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 Post subject: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 1:07 am 
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this is still a work in progress, which i'll be updating frequently. i wanted something ultra portable and powerful since i travel between my apartment and house frequently. laptops just don't cut it for me because they're not powerful enough, can't build them, and screens are too small. i built this for the only game i play, starcraft 2, and to be a fast everyday-machine. mini-ITX cases like silverstone SG-05 was too common and too easy to build, this case is roughly half the size of a SG05/06. i'll be pushing the limits with size, heat, computational power, noise, and power consumption with this build. so enough with the background, here's the hardware with pics:

- i7-2600k
- gigabyte H67N-USB3
- sapphire HD5670 512mb
- gskill sniper 1x4gb ddr3
- 80gb x25-m SSD
- Evercase E0528
- 150-XT picoPSU with 150w brick
- 2x NF-R8 80mm fan



what it looks like when complete. bottle is there to show the relative size of the overall build: it's just a tiny bit taller and wider than a bottle. there was a lot of digging around before i discovered this case since it wasn't a common mainstream case.
Image

this is the initial build that i used to test fit and temperature to see if i can push it up a notch. it has the stock intel cooler, a half height sapphire HD5570, kingston 40gb SSD, 2x1gb balistix tracers, and a generic 80mm loud fan. all these temporary parts eventually got replaced. i used this video card for about 10 minutes in starcraft2 and it was too slow for me (i don't like running settings on lowest).
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i wasn't happy with how the HD5570 performed in starcraft2, so after quite a bit of looking around. i settled for the sapphire HD5670 because the 5670 is the fastest card without the external pci-e power cable, and one of their models is the only low profile card you can buy. it's actually a double slot card, but i took out the VGA connector to turn the bracket into single slot. however, the cooler on the card is still double slot, but that's not a problem since i took out the stock PSU. you can see the size comparison of the two sapphire cards, the 5670 is just a tad longer than the 5570. if it's just a few millimeters longer, it would not fit in the case.
Image

the new 5670 is installed, along with the two notcua 80mm fans and 1x2gb OCZ memory. this is also just a temporary setup to test temperature, power consumption, and fit.
Image

the HD5670 had two tiny fans that was fairly audible when it ramps up, so i figured since i have a noctua fan pointing directly at the heatsink, then why not take those tiny fans off? took the fan and shroud off, which took forever because there was no open easy access to the clips that hold the fan/shroud to the heatsink.
Image

close up shot when it's installed
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this is the current configuration. i put a small resistor on the two noctua fans, so they're running at 1100rpm. the whole computer is hardly audibly over ambient now, compared to the small stock GPU fan and 1800rpm noctua before.
Image

temps aren't the greatest, but they're acceptable during gaming. 80C max on the GPU, and 63C on the CPU
Image


i'm still currently waiting for the prolimatech samuel 17 cooler, which should be the last piece of hardware needed to complete the build. once i get the cooler, i'll start modding the case


Last edited by WhiteFireDragon on Sun Apr 08, 2012 1:49 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 7:57 am 
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Nice. I think SC2 only uses 2 cores, so that probably helps out the CPU temps.

What framerates are you getting and at what settings/resolution?

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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 8:17 am 
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HD5670 isn't the fastest card without need for extra power from PSU, lots of HD5750 cards are efficient enough as well, including mine.


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 12:18 pm 
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CA_Steve wrote:
Nice. I think SC2 only uses 2 cores, so that probably helps out the CPU temps.

What framerates are you getting and at what settings/resolution?

i get 82 FPS average at full 1920x1080 res on medium settings. i hardly saw any difference between medium and high settings, but there's huge differences between low and medium, so i'm happy with medium settings. it's very playable on high, but sc2 is a fast paced RTS game and you're controlling too many units to notice a pimple on a marine's face, so i'd rather have it run at high FPS than the extra eye candy here and there.

bozar wrote:
HD5670 isn't the fastest card without need for extra power from PSU, lots of HD5750 cards are efficient enough as well, including mine.

of course it's not the fastest card, but i'll challenge you to find one that is half-height low profile card, single slot brackets, not longer than the mini-ITX mobo, that will be able to share the 150w PSU with the i7 CPU, and also give good frame rates in the game. after lots and lots of digging around, you'll only come to this specific model.

if you can find me a better card with those restrictions, i'll buy it in a heartbeat. i've been waiting forever for the HD6670 to launch, but once it hit the shelves, i was fairly disappointed because all of them were double slot regular height cards, unlike all the reference 6670 that was reviewed. when a reference HD6670 are available to buy, i will buy it right away. and i've been checking every day :roll:


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 12:52 pm 
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bozar wrote:
HD5670 isn't the fastest card without need for extra power from PSU, lots of HD5750 cards are efficient enough as well, including mine.

No, actually just one. The Powercolor GoGreen!
All the others need a PCI-E power connector.


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 1:18 pm 
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tim851 wrote:
bozar wrote:
HD5670 isn't the fastest card without need for extra power from PSU, lots of HD5750 cards are efficient enough as well, including mine.

No, actually just one. The Powercolor GoGreen!
All the others need a PCI-E power connector.


Wow, you couldn't be more wrong:
Vero Graphics HD5750:
http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/vi ... -i-cf.html
Cheap as well but I can't find their website

also, a bit more powerful:
http://news.mydrivers.com/1/188/188813.htm

single slot and no need for PCI-E power connector.


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 3:12 pm 
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Or the 6670, which is probably still a decent amount slower than the 5750, but still should be pretty good and more power efficient. That's what I plan to use personally for my htpc/lan box once the price drops to around $70

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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 8:19 pm 
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RE: "noctua fan pointing directly at the heatsink"

Where does the air from the noctua fan pointing directly at the video card heat sink go?
Does it add to the heat load for the cpu?
What are the temps when the fan blows the video card heat out the back?


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 9:04 pm 
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Arbutus wrote:
Where does the air from the noctua fan pointing directly at the video card heat sink go?
It will leave through whatever vents are available wherever they may be located.... like water running downhill and seeking its lowest point.

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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 10:33 pm 
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merlin wrote:
Or the 6670, which is probably still a decent amount slower than the 5750, but still should be pretty good and more power efficient. That's what I plan to use personally for my htpc/lan box once the price drops to around $70


Yeah it's probably more than powerful enough for most games to on moderate solutions. Just wanted to point out the obvious fact-error.


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 11:25 pm 
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WhiteFireDragon wrote:
of course it's not the fastest card, but i'll challenge you to find one that is half-height low profile card, single slot brackets, not longer than the mini-ITX mobo, that will be able to share the 150w PSU with the i7 CPU, and also give good frame rates in the game. after lots and lots of digging around, you'll only come to this specific model.

if you can find me a better card with those restrictions, i'll buy it in a heartbeat. i've been waiting forever for the HD6670 to launch, but once it hit the shelves, i was fairly disappointed because all of them were double slot regular height cards, unlike all the reference 6670 that was reviewed. when a reference HD6670 are available to buy, i will buy it right away. and i've been checking every day :roll:


Ah those stipulations make it much harder. Well the 150w part should be fine and obviously it's faster for the 6670, but half height is tougher. Personally I'm really happy the 6670 is full height + double slot, because that should make it much easier to keep silent or get an already silent cooler, but I have a case that can easily handle full height.
I don't see any available yet, but one definite possibility is getting a 6570 GDDR5 half height and overclocking the core close to 6670 speeds. Obviously this isn't an optimal solution though.

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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 9:24 am 
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bozar wrote:
also, a bit more powerful:
http://news.mydrivers.com/1/188/188813.htm

single slot and no need for PCI-E power connector.

that's great and all, but i can't find that card in the US. second, my 150w PSU will not be able to drive that card with my i7-2600k already in there. and last is more important, its single slot but NOT half height low profile. if i didn't have to use low profile cards, i would have much more options


merlin wrote:
Ah those stipulations make it much harder. Well the 150w part should be fine and obviously it's faster for the 6670, but half height is tougher. Personally I'm really happy the 6670 is full height + double slot, because that should make it much easier to keep silent or get an already silent cooler, but I have a case that can easily handle full height.
I don't see any available yet, but one definite possibility is getting a 6570 GDDR5 half height and overclocking the core close to 6670 speeds. Obviously this isn't an optimal solution though.

i did consider the HD6570, but the ones that were reviewed was based on gddr5 and still a tad slower than the 5670. the ones available to buy right now is only gddr3, which will be even slower than the 6570 reviewed. yes, i can overclock a 6570 to match the 5670 at stock, but at the same time i can also overclock the 5670 to speeds the 6570 can't touch


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 6:39 pm 
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i took out all the hardware, and while i was at it, replaced all the TIM on the mobo chipset and CPU with IC diamond
Image

everything is currently running in a test bench setup so i can finally start modding the case while waiting for the CPU cooler. all the hardware is the same, except i'm using a seasonic x750w gold instead of the 150-XT picoPSU. that way i can stress with furmark and prime95 without worrying about going over 150w limit of the picoPSU. i'm also using the thermaltake x3 slim intead of the stock cooler
Image

here's a shot of the empty case before any modding.
Image


Last edited by WhiteFireDragon on Sun May 08, 2011 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 7:03 pm 
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Arbutus wrote:
RE: "noctua fan pointing directly at the heatsink"

Where does the air from the noctua fan pointing directly at the video card heat sink go?
Does it add to the heat load for the cpu?
What are the temps when the fan blows the video card heat out the back?

i measured the temps a few days ago with the fan as intake, as well as exhaust to see the differences in temps from the CPU and GPU. to summarize the results, it's an almost even trade-off, but i'd rather have the GPU run cooler during gaming than the CPU during a GPU intensive task. when the CPU is loaded, there's hardly any difference in CPU temps, but the idle GPU temps are better by 10°C with the fan as intake. here are the results with the case closed:

fan intake, load with prime95:
CPU: 73°C
GPU: 38°C

fan exhaust, load with prime95:
CPU: 71°C
GPU: 48°C

fan intake, load with furmark:
CPU: 54°C
GPU: 64°C

fan exhaust, load with furmark:
CPU: 47°C
GPU: 70°C

as for your question on heat exhaust, i drew a little diagram of the airflow. cool air will enter on the bottom to cool the GPU and will get funneled through the tiny crack between the back of the video card and the case because that's the only opening for the bottom chamber. there's also a small hole at the bottom front where the heat from the bottom chamber can exhaust, but most will go up to the top chamber. cool air will also come in from the intake fan at the top front of the case. most of the heat is in top chamber where the CPU is, and the positive pressure from the two intake fans will force the heat to the back and top of the case. i didn't put in the back I/O plate, and there's huge vents at the top of the case.
Image


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2011 2:12 pm 
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1) i don't need the little case speakers that beep on boot up or when there's a problem, so i took it out so there's less cables to manage, and to also provide a small additional front ventilation. the speaker wires were attached to the rest, so i had to "peel" it from the other wires.
2) this area was covered by a plastic sticker to cover additional USB ports and the front panel sound ports that were not installed with the case. i took off this plastic cover to also provide additional front ventilation
3) this area will be cut out for the front noctua intake fan
Image

after the simple mods
Image

i put the fan on and drew out the area to be cut
Image

here's the front and back of the front panel.
1) these are dedicated vent holes that came with the case, but they're much too restricted because there's a bunch of tiny plastic bars behind it. not sure why they made ventilation that was this restrictive, but i'll be cutting out these plastic bars
2) another plastic sticker piece of cover some kind of slot, which i think is a slot for some memory card readers. i'll be taking out this so that slit can act as a front intake ventilation
Image

Image


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2011 12:06 pm 
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here's the case after cutting out the slot for the fan.
Image

cleaned up the edges of the cut and test-fitted the fan on there
Image

plastic bars dremeled out, and also removed the plastic cover
Image

the vent port and card reader slot is much less restricted for better intake
Image


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2011 12:29 pm 
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That's actually ok temperatures for stock CPU cooler. Space looks really limited but you are looking for a replacement, right?


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2011 11:45 am 
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the cooler FINALLY arrived :):p:D. here's some pics while i install everything
Image

while i was waiting for the samuel 17 to arrive, i put IC diamond TIM on the GPU
Image

this is a relative size comparison of the tiny low profile HD5670 compared to my gtx295
Image

bozar wrote:
That's actually ok temperatures for stock CPU cooler. Space looks really limited but you are looking for a replacement, right?

it's a real pain the arse to install everything in this tiny space, but i actually like the limited space because it's really compact to carry around. what makes you think i'm looking for a replacement? i wouldn't go through all this trouble to find this case, mod it, only to replace it later.


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2011 2:41 pm 
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alright, cooler installed, and it wasn't easy to do so because the screws had to be mounted from the bottom, while the cooler was on top. this requires some dexterity to get and even mount with the TIM

here's a few shots from different angles. the cooler can only be installed in two different orientations with this board: the heat pipes pointing towards the memory, and heatpipes pointing towards the video card. in any other orientations, the offset design from this cooler will interfere with the video card. i chose the "heatpipe towards the memory" direction.
Image

not very clear, but in this pic you can see that the heat pipes of the cooler is literally touching and pushing on the memory stick. although, there's not much pressure on it, so i just left the memory in that slot instead of moving it over one. it barely fits in this orientation.
Image

this angle shows that it will also barely clear the video card when i install it.
Image

main reason why i chose to install it in this orientation was so the 120mm fan do blow down directly at the chipset and the mosfets also. the other orientation would cool the memory more, but the chipset and mosfets wouldn't be cooled as great
Image

i just soft-mounted the board in the case with a 120mm x 25mm fan to test the fit. you can see in this orientation, the fan blows down on almost the whole board.
Image

with a 25mm thick fan, there wouldn't be enough room to close the side panel. i could force it to fit, but then that fan wouldn't have any breathing space. i have to use a 12mm thick fans
Image

i'll have final pics with everything installed soon


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2011 6:54 pm 
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very nice

what cooler is that?


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2011 8:44 pm 
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Zargon wrote:
very nice

what cooler is that?
A Prolimatech Samuel 17

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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2011 10:03 pm 
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Very nice build.

Do you have power consumption figures with the Pico PSU?

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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 12:26 pm 
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i had too many views on all my pics, so i'm gonna temporarily use imageshack for these new pics until i figure out what to do with the old pics that can't be seen anymore. dam photobucket :x

ok this is how i did the cable management: almost all of the cables was routed underneath the motherboard so it doesn't hang all over the place inside the case. this includes the SATA data cable, 4-pin CPU power, front panel power/reset/hard drive LED wires, and sata/molex peripheral power cable. cramming the cables between the mobo and the side panel wasn't the easiest thing because there was only a few millimeters of clearance. the only cables that were not hid underneath the mobo were the fan cables, which i traced in red and green in this pic
Image

another angle of the wires
Image

Image

Image

i found an expansion slot cover that's made of mesh, so i cut the bottom tip off so it can fit the extra expansion slot and not interfere with the HDMI port of the video card
Image

boost wrote:
Very nice build.

Do you have power consumption figures with the Pico PSU?

the whole rig pulls between 40-45w from the wall in idle, and between 100-110w during gaming


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 1:02 pm 
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Nice build, the cooler was a perfect fit.
Though you may want to use a slimmer fan to get better air circulation. Looks like the fan is currently pressed up right against the case, which will impede air flow.


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 1:11 pm 
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jalaj wrote:
Nice build, the cooler was a perfect fit.
Though you may want to use a slimmer fan to get better air circulation. Looks like the fan is currently pressed up right against the case, which will impede air flow.
You can always cut a hole and the top and cover it with a filter.

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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 10:51 pm 
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Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

everything plugged in and powered on
Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

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jalaj wrote:
Nice build, the cooler was a perfect fit.
Though you may want to use a slimmer fan to get better air circulation. Looks like the fan is currently pressed up right against the case, which will impede air flow.

the fan i posted in a couple pics back was a 25mm thick fan only to show the fit and clearance. it's actually about 1mm too thick for me to put on the side panel, but i could force the panel on there and still close it. but doing so the fan won't be able to breathe like you said, so in these last few pics, you can see a scythe 12mm thick fan, which gives the cpu cooler just a little room to breathe


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 9:20 am 
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WFD, great build and helpful pics. I wonder if there is any cooler similar and able to avoid putting pressure on the DIMM slots?


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 12:29 pm 
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Methanoid wrote:
WFD, great build and helpful pics. I wonder if there is any cooler similar and able to avoid putting pressure on the DIMM slots?

this is the largest cooler for this board and case. any other cooler will be smaller, or too big to fit. although the heatpipes do touch the memory stick, there is no real pressure pushing on it, that's why i left it in that slot and didn't move the memory over the other slot. it just barely touches it, not pushing on it.


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:44 pm 
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I wish I found this before I built my machine, because I had the same problems as you did and same goal. I wanted eyefinity + gaming + htpc. I finally did it, but it took so long to dig up informations and buy those parts. My machine:

Intel E5200
Biostar G41-M7 MATX mb
2gb G.Skills Ram x 1
160gb 2.5mm HDD
ATI 5570 sapphire (same one)
Case - same
PSU - same but with a shuttle adapter
(I'm not sure how much watts I get from that but it seem to be powering it fine. 180w PSU)

I get good performance over the 3-screens in eyefinity setup. But, its just mmo and emulators.
The goal is to push it and see what kind of gig I can get under $400.

So the 5670 doesn't cover your ram clips?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157236&cm_re=asrock_1155-_-13-157-236-_-Product
What about this motherboard? Will that heatsink on southbridge block it?
I'm also amazed that the 150w can power the i7 + 5670.
Do you think it will power a MATX + i3 + 5670 ?
I'm getting another case that's 9 x 11 x 5 so fitting them won't be a problem.


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 Post subject: Re: small, quiet mini-ITX gaming build
PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 11:53 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 12:55 am
Posts: 55
here is the computer next to a normal sized ATX antec case for size comparison
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here's also another pic of it sandwiched between two text books for a relative size comparison. it's about as big as my biochem and biology text book
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i went home for the weekend, so i though i'd snap a few pics of how it gets packed. it either goes into my backpack or a random carry bag i found that seems to fit quite well. if i don't carry too many books or stuff in my backpack, then i usually just put it my backpack, otherwise it gets packed into other bag to carry. but since today i had books and cloths in my school backpack, it went into the black one.
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power adapter and cord can be placed on top after the computer goes it, or it can go in first and be placed at the bottom
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my mouse pad and computer just slides in, on top of the power brick
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there's even room for my favorite mouse to go on top :p
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zip it all up, put the handles together, and this is what i carry with me every time i go home on weekends, and back to school again
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