Build It: Half-Height Gaming PCs For The Living Room

Conclusion: Half-Height, Full Gaming

We originally set out to see just how tiny we could make a gaming PC outfitted with PowerColor’s half-height Radeon HD 5750. In the end, space and power restrictions prevented us from putting this card in something as small as an Xbox 360 slim.

All was not lost though, and we still managed to build a couple of fairly useful configurations. In-Win’s Wavy case is close to the size of the Xbox 360 slim, and when combined with Asus’ M4A88T-I Deluxe mini-ITX motherboard and a half-height Radeon HD 5570, can handle respectable frame rates at 720p in some fairly demanding titles. This PC might take up a little more space than a nettop, but it’s still a very small package. Thanks to the desktop-class Phenom II X3 705e CPU, 750 GB Western Digital Black hard disk, 4 GB of Mushkin RAM, and Radeon HD 5570 graphics card, it performed much faster than any nettop available.

After a little searching, we were also able to find a suitable home for the half-height PowerColor Radeon HD 5750 in the Moneual MonCaso 312 case, a slick enclosure with a classic home theater appearance and a bundled remote. Equipped with an Athlon II X4 645 CPU and complemented by PowerColor’s half-height Radeon HD 5750, this system handles 1080p gaming, no problem. What more could you ask for from an entertainment-oriented HTPC?

We know that there are far more powerful gaming PCs that make use of the flexible cube form factor, often enabling powerful SLI and CrossFire configurations. But while the cube offers the most powerful mix of diminutive size and gaming performance, half-height systems offer an alternative that are almost certainly a better fit in the living room. As our builds both demonstrate, a half-height form factor can be configured to bring high-definition gaming to your television, in addition to the exceptional HD media playback we already expect from HTPCs.

  • Poisoner
    This is an interesting article and goes a direction where nVidia has no way to compete.
  • nevertell
    I'd mod a case and mount my videocard horizontally.
  • dirtmountain
    Good article and an interesting read. You can get a half height GTS450.
  • fatkid35
    awesome article. i love small pc's! my silverstone sg05 is modded with a 600 watt psu and 6870 stuffed inside.
  • shovenose
    the antec sp-400 has issues! it has lousy fuhjyyu capactiros that fail even just sitting there. i suggest you find a different psu!
  • cleeve
    shovenosethe antec sp-400 has issues! it has lousy fuhjyyu capactiros that fail even just sitting there. i suggest you find a different psu!
    I've been using this one in my main HTPC for a couple years now at least. Haven't had any problems.
  • Mr_x
    Typo on Test Systems And Benchmarks
    AMD Phenom II X4 705e isn't it x3???
  • carlhenry
    that's weird, a 160w power supply powering up a 5570? (and you also intended to slap in the 5750 there?) did i miss something?
  • dEAne
    Looking for a case like that is next to impossible - but for a 160W wow I never have though of that, it gives me another idea. thanks tom.
  • Th-z
    Thanks for the article. I have a question, where do you find quality small PSU? If you want to go as small as you can, one would need to use small PSU. But it seems they are scarce in terms of wattage selection and brand, no where comparing to standard ATX PSU.

    Many small mini-ITX cases do include a small PSU, but what if you want to mod the PSU, or the included one breaks down? Falling back to standard ATX PSU would have to use a bigger mini-ITX case.