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Please Check my SFF Spec!

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September 24, 2007 10:17:29 PM

I posted a while back to get some advice into building a small form factor PC. The advice was fantastic and I was able to finalise a spec. Unfortunately, I didn't get around to building it (time and money constraints) but I am now in a position to go ahead and order. The majority of the spec remains unchanged.

It will largely be used for pretty basic tasks (i.e. web browsing, word processing, email) but I am really into my computer and would like something fast that will run Vista comfortably. I am not a gamer, nor do I do anything graphics intensive. I would like it to be fairly quiet too as it will be in my bedroom.

So, this is what I have so far:
Case: SilverStone SG01
PSU: 520W Corsair HX Series Modular PSU
Motherboard: ASUS M2NPV-VM nF430 Socket AM2
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200+ Windsor Core (Energy Efficient)
Heatsink: SilverStone NT06 Lite
RAM: 2GB Corsair TwinX XMS2, DDR2 PC2-6400, Non-ECC Unbuffered, CAS 5-5-5-12
Hard drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (SATA300)
Optical: I'll choose something at the time of ordering!

One thing I don't want to change is the case. I know it's quite tight, but I've chosen a modular PSU, a heatsink that that fits (and is designed for this case), a PSU with a 120mm fan, and the energy efficient version of the X2, so it should run reasonably cool.

The motherboard was recommended a few months back - is there something better/upgraded now?

I know there's no graphics card. I'm hoping that Vista will run happily using onboard graphics. As I don't do anything graphics intensive, I don't foresee an issue, but please advise me if you think I'd be better off with a standalone graphics card (and a recommendation).

Anything that may help with my build would be very much appreciated. Thanks in advance. :) 

More about : check sff spec

September 25, 2007 10:53:00 AM

Anyone? I'm keen to get this ordered! :) 
September 25, 2007 9:12:34 PM

Have a couple of that mobo and it's stable and no problems. I have a Samsung DVD burner that is quieter than either Lite-On of LG that I have. Read recently, not sure where but likely here or at extremetech.com, that both nVidia and ATI are coming out with onboard video that is supposed to better than the 6150 and designed to run Vista. Actually, given what you want to do, you might be better off running XP. Vista has a lot of problem and Microsoft is already beta testing Vista SP1. If you're getting Vista for the enhanced video, definitely should get a separate video card. You're going to be limited in being able to add components in that case, which is ok as long as you are aware of it.
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September 25, 2007 10:02:59 PM

Thanks for your feedback.

You're probably right that I'd be better running XP, but I really want to run Vista.

That being the case, would you change my spec?
September 25, 2007 10:38:33 PM

Wanting to run Vista? No not really. 2gb of RAM seems to be the sweet spot with Vista and you have that, so I wouldn't add anything. You could add a low-end graphics card, but it's probably not necessary.
September 26, 2007 12:16:08 AM

Your list looks like a good build to me. If you want a slightly quieter HDD, Samsung drives are rated best in class at www.silentpcreview.com. I've never had a Samsung, but I have a Seagate 7200.10 and can verify that they are quiet too.

Your chosen power supply is an excellent model. However, it is a bit overkill for this type of low-power system. You could save some money by going with the modular and quiet Enermax Liberty 400W for a lot less. If you plan to reuse the power supply in a later build with more power draw, then the Corsair is the better choice.

If you want Vista, get Vista. It takes some getting used to, but it does have some nice features. I haven't had any problems running it and so far it's been more stable than XP for me.
September 26, 2007 6:22:41 AM

Thanks very much for the comments. I'll look into changing the PSU and possibly the hard drive.
September 26, 2007 10:36:21 AM

Agree with lostandwandering you can always add a graphic card later but wouldn't go too low end, you'd want one that would at least run DX 10 and not use a lot of system memory. Not sure what kind of constraints the case would put on a video card if any
September 26, 2007 10:54:08 PM

I think the only constraint that the case may put is its size, but that shouldn't be an issue for me as graphics are not a big deal.

I've now changed the PSU to an Enermax Liberty 400W as suggested, and the hard drive to a Samsung, as well as adding a Samsung burner. I'm hoping to order in the next few days!
September 26, 2007 11:28:44 PM

I don't think anything else is holding you back, so you should be all set. Good luck, take your time building it and have fun!

@g-paw: The SG-01 should be able to fit pretty much any card (save maybe the GTX and Ultra) w/o mod. I know the TT Lanbox Lite (similar in size) can fit up to the GTS and can fit the GTX if you remove the HDD rack and use the CD drive bay. Upgrading shouldn't be an issue for him.
September 27, 2007 12:10:56 AM

Post back after you complete your build and let us know what you think of the new system. I've always had the idea in the back of my mind to build a SFF system myself. I'd like to know how it goes.
September 27, 2007 2:17:12 AM

rwpritchett said:
Post back after you complete your build and let us know what you think of the new system. I've always had the idea in the back of my mind to build a SFF system myself. I'd like to know how it goes.


When I was deciding on what to get for college, I was too. I was going to build an E6300, 8800GTS system in the Lanbox Lite. Never did it though.
September 27, 2007 6:15:30 PM

I'm just going over the spec, preparing to order over the weekend (all being well). I'm just wondering if I should change the processor to a Brisbane core model rather than the Windsor that I've got spec'd at the moment. I understand that the Brisbane runs quite a bit cooler, which will be a bonus in the SG01 case. The only thing is that it doesn't come in the 5200+ flavour, so it'll mean dropping to a 5000+ to fit into my price range.
September 27, 2007 7:56:22 PM

Sebby said:
I'm just going over the spec, preparing to order over the weekend (all being well). I'm just wondering if I should change the processor to a Brisbane core model rather than the Windsor that I've got spec'd at the moment. I understand that the Brisbane runs quite a bit cooler, which will be a bonus in the SG01 case. The only thing is that it doesn't come in the 5200+ flavour, so it'll mean dropping to a 5000+ to fit into my price range.


If I remember correctly, the Brisbane runs a bit cooler and the Windsor a bit faster for the same CPU, e.g., X2 3800, but not noticeably and heat is really not a problem with either
September 30, 2007 7:03:09 PM

I'm pleased to announce that I've now ordered the components, which will hopefully be with me next week so that I can build next weekend.

I changed a couple of things, but ultimately the spec is the same.

Case: SilverStone 'SUGO' Evolution SG01 (black with window)
PSU: 400W Enermax Liberty (modular)
Motherboard: ASUS M2NPV-VM nF430
CPU: AMD AM2 Athlon 64 5000+ (Brisbane Core, Energy Efficient)
Cooling: Silverstone SST-NT06 Lite & Zalman ZM-NBF47 Fanless Northbridge Cooler
RAM: 2GB Crucial Ballistix DDR2 PC2-6400
Storage: 2 x 250GB Seagate ST3250620AS
Display: 17" Hanns-G HW173 WideScreen
Optical: Asus DRW-1814BLT (SATA, LightScribe)
Input: Logitech Cordless Desktop EX 110

The first component I changed was the CPU. I know I've chosen a slightly slower model, but I've read that the Brisbane core can be as much as 8 degrees cooler than the Windsor core. Any reduction in heat possible is going to be great for this build, plus I think the 5000+ will be plenty fast enough for the tasks I'll be performing.

Secondly, I changed the RAM to Crucial Ballistix.I've read good things about it and it's great value at the moment (in the Crucial sale!).

I've also decided to fit 2 x 250GB hard drives (originally I chose a single 400GB). I think it'll give slightly more flexibility in that I can use the first drive for OS/apps only and the second for data storage. I know I could do the same with partitions (this is what I do now) but I read someone on here that 2 drives is better!

All in all, it's cost me around 550 GBP. I'm going to look into changing/adding some quieter fans (does anyone know if this case comes with fans?) and possibly a couple of other small things. :) 
October 1, 2007 1:22:28 PM

You could also set up a RAID0 with the two hard drives if you want if you have other backup capabilities. You can still partition the array to separate the OS and programs with other data.

Did you decide to go with Vista?
October 1, 2007 1:30:54 PM

I've thought about RAID0 but the possibility of data loss concerns me. Would a power cut definitely corrupt the data?

I already own Vista Home Premium (bought it a while ago for my Sony VAIO, but it ran painfully slowly!).
October 5, 2007 6:35:16 PM

Due to poor organisation on Scan.co.uk's part, it looks like I'm not going to get my components until Monday. I was really looking forward and hoping to build this weekend, but I guess it'll have to be next weekend now. :( 
October 8, 2007 9:51:47 PM

All the parts arrived today. :bounce: 

Unfortunately, I won't get time for a couple of weeks to build it, so it's going to have to wait. :pfff: 
October 17, 2007 11:45:13 PM

Great news - I got some time to build my computer tonight!

Everything went pretty smoothly, taking about 3 hours or so. It's quite tidy, but needs a little tidying up, which I'll do tomorrow, then post some pictures.

I set up the 2 x 250GB hard drives in RAID0. I think I did it correctly; I enabled RAID in the BIOS, enabled SATA1 and SATA2 for RAID, then restarted, went into RAID setup, selected striping as the RAID type, and added both drives. I ran Vista setup and the initial stages seemed quite slow (like it had crashed), but it did show the hard drives as one of approximately 500GB in size. It didn't seem to require any RAID drivers at this stage. Vista then installed fine.

I'm just wondering what exactly I need to install one Vista is installed. Should I install the latest nForce package from the nVidia site, followed by the latest Forceware? Vista did seem to install all drivers itself. What about RAID drivers?

One other issue is the nVidia chip on the motherboard (is this the southbridge?) - it is burning hot to the touch! Is this okay, and is there anything I can do about this? It really is burning hot!

Many thanks to everyone who's helped with this build, and in advance to anyone who may be able to answer these questions for me!
December 20, 2007 9:43:33 PM

I know it's been a long time guys, but here a some pictures!







It looks much more neat and tidy in the flesh!

I hope you like it. I've had it running for a little while now and it's great; no problems at all. The only thing I'm looking to do is replace the 2 standard case fans with something a little quieter (maybe Noctuas).

:wahoo: 
December 21, 2007 3:45:30 PM

I like that a lot! Everything looks like it fits like a glove.

How about some pics with the side of the case removed? Is the system as silent as you'd hoped?
January 3, 2008 11:59:59 AM

rwpritchett said:
I like that a lot! Everything looks like it fits like a glove.

How about some pics with the side of the case removed? Is the system as silent as you'd hoped?

Thanks. :D 

I will post some better pictures, including the inside of the case, at the weekend. I'm fitting a couple of Noctua NF-R8 fans to replace the stock ones. I think this basically answers your question - it's not as quiet as I'd hoped, but it can only be down to the two stock fans. After all, the Corsair PSU is virtually silent, and there are no other fans except the two case fans. Hopefully the Noctuas will make it almost silent. :) 
January 5, 2008 12:23:34 PM

Having just fitted some new Noctua NF-R8 fans, as promised here are some pictures inside the case.









The new fans are definitely much quieter. The only remaining noise is the vibration of the hard drives, and I'm not sure there's a lot I can do about that. I think maybe some softer feet will help.

This really is my dream PC. Everything is just how I imagined it to be.

Any questions, please ask. :) 
!