RGB lighting, like it or not, clearly isn’t going anywhere. That’s why last year, we put together the RGBeast, a full-tower gaming desktop with RGB in almost every single component. It had more RGB lighting boxes than we would like, and we had a lot of thoughts about how to do it next time.
So we did. That’s the RGBaby - another all-RGB build, but, hopefully, with less confusion. So we decided to challenge ourselves. With fewer boxes, we could make it smaller. So we decided to make it as small as possible: a mini-ITX build.
That created its own unique challenges. Fewer cables, in an all-RGB build, is still a lot of cables. Also, there aren’t many mini ITX cases that would show off all of the parts without hiding them. What’s the point of an RGB SSD if it’s hidden?
And just because this is the baby, not the beast, didn’t mean it couldn’t be powerful. So it’s running an AMD Ryzen 9 3900X and a Zotac RTX 2080 Amp Extreme with two big-and-bold RGB light stripes on each side.
But let's make one thing completely clear: The point of this build was to combine aesthetics and power into a compact PC. And, as we’ll get to in the section about building, that meant some tough choices.
Could you make a powerful, tiny, mini ITX RGB PC with other parts? Absolutely. But we came up with a 4K gaming powerhouse that happens to be covered in rainbows--or whatever color in the spectrum suits your liking.
The Parts to Build a Rainbow Baby
Case: Jonsbo A4 (opens in new tab)
The Jonsbo A4 (opens in new tab) came to us through the process of elimination. This case has glass panels on both sides, which proved crucial to showing off as much RGB as possible. It also offers two points to mount SSDs that aren’t hidden behind a panel somewhere. That allowed us to show off Teamgroup's attractive T-Force Delta Max RGB SSDs, while leaving room for lots of fans to keep air moving through the tightly packed interior. The case also comes with a riser cable that lets you mount the GPU vertically, which let us up the RGB of the Zotac card on full display.
The side panels are also fairly darkly tinted, which dims the glow, but helps hide cable clutter. And that's a good thing, as we'll see shortly. This case has minimal room to wide wires, and if there's one thing that comes with an RGB-focused build, it's an abundance of wires.
CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X (opens in new tab)
Until they put RGB lighting on processors, we’re going to have to stick with something more traditional. But we went powerful, with AMD’s Ryzen 9 3900X, a 12-core / 24-thread processor that will prove to be overkill for most gamers. But if you also want this to be a workstation, of the ability to stream while gaming on the same system, the 3900X offers plenty of punch.
CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i RGB Platinum (opens in new tab)
The H100i RGB Platinum cooler is one of a number of Corsair’s products on the parts list for this buid. That’s largely because Corsair’s iCue RGB standard is excellent, especially now that it works with Asus’ Aura Sync (see our motherboard). While this cooler is more expensive than some competitors, it looks good thanks to RGB on its two fans and the the pump housing.
Graphics Card: Zotac Gaming (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)GeForce RTX 2080 AMP Extreme (opens in new tab)
We wanted something powerful, and we also wanted a ton of RGB. Zotac’s specialty is making small GPUs, and we needed every millimeter here. The RTX 2080 AMP Extreme isn’t exactly tiny, but it had the most RGB of any high-end GPU that would physically fit in this case. There were some others we liked with RGB fans, but those were too long. Going this route did add the company’s Spectra software to our list of tools, however. It seems it's still nigh impossible to build a RGB-heavy PC that you can control with a single piece of software.
Motherboard: Asus ROG Strix B450-I Gaming (opens in new tab)
The B450-I has some RGB glow along the side, making it eligible for our build. It also has lighting in the audio ports which, while arguably kind of obnoxious, is certainly fitting with our theme. It uses Aura Sync, which in theory works with iCue (more on that later), helping to reduce the amount of software we need to control all this. And it has both one Aura header and one ARGB header for more more RGB accessories. It’s not the most advanced board, but it can handle the Ryzen 9 3900X and the rest of our parts list.
Power Supply: Corsair SF600 (opens in new tab)
In this build, our case completely obscures the power supply. So while we had an RGB power supply in the RGBeast, here we needed something in the SFX form factor. And the component world isn't exactly overflowing with RGB-equipped SFX PSUs -- at least not yet. Corsair’s SF600 served our purposes well enough, though as we'll see, we ran a couple SATA power connectors short, and had to include a StarTch 4X SATA splitter (opens in new tab) to plug everything in.
RAM: HyperX Fury RGB (16GB) (opens in new tab)
We initially installed T-Force’s stunning-looking Xtreem RGB RAM here, but the lighting on the heat spreader was hard to see from the top. So we swapped it out for 16GB of HyperX Fury RGB RAM with much brighter lights on the top edge, helping it stand out in our build.
Boot Drive: Patriot Viper VPR100 (2TB) (opens in new tab)
We like the Patriot Viper VPR100 for its cool lighting effects, strong performance and endurance. That made it a shoe-in when we reviewed it as we planned the parts-list for this build. But it also required its own RGB software from Patriot. So much for simple lighting control.
Storage Drives: 2x T-Force Delta Max (500GB) (opens in new tab)
There’s no better way to say it: These drives just look cool. So we got two of them just to have more RGB in the case. The LED lighting looks almost like an OLED screen, which is great. Not so great? They also each require a third cable that connects to either a USB 2.0 header or an addressable RGB header. And our board has just one of each, which meant we had to also pick up a header splitter (opens in new tab). These wires and extras are really piling up and there's not much room to work with in this case.
Fans: 2x Corsair ML120 Pro RGB (opens in new tab)
We used a pair of Corsair's MB120 Pro RGB fans, in part because they plug into the same RGB controller as the CPU cooler, and also to, again, minimize the amount of different software packages we needed to control the lighting. They also look pretty sweet glowing up from the bottom of the case.
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 9 3900X||$418.70|
|Graphics Card||Zotac Gaming GeForce RTX 2080 AMP Extreme||$1,056.99|
|Motherboard||Asus ROG Strix B450-I Gaming||$280.99|
|Memory||HyperX Fury RGB (16GB)||$202.93|
|Power Supply||Corsair SF600||$182.99|
|Storage||2x T-Force Delta Max (500GB)||$173.98|
|Boot Drive||Patriot Viper VPR100 (2TB)||$179.99|
|PC Case||Jonsbo A4||$204.49|
|Fans||2x Corsair ML120 Pro RGB||$199.98|
|PC Cooler||Corsair H100i RGB Platinum||$159.99|
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