Tips for Building in ITX for the First Time

August 30, 2021

So you want to build your first ITX PC:

Maybe it was your desire to try something new, or maybe you're looking at someone's completed REVOLT 3 mini-battlestation online (and drooling over their performance specs, too). Whatever the reason, you're curious about ITX. 

There's plenty of tips for first-time builders out there who want to construct a PC that works hard, keeps cool, and can go wherever you do. But what should first-time builders expect? We've got answers to your frequently asked questions:

What is an ITX PC, and why should I build one?

ITX PCs are smaller than your average computer, which typically has an ATX form factor. The goal of an ITX build is to take up less space, while keeping the same high performance from hardware that you'd expect from ATX systems. Smaller systems can appeal to minimalists, budget builders, and high-performance enthusiasts alike; but without proper planning, building an ITX PC can present unique challenges.

So, why should you build one? There are plenty of advantages (see our article on that for more information), but here's the short version:

  • Similar size to a console, with full PC power.
  • Sits on your desk, for space-saving, better cooling, and less dust.
  • Portability, so you can play anywhere.
  • A cleaner look and feel, with components you choose.

Can I convert my current ATX PC to ITX?

Yes, you can! With some considerations.

Firstly, do your research on ITX cases to make sure they can fit your most crucial components, like your GPU. The REVOLT 3 already comes with enough space for triple-slot GPUs, so it's likely your current one will work just fine.

Second, your motherboard will likely need to be changed. ATX boards don't fit in ITX cases. Find an ITX board that can house the rest of your components.

Finally, your PSU may also need adjusting, depending on the size. Not all cases can accommodate larger PSUs. you'll also want to opt for a modular PSU if you can, to cut down on cables.

Do ITX cases have "bad thermals?"

In the same way that poorly built or poorly planned ATX PCs can also have bad thermals, yes. No matter the form factor, don't assume that slapping some fans on your case and leaving a nest of cables inside will equate to good cooling.

In order to maximize the performance of components in an ITX case, you just need to take more time to plan:

  • Understand that you will have to make some decisions between cooling, noise levels, and performance
    • This is true for any PC you build, but will become more obvious when building an ITX system.
    • As a general rule: when gaming, prioritize your GPU for cooling. If you are working on editing or other CPU heavy tasks, prioritize your processor.
    • Do your research on the case you want, and get inspired by the solutions from builders around you!
  • Second, think about the order in which your components are placed in your PC.
    • Assembly order will impact your cable management strategy, and how easily you can assemble your PC.
    • Space is limited, order matters when you puzzle out space for your cables and components.
  • Speaking of cables: If your current waterblock has RGB, consider replacing it with a block that doesn't need it.
    • RGB lighting means more connectors, more cables, and less space in your system.
    • On the flip side, if you NEED the lights, plan your cable management accordingly. You'll just have more to deal with.

What if I've never built a PC before?

We don't want to sugar coat it - ITX builds can be challenging, so it's not usually recommended for first-time builders. HOWEVER, if you're serious about making an ITX system your first build, we love that enthusiasm around here!

Although it may seem rather daunting at first, the process of building your own PC from scratch is actually pretty straightforward, if you do your homework. Building a computer in an ITX case is like building one with an ATX case, but with far less space. Parts compatibility and layout are even more important as a result.

We've got several articles on our blog that will give you a good head start when it comes to building. Our biggest tip? Ask for help! Friends and family, online forums, even video tutorials will help make the building process that much easier. We've also got a growing community full of builders ready to answer questions and share struggles, so join us and get the insight you need.

There are so many cases to pick from! How do I decide?

When deciding on a case, you'll want to consider what you're using the PC for, what your budget is, and if you like the look of the case. We're a little biased around here, but we think the REVOLT 3 should suit your needs pretty well for any ITX build you're thinking of. ;)

With removable panels all over, a hinged door for your radiator, and dedicated cooling channels for both CPU and GPU, you'll find that this case makes ITX building a LOT easier.

Want to learn more about the REVOLT 3? Click here to check it out!