Building a small form factor VR-capable HTPC

I’ve been looking around for a couple weeks and it seems like this should be easily feasible, and would love to hear your recommendations:

  • Case should be no more than 6” tall, a foot wide, and 12-18” deep
  • 2070-ish class of power which can easily run HL: Alyx when it comes out
  • CPU / GPU / cooler / PSU need to fit in that case of course
  • Also going to use it as my Plex media server but that should be simple compared to gaming
  • Design should be low-key and look like any ordinary media appliance
  • I’ll be using a Quest Link, so I need compatible USB ports which are ideally on the front of the case, not the back
  • Keep it under $900 or so if possible without completely cheaping out on components

There are seemingly a million options to achieve this and I’m open to anything from pre-built, to bare bones kits, to going fully custom build. Any particular recommendations?

Subscribe to /r/sffpc on reddit. They have a recommended list of components for beginners in the subreddit sidebar.

Thanks for the pointer! I’ll take a look.

I’d suggest basing it on cheap Ryzen 3000/2000 with mini ITX or 2000 with integrated Radeon video if you don’t need discrete GPU for real-gaming. Does Quest Link need a real GPU?

If you were in Canada locally I’d sell you a new-in-box Silverstone SG05 spare case I have lying around. I also sold a spare node 804 I had but that’s mATX not mini ITX. Some of those smaller volume ones are bought from Chinese online marketplaces and can take a while to arrive but stuffing them is truly impressive. My June 2019 Ryzen 2700 build was in a more widely-available Fractal Node 304 mini ITX case.


Quest link just turns the quest into a traditional pcvr headset. So yes the PC will need to have an ordinary powerful CPU/GPU like all pcvr solutions need.

I’m aware of the usb cable issues. Just need to have a case with front ports which will work assuming everything else is in order.

I’ve had one of these connected to my TV for about a year, with a 1080 Ti and a Ryzen 2700X.

Only one USB port on the front, but an awesome little case (yes, PITA to connect the wiring) that supports full size a GPU.

I just had an idea and wanted to get folks’ opinions here.

For right now all I want is a HTPC to replace my aging Alienware alpha. I’ve had it for 4 years and it’s served me well but it’s really showing it’s age.

So, what I’m thinking now is that I build my new HTPC with everything in it except a dedicated GPU. I’ll use an AMD CPU with decent integrated graphics for now. And then closer Alyx coming out I’ll get a GPU then - I figure they’ll be cheaper by then.

Make sense? If so, should I go with AMD or Intel for the CPU? Seems like AMD is the way to go these days but I’m not sure.

While there will also be many other PC and PCVR games I want to play in addition to Alyx, I have plenty of other stuff I want to play in the meantime.

AMD APUs are behind the current 3000 generation of AMD CPU. Me, I’m worried the Trump China trade war will escalate and raise prices more.

I assume you are going with mini ITX and the next question is if you need below or above 20L volume.

Look into the Hades Canyon NUCs by Intel, though they’re a year out of generation.

You can’t stick a 2-slot GPU into the Alpha right? What CPU and RAM is it?

I wish the Loque Ghost and Dan A4s weren’t such a pain to get to Canada and more widely available:

The Lian-Li TU150 has a handle

A few things after researching some more:

  • The Alpha is definitley not expandable. I have this one which is extremely tiny, with just a Dual-Core i3-4130T

  • AMD doesn’t seem like the best option, since the only way to get integrated graphics for now is to get a lower-end AMD chip

  • Hades Canyon NUCs seem awfully expensive for what they offer. I’ll just start from scratch with an Intel-based SFF build I think

You can’t stick a card in it, but if you have an R2 model you can use a graphics amplifier with it.

But a SFF with an external graphics card might be up your alley.

Oh yeah I recommend more than 4 cores, 4 threads. i3 is just dual w/o boost frequency, right? The thing with SFF, putting in GPU is such as hassle I wouldn’t recommend doing it later…

Did you make any headway with this @LMN8R ?

Yeah, I ended up going with the Node 202 case, a 450W SFX power supply, a core i5-9600k, asrock ITX mobo, 500GB nvme drive, and 16GB Corsair LPX DDR4. Came together very nicely so far.

I’ll get a GPU sometime in the next few months.

Huh I didn’t know there was a node 202 that could fit a gpu. Haven’t looked at any in the horizontal form factor in a long time and antec’s couldn’t fit a full gpu. Nice going.

The Node 202 only comes in one size. It does have some size limitations but nothing too severe. And people recommend getting a card with a blower instead of fans in top.