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Thread: Ulti's Final Build - Mini ITX! [Beware: Many pictures]

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    Ulti's Final Build - Mini ITX! [Beware: Many pictures]

    Introduction (very long, feel free to skip to post 2)
    As some of you may have noticed, I joined this forum almost 2 years ago, rocking a E5200 and some cheap G31 board. Wanting to overclock, I got a P35 board and went a bit further.

    Just before christmas 2009, I got myself a "real" mid-end graphics card, the 4770. It was a massive improvement over the low profile 8600GT I had and allowed me to play games on 1280*1024 on high settings! Getting bored with my case, I changed to a NZXT M59 and rocked up the case with LED fans during christmas 2009. Not long after the new year, I got a new DFI P45-T2RS motherboard as it was now EOL so it was on Scan for a bargain! (£50/60 IIRC).

    Wanting to see what the AMD quad cores were like, I decided to move over to a Phenom II X4 955 system in Feb 2010, not even a month since I bought that P45 motherboard! During this month I got an Intel X25-V SSD too! It was sooooooo fast! Loved the performance that later down the line I got the X25-M and it was just as fast and I've kept it to the very day. That and my WD 640GB Black HDD is all that I've actually kept in my current build. 1 month down allowed me to get a a 24" LED monitor which I loved for watching 1080p stuff.

    3 months down the line, I ditched the AMD quad core and moved to an i7 system to try to increase my e-peen over 9000. I never thought that as an A level student I would be spending so much of my own money on a pc! I ventured into the world of cable braiding and although it wasn't brilliant I loved it (although I hated how long it took and the pain that was left in my hands after). I even grabbed a 5850. Man was it nice to brag about my i7 pc with 6GB DDR3 RAM and a 5850 even though almost noone knew wtf I was talking about.



    Another half a year down the line (Nov 2010), I decided I wanted to try out an mATX case and rebuilt my system in a Lian Li PC-V350 and only changed my ATX motherboard to an mATX motherboard. Also got rid of the 5850 for a 6850 before the price of the 5850 plummeted and pocketed a bit of cash.



    Now not even 2 months down I've decided to build an mini ITX system. This was mainly down to two reasons:
    -University made me realise there is more to life than sitting at home with an i7 and doing nothing with it.
    -Got a girlfriend and so pcs automatically receive less attention.

    I then proceeded to sell off my i7 system before Sandybridge came out and have managed to sell everything except the case.

    I decided the most strenuous task my pc would be doing would be playing League of Legends and even then, it's mostly cel shaded so it didn't require massive horsepower. I didn't require 4 cores so I decided the i3 was the right way to go for me. I didn't want to risk it with the graphics card though incase a game that I would love came out on the PC (highly unlikely as I'm not really an fps/rts fan, more jrpg but there aren't really any on the pc :S) so I decided to keep the 6850 as it's nice to have graphics power. I wanted the system to be small without paying over the top prices for it so an i3 mini ITX system was perfect for me. I really loved the look of ASRock Vision 3D 137B and it was ticking all the boxes for me as it was affordable and had an i3 chip but it only had a GT425M so I decided to put functionality over style.

    Well the intro's finally ended, sorry about the long intro!
    Last edited by Ulti; 10-11-2012 at 07:06 PM.

  2. #2
    Poor graduate. Ulti's Avatar
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    Re: Ulti's Final (hopefully) Build - Mini ITX!

    The Build

    First of, let me just apologise for the picture quality, I'm only using a point and shoot digital camera so the photos aren't going to be the best.

    Parts list: (note: these are the prices I roughly paid)
    CPU: i3 540 (£70)
    Motherboard: Gigabyte H55N-USB3 (£76)
    RAM: 4GB (2x2GB) Kingston 1333Mhz CL9 DDR3 (£30)
    Graphics: XFX 6850 Dual Fan Edition (£142)
    Storage: Intel X25-M 80GB (£105) and WD Caviar Black 640GB (£50)
    Case: Lian Li PC-Q11 (£85)
    PSU: Seasonic S12II-330W (£30)

    Total: £433 excluding storage as I already had them. Technically it was £291 before I bought the newer 6850. Including storage and graphics card it totals £588. A bit expensive I do have to say but the bang for buck isn't that bad.



    Boxshot! The case hadn't arrived yet so it wasn't included in that photo. Damn the snow!





    First up, the i3 540 with the stock cooler. I'm currently using the stock cooler and I HATE it, it's so loud and whines a hell load! I'd definitely advise anyone with the stock cooler to chuck it in the nearest bin because of how crap it is. It's amazingly thin though. That's probably why it performs so badly though.



    Next up, the Gigabyte H55N-USB3. The box is absoltely tiny! It's as deep as a normal motherboard box but it's height and width isn't much bigger than the 140mm fan box as shown above!

    Let's open it up!



    No space wasted at all in the box.



    Doesn't come with much, 2 SATA cables, backplate and some manuals. That's it. Really don't need more than that though.



    You don't really appreciate the size until you see it in real life.



    Sticker off. Not much cooling on the board, but it probably won't require much as there aren't that many crazy people who would run the i7 870 on a board like this. Those that would can probably afford to burn through 100 of these boards though.

    Notice how the PCI-E slot is perpendicular to the RAM slot with the CPU socket right in between though. Rather bad placement IMO as the CPU cooler will most likely interfere with RAM with tall heatsinks as well as the graphics card and that's not something you want.







    Just some size comparisons between mini ITX vs microATX vs ATX. Notice how microATX is pretty much the same as ATX with only a few PCI slots cut off and look how much smaller the mini ITX board is! Just over half the height of the ATX and just over two thirds in width.



    CPU goes in pretty simply.



    My super cheap Kingston RAM! Only cost £30 brand new for the 4GB! I thought it would be standard size though so I bought the heatsinks. They do fit fine though. Unfortunately one stick of RAM was faulty so I had to RMA it with Play which they handed finely.



    Comparison of regular DDR3 RAM with the Kingston mini ones. I can't believe they were that low in height and perform exactly the same! They even run really cool to the touch with little to no airflow over them. Wasted a tenner on the RAM heatsinks. Might stick them on one day though if they fit, unsure if they do.



    I doubt the RAM heatsinks will fit :S They are massively tall!







    Just some more pictures of the various heights.
    Last edited by Ulti; 05-01-2011 at 03:06 AM.

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  4. #3
    Poor graduate. Ulti's Avatar
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    Re: Ulti's Final (hopefully) Build - Mini ITX!

    As the case had not arrived yet and I had sold my i7 system, I decided to get the system up and running with my CoolIT Eco ALC. However, I knew this wasn't going to be simply plug and play.





    As you can see, the bracket is sitting on component and I didn't want to risk crushing it so I had to use a cooler with a different bracket. Luckily I still had my Noctua NH-U12P lying around.



    However it also suffered from the same problem.



    It was really easy to cut the rubber though so I proceeded to chip away until it fit nicely.





    The motherboard is dwarfed by the NH-U12P! It's not even that big either, imagine something like the DH-14 or whatever the massive expensive Noctua heatsink is called.



    I've always loved XFX's industrial urban sort of look, love the box design.





    Love how the 6850 only requires 1 PCI-E cable and runs so cool whilst providing excellent performance. Although the actual cooler is poor I love the design.









    I just find it a bit amusing to see how the cooler and graphics card dwarves the board. I'd love to see the 5970 and DH-14 paired up with this board, you probably wouldn't be able to see it haha.





    My trusty storage! The only components that I've retained!







    Lovely small Seasonic S12II 330W. Perfect for the components I've picked. Doesn't come with much, only the mains cable, case sticker, case screws and molex to floppy adapter as well as a manual. Would have been nice to see some cable ties but at £30 this is a steal! 80 Plus Bronze certification too!



    Some may say it's better to get a modular PSU but I don't think it's worth paying double the price as the cable lengths aren't too long and I'm using all the connectors except all the molex. I'm thinking of cutting them off later when I cable braid the PSU (provided I have time and ain't too lazy).



    Unfortunately the cable sleeving is stuck with glue though, it's going to make it slightly more difficult to sleeve.
    Last edited by Ulti; 05-01-2011 at 02:12 AM.

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  6. #4
    Poor graduate. Ulti's Avatar
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    Re: Ulti's Final (hopefully) Build - Mini ITX!

    The case arrived!











    Just comes packaged as all cases do. It is very light though!









    Very clean, simple understated look. Not as clean as the Fractal Design cases but it's as close as it gets. Constructed fully from aluminium though so it is a massive fingerprint magnet!

    Two USB3 headers in the front with a the usual blue power button and the red reset button. Also allows for a full size optical drive. I reckon they could have gone with a slim optical bay to cut down the height by a few centimetres. If they cut the whole thing out and made the case cheaper by perhaps a tenner it would have been even greater! Would save about 2 inches in height!



    Comes with the usual box of stuff, instructions, some weird brown piece of paper saying corrosion proof as well as a leaflet with other Lian Li products.



    Inside the box of stuff we have the Lian Li case badge, screws, stand offs (they're not in this picture though, not sure where I put them o.O), speaker, as well as extra USB headers.







    Just a size comparison with the Lian Li PC-V350. It's about 2 inches taller (I really wish they left out the optical drive now! It would have been shorter than the Lian Li PC-V350 without it!) It's quite a bit thinner and is no where near as deep as the Lian Li PC-V350.





    Inside you can see it's quite small, quite clean though. But you can see the cables are far too long. I'm not sure what Lian Li were thinking when they made the front panel connectors so long.



    Mounting the optical drive was as simple as it gets; unscrew the bracket, screw the optical drive in, pop the bracket back in and screw it back up. Done.





    The provided Lian Li fan is actually quite nice. It simply slides out with a little pull and comes with a fan guard on the inside and mesh on the other (intake) side. However I'm replacing it with:
    Last edited by Ulti; 05-01-2011 at 02:37 AM.

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  8. #5
    Poor graduate. Ulti's Avatar
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    Re: Ulti's Final (hopefully) Build - Mini ITX!





    The Thermalright X-Silent 140. It actually is silent. It's much quieter than then 6850 above on 10% fan. I can't hear it at all unless my ear is right up to it. It also moves quite a bit of air. Brilliant fan I have to say, it didn't cost anything crazy either, think it was £8. IIRC the Noctuas were over £10, not sure though. Hate the colours of the Noctua fans though. The fan is already braided so that's a nice touch and comes with rubber mounts as well as the regular case screws and molex adapter. However these are all unneeded.



    The mesh guard taken off.



    Just a regular fan guard.



    Thermaltake X-Silent 140 ready!



    Next up is mounting the HDD and SSD.



    Simply unscrew the bracket out of the case again.



    SSD is mounted on the bottom.



    The HDD is mounted using rubber rings on a screw that simply slides into the bracket.





    Storage mounted.



    Bracket goes back in pretty easily. To be fair I think it's quite unlikely that a person will use 2 SSDs and 2 HDDs, I reckon they could have got rid of the bracket and just allowed the mounting of the HDD or SSD to the case floor, would have again saved a bit of height. Even if it didn't save any height it would give the graphics card more room for the airflow.









    I was hoping to get a cooler but unfortunately the cooler I want (The Arctic Cooler Freezer 11 LP) still hasn't arrived in UK yet so I've just had the motherboard wired up sitting on a notebook in the case.

    As I could not screw the side panels up easily (well I'd have to find something for the motherboard to sit on and I was too lazy haha) I just left them lying in the case box and had the PC sitting like that for a few days and the 6850 fan really got to me as it was semi-open air. It wasn't exactly loud but I could just hear the motor whine and the PSU and intake fan was silent so it was quite obvious. This meant I had to either change the fan or change the graphics card or just live with it.









    Luckily a dual fan edition of the 6850 came out just in time and it was on Scan's Today Only too! It was the 23rd and I was so lucky to receive it the day after on the 24th! Perfect I'd have to say.
    Last edited by Ulti; 05-01-2011 at 02:49 AM.

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  10. #6
    Poor graduate. Ulti's Avatar
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    Re: Ulti's Final (hopefully) Build - Mini ITX!









    The 2 fans are actually silent! It's hard to believe 2 fans are more silent than one but it's true. Even when the fan speed goes up it's very quiet still. In the last photo you can see that the dual fan edition has much more metal than the puny original cooler. It cools much better too. IIRC it just about hit 60 degrees whilst the original hits 70. Although it's only a 10c difference, the reduction in noise levels was worth it IMO.



    I gave up waiting for the cooler for now and used the stock cooler. Little did I know, this was a bad idea! I didn't think it would be as loud as it is; if I knew it was this loud I would have just stuck with my motherboard-sitting-on-a-notepad-whilst-resting-in-case mount.







    Doesn't look too messy so far. Notice how the USB 3.0 cables have to be routed to the back of the motherboard as there is no universal onboard motherboard connector yet.

    Time to bring in the PSU!











    The PSU just mounts onto a bracket and simply slides in and then you screw the bracket in with thumbscrews. I was a bit stupid to wire the connectors up without realising I wouldn't be able to slide the PSU in without pulling all the connectors up again so it was a bit annoying as I had to leave the PSU half hanging whilst doing the connectors up. Wasn't exactly hard though. I tucked in the unused molex cables in the bottom right of the case. As I said earlier I will probably cut these off though as they will never be used.







    Decided to stick the Lian Li badge on the bottom mid as it looks pretty nice there. With the side panels back up it looks very tidy haha.

    Well that's all for now!
    Last edited by Ulti; 05-01-2011 at 03:00 AM.

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  12. #7
    Poor graduate. Ulti's Avatar
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    Re: Ulti's Final (hopefully) Build - Mini ITX!

    To do:

    1. Wait for the Arctic Cooling Freezer 11 LP to arrive in the UK.
    2. Sleeve the PSU and cut the molex cables off and sort out cable management a bit more.

    Not much more to do but uni will be starting again next week so I may not even sleeve the PSU if it gets busy. Taking a while for my sleeving to arrive from mdpc-x though
    Last edited by Ulti; 05-01-2011 at 03:01 AM.

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    Bows out! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    Re: Ulti's Final (hopefully) Build - Mini ITX!

    How much did the build come to?


    Those despicable Elk,stealing the pond weed!

  14. #9
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    Re: Ulti's Final (hopefully) Build - Mini ITX!

    those ramsinks are pure comedy, I would leave them off dude!

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  16. #10
    Poor graduate. Ulti's Avatar
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    Re: Ulti's Final (hopefully) Build - Mini ITX!

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    How much did the build come to?
    Quote Originally Posted by Ulti View Post
    Total: £433 excluding storage as I already had them. Technically it was £291 before I bought the newer 6850. Including storage and graphics card it totals £588. A bit expensive I do have to say but the bang for buck isn't that bad.
    Quote Originally Posted by Biscuit View Post
    those ramsinks are pure comedy, I would leave them off dude!
    Didn't think they'd be that tall. Not really a use for them anyway as the RAM runs surprisingly cool, I don't remember my Crucial Ballistix Tracers in the i7 rig running this cool oddly enough.

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    Re: Ulti's Final (hopefully) Build - Mini ITX!

    Lovely build mate, Only thing I would say is have you considered spinning the PSU round and going fanless on the CPU cooler?

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  19. #12
    Poor graduate. Ulti's Avatar
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    Re: Ulti's Final (hopefully) Build - Mini ITX!

    Well I'm not too fond of going fanless/relying on the PSU intake in a case this small. Just hoping the Arctic Cooling Freezer 11 LP gets stocked soon somewhere! Might have to order it directly from Arctic Cooling and get it shipped from HK otherwise :S Or I could get a Shuriken I guess and see what it's like fanless, if it doesn't perform so well I guess I could get a slip stream fan too.

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    • Pob255's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Asus M5A99X EVO
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      • PhenomII x4 955 & CM Hyper 212+
      • Memory:
      • 2x 4gb Corsair Vengence 1600mhz cas9
      • Storage:
      • 250gb SATA Westerndigital + 500gb samsung +1tb Samsung
      • Graphics card(s):
      • Asus GTX560ti CuII
      • PSU:
      • Be Quiet E9 680w
      • Case:
      • HAF 912+
      • Operating System:
      • W7 Pro
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell 21" ips something

    Re: Ulti's Final Build - Mini ITX! [Beware: Many pictures]

    Very nice Ulti

    In a build this small the PSU is crying out to have it's cables cut to length not just excess cables removed.
    The right angled sata power connectors are very easy to remove and reposition, just cover the wires where they were to make sure there's no chance of a short.
    This is where modular psu's really come in, not just not needing to use excess cables but also far easier to make up custom cable lengths.

    As to the stock fan being loud, check your PWM settings in the BIOS, a target temperature of 40-50c is fine for a cpu and set the starting fan speed as low as it will go.
    Dependant if Gigabyte has got decent PWM setting in the BIOS

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    Ulti (06-01-2011)

  22. #14
    Poor graduate. Ulti's Avatar
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    • Ulti's system
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      • Memory:
      • Team Group Delta 32GB
      • Storage:
      • Corsair MP510 960GB
      • Graphics card(s):
      • Palit GTX 1070 8GB
      • PSU:
      • SilverStone SX500-LG V2.0
      • Case:
      • Jonsbo UMX3 TG Version
      • Operating System:
      • Windows 10 Pro
      • Monitor(s):
      • AOC Agon AG322QC4 31.5"
      • Internet:
      • Plusnet Fibre Extra 80/20

    Re: Ulti's Final Build - Mini ITX! [Beware: Many pictures]

    Quote Originally Posted by Pob255 View Post
    Very nice Ulti

    In a build this small the PSU is crying out to have it's cables cut to length not just excess cables removed.
    The right angled sata power connectors are very easy to remove and reposition, just cover the wires where they were to make sure there's no chance of a short.
    This is where modular psu's really come in, not just not needing to use excess cables but also far easier to make up custom cable lengths.

    As to the stock fan being loud, check your PWM settings in the BIOS, a target temperature of 40-50c is fine for a cpu and set the starting fan speed as low as it will go.
    Dependant if Gigabyte has got decent PWM setting in the BIOS
    I don't trust myself with modding the cables though. I received my package from mdpc-x today but just took a quick look and put it back in the box haha. Might be a while before I actually sleeve the cables.

    The thing with a modular PSU is that they're generally longer, and even if they're not, the connector plugs also add length on the PSU. The cheapest fully modular PSU was the Seasonic one for £60 on Scan, a short cable kit is also £20. That totals £80, I'd rather keep the £50 and lose a bit of aesthetics. Tbh I'm not too fond of the modular connectors on a build that small anyway.

    I've checked the PWM settings in the BIOS, it's pretty poor. Just has "on" or "off" pretty much, can't control the speed/temp etc. I saw someone get an AXP-140 with the same mobo, case and CPU though and they're running it fanless so I'll see what their temps are once they post it up and I might consider it. It's pretty expensive though, £40 IIRC with no fan.

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    Re: Ulti's Final Build - Mini ITX! [Beware: Many pictures]

    Very nice case and neat external look, classy, although it looks a bit tight (for me). Shame about the USB pass through cables, not your fault though.

    Lian Li cases seem v nice, if a little pricey....

    Thanks for posting the photos.

    Chunks

  24. Received thanks from:

    Ulti (07-01-2011)

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    Re: Ulti's Final Build - Mini ITX! [Beware: Many pictures]

    Looks good, and the pics are quite clear.
    Deo Adjuvante non Timendum

  26. Received thanks from:

    Ulti (07-01-2011)

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