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SFF build - Advice/input appreciated

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December 21, 2012 1:06:04 AM

Hello all,

I'm looking to replace my dying black macbook with a new SFF desktop. To answer the obvious question, yes, I have thought about replacing it with a mac mini but I've never built a pc myself [aside from in the early 90's with my older brother.] As I remember it, it wasn't very difficult so I thought I'd give it a go.

The plan is a SFF desktop that will last 5 years +/- with minimal upgrades as necessary. I plan on using the IGPU of the 3770k for the time being until I deem it necessary (or feel fancy enough) to run a separate video card.

My questions are; Are the parts listed compatible? (I did my best to check.) The current power draw is 121w according to PCpartpicker. What can I expect it to be after adding a graphics card? (Ballpark?) Is there any need to use additional cooling if I don't plan on OC'ing immediately?

I understand that the specs on this build are pretty overbuilt for my uses, but I figure "Why not?" if I'll be using it for the next 5 years? I plan on using this build for some light gaming but mostly schoolwork, streaming, websurfing, photo editing. Simple stuff really, but clocking in at around $850 thus far it'll rival a top shelf mac mini.

Processor: Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge 3.5GHz (3.9GHz Turbo) $329.99
Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe $184.99
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2133 (PC3 17000) $49.99
Graphics Card: IGPU Intel HD Graphics 4000
Hard Drive: SAMSUNG 840 Pro Series MZ-7PD128BW 2.5" 128GB SSD $149.99
Case: Fractal Design Node 304 $89.99
Power Supply: Advice?
Cooling: Necessary?
DVD Burner: SAMSUNG USB 2.0 Slim External DVD Writer $29.99

Your thoughts on this build and constructive criticism are appreciated. Thanks!
December 21, 2012 1:29:43 AM

Yes, all of those parts are compatible.

If you don't want to do heavy gaming, save some money and get an older card that is still decent like the 7870 or a new mid-range card like the 660ti.

For cooling, I don't like Intel air coolers and so I don't recommend them (although they've improved in recent years). I would recommend a cheap air-cooling unit like the CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Evo. I have one in my PC and it keeps my temps nice and low.

For power supply, some brands are a lot more reliable than others. For a build like yours, with a single GPU, 500-650W should be fine as long as you get a solid brand. I like Corsair PSUs, which I believe are manufactured by Seasonic. So a Corsair TX650 is a good one, or the Seasonic X650, which is a bit more expensive but is fully modular. XFX and PC Power and Cooling also make good PSUs.

Here's a link to the Seasonic PSU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Corsair TX-650: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Hyper 212 Evo: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
7870: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
660ti: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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December 21, 2012 1:50:02 AM

Have you seen this case? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You were mentioning the Mac mini, I figured the Prodigy would give you something that looks like a miniature Mac Pro. Get a good CPU cooler now even if you aren't OCing until later, it'll be cooler and quieter. Get low-profile RAM so there aren't any space issues - mini-ITX gets pretty cramped. Like JMer806 said, a quality 500-650w should be plenty for most cards and a 212 Evo is good value cooler.
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December 21, 2012 2:51:55 AM

I might consider a few changes.

1. The big advantage of a 3770K over a 3570K is the addition of hyperthreading capability.
That is of value only when you have apps that can use 8 threads. Most of the time we don't come close.
I don't think the price premium is worth it. I would save the $100 or so and buy a 3570K instead.

2. Sandy and ivy bridge do not need fast ram. I think for a long term pc, I would buy a 16gb kit of 2 x 8gb ddr3 1600 ram.
Lots of ram can be particularly useful in photo editing to reduce workfile I/o.
Like this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Read this article: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4503/sandy-bridge-memory-...

3. I like the motherboard, and case.

4. I also like the SSD, but consider carefully the possibility that you will fill it up. A SSD will slow down as it approached full capacity. I think I might go for the 240gb version up front. Even if it needed to be the regular840 version because of budget reasons.

5. I would invest in a simple $30 cpu cooler like a cm hyper212. The slow turning fan will be quieter and allow you to OC the "K" easier and higher.

6. Your case has a length limitation for power suplies. 160mm is supposed to be the maximum. Any longer, and you will not be able to install a long graphics card for gaming. Until you get into fast action gaming, the included HD4000 will be entirely adequate.
For gaming, you will want a discrete graphics card, and that will determine how strong of a psu you need. It pays to plan ahead a bit.
Here is a chart for the psu uou need for various graphics cards. http://www.realhardtechx.com/index_archivos/Page362.htm
I might pick this PC P&C silencer 600w modular unit. It is only 5.9"(150mm)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It will only use the power demanded of it, so overprovisioning is not important. It should run a card as good as a GTX670.
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December 21, 2012 2:33:23 PM

JMer806 said:
Yes, all of those parts are compatible.

If you don't want to do heavy gaming, save some money and get an older card that is still decent like the 7870 or a new mid-range card like the 660ti.

For cooling, I don't like Intel air coolers and so I don't recommend them (although they've improved in recent years). I would recommend a cheap air-cooling unit like the CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Evo. I have one in my PC and it keeps my temps nice and low.

For power supply, some brands are a lot more reliable than others. For a build like yours, with a single GPU, 500-650W should be fine as long as you get a solid brand. I like Corsair PSUs, which I believe are manufactured by Seasonic. So a Corsair TX650 is a good one, or the Seasonic X650, which is a bit more expensive but is fully modular. XFX and PC Power and Cooling also make good PSUs.

Here's a link to the Seasonic PSU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Corsair TX-650: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Hyper 212 Evo: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
7870: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
660ti: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


I think I'll go with the IGPU initially before adding a graphics card and have added the air-cooling unit as you suggested. I've gone ahead and added the Corsair HX650 to my build list. Thanks!


geofelt said:
I might consider a few changes.

1. The big advantage of a 3770K over a 3570K is the addition of hyperthreading capability.
That is of value only when you have apps that can use 8 threads. Most of the time we don't come close.
I don't think the price premium is worth it. I would save the $100 or so and buy a 3570K instead.

2. Sandy and ivy bridge do not need fast ram. I think for a long term pc, I would buy a 16gb kit of 2 x 8gb ddr3 1600 ram.
Lots of ram can be particularly useful in photo editing to reduce workfile I/o.
Like this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Read this article: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4503/sandy-bridge-memory-...

3. I like the motherboard, and case.

4. I also like the SSD, but consider carefully the possibility that you will fill it up. A SSD will slow down as it approached full capacity. I think I might go for the 240gb version up front. Even if it needed to be the regular840 version because of budget reasons.

5. I would invest in a simple $30 cpu cooler like a cm hyper212. The slow turning fan will be quieter and allow you to OC the "K" easier and higher.

6. Your case has a length limitation for power suplies. 160mm is supposed to be the maximum. Any longer, and you will not be able to install a long graphics card for gaming. Until you get into fast action gaming, the included HD4000 will be entirely adequate.
For gaming, you will want a discrete graphics card, and that will determine how strong of a psu you need. It pays to plan ahead a bit.
Here is a chart for the psu uou need for various graphics cards. http://www.realhardtechx.com/index_archivos/Page362.htm
I might pick this PC P&C silencer 600w modular unit. It is only 5.9"(150mm)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It will only use the power demanded of it, so overprovisioning is not important. It should run a card as good as a GTX670.


I prefer to keep the i-7 processor but I did heed your advice and switched to 2x8 Corsair Vengeance low-pro ram. With regards to the SSD I plan on using it for the OS and eventually adding a HDD later on. I currently have 2x 1TB external hard drives for file storage. As for the power supply, I've decided on the Corsair HX650 which will fit the case and should provide adequate power for a video card in the future. Thanks for linking that chart!

larkspur said:
Have you seen this case? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You were mentioning the Mac mini, I figured the Prodigy would give you something that looks like a miniature Mac Pro. Get a good CPU cooler now even if you aren't OCing until later, it'll be cooler and quieter. Get low-profile RAM so there aren't any space issues - mini-ITX gets pretty cramped. Like JMer806 said, a quality 500-650w should be plenty for most cards and a 212 Evo is good value cooler.


I have taken a look at the prodigy case and it does look pretty sweet. The only thing I don't particularly like is the overall size and the handle/feet. I prefer something smaller/minimalistic.


Here's the revised build list:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($314.99 @ SuperBiiz)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($24.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($179.90 @ Amazon)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LP 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($75.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($129.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Fractal Design Node 304 Mini ITX Tower Case ($84.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair Professional 650W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $935.84
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-12-21 11:30 EST-0500)

Lmk what you guys think. Once again, I thank you for your input.
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December 26, 2012 12:04:04 PM

That build looks great if you don't want the GPU. Just make sure that you have either an external hard drive or an HDD to throw in there, because 128GB on the SSD will fill up fast.
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January 4, 2013 11:30:49 PM

Best answer selected by tamburgerSUPREME.
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