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New Powerful Mini-Itx Need your advice

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October 8, 2012 8:34:49 PM

Hello Everyone,

Finally, I made up my mind 70% (need your help for the other 30%) :) 

I want to build a small form mini-itx system that will be on the top of my desk by my single monitor (Samsung Syncmaster SMS23A550H) and will be quiet, powerful, and pretty. It will serve a purpose of a silent gaming pc with not much interest of pushing too hard on overclocking.

I decided on the following components:

Case: Lian-Li PC-Q08R Mini ITX (This is the case I am building – Don’t recommend anything else)
CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor (I’ll like to stay with the best of the i5 – don’t need anything higher)
CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme (Not sure if is necessary but I'll leave it up to you)
Motherboard : * ASRock Z77E-ITX Mini ITX LGA1155 OR *Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe Mini ITX LGA1155
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LP (2x4GB) DDR3-1600 (I think I am ok here or should I go with 16GB?)
Video Card: * EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB * (any better that can fit?) (<$500)
Power Supply: * SeaSonic 650W * Corsair Enthusiast 850W * OCZ 550w * Coolermaster Silent Pro 520W (so many options, but which one is powerful enough and quiet at the same time)
Optical Drive: Asus BC-12B1ST/BLK/B/AS Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer (just something to read all)

My budget is <$2000.

Thank you
D
October 8, 2012 9:01:49 PM

lt_dan_zsu said:
This is just a suggestion. You might want to go with micro atx instead. That case you have selected is 1300.5 in cubed. this case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
is 1316in cubed. Is it really worth spending almost twice as much?


Appreciate your response but as I already stated on my original posting, I am not interested on any suggestions about the case I am building because my mind is set on that case.

Thank you
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October 8, 2012 10:11:57 PM

I can't find a definitive answer to this but I think it is very likely the max PSU length for that case will be 140mm.

Here is a very nice and physically small PSU. It is fully modular too:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

EDIT: The RAM and cooler look fine, I'd grab the ASUS mobo because ASUS have some good fan controlling software loaded with most of their mobos. That will help with quietness.

With the GPU, I wouldn't suggest anything more powerful for the sake of heat/noise. I'd even consider dropping down to a HD 7850. I don't think that version of the card will be quiet either, the MSI and ASUS ones tend to be pretty quiet though.
October 9, 2012 12:21:23 AM

jmsellars1 said:
I can't find a definitive answer to this but I think it is very likely the max PSU length for that case will be 140mm.

Here is a very nice and physically small PSU. It is fully modular too:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

EDIT: The RAM and cooler look fine, I'd grab the ASUS mobo because ASUS have some good fan controlling software loaded with most of their mobos. That will help with quietness.

With the GPU, I wouldn't suggest anything more powerful for the sake of heat/noise. I'd even consider dropping down to a HD 7850. I don't think that version of the card will be quiet either, the MSI and ASUS ones tend to be pretty quiet though.


Thank you on your recommendation of that small PSU. (Got me all thinking now because today and for 24h only, Newegg have on sale the SeaSonic 650W -$40.....)

I have to confess that the only reason I don't want to get the ASUS board is that JJ guy that presents them looks shady to me. For some reason, I don't trust that company....even though they make lots of products.

So, you recommend HD 7850 by MSI or ASUS as a quieter option? I thought the GPU i choose was one of the most powerful yet quiet ones.

Just clarifying. Thank you again for your response.
October 9, 2012 12:52:22 AM

If you really want to spend more money for no reason I guess. But I would also go with the 7950 because it beats the 660ti in almost every benchmark, and is barely any more expensive if not the same price.
October 9, 2012 1:38:19 AM

lt_dan_zsu said:
If you really want to spend more money for no reason I guess. But I would also go with the 7950 because it beats the 660ti in almost every benchmark, and is barely any more expensive if not the same price.


ok.
October 9, 2012 2:19:15 AM

DionTheGreek said:
Thank you on your recommendation of that small PSU. (Got me all thinking now because today and for 24h only, Newegg have on sale the SeaSonic 650W -$40.....)

I have to confess that the only reason I don't want to get the ASUS board is that JJ guy that presents them looks shady to me. For some reason, I don't trust that company....even though they make lots of products.

So, you recommend HD 7850 by MSI or ASUS as a quieter option? I thought the GPU i choose was one of the most powerful yet quiet ones.

Just clarifying. Thank you again for your response.


the sale on the Seasonic X650 gold is amazing - saw that. If it fits, just get that one!
October 9, 2012 2:24:14 AM

with such a small case, have you thought about how to manage heat? Every mini-itx build I've done has been hot. I don't think I've seen a mini-itx case that has sufficient cooling except the largish BitFenix Prodigy. I'm not saying change the case, just that with all that heat, the fans spin faster and generate more noise.
October 9, 2012 3:03:51 AM

Considering all the options, this is where I am standing at this time, trying to make the time of getting the great deal with the psu.

On the following components my mind is set:

Case: Lian-Li PC-Q08R Mini ITX
CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor
CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme
Motherboard : Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe Mini ITX LGA1155
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LP (2x4GB) DDR3-1600
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 3TB 3.5" 7200RPM (Data)
Samsung 830 Series 256GB 2.5" SSD (OS, Application, Office Docs)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 650W
Optical Drive: Asus BC-12B1ST/BLK/B/AS Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer
OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 (64-bit)


What I am still not quite sure is the video card.
I want to be able to play the latest games without breaking the bank and be as quiet as possible.
My goal is not buy another card for the next years, considering that I'll be able to play high end games for 2-3y to come.

My options so far are (<$500):
EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB
EVGA GeForce GTX 570 HD 2560MB
EVGA GeForce GTX 550 Ti 2048 MB
EVGA GeForce GTX 550 Ti (Fermi)
EVGA GeForce GTX 480 (Fermi)
MSI R7950 Twin Frozr 3GD5/OC

.... So confused with the GPUs... :( 

p.s. Regarding managing the heat, I have no idea!! - I think that is common problem with these small itx cases. Hopefully will not ruin the hardware.... (not planning to do any major overclocking either)

Best solution

October 9, 2012 3:14:56 AM
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The heat should be manageable - there's an intake vent for your GPU, which is good. And if I were you heat/noise would be a primary concern in selecting the GPU. You can pretty much rule out the 480 as too loud (and old) and the 550 Tis as underpowered for what you want. I know EVGA is great, but they're neither the coolest nor the quietest, so look in to Asus/Gigabyte/MSI, etc.

Also, you'll want to consider getting the best 120mm intake and 80mm exhaust fans you can find. The Scythe Kama Flow series is amazingly quiet, and so are Noctuas (but the brown/tan combo would look horrible in that case).

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/coolers/display/120mm-...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...
October 9, 2012 3:24:16 AM

naf said:
...I know EVGA is great, but they're neither the coolest nor the quietest, so look in to Asus/Gigabyte/MSI, etc.

Also, you'll want to consider getting the best 120mm intake and 80mm exhaust fans you can find. The Scythe Kama Flow series is amazingly quiet, and so are Noctuas (but the brown/tan combo would look horrible in that case).


I'll like to wait on the Intake and Exhaust fans until the build is complete and test it out. That way I can make the adjustments since they are not expensive to be replaced.

Regarding the video card, which one is your recommendation for my case (Every review I am reading on GPUs pretty much say that the card is quiet!!! How then can I make my mind?
October 9, 2012 3:32:43 AM

Another PSU to consider: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This is an SFX power supply so it's much smaller than an ATX power supply. However it comes with a bracket to mount it in an ATX bay. I have the PC-Q08 for my home server and I use a 300W SFX power supply with a bracket and it makes a BIG difference in temp and airflow. 450W might be enough if you're running a single GPU.
October 9, 2012 3:35:39 AM

DionTheGreek said:
I'll like to wait on the Intake and Exhaust fans until the build is complete and test it out. That way I can make the adjustments since they are not expensive to be replaced.

Regarding the video card, which one is your recommendation for my case?


That's a good plan.

I'd recommend the 660Ti - it's the latest, consumes less power than the 570 while being more powerful. Apparently, the Gigabyte version runs the coolest and is also very quiet:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/6159/the-geforce-gtx-660-...
http://hothardware.com/Reviews/NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-660-T...

But if warranty service is a priority for you, stick with EVGA.
October 9, 2012 3:42:45 AM

Dougie Fresh said:
Another PSU to consider: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This is an SFX power supply so it's much smaller than an ATX power supply. However it comes with a bracket to mount it in an ATX bay. I have the PC-Q08 for my home server and I use a 300W SFX power supply with a bracket and it makes a BIG difference in temp and airflow. 450W might be enough if you're running a single GPU.


I never came across that PSU and by reading the reviews I am very impressed!. You see now you got me thinking! - I was 99% sure about my seasonic deal and now you presented the 1%.....

That mini-itx build will have only 1 gpu but the problem is that we're still looking for that strong and quiet one....


Naf, Is that the one you recommend?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
October 9, 2012 12:47:36 PM

I hesitated....didn't made the purchase of the Seasonic ...
I went to sleep...
Now the deal is off.
Maybe for good reason....
October 9, 2012 1:08:08 PM

This is the setup I am standing as of now...

Case: Lian-Li PC-Q08R Mini ITX
CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor
CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme
Motherboard : Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe Mini ITX LGA1155
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LP (2x4GB) DDR3-1600
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 3TB 3.5" 7200RPM (Data)
Samsung 830 Series 256GB 2.5" SSD (OS, Application, Office Docs)
Video Card: GIGABYTE GV-N66TOC-2GD GeForce GTX 660 Ti
Power Supply: SILVERSTONE ST45SF 450W
Optical Drive: Asus BC-12B1ST/BLK/B/AS Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer
OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 (64-bit)

What do you guys think?
October 9, 2012 1:39:48 PM

Looks great. I like the PSU plan - not a whole lot of overhead, but should be plenty. Just be sure to keep track of temps, and have plenty of cable ties handy.
October 9, 2012 3:54:20 PM

Now that I have found all the components the trick will be to not to change my mind and if possible wait until cyber Monday for best deals on components
October 9, 2012 9:48:34 PM

My final adjustments and here it is.....

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme CPU Cooler ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($195.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LP 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 3TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($129.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Samsung 830 Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($196.73 @ Amazon)
Video Card: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB Video Card ($299.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Lian-Li PC-Q08R Mini ITX Tower Case ($119.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Silverstone 450W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified SFX12V Power Supply ($53.97 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Asus BC-12B1ST/BLK/B/AS Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($46.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 (64-bit) ($127.72 @ Amazon)
Other: Rosewill RCW-566 50ft. /Network Cable Cat 6 Black ($7.99)
Other: JVC HAFX1X Headphone Xtreme-Xplosivs ($17.99)
Other: Rosewill RTK-002 Anti-Static Wrist Strap ($4.99)
Total: $1512.31
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
October 9, 2012 9:51:13 PM

Best answer selected by DionTheGreek.
October 9, 2012 11:09:46 PM

Looks good, probably won't be super quiet but should be tolerable with great performance.
October 10, 2012 1:37:31 AM

http://www.anandtech.com/show/6159/the-geforce-gtx-660-...

That page has info on the Gigabyte version vs. Zotac and EVGA. The Gigabyte and Zotac versions run the coolest, but the Gigabyte is the most quiet. And that's not surprising - their cooler almost always performs extremely well.

But according to this roundup the Asus card wins the noise and heat competition:
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/graphics/display/asus-...

Can't go wrong with either, but I'd pick Asus - the color goes better with your case.
October 10, 2012 2:06:45 AM

naf said:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/6159/the-geforce-gtx-660-...

That page has info on the Gigabyte version vs. Zotac and EVGA. The Gigabyte and Zotac versions run the coolest, but the Gigabyte is the most quiet. And that's not surprising - their cooler almost always performs extremely well.

But according to this roundup the Asus card wins the noise and heat competition:
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/graphics/display/asus-...

Can't go wrong with either, but I'd pick Asus - the color goes better with your case.


First, I want to greatly thank you for all your responses on my postings. They are very helpful.

I'll like to go with the Asus based on the reviews. My case is red so black card goes well.

The only last concern I have is with the power supply to be only 450W and yet supports that high of a graphics card, I am afraid not to give up any time soon because my understanding is that these card require a minimum of 450W supply and that is exactly what I have.

Also one last general question.

Is it better to let the system On when is not used? put it on sleep mode? or shut it down?
October 10, 2012 2:42:02 AM

No problem.

Yes, 450W is the minimum acceptable wattage for your build. You'll have no room for overclocking or expansion (can't expand with that case anyway) though.

If you want more power I recommend looking at modular units like the Corsair TXm or HX series or something like this Seasonic. Don't clutter that small case up with unnecessary power cables.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

And I've turned the windows Hibernate function off (saves space on the SSD by not reserving room for an image - another good way to maximize boot disk space is to shrink the page file), but the computer sleeps after being idle for a while. I only turn it off like once a month, sometimes less.
October 10, 2012 3:14:51 AM

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($179.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme CPU Cooler ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($195.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LP 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 3TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($129.99 @ NCIX US) SATA 6 Gb/s
Storage: Samsung 830 Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($198.83 @ Amazon) SATA 6 Gb/s
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB Video Card ($329.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Lian-Li PC-Q08R Mini ITX Tower Case ($119.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Silverstone 450W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified SFX12V Power Supply ($53.97 @ NCIX US) Single 80mm silent fan / 18dBA minimum
1 x 24 / 20-Pin motherboard connector(300mm)
1 x 8 / 4-Pin EPS / ATX 12V connector(400mm)
1 x 8/6-Pin PCIE connector(400mm)
1 x 6-Pin PCIE connector(550mm / 150mm)
3 x SATA connector(300mm / 220mm / 100mm)
2 x 4-Pin Peripheral connector (300mm / 200mm)
1 x 4-Pin Floppy connector(300mm / 200mm / 200mm)
Optical Drive: Asus BC-12B1ST/BLK/B/AS Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($46.99 @ Newegg) SATA 3 Gb/s
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 (64-bit) ($130.20 @ Amazon)
Other: Rosewill RCW-566 50ft. /Network Cable Cat 6 Black ($7.99)
Other: JVC HAFX1X Headphone Xtreme-Xplosivs ($17.99)
Other: Rosewill RTK-002 Anti-Static Wrist Strap ($4.99)
Other: Belkin USB 2.0 4-Port Ultra-Mini Hub ($5.99)
Other: Marker Cable Tie 4 inch 18LBS, 100pcs/Pack - White ($3.48)
Total: $1546.36
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)

This is the latest update of my setup.

I want to do some minor overclocking at some point later but nothing major. I am not planning to use that build for heavy gaming (until the holidays or summer days). If that system will take me to the next 5+ years without an issue and without a need to make any other purchase, that will be ideal.

My plan is to wait until cybermonday (about 1 1/2 months from today) and watch on slickdeals for an upcoming sale of any of my components. If no changes happen until then, I'll make my purchase on cybermonday hoping for the best available savings.

This is exciting. Now I am just waiting!!! and that is good to make that build before Christmas and concentrate now on my graduate studies that lately didn't really focus much :) 

p.s. Not sure if I mentioned that but one of the main reasons why I am building on that red case is because my wife love to see it on the top of my desk and maybe in the future when is time for me to do my second build, she can take it over :)  My intended build was on the Fractal Design Define R4 with a higher budget but maybe that can be done in the future.... http://pcpartpicker.com/p/jT4L
October 10, 2012 3:21:49 AM

Sounds great. And I support the case choice - Lian Li is top notch and that's a pretty one.

Keep an eye out for sales, and best of luck!
October 10, 2012 5:58:23 PM

I would love to see pictures of this when it's built.
October 10, 2012 7:51:49 PM

I will do my best to take some pictures from the progress and report issues and things to keep in mind during installation.

IMHO it's worth it to consider spending your money on a small factor build because:

~ If you maxed out your building options (buying the latest and greatest on each component), you ensure that you don't need to spend any monies for upgrade in the near future

~ It will be compact and easier to move around, especially if you want it on the top of your desk instead of hiding a huge box underneath

~ Most Mini-ITX cases have a modern character in their design and don't look like toy boxes

~ As my first point said, because is maxed out, it can serve your gaming purpose now and if you still into high end gaming in the next years, you can always upgrade and sell this build to someone that needed for not so high end gaming, focusing on production. So, great re-sell value (especially knowing what you put inside). In my view, I wasn't able to find any other red case as beautiful and high quality as this one on the market

~ Bragging rights to your friends. Not everyone knows how to build a system and that will make you look really cool among your friends. (Especially on a small factor build that needs patience and detail before (planning) and during (cable and component management /small room to maneuver) the build.

I went through several stages on building a solid quiet yet powerful gaming system and went through many recommendations from websites, videos and magazines. The problem was that I was always inspired by something different and better and never satisfied.
For the reasons explained above (and my wife's approval on the color), I decided on this build.
After that build is over, I'll stop looking into building a new system for at least 4-5 years (unless someone ask me to do one for them).

It is great hobby but at the same time a dangerous and happy addiction.... :) 

I don't expect you to agree with my ideas but my hope is to give you some ideas to consider.

-Dion
October 10, 2012 8:52:05 PM

Looks like a good build but I have a feeling you will have to seriously plan the airflow and spend hours experimenting with it to deal with the heat while keeping it quiet.
October 10, 2012 11:33:35 PM

jmsellars1 said:
Looks like a good build but I have a feeling you will have to seriously plan the airflow and spend hours experimenting with it to deal with the heat while keeping it quiet.


Here is some of the plan to tackle down the heat and airflow:

~ The idea of a smaller psu (as was suggested by Dougie Fresh earlier on the post) might help.
~ The cpu cooler to keep the temperature down
~ Removal of drive cages (all if possible). I am thinking to place the SSD under the optical since there is some space there and possibly cable tight the mechanical under it. I'll be able to tell more about the location of the drives when I put my hands on the case.
~ The case have holes/fans on 5/6 sides. I am also thinking to not install the motherboards metallic plate
~ Lots of cable ties and patience of how to do my cable management

All the reviews I am reading say that all the components I am using will make it a very quiet system. The next step might be to change the case fans to something less fancy but more quiet but want to wait first.

Overall, I have about 1 1/2 month before the purchase/build day and that will give me time to adjust my planning and ideas of how to place everything!
!