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ITX Gaming Rig - Which Components?

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January 3, 2011 7:10:34 PM

hello, i've been looking at reducing my (quite large) i7 rig to a very portable, yet powerful gaming rig.

I've been looking at a few ITX boards...Intel, Gigabyte & Zotac (i've already got the Zotac 9300 with a 3.9Ghz E5300...i think the small cache cripples it though, as it becomes quite jerky playing Fallout 3)

Reading the reviews on these boards, they're all pretty decent...but none can allow the i7 (1156) to be overclocked.

So the question is what ITX board would people recommend and what 1156 cpu to go with it?

i'm not interested in bang-4-buck, i want to be able to build a very powerful gaming micro rig.

PS: i'll be using a single GTX580 or one of my old GTX295's (which is currently on the Zotac 9300)

please, no recommending m-ATX & appreciate any advice

thanks, Nick
January 4, 2011 6:28:34 AM

that Gigabyte board does look good, i couldn't decide between that and the Intel & Zotac ITX (i was flicking from site to site trying to find out the differences) i haven't had a Gigabyte board for several years, i was an ASUS fan until the problems i had with the Striker & Rampage boards. I now use the EVGA boards (790i Ultra was superb)

OK, i may well go with the Gigabyte (it's also cheaper as well!)

The next issue is what CPU?

From what i can gather, the i3 is a dual core with hyper-threading (2C/4T), the i5 is a pure 4 core (4C/4T) and the i7 is a hyper-threaded 4 core (4C/8T).

I don't know if an i7 at standard clock will be a better option than an overclocked i3 or i5? I haven't found this comparison. (as before, i'm looking at outright performance, not bang-4-buck)

as far as the rest of the components:-

Case - Silverstone SG07B with 600W PSU
GPU - GTX 580 or GTX 295 (i still find the 295 performs better on DX10 games!)
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a b 4 Gaming
January 4, 2011 6:43:30 AM

^ Ohh so you are going to buy the CPU as well now ?? I thought you were going to move your i7 to this rig,...If you are going to buy a new CPU as well, then wait till Jan 5th, Intel has announced newer CPUs(i5s and i7s) and they seem very good, also compatible boards should be launched by then,...
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/sandy-bridge-core-i...
http://www.hd-plex.com/blog/htpc-hardware/zotac-wifi-sa...
http://www.semiaccurate.com/2010/11/14/asus-set-launch-...
a b 4 Gaming
January 4, 2011 4:40:35 PM

With the launch of sandy bridge, you might want to check out the reviews.

Even at stock you should be able to do better, and have plenty to drive a GTX580.

The K cpu's are attractive, but to get fully unlocked overclocking you will need a P67 based motherboard. But, I have seen few small form factor P67 motherboards. Asus has two micro-ATX, and that is all I can find for my build.

For your purposes,though, I think a H67 based mini-itx can be found that is suitable.

For a case, look at the lian li PC-Q08. Aluminum, and good airflow:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you can find other P67 sff motherboards, post here, I am still looking.
a b 4 Gaming
January 4, 2011 4:53:40 PM

I used this ECS board: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... which was favorably reviewed in a roundup by Tom's some months ago. I have an i5/650 on it, and the GPU is currently a 1GB GTX460. I built in a Lian Li PC-Q08R, which allowed me to use a 550W Antec Truepower New PSU. There is a slideshow of this build on Youtube. I can't get there from work, but if you look under "jtt283" I believe it is the only thing I've posted there. At the time, I put a HD4850 in it, but like I said it now has the GTX460.
January 5, 2011 6:29:25 AM

i've just read the Tom's hardware article about the new K cpu's...tbh, i'm a bit confused about the on board gpu, i won't be using that feature and i may have read it wrong but this feature cripples the overclocking?

the current 1156 for mini-ITX still seems the better 'gamer' option at the moment, i think! :??: 
a b 4 Gaming
January 5, 2011 1:48:40 PM

pbrain said:
i've just read the Tom's hardware article about the new K cpu's...tbh, i'm a bit confused about the on board gpu, i won't be using that feature and i may have read it wrong but this feature cripples the overclocking?

the current 1156 for mini-ITX still seems the better 'gamer' option at the moment, i think! :??: 


The sandy bridge gpu is in every cpu chip, not on the motherboard. You do not need to use it if you have a discrete video card.
To utilize it, you need to mount it in a H67 based motherboard.
The integrated gpu is about as strong as a $50 discrete gpu, not what you would want for gaming.
Also, the H67 motherboard will give you very limited overclocking, even while using the K suffix unlocked cpu's.

For good overclocking, you need a P67 based motherboard and a 2500K or 2600K. I have not yet found any mini-itx motherboards based on P67, they all seem to be H67.
That might be OK, paired with a strong graphics card since even the stock 2600 is better than most previous cpu's overclocked.

A better choice would be a micro-ATX based system. Even then, I have found only two micro-ATX motherboards using a P67 chip. The ASUS P8P67-M, and the P8P67-M pto.
January 5, 2011 3:29:38 PM

i definitely want to stick to ITX format, so ignoring the new 'K' series what would give the best gaming performance from the 1156 range on the mini-ITX boards? (remembering that the i7's can't be overclocked due to limits of the mosfets)
a b 4 Gaming
January 5, 2011 3:43:22 PM

pbrain said:
i definitely want to stick to ITX format, so ignoring the new 'K' series what would give the best gaming performance from the 1156 range on the mini-ITX boards? (remembering that the i7's can't be overclocked due to limits of the mosfets)


1) Do you need a quad, or will a dual core suffice? Very few games can utilize more than two cores.
If a duo will suffice, then a i5-680 @3.6 at about $300 is about as good as you can get. OC to 4.0
For a quad, the best is the i7-870 @ 2.93 for about $280. OC to perhaps 3.7.
2) Sandy bridge quad is still a better deal.
The 2500 @ 3.3 will turbo up to 3.7 $210.
The 2600 @3.4 will turbo up to 3.8 $310.
Add in the fact that the sandy processors do more work per clock(15% or so) makes them even stronger.
You will run out of graphics power on a single slot itx board before you run out of cpu power. Even without overclocking.

-------------------bottom line------------------------
get the sandy.
January 5, 2011 5:22:58 PM

You probably can't beat an i5-760 in a Gigabyte H55N ITX board. It can be overclocked and is very powerful but won't draw too much power and overheat a smaller box.
January 5, 2011 5:50:33 PM

doive1231 said:
You probably can't beat an i5-760 in a Gigabyte H55N ITX board. It can be overclocked and is very powerful but won't draw too much power and overheat a smaller box.


just had a look at the specs of the 760 and it looks pretty good, being a true 4 core 2.80Ghz. There's also the 650 which is a dual-core, hyper-thread cpu running at 3.20Ghz. The fly in the ointment is the 760 is a 95W against the 650's 73W

....why can't we have our cake & eat it ;) 

OK, so i think i'll go with the 760 and Gigabyte. Next problem is keeping that CPU cool in a very small case. (i've managed to keep an E5300 at 4Ghz with a 2" high Thermaltake air-cooler...but that's only a 65W chip)
March 20, 2012 4:05:47 AM

pbrain said:
hello, i've been looking at reducing my (quite large) i7 rig to a very portable, yet powerful gaming rig.

I've been looking at a few ITX boards...Intel, Gigabyte & Zotac (i've already got the Zotac 9300 with a 3.9Ghz E5300...i think the small cache cripples it though, as it becomes quite jerky playing Fallout 3)

Reading the reviews on these boards, they're all pretty decent...but none can allow the i7 (1156) to be overclocked.

So the question is what ITX board would people recommend and what 1156 cpu to go with it?

i'm not interested in bang-4-buck, i want to be able to build a very powerful gaming micro rig.

PS: i'll be using a single GTX580 or one of my old GTX295's (which is currently on the Zotac 9300)

please, no recommending m-ATX & appreciate any advice

thanks, Nick


I have posted the spec elsewhere in these forums, but here is my current system for ITX gaming. Hopefully will not be changing anything for a while...famous last words.

“Red Cube” PC – Mini-ITX Gaming Rig
• Lian Li PC-Q08R Case
• Zotac Z68-A-E Wifi ITX motherboard
• Intel i5-2500K CPU
• MSI GTX 570 Twin Frozer III
• 8 Gigs of Corsair 1600 Meg DDR3 RAM
• Corsair 120GB Force 3 GT SSD SATA III
• 2 Tb WD Hard Drive SATA III
• Corsair H60 Water Cooler with Noctua NF-P12 High pressure fan
• Corsair HX-650 Power Supply
• Samsung Blu-Ray Combo Drive
• BitFenix Spectre Pro 140mm Black Tinted Red LED Fan
• Windows 7 Professional 64-bit



a b 4 Gaming
March 20, 2012 1:48:31 PM

I like the build, and have a few comments:

1) The Q-08R comes with a nice 140mm led fan already. I see no need to change it out.

2) The 2500K, even at stock will be strong enough to drive the GTX570 well in any game. With a mild OC, you will not need a strong cpu cooler.

3) The egg has a Seasonic X750 gold rated modular psu on sale for $110!
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

4) Consider a low profile cpu cooler instead of the H60. Something like the Thermalright XPR-140.
Mounting a H60 radiator in front will help the cpu which does not need it, but will reduce the cooling to the graphics card. Mounting it at the top will reduce the exhaust area.
The Q-08 has very good airflow from the stock fan using the designed airflow pattern.

Actually, I suggest you build first with the stock intel cooler and stock fans. Defer on the cooler and fan decisions. Do some testing, and see what you actually need to do.
March 20, 2012 2:08:01 PM

i'd forgotten about this thread, i've built a system just before Xmas 2011...

Zotac Z68 ITX
Intel 2700K OEM
Lian Li Q08B Case
Corsair 750TX PSU
Corsair Vengeance 8Gb
4x Samsung 2TB
No DVD/blu-Ray
Corsair H60 CPU Cooler
EVGA GTX580

This lasted until the first week in January! Only 2 weeks ago did i get a replacement Zotac Mobo (not happy waiting 2 months!) i put the problem down to overcooked mosfets (no draught from the H60) so i've installed a 60mm fan above the mosfets & rear heatsink....we'll see how that goes.

I have to say it puts my Asus P8Z68 to shame, The Zotac is ready to use before the Asus has started loading Windows.
!