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First time build with an mATX case. Noob tips?

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January 28, 2014 1:18:09 PM

Hello everyone, first time builder here!

http://ca.pcpartpicker.com/user/cloudfallstu/saved/3zwr

These are the parts that I am currently looking at, and having absolutely no experience in computer building whatsoever, I was hoping to find some advice:

1. WILL the build be cool enough? After reading/watching some reviews online, I was wondering if the components will get enough cooling with the Bitfenix Phenom stock case fan, Rosewell Hyperbolea, Evercool PCI slot fan, Coolmaster Seidon liquid CPU cooler, EVGA ACX GPU fan (stock with card) and the Arctic Silver thermal compound. The motherboard I have chosen only has two heads for case fans, so in event I need more fans, how would I connect them to my PSU or motherboard? I would prefer to have the ability to overclock, though it isn't a must. If somebody here reasons that overclocking would bring too much heat, I'll probably downgrade the CPU, because I'm spending extra on the K moniker and Z87 motherboard.

2. I've heard online that the Phenom is not a "begginers" case, but I really like the look of the case and can't find an adequetly similar one anywhere. Could somebody perhaps outline how I would be fitting all of my components into my case, most specifically the fans? I've heard there can be issues with arranging them.

3. What are some things I could potentially do to keep the price down without sacrifice performance by too much, or having to deal with excessive heat? I could potentially downgrade the CPU and motherboard, and I'll probably do that if I can't safely overclock. Is the hybrid HDD/SDD worth it, in your opinion? Is the Seidon CPU cooler worth it over a tradition air CPU cooler, like the EVO thing everyone keeps mentioning? I was considering an FX-8320 at one point, but decided to go with the i5 because of the less heat it generates, and mainly because of reading stories about AMD CPUs failing after a short period of time. I really want this build to last me for the next 4-5 years, and with those things in mind, is the FX still a good option?
January 28, 2014 1:27:20 PM

Why in the world are you going with a mATX rig?

You obviously aren't planning on using SLI 760s in the future, because your power supply is cutting it pretty dang close on wattage after you overclock.

Go with a mini-itx rig - you'll be just fine. Bitfenix has a couple options, and they all have WAY better layouts and airflow than their new mATX lines.
You could build in a Prodigy or a Phenom if you want a Bitfenix case, or something like the CM Elite 120, or 130, which give you a way smaller form factor. Lian-Li also has a lot of really nice mini-itx cases.

You're worrying about heat too much, I think - trust me, I've built small form factor rigs for a long time, and as long as you have a blower-style GPU, you're golden. *(You actually don't right there, but that can be fixed.) I wouldn't go with FX chips, they really aren't as good as people say they are, at least not for gaming.

I'll throw in another post within your budget to give you a smaller, better performing, better designed rig.
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January 28, 2014 1:36:32 PM

Okay, here's the deal. I went over your budget, but for SIGNIFICANT performance improvements.

You have a much better cooler that will allow you to overclock the heck out of your rig, a way better airflow setup, faster ram, a better motherboard, a more reliable power supply, and an SSD.

If you wanted to cut costs, you COULD go with just a normal hard drive, and a 120mm cooler (or even something like the EVO, which would fit fine in there.) However, I would say that it's highly worth the extra $200.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($254.79 @ DirectCanada)
CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i 77.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($104.99 @ Canada Computers)
Motherboard: ASRock Z87E-ITX Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard ($154.00 @ Vuugo)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($84.98 @ NCIX)
Storage: Samsung 840 EVO 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($104.99 @ NCIX)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($64.75 @ Vuugo)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 760 2GB Video Card ($269.04 @ TigerDirect Canada)
Case: BitFenix Phenom Midnight Black Mini ITX Tower Case ($73.01 @ DirectCanada)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 520W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($93.59 @ Newegg Canada)
Total: $1204.14
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-01-28 16:34 EST-0500)
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January 28, 2014 1:39:59 PM

Also, overclocking is by no means a necessity. You could shave a LOT of money off by going with something like this, with a 140mm updraft CPU cooler just to keep noise down, and aftermarket fans to get the airflow you miss out on from the h100i.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4570 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($209.99 @ Memory Express)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master GeminII S524 77.7 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($50.80 @ TigerDirect Canada)
Motherboard: ASRock H87M-ITX Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard ($103.00 @ Vuugo)
Case Fan: Corsair Air Series AF120 Quiet Edition (2-Pack) 39.9 CFM 120mm Fans ($24.69 @ DirectCanada)
Case Fan: Corsair Air Series AF140 Quiet Edition 67.8 CFM 140mm Fan ($15.62 @ DirectCanada)
Total: $404.10
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-01-28 16:39 EST-0500)
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January 28, 2014 2:17:27 PM

Hm, first time posting a reply here and I have to submit it as an answer, weird.

DarkSable, thank you for helping me out. Yeah, I don't know the difference between an ITX and an ATX motherboard, and I just went with what was conveniently available. I think the $1200 build you're suggest a bit much, as my original budget was $900, and I had already went a hundred over without including tax.

The RAM I mentioned has a CAS latency of 7. Shouldn't it be faster than the one you picked?

The GPU that I mentioned, I chose because it had the special cooling system and because it was overclocked. What exactly does the GPU you mentioned do better? (Actually, do you think a 760 is much when considering the Core i5?)

Now as for the CPU, is it a good idea to go with a 3rd generation processer and get an older compatibility motherboard for $50 less, do you think?
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January 28, 2014 2:20:27 PM

Also, is there any major advantage to choosing an mITX?
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January 28, 2014 2:58:32 PM

Hmm, lemme do the ram first, since that's bothering me now. :p  7/1333 *2000 = a latency of basically 10.5ms, 9/1600 *2000 = a latency of 11.25ms. Not a very big difference, but it is slightly faster. I missed that it was CAS 7.

Ahh, in that case I would definitely go cheaper, then. I would suggest going with a setup that can't overclock - it's really not going to make that big of a difference, since you aren't using a ridiculously powerful graphics setup.

Yes, it has the ACX cooler on it, which is a great cooler, but NOT in small form factor rigs. The trouble is that while stock (or 'blower') style coolers take the hot air and vent it out the back of the case, open coolers take the hot air and recirculate it back into the case. You get better temperatures on the GPU and it doesn't affect much if you have a large case with open air channels. In a small form factor case it messes everything up and you absolutely want a blower-style cooler. That applies to mATX, too.

Were you asking if the 760 is too much when considering a core i5? What are you talking about? Aside from the 6-core 'extreme' i7s, there isn't a single better CPU for gaming. Period. The i7 is just an i5 with slightly more l3 cashe and hyperthreading, which doesn't affect gaming at all. An i5-3570k like mine is perfectly capable of handling, heck, a GTX 690 or 780ti without bottlenecking after a very slight overclock. So you don't have to worry about anything with a 760.

You could in fact go with an older processor, yes. It's entirely up to you - I would look at the cost of buying a Haswell setup that can't overclock vs an Ivy Bridge setup that could... if you're inclined towards overclocking, take it, but it's not going to make a huge difference. Haswell is about 5% faster than Ivy Bridge, clock for clock, and overclocking an i5-3570k can easily get you up to 4.2-4.4 GHz without much effort.

The difference between mini-ITX and ATX or micro ATX is size. ATX is the largest, with the most expansion slots, micro ATX has two, and mini-ITX has one. If you don't plan on using graphics cards in SLI, mini-itx is perfectly acceptable. (Especially because sound cards are pointless unless you have a $100 sound card and then a $600 stereo system to hear the difference well.)

Mini-ITX lets you put a computer in a case the size of a shoebox. Micro ATX gives you something that's slightly easier to fit on your desk. ATX is large and very much not portable. It's all up to you, but I absolutely love mini-itx builds.
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January 28, 2014 4:22:31 PM

Thanks again for taking the time to write!

Could you please elaborate on how my graphics setup can influence my potential output from an overclock?

Let's say I go with your second proposal, the one without the SSD. Two 120mm fans, plus 140mm fan, plus 120mm (I think) case fan. Total of four fans, where and how will they connect? I reckon the 120 and 140 will pull air in, and the 120 and 120 will pull air out, for positive air pressure, am I correct? Is this setup good only if I /don't/ overclock?
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January 31, 2014 4:40:24 AM

DarkSable?
(bump)

Also, if I get the h100i, where can I install the radiator? The fans that come with the unit, where would they connect on the motherboard? As you can see, fans/cooling are still a general concern of mine...

I've been looking at the various mATX and mITX motherboards and I find you could get an mATX for fair bit less money. If the matter only boils down to size than I may as well go with an mATX for less money and get an extra expansion slot, why not?
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January 31, 2014 5:43:40 PM

Huh, I apologize, this never showed up as a notification for me. Gimme a sec and I'll respond to things.
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January 31, 2014 5:53:45 PM

Okay, here we go, lemme see. Graphics cards - basically there are two styles of graphics card. The first is a blower-style cooler, where the air goes in, passes over a heatsink, and the hot air gets vented out the back of the case. In a small form factor build this is absolutely what you want, because often the airflow is designed separately for various parts - the graphics card has an intake, the PSU has its own spot, and there's a separate wind tunnel for the processor.

The other type of graphics card is the typical aftermarket type - they take in air through the fans, blow it over the larger heatsink, but since the air is being blown down not sideways, and the shroud is open, the hot air then blows out the sides of the graphics card and circulates through the case. In a large case, this isn't an issue, because the airflow is open enough that the hot air blows out before it gets high enough to affect the CPU much. In a small case, however, that hot air is going to dramatically influence the ambient temperatures in the case, because it's a much larger proportion of the total air. This means the CPU heatsink isn't bringing in cool air, meaning it can't dump as much heat into the air, meaning your CPU runs hotter.



My second proposal still has a SSD, dude - I only put in the parts that were different from the first build - that's why it also doesn't list a case, or power supply...

You would still be able to overclock, just not NEARLY so well, because the area on an updraft cooler would be so much smaller. The fans would work like this: You remove the cruddy stock 120mm fan on the cooler and replace it with the 140mm fan, blowing upwards. (yes, you can do that - I've done it before.) The two 120mm fans go on the top of the case, where you would have had the h100i, blowing the hot air up out of the case. (And with the prodigy, I would consider getting a 200mm fan and put it in the front of the case as intake - you might have to remove a hard drive cage though, I don't remember.)

If you get the h100i, you install the radiator in the top of the case - there are double 120mm fan mounts up there. They would connect to the CPU-FAN, so that the motherboard can control them based on the heat from the CPU. You really don't have to worry about heat / cooling that much.

The only difference between the two form factors is size, yes, but it's a pretty significant difference... and there are a lot fewer GOOD mATX cases as opposed to mini-ITX. If you really want to go with mATX, you can, and it'll be cheaper, but it'll likely leave you with a less polished feeling product. Up to you.
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February 1, 2014 7:55:13 PM

I would grab a western digital blue or black rather than a seagate - they tend to run slightly more hot and noisy in my experience.

I would also strongly suggest a different case - bitfenix's mini-itx cases are great, their mATX layouts are... unimpressive.

That being said, that's ending up looking to be a very good rig.
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February 2, 2014 8:38:44 AM

At the cost of nearly 100 extra for the motherboard, is it really worth it?
It would be easier for me to reason with my... "financial supporters" if I could cite notable performance differences ;) 
Oh, and I switched to the Colossus case, and my mobo supports an additional fan, I found out. Where should I install the additional fan? Should it blow in or exhaust?
Again, big thanks!

EDIT: Just found out there are no mITX boards that support the AM3+ socket.
EDIT2: Can't decide between the Colossus, Phenom black and Phenom white. Which one do you think looks better?
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February 2, 2014 11:47:44 AM

No, I'm sorry, I wasn't saying to buy a mini-itx layout. What I'm saying is that you should get a different CASE, because the layout of those mATX cases kinda sucks in terms of airflow.

In other words, you should not be using the colossus OR the phenom, because they use the same layout, and it's a bad one. Look at other mATX cases - they have much better airflow. (Though I dislike the look of the colossus - I would absolutely take the phenom, in either color, if I had to pick.)
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February 4, 2014 6:24:58 PM

http://ca.pcpartpicker.com/part/thermaltake-case-vm700a...
http://ca.pcpartpicker.com/part/silverstone-case-sg09b
http://ca.pcpartpicker.com/part/cooler-master-case-nse2...
With a heavy heart, I took your advice and went on a long search to find a nice looking mATX case. I'm looking between the three above. Are any of these not very good choices? I'll probably end up going with the Thermaltake case, oddly enough. I'm really beggining to dig the blue LEDs. Also, it comes with it own two fans, which makes having to work out your own airflow a breeze.

EDIT: I'm considering an EVGA 02G-P4-2660-KR (GTX 660) over the 760, for around $60 less. Do you feel it is worth it?
EDIT2: One of my friends (he's an IT expert) suggested that I need a higher watt PSU for overclocking and all my parts. Is he right?
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February 4, 2014 7:04:12 PM

I understand the heavy heart; it's just that their airflow design is... painful.

All of those are pretty good choices, though I would take the cooler master over the silverstone, and it's by far the cheapest.

That's not a bad thing to consider, but I personally would cut other places than the graphics card for a gaming rig. You can go with a cheaper CPU cooler and a cheaper case if you need to shave dollars.
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February 5, 2014 6:13:24 PM

http://ca.pcpartpicker.com/user/cloudfallstu/saved/3zwr
Most recent build. More case insanity (went with the Silverstone case...)
The Silverstone case does not have room for the h100i, so instead I'm going with a Thermaltake Water 3.0 Pro.
http://www.eteknix.com/thermaltake-water-3-0-pro-review...
In the overclocked temps. section of the above link, the Water 3.0 appears to do the best in its class, just 2 degrees away from the h100i at it's max performance.

Again, about the PSU, will it have enough watts for a ~4.5GHz overclock and GTX760?
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February 5, 2014 8:52:38 PM

I've heard good things about the Water 3.0 - seems like a good pick. That looks like a very good overall setup - I think you're going to be VERY happy with that.

Yes, you definitely have enough power there - that's a good PSU.

The only thing I would change about that build is that I would consider buying a 770 instead of a 760 - it's the difference between playing with high settings and with ultra settings.
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February 6, 2014 6:33:18 PM

DarkSable said:
IThe only thing I would change about that build is that I would consider buying a 770 instead of a 760 - it's the difference between playing with high settings and with ultra settings.


Meh, the lowest cost blower-style GTX 770 GPU appears to be an EVGA card for ~$440 (including tax)... way too expensive!
I think the 760 should really do fine for my needs. And, according to gpuboss.com, the 760 can play Crysis 3 1080p on Enthusiast Quality at +40 FPS... which is good, I think... (Just kidding, but I'm not much of a gamer anyway)
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February 6, 2014 6:43:58 PM

cloudfallstu said:
Meh, the lowest cost blower-style GTX 770 GPU appears to be an EVGA card for ~$440 (including tax)... way too expensive!
I think the 760 should really do fine for my needs. And, according to gpuboss.com, the 760 can play Crysis 3 1080p on Enthusiast Quality at +40 FPS... which is good, I think... (Just kidding, but I'm not much of a gamer anyway)


I don't exactly know what "enthusiast quality" is, but hey - if that's enough power for you, then that's great!

Your cooling is going to be sufficient, you have a good setup... do you have any other questions? If not, I'd say it's time for you to order that puppy. :) 

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February 7, 2014 12:43:27 PM

My "final supporters" should have me ready my tomorrow. I'm just waiting now.
Boy am I excited!
I'll post more questions as they come along.
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February 7, 2014 12:53:58 PM

Haha, congratulations, I bet you're excited. :) 

Sounds good!

You know the trick about the best way to build a computer your first couple times, right? Go watch a youtube video on the subject (I like newegg's and NCIX's), all the way through, and then go back and watch it again, pausing it to complete each step.
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February 9, 2014 3:03:31 PM

http://ca.pcpartpicker.com/user/cloudfallstu/saved/3GpB

Me, along with my supporters, decided that a tiny computer case isn't all that important after all, and went with a Corsair 350D (windowed).

Additionally, I changed a few parts around to go with a blue theme. I also changed the FX 8320 to and 8350, after I discovered that 8320s were just binned 8350s that did not meet specifications.

I wanted to know, should I go with an h100i or a Water 3.0 Extreme? I've read in places that the Water 3.0 makes much less noise, performs slightly better overall, and also has a lower failure rate. The h100i, on the other hand, has a longer warranty and a pretty blue LED.
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February 9, 2014 6:06:17 PM

That's fine, you should still be happy with it. :) 

I'm not the right guy to talk to about all-in-ones, because I wouldn't ever use one. They really don't cool any better than cheaper air coolers, and have more moving parts so are more likely to fail. They also don't have a metal heatsink as backup for if they do fail.

That being said, out of the choices, I'd go with the Water 3.0 - lower noise is a very nice thing.
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February 22, 2014 1:32:41 PM

Alright, so the parts arrived, and the whole thing's been built.

The system will turn on, but won't post. No beeps. The moniter goes to sleep (meaning there's no display signal). Tried onboard with same result.

Everything else works, the fans, the HDD, the 760, the watercooler, lights from PSU.

I tried removing all the ram from the mobo, and I heard three beeps, so I don't think the motherboard is defective.

I'm not sure what the source of the problem is. Defective cpus are extremely rare. no? But that seems like the only possible at the moment.

EDIT: Also, I remove the CPU power as a test, and the same result happened. No beeps and such, but everything else seemingly working. I guess that's a pretty good sign that even with it plugged in, the cpu is not working

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February 22, 2014 6:42:25 PM

Update: it won't beep when I remove the ram anymore...
Defective CPU for sure??
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February 23, 2014 1:03:02 PM

Hey, sorry for taking so long to reply to this - I've been away for a while.

One thing jumps out at me: you never installed motherboard standoffs? Please tell me your case then came with them pre-installed?

If you just mounted the motherboard to the standoff holes in the case, then that's your problem... and you better hope you didn't fry your motherboard.

And from what it sounds like, I would be much more likely to believe that you got a motherboard that was mostly DOA than a faulty CPU.
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