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The Best $1,000 eSports Mini-ITX Gaming PC Build – July 2021

By Ari Altman | Published June 29, 2021 | Updated June 29, 2021

Critical Update: if you actually want to start gaming on a new PC any time before Fall 2021, you have three options: go for one of the very few pre-built PCs still on the market, build up a system using the onboard graphics featured on Intel’s latest CPUs, or use an older GPU that you have on hand.  That’s because all new GPUs are sold out worldwide due to the ongoing cryptocurrency mining crisis. We present both pre-built and DIY options in this guide. Based on current estimates, we believe that GPUs will not be available at retail prices until September 2021 at the earliest.

While sales of PCs have been up and down over the past few years, there’s one area that’s growing at an amazing rate, and that’s eSports gaming PCs. What makes a gaming PC an eSports gaming PC? It’s simple: hitting the sweet spot on portability, price, and performance. This build will give you all that, along with the win in your next competition!

For July 2021, the $1,000 Slim Mini-ITX Build features Intel’s Core i5-10600K, a six-core, 12-thread CPU that boosts to 4.8GHz offers tremendous gaming performance for the price, along with onboard graphics, which is priceless these days since GPUs are unavailable. Note that there’s been a run on Intel’s mid-range CPUs lately, so we regularly swap out our Core i5 selection based on what’s actually available. Speaking of product shortages, GPUs have been sold out since the beginning of 2021, but once they restock, we recommend the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super 6GB for this build. In terms of storage, this build gets an ultra-fast 500GB PCIe-based solid-state drive, along with 16GB of DDR4-2666 RAM. Once you have all your new gear in hand, you’ll be installing it in the easily portable SilverStone ML08 chassis, cooling it with a low-profile Scythe cooler, and powering it up with a 500W Gold-rated power supply. You can learn more about this build and ask any and all questions in our !

We also list some of our very favorite peripherals for gamers looking for maximum performance at a fantastic price. Scroll all the way down to check them out! And if this build isn’t quite what you’re looking for, we have a feeling we have another solution that will for for you, so just flip over to our Introduction to Small Form Factor PCs to learn more about our other compact options.

We provide Amazon, Newegg, or B&H links for our readers in the United States, and our Amazon links will auto-convert for readers in Canada, the UK, and parts of the EU, with automatic substitutions made where necessary. If you decide to purchase any of the products listed below, please use the links provided, which helps support continued development of this guide.

The Pre-Built Option

  • Want a positively-tiny gaming system that will look great wherever you put it? Go for MSI’s Trident 3, which is under 9 liters in volume but packs in an Intel Core i5-10400F six-core processor, a GeForce GTX 1660 Super 6GB video card, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB solid-state drive, plus a 1TB hard drive.
    The Guru’s Tip

    This system is tiny, about 2/3 the size of the DIY build we post below, but the bad news is that it's extremely popular, and often sold out!

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The DIY Build

  • The overclockable Core i5-10600K offers up six cores, 12 threads, and a Turbo speed of 4.8GHz, which all translates to excellent gaming performance! AMD’s CPUs in this price range (of which there are basically none) couldn’t come close to competing. That gives Intel the clear advantage in terms of price/performance. In fact, the 10600K is a better gaming CPU than even Intel’s 11th-Gen models. Intel also has the only modern CPUs with built-in graphics, which is extremely important these days, since GPUs are unavailable.
    The Guru’s Tip

    Note that while this CPU is unlocked for overclocking, we have not specified an overclocking motherboard for a few reasons. First, they are very expensive, and second, overclocking in this slim build is not a good idea!

  • This low-cost mini-ITX board offers all the features you need for a compact build. That includes an M.2 SSD slot, dual RAM slots, four USB ports, and built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. Note that we’ve tracked availability of this model for a long time, and it’s practically a Newegg exclusive, so that’s where we’re linking to here. With that said, it’s often backordered due to high demand.

    The Guru’s Tip

    While you wait on a video card, you'll be able to use this board's DisplayPort output to drive any high-resolution monitor. The HDMI output is limited to 1920x1080.

  • Offering high performance in a compact package, along with very low power use, the GTX 1660 Super 6GB set new standards for GPUs under the $250 pricepoint. It’s significantly faster than the original 1660 due to a much more advanced memory subsystem.
    The Guru’s Tip

    We anticipate that GPUs will not return to retail until at least September 2021 due to massive supply constraints and unprecedented demand.

  • With 16GB of RAM, you’ll have plenty of capacity for any typical task. Why do we choose this kit in particular? It offers great speed for the price thanks to tight CL16 timings, rare on 2666 kits. Most are actually much slower.

    The Guru’s Tip

    ITX systems only have two RAM slots, so if you have a specific need for 32GB, you may want to go with a 2x16GB kit now, which you'll find on the same product page.

  • There’s lots of competition in the SSD market, but SSD pioneer Samsung has put all the other mid-priced offerings to shame with its 980 500GB, launched in early 2021. You simply can’t do better than this awesome SSD, which uses the speedy PCIe 3.0 interface and Samsung’s superior TLC NAND to vastly outperform every other PCIe 3.0 drive! Note that to install this drive, you’ll affix it in an M.2 slot on your motherboard using a .

    The Guru’s Tip

    Due to this drive's M.2 form factor, it will slip right into the motherboard, taking up zero space in your case, and eliminating typical SATA cable clutter!

  • The ML08 is a fantastic choice for a mainstream ITX system. It’s small, at just 12 liters, and yet can fit plenty of high-end gear. It’s also very easy to work in. Learn more about this case in our ! You can also get the .
    The Guru’s Tip

    Note that this case has a maximum CPU cooler clearance of 58mm, and that's exactly the height of the optional cooler we recommend later in this guide.

  • To power up this build, we recommend this awesome SFX unit. It’s fully modular, offers Gold-rated efficiency, and at 500W, has more than enough power to support this system.
    The Guru’s Tip

    This system will draw around 250W at load, meaning this unit will operate right in its sweet spot for efficiency.

  • If you want a quiet system, the best change you can make is to upgrade the CPU cooler, and this powerful model from Scythe will max out the cooling capacity of a low-profile system while minimizing noise. Learn more about this cooler in our recent !
    The Guru’s Tip

    In order to fit in a system, a cooler not only has to stay below the height limit of the case (which in this build is 58mm), it also has to clear standard-height RAM sticks, and most low-profile coolers don't, but this one does! Also note, this is not optional, as the CPU we recommend does not include a cooler!

  • Windows 10 was a big step up from Windows 8.1, and Microsoft continues to support Windows 10 users not only with regular security updates, but with major content releases every six months. And the USB version installs in under 5 minutes, meaning you can get right into using your system!
    The Guru’s Tip

    Windows updates W10 every six months, adding new features and enhancing security. Note that in the long run, Microsoft is almost certain to move to a yearly subscription plan, but buying a copy today locks in "permanent" ownership!

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Optional Products

  • Pick up a great keyboard at a great price with the G213. It’s quick, quiet, and responsive, and it also has sweet RGB backlighting, of course!
    The Guru’s Tip

    Note that while we really like wireless mice, we typically recommend wired keyboards unless you're shopping in the ultra-premium market, as wired keyboard don't need to move around much!

  • Offering cutting-edge performance, there’s nothing like the Basilisk X for anywhere near the price. Ultra-sensitive sensor, Razer’s awesome HyperSpeed wireless system, and perfect ergonomics. It’s a great mouse!
    The Guru’s Tip

    This mouse is priced like bottom-basement clones, but has the specs to compete with the very best! Don't be fooled into buying the no-name gear for a few dollars less (or more!).

  • Great sound, a great look, and wireless freedom. That’s what the HS70 from Corsair gives you, along with a great price!
    The Guru’s Tip

    The best part of this headset is the included Bluetooth functionality, allowing this headset to be used with smartphones and tablets in addition to your PC.

  • If you want to pick up a true “gaming” monitor, you want something with a high refresh rate. And this is the very best value out there in high-refresh-rate monitors. It features a 24″ 1920×1080 IPS panel capable of displaying images at up to 144Hz, which makes it infinitely smoother than a standard 60Hz monitor that costs just a bit less. And thanks to its FreeSync technology, it will run with zero lag or screen-tearing. Another nice feature of this model is the height-adjustable stand, which allows you to dial in just the right setup!
    The Guru’s Tip

    Once you've experienced a frame-synced image, you'll never want anything else!

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Total Cost: $1013

(as of June 29, 2021)
The Pre-Built Option
The DIY Build
Optional Products