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 Post subject: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 8:45 pm 
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Location: "Fake" Virginia, US
I'm starting the process of planning for a MiniITX build. Normal use will be software development, some VM usage, and moderate gaming (SWTOR, Skyrim, Dragon Age, as examples). Planned budget is in the $1200 range, though its not strict.

On the whole, I'm very pragmatic about builds. However, this is a periodic hobby, so I'm up for trying different things each time just to expand my experience.

The plan for now:

CPU: i5-4690k (will overclock)
Mobo: ASUS Maximus VII Impact ?? [Note 1]
RAM: 2 x 8GB DDR3 1600
Video: MSI GTX 770 Lightning (already purchased - currently in use)
Optical: None / USB
Sound: ASUS Xonar U7 [Note 2]
Storage OS/Game: 512GB Crucial M.2-PCIe [Note 3]
Storage Supplementary: 512GB Crucial MX100
Case: (Uncertain MiniITX, preferably "cube" or "tower" shape) [Note 4]
PSU: Seasonic SS-520FL2 / Seasonic SSR-550RM [Note 5]

  1. Not solid on the Maximus VII. It simply has everything I want: M.2, 3 fan headers with speed controls in BIOS, 2 Gigabit LAN ports (preferably Intel) or 1 RJ45 and 1 802.11ac.
  2. Despite the fact that on-board sound is pretty good now, I generally can't use it as I pipe sound in from a second PC. Few motherboards have Optical-In, and using Line-In creates very annoying ground loops.
  3. M.2 is a bit young still, but I'm interested to try it out.
  4. Why mITX? Because I've never done it before. I don't actually need more than what a mITX supplies. I'd like something smaller than an ATX build. Yeah, mATX is also an option, but the extra board space doesn't solve any problems for me and most of the cases are either the size of a large mITX case or a small ATX case.
  5. Yeah 500W is more than necessary. My calculations put the top end power draw at just under 400W. However, the plan is to upgrade the video card in the next 18 months, and while I think 50W is a generous amount of overhead, it is enough to make me pause.

The main problem I'm trying to solve now:

The Case and PSU

My first choice for case right now is the Corsair 250D. It has what I'm looking for in a case:

  • Support for normal sized ATX power supplies (I'd rather avoid special form factors)
  • Primary airflow which doesn't require a top vent (My cat loves to nap on my PC)
  • No power/reset buttons on the top-plane (My cat loves to step on buttons)
  • Positive pressure design with filtered inputs

However, it has a couple problems. First, it puts the PSU in a solid cage directly beneath the motherboard. From what I can see, this pretty much rules out using any of Seasonic's fanless PSUs. The G-Series is still really good, so that would still be acceptable.

The bigger problem is CPU cooling. I think the max cooler height is just under 130mm. That rules out pretty much every tower cooler I would be interested in. Top-down coolers would still work, but they don't follow the front-to-back flow that the rest of the design would use. The other alternative is... AIO water cooling. The case is pretty obviously designed with that in mind. And while part of me is curious about trying it, the other part of me is still very skeptical. If I'd do it, I'd consider something like the H100i with both fans replaced with Gentle Typhoons or something similar.

So, how bad would the H100i/GT combo be? Is it worth switching to a Bitfenix Prodigy case, for the better air cooler support, but slightly noisier construction? I know people like the Node 304, but I'm not sure about the amount of air flow if I'm going to be overclocking an i5 with a 770 next to it. Also, I don't think the Node 304 would support a fanless Seasonic, either.

Thoughts? Advice?


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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 9:07 pm 
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A tower form factor mini itx with standard ATX PSU support i would probably look into Lian Li cases, the Q11 should fit a lot (no top buttons or vents), its practically a positive pressure case with a single 140mm, on the downside the space for a cooler with a ATX PSU is limited, probably around Big Shuriken (dont take my word for it), or AXP-200 (also crosscheck the height).

I would favor the Node 304 + Seasonic G series, but for this type of case i would favor ASUS and AsRock socket placement on their mini itx mobos, as it will allow you practically any CPU cooler you wish. I would probably not pick asus for their bios fan control, but their fanXpert is pretty solid. I had very good experience with two Seasonic G-550, but up to you, its not as quiet as higher end seasonic, but to me on standard gaming load i never heard it to be loud at all, there are other options to consider depending on what are your plans on gpu long term. On the Node304 i seen some install their 2.5 ssds on the front below 92mm fans, so i would go this route, i would probably crosscheck the M.2 though, some motherboards are having compatibility issues and seems they are working on bios updates, personally i would go with MX100 512GB or if you need more Samsung 840Evo 1tb, both offer great performance for the money. For CPU cooler you can go with whatever pleases you, Scythe Kotetsu seems like a very good option, specially now you can get it below $40 and should be enough for a quad, but if you feel you want more, look into the twin towers like Noctua NH-D15 or Thermalright Silver Arrow IBE. As a last suggestion look into low profile memory like Crucial Ballistic Tactical or Sport so you will have good clearance for whatever cooler you like.

Personally i dont like much the prodigy not out of being bad, i think its a very cleaver design, but its size starts getting close to what micro atx case will offer like Silverstone TJ08-E or PS07.

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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 1:53 am 
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Posts: 3011
Location: ITALY
figment wrote:
Sound: ASUS Xonar U7 [Note 2]

I don't know in U.S.A., but here in EU (Italy) it's just an overpriced entry-level DAC with a weak integrated headphone amp.
Personally I would give a look to different DACs/audio interfaces.


figment wrote:
Storage OS/Game: 512GB Crucial M.2-PCIe [Note 3]

Crucial M.2 are currently known to run very hot and throttling their performance to recover from overheating (which may affect the motherboar itself): I would avoid either that interface or that vendor.


figment wrote:
Case: (Uncertain MiniITX, preferably "cube" or "tower" shape) [Note 4]

Give a look to the Rosewill W1.


figment wrote:
From what I can see, this pretty much rules out using any of Seasonic's fanless PSUs.

The Seasonic fanless units can run pretty well with the grille facing downwards (I run it so).
Whether you are not comfortable with that, you might go for a semi-fanless unit, like the Corsair RM/HXi or the EVGA G2/P2 (several Kingwin and Rosewill units are also based on the same Super Flower platform, even fanless: at any rate, you may look for more detailled information about PSUs on JonnyGuru forum).
Other options, noise wise, are the Enermax Platimax 500/600W and the BeQuiet Dark Power Pro P10 550W.

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Luca


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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:08 am 
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Location: "Fake" Virginia, US
quest_for_silence wrote:
figment wrote:
Storage OS/Game: 512GB Crucial M.2-PCIe [Note 3]

Crucial M.2 are currently known to run very hot and throttling their performance to recover from overheating (which may affect the motherboar itself): I would avoid either that interface or that vendor.

Hmm. I hadn't heard that. That would definitely be worth avoiding. I'd double up the MX100 as an alternative.

quest_for_silence wrote:
figment wrote:
Case: (Uncertain MiniITX, preferably "cube" or "tower" shape) [Note 4]

Give a look to the Rosewill W1.

I did look at the W1, as it looks pretty good on the noise front. However, it has one main problem: The side vents will be dominated by the GTX 770, leaving only the top as a air inlet. I've been trying to avoid relying on that, as my cat likes to nap on my PC while I play games (its warm and hums...).

quest_for_silence wrote:
The Seasonic fanless units can run pretty well with the grille facing downwards (I run it so).
Whether you are not comfortable with that, you might go for a semi-fanless unit, like the Corsair RM/HXi or the EVGA G2/P2

Hmm. This made me realize that the G-Series isn't semi-fanless like I expected. The Corsair RM series was another alternative. The HXi's and the EVGAs just aren't made at small enough loads. The lowest I can find are 750W, which double my expected max load.

quest_for_silence wrote:
Other options, noise wise, are the Enermax Platimax 500/600W and the BeQuiet Dark Power Pro P10 550W.

I looked into the BeQuiet PSU, but it doesn't seem significantly better than the Corsiar RM series or the Seasonic G-Series. The XFX XTR is an interesting option, though: Seasonic G-Series with a better hybrid fan.


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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:50 am 
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figment wrote:
The XFX XTR is an interesting option, though: Seasonic G-Series with a better hybrid fan.
Yes, but equally the XFX XTR has a fairly aggressive fan profile if the load is pushed much beyond 40% of capacity. For example, according to the TechPowerUp review of the XTR 650 the fan runs at 935 rpm at 40% load, increasing to 1385 rpm at 50% and 1945 rpm at 60%.


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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:20 am 
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I don't see many people around me even asking about M.2, so I can't really comment about that, but if you decide to go without, I just picked the Gigabyte Z97N-WIFI, and it's a great board. No 3 fan headers, but in a small ITX case, what on earth are you using that many fans for? You'd need CPU and rear exhaust if the case has a rear exhaust fan. Otherwise, more fans = more noise.

I'd also say maybe look at the Xigmatek Nebula case, but it certainly wont be big enough for that GTX770. Why pair such a massively long card on an ITX board? You wont be able to stuff it into an ITX cube, you're going to need a very big ITX case, or you may as well go mATX, because you'd likely need a mATX case to stuff that 770 into.

Have you ever looked at Nanoxia cases? I'm not sure of how easily you can get one, but they're pretty good looking cases, and can certainly fit the GTX770.

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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 6:40 am 
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figment wrote:
The side vents will be dominated by the GTX 770, leaving only the top as a air inlet. I've been trying to avoid relying on that, as my cat likes to nap on my PC while I play games (its warm and hums...).

That's not an inlet, and it cannot act as an inlet as hot air rises. It's one of the system exhaust: the W1 airflow path is from front/bottom to rear/top.


figment wrote:
The HXi's and the EVGAs just aren't made at small enough loads. The lowest I can find are 750W, which double my expected max load.

Yes, they are expected to be less "green", but not by that much: efficiency-wise the Seasonic G-series 550W is around 79.2% at 40W DC, 84% at 60W DC, 86.6% at 80W DC and 88.2% at 100W DC. The eVGA G2 750W at the very same power levels gives you: 78.4%, 83.2%, 86.2%, and 88.2%, so pretty much the same (it wasts less than 0.5W more on average).


figment wrote:
I looked into the BeQuiet PSU, but it doesn't seem significantly better than the Corsiar RM series or the Seasonic G-Series.

Noise wise it's better than the RM550 (even if this latter is semi-fanless), and it is vastly better than the Seasonic G-Series. The major drawback (but the same goes for the Platimax) is that it's noticeably more expensive (as per the diminishing returns law).

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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:17 am 
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Posts: 215
Location: "Fake" Virginia, US
quest_for_silence wrote:
That's not an inlet, and it cannot act as an inlet as hot air rises. It's one of the system exhaust: the W1 airflow path is from front/bottom to rear/top.

Ah, noted. Unfortunately, a cat functions the same way whether the air is trying to get in or go out. Maybe it would even like it better if it was warm air trying to get out.

quest_for_silence wrote:
Yes, [the XFX and Corsair HXi series] are expected to be less "green", but not by that much

Okay, next annoyance: It seems the Corsair HX760i will only use a quiet fan profile if you're booted into windows. The plan is to use this for 3 years as a windows host, and 3-4 hears as a Linux host.


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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:24 am 
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figment wrote:
Unfortunately, a cat functions the same way whether the air is trying to get in or go out. Maybe it would even like it better if it was warm air trying to get out.

Unfortunately you don't have real alternatives, you have to cut corners (or set back your requirements): look around, which mITX enclosure with solid top do have further, different openings? In case, does that enclosure offer a wide compatibility with reference to graphics, PSU and heatsink? Does any vented top offer you a decisive thermal advantage? Which are your priorities? Think about all that: and anyway, as you said, in case your cat would appreciate the choice of the W1. :wink:


figment wrote:
quest_for_silence wrote:
Yes, [the XFX and Corsair HXi series] are expected to be less "green", but not by that much

Okay, next annoyance: It seems the Corsair HX760i will only use a quiet fan profile if you're booted into windows. The plan is to use this for 3 years as a windows host, and 3-4 hears as a Linux host.

Just some notes: as you edited my words, please take into account that I've not talked about any XFX PSU, and besides do not confuse the Corsair AX760i with the Corsair HX750i, as they're two different platforms.

With reference to the HX750i (even if the same thing applies to the AX760i), I've never heard of such an oddity like a windoze-only quiet fan profile, and as far as I know that's simply false.

What it's true, indeed, is that the Corsair Link monitoring software works under Windows: but using this app or not does not affect the standard PSU functionality.

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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:39 pm 
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quest_for_silence wrote:
Unfortunately you don't have real alternatives, you have to cut corners (or set back your requirements): look around, which mITX enclosure with solid top do have further, different openings? In case, does that enclosure offer a wide compatibility with reference to graphics, PSU and heatsink?

Those were exactly the questions that brought me to the Corsair 250D and the BitFenix Prodigy. The Prodigy has top vents, but they could be blocked off if the handles weren't enough of a deterrent. The Node 304 seems to work, too. I had considered it early on, but discarded it because of PSU/Graphics card interference. It seems that a number of PSUs allow for sufficient clearance.

So... that was why I had already focused on them. I'm not discarding anything that isn't, just voicing my concerns with them, and hoping that smart people convince me that I'm wrong.

figment wrote:
quest_for_silence wrote:
Yes, [the XFX and Corsair HXi series] are expected to be less "green", but not by that much

Okay, next annoyance: It seems the Corsair HX760i will only use a quiet fan profile if you're booted into windows. The plan is to use this for 3 years as a windows host, and 3-4 hears as a Linux host.

Just some notes: as you edited my words, please take into account that I've not talked about any XFX PSU, and besides do not confuse the Corsair AX760i with the Corsair HX750i, as they're two different platforms.[/quote]
Yes, these are just typos. I was in the middle of researching six different PSUs.

quest_for_silence wrote:
With reference to the HX750i (even if the same thing applies to the AX760i), I've never heard of such an oddity like a windoze-only quiet fan profile, and as far as I know that's simply false.

The PSU works just fine, but the Corsair Link software is Windows only. And from what I was reading at work (can't find the link now...) without the Corsair Link software starting up, you cannot apply quieter fan profiles, and the default profile was rather aggressive (which does seem reasonable, from a design perspective). I am pretty sure that was in reference to the HX850i. Perhaps it uses a different fan or different default profiles, but it was worrisome.


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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:25 pm 
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figment wrote:
just voicing my concerns

Whether your main concern were dust/cat hair-dandruff-epithelia, the answer is dust filters (in case, you might look into Silverstonetek and dEMCiflex catalogues).
Whether it were cooling, you have to fight your own preconceptions and expectations, in order to try to make some reasonable assumptions.


figment wrote:
hoping that smart people convince me that I'm wrong.

I beg your pardon, but that's a mind game I don't play.


figment wrote:
the default profile was rather aggressive (which does seem reasonable, from a design perspective)

That's just pure fluffy bullshit (not to mention that "customization" isn't meant to be either any "problem solving" strategy, or "debugging").

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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2014 6:40 am 
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quest_for_silence wrote:
Whether your main concern were dust/cat hair-dandruff-epithelia, the answer is dust filters (in case, you might look into Silverstonetek and dEMCiflex catalogues).
Whether it were cooling, you have to fight your own preconceptions and expectations, in order to try to make some reasonable assumptions.

My concern isn't dust or cat hair, but the entire cat. As I said: my cats like to physically lay on the top of my cases. They like this better when the cases are warm. I have an Antec P182 that they really like at the moment, because there a weak exhaust fan on top. They lay on top of it. It blocks all of the exhaust from that vent. Luckily, that box is just a linux server now, and it has an extra rear exhaust which is the primary exhaust. Even then, case temperatures go up by 2-3C with the cat laying on it.

That is why I am trying to avoid the primary exhaust through top vents. There are other solutions, including taping crap to the top of the case so that the cats don't like it anymore, but it would be even nicer if I could simply find a case that didn't require any additional solution. There are indeed cases that fit those requirements. I've pointed out three. I'd be interested to hear about more.

Similarly: I don't want power/reset buttons on the top of the case... because the cats step on the top. I have a case with this issue (Lian Li PC-9F). At the moment, I have an old credit card taped to the top of the case to "fix" the issue. It's annoying, because its ugly. I'm sort of sad I picked that case, because people told me it wouldn't be a problem... but I suspected that it would be. That's why I have to temper all your advice with what I already know. Those people weren't trying to lie to me, they just didn't know the full situation.

Until I've excluded all of those cases, I don't see why I should simply accept that a top exhaust is the only way it can be and that I need to find some other solution to the napping-cat problem.

quest_for_silence wrote:
figment wrote:
hoping that smart people convince me that I'm wrong.

I beg your pardon, but that's a mind game I don't play.

It's not a mind game. I'm not a novice builder. I've been doing this for 17 years now. But I don't have the ego to assume that I'm always right or that I always have complete information. I post questions here in the hopes that other people provide information I didn't have or to fix errors in my understanding. This has already happened in this thread. For example: You pointed out that some higher wattage 80+ Platinum PSUs will have better efficiency than more-appropriately sized 80+ Gold units. The math was right in front of me, but I was happy that you helped me see it.

But again, just because I'm asking advice doesn't mean I'm going to accept everything without challenge.

quest_for_silence wrote:
That's just pure fluffy bullshit (not to mention that "customization" isn't meant to be either any "problem solving" strategy, or "debugging").

Perhaps it is. When I finally get back to work on Tuesday, I'll see if I can find the URL with the statement from people who actually tested it. Maybe they're lying. Maybe they were working with an older revision. Maybe they screwed something up. However, until I get conflicting information of a similar level of quality (something better than: "I don't think so" or "that sounds like fluffy bullshit"), then I have to at least consider the possibility that its correct. If it is correct, it would be a flaw severe enough for me to pay for a replacement.

And it certainly wouldn't be the first piece of hardware to be less useful in Linux due to software incompatibility. There are quite a few motherboards which have allowed for fan control, but they did it through a windows management application. As no similar application existed in Linux, the fans could not be managed while running Linux, and would instead use various defaults, which were almost never ideal for quiet computing. This is why I favor ASUS and MSI motherboards. Others are showing up now, but for a while, they were the ones that guaranteed full fan control in BIOS.


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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2014 9:04 am 
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If your P182 is seeing an increase in temps because the cat is sitting on top of it, you have 3 potential problems/solutions.

1) You're not using the best cooling method for it

2) You need to just block off the top vent completely

3) You need to put a shelf above the computer for the cats to sit on, so they aren't specifically blocking the case. The shelf could be made of either cheap spare wood, or aircraft aluminum. It'll warm up along with the computer over time, and the cats will be fine with it. Alternatively, you can just stop the cats from sitting on your computer.

Personally, I'd go with option 2. Cats are spiteful animals, and you don't want to piss them off. You're living in their house, not the other way around, etc etc. Swap out the fans for better/quieter fans, and the computers and your cats will be happy.

As I said before though, that GTX770 Lightning isn't going to stuff into most ITX cases, so you may as well go with mATX. You could even get yourself a P180 Mini somewhere used or whatever. I buy many of my parts used, and haven't had a problem yet with any of them.

You can even get some very nice mATX boards with M.2 slots on them, so if you're really looking to go futuristic, that's what way I would look towards. As far as mITX, I think that's really better suited for either really small machines, intended for basic home use or client machines, and if you want to do intense gaming, mATX or ATX, depending on the gear you want to stuff into the computer. If you wanted a compact mATX case, there are a number of them available if you're willing to push the limits of the case (something I'm guilty of doing very often). The Antec NSK3480 is extremely compact for a mATX case, and is capable of fitting some very intense hardware, if you choose your ODD and PSU wisely. I did a build a couple years ago that stuffed a HCG520 PSU with an ODD and there was zero room to spare between them, but it went together pretty neatly, for the space available, and I do believe it would fit the GTX770 with a little persuasion.

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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2014 4:11 pm 
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I love option #3. could also be built on top of the case, instead of a shelf. use bolts that are 2" longer though the fan mounts and use those to attach a raised platform on top.. you could even carpet it. purrrr.

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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2014 4:47 pm 
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figment wrote:
My concern isn't dust or cat hair, but the entire cat.

So the main concern is cooling (or the cooling prowess, if you rather).


figment wrote:
That is why I am trying to avoid the primary exhaust through top vents.

That looks like a misconception: set aside you thought it were an inlet, but a primary exhaust should have a fan, and on the W1 top there is no fan. The fans are on front and rear, primary intake and exhaust (that's why I said "you have to fight your own preconceptions and expectations" about cooling: everybody, even me, have their own ones).


figment wrote:
I don't see why I should simply accept that a top exhaust is the only way it can be and that I need to find some other solution to the napping-cat problem.

Broadly speaking, as you know, your starting constraint is the graphics lenght, and a mITX enclosure at first glance isn't favourable to long and powerful videocards, particularly thermal-wise.
As you know, there are some exceptions, but none offer positive pressure setup (at least, without modding), any of them have lots of openings, and almost any of them has venting/windows on top (so your cat will always be happy in any case: pun intended).

Rarely those top exhausts are the relevant primary ones (probably one of the most known exceptions is the eVGA Hadron) but given that a mITX enclosure isn't a favourable environment for your videocard, you're looking for the more vented enclosures. Does it sound? Well, Now you have to set your priorities: hardware clearing, cooling, quietness, cat-friendliness, whatever else.

A W1 may offer broader compatibility for air cooling, a Prodigy a second side vent, the Obsidian even a solid (windowed) top.
Ah, another candidate might be the CaseLabs Mercury S3, really big and expensive but it should also have about everything else you want.


figment wrote:
It's not a mind game.

And what is it? How do you call: "Asking someone about convincing me, when I'm conscious to be an experienced builder"?


figment wrote:
The math was right in front of me, but I was happy that you helped me see it.

Please, don't take offense, as I don't intend to be rude: but frankly, I call that "not having done homework" (anyway, the eVGA G2 is gold-rated, as well as the Seasonic G-series).


figment wrote:
But again, just because I'm asking advice doesn't mean I'm going to accept everything without challenge.

I don't think we have to challenge you: IMVHO you should write down your requirements more precisely, getting rid of misconceptions.
There are two identities inside yourself, the power user and the silencer: both have to settle with your cats.


figment wrote:
When I finally get back to work on Tuesday, I'll see if I can find the URL with the statement from people who actually tested it.

Thanks, I'll be interested to read that (to be fair, my expectation is that a Corsair HXi-series is at least as quiet as a Corsair RM-series right out of the box).

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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2014 4:19 am 
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bonestonne wrote:
If your P182 is seeing an increase in temps because the cat is sitting on top of it, you have 3 potential problems/solutions.

The P182 is of zero concern to me. It's the case I'm replacing. Still, following the exercise:

bonestonne wrote:
1) You're not using the best cooling method for it
2) You need to just block off the top vent completely
3) You need to put a shelf above the computer for the cats to sit on, so they aren't specifically blocking the case.

1 is certainly true to some extent. The P182 was built with noise as the primary concern (it replaced a very noisy Athlon build). It's got a rather hot CPU in it, but the cooling kept it under critical levels. This is why blocking a secondary exhaust raises the case temp. The 2-3C (Normal 38C, With Cat: 40/41C) rise (isn't enough to trigger the faster fan profile on a box that was designed for gaming.

3 simply isn't possible in the current configuration. There is no wall to build a shelf from. Creating a shelf anchored on the case would be even worse (aesthetically, if nothing else). And this isn't because I don't want to build the shelves. I've already built a set of shelves for the cats. The problem is that they just won't work here. Even if they did, either they would have enough clearance that the cats would still crawl under them to be warm, or they would end up restricting airflow.

So, 2 is the option I am taking. Since I don't care about the P182, I'm looking for a case that doesn't require the top panel as an intake or exhaust.

bonestonne wrote:
As I said before though, that GTX770 Lightning isn't going to stuff into most ITX cases, so you may as well go with mATX.

I've been considering mATX. Notice that all of the mITX cases I've looked into are the large mITX cases that could fit a mATX if they wanted to. The choice of mITX was simply because that is all I really need. The extra PCIe of a mATX wouldn't be used. I might like the extra RAM, but that also isn't critical.

Still, if I could find a mATX case that did everything I wanted, I'd be all for it.

Perhaps what I need to do is post in the Cases subforum with a fully detailed list of requirements.


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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2014 4:49 am 
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quest_for_silence wrote:
figment wrote:
My concern isn't dust or cat hair, but the entire cat.

So the main concern is cooling (or the cooling prowess, if you rather).

Not necessarily. As you've concluded, it is truly a balance between cooling and noise. I'm willing to compromise on both fronts. That's not an easy thing to do, but it is possible.

quest_for_silence wrote:
a primary exhaust should have a fan, and on the W1 top there is no fan. The fans are on front and rear, primary intake and exhaust

I guess my issue here, then, is just a lack of a good set of images/reviews for the W1. None of the photos I saw of it showed the intake below the front face. I took you at your word when you said it was there, thus turning the top into a passive exhaust. Regardless, I can see the quiet potential of the case, and it would actually be improved by blocking off the entire top vent. It would mean compromising on cooling.

And that's exactly the sort of information I'm looking for.

I've already added the M1 to my list of possibilities. I have no doubt it could get the job done. However, there are a number of other cases that would get the job done, too, and some of them have slightly better (or at least: more) options for cooling. I'm looking for compromises on both sides.

quest_for_silence wrote:
Broadly speaking, as you know, your starting constraint is the graphics lenght, and a mITX enclosure at first glance isn't favourable to long and powerful videocards, particularly thermal-wise.
As you know, there are some exceptions, but none offer positive pressure setup

Not trying to be argumentative or to make it sound like I've already chosen, but the 250D is at the top of the list because it is actually designed to support positive pressure: Big fan in the front, passive exhausts. It qualifies even more when the video card runs its fans in the intake direction, with most of its exhaust out the back. It still has its issues, namely a huge exhaust on the side that I'd rather cover up. But again: I'm expecting compromises.

Rarely those top exhausts are the relevant primary ones (probably one of the most known exceptions is the eVGA Hadron) but given that a mITX enclosure isn't a favourable environment for your videocard, you're looking for the more vented enclosures. Does it sound? Well, Now you have to set your priorities: hardware clearing, cooling, quietness, cat-friendliness, whatever else.

quest_for_silence wrote:
Ah, another candidate might be the CaseLabs Mercury S3, really big and expensive but it should also have about everything else you want.

I did look at the Mecury S3. The size is just too big. I can find a lot of things that are just as good in a more convenient size.

quest_for_silence wrote:
And what is it? How do you call: "Asking someone about convincing me, when I'm conscious to be an experienced builder"?

I call it a discussion? I've been a software engineer for over a dozen years now. It's actually very common for us to get together and discuss design decisions. We're all senior engineers. No one is a novice. And very few designs worth discussing have a single clear answer. We debate each of the solutions, look for compromises, seek out information or conflicts that we didn't know existed. One developer alone could make the decision, but we find that when you put a few developers together, they are more likely to come up with better decisions.

I could easily pick everything I need for my build. I've certainly done it before. I come here looking for viewpoints and experience which are different from my own, so that I can try to increase my chances of making a good decision.


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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2014 6:51 am 
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Small:Quiet:Powerful, Pick Two.

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http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=66611


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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2014 7:55 am 
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http://www.hardwareluxx.de/index.php/ar ... ml?start=1

The W1 has a top which could host 2 fans, but for cat's sake you could just seal them from the inside. The top is said to have a dust filter according to the linked review.


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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2014 12:07 pm 
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useful_idiot wrote:
Small:Quiet:Powerful, Pick Two.


Choose the right components, and you really don't have to choose two of those. It's certainly possible, and there are a number of very powerful ITX systems using different components that are extremely quiet, if not silent. As I'll touch on later, it's not Small, Quiet or Powerful. It's Cheap, Quick or Good. Pick two.

figment wrote:
1 is certainly true to some extent. The P182 was built with noise as the primary concern (it replaced a very noisy Athlon build). It's got a rather hot CPU in it, but the cooling kept it under critical levels. This is why blocking a secondary exhaust raises the case temp. The 2-3C (Normal 38C, With Cat: 40/41C) rise (isn't enough to trigger the faster fan profile on a box that was designed for gaming.

3 simply isn't possible in the current configuration. There is no wall to build a shelf from. Creating a shelf anchored on the case would be even worse (aesthetically, if nothing else). And this isn't because I don't want to build the shelves. I've already built a set of shelves for the cats. The problem is that they just won't work here. Even if they did, either they would have enough clearance that the cats would still crawl under them to be warm, or they would end up restricting airflow.

So, 2 is the option I am taking. Since I don't care about the P182, I'm looking for a case that doesn't require the top panel as an intake or exhaust.


Here's where I think you're taking the wrong attitude about this build. You're tearing apart every suggestion you're getting in order to justify some reason to go against it.

I never said build a shelf against the wall, in fact, as xan_user very easily recognized, the case is the perfect platform in order to build this shelf. The problem isn't the cat, the problem is that you're not thinking outside the box. You can very easily build something even just one half inch above the top of the P182 in order to give the cat something to sit on. You don't need a wall to build a shelf, you need a general foundation. Yes, many shelves are in fact on the wall, but freestanding shelves can and do exist, and it's important to not confuse the concept of a shelf with anything else. I think this whole "think outside the box" idea was already touched on before, so I'll leave that idea at that. No case truly "requires" the top to be an intake or exhaust. Plenty of users just feel the need to add more fans with the computer runs hot instead of identifying the actual cause of the heat and adjusting the build accordingly, or using better coolers. Often I even see "gaming" computers that someone build that don't work correctly because the CPU heatsink isn't seated properly. Once in a while I have a dropped computer come in, with missing fan blades, cracked CPU mounts or just massive amounts of dust. Just like a car, once in a while you do have to poke around and make sure everything is working correctly. Otherwise the problems will grow exponentially until for many, it's beyond their knowledge to fix.

In terms of hardware, why buy a mATX case for a mITX motherboard? It's a waste of space in my opinion. I can't really stand seeing mATX motherboards in ATX cases either. There's no point. Having the extra space makes cooling solutions less efficient because the volume is greater. The smallest volume of air will be capable of exhausting through the case fastest with the same fans, so if you're going to be running some behemoth, roasting GPU, you want it in the smallest possible case that it can breath in. For your use, why not something like the 3480? You can even look at the upcoming X99 motherboards, such as the one Asrock is showing as a teaser. M2, 3x PCI-e x16, and will support the latest and greatest. In all of the ITX builds I've done, the boards have some limiting factor that has consistently caused me to not be completely happy with them. I finally found the Gigabyte Z97N-WIFI which works very well for my use, but the physical layout still left a little to be desired for the price I payed, I will accept that.

As you said with your experience, you often have to compromise with other software developers. Most mATX cases I've seen do not have top fans. That's a pretty valid point to take. Most ITX cases don't either, however they wont fit a pre-determined factor towards your build. Modding a case (as you would with software to get it to work correctly for your application) is the way to go. In a sense, it doesn't really matter what the case is, as long as it can at least fit your GTX770, because you can modify every other aspect to suit your needs.

With silent computers, much like with modifying cars in my experience, the limiting factor isn't what's available, it's what you're willing to pay for. For the right amount of money, someone else can do anything for you. For the right amount of time and money spent yourself, the possibilities are equally endless. Going by your required checklist, the Antec NSK3480 ticks every required box, along with not costing much at all. Not requiring a CD/DVD drive means that you have no spacial requirements for the PSU, along with the PSU being in a separate chamber from the motherboard. I personally would not opt for a fanless PSU in that case (because it will get somewhat stale with no airflow), but you can get any other power supply, and it will have no trouble surviving in the case.

My personal suggestion however would be to use negative air pressure, as well as not worrying about filtered intakes. You can create your own filters for them if need be, but depending on the exhaust fan's CFM, you may not really require a filter. Yes, living with cats can be a "hairy" situation often, but I would actually run the computer for a couple weeks and see what actually accumulates inside the machine, especially if you're running just a CPU fan and exhaust fan (while the GPU has it's own). The amount of air entering the case wont necessarily be a large amount. With the correct tower cooler, you need consistent airflow, not a large amount. In plenty of situations, you can duct the rear exhaust fan to the CPU cooler, and kill two birds with one stone. It removes a fan, a source of noise/vibration, and when done correctly, will not noticeably affect temps.

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Last edited by bonestonne on Mon Sep 01, 2014 12:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2014 2:59 am 
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figment wrote:
I can see the quiet potential of the case, and it would actually be improved by blocking off the entire top vent. It would mean compromising on cooling.

Probably: quieter rigs run usually hotter.


figment wrote:
Not trying to be argumentative or to make it sound like I've already chosen, but the 250D is at the top of the list because it is actually designed to support positive pressure: Big fan in the front, passive exhausts. It qualifies even more when the video card runs its fans in the intake direction, with most of its exhaust out the back. It still has its issues, namely a huge exhaust on the side that I'd rather cover up. But again: I'm expecting compromises.

I've some doubt you could consider the 250D a positive pressure setup, even with such an arrangement: if you look at some explicitly marketed as positive pressure enclosures (like the Silverstone Fortress/Raven) there's often a main, definite path, which isn't so obvious in the Corsair smaller cube.
So if you refer to a double radiators AIO, like the Corsair H100i, given the case height clearance, you will have a very restricted intake on a side, a very restricted exhaust on the opposite, a restricted intake on the front, no active exhaust on the rear. You will end up with two crossed pathways, none of them particularly strong, and probably you will have definitely compromised the overall noise signature/profile (two straight path to your ears, high impendance inlets and exhausts, along with tubing and pump noise probably close to you). To be honest, my guess isn't that much more educated than your one, but it looks like as well as reasonable.

JFYI: an interesting read (not specifically focused on a positive pressure setup).

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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2014 3:52 am 
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bonestonne wrote:
Here's where I think you're taking the wrong attitude about this build. You're tearing apart every suggestion you're getting in order to justify some reason to go against it.

I'm not trying to tear apart every suggestion. However, I'm correcting or adding information when those suggestions aren't possible, don't fit my needs/desires, or conflict with information I already have.

bonestonne wrote:
I never said build a shelf against the wall, in fact, as xan_user very easily recognized, the case is the perfect platform in order to build this shelf.

Yes, and I'd be fine with that... if I could see a way of getting it done. I'm limited by space in this location: particularly floorspace, but also vertical space, in a way that is hard to describe. Modding the shelf onto the case would be possible, but would essentially turn a normal mATX case into the size of a normal ATX-mid. There's nothing much gained there for me. I'd skip it all and just do an ATX build. The point of this search is to figure out if there is a mITX solution, or barring that, a mATX solution. I'll go back to ATX if I can't find anything better. ATX is easy. I've been making those quiet for a decade.

bonestonne wrote:
The problem isn't the cat, the problem is that you're not thinking outside the box. You can very easily build something even just one half inch above the top of the P182 in order to give the cat something to sit on.


There is no room to build a shelf even a half inch over the case. But again: I don't care about the P182. Its the case I'm getting rid of. Even with the new case, I can't build a freestanding shelf that sits over it. There is no room for the shelf base next to the case. If I build the shelf around the case (a C shape, if you will, so that the case actually sits on the base), then I will be even more restricted in where it gets placed. It's an intriguing idea, and I'll likely consider it if I can find an overall solution that it works with. Short of that, however, it doesn't solve any particular problem.

People are fixated on the cat issue. To me, its not that big of a problem. The easiest solution is to simply find a case that has no top exhaust or a top exhaust that can be completely sealed. Done. No need for shelves or any of this. Considering all the people saying that top exhausts are unnecessary, I don't see why I should go through the effort of designing and building an shelf to hold a 4.5kg cat that will fit in with the modern, upscale furniture of our living room just to accommodate.

bonestonne wrote:
In terms of hardware, why buy a mATX case for a mITX motherboard?

I have no idea. That was never my intention. If I buy a mITX case, I'll buy a mITX motherboard. If I buy a mATX case, I'll buy a mATX motherboard. I never meant to imply otherwise. I simply stated that I didn't base my search on mATX because mATX doesn't solve any problems for me. I have no need for the extra PCIe, and no immediate need for the extra RAM. I'll be using external sound adapters.

bonestonne wrote:
Most mATX cases I've seen do not have top fans.

Agreed. However, many/most of them run wider than 200mm. If its wider than 200mm, then that excludes one location I can place it. At that point, I would want to minimize the height rather than the width. Having a 210mm wide mATX case that is 400mm tall is a worse size than 270mm wide and 290mm wide.

bonestonne wrote:
Going by your required checklist, the Antec NSK3480 ticks every required box, along with not costing much at all.

Except that I'd need to paint/powder coat the front face, yes. It's not a bad case, but the styling is not to my taste.


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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2014 4:29 am 
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quest_for_silence wrote:
Probably: quieter rigs run usually hotter.

Quieter rigs cannot match the cooling of non-quiet rigs. But you can get pretty quiet while remaining pretty cool. I have a PC-9F with CPU temps that never rise over 62C, and GPU temps that stay under 70C, even while loaded simultaneously. The noise increase under load is probably 2-3dB. At idle, its as quiet as the P182 next to it, but the P182 is consistently warmer by 5-15 degrees. The point of the PC-9F was to give up just a dB or two of loaded noise for drastically reduced temperatures.

quest_for_silence wrote:
I've some doubt you could consider the 250D a positive pressure setup, even with such an arrangement: if you look at some explicitly marketed as positive pressure enclosures (like the Silverstone Fortress/Raven) there's often a main, definite path, which isn't so obvious in the Corsair smaller cube

How so? I found it to be fairly obvious with only a minor mod. The case comes with a front fan, and has a rear exhaust. One side is designed to be run as a dedicated intake/exhaust for the video card (depending on your card), and the other was designed as an exhaust for a 280mm radiator. If you simply block off that side vent, replace the front fan with a speed-controlled 140/180/200mm fan, and use something like a NH-C14 as your cooler instead of a AIO, then you've got a positive-pressure/passive-exhaust design. I would still probably add at least one fan as an active exhaust, and there are quite a few people who have used that setup. It's not pure, textbook positive pressure design, but the theory is still there.

quest_for_silence wrote:
JFYI: an interesting read (not specifically focused on a positive pressure setup).

That is an interesting read, and I've read it before. Overall, I thought it confirmed some ideas I learned here many years ago: Keep the airflow simple, keep it as direct as possible, and reduce resistance wherever possible. Blocking up vents is done to reduce noise, not so much to improve cooling. That's why I have the top vent in my P182 running as a weak exhaust: an open vent provides better cooling than a closed one, and a 500rpm fan had no impact on the noise. For the PC-9F build, there are two intakes and a "passive" exhaust driven by a tower cooler in push-pull just an inch away. It has very strong front-to-back flow.

You can do something very similar with most mITX cases. At the very least, the size of a mITX case means that most intakes function with similar efficiency to the side panel fan in that article. That's one of the things I liked about the smaller cases. Well... and they take up less room, which is good.


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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2014 6:06 am 
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figment wrote:
If you simply block off that side vent, replace the front fan with a speed-controlled 140/180/200mm fan, and use something like a NH-C14 as your cooler instead of a AIO, then you've got a positive-pressure/passive-exhaust design. I would still probably add at least one fan as an active exhaust, and there are quite a few people who have used that setup. It's not pure, textbook positive pressure design, but the theory is still there.

Set aside the 250D already come with a controllable 140mm front fan, at first glance your description looks like a little ingenuous to me.

First of all, the front intake is restricted, so you might end up to run the relevant fan at a considerable speed in order to generate a positive effect. Moreover, the fan airflow is not directed to the CPU/GPU zone only, but a significant part of it is directed towards the PSU bottom chamber (et pout cause: the PSU intake and the hard drives cage): given that, the turbulent flow is likely less easily predictable rather than in the Silverstone towers. If you want a more robust airflow coming from the front, you have to swap the 140mm fan with a 200mm one, but unfortunately I'm not aware of any quiet 200mm fan (i.e. free of bearing noise and capable to spin deeply low), while a second-best alternative might be building a duct from the front fan into just the upper chamber (YMMV, and by far).

Then the heatsink: to mount a C14 inside a 250D you have to get rid of the ODD drive bay. Whether it's perfectly acceptable to you get rid of any ODD, that prevents also to use any card reader or similar stuff (as it's the only external bay available). Besides, as you know, with low and starved airflow (the usual one of a quiet rig), the second fan of a push pull setup helps a lot (it's not the same at full speed). But the NH-C14 height is extremely close to the maximum allowed: IME (I own the C14) when the distance of the top fan from the opposite panel is inferior to about a couple of cm you may likely incur into annoying resonances (the windows presence may help or not, it have to be tried), it depends of the panel stiffness, fan speed, panel hinges, and so on.
Obviously you can use the NH-C14 with just one fan, but you will loose both a significant portion of the CPU cooling prowess and almost entirely the motherboard cooling effect, so that, with reference to CPU load temp, it could be preferable using a smaller (and cheaper) NH-U9 with a push pull arrangement, or even a NH-L12. Does it worth? I can't help, but maybe it don't.

You should also consider that the GPU will dump its heat mostly in the CPU area, acting against the expected (desired) fresh air front flow, and that unwanted heating don't act the same way as in a tower enclosure.

Last but not least, the rear exhaust grille is small, restricted and oddily placed with reference to the active cooling parts: so you can not transpose your experience with the PC9F "sic et simpliciter", as you don't have a front-to-back push-pull CPU heatsink cooler, you don't have a passive exhaust of the same size of those CPU fans, and you don't have a wire grille but a more restricted honeycomb-style one.

Summarizing, if I were you I wouldn't decide in favour of the Obsidian 250D just because of a possible "positive pressure" setup (that doesn't mean you shouldn't try).


figment wrote:
a 500rpm fan had no impact on the noise.

A 12cm fan has no impact at 500rpm. A 14cm one is significantly more noticeable @ 500rpm, a 18cm fan is so clearly audible that IME/IMO it's loud, a 20cm fan at that speed is just unacceptable from a silence perspective.

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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2014 7:46 am 
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quest_for_silence wrote:
First of all, the front intake is restricted, so you might end up to run the relevant fan at a considerable speed in order to generate a positive effect.

Other reports have suggested that a the front is not any more restricted than other non-direct cases like the W1 or Node 304.
quest_for_silence wrote:
Moreover, the fan airflow is not directed to the CPU/GPU zone only, but a significant part of it is directed towards the PSU bottom chamber

Agreed, but this is the case with a lot of mITX and small mATX cases. Others have the intake obstructed by drive cages or the PSU. Its simple enough to remove drive cages (when possible), and ducting the front fan isn't all that much harder (so long as the PSU allows it). I'm fine with either.
quest_for_silence wrote:
If you want a more robust airflow coming from the front, you have to swap the 140mm fan with a 200mm one, but unfortunately I'm not aware of any quiet 200mm fan

Not by SPCR's "quiet" standards, but I don't have a noise floor of 15dB. I'm not excited about the thought of a 200mm fan. I'd like to find something quieter, but it is an option I'm considering.
quest_for_silence wrote:
Then the heatsink: to mount a C14 inside a 250D you have to get rid of the ODD drive bay.

As noted above, that's the plan anyway. I have no ODD. I will use no fan controller or card reader. My preference is for a case with no 5.25" or ODD bay at all, but I'm not going to discard a case because it has one. I just won't use it.
quest_for_silence wrote:
Besides, as you know, with low and starved airflow (the usual one of a quiet rig), the second fan of a push pull setup helps a lot (it's not the same at full speed).

SPCR's testing didn't agree. Dropping one fan only raised the 12v temps by 3C, and 7v temps by 5C. Unless you have some other data, that is perfectly acceptable to me. If the CPU is loaded, the fan will be running at 12v and 3 degrees is a pretty good compromise. If the system is idle, it will be running at 7v (or lower PMW equivalent) and I won't care about the maximum 5 degree difference.
quest_for_silence wrote:
You should also consider that the GPU will dump its heat mostly in the CPU area, acting against the expected (desired) fresh air front flow, and that unwanted heating don't act the same way as in a tower enclosure.

I've tested it a couple times in the PC-9F. The heat is dumped in three main places: "forward" through the front of the card, back out a gap near the PCIe sockets, and through the backplane. The temperature gradient doesn't transfer to the CPU area. The only problematic flow is the "forward" flow. However, in most cases, this would be counteracted by front fans. In others, it can simply be ducted backward. Either way, graphics cooling is a concern for me in any case I might buy. The Prodigy, Node 304, and W1 aren't notably different in how they (don't) deal with the issue.
quest_for_silence wrote:
so you can not transpose your experience with the PC9F "sic et simpliciter"

I never said they were the same. I simply used an example.
quest_for_silence wrote:
Summarizing, if I were you I wouldn't decide in favour of the Obsidian 250D just because of a possible "positive pressure" setup

Neither would I. The 250D is high on my list because of its shape, because I don't have to think about what to do with a grill on the front or top, and was designed for higher heat-load systems. It has a large community of users and there are options to solve problems. There are still problems with it. CPU cooler clearance is just one. To be honest, the Node 304 seems to better address my concerns, but has its own restrictions. The Prodigy is good because it allows for tower-style coolers, but it has a collection of other annoyances. The W1 ends up being similar to the Prodigy, but with more restricted intakes. Nothing is as simple as one issue. There are no decisions I'm making because of one single design style.
quest_for_silence wrote:
figment wrote:
a 500rpm fan had no impact on the noise.

A 12cm fan has no impact at 500rpm. A 14cm one is significantly more noticeable @ 500rpm, a 18cm fan is so clearly audible that IME/IMO it's loud, a 20cm fan at that speed is just unacceptable from a silence perspective.

Yes. I'm aware of the sound profiles of fans at various speeds. The top fan on a P182 is a 120mm fan.


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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:11 am 
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figment wrote:
quest_for_silence wrote:
First of all, the front intake is restricted, so you might end up to run the relevant fan at a considerable speed in order to generate a positive effect.

Other reports have suggested that a the front is not any more restricted than other non-direct cases like the W1 or Node 304.

I was talking about positive pressure: so, as a matter of fact, neither the W1 or the Node 304 look like suitable for a real positive pressure setup.


figment wrote:
quest_for_silence wrote:
Moreover, the fan airflow is not directed to the CPU/GPU zone only, but a significant part of it is directed towards the PSU bottom chamber

Agreed, but this is the case with a lot of mITX and small mATX cases.

Again, I was talking about a possible positive pressure setup: a dual chamber structure (the W1, the 250D, or the newer Corsair 380T) apparently isn't well suited.


figment wrote:
quest_for_silence wrote:
If you want a more robust airflow coming from the front, you have to swap the 140mm fan with a 200mm one, but unfortunately I'm not aware of any quiet 200mm fan

Not by SPCR's "quiet" standards, but I don't have a noise floor of 15dB. I'm not excited about the thought of a 200mm fan. I'd like to find something quieter, but it is an option I'm considering.

I was not referring to any low noise floor, because about none of us has such a thing, I was talking about my real world experience with large fans.
I owned a Corsair 600T, and tried different 200mm fans on it, but never got satisfactory results. The same it goes for the 180mm Air Penetrator on my Raven (no way to drive it low enough), or the 200mm Big Boy on my P180 Mini.


figment wrote:
quest_for_silence wrote:
Besides, as you know, with low and starved airflow (the usual one of a quiet rig), the second fan of a push pull setup helps a lot (it's not the same at full speed).

SPCR's testing didn't agree.

On what SPCR didn't agree?


figment wrote:
Dropping one fan only raised the 12v temps by 3C, and 7v temps by 5C. Unless you have some other data, that is perfectly acceptable to me. If the CPU is loaded, the fan will be running at 12v and 3 degrees is a pretty good compromise. If the system is idle, it will be running at 7v (or lower PMW equivalent) and I won't care about the maximum 5 degree difference.

I am talking about relative differences: I can't say how much hot your CPU may be, whether it's safe or not, but I can foresee it will be worse with just one fan (which should be flipped upside, loosing the cooling effect on the board).

At any rate, definitely the one you depicted isn't a quiet scenario (I mean, I never run a CPU fan at 12V even under Prime or IBT): probably you may get safe thermals with smaller, less expensive coolers (like the NH-U9 or the cheap Cooler Master 101/TX3), but with lower overall noise (than a single fanned NH-C14 @ 12V).

By the way, the C14 fans currently are not PWM, so you need a CPU voltage controlled header (so probably an high-end ASUS board).


figment wrote:
The Prodigy, Node 304, and W1 aren't notably different in how they (don't) deal with the issue.

Again, I was referring to a positive pressure setup, in that case inside a 250D, and not specifically just to the 250D. But because I think that requirement is not that much reasonable for a mITX cube (at least right out of the box).


figment wrote:
quest_for_silence wrote:
so you can not transpose your experience with the PC9F "sic et simpliciter"

I never said they were the same. I simply used an example.

As you probably noted above, you have much smaller volume, so that "forward" hot air flow is still in the CPU area or nearby: so, as I said, you can't transpose that previous experience easily, so be careful, even when using your previous experience as an example, because even an example may not apply.

Good luck for your build.

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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:45 am 
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Location: "Fake" Virginia, US
quest_for_silence wrote:
figment wrote:
Other reports have suggested that a the front is not any more restricted than other non-direct cases like the W1 or Node 304.

I was talking about positive pressure: so, as a matter of fact, neither the W1 or the Node 304 look like suitable for a real positive pressure setup.

And as I said, I'm not interested in a pure, textbook implementation of positive pressure. None of the cases I'm interested in do that. In my experience, pure positive pressure builds are not ideal for normal use cases. Very few people actually use pure positive pressure. However, loads of people build systems with more active intake volume than active exhaust volume. In every case, the pressure style, its effects, and its performance are dependent on dozens of other variables. Only a fool expects that the behavior of a cooling system can be defined by "positive" or "negative". Still, in my environment, based on the dozen or so years of experience I have of building systems that run here, I can say that a more-positive-than-negative airflow pattern is easier to live with.

Again: I'm not building a political statement. I just like the idea of a more-positive flow because its easier to clean.
figment wrote:
quest_for_silence wrote:
SPCR's testing didn't agree.

On what SPCR didn't agree?

In SPCRs testing, using only the top or only the bottom fan --both blowing down-- did not significantly change the performance. Having a single fan (either fan) only raised load temperatures by 3 degrees at 12v and 5 degrees at 7v. Thus, for me, there is little incentive to use both fans.

quest_for_silence wrote:
At any rate, definitely the one you depicted isn't a quiet scenario.

"Quiet", much like "cool" and "attractive", is a subjective term. You don't see it as quiet, but that doesn't mean I won't. My "quiet" goal is "inaudible at idle in a living room at 2 meters". If I'm gaming, I'd rather it was no more than a 2dB rise at 3 meters. That is what "quiet" means to me. I'm not looking for silence, and the purpose of noise reduction for me is practical, not artistic.
quest_for_silence wrote:
By the way, the C14 fans currently are not PWM, so you need a CPU voltage controlled header (so probably an high-end ASUS board).

I'm aware of that. I also noted that my plan was to use a high end ASUS board. I've never worked with the 140mm Noctuas, so I would probably use a Noiseblocker 140mm PWM as a backup (assuming I could get the mounting to work).
quest_for_silence wrote:
As you probably noted above, you have much smaller volume, so that "forward" hot air flow is still in the CPU area or nearby: so, as I said, you can't transpose that previous experience easily, so be careful, even when using your previous experience as an example, because even an example may not apply.

The forward airflow isn't in the immediate area of the CPU. It is further away than the airflow at the socket gap. Also, it is of a very low velocity. In an open area, it is not traveling back to the CPU. In cases like any of the W1 or Node 304, a fraction of that flow might be caught in the rest of the flow and travel to the CPU. Trivial ducting could minimize it. Even without it, only a fraction of the heat is present there. The bulk flows out the backplane. I have tested this, with smoke and temperature sensors.


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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2014 1:37 pm 
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Posts: 1829
Location: Northern New Jersey
A picture is worth a thousand words. Why don't you show us where the computer will be going instead of telling us it's complicated? It's not complicated, you can actually show us. Feel free to lay out a ruler or tape measure and we can all get an idea of the "complicated" situation.

I don't see why the computer can't be the base of the shelf.

See this:
http://i.ytimg.com/vi/6XnU8MPjp1Y/maxresdefault.jpg

The handles stick up. Just secure a platform to the top. Since your requirements are a massive GPU, and a full sized power supply, it's going to have some weight to it. Unless it's going on plush shag carpeting, the cat gets what it wants, and the computer is fine. What did the P180 have to do with it? I'm offering a temporary solution until your new computer gets built. You don't care about it anyway, right?

As I said, the limiting factor is what you're willing to modify. Finding the perfect thing for you is about as hard as making it yourself. I fail to understand why everything is just so complicated.

The one thing I don't really see you touching on is why positive pressure is such a requirement. Why is negative pressure so bad? I run a dual xeon machine with negative pressure, and I added a top fan because it was quieter than speeding up the rear exhaust. That said, it produces significantly more heat than what you're looking to build, which means you wouldn't run into the same issue. Yes, my build is ATX, but there aren't any dual socket mATX boards that suit my needs (and none that have enough expansion capabilities that I required for the build).

With the side and bottom fan areas blocked off, I also blocked off the unused top fan spot. This meant that air travelled in the front over the hard drives, and out the back. My temps are not much different from most overclocked single CPU machines, so I think it turned out successful. There's hard drive vibration from the 3 spinning disks, but I specifically didn't want to cut up the case when I built it, so I made that sacrifice. Since the case sits on a piece of plexiglas in a carpeted area, the vibration doesn't transfer very far and it isn't noticeable. Run the correct CPU cooler, GPU cooler and fans, and there's no reason for intake fans in my opinion. If the heatsinks can transfer a good amount of the heat effectively on their own, slow spinning fans will handle the heat very well, and there just wont be a need for intake fans blowing on them. Consistent airflow is more important than high volume. Wider fin spacing will help because you can lower fan speeds more, as a higher static pressure isn't required for the same cooling capabilities.

A few cases have been mentioned already, like the PS07, TJ08, Rosewill W1. The Silverstone TJ08 and PS07 have top van vents, but come with magnetic filters. I've built a number of computers in these cases, and have never had a problem. They work incredibly well. You can always flip the PSU over so the fan faces down (heat rises anyway still, right?) and you don't have to worry about the cat causing problems. With the Rosewill W1, you can block off the top vents, and the side vents, and let air pressure work it's magic. It does have a gap between the front panel and the frame of the case, meaning that it will have plenty of airflow. Since it comes with a front fan, the air has to come from somewhere anyway. The W1 also gives you the most room for a larger cooler on the CPU, and slower CPU fan. It gives you a pretty unrestricted rear grill, which means less turbulence noise. With positive pressure (unless you're flipping this all around for BTX), your noise sources are right up front.

So, my next question for you is why not just block off the top and side vents?

What is the purpose of putting a noise source (fan) directly in the front of the case for positive pressure, when you can put the noise source as far away as possible for negative pressure? What makes positive pressure easier to clean? What's difficult about the 5 minutes unplugging wires, going outside with an air compressor and getting all of the dust out properly?

What cases are you interested in, and what are your reserves about modifying them to fully suit your needs?

I've been on the earth for a couple dozen years, but why be so reserved about someone else's experience? I build and repair computers, so for the time I've worked at a shop, I have seen what does and doesn't work, and my builds have a requirement of being as "set it and forget it" as possible. My experience tells me what needs to not only be good enough for me, but good enough for a client. In the end, there can't be any sacrifices. I'm willing to deal with inconveniences with my own build. My clients are not. The computer they end up getting simply comes down to the price they're willing to spend, but the quality is equal across the board.

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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2014 5:58 pm 
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Posts: 215
Location: "Fake" Virginia, US
bonestonne wrote:
A picture is worth a thousand words. Why don't you show us where the computer will be going instead of telling us it's complicated?

That's exactly what I'm working on. A picture actually doesn't help as much as you'd think, as there are a number of scenarios. I'm working up some hard measurements --partially for myself-- so I can work out just will and won't fit.

The brief overview is as thus:

Code:
[        ][ ================= Desk ================= ]        [   printer  ][      ]
[ Stairs ][     ]  [              ]            [     ][        ][ Cabinet ] [ Wall ]
[        ][ Leg ]  [     chair    ]   [ PC-9F ][ Leg ][  P182  ][ Cabinet ] [      ]
[        ][     ]  [              ]   [       ][     ][        ][ Cabinet ] [      ]


The P182 is leaving. The new system either needs to fit into the space of the P182 (205mm... no clearance or airflow on right side), or it needs to fit in the space behind a desk leg. Alternatively, I can shift the desk right into the space of the P182, and get a little more space by putting the new case between the stairs and the desk. However, in that configuration, the depth cannot be more than about 430mm.

If I cannot find a case I like that fits the space, I'll move the case to a completely different location. However, that is a last resort, not a clever solution.

bonestonne wrote:
The handles stick up. Just secure a platform to the top. Since your requirements are a massive GPU, and a full sized power supply, it's going to have some weight to it. Unless it's going on plush shag carpeting, the cat gets what it wants, and the computer is fine.

Except... it looks kind of crappy next to my furniture. Also, you picked the one case where the shelf isn't needed. The cats wouldn't lay on the top with the handles there. No need for a shelf. With other cases, there would be less structure to bolt the shelf onto, and the various rigs that could be used might not be all that attractive. I've done those sorts of mods... in my college dorm room. I want something more attractive now. It sounds a bit pretentious, perhaps, but computer cases are often about superficial appearances and I'm no different. I just want something that looks clean and understated, rather than fluorescent tubes shining through a side window.

bonestonne wrote:
What did the P180 have to do with it?

Nothing. It's being replaced. There are no issues with it. The cats like to lay on top, and I find it cute because it only raises the case temperature by a couple degrees and I frankly don't care that my Linux server's temp goes up from 37C to 41C.

bonestonne wrote:
As I said, the limiting factor is what you're willing to modify.

I don't really have any issues with modifications. However, the case is sitting in the middle of my living room, with a collection of modern-ish furniture. The mods have to look good, or its not worth it to me.

bonestonne wrote:
The one thing I don't really see you touching on is why positive pressure is such a requirement.

It's not. Not at all. I enjoy positive pressure because its more convenient in a house with two cats. But its not a requirement. Negative pressure would be a detriment, but if its the only detriment, then I could deal with it.

A few cases have been mentioned already, like the PS07, TJ08, Rosewill W1. The Silverstone TJ08 and PS07 have top van vents, but come with magnetic filters. I've built a number of computers in these cases, and have never had a problem. They work incredibly well. You can always flip the PSU over so the fan faces down (heat rises anyway still, right?) and you don't have to worry about the cat causing problems. With the Rosewill W1, you can block off the top vents, and the side vents, and let air pressure work it's magic. It does have a gap between the front panel and the frame of the case, meaning that it will have plenty of airflow. Since it comes with a front fan, the air has to come from somewhere anyway. The W1 also gives you the most room for a larger cooler on the CPU, and slower CPU fan. It gives you a pretty unrestricted rear grill, which means less turbulence noise. With positive pressure (unless you're flipping this all around for BTX), your noise sources are right up front.

So, my next question for you is why not just block off the top and side vents?

What is the purpose of putting a noise source (fan) directly in the front of the case for positive pressure, when you can put the noise source as far away as possible for negative pressure? What makes positive pressure easier to clean? What's difficult about the 5 minutes unplugging wires, going outside with an air compressor and getting all of the dust out properly?

bonestonne wrote:
What cases are you interested in, and what are your reserves about modifying them to fully suit your needs?

Let's go through some options:
  • Corsair 250D: Standard mATX width, but lower height. Flat front. Easy maintenance. Troublesome CPU cooling. Troublesome PSU configuration.
  • Rosewill/Jonesbo W1: Good styling, support tower CPU coolers. Good PSU support. Fairly easy to control air flow. Large(ish)
  • Node 304: Rather small, but with good CPU cooler support. PSU placement is an issue. Pretty densely packed case.
  • BitFenix Prodigy: Good ventilation, but large and some work needed to reduce noise. Good CPU cooler support, but some PSU restrictions.
  • TJ08: Good airflow. Good cooling options. Proven design. Large, but no larger than the W1.
  • PS07: Similar to the TJ08... but looks worse.

bonestonne wrote:
I've been on the earth for a couple dozen years, but why be so reserved about someone else's experience?

I'm here to get other people's input. The reason I come here first rather than Anandtech or a couple other places, because I trust the people here more. I don't always agree with everyone here. I don't always have the same priorities as everyone here. But in between those times when I disagreed or had other ideas, I've learned quite a bit. I know it can be frustrating trying to give advice to someone who already has a decent amount of their own ideas and information. Rest assured, some of it does get through.


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 Post subject: Re: Planning a MiniITX Gaming Build
PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2014 7:43 pm 
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Posts: 1829
Location: Northern New Jersey
Explain to me how using negative air pressure is a detriment. Most builds that I do rely on it (and the ones that don't only have a CPU fan and PSU fan). I can assure you that no less dust enters a system using positive pressure. You can also use open cell foam in the front fan area to be a much more effective filter when compared to many of the standard dust filters that come on computers.

If you mod the computer yourself, they look as good as you're willing to make them look.

In all, you're looking for a case in the ballpark of no greater than 8.25 inches wide? I think the TJ08 sounds like a clear winner for you, as it's the case you have the least negative comments about and just about checks off every box on your required list. It fits standard coolers in the ballpark of 160mm tall (I haven't tried anything taller than about 163mm in the PS07, which has identical inner dimensions, but still leaves some extra room), and allows you to use your GTX770, a standard PSU, and a mATX motherboard with the M.2 slot you so desire (I'd wait for the X99 motherboards for that though).

Maybe you've got a winning combination?

I liken this to my girlfriend's recent shopping adventure for a Tibetan Singing Bowl. She knew which one sounded the best to her the moment she got it to ring, yet still spent 45 minutes debating about another one. Sometimes, it doesn't take very long to make a decision, there's no point in trying to talk yourself out of it once you've found what you like.

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