Build It Yourself: A Mini-ITX Gaming System For Just Over $500

Cooling: Third-Party Or Intel's Bundled Heat Sink?

Inexpensive Cooling Without A Whisper

The noise generated by Intel's bundled heat sink and fan combination is a matter of personal taste. Some folks can live with it, while others can't. Count me, personally, in that second group. I just had to buy a third-party cooling solution. The $30 Xigmatek Praeton presents an inexpensive step up from Intel's stock hardware.

Praeton LD964 Technical Specifications
104 x 93 x 30 mm (Width x Depth x Height, without Fan)
Heat SinkAluminium
HeatpipesDiameter6 mm
Number and Type
Four / Copper
Dimensions90 x 90 x 15 mm (Width x Depth x Height)
12 V
Start-up Voltage
6 V
RPM Range
1200-2800 RPM
Fan Capacity
45.5 CFM (Max.)
40,000 hours
Noise Level
<22 dBA
Four-pin with PWM
180 g (without Fan)

Almost all mini-ITX motherboards have their audio connectors along the bottom. The corresponding cable in Chieftec’s case is so short that it wouldn't have reached if Xigmatek's cooler were any taller. An addition quarter-inch of cable length would have helped, but a significantly longer cable is what this form factor really needs. 

In the picture above, the you can see the HD Audio header cable stretched diagonally across the CPU fan. It doesn’t actually touch the blades, so it never becomes a functional problem. It's just ugly.

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    Top Comments
  • Would be nice if they included benchmarks, but overall a nice review.
  • @xkm1948:
    I have a "Zero dB PC" as one of the next projects, complete based on a AMD APU (A10 5700). We should stay a little parity, all last Mini-PCs were AMDs ;)

    The performance of a HD 7750 is wellknown and this little card is in the most cases the slower part. This is from the other project:
  • What about putting in an APU instead?
  • Other Comments
  • What about putting in an APU instead?
  • That case almost looks like a Wii.
  • Would be nice if they included benchmarks, but overall a nice review.
  • We have Mini-ITX gaming mobos that support OCing and 120mm closed loop water cooling...

    I demand a proper Mini-ITX case from the manufacturers!
  • @xkm1948:
    I have a "Zero dB PC" as one of the next projects, complete based on a AMD APU (A10 5700). We should stay a little parity, all last Mini-PCs were AMDs ;)

    The performance of a HD 7750 is wellknown and this little card is in the most cases the slower part. This is from the other project:
  • If I did not already have more desktops than I am currently using I would definitely consider building something like this...
  • Wish you would have done a bitfenix Prodigy build with an i7 and GTX690, mini ITX machine that can play anything? Yes please!

    I would like to know why there is no real SFF love in the AMD camp for non APU's, I really want a new mATX mobo with 3 PCI-e slots, so I can do a tri-fire setup with LC in my mini P180, 2x7970's just are not enough. I also want to replace my aging 890gxm-g65 so I can OC my FX8350, this board has known issues with its power circuitry beyond stock (I would know, I have cooked 3 of them, 2 from trying to OC, and one from a long gaming session)
  • It always seems like Toms put's out recommendation builds right after new hardware comes out. Also I think you failed to research enough, mITX H77 boards have been cheaper than mITX B75 boards for months while having better features.
  • Laptop instead?

    At the $500 price range, I've seen many laptops that perform similarly to builds like this.

    The laptops also have the advantage of:
    - screen (don't have to use)
    - battery (for power outage)
    - size

    One disadvantage with gaming laptops is that under load the little fan tends to be annoying. It would be really cool if you could easily plug in an external cooling unit that bypasses that fan.

    INTERESTING BUILD, though I would strongly disagree with the "good enough for an HDTV" comment about the graphics card. It's a gaming PC. Just because it's hooked up to an HDTV instead of a monitor doesn't make it "good enough"; Far Cry 3 still won't run great.

    I'd like to see a little more CPU and GPU processing power while keeping noise in check. Let's see what can be done with $700?
  • That was my basic setup until recently when I upgraded the cpu from a i3 2100 to an i5 3570k. The GPU from the 7750 to a 7870 and the case to a prodigy which supports larger cooling fans and dual slot GPU's. The lower frame rates or settings turned down wasn't cutting it for games like borderlands 2. But if you are into games like LoL the recommend build will be more than enough.
  • xkm1948What about putting in an APU instead?

    ... my first idea too...
  • Beautiful! Love it! Mini ITX System Builder Marathon, please.
  • I also found this bit thought provoking -

    Overall, you should see good performance right up until the platform reaches its limit. Then performance will fall apart completely.

    Something to keep us readers grounded on reality.
  • DjEaZy... my first idea too...

    The A10-5800K would be slower then a 7750 GDDR5 even with DDR3-2133 memory, though it would definitely be cheaper.

    What Toms was doing was combining SB/IB's better performance at single player timed games with a very specific dGPU. The dGPU is doing most of the heavy lifting which lets them get away with a weak CPU in single threaded environments. Since the purpose was to create a pseudo "console" then it'll work.
  • These tfx psus are typically noisy so I seriously doubt you'd hear the stock cooler over it. I sure haven't with my g850 in a similar itx chassis (In-Win bp655) with 2 different ones (got a 300w bequiet tfx psu to replace the overtly noisy one that came with the case. Much better but still audible).
    Why no mention of how loud the gpu is under load?
    Also, "no gaming pc is really complete without an optical drive"..... just no.
  • The case looks like crap. Cheap crap. It doesn't look great.

    You should have gone with the train case, or something that didn't look like such chinsy garbage.
  • There should have been no optical drive, and the stock CPU cooler. Take that saved money to buy a 7770 GHz Edition instead of that not even gaming graphics card.
  • The A10 6800K should dual nicely with this graphics card. I dare say it will be a better option then.
  • Good work, can i please know the temps inside the system, like the AMD 7750 on Load and idle and the CPU as well, why no temps page
  • photonboyLaptop instead??

    i was thinking on building a htpc /gaming PC and i was thinking to get a laptop aswell...but lets see, the only thing that you win with a laptop is mobility. In a htpc you can upgrade the video card with newer solution, you can upgrade the CPU (you can alwas insert an i3 there when prices are lower), the htpc is silenter, you can add SSD +HDD ... so the HTPC wins by far. The laptop is doomed, you will trow it away in 4 years (@ 500$, you will trow it away in 2 :))), and @ 500$ your best deal in a laptopis the intel HD graphics orthe nvidia gt 610 witchboth are crap...