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First build (1500$ or less if possible) for gaming and emulation - small form factor

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  • Homebuilt
  • Emulation
Last response: in Systems
December 7, 2013 12:51:37 PM

Being software developper with very limited knowledge of hardware, I decided it was time to build my first desktop. Here's my first draft:

- CPU: Intel Core i5-3570 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor *** overclocked to at least 4.5 GHZ (more if possible) *** ($220.00 @ Vuugo)
- CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Seidon 120M 86.2 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($63.19 @ DirectCanada)
- Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4-M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($139.99 @ Newegg Canada)
- Memory: Corsair 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($70.83 @ Amazon Canada)
- Video Card: 2X SLI Asus GeForce GTX 760 2GB Video Card (2-Way SLI) ($259.99 * 2 @ NCIX)
- Case: Silverstone SG10B MicroATX Mini Tower Case ($119.99 @ NCIX)
- Power Supply: Silverstone Strider Plus 1000W 80+ Silver Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($166.99 @ Newegg Canada)
- Storage 1 : Samsung 840 EVO 250GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($186.34 @ DirectCanada)
- Storage 1: Samsung Spinpoint M8 1TB 2.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($76.98 @ Newegg Canada)
- EVGA Slim Slot-Load Internal 8X DVDRW SATA Drive for EVGA Hadron Chassis (OEM-UJ8C5) with SATA Cable 100-OD-S101-BR 50,00$ @ Amazon.ca

(I already own the hard drives).

I want a small machine that will fit in my home theatre setup (always plugged on a 1080p TV). It will be used exclusively for media and games. I do a lot of emulation of recent consoles (ex. Dolphin), which relies on cpu power and requires 4 Ghz + to run all games, so I lean towards overclocking. Still need as much gpu power possible for newer PC games.

I've spent a lot of time researching on this build, so any help for fine tuning it would be appreciated. I would like opinions on the overall build, and more specific recommandations on:
- cooling strategy : is it sufficient? Should I go for full ATX size cooler?
- gpu, some brands better than others to keep adequate temperature in SLI?
- gpu: I'm considering SLI gtx 770 instead of 760. How would it affect performance at 1080p resolution? What about temperature increase?
- any part I can replace to lower cost without sacrificing performance/quality?
- Should I add additional fans (There are 2 empty fan slots in this case).

Notes:
I'm really a NVIDIA/INTEL guy.
This micro ATx case really has ideal dimensions for my living room.
I chose water cooling over air because it takes less room in this already small case (easier wiring, better air flow).
I live in Canada so I will order my parts on Canadian websites: amazon.ca, newegg.ca, ncix canada, etc.

Thanks in advance for help.

More about : build 1500 gaming emulation small form factor

a b 4 Gaming
a c 177 B Homebuilt system
December 7, 2013 1:19:27 PM

First the obvious one - you need to change the CPU to the 3570K.

2*4Gb is better than 1*8Gb of ram.

1000W PSU is monster overkill. 650-700W would be fine for that build. Lets call it 750W to be super paranoid. That's still a lot less than 1000W.

Personally, I'm not a fan of the SG10 case (and I'm a big fan of Silverstone in general) though it is about as small as you can possibly make a mATX case. For me the layout is good at fitting things together, but not great for much else. The side fans should help with SLI in a way that most mATX cases will not though, and that's good. If I were building a similar machine, I'd probably use the FT03, though I appreciate the dimensions are very different.

CPU cooling in a case like that is tricky, as there isn't much airflow into the CPU area. The images of AIO coolers within that case show the clearance tolerances are really really small, so make 100% sure you check that it'll fit before you buy (all of those units are very similar but are going to vary slightly, and given how close they are to the graphics cards, you might run into issues)

At 1080P two GTX760s is already overkill really. Given the case size you might be better off with a single GTX780 instead.

If you do go SLI, those two fan slots are right above the graphics cards. They are only for small fans, but they are probably worth filling given how close everything is together.
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a c 400 4 Gaming
a c 100 B Homebuilt system
December 7, 2013 3:59:32 PM

Are you planning to use an EVGA Hadron? That's a good choice for a SFF build. But no reason to pay that kind of money for old hardware. You need 2 x 4GB instead of 1 x 8GB, and get the most current generation of hardware you can. Dual cards won't fit in a small form factor, and 1KW is ridiculous overkill for that setup. Alternately I'd suggest a Bitfenix Prodigy.

There's two ways you could go about doing this:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($239.75 @ Vuugo)
CPU Cooler: NZXT Kraken X40 98.3 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($94.99 @ NCIX)
Motherboard: ASRock Z87E-ITX Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard ($142.50 @ Vuugo)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2133 Memory ($81.80 @ DirectCanada)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($139.79 @ DirectCanada)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($89.99 @ Memory Express)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card ($549.99 @ NCIX)
Case: EVGA Hadron Mini ITX Tower Case w/500W Power Supply ($189.99 @ NCIX)
Total: $1528.80
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-12-07 19:05 EST-0500)

Or:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($239.75 @ Vuugo)
CPU Cooler: NZXT Kraken X40 98.3 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($94.99 @ NCIX)
Motherboard: ASRock Z87E-ITX Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard ($142.50 @ Vuugo)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2133 Memory ($81.80 @ DirectCanada)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($139.79 @ DirectCanada)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($89.99 @ Memory Express)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card ($549.99 @ NCIX)
Case: BitFenix Prodigy (Black) Mini ITX Tower Case ($69.99 @ Memory Express)
Power Supply: SeaSonic S12II 620W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($90.98 @ Newegg Canada)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($19.50 @ Vuugo)
Total: $1519.28
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-12-07 19:00 EST-0500)
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December 9, 2013 8:59:25 PM

Rammy said:
First the obvious one - you need to change the CPU to the 3570K.

2*4Gb is better than 1*8Gb of ram.

1000W PSU is monster overkill. 650-700W would be fine for that build. Lets call it 750W to be super paranoid. That's still a lot less than 1000W.

Personally, I'm not a fan of the SG10 case (and I'm a big fan of Silverstone in general) though it is about as small as you can possibly make a mATX case. For me the layout is good at fitting things together, but not great for much else. The side fans should help with SLI in a way that most mATX cases will not though, and that's good. If I were building a similar machine, I'd probably use the FT03, though I appreciate the dimensions are very different.

CPU cooling in a case like that is tricky, as there isn't much airflow into the CPU area. The images of AIO coolers within that case show the clearance tolerances are really really small, so make 100% sure you check that it'll fit before you buy (all of those units are very similar but are going to vary slightly, and given how close they are to the graphics cards, you might run into issues)

At 1080P two GTX760s is already overkill really. Given the case size you might be better off with a single GTX780 instead.

If you do go SLI, those two fan slots are right above the graphics cards. They are only for small fans, but they are probably worth filling given how close everything is together.


Thank you for helping me on this first build of mine. I will definitely take your advice on the PSU, CPU and RAM.

I'm having a hard time, however, settling on a single GPU card solution. I understand that a single card is sufficient for most current generation games, but all comparison charts that I've seen show that 2 x GTX 760 give a substantial increase in performance over a single GTX 780, even at 1080p on a single monitor, so I feel that such a configuration would last me much longer (not to mention that it is cheaper). I do begin to realize that this case may not be the best way to do this though, so I went back to search for a new case.

My size requirements for a case are the following: max 470mm(W) x 370mm(H) x 360mm(D). The short depth is limiting my options a lot. Your suggestion, the FT03, as for most conventional towers, is also too high unfortunately.

I came across the Node 605 from Fractal Design, which was obviously designed for building a media center, but I think it could really make a good dual gpu gaming rig as well (it has a lot more airflow space at least). Only problem with this is that unlike the SG10, I haven't found any similar build anywhere, so I haven't got a clue what kind of cooling strategy would be appropriate for it. Maybe I should open a new thread to find someone with some experience with this case?

Here's my new tentative build for now:

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz (overclocked to at least 4.5 Ghz) Quad-Core Processor ($209.99 @ Amazon)
CPU cooler: ??? (No idea)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4-M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($129.98 @ OutletPC)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 760 2GB Video Card (2-Way SLI) ($254.98 @ Newegg)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 760 2GB Video Card (2-Way SLI) ($254.98 @ Newegg)
Case: Fractal Design Node 605 HTPC Case ($159.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Silverstone Strider Plus 750W 80+ Silver Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($126.66 @ Newegg)

Notes:
- This case supports a full ATX motherboard, but I read somewhere that a micro ATX or smaller is needed to fit an optical drive, which would be desirable (but not an absolute necessity).
- I'm hoping to be able to fit 2 reference gtx 760 by removing one of the 2 hard drive cages, since I would be using only 1 HD and 1 SDD, but I couldn't verify if this would fit. Can anyone confirm this?






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a c 400 4 Gaming
a c 100 B Homebuilt system
December 9, 2013 10:28:16 PM

Quote:
I'm having a hard time, however, settling on a single GPU card solution. I understand that a single card is sufficient for most current generation games, but all comparison charts that I've seen show that 2 x GTX 760 give a substantial increase in performance over a single GTX 780, even at 1080p on a single monitor, so I feel that such a configuration would last me much longer (not to mention that it is cheaper). I do begin to realize that this case may not be the best way to do this though, so I went back to search for a new case.


Either you're going to have a small form factor or you're going to have super powerful graphics. You really can't have it both ways unfortunately. Most comparison charts I've seen do not say the same thing - they all say a single GTX 780 or 780TI will be way more powerful than dual GTX 760s. Currently I'm not going to say it's impossible to build such a rig, but you'll have an incredibly difficult time finding a case that supports both. mITX motherboards are all limited to one x PCIx16 slot and that prevents you from running an SLI setup. mATX will support SLI configurations but the problem therein lies with heat dissipation. You put two powerful graphics cards in a small form factor - it will overheat. It would be better to get a single powerful GPU like a GTX 780TI than two GTX 760s.

Quote:
I came across the Node 605 from Fractal Design, which was obviously designed for building a media center, but I think it could really make a good dual gpu gaming rig as well (it has a lot more airflow space at least). Only problem with this is that unlike the SG10, I haven't found any similar build anywhere, so I haven't got a clue what kind of cooling strategy would be appropriate for it. Maybe I should open a new thread to find someone with some experience with this case?


The Node 605 is a great choice however it does not support optical drives. That's where you will run into problems vs. the Silverstone cases. My HTPC that I have at my parents' house uses an SG05B and that's an excellent well built case that has tons of fans and won't be subjected to heat issues as much.
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a b 4 Gaming
a c 177 B Homebuilt system
December 10, 2013 2:01:54 AM

Yeah the Node 605 is pretty cool, but I think you kinda end up with a contradiction in that the reason it is good for something like this is because you can fit an ATX motherboard in, but by doing so you remove the ODD. Drop to mATX, and you basically have the same issues as any other mATX case.

As for GTX760 SLI vs GTX780, the costs are fairly similar (Roughly 2*$250 and $500), but you can save money on the power supply with the GTX780, and have greater case flexibility, so it might well be the cheaper option overall.
In terms of performance, there isn't much in it, especially at 1080P. While the GTX760s might have a small edge in overall FPS, they lose out in consistency (have a look at the FCAT graphs). The main reason you would chose to go GTX760SLI is to stagger purchase.

Still, it's your choice, and if you do want to try the SLI setup, I do have one thought which might be beneficial to you. I recently experimented (without any useful results I'm afraid) with using a longer and shorter graphics card in SLI.
I own a 180mm GTX660, my girlfriend owns a 240mm reference style GTX660. My thought was that by stacking them up, you could get much better airflow to each card. My results were pretty inconclusive, and I had to manually turn down the fan speed to get temps high enough to produce much of a delta, and my girlfriend wanted her graphics card back. And her motherboard. And her whole PC.
It's not very helpful I'm afraid, but given the availability of the Asus GTX760 Mini, I thought it might be one to put forward.

Based on the proportions of your measurements, the HAF XB sprang to mind as one of the few enthusiast cases with that sort of orientation (not to mention full ATX capabilities) but its 423mm deep. Due to the feet positioning, it could comfortably overhang by a little, but it is probably unsuitable.
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