36 votes

My new Mini-ITX Gaming PC Build

EDIT: Since a few people now have not realized how old this topic is before making a comment, see above date ↑. :)

My old PC's CPU (i7 930) started to critically fail after 8+ years of being overclocked from 2.8 to 4.0 GHz, so I decided to build a new one based on the Ultra-Compact Mini-ITX Gaming PC Build from TechBuyersGuru.

I went with Mini-ITX this time since my old PC was in a huge Antec P193 tower which weighs 16.4kg (36.2lbs) before components and so was a giant PITA to move around. The new Sugo SG13 case is roughly 1/7th the volume and initial weight so is much more convenient to move (but not build!).

p.s. I was unsure whether to post this 'buildapc' style content in ~tech or ~comp.... thoughts?


PCPartPicker Part List
Parts labeled incompatible are not... see "Notes" below in Build Process section.
Salvaged from old PC:
GPU   -     $0 - EVGA - GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Superclocked ACX 2.0+ Video Card
SSD   -     $0 - Samsung - 850 Pro Series 1TB 2.5" Solid State Drive
SSD   -     $0 - Samsung - 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Drive
HDD   -     $0 - Hitachi - Deskstar NAS 4TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive

New Components:
Case -   $72 - Silverstone - Sugo SG13B-Q Mini ITX Tower Case
Mobo - $190 - Gigabyte - Z370N WIFI Mini ITX LGA1151 Motherboard
CPU   - $325 - Intel - Core i5-8600K 3.6GHz 6-Core Processor
Cool - $114 - Silverstone - NT06-PRO 74.0 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler
RAM   - $220 - Corsair - Vengeance LPX 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 Memory
PSU   - $175 - Silverstone - 600W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular SFX Power Supply
M.2   - $143 - Crucial - MX500 500GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive
M.2   - $143 - Crucial - MX500 500GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive

Total:  $1382 (CAD)


Build Process w/ Pictures:

TL;DR - Behold my new Battlestation, IN ALL HER GLORY!!!

After saying goodbye to my old, heavy, oversized, Antec P193 case...
Unboxing the new one, which is almost the same volume as my UPS!...
And prepping all the new PC components for a photo op...
I began the arduous process assembling my new computer.

Everything went fairly smoothly to start. I installed the RAM, M.2 Drives, CPU and CPU Cooler before mounting the motherboard to the case, as instructed in the build guide. The CPU Cooler was a PITA to attach but that's no surprise as they always are.

Note: These "incompatible" parts listed on PCPartsPicker actually do fit together as the build guide said they would. However the RAM and CPU cooler fan are actually touching and I barely managed to squeeze them in together, so the build guide probably isn't lying when it said that particular low-profile RAM might be the only one that actually works with the cooler.

I then mounted the motherboard to the case and began slowly plugging everything else in. This was a particularly slow and frustrating process as I have pretty large hands and everything was incredibly tiny, in incredibly cramped positions, and required more finesse to get in place than I could muster with my fingers alone. As a result I wound up using long needle-nose pliers, including some bent-angle ones, to get most everything plugged in.

This is when I ran into my first major problem though... and one that was not mentioned in the build guide at all. The Case's front panel USB cable wouldn't fit in the motherboard with the CPU cooler fan in place. After trying fruitlessly to get the cable plugged in for 30min I finally gave up and decided to solve the issue the old fashioned way and it plugged in just fine afterwards. (Thanks for saving my ass yet again, Mr. Dremel!)

The other potential issue was due to the CPU cooler and case mounted PSU, which aren't supposed to work together, but once again as the build guide suggested they actually do... with a whopping 3mm clearance between them! At this point I also decided to swap out some of the ribbon power cables that came with the new PSU for some spare braided ones I had from another build since they are much nicer looking and allow for better airflow.

Note: The other supposed incompatibility listed on PCPartPicker is due to the fact that the case only officially supports 3x 2.5" drives or 1x 3.5" with 1x 2.5" but that's easy enough to get around, as explained below.

I also decided to cram an extra SSD under the front case fan, secured with double sided tape to the properly mounted SSD on the case floor panel. It worked just fine and allowed me to get my 3.5" 4TB HDD properly mounted on the underside of the top plate. Linus Tech Tips, in his similar Sugo SG13 build, even managed to squeeze 2 more SSDs above the PSU using double sided tape as well, so I guess that even leaves me with some room to expand my storage later. ;)

The rest of the build assembly process went relatively smoothly and once everything was hooked up, in position and plugged in, it booted straight into windows 10 (which was still on my old 1TB SSD). The moment when a new PC build gets past the POST is always a huge relief, however that momentary relief soon turned to dread as I quickly noticed a pretty big problem; The machine couldn't detect one of my new M.2 SATA drives.

After several hours of frustrated tinkering and much googling I finally found out the reason why, cursing PCPartPicker for not warning me and face-palming pretty hard for not having read the motherboard specs more carefully. It turns out that the Z370N motherboard actually only supports 1x M.2 SATA drive and the second M.2 slot is NVMe only. I had apparently just wasted $140+ on an M.2 SATA drive I couldn't use and my plans to configure them both in RAID 0 was shattered. But that's honestly not the worst part... in order to get the useless M.2 drive back out I had to basically FULLY DISASSEMBLE my entire build again since the NVMe M.2 slot is located on the bottom of the motherboard!

Despite the serious temptation to just leave it in there even though I couldn't use it, I wound up going through with the disassembly purely because I had a pretty good idea for how to actually make use of that second M.2 SATA drive based on something I saw on Linus Tech Tips a few months ago. So rather than leaving it in there or even returning it, after ordering myself the necessary enclosure I now have myself a pretty nice DIY 500GB Thumb drive. ;)

So several hours later after completely taking apart my new build, removing the bottom mounted M.2 SATA drive, and fully reassembling my build once again, I booted it up, it got past the POST and into Windows 10 again. I then reactivated Win 10 on the new hardware configuration (which was surprisingly painless compared to how it used to be where you needed to actually phone Microsoft) and then began the process of installing Linux Mint on the M.2 SATA drive I still had remaining.

Conclusion:
After several days of going at it now, I am finally done and my new computer is fully assembled, functional and ready to use. As always with building computers it was a bit scary, a bit painful, and more than a bit frustrating but ultimately well worth it. I couldn't be happier with the results and can't wait to overclock this bad boy when I get the chance!

19 comments

  1. [7]
    NubWizard
    Link
    I built one just like yours a few years ago. I honestly did not think about taping an SSD in a place where there is open space, now I want to! One thing I learned after doing it was that it wasn't...

    I built one just like yours a few years ago. I honestly did not think about taping an SSD in a place where there is open space, now I want to!

    One thing I learned after doing it was that it wasn't 100% worth it after all these years. I put one together because I wanted as console-like a PC as I could but it's just such a pain to take apart.

    Do you anticipate building one like this again?

    6 votes
    1. cfabbro
      Link Parent
      LOL yeah, I have no idea if it's a good idea or not to tape an SSD down but Linus did it and it's my oldest, smallest SSD anyways so if it causes some sort of problem and damages it, it's no big...

      LOL yeah, I have no idea if it's a good idea or not to tape an SSD down but Linus did it and it's my oldest, smallest SSD anyways so if it causes some sort of problem and damages it, it's no big loss.

      And yeah I definitely realize how much of a PITA it is to take apart a Mini-ITX... since I had to do that already with this very build in order to get one of the M.2 SATA drives back out after I realized my mobo only supports one M.2 SATA and one M.2 NVMe. Even as much of a PITA as it was I would still go with a Mini-ITX again though, since it's just so damn small, light and convenient to carry and I move my computer around a decent amount for LAN parties and whatnot.

      3 votes
    2. [5]
      crius
      Link Parent
      I was just wondering the same thing. Now I don't own a desktop since I left my parent's house (more going for 20 years ago, god I'm old) so I could be honestly missing the point here. I went,...

      One thing I learned after doing it was that it wasn't 100% worth it after all these years.

      I was just wondering the same thing.

      Now I don't own a desktop since I left my parent's house (more going for 20 years ago, god I'm old) so I could be honestly missing the point here.

      I went, since then, with good ventilation laptop instead, so that I could use them for gaming as well.

      Now the only advantage I've always seen with a desktop is that you have to worry much less of overheat and power output as you can install in wider space.

      By building in such a small case, don't you actually cause the problems above, despite having a desktop?

      Which other advantage there is, apart from weight and volume, in building a mini?

      3 votes
      1. NubWizard
        Link Parent
        Weight and volume are pretty much the only reasons unless it is look that you just like. I have my PC hooked up to my tv and it fits pretty well on an entertainment system shelf vs the full tower...

        Weight and volume are pretty much the only reasons unless it is look that you just like. I have my PC hooked up to my tv and it fits pretty well on an entertainment system shelf vs the full tower I used to have where I would have had to place the tower on the ground somewhere inconspicuous. Living in an apartment, the space savings can be great (not as good as a laptop) but the ability to upgrade is nice.

        I chose mini it because I would travel a lot and it was such a pain trying to buckle my tower into a passenger or back seat. Now I don't travel and I just avoid doing any upgrades to my system.

        2 votes
      2. [3]
        cfabbro
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        When it comes to gaming especially, laptops absolutely cannot compete with the performance of desktop hardware, and their components also can't really be overclocked or upgraded either, unlike...

        Now the only advantage I've always seen with a desktop is that you have to worry much less of overheat and power output as you can install in wider space.

        When it comes to gaming especially, laptops absolutely cannot compete with the performance of desktop hardware, and their components also can't really be overclocked or upgraded either, unlike desktops. My last desktop (the one I just retired) lasted over 8 years and was basically a top-end machine from beginning right until the end of its life due to overclocking and upgrading the major components (GPU, RAM, etc) every few years. In that same 8 year time I have gone through three "high-end" gaming laptops and even my latest one, purchased 2.5 years ago, is already starting to really show its age now as the 960M GPU in it can no longer play newer games on even medium settings anymore.

        And just to give you an example of the upgrade path of my last Desktop over the 8+ years:

        GPU: GTX 480 -> 2x GTX 480s (SLI) -> 980Ti
        RAM: 6GB (3x2GB) DDR3-1066 -> 12GB (6x2GB) DDR3-1600 -> 12GB (3x4GB) DDR3-2000
        Storage: 128GB SSD, 1TB HDD -> 256GB SSD, 2x 1TB HDDs -> 256GB+1TB SSDs, 2TB+4TB HDDs
        PSU: Antec CP-1000 -> EVGA 750 G3
        Plus many upgrades to all my peripherals (monitors, keyboards, mice, etc) over the years as well.

        Whereas all my laptops were/are stuck in the configuration I bought them in (other than adding more storage capacity) and rather quickly became obsolete (for gaming, at least) as a result.

        Which other advantage there is, apart from weight and volume, in building a mini?

        While the Mini-ITX was a PITA to build, it's still a Desktop and has all the advantages of being one, in that it can be overclocked and upgraded... but since it's so compact and light it also has some of the advantages of a laptop as well, in that it's portable enough I can easily take it with me to LAN parties... meaning I can stop wasting money buying a brand new gaming laptop every few years. Plus it was a very challenging build process which, while incredibly frustrating at times, was enjoyable and worthwhile. ;)

        1. [2]
          crius
          Link Parent
          I never meant to say that a laptop can compete with the performance of a desktop :) yeah, I thought about that but... are LAN parties still a thing? :P Also, yeah, it's portable but you need that...

          When it comes to gaming especially, laptops absolutely cannot compete with the performance of desktop hardware

          I never meant to say that a laptop can compete with the performance of a desktop :)

          I can easily take it with me to LAN parties

          yeah, I thought about that but... are LAN parties still a thing? :P
          Also, yeah, it's portable but you need that the LAN place lend you screen and K&M. And with the screen becoming quite an important part of a setup today, I'm not seeing such a benefit compared to the PITA to build a mini :-/

          Nothing to say about the "fun" of doing it anyway, I'm more than used to do stuff just for the sake of doing it and have fun/learn in the process :D

          2 votes
          1. cfabbro
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Not really... a keyboard, mouse and the necessary computer cables fit easily enough into a normal backpack and the days of 50lbs CRTs are thankfully long gone. There are even plenty of rolling...

            you need that the LAN place lend you a screen and K&M

            Not really... a keyboard, mouse and the necessary computer cables fit easily enough into a normal backpack and the days of 50lbs CRTs are thankfully long gone. There are even plenty of rolling luggage and backpacks available these days that are specifically designed for carrying a desktop+monitor+peripherals.

            are LAN parties still a thing? :P

            Have I got news for you, my friend... LAN parties are bigger and more badass than ever. Dreamhack Montreal is in Sept and even outside the LAN specific cons the others usually also have BYOC (bring your own computer) LAN events going on (e.g. PAX).

            I also frequently attend an informal “con” with my old Everquest/WoW guild friends where we often have a LAN party going during it. We have been doing it almost every year for over 20 years now and there are usually 15-20 of us attending, flying in from all over North America.

            2 votes
  2. [3]
    Gyrfalcon
    Link
    In the future I would like to go with either a mini-itx or compact micro-atx build. Unfortunately I've committed to a laptop as my daily driver until I graduate. You mentioned installing Linux...

    In the future I would like to go with either a mini-itx or compact micro-atx build. Unfortunately I've committed to a laptop as my daily driver until I graduate.

    You mentioned installing Linux alongside Windows. Do you do gaming on Linux, or do you use it for something else? How are the nvidia drivers on Mint? I'm on Mint 18.3 and I only get about half the performance as I do on Windows :(.

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I am rather new to Linux (I have dabbled with VMs a bit in the past but this is the first dual boot I have done) and so have done the vast majority of my gaming on Windows. I have played a bunch...

      I am rather new to Linux (I have dabbled with VMs a bit in the past but this is the first dual boot I have done) and so have done the vast majority of my gaming on Windows. I have played a bunch of hours of Rocket League on Mint now though, and while the performance was pretty terrible with the opensource drivers, the proprietary Nvidia ones were a dramatic improvement. It's still not quite up to par with the windows drivers, especially in regards to maintaining consistent FPS but it was good enough and I can definitely see myself using Linux more and more for gaming, especially single player games where the FPS drops aren't quite so noticeable or detrimental.

      2 votes
      1. Gyrfalcon
        Link Parent
        I'm hoping to transfer over to linux for more gaming in the future. My GPU is decidedly less powerful than the one you're running, so I'm keeping to lighter titles on Linux for now.

        I'm hoping to transfer over to linux for more gaming in the future. My GPU is decidedly less powerful than the one you're running, so I'm keeping to lighter titles on Linux for now.

        1 vote
  3. [2]
    evans
    Link
    The question on everyone's mind who listens to you on discord is did you leave enough room in the budget for a new chair...

    The question on everyone's mind who listens to you on discord is did you leave enough room in the budget for a new chair...

    1 vote
    1. cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Hah, nope. It's still as squeaky as ever! And to make matters worse I also bought a new mechanical keyboard as well, which is even more clickity-clacky than my old one too. ;)

      Hah, nope. It's still as squeaky as ever! And to make matters worse I also bought a new mechanical keyboard as well, which is even more clickity-clacky than my old one too. ;)

      1 vote
  4. [5]
    Grand0rbiter
    Link
    I envy you. Grew up with desktops until this year (i'm 33 now) Moved away from my parents house and i'm in a new city far away. Now i'm living with my first laptop. I'm hating it. I need it since...

    I envy you. Grew up with desktops until this year (i'm 33 now)

    Moved away from my parents house and i'm in a new city far away. Now i'm living with my first laptop. I'm hating it. I need it since i go back on weekends and take it so i can play games and watch movies with my SO.

    I only use Linux and we play Windows games through Lutris/wine (currently playing Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime and Final Fantasy XII) and a lot of emulators (Mario Kart Double Dash).

    Can't wait to go back to desktop and have a full AMD one.

    I'm not an avid gamer so probably mine will be more simpler.

    Edit: oh this is an old thread. I came here from the other thread and didn't notice. Still applies...

    1 vote
    1. [3]
      Diff
      Link Parent
      Lovers ain't native? Could have sworn it was native. Love that it's plausible to have possibly played some Windows only games without noticing now thanks to Proton. Still p sure it's native but.

      Lovers ain't native? Could have sworn it was native.

      Love that it's plausible to have possibly played some Windows only games without noticing now thanks to Proton. Still p sure it's native but.

      2 votes
      1. sandaltree
        Link Parent
        Definitely is native; win/mac/linux.

        Definitely is native; win/mac/linux.

        2 votes
      2. Grand0rbiter
        Link Parent
        I think it is native, but I just have the Windows version.

        I think it is native, but I just have the Windows version.

        1 vote
    2. cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I was similarly stuck with just a laptop while living in the UK for a few years... it was terrible and so I feel your pain. I have and use a decent high-end laptop as well, even with my current...

      I was similarly stuck with just a laptop while living in the UK for a few years... it was terrible and so I feel your pain. I have and use a decent high-end laptop as well, even with my current setup, but I could never go back to using it exclusively. And unfortunately now that I have experienced the glory that is multiple monitors, I don't think I could go back to a single monitor at this point again either. I may have gone a tad overboard and could probably live with 3 again, but no less than that. :/

      p.s. No worries about the old topic. I really enjoy receiving messages on old stuff like this, and seeing old conversations pop back up... hence why I have All Activity - All Time as my default sort. :)

      1 vote
  5. [2]
    ThiccPad
    Link
    The pasted list does not match the price from the site....No way price fluctuates this much in a week??

    The pasted list does not match the price from the site....No way price fluctuates this much in a week??

    1. cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      It has been a tad more than a week since this was originally posted. ;) And if you're wondering why this topic was presumably near the top of your Activity sort:...

      It has been a tad more than a week since this was originally posted. ;)

      Posted July 18, 2018

      And if you're wondering why this topic was presumably near the top of your Activity sort:

      https://docs.tildes.net/instructions/tildes-front-page#sorting-the-topics

      Activity orders the topics so that the topics with recent comments posted in them appear at the top. Some comments are excluded and will not cause the topic to "bump", such as ones made in threads labeled as Offtopic and Noise.

      Grand0rbiter found this topic from another of my recent comments mentioning the build, and similarly didn't realize how old it was so made a new comment here... which triggered the topic to get bumped up to the top of the Activity sort, just as your new comment (and mine) here has now done again. :P

      2 votes