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Building A Liquid-Cooled MicroATX Gaming Monster

Power, Heat, And Efficiency

Power consumption is where the microATX build literally sucks, as in the amount of extra current it draws from the wall. Though factory-overclocked graphics cards take part of the blame, the Maximus IV Gene-Z’s habit of disabling low idle power states when XMP memory mode is enabled also hurts the smaller machine’s overall efficiency.

While the microATX machine’s liquid-cooled graphics cards reduce GPU temperature, CPU temperatures are relatively well-matched between both configurations. We should also point out that both cases have similar airflow, in spite of the smaller machine’s radiators.

Higher graphics card frequency and better overclocking capability put the microATX system in the driver’s seat in front of the full-sized SBM build.

The reference-speed SBM machine sets the baseline in our efficiency charts, so that the chart reflects only how much better or worse other configurations are in comparison. This is done by starting off with the reference machine at 100% then subtracting 100% from the results.

Power consumption favors the bigger machine by such a large amount that it completely diminishes the microATX machine’s performance lead in our efficiency comparison.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.