Smallest Gaming PC

I'm trying to make a small compact pc that is capable of gaming. Does it have to all games at max settings? No, but I would like to be able to play any game without having to wonder if my pc can handle it. I also do work using virtualization although I never have more than two open concurrently. I would like to make it as small and compact as possible to take up as little room as possible, so perhaps this is just a dream but that's why I'm asking. I've come up with an ATX Mini Tower as the smallest possible with the ability to hold a dedicated graphics card. I'm hoping to keep it under $1500, and this won't be immediate, this might actually be a few months down the line, so if there's anything coming up I should look out for than that's fine too. Also obviously sales today won't matter so, more-so looking for tips on what to consider but i'll obviously accept any ways to maintain/increase performance but maintain/reduce size. One problem is graphic cards. I'm not too familiar with what justifies a "great" card or what to look for, I typically go for the "higher price = better product" approach. So with that said here is mylist of parts.

Case: Broadway Com Corp 1244MA-BLACK

Mobo: ASUS Maximus IV Gene-Z/GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel

Graphics Card: XFX FX-785A-CNFC Radeon HD 7850 Core Edition

PSU: Athena Power AP-MP4ATX55FEP8 550W Micro ATX (This was the biggest micro atx PSU I could find. I won't be doing SLI/X-fire. Also my case comes wiht a PSU so if everything can work off the 500W that would be better to save a few bucks.)

CPU: Intel Core i7-3770

SSD: Crucial M4 256GB

RAM:G.SKILL Ripjaws 4x4gb DDR3 1066


Wireless Adapter: TP-LINK TL-WDN4800 Wireless N Dual Band Adapter (I might just go ethernet, but wanted the choice)

Thank you for your time and effort
13 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Case: Silverstone FT03 ( at least take a look at this, fits any video card pretty much and has great cooling.
    Other decent microatx options available from Lian-Li for example.

    Mobo: Might want to get the Z77 based Gene V instead.

    Graphics card: if you are really looking for great performance Nvidia GTX 670 based card is the way to go.
    Sure it's $400, but you get a cool running and extremely fast graphics card and it does max out 'most' games.
    And you can of course eventually get 2 for SLI.

    PSU: Depending on what you can fit in the FT03 or your case in general. Some microatx cases fit everything. In this case
    I would recommend the Seasonic X series. the X650 for example is great. Costs a bit but you get what you pay for.

    CPU: you could probably do just fine with an i5 3570k, but if you want all the threads then the i7-3770 is a good choice.

    SSD: excellent choice. Although check for sales, might get Samsung 830 256GB for the same price or less.

    RAM: You 'should' be able to do fine with 8GB, if your virtualization things need more then 16 might be warranted.
    CAS9 1600Mhz is probably still the best bang for buck, so aim for that in the memory, you won't pay much extra.

    DVD: The FT03 uses a slot it thin model, so you would need to invest in one of those which is a little bit more expensive than your standard drive.

    As for the wireless, i would just go wired. Better for gaming. Unless you have issues with the location.
  2. Best answer
    Good idea, but there are several flaws in your build.

    1) The motherboard has only one slot, namely for the discrete graphicscard.
    If you need wifi, there will be no place to plug in the card you listed. USB adapters are possible, but without an antenna, they are weak. Fortunately some vendors have addressed this issue. Here is one:

    2) In a similar vein, ITX motherboards will have only two ram slots. 8gb is fine for a gamer, but buy a 2 stick kit, and not the 4 stick kit you listed. DDR3 1600 will not be significantly more expensive.
    3) Few games use more than 2 or 3 cores, making the extra hyperthreads of a 3770 not very useful. A 3570K would be better at $100 less. The "K" will also let you overclock a bit.

    4) An even smaller case with better cooling is the lian li Q08. It will hold the longest graphics card, and uses a standard ATX psu, solving one of your identified issues. It is 13.58" x 8.94" x 10.71" compared to 13.80" x 6.70" x 13.80" the dimensions are a bit different, but the Q08 actually has less volume. It is aluminum, so it should weigh less. It also comes in silver or red which is a stunning color.

    5) As a matter of preference, Samsung and Intel SSD's seem to be more trouble free.
  3. +1 above thoughts

    For small case with tight clearance suggest you get DIMMS that *do not* have Ripjaws style heat spreader extensions, they will get in the way of some heatsink somewhere. Plains dims much easier to install.
  4. Okay thanks guys starting from the top:

    rvilkman: Thanks for the tip on the Z77 preference, seems I'm a bit behind the times with the z68. Graphics card, you do make a good point. A high concern with this build would be the cooling factor, as there would be less space the parts should produce as little heat as possible, as well as low power consumption to work with the smaller PSU. That card seems like it could work well in this case, i've personally always used radeon so I'll have to do some more reasearch on the Nvidia side too but i'll keep an eye out for extra details to the GTX 670. That seasonic PSU seems nice but is a standard sized ATX PSU. I'll have to make sure the case I finalize with can handle that although it seems both your case and geofelt's case could handle it.

    geofelt: Well currently my micro-atx mobo has 4 slots for up to a max of 32gb of ddr3 ram, as well as two pci-e3.0 and a single pci-e slot. If I drop down to a mini ITX I understand where you are coming from. Those things are very limiting, but it seems as if i can get away with one. It was where i first turned as they are the smallest mobo but i wasn't certain I could get away from a full-sized graphics card with a psu that was strong enough to hold it, but your case seems to prove me wrong. I would certainly make sure i have a full-modular psu of course to go along with it. you and rvilkman both agreed on getting the i5-3570k over the i7-3770, so would go with that instead. I do enjoy the square shape and simplicity of the case.

    so going with the mobo and case that geofelt recommended, consider the route of nvidia courtesy of rvilkman, and something I should have thought of, making sure i don't have heat spreaders on my ram courtesy of tsnor. seems like such simple mistakes, but that's why I was asking. I knew I could do better. I do like the new choice in mobo and case, so it seems my biggest problem right now will be the graphics card. the mobo can handle up to 16gb of ram (2x8GB) and has built in wireless that i would use when i have to move the case somewhere that it's just easier to use wireless and I wouldn't be gaming online.

    Thanks everyone
  5. Just my 2 cents. I have the FT03(it takes so little desk space) and i DO like it, but it is not the best case to move around allot because the of the side panel system. The hard drives also run a bit hot behind the MB tray(I added some cooling :) ).

    When you said small, I first thing SG05 from Silverstone(I have one of those too :) ), It does limit the max video card size and has a smaller SFX power supply(450 watts is about the best you will fit in that system). Overall, i am happy with that case as well, but the power supply can get loud due to its small 80mm slim fan(i swapped it out)

    It seems everyone has covered all the important stuff(low profile memory being the big one.)
    Sometimes you just want to cram lots into a small case....
    Image is too big, click

    Your case in the first post does not seem to need any special power supply.
  6. Not the smallest mini tower but among the best
  7. Okay so I was on newegg and creating a new wishlist to setup my new build. I was going for what rvilkman recommended for the time being on a 650w modular and then I got to the graphics card, a nvidia GTX 670. According to newegg it says that the card requires a 500w PSU by itself but according to this site and chart a little bit down (and somewhere in the middle of the chart is the gtx 670 oc to 1006mhz which is what i was looking at getting from newegg).]

    it states that the card under stress (if i'm understanding it all correctly) takes less than 200w. I understand I have to take into consideration other things such as my other components and number of monitors and other peripherals to find the best PSU but typically I've gone with what newegg says and add an extra 200w or so to insure safety. And that whole post is to calculate a generalized power consumption of the video card, but it talks about things that are subjective to my personal situation which no one else can help me on, or information particular to the card that isn't included on newegg. If anyone can make a bit more sense of this post and verify that those numbers are atleast fairly accurate and reliable. then I will be able to use that to help find the smallest PSU .

    Thank you
  8. You should be able to run the 670 on a 400-500W PSU.
  9. Power supply calculations not hard.

    1. Plan on getting a high value power supply with good reviews. For some reason they don't cost much more, and actually sometimes less, than bad PSUs.
    2. Google main parts (CPU and graphics) with TDP. For example, google gtx 670 TDP you get TDP of the GT 670 is 170W. (If you overclock add 50%). This is all 12v as is the CPU so you look at the 12v rate and then give yourself some headroom. Net is FinneousPJ is correct that gtx670 plus CPU plus rest will run on quality 400-500w PSU.
  10. Psu sizing can really be simple.
    Just buy a quality unit that has sufficient 6 or 8 pin pci-e connectors for your graphics card/s.

    I must apologize for a previous error. I thought the original proposal was for a itx size, not a m-atx size.
  11. Okay guys thanks. I got a new build setup on newegg and it was under 1500$ with some room to spare so that makes me happy. It'll still be a while before I can actually get it together but atleast I have new things to look out for while looking for newer, updated parts.
  12. Best answer selected by yoshii1.
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