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The RGBaby: How We Built a Mini ITX RGB Gaming PC

Mini ITX RGB Gaming PC
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

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 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Case: Jonsbo A4 

The Jonsbo A4 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 

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 

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 GeForce RTX 2080 AMP Extreme 

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 

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 

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 to plug everything in. 

RAM: HyperX Fury RGB (16GB) 

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)

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) 

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. 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 

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. 

ProductCost
ProcessorAMD Ryzen 9 3900X$418.70
Graphics CardZotac Gaming GeForce RTX 2080 AMP Extreme$1,056.99
MotherboardAsus ROG Strix B450-I Gaming$280.99
MemoryHyperX Fury RGB (16GB)$202.93
Power SupplyCorsair SF600$182.99
Storage2x T-Force Delta Max (500GB)$173.98
Boot DrivePatriot Viper VPR100 (2TB)$179.99
PC CaseJonsbo A4$204.49
Fans2x Corsair ML120 Pro RGB$199.98
PC CoolerCorsair H100i RGB Platinum$159.99
TOTAL$3,061.03

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  • maestro0428
    Your ssds are upside down.
    Reply
  • NightHawkRMX
    ITX is too pricy. I guess its sorta cool?
    Reply
  • logainofhades
    NightHawkRMX said:
    ITX is too pricy. I guess its sorta cool?

    ITX really isn't that pricey, compared to many ATX boards. Frankly I think they need to find someone that can actually shop around, because some of those prices are way off what they should be. Who pays $280 for a B-450 board, when you can get an X570, for less? Over $1k for an RTX 2080? That is 2080ti territory. $202 for 16gb of 3200 ram? You can get 32gb of 3600 Gskill Trident Z neo, for less. Your 2tb boot drive, is actually 1tb. This keeps the same spirit, of the build, but is cheaper, and faster. Couldn't do an RGB NVME, due to the chipset fan, but minor sacrifice to make, imo.

    PCPartPicker Part List
    CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 3.8 GHz 12-Core Processor ($418.89 @ B&H)
    CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i RGB PLATINUM 75 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($159.99 @ Best Buy)
    Motherboard: Gigabyte X570 I AORUS PRO WIFI Mini ITX AM4 Motherboard ($219.00 @ B&H)
    Memory: G.Skill Trident Z Neo 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3600 Memory ($188.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Team T-FORCE Delta Max RGB 1 TB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($137.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Team T-FORCE Delta Max RGB 1 TB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($137.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Intel 665p 2 TB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive ($224.99 @ Newegg)
    Video Card: EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER 8 GB XC GAMING Video Card ($714.98 @ B&H)
    Power Supply: Fractal Design Ion SFX-L 650 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular SFX Power Supply ($124.94 @ Amazon)
    Case Fan: Corsair ML120 PRO RGB 47.3 CFM 120 mm Fan ($39.99 @ Amazon)
    Case Fan: Corsair ML120 PRO RGB 47.3 CFM 120 mm Fan ($39.99 @ Amazon)
    Custom: JONSBO A4 ($167.99)
    Total: $2575.73
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2020-03-24 10:08 EDT-0400
    Reply
  • EndEffeKt_24
    Its a good board, but I hate the Asus Bios, it is a pain to work with. I paid 135 € used.
    Reply
  • NightHawkRMX
    When you are already spending thousands on a PC, maybe not a massive percent, but still a lot more. This cost more than $200 than a comparable Matx system that isnt much larger.

    $200 to me is a fair bit of money.

    PCPartPicker Part List
    Type|Item|Price
    :----|:----|:----
    CPU | AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 3.8 GHz 12-Core Processor | $418.89 @ B&H
    CPU Cooler | Corsair H100i RGB PLATINUM 75 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler | $159.99 @ Best Buy
    Motherboard | ASRock X570M Pro4 Micro ATX AM4 Motherboard | $183.98 @ Newegg
    Memory | G.Skill Trident Z Neo 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3600 Memory | $188.99 @ Newegg
    Storage | Team T-FORCE Delta Max RGB 1 TB 2.5" Solid State Drive | $137.99 @ Newegg
    Storage | Team T-FORCE Delta Max RGB 1 TB 2.5" Solid State Drive | $137.99 @ Newegg
    Storage | Intel 665p 2 TB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive | $224.99 @ Newegg
    Video Card | EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER 8 GB XC GAMING Video Card | $703.98 @ Newegg
    Case | Cooler Master MasterBox Lite 3.1 MicroATX Mid Tower Case | $49.99 @ B&H
    Power Supply | EVGA SuperNOVA GA 650 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply | $76.98 @ Newegg
    Case Fan | Corsair ML120 PRO RGB 47.3 CFM 120 mm Fan | $39.99 @ Amazon
    Case Fan | Corsair ML120 PRO RGB 47.3 CFM 120 mm Fan | $39.99 @ Amazon
    | Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts |
    | Total (before mail-in rebates) | $2413.75
    | Mail-in rebates | -$50.00
    | Total | $2363.75 | Generated by PCPartPicker 2020-03-24 10:49 EDT-0400 |
    Reply
  • WildCard999
    Nice build & writeup.

    Just wondering, when you do these builds do you end up selling them? Donating? Keeping for yourself or disassemble?
    Reply
  • macawmatt
    I'm with the first guy, total fail with the upside down drives. When I built in my H700, I specifically only looked at SSDs that would be right reading when mounted on the sled on the bottom of the case next to the glass. Its like someone building out a ridiculous sound system in a car and all it does is rattle like crazy, totally distracting and ruins what could of been an awesome build.
    Reply
  • yep101
    if i wanted to make this build in to a video editing pc, what would you change?
    Reply