Motherboard And CPU #1: Pulling Out The Stops
Attempt #1: Push it to the Limit
Yes, I know that a Core i7-3770K is overkill for an exhibition chassis like this one. In a gaming PC, half of the money spent on Intel's flagship Ivy Bridge-based CPU would be better diverted to a discrete graphics card, which unfortunately doesn't fit into Lian Li's whimsical locomotive case. Nevertheless, I wanted to explore the thermal limits of the enclosure, so I dropped the Core i7 into Zotac's H77-ITX WiFi motherboard.
A Wi-Fi module comes bundled with the board, so you don't have to worry about wired networking connectivity.
Neither the case nor the motherboard allow for oversized CPU coolers.
In the shot below, you can see the empty tender. We recommend removing the fan prior to mounting the motherboard, particularly since Zotac's platform sports a lot of connectors right under where that fan is positioned.
The rear panel cutout is just barely big enough for the I/O shield. Snapping it in requires considerable force.
All four motherboard standoffs are pre-mounted and sport precision threads. We had no problems inserting and tightening the enclosed screws.
We discovered that our Core i7-3770K taxes Scythe's Big Shuriken Rev.2 cooler to its limits, specifically during the CPU stress test. There isn't much room left for overclocking, to be sure. The eLoop-series Noiseblocker fan does help the heat sink and cooler though, and after 60 minutes of running LinX, the CPU temperature didn't exceed 72°C with a room temperature of 22°C (72°F). Using the original case fan, the Core i7 peaked at 74°C, which is still acceptable, we'd say.
Unfortunately, the Big Shuriken's fan is just too noisy at full processor load, which prompted us to reevaluate our CPU and motherboard choices.
We took a step back from our instinct to push this system's upper bounds and started thinking about a more appropriate platform to use. We'll cover that on the following page.
Look closely; the USB header cable is barely long enough to stretch over our Scythe cooler on Zotac's board. Lian Li should make this cable an inch longer to avoid connection issues.