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 Post subject: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:09 am 
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Having been extremely pleased with my first ever build last year, E450 in an Antec ISK 300-65 for HTPC, I'm going to build another mini-itx based system to supersede a 17" HP Probook which I effectively use as a desktop replacement (also the laptop doesn't seem to play nicely with externally run 3TB drives).

Anyway, I'm trying to decide which way to go, Ivy Bridge or Haswell. So here is what I'm considering and, bar the case, is very much open to change. . .

Case - Antec ISK 110 (bought, waiting for delivery)
CPU - Core i5-3570K (possibly undervolted) or Core i5-4670S
Motherboard - Asus P8Z77-I DELUXE / ASRock Z77E-ITX / or ASRock Z87E-ITX (Haswell)
CPU Cooler - Stock (presuming it fits) or Noctua NH-L9i
Thermal Paste - Arctic MX-4 (have in hand)
Memory - Crucial 16GB kit (8GBx2), Ballistix 240-pin DIMM, DDR3 PC3-12800, Low Profile
SSD - Samsung 840 Pro 256GB
OS - Windows 7 64bit Home
Monitor - Dell Ultrasharp U2212HM or U2312HM
Keyboard - Something low travel, semi-chiclet. I have a Logitech K360 for my HTPC, but the travel is huge and the chiclet spacing a bit too wide.
Mouse - Not sure, I'm a fan of the old style bog standard MS Optical Wheel mouse, have to see what's out there and similar. I have a small wireless MS mouse for the HTPC, can't say I'm that keen on it, it's ok for occasional use.


Going on the basis of this thread http://www.overclock.net/t/1330425/buil ... -than-tiny I don't see any potential power or heat issues. The mesh side will help. Cooling wise I've read the stock coolers are relatively quiet these days. I guess not SPCR quiet and that's why I'm considering the Noctua. I'm aware the Scythe Kozuti is an alternative but from what I've read I think I'd favour the Noctua. Certainly if there are other options then please let me know.

The Asus motherboard, because of its riser and what it could block in the confines of the case, was a concern. However I found a pic in this review http://www.servethehome.com/antec-isk11 ... ly-review/ which puts that at bay.

I'll be using the PC for general stuff, some video editing and encoding, audio mixing etc. Photoshop & Lightroom. Not intended for games, might see what it can do though.

So what do you reckon? It will certainly be a little beast whichever way I go. 8)


Last edited by IdontexistM8 on Mon Jun 17, 2013 3:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:43 am 
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I think a 77W or 84W CPU will probably require undervolting for it to boot, based on this comment in the servethehome review:
Quote:
The power supply is a very mixed bag. I purchased the Antec ISK-110 thinking that the power supply was a 110w unit. A valuable lesson learned here is to actually read specs not try to interpret part numbers (especially incorrectly as I did.) Bottom line, I would see the unit with the Intel Core i7-3770K at stock clocks and voltages start the boot process sending the power draw over 92w then the system would shut down.


Anandtech review says the CPU cooler is height limited to 40mm. So, it looks like the stock cooler will fit, as will the Kozuti...but not the Noctua.

Anandtech review also showed ~20C temp rise on the rear-of-the-mobo-mounted SSD.

I'd opt for the Asus mobos if just for Fan Xpert - so your system could be whisper quiet on idle/low loads and then ramp up as needed for encoding.

If you VESA mount it on the back of your monitor, that'll kill some of the directed fan noise, too.

Haswell vs IVB: I'd delay a Haswell build until ~Sept. just to get the fixed south bridge chip and for BIOS/firmware updates to settle down. The new Asus Suite for Haswell looks nice, too.

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:11 pm 
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The Noctua NH-L9i is 37mm and should fit.

The internal DC-converter board is rated for 80W. I don't know for Intel, but for the two Trinity systems I tested, the CPU will be run at maximum frequency in BIOS and power draw is very high. Just entering the BIOS with a 65W APU would reach the limit of this converter board. If you have a different PSU at hand to undervolt/underclock you should be fine, but in the worst case just entering the BIOS might cause crashes.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 5:08 am 
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Thanks for the advice.

@CA_Steve - I've had a good read around the web and it's interesting to see how some have issues and others none at all. The I7-3770K has the same TDP as the i5-3470K used in the forum thread I referenced. So perhaps Asus Z77 board pulls a lot more than the H61 Gigabyte? Dunno, I could certainly shift to a S CPU if a 12W drop will make all the difference.

My HTPC has an Asus E45M1-I Deluxe board, so I'm reasonably well versed on the bios features and AI Suite with FanXpert. I like them too as they offer an easy learning curve for beginner. From what I can tell from a first look on Youtube Asus' Z87 mini-itx board doesn't have esata which unfortunately rules it out. That's my one biggie requirement as I've Antec MX-1 externals and until I either find a USB 3.0 enclosure I like or go NAS I will want to hook one up with esata over USB 2. Both the ASRock options have esata and some fan control, although I think a little more primitive than Asus.

The monitor(s) I'm looking at are height adjustable so mounting is out of the question I'm afraid.

I added Haswell option more because it's now there than any burning desire to go that way. I'm likely to get on with things sooner rather than later. Might come down to question of price and availability.

@johannes - I could be wrong but I always heard that AMD builds pulled more at boot than Intel.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 7:02 am 
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johannes wrote:
The Noctua NH-L9i is 37mm and should fit.

You are right - I misread the height.

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 9:06 am 
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There are brackets designed for 3.5" external slots, full height and half height card slots that give you an external eSATAp port. You don't have to disqualify a board for lacking that port.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 2:20 am 
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My build is taking shape with most of the components ordered. The processor choice is still up in the air. If I can get a 77W cpu to POST and get Windows on to it then I can be confident in getting a stable undervolt. Certainly in terms of future usage and then sell-on value a K is going to worth more than an S cpu. As I've ordered the same Asus board as the review referred to earlier it really is a big if.

On the other hand I have been considering going for an i7. The 3770S would make a very powerful little machine for years to come that should run pretty quiet and cool. I presume the S can be undervolted also.

Gonna try and decide by the end of the weekend.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:32 am 
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Look at the specs and prices of the Xeon e3-1245v2.

I keep saying this all the time but there are some Xeons that are priced very well. The 1245v2 is essentially a slightly slower i7-3370 (no k) for about $50 less.

If your motherboard supports it (most but not all socket 1155 boards do), it seems ideal for a PC that won't be over clocked.

Since many Xeons wind up in hot rack mount servers with low profile heat sinks, my suspicion is that they are well binned parts (but I don't have an i7 to compare mine to) which may be good for under-volting but I haven't tried.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 7:52 pm 
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QUIET! wrote:
There are brackets designed for 3.5" external slots, full height and half height card slots that give you an external eSATAp port. You don't have to disqualify a board for lacking that port.


Unless you do have to disqualify it because the case in question has nor 3.5" external bays nor card slots. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 12:30 pm 
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I guess that might stop some people, not me but some people...


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 12:47 pm 
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All that PSU modding is going to your head, Quiet..
You're not a Jedi yet. :p ;)

IdontexistM8, if the Antec ISK 110 PSU is giving you grief, consider a picoPSU. With a powerful brick and a picoPSU you can power almost anything.

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 1:18 pm 
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Vicotnik wrote:
All that PSU modding is going to your head, Quiet..
You're not a Jedi yet. :p ;)

IdontexistM8, if the Antec ISK 110 PSU is giving you grief, consider a picoPSU. With a powerful brick and a picoPSU you can power almost anything.


Fear not, I'm nowhere near the stage of grief yet. :lol: The S is the sensible decision, the K is gamble. Depends whether I want the potential hassle or not. I'm not sure the picoPSU brick socket connector would fit the case without a bit of DIY. Not my strong point TBH.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:59 am 
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Most of my parts are here now just monitor, OS and CPU to get.

johannes wrote:
If you have a different PSU at hand to undervolt/underclock you should be fine, but in the worst case just entering the BIOS might cause crashes.


I don't have a PSU, is it worth picking up something cheap for testing purposes in this instance and the future?


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 10:06 pm 
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Hey, sorry I missed this thread. I just set up a mini-itx system with a 4770k processor on the asrock Z87E-ITX board in a Bitfenix Prodigy case. It's running pretty well now, I stuck a prolimatech megahalems on it for cooling, and it's a pretty quiet system. Hope your system works out ok!


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:17 am 
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IdontexistM8 wrote:
johannes wrote:
If you have a different PSU at hand to undervolt/underclock you should be fine, but in the worst case just entering the BIOS might cause crashes.

I don't have a PSU, is it worth picking up something cheap for testing purposes in this instance and the future?
I see two possible issues:
  • The system might not boot, because the integrated PSU doesn't provide enough energy.
  • The converter board might burn out when stressing the CPU during normal usage and taking more power from the converter board as it is specified for. (80W)

In the first case, yes, please get yourself a cheap PSU, boot the system using this PSU, downvolt and downclock as needed and you should be fine with the 80W converter board.

In the second case things might appear to be fine at first, but the converter board might burn out one day because it was run at more than 100% capacity, thereby greatly reducing the components' lifespan.

I would recommend you to try to boot with your chosen CPU and see if things work. If not, get a second PSU (you can also borrow one from an old desktop PC or ask a friend) so you can undervolt. To be on the safe side, get a kill-a-watt or similar and make sure load power consumption is less than 92W (assuming 87% efficiency for the power brick and 80W maximum power for the converter board).


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 1:35 pm 
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johannes wrote:
I see two possible issues:
  • The system might not boot, because the integrated PSU doesn't provide enough energy.
  • The converter board might burn out when stressing the CPU during normal usage and taking more power from the converter board as it is specified for. (80W)

In the first case, yes, please get yourself a cheap PSU, boot the system using this PSU, downvolt and downclock as needed and you should be fine with the 80W converter board.

In the second case things might appear to be fine at first, but the converter board might burn out one day because it was run at more than 100% capacity, thereby greatly reducing the components' lifespan.

I would recommend you to try to boot with your chosen CPU and see if things work. If not, get a second PSU (you can also borrow one from an old desktop PC or ask a friend) so you can undervolt. To be on the safe side, get a kill-a-watt or similar and make sure load power consumption is less than 92W (assuming 87% efficiency for the power brick and 80W maximum power for the converter board).


Thanks, great advice. I actually picked up a Belkin Conserve Insight with this in mind.

One additional question, will a downclock affect the turbo speed or will it depend on how downclock is achieved in the bios? There's plenty of overclocking guides, not so many of the reverse.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2013 3:02 am 
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I do not know about Intel systems, maybe someone else can say more. From what I have seen, on many boards you can set a voltage offset in the BIOS which might be enough and should conserve turbo as before.

On AMD, (at least with my MSI FM2 ITX board) setting a clock speed in BIOS will have the CPU running all the time at this frequency. You can actually modify the P-states (multiplier+voltage combinations the processor uses) during run-time [1], so you can set up your processor how you want. Turbo can be enable and disabled at run-time, too, as well as power throttling (this is what makes a 65W APU a 65W APU).

[1] Windows 8 doesn't like the multiplier of the highest P-state (i.e. the maximum non-Turbo frequency) being modified (graphical corruption). Windows 7 is to a lesser extend also affected.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:31 am 
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Well I've purchased the i7-3770K based on its flexibility for now and in the future. I'm confident with some tweaking I can get it running optimally cool without major sacrifices.

I know the Asus board has an EPU power saving mode, that may well do what's required and I'm prepared to do the job with the voltage offset. Fingers crossed I don't have to downclock.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:40 am 
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My experience with the EPU is that it is a complete waste of time. You can get better results by undervolting manually! Just disable it in BIOS & mobo switch


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:45 am 
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james wrote:
My experience with the EPU is that it is a complete waste of time. You can get better results by undervolting manually! Just disable it in BIOS & mobo switch


Thanks James, I'll work on that basis.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2013 8:22 pm 
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So what is the final build? Specifically, what kind of PSU did you use?
Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 1:50 pm 
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aardvark wrote:
So what is the final build? Specifically, what kind of PSU did you use?
Thanks.


Well it ended up as. . .

Case - Antec ISK 110 with the standard fitted PSU
CPU - Core i7-3770K
Motherboard - Asus P8Z77-I DELUXE
CPU Cooler - Stock
Thermal Paste - Arctic MX-4
Memory - Crucial 16GB kit (8GBx2), Ballistix 240-pin DIMM, DDR3 PC3-12800, Low Profile
SSD - Samsung 840 Pro 256GB
OS - Windows 7 64bit Home

I put it together last night. It took ages because a) I'm, by my own admission, still a relative novice, b) It was a hot day c) The case is ridiculously tight.

I fitted the CPU/Cooler and RAM on the board prior to install due to the lack of space, but then I really struggled to get the motherboard in. Part of the problem was Asus' riser that takes up most of one side, that meant the PSU board couldn't be removed to help fit the m/b (as I found out). Secondly, you had to really pull the front connector wires back tight as they completely get in the way as you try to manoeuvre the board in. The third issue was the clip of the PCI Express slot which kept sticking out against the side of the case. You had to push it in while you squeezed the board into place. The case could definitely do with being even just half an inch wider square.

Anyway I eventually got it all in and connected, powered on first time and got into the bios with no problems (power draw never got close to the level quoted from that review). Installed Windows 7 this morning, again no issues. In fact the first problem appeared when I installed Asus' AI Suite II. Somehow, I presume, during installation the TPU switch had been flicked to the enabled position and the system then overclocked itself and as a result shut down.

After some trial and error in both the bios and AI Suite I settled on an undervolt offset of -0.110. I performed a standard run of the IntelBurnTest and a short 15 min burst of Prime95 to confirm initial stability.

So stats wise at idle I've got the following, in CPU-Z the core voltage was just below 0.900, the power draw on my Belkin meter was around 25W and temps were just over 40C with an ambient room temp of 26-27C. In quick stress testing the draw hovered around 85W and Real Temp recorded max of 79C in a couple of cores, Asus's sensor seeing 59C for CPU.

I'm a bit concerned that both the idle temp and the stress test power draw are too high even with this undervolt, which has yet to be fully tested. True it was another hot day today but I was hoping for something a little better. Perhaps going for the K suffix CPU was just plain overkill? You guys are the experts, so any thoughts?

Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 1:38 am 
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I'm not an expert, but I don't think you should worry. The maximum safe operating temperature is 105°C and you are far below that. Reading through some (overclocking) forums people talk about maximum temperatures for 24/7 usage ranging from below 75°C to below 90°C. With 79°C I think you are fine, particularly because during normal usage you won't stress the CPU this much.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 2:36 am 
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johannes wrote:
I'm not an expert, but I don't think you should worry. The maximum safe operating temperature is 105°C and you are far below that. Reading through some (overclocking) forums people talk about maximum temperatures for 24/7 usage ranging from below 75°C to below 90°C. With 79°C I think you are fine, particularly because during normal usage you won't stress the CPU this much.


Ok, do you have views on the PSU/brick draw? I'm just about to do run a longer/heavier stress with IntelBurnTest, I'll see how that turns out. If I'm still concerned I'll look at plan c which is a BitFenix Prodigy case. Larger than I'd like but I can find a space and it will be future proof.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:41 am 
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Techpowerup report that the converter board is rated for 80W, the power brick is rated at 90W output and is energy star level V (i.e. >=87% efficency) compliant.

Your power draw of 85W AC is below the rating of 90W DC for the power brick, so no worries there. For the converter board there's a maximum output capacity of 80W.

You measure AC power and some inefficiency of power conversion is expected. The external power brick is rated at at least 87%, meaning you would get a minimum power draw of your components [1] of 74W DC (85W AC input * 87% efficiency). I don't know the exact efficiency of the power brick, but it would need to be more than 94% efficient for this to be a problem with the 80W DC converter board (80W DC output / 85 W AC input = ~94% efficiency) and this is very improbable.

In short: No issues here, particularly since normal operation uses less energy than stress testing.

If you plan to use the integrated GPU e.g. for OpenCL accelerated Photoshop filters you might want to try stress testing both CPU and GPU at the same time to be on the safe side.

[1] I'm ignoring the efficiency of the converter board for the conversion from 19V to 12V, 5V and 3.3V.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 5:08 am 
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Thanks for putting my mind at ease. :)

I've just completed a few further IBTs, including one at the max memory setting and I'm pretty satisfied that all is well. The stock cooler is reasonably quiet but is a little 'ticky' sounding for my liking so I'll likely pick up one of the two coolers mentioned earlier in the thread. Since the stock is 46mm high, according to Intel's specs, and there's a tiny bit more headroom in the case it's not inconceivable you could fit 50mm. I guess other then dimensions might come into play the taller you get. Bit of measuring and research required.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 5:34 am 
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Although the Noctua NH-L9i isn't recommended for Ivy Bridge @ 77W unless there's good ventilation and turbo's disabled I think I can get away with it on this now undervolted rig. Furthermore I reckon the 14mm NF-A9x14 fan could be replaced with the 25mm NF-B9 PWM and it would just squeeze in since the height difference compared to the Intel stock would only be another 2mm and I'm certain there's the headroom in the case.

I'll search to see if anyone's had success and probably drop Noctua a mail also.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 6:59 am 
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The SPCR review with a 95W CPU makes me think you should be OK.

Anecdotal evidence: I own the AMD version of this cooler along with a "modified" 65W APU. Modified means that I disabled throttling (so it can use more than 65 W) and undervolted + underclocked instead. I currently run it with a maximum power draw of ~95W AC and the fan turns at ~2000 rpm with a BIOS target temperature of 45°C. The real core temperature is ~72°C when stress testing at 26°C ambient and the exhaust air is note very warm.

The cooler is able to cool this APU with acceptable noise on open air. I consider up to 2000 rpm acceptable even when sitting close, but at 2500 rpm it is really loud and distracting. With a closed Mini-Box M350 it will reach the 2500 rpm, but it is fine with a modified top. I think the mesh of the ISK 110 should be fine.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX Beast Planned with Antec ISK 110
PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 1:07 pm 
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Sounds promising. I've yet to check how the stock sounds in the environment where the PC will be used. However I think it's pretty likely I'll invest in Noctua.

I tried to do a cable tidy this afternoon/evening and noticed when removing the cable for the front usb header that there was a little too much movement on that side of the board. Tightening the screws made things worse as they got stuck in the standoff post and still didn't stop the movement.

To get the screw/posts out meant angling and then removing the motherboard, this was protracted and involved a drop of blood and a failure of patience. I tried again with a number of the bundled screws getting the same frustrating result until the one I thought least likely to do so actually worked!

Thankfully despite all this the machine is working. A few more tests and we'll be set.


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