System Builder Marathon, Q2 2013: The $400 Spirit Of Mini-ITX

Test System And Benchmarks

Test System Configuration And Benchmarks

Current $400 Mini-ITX PC System Test Configuration
Component Base Settings Overclock Settings
CPUIntel Pentium G860 (Sandy Bridge), 3 GHz, LGA 1155, 3 MB Shared L3 Cache, Power-saving features enabledUnchanged
CPU CoolerIntel Boxed Heat Sink And FanUnchanged
MotherboardFoxconn H61S, Intel H61, BIOS C31F1P02 (07/18/12)Unchanged
RAM4 GB (2 x 2 GB) Crucial DDR3-1600 Kit at DDR3-1333, CL 9-9-9-24 1T, 1.5 VDDR3-1333, CL 7-7-7-24 1T at 1.5 V
GraphicsSapphire 100357LP, Radeon HD 7750 1 GB GDDR5, 800 MHz GPU, 1125 MHz (4500 MT/s) Memory925 MHz GPU, 1225 MHz (4900 MT/s) GDDR5 Memory
Hard DriveSamsung Spinpoint M8 ST320LM001 320 GB Hard Drive, 5400 RPM, 8 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/sUnchanged
SoundIntegrated Six-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerAntec FP-150-8 Flex Power SupplyUnchanged
OpticalnoneUnchanged
 Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 8 Professional x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 13.4Unchanged
Platform DriverIntel 7-series Inf v. 9.3.1025Unchanged
Q2 2013 $650 Mini-ITX Gaming PC System Test Configuration
Component Base Settings Overclock Settings
CPUIntel Core i3-3220 (Ivy Bridge), 3.3 GHz, LGA 1155, 3 MB Shared L3, Power-saving features enabledUnchanged
CPU CoolerIntel Boxed Heat Sink and FanUnchanged
MotherboardASRock B75M-ITX
Intel B75, BIOS P1.60 UFI (11-19-2012)
Unchanged
RAM4 GB (2 x 2 GB) Crucial DDR3-1600 Kit
CL 8-8-8-24 2N at 1.5 V
DDR3-1600, CL 8-8-8-24 1N at 1.5 V
GraphicsPowerColor PCS+ AX7870 Myst Edition 2 GB GDDR5
925 MHz (975 Boost) GPU, 1500 MHz (6000 MT/s) Memory
1100 MHz GPU
1500 MHz (6000 MT/s) GDDR5 Memory
Hard DriveWestern Digital WD Blue WD5000AAKX
500 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache
Unchanged
SoundIntegrated Eight-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerCorsair Builder Series CX500 500 W ATX12V v2.3Unchanged
OpticalnoneUnchanged
 Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 8 Professional x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 13.4Unchanged
Platform DriverIntel 7-series Inf v. 9.3.1025Unchanged
Q4 2012 $500 PC System Test Configuration
Component Base Settings Overclock Settings
CPUIntel Pentium G850 (Sandy Bridge), 2.9 GHz, LGA 1155, 3 MB Shared L3, Power-saving features enabledUnchanged
CPU CoolerIntel Boxed Heat Sink and FanUnchanged
MotherboardASRock H77 Pro4/MVP
Intel H77, BIOS P1.40  (09-21-2012)
Unchanged
RAM8 GB G.Skill DDR3-1333 Kit
CL 9-9-9-24 1T at 1.585 V
DDR3-1333, CL 7-8-7-22 1T at 1.6 V
GraphicsPowerColor AX7850 1GBD5-DH Radeon HD 7850
860 MHz GPU, 1200 MHz (4800 MT/s) Memory
1200 MHz GPU @ 1.205 V, 1310 MHz (5240 MT/s) GDDR5 Memory
Hard DriveWestern Digital WD3200AAKX 320 GB Hard Drive
320 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache
Unchanged
SoundIntegrated Eight-Channel HD AudioUnchanged
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingUnchanged
PowerAntec VP-450 450 WUnchanged
OpticalLG 24x DVD Burner SATA Model GH24NS90-OEMUnchanged
 Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 8 Professional x64Unchanged
Graphics DriverAMD Catalyst 12.10Unchanged
Platform DriverIntel 7-series Inf v. 9.3.1025Unchanged
Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Battlefield 3Version 1.0.0.0, DirectX 11, 90-Second Fraps "Going Hunting"
Test Set 1: Medium Quality Preset, No AA, 4X AF, SSAO
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset,  4X MSAA, 16X AF, HBAO
Elders Scroll V: SkyrimVersion 1.8.151.0.7, 25-Second Fraps
Test Set 1: High Preset, No AA, 8x AF, FXAA Enabled
Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, 8x AA, 16x AF, FXAA Enabled
Far Cry 3V. 1.04, DirectX 11, 50-Second Fraps "Amanaki Outpost"
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC., SSAO
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO
F1 2012Version 1.2, Direct X 11, Built-in Benchmark
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 8x AA
Audio/Video Encoding
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.98, Video: Video from Canon Eos 7D (1920x1080, 25 frames) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds, Audio: PCM-S16, 48,000 Hz, Two-Channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)
iTunesVersion 10.4.1.10 x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format 
Lame MP3Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
TotalCode Studio 2.5Version: 2.5.0.10677, MPEG2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio:MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, Two-Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s) Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Abobe Creative Suite
Adobe After Effects CS6Version 11.0.0.378 x64: Create Video, Three Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously
Adobe Photoshop CS6Version 13 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Adobe Premier Pro CS6Version 6.0.0.0, 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-Ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality
Adobe Acrobat X ProVersion 10.0.0.396: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encyption
Productivity
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Autodesk 3ds Max 2012Version 14.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
BlenderVersion 2.64a, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1
Visual StudioVersion 10.0, Compile Google Chrome, Scripted
Compression
7-ZipVersion 9.28, LZMA2, Syntax "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3 GB)
WinRARVersion 4.2, RAR, Syntax "winrar a -r -m3"
Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3 GB)
WinZipVersion 17.0 Pro, Syntax "-a -ez -p -r"
Benchmark: THG-Workload-2012 (1.3 GB)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.3, Performance Suite
PCMark 7Version: 1.0.4, System, Productivity, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks
SiSoftware Sandra 2013Version: 2013.01.19.11, Processor  Arithmetic,
Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth Benchmarks
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129 comments
    Your comment
    Top Comments
  • envy14tpe
    Enjoy the $400 build. Kinda hoped for an A10-5800k build to compare to.
    10
  • Other Comments
  • ingtar33
    great article. this type of look at how a low end "budget" build handles modern titles was perfect. Loved it. I think you got about the most you could hope for out of a $400 budget. Frankly i can't find a way to make something better at that price point. spot on really. nicely done.

    I do like how most of those games were "playable" on high settings at 1080p with that tiny rig... very cool.
    8
  • Crashman
    Nice build, makes me wonder how it would stack up to my old 4.0 GHz overclocked Core 2 Duo office PC. Which gets gamed on occasionally using its HD 6850 graphics card.
    2
  • envy14tpe
    Enjoy the $400 build. Kinda hoped for an A10-5800k build to compare to.
    10
  • rmpumper
    250 bucks makes HUGE difference. Unlike 2500 vs 1300 systems.
    6
  • allanitomwesh
    FINALLY! I agree this whole system builder was almost a fail.
    Also, I can't believe you had a SG05 and didn't build with it,it has an awesome power supply. Again,if you weren't getting a disk drive the V3+ was the smaller, higher quality case than CM 120 ( though they're finished on newegg)
    The obsession with ginormous cards in tiny places made your cases not tiny.Clearly,a more sensible build,like with a 670,would fit in a much smaller footprint.
    The lack of the FT03 Mini is a fail. It's a Mac killing case,and should've been the go to case for the $2500 build, because at that price,my case better look it.
    Otherwise I like that you were at least up to the challenge, and I applaud this last build.
    -7
  • Crashman
    781820 said:
    FINALLY! I agree this whole system builder was almost a fail. Also, I can't believe you had a SG05 and didn't build with it,it has an awesome power supply. Again,if you weren't getting a disk drive the V3+ was the smaller, higher quality case than CM 120 ( though they're finished on newegg) The obsession with ginormous cards in tiny places made your cases not tiny.Clearly,a more sensible build,like with a 670,would fit in a much smaller footprint. The lack of the FT03 Mini is a fail. It's a Mac killing case,and should've been the go to case for the $2500 build, because at that price,my case better look it. Otherwise I like that you were at least up to the challenge, and I applaud this last build.
    The FT03 Mini would have probably caused the $2500 PC's graphics card to overheat, or caused the graphics card to overheat the CPU. And a 670 might have worked, but then it wouldn't have been a $2500 PC. But please don't let the facts get in the way of your opinion.

    You could say that nobody should even bother spending $2500 on an ITX-based system, or that a system with ITX limitations should never be expected to provide top performance. At least those opinions would make more sense than the stuff you said above.
    8
  • brucek2
    My favorite of the builds. Feels congruent to me in that budget, form factor and system capabilities all align to each other and to my personal sensibilities. I could see making a system like this for a bedroom or den.
    5
  • Crashman
    207589 said:
    My favorite of the builds. Feels congruent to me in that budget, form factor and system capabilities all align to each other and to my personal sensibilities. I could see making a system like this for a bedroom or den.
    Or even an office! Really. I might not build one of these for a performance competition, but it looks like a solid alternative to my retired-gaming office PC.
    1
  • CommentariesAnd More
    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: Intel Pentium G860 3.0GHz Dual-Core Processor ($69.99 @ Newegg)
    Motherboard: Foxconn H61S Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($49.99 @ Amazon)
    Memory: Corsair 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($29.99 @ NCIX US)
    Storage: Samsung Spinpoint M8 500GB 2.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($54.99 @ Newegg)
    Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7750 1GB Video Card ($99.99 @ Newegg)
    Wireless Network Adapter: Rosewill RNX-N180UB 802.11b/g/n USB 2.0 Wi-Fi Adapter ($9.99 @ Newegg)
    Case: Rosewill RS-MI-01 BK Mini ITX Tower Case w/250W Power Supply ($49.99 @ Amazon)
    Optical Drive: LG GH24NS95 DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $371.92
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-06-27 03:06 EDT-0400)

    Some improvements I would like to suggest , Maybe I am crazy , but felt I should do this.
    2
  • silverblue
    Even this diminutive little machine would significantly outpace my old Phenom II X3 710, XFX HD 4830 and 4x1GB DDR2-800 (4-4-4-12) for a pretty decent price.
    0
  • army_ant7
    When I read how it's smaller than the Tiki in every way, I got kinda excited. It is pretty neat how small (and thin) this thing is. How one could wish that more low-profile decent-performing cards were made. That HD 7850 by Afox is interesting.

    Once the Kaveri APU's start rolling out, I wonder if you guys would end up choosing them over Intel CPU's + discrete GPU's for SFF builds like this or for any other budget configuration for that matter.

    BTW, was the Athlon X4 750K/760K not chosen due to its power req. and heat or was it just not available at the time?
    1
  • slomo4sho
    This build definitely deserved an APU...
    0
  • allanitomwesh
    8708 said:
    The FT03 Mini would have probably caused the $2500 PC's graphics card to overheat, or caused the graphics card to overheat the CPU. And a 670 might have worked, but then it wouldn't have been a $2500 PC. But please don't let the facts get in the way of your opinion. You could say that nobody should even bother spending $2500 on an ITX-based system, or that a system with ITX limitations should never be expected to provide top performance. At least those opinions would make more sense than the stuff you said above.

    I will say,since my point was lost in the rant

    Nobody should be building an ITX rig for $2500 that's bigger than the Silverstone SG10.

    A system with mini ITX should crunch top numbers and remain small.The two cheapest rigs prove that.


    I hope I make sense now.
    0
  • re-play-
    So AMD has APU CPU with integrated videocard that can run any game decently on low-mid setting and u choose for this matter intel? intel is really really paying u off very well to keep people away from good stuff... This build will kick the......butt of your intel build.

    AMD A10-5800K APU: http://goo.gl/XaFFP

    MSI FM2-A75MA-E35 Motherboard: http://goo.gl/DXM3W

    8GB Samsung DDR3 1600Mhz RAM: http://goo.gl/gVqCL - Another great option: http://goo.gl/Jbtye

    500GB Western Digital Caviar Blue Hard Drive: http://goo.gl/bM1Ww

    NZXT Source 210 Case: http://goo.gl/2wlae

    430W Corsair CX430 Power Supply: http://goo.gl/QzWZo

    These parts make up the $350 build however since this is a custom PC feel free to customize it with some of these options!

    OS - Windows 8 System Builder: http://goo.gl/OTZAL

    OS - Windows 7 System Builder: http://goo.gl/7hc9M

    Optical Drive - Lite-On DVD Burner: http://goo.gl/DCVBn

    Wi-Fi Adapter - Asus PCE-N15: http://goo.gl/JQ7Mt

    RAM Upgrade - 8GB G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 2133Mhz: http://goo.gl/bTOiK

    Graphics Card - Sapphire Radeon 7770: http://goo.gl/FrSHW

    SSD - 120GB Samsung 840: http://goo.gl/ykuCA

    HDD Upgrade - 1TB WD Caviar Blue: http://goo.gl/MZTnq
    -7
  • Crashman
    781820 said:
    8708 said:
    The FT03 Mini would have probably caused the $2500 PC's graphics card to overheat, or caused the graphics card to overheat the CPU. And a 670 might have worked, but then it wouldn't have been a $2500 PC. But please don't let the facts get in the way of your opinion. You could say that nobody should even bother spending $2500 on an ITX-based system, or that a system with ITX limitations should never be expected to provide top performance. At least those opinions would make more sense than the stuff you said above.
    I will say,since my point was lost in the rant Nobody should be building an ITX rig for $2500 that's bigger than the Silverstone SG10. A system with mini ITX should crunch top numbers and remain small.The two cheapest rigs prove that. I hope I make sense now.
    What you're saying is that a $2500 ITX rig simply shouldn't exist, and you're contradicting yourself to say that it should remain small and crunch top numbers. The two cheapest rigs prove that.

    What you're really saying is that all the people who loved the $2500 PC were wrong. It's OK to believe that, but the reality is that your opinion on their market doesn't count any more than my opinion on feminine hygiene products. Both of us are ill-equipped to speak with authority on those respective issues.
    1
  • allanitomwesh
    122890 said:
    So AMD has APU CPU with integrated videocard that can run any game decently on low-mid setting and u choose for this matter intel? intel is really really paying u off very well to keep people away from good stuff... This build will kick the......butt of your intel build. AMD A10-5800K APU: http://goo.gl/XaFFP MSI FM2-A75MA-E35 Motherboard: http://goo.gl/DXM3W 8GB Samsung DDR3 1600Mhz RAM: http://goo.gl/gVqCL - Another great option: http://goo.gl/Jbtye 500GB Western Digital Caviar Blue Hard Drive: http://goo.gl/bM1Ww NZXT Source 210 Case: http://goo.gl/2wlae 430W Corsair CX430 Power Supply: http://goo.gl/QzWZo These parts make up the $350 build however since this is a custom PC feel free to customize it with some of these options! OS - Windows 8 System Builder: http://goo.gl/OTZAL OS - Windows 7 System Builder: http://goo.gl/7hc9M Optical Drive - Lite-On DVD Burner: http://goo.gl/DCVBn Wi-Fi Adapter - Asus PCE-N15: http://goo.gl/JQ7Mt RAM Upgrade - 8GB G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 2133Mhz: http://goo.gl/bTOiK Graphics Card - Sapphire Radeon 7770: http://goo.gl/FrSHW SSD - 120GB Samsung 840: http://goo.gl/ykuCA HDD Upgrade - 1TB WD Caviar Blue: http://goo.gl/MZTnq


    Your case is much much bigger.
    3
  • slicedtoad
    122890 said:
    So AMD has APU CPU with integrated videocard that can run any game decently on low-mid setting and u choose for this matter intel? intel is really really paying u off very well to keep people away from good stuff... This build will kick the......butt of your intel build.

    No. They chose intel for the cpu, not for it's integrated gpu. They used the fastest half height, single slot gpu available to them along with it. Swapping out the intel cpu for the A10-5800K would have been a step down in gaming performance. Don't make stupid accusations.
    2
  • jestersage
    This build just resonates positive on me. It's not as beautiful or powerful as the $2500 build but I gravitate toward it just a tad more. This is something I'd build myself. And a year down the road it will have a few upgrades:

    -a core i5 3350P or whatever haswell version is available by then
    -the AFOX 7850 is available in my country :-P
    -a 120 or 240Gb SSD
    -more ram
    -a slim optical drive
    0
  • ojas
    Nice, enjoyed reading. What i'm wondering is, could you guys get your hands on a Kabini board and add a 7870 or 7850 to see how it does? Obviously i'm thinking about the new consoles here...The fact that Sony managed to fit all of that into $400...

    8708 said:
    Nice build, makes me wonder how it would stack up to my old 4.0 GHz overclocked Core 2 Duo office PC. Which gets gamed on occasionally using its HD 6850 graphics card.

    Well i have a Core 2 Quad and a GTX560, manages fine at 1024x768, but a lot of times i'm intensely CPU bottlenecked. Arma 3's killing my CPU like no other game. Ok, maybe the FreeSpace 2 Open engine, but then that's single threaded.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6670/dragging-core2duo-into-2013-time-for-an-upgrade
    1
  • jack1982
    Great build, great article. I didn't even know you could get cases that small. Now I'm seriously considering making something like this with a Blu ray drive and a much larger HDD for a HTPC.
    0