So, do you want to build a gaming PC so that it’s not huge, noisy, and intrusively RGB illuminated? Is it even possible to pack a mini gaming PC in dimensions close to the PS5 or Xbox One S?
Of course, it’s possible, but you have to plan which components to choose carefully.
For mini PC, various manufacturers make motherboards in Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX format and cases with enough space to install classic size components. Depending on the size and design of the case itself, you can install a discrete graphics card in the low-profile or full-size form, one or more 2.5″ SSD or 3.5″ HDDs.
Although smaller in size, the mini gaming PC doesn’t lag in performance behind bigger desktop solutions. If you don’t want to pay more for prebuilt solutions from MSI, Intel, Asus, etc., you need to roll up your sleeves and build your mini PC yourself as desired.
The build process of the mini PC itself isn’t too complicated, unlike assembling a computer in a classic midi ATX case, but you will need more time and patience. Before planning your first mini PC, please read how to build your first PC.
You must pay attention to an important detail: the already prolonged shortage of graphics cards with no signs of improvement in supply. A general problem in the deficit is the COVID-19 pandemic and disruption in supply chains, cryptocurrency mining, and chip shortages, all of which lead to increased demand for graphics cards.
Apart from being hard to find, they are much more expensive than the recommended price, so consider yourself lucky if you still get an affordable and powerful graphics card. For this reason, I have carefully chosen the components you need to install with the ease of upgrading a discrete graphics card when the right moment comes.
Some graphics cards appear at a relatively affordable price, so you have to keep up and be fast. If you can’t wait, I’ll recommend which discrete graphics card would be the best choice for your mini PC and where to find it. See the recommendation at the end of this article.
1. Best Budget Mini Gaming PC Build
By the name, you might conclude that this is one cheap configuration from which you shouldn’t expect much. However, with a careful selection of quality components, you have come to a powerful computer that will pleasantly surprise you thanks to the powerful Radeon Vega RX graphics card.
The built-in amount of 16GB RAM and a fast M.2 NVMe SSD will prove great allies for the graphics card in 720p gaming and 1080p, depending on the game.
By installing a higher quality power supply unit, there is room for installing a stronger discrete graphics card when you feel the right moment for something like that. Although the case is small, installing newer and more powerful graphics cards is possible thanks to well-resolved cooling and the design itself.
For around $ 550, you get an exceptional mini gaming PC with a solid and spacious NVMe drive and 16GB of fast RGB memory. Thanks to that, you will notice the quick loading of games and the generally speedier operation of the entire PC.
I chose the new Ryzen 5 5600G processor with a great Vega RX 7 integrated graphics card for the best budget mini PC. The Radeon Vega RX is currently the best-integrated graphics you can find, integrated into the Ryzen 5 5600G and Ryzen 7 5700G processors.
The mini PC configuration is with the Asus Prime B450M-A II motherboard, supporting the latest generation’s Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 Zen3 processors (with BIOS update to version 2409). Prime B450M is also Windows 11 compatible, so you won’t have any problems switching to the new operating system.
For the RAM, I chose a two-board memory kit of 8GB each, which gives 16GB of RAM for dual-channel mode. I decided on the visually appealing and fast RGB RAM TEAMGROUP T-Force Delta DDR4 16GB (2x8GB) 3600MHz. Thanks to the excellent RAM speed that also works in dual-channel mode, you can extract more FPS from Vega RX in your favorite games.
For the data warehouse, I chose more than a good WD Blue SN550. It’s a budget gaming NVMe SSD for PCIe 3.0 interface, supported by the Asus Prime B450M through M.2 port. The SN550 supports read speeds of up to 2400 MB/s and write speeds of up to 1950 MB/s.
The classic SSD SATA III interface is limited to speeds of up to 600 MB/s, and in addition, you must connect it with a SATA cable to the motherboard and power it from the PSU. The NVMe drive is a much faster option than the SATA SSD, and you can easily install it in the M.2 slot on the motherboard.
I chose the 1TB NVMe SSD because you can install the operating system, favorite games, and frequently used applications on it, so you also have a stock of storage space. WD gives a 5-year warranty for SN550, which provides you with security for a more extended time.
In addition to the 1TB capacity, the WD SN550 is also available in a 2TB size. Unfortunately, the price isn’t so good for higher capacity, but if you insist on 2TB, take a look at a better offer from Kingston.
I chose an excellent EVGA 600 BQ, 80+ Bronze 600W, with a three-year warranty. It’s a model that can drive a more robust discrete graphics card like RTX 3060 without any problems. The PSU is semi-modular, so the excess cables stay in the box until you need them.
I chose the Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L case from the list of the best smallest ATX cases for 2021.
2. Best Mid-Range Mini Gaming PC Build
I chose an even smaller case for the mid-range mini PC, with a beautiful design but still spacious enough to accommodate more powerful components. Due to the size of the case, you have to go with the smallest motherboard, i.e., mini-ITX, which has everything you may need for everyday work and gaming.
The motherboard isn’t cheap. Although small, it belongs to the Asus Gaming series and has many features for serious gamers.
The case can also accommodate larger and more powerful graphics cards, so I chose a stronger PSU of the semi-modular type.
For around $ 800, you get an exceptional mini gaming PC with an excellent motherboard, ultra-fast NVMe SSD drive, and 16GB of high-speed memory that will accompany the Radeon RX Vega graphics card in any demanding situation.
I stick to the excellent Ryzen 5 5600G processor with an integrated Vega RX 7 graphics card for this mid-range mini PC. Given the price and performance, this is a good purchase in the long run.
The mid-range mini PC configuration is with the mini-ITX motherboard ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming, which supports the latest generation’s Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 Zen3 processors (with BIOS update to version 2403). The only downside to this small board is that you only have two memory slots, but that is the price of a small format.
The ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming has an integrated WiFi network card and supports the two M.2 NVMe SSD PCI 4.0. Both M.2 slots are covered with heatsinks, so your NVMe SSD will be efficiently cooled even under the heaviest load. Of course, this is a good thing because your SSD will work long and reliably.
I will stick to the same memory kit with two 8 GB modules, giving 16 GB of RAM for dual-channel mode. If your budget allows, since the motherboard has only two memory slots, you can also consider a 2 x 16GB (32GB total) combination for the future.
I will choose the excellent WD Black SN850 NVMe SSD with 1TB, among the best SSD NVMe drives for the PCIe 4.0 interface for SSD storage space and the primary drive.
I will take a slightly stronger EVGA 700 BQ, 80+ Bronze 700W, which comes with a 5-year warranty. The EVGA 700 BQ is semi-modular and suitable for good cable management inside a small case. With this PSU, you will run a strong RTX 3070 graphics card without any problems.
I chose an attractive NZXT H210i case from the list of the best smallest ATX cases for 2021.
3. Best High-End Mini Gaming PC Build
I go with the smallest dimensions and the most attractive case you can take for a high-end mini gaming PC build. Same as for the NZXT H210i, you need to use a mini-ITX motherboard. I will opt for a top-notch small motherboard loaded with additional options for a real gamer.
Such a small case also requires good CPU cooling, so I chose an attractive RGB water cooling.
For about $ 1,100, you get the fast CPU, accompanied by a high-speed NVMe SSD and 32 GB of RAM at 3600 Mhz which will not give in to even the most demanding challenges.
All of the above makes an excellent base for a mini gaming beast that is just waiting for the right discrete graphics card. Meanwhile, with Radeon RX Vega 8, you can expect great results in 720p and 1080p, depending on the gaming title.
For this high-end mini PC, I will choose the Ryzen 7 5700G processor with an integrated Radeon Vega RX 8 graphics card for two reasons. First, thanks to the best available integrated graphics card, you will have excellent performance in most games in 720p and 1080p with a reasonable level of detail. Secondly, you will create a great foundation until you develop a favorable combination for installing a discrete graphics card.
The basis of high-end mini gaming PC configuration is the mini-ITX motherboard GIGABYTE X570 I AORUS Pro WiFi, which supports the latest generation’s Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 Zen3 processors (with BIOS update to version F34). The only downside to this small board is that you only have two memory slots, but that is the price of a small format.
The GIGABYTE X570 I AORUS has an integrated WiFi network card and support for the two M.2 NVMe SSD PCI 4.0. Both M.2 slots are covered with heatsinks, so your NVMe SSD will be efficiently cooled even under the heaviest load. Of course, this is a good thing because your SSD will work long and reliably.
For this configuration, I will choose a memory set T-Force Delta RGB DDR4 3600Mhz with two 16GB modules to total 32GB. According to your budget, since the mini-ITX motherboard has only two memory slots, you can also consider a 2 x 32GB (64GB total) combination for the future.
For storage space and the primary drive, I will choose the excellent Samsung 980 Pro NVMe SSD with 1TB and the best SSD NVMe drives for the PCIe 4.0 interface.
PSU & CASE
For this high-end mini gaming PC, I have chosen an extraordinarily compact and beautifully designed InWin A1 Plus case from the list of the best smallest ATX cases for 2021.
Please note that InWin A1 Plus also comes with a quality power supply unit of 650W with 80+ Gold certification.
Discrete graphics card
As I have already pointed out, the prices and availability of discrete graphics cards are awful for every gamer. However, if you can’t wait for better days, you must constantly monitor the development of the market situation and seize a good opportunity. Accordingly, I looked for some decent offers, so if they are still current, see if they fit into your planned budget.
As you can see, you can build a mighty small gaming PC by carefully selecting the components. Thanks to the rich offer, you can choose small ATX cases that are extraordinarily designed but functional. Small PC cases can decorate your interior while taking up little space.
Fortunately, you can also find powerful motherboards in mini-ITX format. Such compact motherboards lag a tiny behind in the performance and capabilities offered by larger motherboards.
Remember that you can install stronger graphics cards in small ATX cases thanks to well-resolved cooling and internal component layout.
There’s, of course, an alternative in the form of a prebuilt mini PC from various manufacturers, but I believe there’s always something that will not suit you in such an offer, starting with a higher price. I still recommend that you make a mini gaming PC according to your wishes, imagination, and budget because I gave you a good starting point through the three described variants.
However, if you have additional questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.