Mini ITX gaming build help

Hi, long time reader, first time builder/poster. I wanted to check with yall if this was a feasible build and if things would fit and work well together (temps, power usage, airflow, etc.). I also need help in deciding the cpu/motherboard/case. I've bought most of the basic core components already through deals/black friday/cyber monday and I'm only left with the case, cpu, and motherboard, which I've narrowed down, but just haven't pulled the trigger on buying due to waiting for deals and indecision. This is meant as a budget medium gaming htpc (with the deals).

I also have a Microcenter really close by for the cpu/motherboard bundle, but I just don't know which cpu to pick. I'm not going to do any kind of overclocking so that eliminates the the unlocked versions of cpus and puts me with an h77 motherboard, but the $40 discount bundle only comes with the i5-3570k or i3-3225 cpus. I don't know if I should go with the 3570k as it makes it cheaper overall with the bundle or wait for a deal on the 3470 or 3450 as the 3570k would be underused from not overclocking.

My total I've spent so far with rebates factored in so far is $251 and I'm trying to keep it as close to $550 as possible.

i5-3450: ($140)
i5-3470: ($150)
i5-3570k: ($130 w/ mb bundle)
I'm leaning towards latter two
ASRock H77M-ITX: ($95)
Cooler Master Elite 120: ($40) or
Qubz Mini Gamer ITX: (~$50)

Everything else was bought at too good of a price to pass up. With the Cooler Master case, I'm worried about reported problems with temps, airflow and the cpu hsf being a cm or two below the psu and the problem on the Qubz is there is no review about it other than the few comments on amazon uk. Also, I have an unused full Windows Vista Ultimate with a Windows 7 upgrade that a friend got from his school for $30 but it's a one use kind of thing. Should I just shell out the extra $50 or so for a oem version or will the upgrade be sufficient?

Thanks in advance for any critiquing and suggestions. Any kind of help is appreciated.
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  1. Picking parts for small cases are always about compromise(Nose vs Heat ect)

    More cpu power is always your friend if it fits into your price. That said, I can not see you overheating in that case. The ventilation looks fine to me. Your not overclocking after all either.

    Cpu coolers would be very hard to find. You need to fine something very special to get it into a small case.

    Most power supplies are rated to take in 50c air so yes the power supply will eat some heat, but it will also help cool the case off. I doubt your system will even take half that power supplies capacity so it should not be working too hard.

    Closest case I have worked with was the SilverStone SG05(I5 750 + 5770 :) 300 watt power supply too. I undervolt the cpu to save every last watt). The cpu cooler is the Cooler Master Gemini S, but I had to mod it to fit the case(and swap its fan for something slimmer).
    This was as much as it could take and yes the power supply was taking the cpu air.
    I later took out the extra hard drive for noise reasons. Either way it has been stable for over 2 years and its on 24/7
    It currently looks like this as it waits for its 650 ti to come in.
    If the fan looks thin on one side that is because it is(was hitting the power supply).

    Ohh and I hate stock coolers, but that's just me. Loud and hot for nothing.
  2. I just completed a HTPC build with that case. I used an A10-5800K with stock cooler. Here is a pic of the room available between my cooler fan and the stock PSU.

    Whichever low profile cooler you end up getting for your situation, I would recommend adding the 2nd 120mm fan at the mounting location provided on the motherboard side of the drive cage. It will draw the air from the front fan across the HDD and over the CPU/cooler and board. It gets really hot in that little case.

    Uploaded with

    I tried mounting the PSU with fan down to help circulate air, but that seemed to cancel out the cooler's fan. So I ended up with the PSU fan up and adding the 2nd 120mm fan.
  3. @nukemaster: I'm more worried about heat than noise. In fact, noise really isn't a problem for me. I'd rather my system not have any structural problems from heat than the fans being too loud from keeping it stable. I wouldn't mind putting an after market cooler if it means my system will last longer. What's a good budget after market cooler would you think that would fit onto this motherboard if I needed one? I heard people ran into problems with different coolers on mini-itx boards because it would run into the pcie slot or ram slots.

    @clutchc: Is there any way to rotate the drive cage 90 degrees for better air flow through it? And was the close proximity of the cpu heatsink fan and psu a problem?

    I was thinking of modding the case to where I would switch position of the psu and drive cage to where the power cable would run out the side of the case (kind of like the Qubz Mini Gamer case). I know that would take some metal working on my part, but do you think that would be a plausible thing to do? With that mod, I could add a big fan to blow air from top of the case through the drive cage and onto the motherboard and reverse the heat sink fan, side fan and front fan to blow onto the cpu and exhaust out of the case in all directions. Sorry if I'm thinking too theoretical here.

    Thanks for the input guys!
  4. The cooler issue is because the cpu socket is too close to the video card for sure.

    Some boards have more space then others.

    In the end, I ended up drilling the cooler master bracket so that the heatsink would move over a bit so the heat pipes on my cooler did not hit the video card.

    I have not run into any heat related problems on my system, but the i5 750 runs cool and overvolts quite well too.

    I can vouch for the above users issue of the 2 fans in opposite directions canceling one another out. I actually flipped by cpu fan to blow up(as opposed to flipping the power supply) and noticed a very good drop is system temperatures.

    As for modding the case, Many users have done similar mods(seen some around modding forums). Its not at all a bad idea s you can get a small tower cooler in that way.
  5. Best answer
    I'm not sufficiently talented enough to speak of case modifications. So I'll leave that to others who are more qualified.

    As for the cooler, the crappy little heat-pipeless aluminum base cooler AMD provide for a 100W K-series APU is a joke. I never got comfortable temps even when bread boarding the stock system in open air using several different TIMs. I finally went to a PhIIX4 955BE cooler I had with heat pipes and a copper base. That brought the temps down a bit. But I had precious little space between fan and PSU. Intel's CPUs run cooler and even their stock coolers are better than the one AMD provided with my APU.

    Here is a reviewer who used a low-profile cooler on his Intel board in that case.
    Surprisingly, that 120mm fan on top clears the memory and gfx card! Unfortunately for me, my memory slots were positioned in such a manner that it wouldn't work.
  6. I kept a 955BE cooler with the fan from an old A64 3200+ for just the same reason. I can not believe AMD gives away such a bad cooler with the APU's but that said. Intel has shrunk the coolers time and time again as well.

    Before I got my Geminii S, I had the stock Core2 E6600 cooler installed with bolts :)

    AMD 955 BE cooler | i5 750 and i7 2600k cooler | E6600 Cooler | i7 920 cooler.
  7. Best answer selected by bluey16.
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