Ready to build a new PC but have limited space and a limited budget? It’s time to consider the Mini-ITX form factor. Compact motherboards measuring just 170mm by 170mm could revolutionize how you use your computer.
As with any PC build, you need to have the right components carefully chosen for compatibility. Here’s everything you need to know about building a powerful and compact PC using the Mini-ITX form factor.
Used for PC with ITX form factor
Building a small Mini-ITX PC is ideal for several purposes.
- Compact desktop
- Creating a media center or Home Theater PC (HTPC)
- To run as your own data or media server
- As a dedicated gaming PC
Below are instructions for building a standard, low power, compact desktop computer. For a dedicated HTPC or gaming PC, you can choose to add a dedicated graphics card. Likewise, if you’re building a server, you’ll probably choose the maximum number of storage options.
What You Need for an ITX Mini PC
Regardless of size, building a PC has the same basic requirement: ensuring hardware compatibility.
For a Mini-ITX PC, you’ll need a suitable 170 x 170mm motherboard, as well as a low-profile heatsink and fan. Looking for a more intense gaming experience? Look for a powerful enough GPU to suit the occasion.
The PC shown in this guide has the following components:
- Case: Cooler Master RC-130-KKN1 Elite 130
- PSU: Corsair VS450
- Motherboard: ASRock AB350 Gaming-ITX/IC
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 3 2200G with Radeon Vega 8 graphics
- RAM: Ballistix Elite 4GB DDR4
- HDD: SanDisk SSD PLUS 120GB Internal SSD
Building an ITX mini PC in 10 steps
Be sure to read the documentation that came with your motherboard and case before proceeding. Understanding which device goes where, which jumpers to use, and how to properly set up the BIOS will help solve most of the problems that arise when building a new computer.
Step 1: Order spare parts, check for compatibility
You have already settled on a Mini-ITX case, so now you need to choose the hardware that suits your requirements and budget.
Beware: It’s easy to order the wrong parts. The motherboard, processor and RAM modules must be fully compatible for the computer to work. Thus, you must use an online compatibility tool.
- Crucial Offers RAM and Motherboard Compatible ‘Advisor’ Tool
- Intel dedicates part of its hardware compatibility site
- PC Part Picker is an excellent independent resource for purchasing compatible components
Once you have checked, check again. Place an order only after making sure that the equipment is working and you have studied the satisfactory reviews.
Step 2: Prepare your antistatic workspace
Before unpacking the parts, take the time to clean the work area. Wipe it free of fabrics and loose metal. Then ground yourself with an anti-static wrist strap.
Then, unpack the motherboard by placing the anti-static bag on one side.
Place the motherboard in the foam antistatic bag (NOT the antistatic bag) it came with before proceeding.
Step 3: Install the processor
Here’s how to safely install the processor:
- Release the latch on the processor socket. This will either be a lever or a cover that pivots over the processor and locks it in place.
- The processor will only sit in one direction. Each pin on the underside has its own individual socket, so it is very important that the processor is properly oriented. You will probably notice a small triangle at one corner of the processor; this will match the similar symbol on the motherboard’s CPU socket. Make sure the processor is installed in the socket before continuing.
- Secure the processor in place using the bracket or cover. If you installed the processor correctly, no effort is required.
This three-step process ensures safe and accurate installation. The processor setting will differ depending on the type of socket.
Step 4: Attach Heatsink and Fan
It is vital that the processor stays cool, which means adding a heatsink and fan to dissipate heat.