Build It Yourself: A Mini-ITX Gaming System For Just Over $500

Good Looks: A Case And PSU

The Deal/Steal: Chieftec FI-01W

This case looks great, whether it's lying flat in a desktop orientation or standing up as a tower, especially given its low price tag.

When this story went live in Europe, our enclosure of choice was called the FI-01W. But Chieftec doesn't sell it here. In the U.S., the same case shows up as Winsis' WI-10. It's really hard to track down, though. So, although all of our pictures are of the Chieftec chassis, we're using Winsis' WI-02 instead. Internally, the WI-02 is identical. It even includes a 200 W power supply. For as little as $45 online, we're happy to recommend the WI-02 as an alternative.

Like other Chieftec enclosures, the FI-01W (and, by extension, Winsis' WI-02) is built like a tank, albeit a tiny one. This can be a blessing as well as a curse. Be ready for a twisted neck and scraped fingers during the build process because this chassis has absolutely no give and promises only cramped working conditions.

Let’s first take a look at how the Chieftec FI-01W stacks up on paper.

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Technical Specifications
Form FactorMini-ITX; Desktop form factor (Lying down) or tower form factor (Standing upright)
Dimensions10.43" x 3.54" x 10.63" (Depth x Width x Height); 6.45 L (Volume)
Weight7.72 lbs (with PSU)
External Drive Bays1 x 5.25" Slimline with tool-less installation
Internal Drive Bays1 x 3.5" With tool-less installation + 1 x 2.5" (Installation with screws)
Power Supply Unit(PSU)200 W TFX PSU (Chieftec DSI-200P)
Front Connectors2 x USB 2.0, Microphone input, Audio output (AC'97/HD Audio)
In The BoxScrew set, Accessory set, Motherboard spacer, Thumb screws, Four feet
Materials0.6 mm Steel, White Finish (Winsis' WI-02 is available either in a black or silver finish)
Fan HoldersNone
Manufacturer's WebsiteChieftec Product Page, Winsis Product Page
Street Price$40

This is where we would have nitpicked the the Chieftec FI-01W’s smaller problems, except that we didn’t find any.

The only thing that we didn’t love about the FI-01W was its lack of a door for the optical drive. While the case comes with a removable cover, a simple door mechanism would have made the case perfect (though we recognize that a quality mechanism would have also made it more expensive). At the equivalent of $60 in Europe, or as low as $45 here in the U.S., we're fine with the chassis as-is.

We'll dive into power supply performance once we finish the build.

  • xkm1948
    What about putting in an APU instead?
    That case almost looks like a Wii.
  • zooted
    Would be nice if they included benchmarks, but overall a nice review.
  • A Bad Day
    We have Mini-ITX gaming mobos that support OCing and 120mm closed loop water cooling...

    I demand a proper Mini-ITX case from the manufacturers!
  • FormatC
    I have a "Zero dB PC" as one of the next projects, complete based on a AMD APU (A10 5700). We should stay a little parity, all last Mini-PCs were AMDs ;)

    The performance of a HD 7750 is wellknown and this little card is in the most cases the slower part. This is from the other project:
  • sempifi99
    If I did not already have more desktops than I am currently using I would definitely consider building something like this...
  • Hando567
    Wish you would have done a bitfenix Prodigy build with an i7 and GTX690, mini ITX machine that can play anything? Yes please!

    I would like to know why there is no real SFF love in the AMD camp for non APU's, I really want a new mATX mobo with 3 PCI-e slots, so I can do a tri-fire setup with LC in my mini P180, 2x7970's just are not enough. I also want to replace my aging 890gxm-g65 so I can OC my FX8350, this board has known issues with its power circuitry beyond stock (I would know, I have cooked 3 of them, 2 from trying to OC, and one from a long gaming session)
  • itzsnypah
    It always seems like Toms put's out recommendation builds right after new hardware comes out. Also I think you failed to research enough, mITX H77 boards have been cheaper than mITX B75 boards for months while having better features.
  • photonboy
    Laptop instead?

    At the $500 price range, I've seen many laptops that perform similarly to builds like this.

    The laptops also have the advantage of:
    - screen (don't have to use)
    - battery (for power outage)
    - size

    One disadvantage with gaming laptops is that under load the little fan tends to be annoying. It would be really cool if you could easily plug in an external cooling unit that bypasses that fan.

    INTERESTING BUILD, though I would strongly disagree with the "good enough for an HDTV" comment about the graphics card. It's a gaming PC. Just because it's hooked up to an HDTV instead of a monitor doesn't make it "good enough"; Far Cry 3 still won't run great.

    I'd like to see a little more CPU and GPU processing power while keeping noise in check. Let's see what can be done with $700?
  • bak0n
    That was my basic setup until recently when I upgraded the cpu from a i3 2100 to an i5 3570k. The GPU from the 7750 to a 7870 and the case to a prodigy which supports larger cooling fans and dual slot GPU's. The lower frame rates or settings turned down wasn't cutting it for games like borderlands 2. But if you are into games like LoL the recommend build will be more than enough.