comes to the stability and reliability of a PC.

This is why I’m not cutting corners here, by not recommending cheap power supplies.

Should I get a modular power supply?
A modular power supply is a power supply on which you only plug the power cables that you need, as opposed to a non-modular power supply, where all the cables are attached to the power supply.

Of course, having less unused cables makes your life easier in a small case, but a modular power supply is also more expensive.

So if you’re tight on cash and don’t want to spend more than you need to, stick to a non-modular power supply.

On the flip side, if you don’t mind spending a bit more to make your life easier when you assemble the PC, opt for a semi-modular or fully modular power supply.

An alternative is a semi-modular power supply, where only the essential cables are permanently attached.

Power Requirements, per Tier:

Based on my experience, my research and the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator (with the settings that I describe below), it is estimated that this system will require at load (peak power), the following amount of Watts from the PSU:

The minimum requirements are in Italic, while my minimal recommendations for a PSU Watts Output (including overhead) are in Bold.

Included in the calculation: Expert mode, Default settings, CPU and graphic card recommended for Tier, 2x8GB DDR4, 1x SATA 7.2K RPM hard drive, 1x SSD, 1x PCI Express standard sound card, 1x PCI Express WLAN card, 4x USB 3.0 devices, 3x 120mm case fan.

  • Tier 0.5: 221W/350W with the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G and the integrated GPU.
  • Tier 1: 340W/450W with the Intel Core i3-9100F and the GeForce GTX 1650 Super.
  • Tier 2: 340W/450W with the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 and the GeForce GTX 1650 Super.

Minimum requirements vs my recommendations: Give your power supply plenty of overhead!
You could match a 500W PSU with a PC that requires 480W and at first it would work just fine, but that would be unwise. Your PSU will run too close to its limit, close to full capacity all the time and that will reduce its lifespan, increase its chance of failure, increase its heat output and its noise output.

Also keep in mind that as years go by, a power supply components age and the PSU loses some of its output capacity every year.

It’s also a good idea to have some overhead, so you can add a sound card, a case fan, LEDs, optical drive or other small upgrades to your system and keep your PSU for a decade without any problem.

Do not underestimate the importance of a high-quality power supply
The components in your PC run on DC power and your power supply is responsible for converting AC power into DC power. Your PC’s components depend on the power supply to deliver stable, low-noise, reliable power within specific values to run without fault, as well to protect them from power surges, power fluctuations and other electrical dangers.

See our article: Warning: 6 Surefire Ways of Blowing Up Your Computer Due to an Inadequate Power Supply.

How to calculate how powerful of a power supply you need:

If you decide to upgrade the CPU or video card to something else than what I recommend for a Tier, I recommend using the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator to help you figure out your needs.

Keep in mind that if you want to upgrade to more powerful and more demanding PC components, it could be wise to pick a more powerful PSU to begin with, so that you don’t have to worry about it when you decide to upgrade your CPU, video card, etc.

Leave a comment if you have any questions.

Cooling:

CPU Cooler: Included with the CPU – Free

Use the CPU Cooler that is included with your CPU.
The CPU cooler that is included with your CPU is free and is perfectly capable of keeping your processor at safe temperatures for many years of usage.

Just as importantly, it fits in the small case.

Case Fans:

Considering the low power consumption of the components, the Gaming PCs will do just fine with a single case fan, which is included with the case.

If you find it too noisy, you may want to replace the case fan. Here’s what you need to know.

Size: Double-check what fan size(s) your case support
Most cases nowadays support 80mm, 92mm, 120mm and/or 140mm case fans. Find out which size(s) and how many fans your case supports.
All this information is available on the product page of the case, under specifications/details.

Here’s what I recommend:

1. A good balance between enough airflow (measured in CFM) and low-noise (dBA).

2. Solid bearings so that your fan lasts many years without any problem.
One high-quality $10 to 20 fan that lasts 5 years is less expensive than a cheap $5 fan that breaks every year or two. Especially if you consider the annoyance of replacing the fan and your lost time.

High-quality fans have high quality bearings that are more reliable, will last longer and will make less noise and less vibration to produce the same amount of airflow versus a cheaper fan.

Sound Card:

Sound card: Integrated on the motherboard

Integrated with the motherboard, this sound card will handle many different sound setups, including speakers, headphones, a microphone and more.

While integrated audio on a PC used to be absolutely horrible 15+ years ago, it has gotten far better in the last fifteen years, thanks to improved audio chipsets, higher quality electrical components and better EMI shielding. This is why I have no trouble recommending integrated audio on a Budget Gaming PC.

Dedicated sound cards:

Want better sound quality for your music and video games? Nothing like a dedicated sound card then.

Only USB sound cards are supported!

The recommended motherboards only have a single PCI-Express 16x slot, which will be used by the graphic card, so only USB sound cards are supported.

An advantage of the USB sound card is that it’s easy to swap from one PC to another, to plug into a laptop for example.

USB Sound cards:

Creative Labs Sound Blaster PLAY! 3 94dB SNR USB Sound Card:
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $23.74 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

ASUS Xonar U5 5.1 104dB SNR USB Sound Card:
– $69.99 (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

Network:

Ethernet RJ-45 Gigabit LAN: Integrated on the motherboard

Integrated on the motherboard, this network adapter will allow you to access your local network and Internet, by connecting a network cable from your modem/router to your PC.

Wireless Connectivity:
WiFi and Bluetooth

If you are a competitive gamer, where every ms of latency makes a difference, a wired connection is the best.

However, if you don’t mind a few more ms of latency and prefer the convenience of a wireless connection, you have a few options:
1- You can upgrade the motherboard to the Alternative model of your Tier, as it features integrated WiFi and Bluetooth. This is the easiest solution.

2- You could instead add an USB adapter for WiFi and/or a Bluetooth. I recommend three WiFi adapters and one Bluetooth adapter.

1- EDIMAX WiFi AC600 Dual-Band USB WiFi 5 802.11ac 600Mbps

Get the EDIMAX WiFi AC600 from:
– Click here to see the price on Amazon, $18.99 from B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

A simple, inexpensive WiFi adapter. Up to 433Mbps on the 5Ghz band and up to 150Mbps on the 2.4GHz band.

This is a cost-effective solution and fast enough for the majority of people.

2- Linksys AC1200 MU-MIMO USB Wi-Fi 5 802.11ac 1200Mbps

Get the Linksys AC1200 from:
– Click here to see the price on Amazon, $59.97 from B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

This adapter offers WiFi 5 / 802.11ac connectivity, with dual-band (2.4 and 5GHz) and up to 866Mbps on the 5Ghz band, or 300Mbps on the 2.4Ghz band.

3- ASUS USB-AC68 AC1900 Dual-band MU-MIMO

Get the ASUS USB-AC68 AC1900 from:
– Click here to see the price on Amazon, $89.99 from B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

This adapter offers offers WiFi 5 / 802.11ac connectivity, with dual-band (2.4 and 5GHz) and up to 1300Mbps on the 5Ghz band, or 600Mbps on the 2.4Ghz band.

Bluetooth:
Here’s a simple plug&play USB Bluetooth adapter. Windows should automatically take care of the drivers for you.

TP-Link Bluetooth 4.0 USB:
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
$9.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Mouse, Keyboard and Monitor:

Note that the cost of a keyboard, mouse and monitor isn’t included, because you may already have them.

It’s also because it’s next to impossible to recommend a single mouse and keyboard that would please everyone.

There’s simply too many variables, such as comfort, ease of use, personal preferences, etc., to make a single recommendation.

So if you want a keyboard and/or mouse, I recommend that you visit Amazon and B&H to compare yourself a variety of different keyboards and mice. Take the time to find the one that fits your preferences.

Recommended Operating System (OS):

Note that you need to install the 64-bit version, as 32-bit systems are limited to 4GB of memory, which is not enough.

I recommend the Full retail version, which allows you to install your Windows 10 on another computer (it can only be used on one computer at a time) or to upgrade your PC as much as you’d like.

I also recommend getting the USB Flash Drive version, seeing as the PC has no DVD drive and anyway, installation is far faster from a USB Flash Drive.

Windows 10 Full retail version, USB Flash Drive 64-Bit
Click here to see the price on Amazon or $139.00 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

Save money with this alternative:

If you have your own USB key (at least 4GB) and don’t plan on installing that copy of Windows 10 on another PC in the future, you can save money by buying the OEM DVD version of Windows 10 Home, which is the least expensive version.

Then download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool from Microsoft, use it to put the Windows 10 installer on your USB key and then use that USB key to install Windows 10 on your new Gaming PC, using the activation key that comes with the Windows 10 DVD that you bought.

  1. Get the Windows 10 Home OEM, 64-Bit DVD for $129.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)

For the best gaming performance, I recommend Windows 10.

Intel and AMD latest CPUs run best with Windows 10, with updates only available to Windows 10 that optimize the CPU performance.

It also includes DirectX 12, it boots and shutdowns faster than Windows 7 and 8 as well as uses less resources.

Visually, it is a big improvement over Windows 8.1.

Microsoft has been optimizing Windows 10 to improve performance. If you want the best performance, especially with Intel’s Skylake or future processors from Intel and AMD, Windows 10 is the way to go.

Launched on July 29th 2015, Windows 10 is Microsoft’s latest version of the popular Windows operating system.

The Start Menu is back, you get DirectX 12, the search function is improved, it boots faster, using it is a lot simpler than Windows 8.

It basically improved on what Windows 7 offered.

For more details on Windows 10, I recommend that you find a review of it online.

Linux

Linux is gaining more and more support as a Gaming OS and while many games still only run on Windows, there are a growing selection of titles that are available for Linux or that can run on Linux with some work.

Wine is an application that allows you to run Windows programs on Linux, including games of course. The Wine Application Database has a list of the games that run smoothly or with minimal/minor issues through Wine.

Crossover: Run the most popular Windows games/programs on Linux

Crossover allows you to play popular games as well as run Windows applications and more on Linux.

Open source games and source ports are also a good way to play games on Linux.

Steam is more Linux friendly than ever, with many games that have been or will be ported to run on Linux.

There are a large variety of distributions (variants) of Linux, each with its pros and cons. Ubuntu is the most popular and arguably the most supported. For more information on other distribution of Linux and their latest version, visit Distrowatch.com,

If you need assistance with Linux, LinuxQuestions.org is a good place to start.

While Linux does not offer the wide compatibility of Windows with video games, gaming on Linux is still possible, through projects such as Wine, . For more on the topic of Linux Gaming, I invite you to read this excellent article from AnandTech: Linux Gaming: Are we there yet?

What about Word processing, Excel and other Windows-based programs that you need? Linux, being an open platform, has many free alternatives for you. For Word/Excel and such, try LibreOffice.
Cost: Free

Conclusion

What do you think of the latest version of the SFF Budget Gaming PCs? Let me know if you have any suggestion to improve this article or your opinion on it by leaving a comment below. Additionally, if a part goes out of stock, let me know.

Don’t agree with my choices? Have a better idea?

Feel free to leave a comment. There’s always place for improvement and after some research I may change the part according to your suggestion.

Building this PC?

If you build this system, I invite you to share your experience on how well it runs: What applications do you use, what type of work do you do, how well does this PC performs, is there anything that slows it down? Your feedback will help other people make an informed decision on what to buy for their own needs.

Do you need a guide on how to build a computer, need help or do you have some questions?

Computer Builds FAQs:
I often get questions such as:
– Who are you to tell me which parts to choose?
– Can you suggest me a step by step guide to build a computer?
– Why should I build a PC instead of buying one in a store?
– And many more…

1. You will find the answers to all of these questions and more in this article: FAQ: How to Build Your Own Computer
2. Is this your first build? Here are 10 Quick Tips for 1st Time Builders to get you started.
3. Newly built computer won’t start? I invite you to read Help me: Why won’t my newly assembled PC start or boot?

Recommended step-by-step guides to build your PC:

Newegg TV has three great videos on how to build your PC. The first covers choosing your parts, which we help you with in this article, so I chose not to include it. The second one, below, shows you in detail how to assemble your PC. The third one shows you how to install Windows and software.

If you prefer a text version with pictures, here are two great guides by ArsTechnica, the first one covering the assembling and the second one covering Windows and software:

  1. Arstechnica Outstanding Guide for Hardware (Building the PC)
  2. Arstechnica Outstanding Guide for Software (EFI/BIOS, Windows, etc.)

Free Assistance

If you have any question(s) about the build, simply leave a comment and we will be there to assist you.

No worries, there are no stupid questions here on Hardware Revolution. We all started from scratch and learned through our mistakes. We’ll just help you make sure to avoid those mistakes ;)

If you want to have your final build double-checked and get my opinion on it before ordering, or for anything else, don’t be shy, just leave a comment.

Build your Gaming PC today!

Why should you?
For the same price, you’ll get more performance out of your custom PC, or you’ll save money while getting the same performance compared to a retail PC. Not to mention that it will be easier to upgrade, more reliable and that retail PCs come with tons of bloatware and limited warranties. Why settle for less?

Stop relying on HP, Dell and other companies:
Build your own custom PC today.
It’s easier than you think!

This Build includes all the parts/cables that you need and it was double-checked to ensure compatibility. Simply order your parts, set aside some time, grab a screwdriver and build your own personal PC. No worries, we’ll (the HR community) be there to assist you if you have questions or need help.

Then you’ll be able to say, “See that computer over there? Yeah, I built that.” Talk about being proud of a job well done.

Want or need a more powerful Gaming PC? No problem.

We’ll have an article on SFF High-End Gaming PCs coming soon.

See The Best Mid-range & High Performance Gaming PCs if you want a regular sized Gaming PC.

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