Maximum Performance From MicroATX
It's not uncommon for PC enthusiasts to gravitate toward enormous cases that sit under their desks. Not only do those enclosures command attention, but they also have the extra space for installing add-ins and keeping them nice and cool.
And yet, our own case comparisons prove that extra space doesn't always translate into better airflow. Moreover, even a majority of enthusiasts don’t add more than a trio of three hard drives to their potent builds.
With that in mind, we're going to try something different today.
Harangued by lovers of multifaceted fascias, bright lights, and big windows, we decided to see how far we could push performance, while keeping our box's footprint as unassuming as possible.
As a frame of reference, we're comparing today's effort to our recent $2000 System Builder Marathon configuration. And like that build, we begin today's tale with a lovingly-chosen shopping list.
|Ultimate Performance Mini PC Components|
|Motherboard||Asus Maximus IV Gene-Z: LGA 1155 Intel Z68 Express||$170|
|Graphics||PNY XLR8 VCGGTX580XPB-LC-CPU GeForce GTX 580PNY XLR8 VCGGTX580XPB-LC GeForce GTX 580 (for SLI)||$1080|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-2600K: 3.4 GHz-3.8 GHz, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache||$315|
|Memory||G.Skill F3-17600CL9D-8GBXLD: DDR3-2200 C9, 4 GB x2 (8 GB)||$300|
|System Drive||Crucial CT256M4SSD2CCA 256 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD||$380|
|Storage Drive||2 x Seagate Momentus ST9750420AS 750 GB, 7200 RPM Hard Drive||$80|
|Optical||LG WH12LS30: 12x BD-R 2x BD-RE 16x DVD±R 8x DVD+RW||$80|
|Case||Fractal Design Arc Mini||$100|
|Power||Seasonic SS-850HT: 850 W, ATX12V v2.31, 80 PLUS Silver||$120|
|Heat Sink||PNY XLR8 / Asetek Integrated Liquid Cooling||Row 9 - Cell 2|
|Row 10 - Cell 0||Total Cost||$2625|
Unlike our System Builder Marathon machines, which are all sponsored by Newegg, this build was “off the books.” We pieced it together through some very helpful press contacts and and used a few parts we simply had laying around.
Our test results prove that we still didn’t cut any corners, even if some of the parts we picked aren't for everyone.
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.
Anyways. Love these kind of articles. Helps other users get more of what they assume. Keep it up Tom's.
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.