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 Post subject: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 2:27 am 
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Hello,

I'm new here and want to build a quiet PC for general use and modest gaming. I'm on the verge of becoming an old fart whose hearing isn't what it used to be, so I don't need a totally silent PC, but 'somewhat quiet' would be nice :)

I'd also like it to be compact and look unobtrusive. I'm somewhat budget-conscious too; preferably I'd like to stay below 800€ including a Windows license (yeah I know, but I need that for certain games).

So far, I was thinking about getting the Fractal Define Nano case and putting the new passively cooled Palit KalmX 1050 Ti in it. But I was wondering whether it'll fit; several reviews of the Nano have mentioned that there isn't much clearance between the PSU and video card, and the KalmX looks a bit bulky with its big heatsink. Also, I'm not sure whether the KalmX would even be beneficial in terms of noise; obviously it doesn't generate any noise itself, but maybe it would make the case fans work harder? What do you think?

As for the CPU, I'm a bit torn between the i3-7100, i5-7500 and the low-TDP versions of the i3 and i5. In terms of temperature and power consumption, do the low-power versions really make a difference under gaming loads? And considering the rather modest video card, would an i5 be adequate or overkill?

I also still have to decide on a motherboard, PSU, HDD and memory, so if you have any recommendations for these, fire away.


Thanks for reading!


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 8:37 am 
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Welcome to SPCR.

Before we dive into the component lists,
- could you list the general apps you are using and the games you are likely to play? This will help component selection (how much CPU and GPU horsepower is needed, how much RAM, etc...).*
- Is your monitor 1080p?
- Is the compact PC case required due to space constraints (like going into a cabinet/under a desk, etc)? If so, what's the space dimensions?

It may be that the better budget gaming build is a $65 Pentium (low end i3 in disguise) and a $250 GTX 1060 rather than a $200 i5 and a $180 GTX 1050 Ti...

A good rule of thumb for any gaming build - avoid the Intel T CPUs. Most games like fast CPU clocks.

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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 11:03 am 
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Thank you for your answers and the warm welcome.

The reason for the small case is mainly aesthetics, and occasionally portability.

I think the most demanding game I intend to play is GTA V, or maybe The Witness (not sure about the requirements on that one).

I was, and maybe still am, considering the Gtx 1060/6Gb but I liked the 1050 Ti for the low TDP, low-ish cost and the fact that a passively cooled version is available.

My monitor is 1920x1080 in 60 Hz and I'm not planning on getting anything bigger anytime soon


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 11:28 am 
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Oh, and I forgot:

I won't put the PC anywhere with restricted airflow. And while I will use it for other stuff besides gaming, none of the other stuff exceeds the requirements of the games.


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 12:01 pm 
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Ok. Could you also list your non-gaming apps so I can get a feel for your CPU/RAM requirements?

A major limitation to mini-ITX is the two RAM slots. So, with the 800 euro budget restraint, I'd suggest getting 2 x 4GB RAM sticks...but, if you have apps that consume major amounts of RAM (Photoshop, s/w development, possibly video editing, etc), then you'd have to go with 2 x 8GB sticks now.

Also, what's your country? I canthrow a potential build together in pcpartpicker based on Germany to get a feel for total costs...

The G4560 Pentium will do great with with GTA V - here's a nice writeup on the CPU at ComputerBase. GTA V will also do nicely at 1080p with the GTX 1050Ti 4GB. High textures uses a bit more than 3GB of VRAM.

I don't know about The Witness. A long performance thread [url=https://steamcommunity.com/app/210970/discussions/0/458606877334633700/here on Steam.[/url] I leave it to you to investigate.

Passively cooled card: In general sounds like a great thing. In specific, it'll still need directed cooling (decent case fans and airflow through the case) in order to not throttle while gaming. It might still be quieter than an active card...then again some of these gaming cards are damn quiet during gaming (and any worth recommending have passive fans except while gaming).

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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 12:58 pm 
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Thanks, I am indeed in Germany, so that would be nice. Apart from gaming, I'll only use the PC for the usual browsing, video streaming and some programming (but only small hobby projects). I'm pretty sure 8GB RAM is sufficient; that's what's in my current computer (ThinkPad W520), and I never felt I needed more.


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 3:20 pm 
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Here's a first cut at a build with the G4560 Pentium and 1050 Ti KalmX in the Define Nano S case. It came out to ~850 Euros with Win10 license.

Some comments...it's always fun trying to fit stuff into a mITX case...the Nano is larger than many, but still has restrictions. If you wanted to expand the case size a bit, there's the new Define C Mini for uATX and mITX. Less restrictions on PSU and cooler size.

- cooler: best in class for it's price/performance. It comes with a spacer for socket 1151 builds...you may or may not need it. Install outside the case with the spacer and if it doesn't tighten down (as in, you can move the cooler), then you don't need the spacers :).
- gpu: the case will accept 2 slot coolers and this is a 2 slot cooler. The bigger concern is the gfx card's height above the PCIe bracket...but, if you look at the case, it looks like there is plenty of room. Pic below.
- mobo: Not a lot of selections seen on partpicker for mini ITX....This Asrock board is reasonably priced, will have great BIOS level fan controls, and has an Intel NIC. It does have an older audio codec...could be fine..don't know how important audio quality is to you....boards higher in the stack may have better audio solutions...then again, if it really matters, you can go digital out and use a USB DAC.
- PSU: 160mm is the limit and this is 160mm...could be a tight fit. An alternative is go with Corsair's shorter SFX PSU and a SFX to ATX mount. There's also be quiet's excellent Straight Power 10 500CM (also 160mm).
- Case: I think the included front 140mm fan can be slid up/down. You'll want to get some directed airflow over the gfx card.
- Storage: Samsung 850 Evo is a great and reasonably priced OS/Apps SSD.


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:30 pm 
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Take a look at Raijintek Thetis
It is about the same size (less depth) as Fractal Define Nano and can take ATX, mATX, mITX motherboard. The older Styx is almost the same (not ATX) and maybe cheaper.
What I like with that case is that it has kind of two departments, one for GPU and one for CPU.

No problem to fit a Palit KalmX 1050 Ti that can get air from one or two top mounted fans (slow spinning then gaming and stopped then not).

CPU heat is exhausted by a bottom rear fan.


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:33 am 
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LongJan wrote:
Take a look at Raijintek Thetis
...snipped out...
CPU heat is exhausted by a bottom rear fan.

It suffers of the same Styx & Metis (and of both inverted ATX design and solid front cases) issue: it's an hot box, at least with stock cooling, and particularly for passive GPUs, and it cannot be improved easily.

What a shame no one out there want to rebuild the old NSK3480 in a more modern way.

A not solid front option is the Silverstone KL06, it might deserve a look.

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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:17 am 
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@LongJan, @quest_for_silence:

Thanks for suggesting (and debating) another case, but I think I'm really set on getting the Define Nano since I really like its looks and think that it's decent enough in terms of temperature and noise. Maybe not 100%, so if there were some case that was a lot more convincing, I might consider it; but given the reservations that Luca mentioned about the Thetis, I'd rather not consider it.

@CA_Steve:

Thanks for the configuration, I really appreciate the effort you put into it. Also I looked at the Pentium article you linked, as well as other benchmarks of this chip and agree that it is probably sufficient for my needs, and better value for money than the i3.

Some questions: For the motherboard, I had also looked at the MSI B250I GAMING PRO AC on pcpartpicker, which is around the same price as the ASRock you recommended. Are there any relevant differences between those two? Audio is not such a big issue for me, as long as it works :)

Regarding the CPU cooler, I had initially planned to first go with the stock cooler and see if it bothers me before going for an aftermarket cooler. But I'm not sure whether that makes sense, given that I would save on shipping if I order the aftermarket one together with the other stuff I need. What is the general consensus about the Intel stock coolers, are they tolerable or garbage?

Also, I have another question about the passive GPU. As you have pointed out, space doesn't seem to be an issue. But looking at pictures of the card and the case, I think that the card's heatsink in this case would be on its bottom side, while the best airflow through the case would seem to be on the top side, which seems odd to me (for actively cooled cards as well). Would that be a problem?


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:26 am 
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mobo: I like MSI (see my signature), but this board has an even older audio codec and a Realtek NIC. Asrock BIOS fan control is also better.

stock CPU cooler: For 50W class CPU, the stock cooler could be ok...depends on your level of noise sensitivity. Don't have any hard data.

gfx card cooler: That's the PCI spec in play. There's a limit to depth behind the slot...and that's why you'll want to place the single fan such that it blows directly over the card or get another front fan. While the PSU won't generate a lot of heat*, the area between the PSU and gfx card will be a potential hot spot and need directed cooling.

Your gaming power load will be ~130W. With this low load, the PSU fan won't turn on when you are playing games. So, the PSU will radiate ~13W.

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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:54 am 
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A potential conflict: Asrock in the past has focused on having PWM fan headers...to the point where there was anywhere from zero to only 1 maybe 2 case headers that could be voltage controlled. The two fractal fans are voltage controlled. You'll want to do a deep dive into the mobo manual and see if it has two voltage control headers.

Also, given the worst case heat load is in the 140W range, you won't need two front fans - hopefully the single front fan can be moved where you need it.

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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 8:14 am 
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CA_Steve wrote:
mobo: I like MSI (see my signature), but this board has an even older audio codec and a Realtek NIC. Asrock BIOS fan control is also better.


I'll go with the Asrock then, for the fan control and audio. But if you don't mind explaining, what's better about the Intel NIC?

CA_Steve wrote:
There's a limit to depth behind the slot...and that's why you'll want to place the single fan such that it blows directly over the card or get another front fan.


That makes sense. So, if we assume that the front fan is indeed adjustable, should the fan's hub be on the same height as the gap between the GPU and PSU?

As for the motherboard fan issues, I'll look into that after work.

I'm beginning to realize that PC building and parts selection is a bit more complicated than I had anticipated :)


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:18 am 
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quest_for_silence wrote:
It suffers of the same Styx & Metis (and of both inverted ATX design and solid front cases) issue: it's an hot box, at least with stock cooling, and particularly for passive GPUs, and it cannot be improved easily.

OP has already decided to use Fractal Define Nano and I know what happen then you disagree with Luca so I should just rest my case :)
However I just have to protest against that... hot box??? :?

Image

I am sure it also will work fine with the top fans as exhaust.
A fanless PSU would be perfect but I think semipassive is ok too.
And we was talking about 54W CPU and 75W GPU...


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:33 am 
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I've never had a driver problem with an Intel NIC. Can't say the same for Realtek.

Fan hub - well that's a dead zone for airflow :) I'd place the fan so the bottom aligns with the top of the PSU. Then, you get airflow over the PSU, the gfx card and straight to the rear of the case.

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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 4:44 am 
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LongJan wrote:
However I just have to protest against that... hot box??? :?

Yes, and there are also some data around for the Thetis, in french: those cases, as well as IME most of inverted ATX designs and closed front panel ones, run noticeably hotter than competitors.


LongJan wrote:
I am sure it also will work fine with the top fans as exhaust.

Bit-tech already did some tests about Metis and Styx, as well as our co-forumer edh with the Metis.
You may reverse the lower rear fan, and get some interesting figures but nothing definitive: particularly you may lower the CPU temp, but on the larger Styx that also leads to worsening the GPU one.

Adding more fans might be beneficial, but YMMV.

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Last edited by quest_for_silence on Fri Mar 17, 2017 5:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 5:25 am 
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Anytime a case requires cool air intake at the top of the case - which is the opposite of what naturally would happen - there will be a problem keeping it cool.

Can a fan be attached to exhaust out the top? Are you planning on using a blower video card?

I think the Fractal Design Define Nano S would be a much quieter system - the front intake is key, and the rear exhaust fan is at the top. And if that is not enough, you can add 1 or 2 top fans.

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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:14 am 
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NeilBlanchard wrote:
Anytime a case requires cool air intake at the top of the case - which is the opposite of what naturally would happen - there will be a problem keeping it cool.

With a bunch of fans in a small case I very much doubt there is such a thing as natural airflow.
However like I said it will also work fine with the top fans as exhaust and personally I would use it that way because I like negative airpressure.

Nevertheless, with 100-150W load I am sure any of those cases easily can be made both cool and quiet so it comes down to personal preference and aesthetics.

I like Styx/Thetis because with less depth it fits on my funiture :D And as a bonus I can use mATX motherbord :)

Back to the original topic:
As Steve already pointed out, if you use that Palit fanless VGA card in the Nano you must direct some airflow to it.
The card is 18cm long just 2cm more than the PSU and will sit in more or less air shadow.


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 12:42 pm 
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LongJan wrote:
Nevertheless, with 100-150W load I am sure any of those cases easily can be made both cool and quiet so it comes down to personal preference and aesthetics.

Yeah, overkill/brute force is always an option! :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 12:53 pm 
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LongJan wrote:
The card is 18cm long just 2cm more than the PSU and will sit in more or less air shadow.


Yeah, I'm a bit worried about that myself. Then again, it is just a 75 W card. But I might get something more powerful at some point. After all, upgrading is half of the fun, no?

This makes me wonder: Do the fans on on actively cooled cards pull fresh air onto the card or blow hot air away?


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:13 pm 
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gfx card fans are intakes - blowing onto the cooler/heatsink. So, the air pushes through the radiator fins.

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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:53 pm 
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Regarding fully passive cards... As long as the minimum fan speed of an actively cooled card is low enough, passive card seems rather pointless as they too do need some amount of airflow.

I'm not personally a fan of Nano S thanks to "wasted" space and PSU location but I'm not the one deciding. So if you'd like a case about half the size, such as the Metis PLUS or Jonsbo U2, they have no problems keeping a 120W gpu and an Ivy i7 cool and very quiet(spcr-certified).

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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:27 am 
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Smanci wrote:
such as the Metis PLUS

Oh! They addressed the main weak of the Metis, nice! :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 1:03 am 
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Man, I thought I had decided on at least one thing, and now you guys keep suggesting other cases :)

The Metis Plus is out because it seems to be only available with a window, which I don't want. But the U2 is interesting. Also, a friend of mine suggested the Node 304. Both seem to make better use of their interior space compared to the Define Nano.

However, the reason I initially eyed the Nano was because it is Fractal's smallest model with sound dampening, which the U2 and the Node 304 don't have.

Does the dampening make much of a difference? My friend has the Define R5, and it's really very quiet, but of course I don't know how much of that is due to the dampening material.

What do you think?


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 6:47 am 
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The material adds some weight to the panels which can help dampen vibration induced noise. With slow running fans and no spinning hard drive, your vibration induced noise will be pretty low. So, not a big difference for you.

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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:44 am 
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About sound dampening -trust Steve !!

I am afraid the Metis Plus is too small and would give you unnecessary hard work with cable routing and such things.

Fractal Node 304 is a nice case that I have been looking at many times. A couple of potential issues:
Length of GFX card / PSU -this is a well documented problem, just Google.

In the original layout, airflow is focused on hard drives and CPU. Will enough air enter through side vent for a passive GFX card?
Maybe if you run the front fans very slow or even keep them stopped.

Jonsbo/Cooltek U2
Haven't looked much on that one because I never found it available in my shops. I think front air intake is very restricted,
but perhaps with back fan and PSU as exhaust and the bottom free from cables and drives it will get enough air.


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:58 pm 
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dasKrokodil wrote:
Also, a friend of mine suggested the Node 304. Both seem to make better use of their interior space compared to the Define Nano.

In case, the Fractal Core 500 and Lian Li Q10 may be more sensible choices than the Node 304: check the relevant SPCR reviews.

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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:15 am 
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quest_for_silence wrote:
In case, the Fractal Core 500 and Lian Li Q10 may be more sensible choices than the Node 304: check the relevant SPCR reviews.


I'll look at the Lian Li. Why would you recommend the Core 500 over the Node 304?


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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:26 am 
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dasKrokodil wrote:
I'll look at the Lian Li. Why would you recommend the Core 500 over the Node 304?

Mostly: good/better value (usually), large fans only, better compatibility.
Please, Read The Fine Relevant Review. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Please help me configuring my quiet PC
PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:29 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2007 11:06 am
Posts: 160
Location: Sweden
I agree with Luca, Core 500 is better, but in my eyes it is so ugly and feels a bit cheap :cry:
Lian Li PC-Q10 is a really nice case but it is expensive and you didn't like windows. Well, that one has a window :shock:


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