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Micro ATX gaming build motherboard question

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August 30, 2011 1:53:10 PM

So I'm helping a friend out building a Micro ATX computer for him, but I have never built a Micro ATX build myself. So I mostly need help on the motherboard fit or not fit.

Approximate Purchase Date: Within 14 days.


Budget Range: 6200 DKK


System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming. Probably Diablo 3, HoN and League Of Legends. Maybe tougher FPS games (the guy isn't used to it, he has never had a desktop with any good GPU) Watching movies, Browsing the internet


Parts Not Required: Mouse, Monitor, Speakers, OS


Preferred Website(s) for Parts: www.proshop.dk (very alternatively www.edbpriser.dk)


Country of Origin: Denmark


Parts Preferences: by brand or type: Micro ATX and SST-FT03S is absolute must.


Overclocking: Probably a bit on the CPU, I know how to overclock i5 2500k though.


SLI or Crossfire: No


Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

I have a list of parts here, that I'd like you guys to take a look at.

Corsair 8GB DDR3 1333Mhz (2x4GB) XMS3
http://www.proshop.dk/RAM/Corsair-8GB-DDR3-1333Mhz-%282...

Intel Core i5 2500K Sandy Bridge
http://www.proshop.dk/CPU/Intel-Core-i5-2500K-Sandy-Bri...

ASUS ENGTX560 DCII TOP/2DI/1GD5
http://www.proshop.dk/Grafikkort/ASUS-ENGTX560-DCII-TOP...

Samsung 1000 GB F3 32 MB
http://www.proshop.dk/Harddisk/Samsung-1000-GB-F3-32-MB...

SilverStone Fortress Tower Silver
http://www.proshop.dk/Kabinet/SilverStone-Fortress-Towe...

Corsair Builder Series CX600 V2
http://www.proshop.dk/Stroemforsyning/Corsair-Builder-S...

ASUS P8P67-M PRO B3 Sandy Bridge
http://www.proshop.dk/Bundkort/ASUS-P8P67-M-PRO-B3-Sand...

OR

ASRock Z68 PRO3-M Sandy Bridge
http://www.proshop.dk/Bundkort/ASRock-Z68-PRO3-M-Sandy-...

Price hits 5991 DKK with Asus P8P67-M PRO B3 and 5893 DKK with ASRock Z68 PRO3-M. Not much of a difference, which makes the choice harder, yet both close to the budget limit.

First of all, is Micro ATX such a standard that I can count on the case taking in any Micro ATX motherboard I can find?

Which motherboard should I choose from the two? Asrock Z68 PRO3-M or ASUS p8P67-M PRO B3, what benefits do they have other each other?

Does Micro ATX motherboard compromise the processing power of the computer compared to standard ATX?

How hard is it to build inside the small Micro ATX cases? Especially this one? http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=291&area=...

Thanks in advance, I hope this isn't too much trouble with all my questions to Micro ATX
August 30, 2011 2:36:52 PM

blackwater said:
First of all, is Micro ATX such a standard that I can count on the case taking in any Micro ATX motherboard I can find?

Which motherboard should I choose from the two? Asrock Z68 PRO3-M or ASUS p8P67-M PRO B3, what benefits do they have other each other?

Does Micro ATX motherboard compromise the processing power of the computer compared to standard ATX?

How hard is it to build inside the small Micro ATX cases? Especially this one? http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=291&area=...

Thanks in advance, I hope this isn't too much trouble with all my questions to Micro ATX


1) Both are good brands; the ASRock bord is based on a newer Z68 chipset that enables i5-2500k's internal graphics, which could be a useful back up should your graphics card ever give up on you.

2) It normally is. That was the whole point of introducing these standards.

3) No. It only compromises the number of PCI/PCI Express slots that the motherboard has.

4) Harder than with full/mid towers, that's for sure. Everything is smaller, so you have to me more careful and patient - some parts are harder to install due to space constraints.

May I ask why does your friend want a Micro ATX build? Since it's a desktop, I don't see a need to compromise about size... and it won't be much cheaper! Also, keep in mind that Micro ATX systems don't offer good cooling when compared to ATX.

I'm not sure about that 560. I bet there's a stronger AMD card for that price... AMD people? Waiting for your input.

You didn't list any screen. Have one already?

About overclocking... Sandy Bridge stock cooler is junk. An aftermarket cooler is a must, if you will be overclocking even a bit - for many people, stock cooler can't manage even on stock speeds and since your build is in a MicroATX case, the cooling will be even worse. And I'm not sure if there's a good cooler that will fit into MicroATX cases.

That's all for now... what do you think?

August 30, 2011 2:55:33 PM

amk-aka-Phantom said:
1) Both are good brands; the ASRock bord is based on a newer Z68 chipset that enables i5-2500k's internal graphics, which could be a useful back up should your graphics card ever give up on you.

May I ask why does your friend want a Micro ATX build? Since it's a desktop, I don't see a need to compromise about size... and it won't be much cheaper! Also, keep in mind that Micro ATX systems don't offer good cooling when compared to ATX.

I'm not sure about that 560. I bet there's a stronger AMD card for that price... AMD people? Waiting for your input.

You didn't list any screen. Have one already?

About overclocking... Sandy Bridge stock cooler is junk. An aftermarket cooler is a must, if you will be overclocking even a bit - for many people, stock cooler can't manage even on stock speeds and since your build is in a MicroATX case, the cooling will be even worse. And I'm not sure if there's a good cooler that will fit into MicroATX cases.

That's all for now... what do you think?


He likes the small feeling of the case. He wanted either that or the NZXT phantom that I have used myself for a similar build. But today he choose the small one. Maybe he's going to bring it around in a bag or something, I'm not entirely sure. I remember he said he wanted a computer that didn't look like a computer, was small and packed a bunch of processing power.
But I agree with you, I wouldn't compromise on size myself unless I built a home teather pc.

I checked up on benchmarks, I thought the 6950 would be cheaper and better, but atleast here in Denmark the GTX 560 TI was the winner in price / performance. I wouldn't mind going with an AMD card for him though, I use a 5850 pcs+ myself, best card I have ever owned.

I forgot to list a screen, sorry about that, but I listed the resolution which is 1920x1080, he bought that a month before building the pc.

I'm actually not sure he's going to be overclocking, but I sure am myself. On the next payday I'm buying an aftermarket cooler (after being stupid and oc'ing my 2500k to 4.5ghz on stock cooler) where it instantly went up in temperatures. Even on stock settings it is pretty hot compared to my older E8400 that I got to 3.8 ghz. Actually, this is off topic, but wouldn't the Hyper 212 plus be fine for that in my NZXT Phantom? I don't have a whole lot to spend myself and I probably won't go further than 4.5 ghz.

Back on topic, I think the case has an alright airflow though. But that requires buying additional coolers for the case as well. It is silverstone afterall.
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August 30, 2011 3:06:16 PM

blackwater said:
He likes the small feeling of the case. He wanted either that or the NZXT phantom that I have used myself for a similar build. But today he choose the small one. Maybe he's going to bring it around in a bag or something, I'm not entirely sure. I remember he said he wanted a computer that didn't look like a computer, was small and packed a bunch of processing power.
But I agree with you, I wouldn't compromise on size myself unless I built a home teather pc.

I checked up on benchmarks, I thought the 6950 would be cheaper and better, but atleast here in Denmark the GTX 560 TI was the winner in price / performance. I wouldn't mind going with an AMD card for him though, I use a 5850 pcs+ myself, best card I have ever owned.

I forgot to list a screen, sorry about that, but I listed the resolution which is 1920x1080, he bought that a month before building the pc.

I'm actually not sure he's going to be overclocking, but I sure am myself. On the next payday I'm buying an aftermarket cooler (after being stupid and oc'ing my 2500k to 4.5ghz on stock cooler) where it instantly went up in temperatures. Even on stock settings it is pretty hot compared to my older E8400 that I got to 3.8 ghz. Actually, this is off topic, but wouldn't the Hyper 212 plus be fine for that in my NZXT Phantom? I don't have a whole lot to spend myself and I probably won't go further than 4.5 ghz.

Back on topic, I think the case has an alright airflow though. But that requires buying additional coolers for the case as well. It is silverstone afterall.


I'd try to talk him out of MicroATX. Since it's his first decent PC, he probably doesn't know much and might be led astray by "coolness" and "uniqueness"... sure, I don't mind those things, as long as they don't affect functionality in a bad way :)  If you can talk him out of it, things will get a LOT easier.

6950 is about the same price as GTX 560 Ti and a bit better performance than it. Not the non-Ti 560. The 560's AMD counterpart is the 6870 (both are around $200 in US), but so far I was unable to find unbiased benchmarks with those two...

I don't know that much about OC'ing, I'm not a fan. Hyper 212+ is a great cooler, I use it myself, and my CPU never gets hotter than 62C or so (idle @ 28-32C). I've heard people recommending it for OC, but I'm not so sure myself. Make sure the Phantom can fit it, though, since 212+ is rather big. Check out the 212's dimensions on CM website and see... I think it needs at least 200mm width - that's my Gladiator 600 and it fits, but I can't install the top side fan. Check carefully!

I'm not sure about airflow... I mean, there're 80mm fans there...

Also, is that Corsair PSU that you listed modular? I regret not having bought a modular PSU, myself, but I think that it's a MUST, unless you want to deal with a bunch of stubborn spare cables. MicroATX will make that even worse.
August 30, 2011 3:08:59 PM

Okay, the PSU is NOT modular. I suggest you find a modular one.

EDIT: the problem is that modular PSUs are double the price... so it's up to you.
August 30, 2011 3:57:12 PM

I'll try talking him out of the Micro ATX case and motherboard again, but I already tried before even suggesting that it could be built in such a case. But I'll give it another shot, even though this can be done. I don't even think I would need help if it wasn't for micro atx, so it'd make everything easier. A lot, as you say :) 

Yeah it isn't modular, my old PSU was modular and god was it a breeze to access it and use it inside the case. Sadly it burned out and took my old motherboard with it and I had no more money to get anything except a non modular psu. Yeah the cables are a bastard to fit and have hanging, but there's usually a bit of room for it. But that's me talking, never built in micro atx cases. But he can't afford it unless he waits another month, and I don't think he wants to wait any further.

I know about the counterparts og gtx 560 and gtx 560 ti :)  but in Denmark they don't always price them as equally or competetively as they do on newegg in the US. But if proshop.dk has any of the other cards or a price drop before he buys I'll be switching to them. Probably the HD 6950 or staying with GTX 560 TI
August 30, 2011 4:24:17 PM

blackwater said:
I'll try talking him out of the Micro ATX case and motherboard again, but I already tried before even suggesting that it could be built in such a case. But I'll give it another shot, even though this can be done. I don't even think I would need help if it wasn't for micro atx, so it'd make everything easier. A lot, as you say :) 

Yeah it isn't modular, my old PSU was modular and god was it a breeze to access it and use it inside the case. Sadly it burned out and took my old motherboard with it and I had no more money to get anything except a non modular psu. Yeah the cables are a bastard to fit and have hanging, but there's usually a bit of room for it. But that's me talking, never built in micro atx cases. But he can't afford it unless he waits another month, and I don't think he wants to wait any further.

I know about the counterparts og gtx 560 and gtx 560 ti :)  but in Denmark they don't always price them as equally or competetively as they do on newegg in the US. But if proshop.dk has any of the other cards or a price drop before he buys I'll be switching to them. Probably the HD 6950 or staying with GTX 560 TI


So wait a second. Is that a GTX 560 Ti or non-Ti in your build list? If it's a 560 Ti, better try to get a 6950... I've heard it beats the 560 Ti for the same price - that is, in games that aren't nVidia biased (and quite a few ARE).

Do you by chance have a spare decent quality PSU to let him borrow? :)  Then he could use it for a month and save enough to get a modular one... just a thought.

The cables usually don't hang, since all the good cases have the PSU slot on the bottom (let me just rant about it for a while... why do all the generic boxes have it on the TOP? I can't believe we've been brainwashed into believing that bottom-mounted PSU is a feature that costs extra... as if it that's hard to manufacture, lol!) - they rather form an ugly (or a tidy, depends how much time you spend folding them!) knot on the bottom of the case, which might block the airflow if it's big enough.

August 30, 2011 6:41:57 PM

It's a TI, some special edition from asus. Somehow it's cheaper than the other, but wins the benchmarks. Yeah I've been looking for a 6950 but they're about 200 DKK more here in Denmark, which isn't worth it for the small performance gains in a few games, so I'll just go with the nVidia biased games.

Unfortunately I don't, but I can ask him whether he wants to wait a bit more for it or not.
And I completely agree with your rant! But on topic, if he disagrees to make changes I should be able to put together this system for him, right? of course with a lot of patience and slow process.

All I need is a slim optical drive that will fit into the case. Any ideas?
August 30, 2011 7:15:30 PM

Strange. No Ti mentioned anywhere on that shopping site.

Go with the 560 Ti, in that case, it won't disappoint! Just make sure it's an actual Ti ;) 

You should be able to do so, yes, but the cooling might still be an issue (that case...) and I have no idea for a slim drive, never used one o.O What I'd suggest is leave the system without an ODD and get an external one... saves space and you can move it around (use for netbook, etc.) I can't remember a case where I HAD to use an optical drive apart from an OS install and recovering some old data from the CDs.
August 30, 2011 7:37:32 PM

Wow, I'm lucky you saw that, I thought it was the Ti version! I wouldn't have noticed myself.

http://www.proshop.dk/Grafikkort/ASUS-ENGTX560-Ti-DCII-...
Not even that much more than the non Ti model.
Alright, I'll go ahead and research a bit more about the slim drive, or else he can have something external.

Thanks for all your help, I really appreciate it! :) 
August 30, 2011 7:58:13 PM

Let me know how it goes! I want to look into slim drives, myself... maybe I'll build a low-power rig in the future just for some network management and tryouts (TFTP/DHCP server, firewall, wake server, etc.)
August 30, 2011 9:05:44 PM

I'll let you know, I'll bump the thread once the build is complete. He should order this within a week and then have me help him building it the same day. :) 

Yeah maybe, but really. An usb external dvd drive is more than enough, I don't even have a sata dvd drive in my own build. Only an external usb dvd drive for whenever I need it, which is very rare. I did use it to install my motherboards internet driver, that's all.
But that's not saying it isn't interesting to look into, as most hardware is.

Hah I love putting together systems, it's so exciting to launch it up. Especially when it's for yourself, you feel that accomplishment feeling. Wish I could work somewhere, where people order system builds for them.
August 30, 2011 9:09:11 PM

blackwater said:
Wish I could work somewhere, where people order system builds for them.


Hell, me too. Ended up working in tech support, instead :D  At least I can do a bit of cable management once in a while...
!