Tight Spaces: The Motherboard Installation
Wanted: Nimble Fingers
Again, installing the motherboard really isn't difficult, so long as you do it before putting the drive cage back in.
As always, remember to snap in the bundled I/O shield before screwing the motherboard down. That’s probably obvious to the average Tom’s Hardware reader, but still important to mention. We've even been caught up in a fancy build and missed this little detail.
The I/O panel snaps right into its designated opening. Sadly, this deserves mention because such a good fit doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should.
Fasten the motherboard to the tray using four pre-installed spacers.
Packing everything that needs to go into the case makes for an extremely tight fit. The optical drive’s slimline-to-SATA adapter does push into the CPU fan, but as we mentioned, the cooler's retention brackets are flexible enough to keep this from being a problem.
Before we move on to the graphics card, we have a couple more pieces of advice regarding the motherboard installation.
First, plugging in the front-panel connectors can be tricky, so we recommend connecting them to the motherboard before placing it inside the case. Otherwise, breaking out tweezers is going to be your only realistic option.
And while cable routing usually comes down to personal preference, we had to compromise a clean-looking build for secure connections when it came to dealing with components like the optical drive's adapter and the HD Audio cable. It probably goes without saying in a mini-ITX PC, but there's really not a lot of empty space left inside the case at this point.
I demand a proper Mini-ITX case from the manufacturers!
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:
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)
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)
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?