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 Post subject: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2014 9:00 pm 
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Please advise on this silent non-gaming HTPC build:

Lian Li PC-Q07 ($50)
ASUS H81T/CSM thin mini-ITX board (includes a "normal" I/O shield)
i3-4130T (35W TDP)
Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO heatsink/fan (big and tall) ($30)
240GB SSD, 8GB RAM, 5.25" DVD reader/burner
90W external brick power supply ($20)

Without an internal power supply, there should be enough room for the tall Hyper 212 heatsink/fan.

Based on a prior build using the Hyper 212 Evo (on an i7-3770S 65W TDP), the fan was rarely needed unless running Prime95. So I'm hoping the fan in this system (at 35W TDP) will never run at all. It's just there for protection.

The appeal of this build (if it makes sense) is that the combined cost of the case, heatsink, and power supply is $100. Also, there's room for a DVD drive, and the case is smaller than a mini-tower case.

The complete part list is here.

Looking forward to your comments.

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Last edited by spcmhe on Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 6:21 am 
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No need to get a factory underclocked T-version of the CPU. You can get a normal one and downclock yourself if needed.

Don't know about having the fan only spin when needed. Usually normal onboard fan control doesn't work like that and there's really no need to. Having the fan spin slowly will be just as quiet in most cases.

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:01 am 
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Vicotnik wrote:
No need to get a factory underclocked T-version of the CPU. You can get a normal one and downclock yourself if needed.


There's also no need for a thin mini-ITX platform.

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:38 am 
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Vicotnik wrote:
No need to get a factory underclocked T-version of the CPU. You can get a normal one and downclock yourself if needed.

Don't know about having the fan only spin when needed. Usually normal onboard fan control doesn't work like that and there's really no need to. Having the fan spin slowly will be just as quiet in most cases.


Thanks, Vicotnik.

Regarding downclocking, I understand the idea, but how can I find out if the BIOS supports it? For example, on my Gigabyte GA-H77M-D3H i7-3770S build, the BIOS shows a "CPU frequency" option (set to Auto), but pressing Enter doesn't offer any choices. Perhaps it would with a i7-3770, or perhaps it's necessary to toggle some other option. But if there is a way, I'd prefer the less expensive i3-4130.

Regarding the fan, I asked an Asus tech support person if the BIOS offered that kind of fan control. It's been a week and no response yet. If it's not possible, a slow spin is okay -- as that's how my i7 build is configured, and the fan (a Nexus D12SL-12PWM) is inaudible.

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:09 am 
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quest_for_silence wrote:
Vicotnik wrote:
No need to get a factory underclocked T-version of the CPU. You can get a normal one and downclock yourself if needed.


There's also no need for a thin mini-ITX platform.


Thanks, Luca.

I'm interested to learn your reasons.

My reasons for selecting a thin mini-ITX board are:

1. The power supply costs $20.
2. Since the power supply (a brick) is outside the case, there's no need to cool it, and it's silent.
3. With no internal power supply, there's room for a low-cost tall heatsink, which allows quiet (and possibly fanless) operation.
4. With a normal mini-ITX board, to use a tall heatsink in that case, something like a picoPSU supply would be needed -- and this approach still needs a power brick.
5. A thin mini-ITX board might use less power than a mini-ITX board (but the difference is probably small).

The main problem I've encountered searching for thin boards is that not all include a normal I/O shield. Some only come with a (shorter) thin mini-ITX shield.

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:24 am 
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spcmhe wrote:
Thanks, Vicotnik.

Regarding downclocking, I understand the idea, but how can I find out if the BIOS supports it? For example, on my Gigabyte GA-H77M-D3H i7-3770S build, the BIOS shows a "CPU frequency" option (set to Auto), but pressing Enter doesn't offer any choices. Perhaps it would with a i7-3770, or perhaps it's necessary to toggle some other option. But if there is a way, I'd prefer the less expensive i3-4130.

Most motherboards offer the option to set the max multiplier. Some, but mainly the ones with overclockers as the intended buyer, also offers the option to lower the voltage. The motherboard manual should present the options available. But I don't think there will be any need to underclock, especially if you will have a spinning fan on the Hyper 212 EVO.

My point is don't pay extra for a 35W TDP CPU, since a 55W (and more) TDP CPU would work fine in the setup you describe. There is nothing special with the T CPUs, they have a lower max multiplier and slightly lower Vcore as default, nothing more.

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:06 am 
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Vicotnik wrote:
spcmhe wrote:
Thanks, Vicotnik.

Regarding downclocking, I understand the idea, but how can I find out if the BIOS supports it? For example, on my Gigabyte GA-H77M-D3H i7-3770S build, the BIOS shows a "CPU frequency" option (set to Auto), but pressing Enter doesn't offer any choices. Perhaps it would with a i7-3770, or perhaps it's necessary to toggle some other option. But if there is a way, I'd prefer the less expensive i3-4130.

Most motherboards offer the option to set the max multiplier. Some, but mainly the ones with overclockers as the intended buyer, also offers the option to lower the voltage. The motherboard manual should present the options available. But I don't think there will be any need to underclock, especially if you will have a spinning fan on the Hyper 212 EVO.

My point is don't pay extra for a 35W TDP CPU, since a 55W (and more) TDP CPU would work fine in the setup you describe. There is nothing special with the T CPUs, they have a lower max multiplier and slightly lower Vcore as default, nothing more.

Okay, thanks. I'll check with Asus to see if downclocking is possible with their H81T/CSM board and a standard i3-4130.

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:50 am 
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spcmhe wrote:
My reasons for selecting a thin mini-ITX board are


On a second thought, you're right instead.

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:32 am 
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Vicotnik wrote:
spcmhe wrote:
Thanks, Vicotnik.

Regarding downclocking, I understand the idea, but how can I find out if the BIOS supports it? For example, on my Gigabyte GA-H77M-D3H i7-3770S build, the BIOS shows a "CPU frequency" option (set to Auto), but pressing Enter doesn't offer any choices. Perhaps it would with a i7-3770, or perhaps it's necessary to toggle some other option. But if there is a way, I'd prefer the less expensive i3-4130.

Most motherboards offer the option to set the max multiplier. Some, but mainly the ones with overclockers as the intended buyer, also offers the option to lower the voltage. The motherboard manual should present the options available. But I don't think there will be any need to underclock, especially if you will have a spinning fan on the Hyper 212 EVO.

My point is don't pay extra for a 35W TDP CPU, since a 55W (and more) TDP CPU would work fine in the setup you describe. There is nothing special with the T CPUs, they have a lower max multiplier and slightly lower Vcore as default, nothing more.


I called Asus tech support, but couldn't get a specific answer as to whether the H81T/CSM motherboard BIOS could be configured to make an i3-4130 behave like an i3-4130T. The motherboard manual shows several options that look like they'll do the job, but the tech was unable to say whether they'd be available on an i3-4130. Given my experience with my Gigabyte motherboard, I'm a little wary. Short of trying it myself, is there any other way to know if the desired changes are possible?

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 7:18 am 
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I would guess that you would be able to set the max multipler to a lower value than default, and thus underclock. Undervolting is less certain, I can do it on my ASRock H81 board, to my surprise.

But this is a minor issue. Why do you want to underclock? It will only really make a difference at full load. The task you throw at the system will make it work a bit longer at full load, but max power draw will be lower. For HTPC use the saving is minor. Makes more sense to think about one vs two sticks of RAM almost.

Btw, why an i3? Celeron/Pentium would draw less power and cost less. Probably do the work just as well, unless you need some specific feature disabled on the Celeron/Pentium CPUs but left intact on the i3.

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 7:50 am 
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Vicotnik wrote:
I would guess that you would be able to set the max multipler to a lower value than default, and thus underclock. Undervolting is less certain, I can do it on my ASRock H81 board, to my surprise.

But this is a minor issue. Why do you want to underclock? It will only really make a difference at full load. The task you throw at the system will make it work a bit longer at full load, but max power draw will be lower. For HTPC use the saving is minor. Makes more sense to think about one vs two sticks of RAM almost.

Btw, why an i3? Celeron/Pentium would draw less power and cost less. Probably do the work just as well, unless you need some specific feature disabled on the Celeron/Pentium CPUs but left intact on the i3.

My reason for picking an i3-4130T (and not a Pentium at 53W TDP) or underclocking an i3-4130 is a goal of "low idle wattage", as the system will be on 24 hours a day.

At 35W TDP (and a lower CPU clock), I'm guessing the i3-4130T might be a good choice. Another reason for limiting to 35W TDP, is the hope that the fan will never need to spin (another power saving).

Even so, this review of an H81T/CSM/i3-4130 combo indicates <10W idle is possible, and if so, that would be great.

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 8:11 am 
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one of the oft repeated mantras here is "dont buy the T parts!". I dont really know why...
check the prices on T parts, sometimes they are very close to the regular ones, and sometimes the same if they are on sale/combo. also T's can have a higher single core clock than comparable regular chips, while the regular chips can have higher multi core speeds.

Im very happy with the performance/cost/easy of ownership of my T. I used to have it in a Q07, but have moved onto a much smaller case now. in the Q07 I also had a passive external GPU, Pico and some ducting, it ran very cool and silent with just a single fan at 500rpm. I used a slim opti bay with room for 2 hdd/ssd up top to keep the bottom vents open and make room for the GPU heatsink.

Great case for around $50!

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 10:30 am 
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spcmhe wrote:
My reason for picking an i3-4130T (and not a Pentium at 53W TDP) or underclocking an i3-4130 is a goal of "low idle wattage", as the system will be on 24 hours a day.

They all idle the same. That is what I'm saying. TDP doesn't mean what you think it means.

Get a cheap CPU that will do the job. In my opinion you are overspending if you are getting an i3 instead of say a Pentium, and then probably some more if you decide on a T part.

Of course I own a T part myself. But I got that because of the reason xan_user mentions above. It was a deal on it, so I grabbed it. Also I had to stay within a certain power envelope (60W brick, four 3.5" HDDs), so a capped max load was useful. I doubt you need a T part enough to go looking for it, all I'm sayin' :)

spcmhe wrote:
Even so, this review of an H81T/CSM/i3-4130 combo indicates <10W idle is possible, and if so, that would be great.
Quote:
Windows 7 desktop (nothing running, just sitting idle): 14.8W

That's almost as good as my HTPC (ASRock H81M-ITX and Pentium G3420). ;)
Linux Mint 16 Xfce (nothing running, just sitting idle): 11.2W

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 7:39 pm 
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Thanks to all for your suggestions and ideas.

Today I ordered an i3-3140, because, based on your feedback, it sounds like it can be configured to run much like an i3-3140T. Also, the sale price of $110 (from TigerDirect, ends April 16) made the choice easier.

In addition to your feedback, "Dougie Fresh", who left a review of the ASUS H81T/CSM on Amazon, also provided some useful info, which is excerpted below.

When I get the system built, I'll report back with power and temp info. But it will be a while, as I need to make sure (after receiving the MB and the PC-Q07) that there is indeed room for the Hyper 212 cooler.

Thanks again for all your help.

Excerpted comments from Dougie Fresh:

I’ve built probably half a dozen or so PCs in the Lian-Li PC-Q07. I am a big Lian-Li fan – really anything aluminum. I am not so sure the Hyper 212 EVO will fit even without any power supply ...

I think you might be able to play around with the CPU voltage a bit to see if you can get it lower. That’s a bit beyond my expertise so it would be trial-and-error. As far as I know about it, you lower it until it crashes and then raise it back up a bit?

-----

Ok, I had to play with this a bit first to see how it works. In the Advanced Mode > AI Tweaker, I set the CPU Ratio as 'Sync All Cores' and then changed the Core Ratio Limit to 25 which set it to 2.5Ghz. I then changed the Max CPU Cache Ratio to be the same -- not sure if this is needed but my OCD nature said to do it. These changes automatically lowered the CPU voltage to 0.939V. It appears to me then it's underclocked.

For day-to-day or HTPC usage, this isn't going to make much of a difference in power usage though. It's really only going to cap the high-end, when it's under load. Otherwise, it's just going to use the same idle or even lower p-states to conserve energy. I've read that pretty much across the product line from Celeron to i7, idle is going to consume the same wattage. Even watching a video or surfing the 'net it would be the same. It's under load where it makes the difference.

IMHO, the only reason to get the i3-4130T would be if you need the low-profile cooler and don't want to buy an aftermarket one. If you don't need a low-profile cooler ... I'd get the i3-4130.

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:31 pm 
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The parts arrived, and there's enough headroom for the tall Hyper 212 EVO.

BUT ... three small components on the underside of the H81T/CSM motherboard (near one of the cooler mounting holes) prevent the installation of the cooler back plate (photo below).

So I'd appreciate suggestions for a different cooler, preferably one that also has a back plate (to secure a similarly large heatsink), but with a back plate that has a smaller underside footprint near each of the mounting holes.

If no such cooler exists, then the no-back-plate Hyper TX3 seems a possibility. But are there better large no-back-plate choices?

Image

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:22 pm 
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spcmhe wrote:
So I'd appreciate suggestions for a different cooler, preferably one that also has a back plate (to secure a similarly large heatsink), but with a back plate that has a smaller underside footprint near each of the mounting holes.


With reference to your mobo issue, probably the only safe options, if any, are the Thermalright True Spirit 120i, along with the True Spirit 120M and Macho 120 BOTH in their Rev. A; you do have to swap the TR fan, however: whether the Cooler Master stock one is annoying at high speed, the TR one is unbearable at any speed, due to its nasty noise signature (IMO/IME).

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:02 am 
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what cooler did you end up getting? if its not too heavy, I'd just use some washers and skip the back plate.

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 8:25 am 
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Thanks quest_for_silence and xan_user.

As the Thermalright 120M and Hyper 212 weigh about the same (465-470g), I'm wondering if there's any difference between the Thermalright "no backplate, but fasten with screws and washers" solution versus just using washers and no backplate with the Hyper 212 (per xan_user's suggestion)?

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 8:31 am 
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(post deleted.)

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 8:54 am 
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spcmhe wrote:
Thanks quest_for_silence and xan_user.

As the Thermalright 120M and Hyper 212 weigh about the same (465-470g), I'm wondering if there's any difference between the Thermalright "no backplate, but fasten with screws and washers" solution versus just using washers and no backplate with the Hyper 212 (per xan_user's suggestion)?


Sorry, I can't help.

At first glance I would say that TR had tested the plate-less option, while CM had not even conceived it.
But above all, the TR washers pass through the holes, and they have above their threads an anchoring plate, thus stabilizing the screws and the heatsink, while contrasting the cantilever effect.

Usually the CM screws will move slightly in the board holes (and so the under board threads), so you should have some minor issues securing them: what I really don't know is whether the cooler will remain firm when its screws are tightened down, or not (as it uses a crossbar, I guess there are chances it may stay firm).

Anyway, as you already have the 212, providing you have some suitable washers, you should just try whether the cooler will move or not.

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 Post subject: Re: thin mini-itx board in a Lian Li PC-Q07 ???
PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 10:15 pm 
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Thanks to all.

After comparing Thermalright's no-backplate solution with just not using a backplate with the CM 212, I chose to stay with the CM 212 -- even though the TR design looks a little better.

I used two washers underneath the motherboard at each standoff: a rubber washer to avoid damaging the traces, a nylon washer below it, and then of course the nut to tighten it. Before tightening, I temporarily attached the topside bracket to make sure it would screw in later when attaching the heatsink.

Seems plenty strong without a backplate.

Slight concern that the rubber will deteriorate over time. But easy to fix as long as the rubber doesn't damage the motherboard.

Now installing Windows 7.

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