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

Do-It-Yourself Systems | Silent PC Build Guides
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COMPONENT SELECTION (Con't)

Motherboard: ASUS Z97I-PLUS - US$150

Alternatives:


The ASUS Z97I-PLUS

Once again we press the ASUS Z97I-PLUS into action, as we have done in our last two mini-ITX build guides. A ton of features aren't necessary, but this board happens to be well-stocked, with three controllable fan headers, an M.2 storage option on the back of the board, a built-in wireless adapter, and a boatload of overclocking options if you're into that.


Fan headers.

The three fan headers are capable of both PWM and DC (voltage control) so it doesn't matter what type of fans are used. Fan speed behavior can be configured in the UEFI BIOS or via the ASUS Fan Xpert utility and each individual header can be set to react to any of the onboard temperature sensors, making it a more dynamic system than most. The only negative is the headers are located near the I/O panel so they're difficult to reach once the CPU heatsink and motherboard has been installed. We suggest connecting the fans before securing the board to the standoffs.

Power Supply: Seasonic G Series 550W - US$85

Alternatives:


SSR-550RM.

One of our previous mini-ITX gaming system with similar components drew just under 280W AC at full load, so a high capacity power supply isn't necessary. The Seasonic G Series 550W is a popular modular model with 80 PLUS Gold certification and it was used recently in our microATX gaming build.

While even a 500W model would suffice for this build, 650W units currently offer the best bang for your buck. The Corsair CSM/RM and Seasonic X series are good alternatives if you're looking for quiet operation. A fanless unit is also certainly an option, though it will likely heat up the rest of the components more than an actively cooled model.

SSD: Kingston M.2 2280 240GB - US$160

2.5-inch SATA Alternatives:


Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB.

Solid-state storage may be the most significant advance in the last decade for silent computing. With no moving parts, they generate zero noise, but also have ridiculously low latency, resulting in fast loading times. As games continue to grow in complexity, having an SSD becomes increasingly advantageous. A 240~256GB model should be considered a starting point; with Windows and a few triple-A gaming titles installed, a smaller drive could be filled close to capacity. Also, with ever increasing memory density, fewer dies are needed, which can mean fewer read/write channels being used and slower performance for SSDs of lower capacity.

For convenience, we'll stick with the M.2 drive from the last mini-ITX build. The Kingston 2280 240GB, is a budget model with a Phison controller that doesn't have the horsepower to take advantage of the extra bandwidth provided by the form factor, but when it comes to differences in loading times between various SSDs, we're usually talking about fractions of a second. A 2.5 inch model will provide more bang for your buck but does cause more cable clutter.

RAM: Kingston HyperX Genesis Kit 2x4GB 1866MHz DDR3 - US$95

Alternatives:


HyperX Genesis memory kit.

Precisely what RAM is used as system memory is not critical, although other web sites have identified DDR3-1600 to DDR3-1833 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 of money unless you have a specific need for it, and RAM is one of the easiest things to upgrade later in a system, if you really need it for some new application. We 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. Kingston HyperX RAM has been solid for us, and it sports lower profile heatspreaders that don't get in the way of big heatsinks.



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