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BitFenix Phenom Mini-ITX vs mATX? Weighing the pros and cons...

Hello all,

After years (really - years) of deliberation, I have finally begun to purchase parts to build my own PC. I want something relatively small (but don't need tiny), so at first the mATX form factor seemed to make the most sense, as I heard ITX could be frustrating for a first-time builder. As such, I went ahead and purchased a PSU when I found one as a steal on Newegg, knowing it would fit an mATX case.

Later, I decided that I definitely wanted to use the BitFenix Phenom M - I LOVE the look of it, as I want something that both blends in to my desk, but also makes a subtle statement. However, I have read that the mATX version of this case has some limitations for cooling. I need my PC to run quiet, as I do a lot of audio recording, so I want to minimize my fan speed and noise as much as possible - cooling efficiency is important. From what I can see, the ITX version is better for this. I only plan to use this for light gaming (I vastly prefer using a console), so I have no need for SLI.

My dilemma is two-fold. First, will my power supply even fit in the ITX? The dimensions are 150 x 86 x 163 mm. It is not modular, so I'll need room to stuff in those extra cords... Second, is the cooling setup really that much better for ITX that I'd see less fan noise? Finally, if mATX seems more appropriate, then what type of cooling setup do you suggest that would be both efficient and silent? The room the computer will be in gets pretty warm due to the layout of my house...

My proposed build:

Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core
Motherboard TBD after choosing case form factor
Crucial Ballistix Sport VLP 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600
Samsung 840 EVO 120GB 2.5" SSD (for OS and major programs only)
Western Digital BLACK SERIES 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM
EVGA 02G-P4-3753-KR GeForce GTX 750 Ti Superclocked 2GB 128-Bit
Case TBD - Phenom Variant
Rosewill 550W ATX12V / EPS12V
Microsoft Windows 8.1

Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated!
7 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about bitfenix phenom mini itx matx weighing pros cons
  1. Heh I just typed out a whole 2 paragraphs about the prodigy m and then I looked back and was like crap its the phenom not the prodigy
  2. I will do some research on the phenom and get back to you in a bit
  3. Best answer
    Go with the phenom mitx its got better airflow and it can fit an h55 if you want plus you will have room for lots of ssds if you choose to add more, you can take out the middle hdd rack and have lots of space inside...either will fit a standard atx psu, overall it just looks a lot cleaner inside
  4. Actually, from what I understand, the internal chassis of the Prodigy is identical to the Phenom, so it probably still would have applied? I think the only difference for my purposes is that you have the option to include a grate on the front of the Prodigy, but not on the Phenom.

    Thanks for looking into it!
  5. That's what I was thinking....I'm just worried that there isn't room for all the extra cords. Otherwise the mITX seems to be the way to go.
  6. Definitely ITX over mATX. There's a lot of reasons why, but it's all based around layout. The mATX versions aren't great for anything really.
    The Phenom cases aren't fantastic for cooling, as they have a solid front/side where the Prodigy case can have vents, but for something as low power as your proposed setup it shouldn't be an issue at all.
    It'll come with a couple of fans which are very quiet but don't move a huge amount of air. It's likely that these will be sufficient for your needs, but you can look into upgrading your setup as/when required. A lot of ITX boards only come with two fan headers, one for the CPU and one for the case, so you'll need to keep this in mind.

    Officially speaking, your PSU won't fit. The maximum length allowed is 160mm, but the fact that it is not modular is actually an advantage, as it's fairly likely you'll be able to squeeze it in - modular connectors effectively add length.
    I wouldn't like to go out on a limb and say it'll fit, and then you find it doesn't, but you should be ok. If it doesn't fit, it should be possible to add spacers to the PSU bracket (washers or something) to give you an extra couple of mm to play with. You can see a more extreme solution here. I'd imagine they are trying to fit a 180mm+ modular PSU or something silly.

    For motherboards, it comes down to a few things. If you want to overclock (the K-series processor suggests you do, or at least want to keep that option) then you'll need a Z87 board and a competent CPU cooler. Matching a cooler to a motherboard is a little tricky, or can be, as nothing on ITX is standardised. Closed loop coolers will make compatibility a lot easier, but if noise is your priority then it's likely an air cooler will offer you better results at a lower price. If you can afford it, then something like the Asus Z87I-Deluxe is very feature packed, has great CPU cooler compatibility and performance. This motherboard will support massive air coolers like the Noctua NH-D14 which is likely to be huge overkill, but gives you great options.


    If you don't want to overclock, then you can potentially drop the 4770K (though there isn't much of a saving if any, depending on pricing) and go for a H81/H87 or B85 board. If you need Wifi, motherboards start at around $100, but if you don't then you can go a lot cheaper. If you are trying to keep costs down then the Intel stock cooler is solid enough, you'll run into similar issues with CPU cooler compatibility too.
  7. Rammy said:
    Definitely ITX over mATX. There's a lot of reasons why, but it's all based around layout. The mATX versions aren't great for anything really.
    The Phenom cases aren't fantastic for cooling, as they have a solid front/side where the Prodigy case can have vents, but for something as low power as your proposed setup it shouldn't be an issue at all.
    It'll come with a couple of fans which are very quiet but don't move a huge amount of air. It's likely that these will be sufficient for your needs, but you can look into upgrading your setup as/when required. A lot of ITX boards only come with two fan headers, one for the CPU and one for the case, so you'll need to keep this in mind.

    Officially speaking, your PSU won't fit. The maximum length allowed is 160mm, but the fact that it is not modular is actually an advantage, as it's fairly likely you'll be able to squeeze it in - modular connectors effectively add length.
    I wouldn't like to go out on a limb and say it'll fit, and then you find it doesn't, but you should be ok. If it doesn't fit, it should be possible to add spacers to the PSU bracket (washers or something) to give you an extra couple of mm to play with. You can see a more extreme solution here. I'd imagine they are trying to fit a 180mm+ modular PSU or something silly.

    For motherboards, it comes down to a few things. If you want to overclock (the K-series processor suggests you do, or at least want to keep that option) then you'll need a Z87 board and a competent CPU cooler. Matching a cooler to a motherboard is a little tricky, or can be, as nothing on ITX is standardised. Closed loop coolers will make compatibility a lot easier, but if noise is your priority then it's likely an air cooler will offer you better results at a lower price. If you can afford it, then something like the Asus Z87I-Deluxe is very feature packed, has great CPU cooler compatibility and performance. This motherboard will support massive air coolers like the Noctua NH-D14 which is likely to be huge overkill, but gives you great options.


    If you don't want to overclock, then you can potentially drop the 4770K (though there isn't much of a saving if any, depending on pricing) and go for a H81/H87 or B85 board. If you need Wifi, motherboards start at around $100, but if you don't then you can go a lot cheaper. If you are trying to keep costs down then the Intel stock cooler is solid enough, you'll run into similar issues with CPU cooler compatibility too.


    Thanks so much for the detailed response! You actually helped me out on the motherboard arena too, which is great...

    I'm thinking I can squeeze in the PSU to the ITX...I read a review that said they managed to get in a modular unit that was 170mm with some real elbow grease, so I think mine should hopefully be okay. I just really don't want to give up this PSU - it has a Platinum rating (I am all about keeping my electric bill low...) and I got it at a crazy steal of a price. Plus it has a silent fan...

    Yeah, what I really care most about is processing power, not graphics. I do play games some, but I do most of my FPS and RPG gaming on my xbox - I just like the feeling on doing so on my TV with a controller in my hand. Most PC gaming takes the form of strategy games that the lighter graphics card can handle.

    I do use a lot of processing and memory power for my audio production, however, so I need the high end CPU for this. I do plan to overclock for these same reasons. I was debating between the Asus Maximus VI ITX and the Z87I-Deluxe should I go ITX. My only gravitation towards the Maximus is the dedicated sound card. However, if the Z87I-Deluxe has little interference in it's onboard sound, then I won't hesitate to go with that board as it's cheaper than the Maximus. Do you have any thoughts on that?
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