3 Great Mini-ITX Builds – The Best Mini Gaming PCs of 2021

PC building enthusiasts used to go for big computer cases, on the principle that the more room they had, the more high-end gaming tech they could fit into it.

These days though, the fashion in building is to go smaller and use mini-ITX motherboards. Result? Powerful mini-gaming PCs, less of a footprint.

The rise in popularity of mini-ITX cases, and the unstoppable advance of computer hardware (GPUs and CPUs) means it’s never been as easy to build a powerful mini gaming computer as it is right now.

If you’re thinking of downsizing, we’ve put together three options for small form-factor mini gaming PCs: a budget version, a mid-range, and a high-end option.

That way, you can build your own mini gaming PC, according to your gaming needs, your budget and your sense of personal style, without worrying about what goes with what.

Think of these as the closest thing to buying a pre-built machine, but optimized for performance and price.

We’re giving you a bridge into the world of mini-builds for gaming PCs, so even if you haven’t been sure till now which components you’d need to get what results – and what you’d probably have to pay for them – you can follow our lead, or vary it slightly to suit your own individual tastes, and put your own stamp on your build.

In Brief – Three Mini-ITX Builds

Let’s take a quick look at the three mini-ITX gaming builds we’ve put together. The table will give you some basic idea of what the build contains, as well as Amazon links to the components you’ll need to build them. We’ve also added in the link to the pre-built version.

NAMESPECSPRICE
BUDGETBudget Mini PCIntel Core i3-10100f
GTX 1650S
8GB RAM
CM Elite 130
SEE PRICE » PRE-BUILT »
MID-RANGEMid-Range Mini PCIntel Core i5-10400f
GTX 1660
16GB RAM
NZXT H210
SEE PRICE » PRE-BUILT »
HIGH-ENDHigh-End Mini PCIntel Core i5-10400f
RX 5600 XT
16GB RAM
NZXT H210
SEE PRICE » PRE-BUILT »

A Budget-Friendly Mini Gaming PC

This budget gaming build features a compact mini-ITX cube-style case. It’s the Cooler Master Elite 130, which is one of the most pocket-friendly cases on the market. But because of a rush of powerful mini graphics cards, you can fit a pretty high-end system in this much smaller case if you want to.

Here though, we went cost-conscious with an Intel Core i3-10100f and a GTX 1650 Super.

The i3-10100f is quad-core, and the GTX 1650 Super 6GB graphics card will let you play most games you could want on a reasonably pocket-friendly 1080P monitor. And if your favorite games don’t demand high-intensity graphical performance (Hello, Fortnite…), this is a build that will play them on all the higher settings.

We chose the Intel Core processor because while a budget AMD processor like the Ryzen 3 3200g would at least work, the Intel would outperform it in this scenario.

In terms of the other specs, this build has 8GB of DDR4 memory, 550W of power and an SSD of 240GB. If you feel like amping up the storage, you could switch out the SSD for a 1TB hard drive for around the same price, but the SSD felt right in a smaller build.

This is a solid mini gaming PC that delivers for any games that are not graphically thirsty, and should run anything you feel like on a 1080P monitor, at least on lot-to-medium settings.

How To Build It – The Parts You’ll Need

CPUIntel Core i3-10100fCheck Price on Amazon
MOBOASUS H410Check Price on Amazon
GPUMSI GTX 1650 SuperCheck Price on Amazon
RAMPatriot Viper 8GBCheck Price on Amazon
SSDPNY 240GBCheck Price on Amazon
CASECooler Master Elite 130Check Price on Amazon
PSUCooler Master 550WCheck Price on Amazon
ODDInstall O.S. from USB
OSWindows 10Check Price on Amazon

A Mid-Range Mini Gaming PC

We like the budget-friendly build because it delivers a lot without killing your plans for the month. But if you have a couple hundred more dollars stashed away, you can upgrade from the little build that could to something a little more stylish and mid-range.

This system upgrades to an Intel Core i5-10400f processor and a GTX 1660 6GB graphics card.

What does that give you that you didn’t have before? Well, a more hardcore graphics card means you’ll be able to blast any game on a 1080P monitor. If you’re not keen on the GTX 1660 6GB, feel free to go for something like an RX 590 8GB instead; it’ll hurt not at all and give you an extra 2G to play with.

We have to be honest, the NZXT H210 case sends chills up our spine. This thing is not only built to impress, it’s dressed to impress too.

Again, we’ve gone for Intel, but if you wanted to focus on your AMD lifestyle, you could go with a Ryzen 5 3600 processor and a B550 mini-ITX motherboard here. But then you’re starting to push the price higher than the mid-range market.

In storage terms, you’re looking at 480GB SSD. And here, a semi-modular 650W power supply helps keep your cable management game on point.

This is a mid-range mini gaming PC build that rips the roof off most games you can name.

How To Build It – The Parts You’ll Need

CPUIntel Core i5-10400fCheck Price on Amazon
MOBOASUS H410Check Price on Amazon
GPUASUS GTX 1660Check Price on Amazon
RAMOLOy 16GBCheck Price on Amazon
SSDADATA 480GBCheck Price on Amazon
CASENZXT H210Check Price on Amazon
PSUCooler Master 650WCheck Price on Amazon
ODDInstall O.S. from USB
OSWindows 10Check Price on Amazon

A High-End Mini-ITX Gaming PC Build

Wanna go hog wild on a build? Let’s go hog wild, just to know we’re alive. If you’ve got the budget and the dream, we can fix you up with a sweet high-end mini-build.

Let’s start with an Intel Core i5-10400f processor and an RX 5600 XT graphics card.

The RX 5600 XT graphics card means you’re maxing out any game on an 1080P monitor, and barbarian hordes be damned! If you upgrade your monitor to a 1440P, you’re still looking good for entry-level 4K gaming – bear in mind, this is a mini-build!

If you want to go down the competitive gaming route, pairing this build with a FreeSync monitor with a sweet refresh rate will give you relatively flicker-free in-game action too.

This high-end mini-build is equipped with 16GB of RAM, a 480GB SSD, and a semi-modular 650w power supply.

Again, if you want to go the AMD route rather than Intel, try a Ryzen 5 3600, but for our sack of cash, the i5-10400f gives you the performance bump you want to feel when you’re going high-end.

You do you – if you go with the Ryzen 5 3600, you might have some budget left elsewhere to max out some other elements of your build. For us, the CPU and GPU are pretty core when it comes to that feeling of “Look what we have built…”.

The case is NZXT’s H210 mini-ITX chassis. It’s another one we can’t stop looking at, with its tempered glass side panel and its PSU shroud.

If you’re going to spend the big bucks, you might as well have a build that looks as though you’ve spent the big bucks – and this fits the bill beautifully for our money. It also of course has plenty of space inside to fit a system this high-powered.

One of the joys of building a high-end mini gaming PC is that you can future-proof your gaming experience to a much greater extent than you can when you’re constrained by budget and size.

This is a build that makes our gaming hearts sing a happy little song. Sure, there are bigger builds with practically nuclear-powered graphic performance and processing power that could run an international war.

But the fun about mini-builds is the relatively low footprint they carry, while still delivering the power and the slickness. Here we’re looking at a mini-build that knocks on the door of 4K gaming and looks like the nuclear football.

Forgive us if we love it really rather a lot. And while it’s high-end on the inside and stylin’ on the outside, it’s still nowhere near the cost you’d be looking at for one of those all-singing, all-dancing gazillion-core big beasts.

Ultimately, if you want a slick and superpowered mini-ITX gaming PC, we think this beauty will meet your needs right now. And, as a bonus, the components are hot enough that we think it should go on meeting your needs for quite some time into the future.

How To Build It – The Parts You’ll Need

CPUIntel Core i5-10400fCheck Price on Amazon
MOBOASUS H410Check Price on Amazon
GPUPowerColor RX 5600 XTCheck Price on Amazon
RAMOLOy 16GBCheck Price on Amazon
SSDADATA 480GBCheck Price on Amazon
CASENZXT H210Check Price on Amazon
PSUCooler Master 650WCheck Price on Amazon
ODDInstall O.S. from USB
OSWindows 10Check Price on Amazon

Buyer’s Guide

We’ve put together what we think are three great mini-builds, with occasional strip-out alternative options for you. Where we’ve mostly gone with Intel processors, you can go for an equivalent AMD module if you feel more of a connection to that brand and its performance characteristics.

But what should you think about before you click the “buy” button on any component for your own mini PC gaming build?

Keep Your Goals In Mind

Have a clear idea of what you intend to use your mini PC gaming build for once it’s built.

If you have to choose between a lower-end, lower-spec component now, or a better one next month when you have more cash, we’d usually advise you wait till you can get the higher-spec component, because the higher the spec you can afford, the more future-proof your build will be.

Obviously, that might result in you building your mini gaming PC over a longer timescale than you’re prepared to commit to. If that’s the case, go for the most powerful component you can afford right now, for the future-proofing, but don’t go over the budget you’ve set for yourself. Which reminds us…

Set Yourself A Build Budget

Everyone feels the pull of going up a level in their build. It’s only natural, you want a machine that slays all-comers, looks hotter than spit on a griddle, and gives you the longest-living, most future-proof machine for the smallest footprint.

But unless there’s a piece that’s a once-in-a-lifetime bargain, resist, resist, resist. Have a budget, be prepared to spend money on getting components that help you achieve your build goals, but don’t blow the budget to move up a level, because the real world exists outside of your build too, and it gets annoyed if you do that kind of thing.

Prioritize

What’s most important to your build? The high-performance PCU? The GPU that gives you access to 4K gaming? The memory that can make your gaming PC smart in your day-job as well as a killer gaming build?

Choose which elements are the most important to you, and prioritize your spending on maxing out those elements first. You can always bring the rest up to speed and par over time if need be. But by putting your primary build needs first, you’ll be happier with the overall build for longer.

Stephen Deane

Stephen is a gaming and tech enthusiast. He has been playing computer games since the Commodore 64 days in the 80s. He has worked as Broadcast Engineer with BBC News and knows a thing or two about building, fixing, and playing with PCs.