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Case And Its Accessories

System Builder Marathon, Q2 2013: $2500 Performance PC
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Case: BitFenix Prodigy

Most small cases suffer from limited cooling, and this build was going to pack one of the hottest video cards on the market. Nvidia's GeForce GTX 690 vents from both ends and draws air from the side, so the perfect case would have vents up front and back, along with air inlets next to the card.

Read Customer Reviews of BitFenix's Prodigy


Cubitek’s all-aluminum Mini-Tank
is no longer an option, but BitFenix carries the same layout into a cheaper plastic-and-steel model with similar cooling capabilities and a few upgrade tricks. The side panel air inlet is plainly visible from the left side, making this a good start towards my cooling goals, but what about the front vent?

Face Panel: C-PRO-300-KRFXA-RP

I normally don’t go for brightly-colored cases, but white was the only other available option on the day I ordered my chassis. And white-framed mesh face panels were out-of-stock.

Read Customer Reviews of BitFenix's Custom Front Panel


Typically this is an accessory. Today, however, BitFenix’s mesh-covered front panel upgrade becomes a necessity when a graphics card blows hot air out of both ends. Then again, that panel is only used for exhaust if I reverse the case's airflow.

Front Fan: BFF-SCF-14025WW-RP

The Prodigy’s stock 120 mm intake fan is mounted to the lower face panel, blowing through its hard drive cage into the power supply. Its second 120 mm front mount crosses over the optical drive tray, requiring tray removal. Between those two, a third set of mounting holes supports 140 mm fans exclusively. Not knowing this, I didn’t order one.

Read Customer Reviews of BitFenix's Spectre Pro 140 mm Case Fan


Fortunately, BitFenix saw fit to send me a couple fan samples for a previous review. Those samples were still current models at Newegg, and those samples were still sitting in a cabinet of unused parts. Turning it around as front-panel exhaust completes the airflow-reversal required to keep graphics-card heat away from the CPU. Surprisingly adequate for that intended purpose, I added it to the build sheet.

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  • 2 Hide
    sherlockwing , June 23, 2013 10:03 PM
    Interesting $2500 MITX build, granted most people(including me) would have built a $2500 rig around 780 SLI in a ATX case.
  • 6 Hide
    burnley14 , June 23, 2013 10:07 PM
    This just might be my favorite SBM ever, and this particular build my favorite machine of all time. Even if the relative value is slightly lower, many people including myself are willing to pay a small premium for a smaller footprint. Well done!
  • 5 Hide
    nvidiamd , June 23, 2013 10:31 PM
    this is the best build on toms ever! no substandards and overkills. two thumbs up!
  • -2 Hide
    slomo4sho , June 23, 2013 11:03 PM
    Seems I was pretty close in my initial guess:

  • 0 Hide
    Madn3ss795 , June 23, 2013 11:37 PM
    Assembling part reminds me of LEGO...
  • 0 Hide
    agnickolov , June 23, 2013 11:47 PM
    I wish the build had a 512GB SSD, but I understand the builder's value sentiment. The fast HDD is pure waste, however. A 2TB HDD can be found for under $100.
  • -1 Hide
    sarinaide , June 23, 2013 11:50 PM
    Still struggling to get my mind on a high performance ITX system, to me its more a case of how much high end you can chuck into a psuedo M-ITX chassis which for all intents and purposes are not small form factor by any stretch of the imagination. Having owned a Prodigy they can hardly be said to be SFF when their total surface area is as much as a ATX chassis, it is like calling a HAF XB M-ITX.

    The main point of the article is that diminishing returns are high at that price point, only a overclocked system (again not a fan of in the confineds of a ITX system) give it value.
  • -2 Hide
    csf60 , June 24, 2013 12:47 AM
    I would take a 770 and water-cool that rig any day, but I suppose that's personal preference.
  • -3 Hide
    sarinaide , June 24, 2013 1:07 AM
    It is safe to say that the purpose of the machine is gaming, for that is there any particular reason to go with the i7 other than to say you maxed the platforms highest capable chip but in terms of true benefits there is little over an i5 yet over a $100 been dropped on it. The next question is why not a GTX Titan, most of a 690 's performance but on less power and heat which is quite punishing in a Prodigy's confinds.
  • 3 Hide
    Crashman , June 24, 2013 1:43 AM
    Quote:
    Still struggling to get my mind on a high performance ITX system, to me its more a case of how much high end you can chuck into a psuedo M-ITX chassis which for all intents and purposes are not small form factor by any stretch of the imagination. Having owned a Prodigy they can hardly be said to be SFF when their total surface area is as much as a ATX chassis, it is like calling a HAF XB M-ITX.

    The main point of the article is that diminishing returns are high at that price point, only a overclocked system (again not a fan of in the confineds of a ITX system) give it value.
    At the initialization's initiation, SFF meant "Shuttle Form Factor". The term has since been abused for everything from Micro ATX gaming cubes to book-sized PCs. Book-sized system builders would argue that Shuttle's fairly big traditional boxes aren't true SFF because they're too big, even though the term originally referred to these! If you remove the handles, this case is roughly the size of Shuttle's old 2-slot boxes (it's around 2 inches taller and 2 inches shorter in length)
    Quote:
    It is safe to say that the purpose of the machine is gaming
    Gaming only? Then when the Core i7?
    Quote:
    is there any particular reason to go with the i7
    Read pages 16 and 17
    Quote:
    other than to say you maxed the platforms highest capable chip but in terms of true benefits there is little over an i5
    Did you see the overclocking section? Three mediocre i5's in a row and i7 leads to O/C victory, in addition to the gains on pages 16 and 17.
    Quote:
    The next question is why not a GTX Titan, most of a 690 's performance but on less power and heat which is quite punishing in a Prodigy's confinds.
    Did you see a heat issue? I did not. Why would someone want to spend more money for less gaming performance? Or are you now saying that this is not a gaming PC?

  • 3 Hide
    tomate2 , June 24, 2013 1:44 AM
    Quote:
    It is safe to say that the purpose of the machine is gaming, for that is there any particular reason to go with the i7 other than to say you maxed the platforms highest capable chip but in terms of true benefits there is little over an i5 yet over a $100 been dropped on it. The next question is why not a GTX Titan, most of a 690 's performance but on less power and heat which is quite punishing in a Prodigy's confinds.


    For future reference: you should read an article before posting so that you don't make a fool of yourself.
  • 0 Hide
    de5_Roy , June 24, 2013 2:17 AM
    really enjoyed reading the article, reading the assembly part was fun. the build looks great imho.

    i think this build wins in terms of performance per heat or temperature per volume(size of the pc). i know the metric sounds weird but that is a Lot of performance crammed into that small case. a titan would possibly improve temperature and still be a lot faster than 7870xt(comparing past q's enthusiast pc) even though it was unavailable during ordering the parts). for example, you can't squeeze an fx8350 (no mini itx mobo) in that case, and trinity only goes up to 2module/4threads.
    edit: just realized how unfortunate gtx780's launch timing is... it coulda been a good candidate for the high end performance pc. may be next quarter....
  • 3 Hide
    ehanger , June 24, 2013 4:45 AM
    Nothing that couldn't be built a year ago.
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , June 24, 2013 5:47 AM
    It was interesting to see specific mods / add-ons called out in this build; I'm not sure I've seen that done before, but the results were certainly worthwhile.
    I'd love to win this one. My own games (especially at 1920x1080) don't need a GTX690 so I might swap in a lesser card in order to use the drive cage, but this would be one sweet system to sit on my desk.
    How loud were the fans?
  • -4 Hide
    antemon , June 24, 2013 6:41 AM
    why in the world did no one use the HAF XB or the A30?
  • 2 Hide
    sarinaide , June 24, 2013 7:01 AM
    Quote:
    why in the world did no one use the HAF XB or the A30?


    I am assuming its because its for M-ITX only albeit that the HAF XB could take ITX and is as big as a Prodigy.

  • -2 Hide
    ojas , June 24, 2013 7:11 AM
    Very interesting build! At least predicted a Platinum PSU correctly :p 

    I was expecting a Titan or a 780, though. CPU choice was pretty much a given.

    And no one's hating your PSU choice, so far too :D 

    Quote:
    Quote:
    It was harder to notice with the previous build’s lower frame rate, but both configurations hit a snag at 2560x1600 and the Ultra quality preset. That snag is memory, where 2 GB of graphics RAM simply isn’t enough. The new build's so-called 4 GB card only gives 2 GB to each GPU, and that proves to be a problem.


    Um... no? There is no justification for this. 2560x1600 almost twice as demanding as 1920x1080, and you are just seeing the expected performance drop from the resolution increase. There is no evidence of VRAM limitation.

    Yeah i was thinking the same thing...had it been due to VRAM i'd expect the FPS to be closer together for both builds.
  • -1 Hide
    Amdlova , June 24, 2013 7:22 AM
    i will do sli 670 on micro atx mobo... LOL 520W power supply will suport
    mini cases (Y) epic win
  • -1 Hide
    Fokissed , June 24, 2013 7:37 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    It was harder to notice with the previous build’s lower frame rate, but both configurations hit a snag at 2560x1600 and the Ultra quality preset. That snag is memory, where 2 GB of graphics RAM simply isn’t enough. The new build's so-called 4 GB card only gives 2 GB to each GPU, and that proves to be a problem.


    Um... no? There is no justification for this. 2560x1600 almost twice as demanding as 1920x1080, and you are just seeing the expected performance drop from the resolution increase. There is no evidence of VRAM limitation.


    Crysis 2 uses 1800MB+(normally) of VRAM at 1920x1080 on my GTX 680 4GB. It peaks at 3GB usage at times. I have no doubt that modern games at high resolution are limited by 2GB of VRAM.
  • 2 Hide
    frillybob101 , June 24, 2013 8:09 AM
    This is the one I want to win!
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