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Lightening The Load With Crucial And Seagate

Building A Liquid-Cooled MicroATX Gaming Monster
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When it comes to running real-world benchmarks, SSDs don't make a big impact, which is why they're  generally given a lower priority in our System Builder Marathon series. But we know they have a much bigger experiential impact than the numbers give them credit for. So, with no budget cap on this PC, we decided to go with the parts list that'd yield top-end usability, and that includes an SSD.

Storage guru Andrew Ku’s tests have shown that we can’t go wrong with Crucial’s 256 GB m4.

Of course we couldn’t get by with just 256 GB, as this machine was made for more than just games. Video and large image files would require at least one conventional hard drive.

A pair of Momentus 750 GB drives give us the option of super-fast 1.5 TB RAID 0 or redundant 750 GB RAID 1 arrays. This 2.5” drives would increase airflow and reduce weight compared to their 3.5” siblings, and we still have a BD-R upon which to dump any accumulation of old files.

We were extremely pleased with the performance of LG’s external drive, but disappointed by its selection of interfaces. The interface problem goes away when you install a drive internally, so we were even more pleased to find the internal version for $80. BD-R performance isn’t among today’s benchmarks however, so we substituted the new drive for a used part we had laying around.

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Top Comments
  • 12 Hide
    compton , October 5, 2011 4:32 AM
    I really like this setup. The Maximus Gene-Z is very swank, and it's on my short list even though the last thing I need is more motherboards laying around.

    I was a huge proponent of uATX cases until I needed space for an Asus Essence STX and a Killer Networks 2100 NIC. I found a compromise with the Lian Li PC A05NB -- it's one of the smallest ATX cases around, not much larger than the uATX enclosure I was using prevously. The diminutive Gene-Z is perfection for uATX boards, and wouldn't be out of place in larger cases -- but it's nice that you were able to cram so much into such a modest enclosure.
  • 12 Hide
    dan103 , October 5, 2011 8:00 AM
    You paid 300$!!! for RAM?
  • 12 Hide
    gti88 , October 5, 2011 8:47 AM
    What about noise?
    I didn't find any mention about it.
    At least, at what speed fans are running while the gaming test is being done?
Other Comments
  • 12 Hide
    compton , October 5, 2011 4:32 AM
    I really like this setup. The Maximus Gene-Z is very swank, and it's on my short list even though the last thing I need is more motherboards laying around.

    I was a huge proponent of uATX cases until I needed space for an Asus Essence STX and a Killer Networks 2100 NIC. I found a compromise with the Lian Li PC A05NB -- it's one of the smallest ATX cases around, not much larger than the uATX enclosure I was using prevously. The diminutive Gene-Z is perfection for uATX boards, and wouldn't be out of place in larger cases -- but it's nice that you were able to cram so much into such a modest enclosure.
  • 3 Hide
    dogman_1234 , October 5, 2011 4:48 AM
    Question: why does the Mobo choice have a 'bad voltage regulator?'

    Anyways. Love these kind of articles. Helps other users get more of what they assume. Keep it up Tom's.
  • 6 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , October 5, 2011 5:02 AM
    dogman_1234Question: why does the Mobo choice have a 'bad voltage regulator?'Anyways. Love these kind of articles. Helps other users get more of what they assume. Keep it up Tom's.

    it doesnt have a BAD voltage regulator, it just doesn't deliver enough stable power for overclocking much, nor do the VRM's have good cooling on them in that gigabtyte board. This was the assumption for the poor overclcking perfromance in the SBM.
  • 0 Hide
    dogman_1234 , October 5, 2011 5:17 AM
    iam2thecroweit doesnt have a BAD voltage regulator, it just doesn't deliver enough stable power for overclocking much, nor do the VRM's have good cooling on them in that gigabtyte board. This was the assumption for the poor overclcking perfromance in the SBM.

    How does one avoid this?
  • -1 Hide
    aznshinobi , October 5, 2011 5:21 AM
    Man... I was thinking custom water cooling loop when I saw this. I guess not. Not a huge fan of manufacturer pre-made loops, I find them expensive for their price. I.E All the Corsair Hydro series products.
  • 5 Hide
    crisan_tiberiu , October 5, 2011 5:30 AM
    Question: is the overclocked i7 passing the Intel Burn Test @ Extreme Preset? I am asking this because my 2600k cant pass this test @ 4,4 Ghz, it simply shuts down (thermal protection kicks in, no errors :) )
  • 5 Hide
    ceps , October 5, 2011 5:40 AM
    Love this build, i love mATX builds, maybe the most interesting build I've seen here. Good Job!!
  • 2 Hide
    Crashman , October 5, 2011 5:47 AM
    crisan_tiberiuQuestion: is the overclocked i7 passing the Intel Burn Test @ Extreme Preset? I am asking this because my 2600k cant pass this test @ 4,4 Ghz, it simply shuts down (thermal protection kicks in, no errors )

    Eight threads Prime95 small FFTs for max CPU.
    dogman_1234How does one avoid this?

    On the Gigabyte board you could probably see that half of the voltage regulator had no heat sink, but some crap boards have sinks so it's only a little helpful. Otherwise you have to pick a board you like, then use your search engine to find out what other people are getting from their overclocks.

    In the case of that board, it was stable at 1.35V, fluctuated quite a bit at 1.36V, and dropped all the way down to 1.36V when it was set to 1.38V.
  • 0 Hide
    crisan_tiberiu , October 5, 2011 6:07 AM
    CrashmanEight threads Prime95 small FFTs for max CPU.On the Gigabyte board you could probably see that half of the voltage regulator had no heat sink, but some crap boards have sinks so it's only a little helpful. Otherwise you have to pick a board you like, then use your search engine to find out what other people are getting from their overclocks.In the case of that board, it was stable at 1.35V, fluctuated quite a bit at 1.36V, and dropped all the way down to 1.36V when it was set to 1.38V.

    sry, i retract what i was saying :(  i tried Burn Test again (with 20C room temp not with 30 :p  ) and it passed @ 4,5 GHz). I have an AsRock MB and used "Load optimized overclock settings for 4,4Ghz, and i dont know why, it sets the PLL voltage to 1,75V, witch is very high. I have set the PLL to 1,55 V and now it works great @ 4,5 GHz ... What can i say, i am always learning something :p 
  • -1 Hide
    AppleBlowsDonkeyBalls , October 5, 2011 6:25 AM
    A Core i7-3930K sounds good for the next $2000 build if it's out by then. GTX 580s are horrible bang-for-buck, so I'd step down to two Radeon HD 6970s for 2560x1600 gaming. It should be comparable in gaming to this one and much faster in multi-threaded. It remains to be seen how much X79 motherboards will cost, but I think a great system could be made on that 'budget'.
  • 1 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , October 5, 2011 6:26 AM
    Sweet rig. I hope I'll be able to build something like that one day - never had a WC setup :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Rizlla , October 5, 2011 7:09 AM
    I take it the 750Gb HDD's were some of the parts just lying around, coz I think it would be better to use 1TB HDD's. Great article I loved it. I would like to see you work in the PNY setup in future SBM builds if it is not stupidly priced.
  • 9 Hide
    tacoslave , October 5, 2011 7:19 AM
    i hope they give it away .
  • 3 Hide
    f-14 , October 5, 2011 7:36 AM
    perhaps the best conscientious decision making of parts and build Tom's has made in years.
    loved the whole build despite the micro atx form factor
    really love the heatsinks being built and used from the board to the memory to the water coolers.
    if some one could come up with a sli/crossfire dual card set up that flipped one cards gpu's so both cards could share 1 gpu pump and sink mount sandwiched between them i do not think there could be any improvement in this build at all.
    (it could be argued that a dual burner drive could add some small benefit depending on how many back up movie discs you make every week.)
  • 12 Hide
    dan103 , October 5, 2011 8:00 AM
    You paid 300$!!! for RAM?
  • 1 Hide
    archange , October 5, 2011 8:46 AM
    The article is spot-on! Kudos Tom's.

    BTW, I was eyeing the exact same Fractal Design case for my home server, because it was small, cheap and well-ventilated. Besides, I really dig its sober design; I had enough with frills, bells & whistles. If it copes with this setup, then I guess it must be safe with my required ~35 W server power footprint XD
  • 12 Hide
    gti88 , October 5, 2011 8:47 AM
    What about noise?
    I didn't find any mention about it.
    At least, at what speed fans are running while the gaming test is being done?
  • 3 Hide
    mkrijt , October 5, 2011 9:18 AM
    This is one sweet build imho.
    Btw, I'm with gti88, I would really like to know about noise.
  • 1 Hide
    frostweaver , October 5, 2011 9:27 AM
    Does the article says the load temp for both gpu and cpu? would love to take a look and noise too!
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