Quiet Mini-ITX Gaming Build Guide #3: BitFenix Prodigy Edition

Do-It-Yourself Systems | Silent PC Build Guides
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The STRIX GTX 980.

The ample space in the Prodigy means it can fit the largest graphics card, including the non-reference cooler equiipped versions of the GeForce GTX 980, regarded as the fastest single GPU card on the market today. The ASUS STRIX GTX 980 used previously in our ATX and first mini-ITX build will do nicely as it's energy efficient, and the stock cooler is very quiet. This card is an ideal single GPU solution for driving resolutions beyond 1080p. If you can't bring yourself to pony up US$500+ on a graphics card, or are aiming for lower resolutions, a GTX 970 is a fine alternative.

Back panel.

The card has an usually wide PCB and the stock cooler has a section of thick heatpipe jutting out the side as well, so it extends past the edge of the expansion slot by 3.4 cm, making it incompatible with some narrower cases. (See our discussion about this issue in Journey to a Silent MicroATX Gamer.) Thankfully, this isn't an issue for the Prodigy as its designed with the video card oriented vertically.

CPU: Intel Core i5-4690K - US$220


Intel Core i5-4690K.

Intel's superior energy efficiency has us coming back to their Haswell processors time and time again. Even if AMD were an option, no manufacturer is currently selling a mini-ITX version using their flagship AM3+ socket. Quad core Haswell deliver excellent all-around performance, both in single and multi-threaded applications/games. An ideal choice is the Core i5-4690K, a quad core chip running at 3.4 GHz (up to 3.8 GHz with Turbo Boost) with an unlocked multiplier for easy overclocking to improve overall performance further. Honestly, any of the 4xxx series would perform similarly in terms of gaming as CPU bottlenecking isn't much of an issue with GTX 980, so which particular model isn't overly important.

CPU Cooler: Scythe Mugen MAX - US$55


The Mugen MAX.

The latest iteration of Scythe's successful Mugen tower coolers is the MAX, a hefty heatsink built in the same vein as the Thermalright HR-02. We haven't officially tested this model yet, but Scythe's latest offerings haven't let us down, and their stock fans are consistently above average acoustically. As the graphics card is not directly under the processor in this case, We don't anticipate CPU cooling to be a big issue, so really any decently sized heatsink should be more than capable. Height isn't a problem as the maximum clearance is listed as 17.5 cm, but dual tower/fan models should probably be avoided as they are overkill and may not fit if a 5.25 inch drive is utilized.

Side shot.

The Mugen MAX is asymmetric model that places the fan closer to the center and shifts the rest of the fin mass toward the other side. This allows the cooler to completely clear the memory slots in LGA115x motherboards, so RAM modules (even those with tall heatspreaders) can be swapped in/out without removing the fan.

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