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Mini-ITX Gamer August 2013

Mini-ITX Gamer August 2013

If size does matter (and that's smaller is better), then our Mini-ITX Gamer system is for you. We've selected the best components to create a dinky system that can still power itself through the latest games and provide ample power for other demanding tasks too. Whether you just need a smaller PC or something more manageable to take to LAN parties, this PC has all the gear you need.

PC Hardware Buyer's Guide August 2013 Mini-ITX Gamer August 2013
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 ProductUK Price (inc VAT)US Price (ex tax)
CPU3.4GHz Intel Core i5-4670K£185$230
CoolingCorsair H80i£70$78
MotherboardMSI Z87i£104$140
CaseBitFenix Prodigy£65$90
Memory8GB 1,600MHz DDR3£50$58
Graphics CardNvidia GeForce GTX 760 2GB£195$250
PSUThermalTake SP-530PCWEU£52$65
Storage (SSD)128GB Sandisk Ultra Plus£72$100
Storage (HDD)2TB Hard Disk£65$90
 Overall Price:£858$1,101

New This Month

We've opted for a Haswell-based PC using the Intel Core i5-4670K. However, we haven't quite got round to taking a look at any mini-ITX LGA1150 motherboards yet. Our recommendation, in the form of MSI's Z87i, comes from our initial testing of several mini-ITX boards that you'll be able to read about in the near future. It represented the best value for money, retailing at just £104, while also being well-versed in overclocking with a great EFI, plenty of features and a complaint-free layout to boot.

PC Hardware Buyer's Guide August 2013 Mini-ITX Gamer August 2013
Click to enlarge

We've also updated the graphics card to include Nvidia's GeForce GTX 760 2GB, which currently offers the best bang for your buck at around £200. It's worth baring in mind that our chosen case - BitFenix's Prodigy, does have a 180mm limit for graphics cards with the upper hard disk caddie installed so you'll need to find a model that meets this requirement or remove the upper cage.

Our choice of CPU cooler, which is now Corsair's H80i, also requires some forethought. If you need an optical drive then you'll need to mount the cooler's radiator in the front or rear of the case, instead of the roof. The former will mean removing both hard disk caddies, leaving you with the two 2.5in mounts in the side of the case for SSDs but no room for a hard disk.

Alternatively, if you're prepared to go for an air cooler, you can keep all the hard disk caddies and fit an optical drive. Our choice would be SilverStone's Argon AR01, which is also well within the Prodigy's 170mm height limit too. Another option would be to use a slimline optical drive and a 5.25in to slimline optical drive adaptor. This means there's enough room to fit both an optical drive and liquid cooler in the roof, albeit with the extra expense of the optical drive and bay adaptor.

PC Hardware Buyer's Guide August 2013 Mini-ITX Gamer August 2013
Click to enlarge

Finally, we've updated our choice of SSD. The 128GB Sandisk Ultra Plus is nippy but more importantly offers an excellent GB/£ ratio. With the 256GB version costing less than £130, it potentially gives you the option to do away with the hard disk caddies in the Prodigy, making way for water-cooling hardware and or allowing you to fit an optical drive while using an all-in-one liquid cooler. Likewise, if you really can stretch the budget, pushing to a 500GB Samsung SSD Evo should relieve all your storage woes.

And The Rest

Our case of choice hasn't changed from our first Mini-ITX Gamer listing and for good reasons. While it's build quality isn't quite top notch, the BitFenix Prodigy is customisable and has plenty of space to work with - something that can't be said for many mini-ITX systems. What's more, there are plenty of ways to water-cool it too. There's room in the roof for a dual 120mm-fan radiator, while the front section can house a 200mm radiator, with fan and there's room for a pump behind these too. Bay reservoirs are also an option thanks to the 5.25in bay or you could install a swanky automatic fan controller such as the Lamptron CW611.

Our PSU is perfect for the Prodigy because while it's not modular, it's a standard and not over-size model (which can make things rather a tight squeeze in the Prodigy's PSU bay). There's plenty of power on tap with the ThermalTake SP-530PCWEU too - nearly enough to power our system twice over. It's also perfectly stable and costs just £52.

That's it for our August 2013 Buyer's Guide. Let us know your thoughts in the forum.

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