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Mini-ITX Build - Thoughts?

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January 26, 2013 3:21:26 AM

Graphics Card: 1G Gigabyte 7770 OC $119
Processor: Intel Core i5-3570 $202
Motherboard: ASRock H77M-ITX $113
RAM: 8GB Kit 1600 Kingston HyperX Black 1.5V $50
HDD: WD Blue 1TB $74
SSD: Samsung 830 256GB $195
(Samsung seems to have taken the product off their website)
External DVD-RW: LG External Slim DVD Writer $30
PSU: Silverstone ST45SF-SFX 450W $83
Case: Silverstone FT03 Mini Silver $139
OS: OEM 64 bit Windows 8 Home Premium $99

Total not including OS: $1005.

Uses: Gaming (mostly Sims 3), Internet browsing/streaming, social networking, word processing. I’d like to be able to run Sims 3 with all expansions on high settings. I may be trying out other games but don't have any particular ones in mind right now. I do however own some copies of MMORPGs as I have played them in the past.

Budget: I’m pretty sure I can afford $1.5k but I would prefer not to spend THAT much.. $1-1.1k or less? Doesn't really matter as much as I get what I need (which isn't too hardcore). Bang for buck is a stronger factor for me. I do also like small form factor however, even though they are technically less bang for buck e.g. Bitfenix Prodigy case is cheaper, but is rather large.

OC: No
SLI/Crossfire: No
Wifi: Yes I do want, but I can use USB
Bluetooth: Same as Wifi
Multi-monitor: No
Current Monitor Size: 1680x1050 pixels

I will probably be using mods to load straight to desktop and to add a very functional start menu button so the Windows 8 UI will probably not be an issue. All parts are from PCDIY except for motherboard, PSU and case which are from Skycomp. My location is Sydney, Australia and I plan to purchase the parts in mid-February.

Why mini-ITX? Technically I don't "need" it (since I don't really go to LAN parties) but.. for some reason (probably because of minimalist tendencies), small is a lot more attractive to me than big. I initially thought decent gaming rigs had to be at least BTX/ATX or something but found out that they don't need to be. My current computer (Dell Dimension E520) is BTX and I've always liked how it was smaller than my old computer (which was ATX).

Any opinions/criticisms would be greatly appreciated. :) 
a c 136 B Homebuilt system
January 26, 2013 4:15:33 AM

I'd drop the processor to a 3470

and if needed the SSD to 128 gig

so that I could afford a better graphics card . You can game well at that resolution with a 7770 but you can game awesomely with a 7850
and that would work much better if you connect to a 1080p tv sometimes
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January 26, 2013 5:27:25 AM

Outlander_04 said:
I'd drop the processor to a 3470

and if needed the SSD to 128 gig

so that I could afford a better graphics card . You can game well at that resolution with a 7770 but you can game awesomely with a 7850
and that would work much better if you connect to a 1080p tv sometimes


Thanks for your response Outlander.

There is only a $17 difference between a 3470 and a 3570 where I am.

Originally I was thinking of getting a higher end card like that (and 2GB, not 1GB) but I don't really need the 7850 with Sims 3 though? It's not a very graphically demanding game. And I don't use TVs.

In addition to that, I'm thinking that the SSD should last a lot longer than the graphics card so I might as well invest more in that instead? If I decide to play a more graphically demanding game next year or two or something, I could upgrade my graphics card then for less money than I would if I bought a higher-end now (since cards improve every year in terms of performance/cost ratio).

Also, I've read that 256GB is faster than 128GB and seen people wishing they had bought a 256GB instead of a 128GB (because it got too full) and not the other way around?
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a c 136 B Homebuilt system
January 26, 2013 6:34:29 AM

Larger SSD's are faster

and your balance of SSD and graphics and cpu power may well be right for you
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January 26, 2013 6:35:57 AM

Samsung 830 has been replaced by the 840 faster and cheaper, but 128G is the sweet spot. You can buy 2 128 for $160 total and run them in RAID 0. The main difference between the 3470 and 3570 is that the 3570 can be overclocked but yoy mobo doesn't overclock easily. The 7850 is only $40 to 50 more but it'll be less obsolete in a year.
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 26, 2013 6:56:43 AM

For a $1000 build a 7770 is quite underwhelming. I recommend a redesign.
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January 26, 2013 9:36:02 AM

Goodeggray said:
Samsung 830 has been replaced by the 840 faster and cheaper, but 128G is the sweet spot. You can buy 2 128 for $160 total and run them in RAID 0. The main difference between the 3470 and 3570 is that the 3570 can be overclocked but yoy mobo doesn't overclock easily. The 7850 is only $40 to 50 more but it'll be less obsolete in a year.


Where I am, the 840 is actually about the same price as the 830 (just $2 more expensive). I chose 830 because its number of p/e cycles is 3x that of the 840, so it would last longer. Hmm I read elsewhere that 256GB is the sweet spot..

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January 26, 2013 9:40:58 AM

FinneousPJ said:
For a $1000 build a 7770 is quite underwhelming. I recommend a redesign.


I'm not really playing the latest games or anything too graphics intensive. I just wanted to play The Sims 3. Or should I upgrade the card "just in case"? My original planned build had a 2GB GTX660 "just in case", then I read that one should get what you need, rather than what you want, which was the reason why I changed it to 7770.

A redesign hey. What sort of build would you recommend then?
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January 26, 2013 10:07:02 AM

When i said sweet spot I meant price. If you do the build with a 7850 you may never feel the need to upgrade. The 7770 is a little weak for the money.
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 26, 2013 10:40:52 AM

The 7770 is great for the money but it's not high end.

Here's my suggestion: different case and way more GPU muscle

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3470 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.00 @ PCCaseGear)
Motherboard: ASRock B75M-ITX Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($99.00 @ PCCaseGear)
Memory: Corsair XMS3 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($52.00 @ PCCaseGear)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($75.00 @ Scorptec)
Storage: Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($105.00 @ Scorptec)
Video Card: Gigabyte Radeon HD 7870 2GB Video Card ($249.00 @ PCCaseGear)
Power Supply: Silverstone Strider Essential 500W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($59.00 @ PCCaseGear)
Other: BitFenix Prodigy ($86.00)
Total: $914.00
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-26 23:41 EST+1100)
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January 26, 2013 12:24:27 PM

Goodeggray said:
When i said sweet spot I meant price. If you do the build with a 7850 you may never feel the need to upgrade. The 7770 is a little weak for the money.


Don't gaming graphics always improve though?

FinneousPJ said:
The 7770 is great for the money but it's not high end.

Here's my suggestion: different case and way more GPU muscle

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3470 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.00 @ PCCaseGear)
Motherboard: ASRock B75M-ITX Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($99.00 @ PCCaseGear)
Memory: Corsair XMS3 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($52.00 @ PCCaseGear)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($75.00 @ Scorptec)
Storage: Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($105.00 @ Scorptec)
Video Card: Gigabyte Radeon HD 7870 2GB Video Card ($249.00 @ PCCaseGear)
Power Supply: Silverstone Strider Essential 500W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($59.00 @ PCCaseGear)
Other: BitFenix Prodigy ($86.00)
Total: $914.00
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-26 23:41 EST+1100)


Both PCCaseGear and Scorptec aren't in my state, unfortunately. The stores I will be getting the parts from must be in Sydney (unless I ship from elsewhere, but I don't really want to risk it).

CPU: So the change from i5-3570 to i5-3470 is only about $15 less for me.. I was thinking of just getting the best i5 since the price differences weren't that much. Also, 1155 is a dead socket.. Intel is not releasing any more 1155 in the future so I might as well just go for the better one? Also, The Sims 3 is more CPU-intensive than graphics-intensive.

Motherboard: Is there a particular reason for the downgrade to B75? I've actually seen suggestions for me to go Z77 instead (and that it's good to spend more on a motherboard esp if mITX since upgrade options are more limited).. I thought I would choose H77 because of the Intel Smart Response Technology because the build has an SSD and an HDD. The H77 also has better audio and just generally better than the B75. The reason I did not go Z77 was because I don't intend to overclock or have multiple GPUs.

Memory: There isn't much of a difference between Corsair and Kingston HyperX is there? PCDIY doesn't sell Corsair 1600 RAM. So for me it was a tossup between Kingston HyperX and G. Skill Ares and so it came down to looks.

HDD: I heard that WD > Seagate in performance, warranty and customer service.

SSD: 840 is better for light workload and 830 is better for heavy workload. 840 uses TLC NAND though, wouldn't that make the life much shorter? MLC NAND used in the 830 is rated for 3,000 P/E cycles while the TLC NAND on 840 is rated for 1,000 P/E cycles.

EDIT: Hmm, apparently the 840 should still last 7 years. Given the price drop rate in SSDs, I might just go 128GB 840 then, put OS, Sims 3 and a few other smaller programs on it then upgrade later once SSDS are dirt cheap? But then I guess I could always buy a 2nd SSD and keep using the 1st SSD. Ok then, I change my SSD size to 128GB, which brings total cost down to about $900.

Case: I've looked into Bitfenix Prodigy, and I think it is an awesome case (after all, it is what led me to be interested in mITX in the first place). However, it seemed a bit on the big side when I found out about the Silverstone ft03 mini.. I'm willing to spend more money on a case than what people tend to recommend for a $1k build if it's going to look good to me (since I'll be seeing it everyday for years). I suppose it may be my minimalistic tendencies that I generally find small a lot more attractive than big. Also, I'm probably going to pay a $15 shipping fee if I order Bitfenix Prodigy. If I get Bitfenix, I would also get a bigger/more expensive PSU, so in the end, the costs of the Cases+PSUs are about the same.

So I think the main question is now: Is it really worth it for me to go 7870 (or even high end) when I am not even guaranteed to use it to its full potential anytime soon? The price would be about double.

EDIT: I also read that the 7870 is overkill for one monitor? I also don't play full-screen, I play windowed mode. My monitor is also not 1920x1200, it is 1680x1050.

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/549?vs=536 Looking at this, the 7770 may just be ok for me even if I decide to play Skyrim or something? I don't play FPS games, prefer more sandboxy games.

http://www.pcdiy.com.au/ad/Pricelist.pdf <- this will be the price list/shop I will be buying my graphics card at btw. PCDIY is the, or at least almost the, cheapest parts shop in Sydney.
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January 27, 2013 4:24:21 AM

I've decided to change the build a bit:

Graphics Card: 1GB Asus HD 7770 $138 <- Blower-style cards are better for the Silverstone case
Processor: Intel Core i5-3570 $202
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H77N-WIFI $120
RAM: 8GB Kit 1600 Kingston HyperX Black 1.5V $50
HDD: WD Blue 1TB $74
SSD: Samsung 830 128GB $195
External DVD-RW: LG External Slim DVD Writer $30
PSU: Silverstone ST45SF-SFX 450W $83
Case: Silverstone FT03 Mini Silver $139
OS: OEM 64 bit Windows 8 Home Premium $99

Total not including OS: $934
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January 27, 2013 4:30:39 AM

I personally still think you should upgrade the graphics card. Especially since you have lowered the overall price. Game graphics get more intense with time and if you buy newer games, the card will easily cope.
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January 27, 2013 4:53:27 AM

smeezekitty said:
I personally still think you should upgrade the graphics card. Especially since you have lowered the overall price. Game graphics get more intense with time and if you buy newer games, the card will easily cope.


Would you still think so if I say that I don't really keep up with the latest games? I don't play FPS games or competitive/overly "intense" games, I don't really play MMORPGs anymore. I play more sandboxy/creative things. I pretty much just stick to playing one game only. I don't use full-screen with anything (I mostly play in a 1280x1024 window (or sometimes even smaller), have Skype and a browser going on at the same time) I don't have plans to have a larger screen (the existing one is big enough for me). Basically I'm not the stereotypical enthusiast gamer.
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January 27, 2013 5:11:41 AM

ilikebeeef said:
Would you still think so if I say that I don't really keep up with the latest games? I don't play FPS games or competitive/overly "intense" games, I don't really play MMORPGs anymore. I play more sandboxy/creative things. I pretty much just stick to playing one game only. I don't use full-screen with anything (I mostly play in a 1280x1024 window (or sometimes even smaller), have Skype and a browser going on at the same time) I don't have plans to have a larger screen (the existing one is big enough for me). Basically I'm not the stereotypical enthusiast gamer.

LOL I find it very awkward to play any type of graphical game in a windows.
I never keep up with modern hardware or games and do not play any FPS or MORPGS but I never seem to have enough GFX power.
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January 27, 2013 5:38:32 AM

smeezekitty said:
LOL I find it very awkward to play any type of graphical game in a windows.
I never keep up with modern hardware or games and do not play any FPS or MORPGS but I never seem to have enough GFX power.


I like to talk to friends. I ain't completely antisocial like dem enthusiast gamers (>.>) D:

Haha. What games do you play and what graphics card do you have?
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January 27, 2013 5:48:23 AM

ilikebeeef said:
I like to talk to friends. I ain't completely antisocial like dem enthusiast gamers (>.>) D:

Haha. What games do you play and what graphics card do you have?

Games: Open source ones like Rigs of rods (fairly heavy gfx user), OpenTTD and various others as well as some old commercial titles like The Sims 1 and Myst.

I am not a antisocial gamer nut either. I just play on occasion. Probably a few hours a week at most.

The GFX I have depends on the rig I am currently using. I have probably 6+ computers (3 right in front of me including laptops) LOL.
My best has an old nvidia I think. I do not even know the number right now. Many are using on board GFX but quite honestly that sucks.

For what its worth - I do not have $1000 to spend on my computers unfortunately.
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January 27, 2013 6:21:16 AM

smeezekitty said:
Games: Open source ones like Rigs of rods (fairly heavy gfx user), OpenTTD and various others as well as some old commercial titles like The Sims 1 and Myst.

I am not a antisocial gamer nut either. I just play on occasion. Probably a few hours a week at most.

The GFX I have depends on the rig I am currently using. I have probably 6+ computers (3 right in front of me including laptops) LOL.
My best has an old nvidia I think. I do not even know the number right now. Many are using on board GFX but quite honestly that sucks.

For what its worth - I do not have $1000 to spend on my computers unfortunately.


So how come you never have enough GFX power? Do you not upgrade your graphics card(s)?
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January 27, 2013 6:37:55 AM

ilikebeeef said:
So how come you never have enough GFX power? Do you not upgrade your graphics card(s)?

Pretty much sums it up. The way I look at it, buy the best you can afford. In my case, I cannot afford much :ouch: 

In your case, it obviously your decision. This forum provides helpful suggestions though. Your chosen card will do ok on for your current habits but if you upgrade, it will be more future proof.
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January 28, 2013 4:25:42 AM

Ok, I've upgraded the graphics card even though it's overkill for my current computer usage:

Graphics Card: 2GB Powercolor HD 7870 $225 <- I am guessing it is this model, PCDIY doesn't specify which Powercolor one
Processor: Intel Core i5-3570 $202
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H77N-WIFI $120
RAM: 8GB Kit 1600 Kingston HyperX Black 1.5V $50
HDD: WD Blue 1TB $74
SSD: Samsung 830 128GB $98
External DVD-RW: LG External Slim DVD Writer $30
PSU: Silverstone ST45SF-SFX 450W $83
Case: Silverstone FT03 Mini Silver $139
OS: OEM 64 bit Windows 8 Home Premium $99

Total not including OS: $1021

How does that sound? Am I missing anything? What would the bottleneck in this build be, or is it completely balanced?

Edit: Fixed the SSD Price
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 28, 2013 6:13:11 AM

It's pretty balanced. You could save some money on the mobo and CPU I think for virtually no difference in performance. The mobo seems expensive for one that doesn't have Z77 and the lower i5s like 3470 are usually some $20 cheaper. $195 for 128 GB SSD is very expensive BTW.

Those are just minor nibbles it's fine overall.
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January 28, 2013 7:59:19 AM

Lol sorry, typo. The SSD is actually $98, my bad. Fixed now.

FinneousPJ said:
The mobo seems expensive for one that doesn't have Z77



Idk.. I personally found it to be one of the cheapest H77's I could find (bearing in mind that it has Bluetooth and Wifi), unless I have missed out on something, but looking at Static Ice price search it doesn't look like I have.

Going under $100 would be Atom motherboards or ASRock H61M-ITX which wouldn't be appropriate for my RAM.
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January 29, 2013 5:13:55 PM

It looks like your are good to go then.
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!