Quiet Mini-ITX Gamer Build Guide

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This one is simple: The ASUS STRIX GTX 980 card we used in the Quiet ATX Gaming Build is amazingly quiet, the GTX 980 is arguably the best single GPU card today, and this sample remains the only GTX 980 we have on hand. If it works, don't break it, right? We were fairly sure it could made to run pretty quiet in this setup. The Strix GTX 980 does fit in the Rosewill W1-S with a bit of room to spare for both length and height. Its fans get pretty close to the side panel, though; good thing that panel is vented along its entire length.

ASUS Strix GeForce GTX 980.

Other options:

  • ASUS Strix GTX 970 - We're pretty sure this card performs simlarly to the Strix 980.
  • MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G - This card and its pricier brother are said to be as quiet as the ASUS, although we still don't have samples to verify.
  • MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G


An SSD has become the default drive of choice for the operating system of virtually all computer users in the know. We mentioned earlier that the ASUS Z97I-PLUS board is equipped with a lightning-fast 10Gb/s M.2 slot. It supports both SATA & PCIE mode (2280 & 2260), which makes it compatible will all current M.2 SSDs. We requested M.2 SSDs from many vendors; one alone came through in time, the KINGSTON SSDNOW M.2 2280 (SATA) 240G. Kingston offers a 120 GB version, and a 480 GB model is in the works. Kingston specifies the performance of this SATA-mode SSD to be on par with their Hyper X 3K 240GB SATA 3.0 SSDs, which we've been using in large numbers around the lab. The M.2 2280 uses a Phison PS3108-S8 SATA 3 eight channel controller. The SSD features firmware-based power loss protection for maintaining data integrity in unexpected shutdown. DevSleep allows more efficient power management (mostly for mobile devices). TRIM and S.M.A.R.T. are supported, of course, along with Intel Smart Response Technology (SSD caching).

Kingston M.2 2280 240G SSD about to be secured with single screw into slot on underside of ASUS Z97I-PLUS motherboard.

Other M.2 SSD options:

  • Crucial M550 M.2 Type 2280 512GB Great value!
  • Transcend MTS800 M.2 512GB
  • Samsung XP941 512GB M.2 SSD PCIe mode, 4 express lanes: Probably the fastest consumer SSD today. Will you notice the improvement it brings in this or any other gaming rig? Probably not. lol!


Since the Rosewill Legacy W1-S has a separate compartment for the power supply which can keep whatever heat it generates from adding to the heat of the other components, a fanless power supply is a viable option. A handful of options come to mind.

  • Seasonic X-520 Platinum Possibly the premier fanless ATX12V in the world, with completely modular cables.
  • Silverstone Nightjar SST-NJ520 Rebadge of the Seasonic 80+ Platinum 520W
  • Rosewill Silent Night 500 Platinum 80 Plus Similar to the Seasonic but not complete modular, as main ATX cable is attached.
  • Kingwin STR-500 Another Platinum efficiency model.
  • Seasonic X-460 and X-400 Lower rated versions of the fanless Seasonic

It's a tossup: All are super efficient, fanless and noiseless. The Seasonics have the small advantage of completely detachable output cables, useful during assembly. We can match the power demand of the system closer to the PSU with a Seasonic X-400 Platinum; we already know that the total system power draw will be no more than ~260W (in DC). Unfortunately the X-400 is supplied with only one PCIe connector, and two are needed for the GTX 980. The Seasonic X-460 does come with two cables with dual PCIe 8/6 pin connectors on each (a separate cable per PCIe power plug is a plus for stable power delivery), as does the Seasonic X-520 and the Silverstone Nightjar 520W. The price differences among them is small, and any of these models will work fine for this system. There is little chance of much more power demand in a system where all the motherboard's peripheral slots are already filled. Even adding a bunch of HDDs would not exceed the power limit of even the 460W. We know they're rugged; an X-400 survived unscathed a full power load torture test we ran for the better part of a whole day. We used a SEASONIC X-520 FANLESS sample we already had on hand.

The entire Seasonic X series fanless PSUs are now 80+ Platinum and completely modular.


Precisely what RAM is used as system memory is not critical, although other web sites have identified DDR1600 to DDR1866 as the sweet spot, somewhat dependent on the particular game. Within this clock speed range, small variations in timing have minuscule effect on overall performance. 8GB is more than sufficient for any single game and general purpose multitasking. 16GB is a waste unless you have a specific need, and RAM is one of the easiest things to add later to a system, if you need more for some new application. Two DIMMs are ideal as it allows for dual-channel operation, while limiting the chances of getting a bad stick. Memory is one of the most common components to fail over time, so the fewer the better. We also recommend choosing a brand with a good lifetime warranty and to avoid models with overly large heatspreaders as they can interfere with larger CPU coolers. The Kingston HyperX Genesis 2x4GB 1866MHz DDR3 RAM has been solid for us, and it sports lower profile heatspreaders that don't get in the way of big heatsinks.


  • Kingston HyperX Fury 8GB Kit (2x4GB) 1600MHz DDR3
  • Patriot Viper 8GB Kit (2x4GB) 1866MHz DDR3

HyperX Genesis memory kit.

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