Have you looked at Silverstone's TJ08? Very similar in size, layout and price (although it doesn't come with its own PSU) to the NSK-3480. You could easily run a passive PSU in this case (unlike the Antec), because there's no separate compartment for it. I've personally used a Fortron Zen (well, a SilentMaxx, which is basically just a rebadged Zen) in this case, and had no heat issues. There was no audible difference over my Corsair HX520, so I ended up using it in a different build instead, but it's entirely doable.
Yes, the TJ08 looks good, even though it's aluminum and just a tad larger. The side intake is definitely better positioned. One downside is that it doesn't come with a PSU made with a tiny case in mind, so cable management would be harder. The Phantom for example would definitely cause some grief with the cables.
I was in the same boat. I wanted to connect 2 monitors and a TV to my mATX computer. What I ended up doing was simply adding a nVIDIA PCI graphics card (6200) to go with my 7950GT.
I would ignore the Matrox cards completely as they're all overpriced, underperforming junk, imo.
I'm considering making do with the integrated graphics of the motherboard, if
it happens to play nice with a discrete card. I haven't been able to find boards with DVI yet, that would still support PCIe 16x for a discrete card. The Gigabyte GA-G33M-S2H would have VGA, DVI and HDMI but only PCIe x4
worth of bandwidth is left for the x16 slot. I'm considering the GA-G33M-S2 now (I don't need the RAID on -DS2R). You are right, the Matrox cards aren't worth it - I was only considering them as some of them could be plugged in PCIe x1 slots.
I'm not sure the P5K-VM has all the features you're looking for, but it's the best in terms of BIOS options of all the mATX boards for c2d that I've gone through, and probably the only serious overclocker for c2d mATX, along with one from Gigabyte (I forget the name, but overclocking isn't a priority in this case anyway)
Hey Sorbet, thanks for your hands-on info!
What I want to see from the microATX motherboard is full-speed PCIe x16, DVI instead of VGA (or in addition, as long as it doesn't rob PCIe lanes), true Gigabit Ethernet (on PCIe), sane connector placement especially since it's meant for tight places and overall reliability. Oh, and a northbridge cooling solution that allows for an HR-03(+) to wrap the graphics card, just in case I need it - sadly, there's not enough vertical space to do this
in a microATX case, and the Ninja blocks the other way too so these (VM-101
) aren't options either unless I change the CPU cooler (unlikely).
I got a NeoHE 500W for free not long ago, put that in, and although not spectacularly quiet, it is not annoying over the rest of the system.
Which brings me to the noise aspect; it's not silent. I had the same components in my Solo, complete with the undervolted Nexus fans, and the noise difference is quite noticeable. Everyone around me assures me I'm insane, but the noise went from unnoticeable to quite noticeable.
Dang, how hard might it be... I'm thinking very slow fans for exhaust, Ninja, possibly PSU (swapped for the most silent I can find) and possibly an equally silent fan on an aftermarket GPU cooler. If it's gasping for air, I will make holes. For the record, I keep my P180 door open, because as soon as I close it, the idle temperatures start climbing from 36 to over 40. The 5.25" slot covers are open so the three bays provide a direct intake to the CPU heatsink. I suspect there will be a similar disadvantage with either of these mATX cases, the 3480 or even the TJ08. The Puget C2D
build had a T2400 in it and it still was rather warm. Of course, the position of the heatsink was different from most systems. In my case it would be right under the PSU - this is why I'm considering a traditional PSU with a 80mm fan I would swap, and make an intake duct for it - a NeoHE perhaps? I'm hoping it would be enough to keep it completely inaudible with the right fan, and then I could concentrate on the rest of the system. The Phantom would probably affect CPU temps as it runs a lot hotter, even in my P180 with a dedicated slow fan for it in the bottom chamber. I admit I have only tried it in this one case though.
Running the case fans (1 92mm and 1 120mm, both Nexus) at 5v shows little improvement in noise, and significant increases in temperatures, especially for the videocard which needs air as it is close to the bottom-mounted HDD, and that's despite running the card underclocked at idle.
The HDD should be an easy component as long as I can find an unobstructive way to fix it in place, e.g. on some foam, as it's in the Quiet Drive. What I'm mostly concerned is that the slow, inaudible speed of the fans might indeed not be enough in one of those cases. I guess adding an extra 120mm in there would not increase the noise at all, at least not perceptably, and hopefully allow me to find a quiet and comparably cool system. I'm anxious to try it out but reluctant to expend money and effort in testing them both.
Edit: Asus P5E-VM HDMI
looks rather promising. The manual doesn't state how the PCIe lanes are distributed, though. Only a few online stores seem to carry it right now, seems new - and pricy!