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Thread: Downsizing to a SFF case...

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    Senior Member cptwhite_uk's Avatar
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    Downsizing to a SFF case...

    I'm contemplating downsizing my current rig to make it more portable for LANs. My idea is to cannibalise as many of my current components as possible (to keep costs down) and make a portable quad core gaming rig around a SFF case.

    Before I go any further my current rig is:

    Green = Will keep
    Orange = Hope to keep (unless you persuade me otherwise)
    Red = Needs to change

    Antec P182 case
    Asus P5K-E motherboard

    Intel Q6600 (G0)
    Xigmatek HDT-S1283 Cooler
    Corsair DDR2 4Gb (2x2Gb)
    1x Optical Drive
    1x 750Gb Samsung F1 Spinpoint (3.5")
    1x 80Gb Intel X-18M Solid State Drive

    Sapphire 4850X2 2Gb (I know, I know...!)
    Corsair VX 550W
    1x 2.5" Multi-card reader

    My budget is about £500 total (although this isn't a strict budget, but I wouldn't go far beyond it)

    I've had a look at what's available from Lian Li and Silverstone, and the SG03 or SG04 look good along with the NT06 cooler. Looking at reviews I should also be able to re-use my 4850X2 in there.

    I would definitely prefer to stick with the Q6600 and DDR2 for the time being (as long as I can achieve an OC to about 3.2Ghz with the chosen motherboard) as the performance it gives at that clock I think is absolutely ample for my needs. Although if there's good reason to switch I'm happy to hear arguments to the contray ...just with the price of RAM at the moment I don't think upgrading these components is going to be within my budget contraints.

    With all that in mind I'll be after:
    • A high quality compatible mATX motherboard
    • Recommendations for CPU Fan cooler (anyone used the Silverstone Suscool 121?)
    • A high efficiency modular PSU (550W or above)
    • Recommendations for alternatives to the SG03 / SG04
    • Potential alternatives to the 4850X2 / Q6600


    Once the project is being built I will post pictures to document the build, so, any thoughts

  2. #2
    Bows out! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    Re: Downsizing to a SFF case...

    The main issue with the Silverstone SG01,SG02,SG03 and SG04 is the fact that the PSU acts as the main system exhaust.

    I would look at one of these cases when they are available in the UK:

    http://www.lan-gear.com/microATX.php

    http://www.semiaccurate.com/2010/06/...fortress-case/

    The other alternative is to get a smaller and lighter ATX case such as the Lian Li PC-A05NB:

    http://www.kustompcs.co.uk/acatalog/info_1067.html

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/207846...edium=products

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?W...source=froogle
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 19-06-2010 at 07:46 PM.


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    Re: Downsizing to a SFF case...

    Possible choices:

    Case: Lian Li PC-V351B £85.06
    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-G31M-ES2 £35.38
    PSU: 650W Seasonic X-650 £123.77 OR 650W Fractal Design Newton R2 £94.93
    Total: £215.37 OR £244.71

    I struggled to find a decent mATX 775 board that was in stock, so that puts me off the above option.

    However, the below I have configured to strike a good balance between power and silence, a significant factor when it comes to SFF. The RAM should be step up although in order to keep the heat and power down you may suffer a drop in CPU power, although it should OC to about 3.0 to 3.2 GHz without exceeding the capacities of the (excellent) passive cooler. Motherboard has USB3 and SATA3. The PSU was chosen for delivering a good wattage but being about the quietest in its power category. It may well be that the 4850X2 will negate the efforts on the heat and noise front, although when idling it should be fine.

    Case: Lian Li PC-V351B £85.06
    Motherboard: Asus M4A88TD-M EVO £85.75
    CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 610e £119.39
    Cooler: Titan TTC-NK95H/S (fanless) £15.92
    RAM: 4GB (2x 2GB) G.Skill Eco Series DDR3-1600MHz 7-8-7-20 £105.99
    PSU: 650W Fractal Design Newton R2 £94.93
    Fan #1: 120mm Akasa Apache Black Ultra Silent 6.9 dB(A) - 26.5 CFM £12.86
    Fan #2: 80mm Sharkoon 1000 "Golf Ball" Ultra Quiet 8.9 dB(A) - 11.4 CFM £6.03

    Total: £525.93

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    Herr Doktor Oetker, ja!!! pollaxe's Avatar
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    Re: Downsizing to a SFF case...

    Nice-looking cases, there, Cat.

    I own two SFF PCs - one in a Silverstone SG04-H case and the other in a Lian Li A05NB as mentioned above. Both run quad core Core2 chips (Q6600 in the SG04 and Q6700 in the Lian Li, both at stock.) I have Corsair H50 coolers in both cases and they work a treat though fitting the H50 to the SG04 was a bit snug (there's a thread here where I posted my experience.) The H50 has proven to be a very good cooler for my smaller cases.

    I'm constantly amazed by the space inside the Lian Li; it has a full ATX board in there and though I like both cases very much, I'd say you have far more options with the Lian Li and the airflow on it is particularly good too (that said, I haven't had any real problems with the SG04 either.)

    Anyway, hth a bit with some experiences with both cases.

  5. #5
    Senior Member cptwhite_uk's Avatar
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    Re: Downsizing to a SFF case...

    CAT - I *really* like the Lan Gear option posted, and was aware of it, but it doesn't look like it's available to buy in Europe right now? I've e-mailed the address given on the site to clarify the situation on that. If I could source one I could probably keep the Xigmatek cooler and put the cost saving towards the increased cost of the Da-Box (Lan-gear option). Going off the price in dollars it's about £108 + Shipping + VAT ...ouch. Update: Just had an e-mail back from Lan Gear ....185 euro delivered, available mid-July. OUCH!!

    I've put together a size comparison of the various cases:


    To me the SG03 has the best overall shape and form, while I like the Da Box, it's foot print is just too large for where I want to put it. The Lian Li A05NB is just too similar in size to the P182 for my liking - no wonder there's plenty of room! I think the idea of a Corsair H50 may be a good one though.

    Skulltrail -I've used the Gigabyte board myself (it's in my HTPC) and it's a fine little board. I might just bite the bullet and use it if I can't find a better alternative. I do know it's RAM multiplier is somewhat limited though (think it's x2.66 lowest setting) which would equate too:

    Q6600 = 266 x9 = 2.4Ghz
    DDR800 = 800/2.66 = 300FSB Max before overlocking = 300FSB x 9 = 2.7Ghz before I need to start overclocking the RAM :\

    I'm also taking the size of the PSU's into consideration and notice the ATX spec doesn't qualify the length - they vary between 140mm to 180mm. Obviously I'm looking to ensure it's as small as possible and these have caught my attention:

    EMD625AWT II - 625W Enermax Modu82+ II
    ELT620AWT-ECO II - 620W Enermax LibertyECO II
    FD-NEWTONR2-650 - 650W Fractal Design Newton R2 (confirmation it's 140mm long)
    625W Enermax MODU82+ EMD625AWT

    I still think I'd rather keep the Q6600 and 4850X2 for now, based around the SG03/SG04 with maybe the H50 cooler and one of the above PSUs. Just need to find a suitable motherboard, surely DFI have something in their range...
    Last edited by cptwhite_uk; 19-06-2010 at 07:41 PM.

  6. #6
    Bows out! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    Re: Downsizing to a SFF case...

    The SG03 and SG04 cases will vent all the hot air from your CPU and HD4850X2 through your PSU. AFAIK,the HD4850X2 cooler does not vent the hot air out of the case. At least the SG01 and SG02 will not do this.

    I suggested the Lian Li PC-A05NB as it only weighs between 4KG to 5KG so it should not be too heavy to move around.


    Those despicable Elk,stealing the pond weed!

  7. #7
    Senior Member cptwhite_uk's Avatar
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    Re: Downsizing to a SFF case...

    Not sure if that's stricty true CAT, sure there's no suction but there's a lot of ventilation for the "positive pressure" to vent from. Still it's not ideal I realise that.

  8. #8
    Bows out! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    Re: Downsizing to a SFF case...

    Remember that an HD4850X2 has high power consumption at load and will hence produce a lot of heat.

    Perhaps a PCI exhaust fan will help vent some of the hot air out of the case.


    Those despicable Elk,stealing the pond weed!

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    Re: Downsizing to a SFF case...

    I hate to suggest it but, the NZXT Vulcan Micro ATX case? will fit a micro ATX board, full size cooler and 2 5970s if you wished.

    Case Dimensions
    Case w/ Handle : 406mm (D) x 180mm (W) x 422.5mm (H) 16" x 7" x 16.6"
    Case : 406mm (D) x 180mm (W) x 380mm (H) 16" x 7" x 14.9"
    Case Material : Steel

    *Edit* Bah lan gear told me June in their email to me lol.
    Last edited by Jasp; 24-06-2010 at 01:23 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member MaddAussie's Avatar
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    Re: Downsizing to a SFF case...

    If you dont mind going Mini ITX how about the Lian Li Mini-Q PC-Q08?



    Although the only place that has it in stock is Overclockers

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    Re: Downsizing to a SFF case...

    I'm looking at the Antec P180 mini to rehouse my mATX machine
    Looks a solid case and generally quiet

  12. #12
    Senior Member cptwhite_uk's Avatar
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    Re: Downsizing to a SFF case...

    Keep the suggestions coming. The NZXT Vulcan looks interesting. I like the case layout a lot, although it seems it will have issues with dust and noise bleeding out. The comments regarding the cases easy scratching and flimsy panels are worrying aswell.

    The look is not exactly my style either. Which is a shame really, it seems to tick all the major points for a case this size and then fall down on the basics - build quality, dust filtering, simple design asthetics.

    However the price is very tempting, and the weight at 5.8Kg is excellent too and comparible to the SG04 at 6Kg. I want the internal layout of the Vulcan and the exterior look of the SG04

    Mad Aussie - I've looked at that case but isn't Mini ITX going to be a limiting factor in building a gaming system - i.e. restricted choice for components and overclocking?

    Shakesc - Yes they will be a solid case for sure, but at 9.5Kg, it's much heavier than either the SG04 or Vulvan, and it also doesn't have a carry handle so it's no where near as portable. For reference the P183 full size tower is 14Kg.
    Last edited by cptwhite_uk; 29-06-2010 at 01:22 PM.

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    Re: Downsizing to a SFF case...

    Thats why its £55 pound though lol, as apposed to £90 for the SG04 or £115 for the SG04 in black with handle.

    Only other case i can suggest is the Qmicra V2, this is a monster of a case with a monster price tag to match lol.

    http://www.pcdesignlab.com/smf/index.php?topic=485.0

    They retail at around $280 and they only make so many in a production run, next is july i think.

  14. #14
    Senior Member cptwhite_uk's Avatar
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    Re: Downsizing to a SFF case...

    I've actually e-mailed NZXT about whether the RH side panel would fit onto LH side, so you at least don't have a massive dust entrance and flimsy side panel. I would probably add a 92mm fan to the back and replace the 2 supplied and fill in the 1 spare bay with low RPM high quality 120mm fans as well.

    Is there any reason you couldn't mount the PSU with the fan facing up, that would also suck the warm air out of the case and provide mean you've got some pretty decent air flow through the case I would've thought.

    Do we know if a Corsair H50 could be installed, with the spare 120mm fan bay on the top of the case for fitting the H50's fan/heatsink?
    Last edited by cptwhite_uk; 29-06-2010 at 04:06 PM.

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    Re: Downsizing to a SFF case...

    Just reading some reviews apparently it will fit if you remove the lower HD cage and place it in favour of the 120mm intake fan, though i think this might be slightly dependent on the GFX card fitted because of the length.

    Pic here http://www.nzxt.com/forum/showthread...an-mount/page2

  16. Received thanks from:

    cptwhite_uk (29-06-2010)

  17. #16
    Senior Member cptwhite_uk's Avatar
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    Re: Downsizing to a SFF case...

    Thanks for that

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