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Thread: [Build log] Back to basics - NZXT S340 (ft. Thermaltake Smart SE PSU)

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    [Build log] Back to basics - NZXT S340 (ft. Thermaltake Smart SE PSU)

    Well here I am, back again with another build log. It seems I just can't avoid tinkering with my systems at least once a year. Whether it be upgrading, downgrading or even side grading.

    This time I'm going from ITX back to the good old basic yet massive ATX side.

    Hexites, I present to you, the NZXT Source 340!



    (Note: That image is photoshopped with my amateur skills.. I know there's a radiator in the picture sitting there not doing anything!)

    I'm not sure why I wanted to go back to an ATX build, temps and noise were completely fine with my ITX build but I guess I just couldn't resist the basic, yet clean look of this box. I was very happy to see it previewed but when it finally appeared on Scan, the ETA was for late October. I ended up ordering some parts off eBay anyway as I managed to grab some great deals through last minute sniping. Thankfully, to my surprise, Scan managed to ship the case out on the 9th and I received it on the day after!

    I'm a sucker for the monotone black and white colour scheme but I do love a splash of red too so those are the colours my build will primarily be. No flashy LEDs this time around though. I'm so done with that.

    Here's the parts list:

    CPU: Intel i5 4570 - £90 (2nd hand, eBay)
    MSI H97 Gaming 3 - £80 (new, Scan)
    RAM: Samsung Green 16GB (4x4GB) - £50 (Had already) + £40 (2nd hand, eBay)
    Storage: Samsung 830 256GB SSD x2 - £125 (Had already) + £50 (2nd hand, Amazon)
    Graphics card: MSI GTX 750 Ti Gaming - £90 (2nd hand, eBay)
    Case: NZXT Source 340 - £55 (new, Scan)
    PSU: Thermaltake Smart SE 530W - £40 (new, Scan)
    Cooler: Phanteks PH-TC12DX Red - £25 (2nd hand, eBay)
    OS: Windows 8 64 Bit Pro - £15 (Had already)

    Total: £660

    I know my system is rather unbalanced - I'll probably upgrade to the GTX 960 once there's more info on that. I don't play any of the newest games so I've actually been completely fine with the GTX 750 Ti.

    I wish I got the Phanteks in white or black though, it would have suited the build more as the red looks slightly off along with the rest of the components.

    Well without further ado, here's a complimentary shot of the components. (Excuse my photoshop skills, I recently upgraded to Elements 12 and I've just been experimenting a bit.)





    I do love the box art for the NZXT Source 340. On one side, you have the white version, on the other side, you have the black version. Gives off a minimalistic and premium feel to me.

    Out comes the case:









    You might ask, "but where does the optical disk drive go?". The answer to that is "the grave". They're pretty much obsolete now with USB sticks and the internet.

    Not having an ODD means the case can be rather compact, it probably has one of the smallest depths out of all the ATX cases.

    Out of the box, the case comes with 2x NZXT 120mm fans installed onto the top and back bays, with no fans in the 2x 120mm fan bays. I'm not sure why NZXT have gone a bit backward with not having 2 fan bays at the top or 3 fan bays in the front but I imagine it's due to size constraints in the top and due to the power supply cover in the bottom.

    You can see there's a raised bar in the middle of the case - NZXT call this the cable management bar as it's used to hide your untidy cables. IMO, this actually works better than conventional grommets as you can see quite a bit of the cabling coming out of the grommet whereas the bar will hide more of the cabling. It's all personal preference though.

    There's a large cutout on the back of the motherboard tray, which is a pretty standard feature nowadays. On the rear of the case, you can see that there is a blank space next to the PCI-E bracket. I guess this is due to cost cutting. At the bottom, we see that you can only put the PSU in with the adapter, there's no space to slide in the PSU from the other side.

    A point worth mentioning is that the case is over 90% steel, only the front tabs to attach the front panel is plastic. It does feel pretty sturdy to me.

    Onto the components:



    The black and red theme is probably overdone in the PC hardware market now, but it's always nice to have more choice. MSI have been gaining a lot of appeal lately with there Gaming motherboard series and you can see why.

    Contrary to the glossy black standard, MSI have gone for a matte black PCB which looks very clean and slick. Unlike the older G43/G65 Gaming series with their brownish PCB, the Gaming 3/5/7 series uses an actual black PCB. Even though it is only a H97 board, it still comes with support for M.2 drives and all the necessities that I'll need. I believe it can even OC as there was a bug in the H97 boards that allowed OCing but Intel asked manufacturers to patch it in the latest BIOS versions. Unfortunately I do not have an unlocked processor to try overclocking.



    When I took this photo I only had two sticks of the RAM, the other was still in the post and I was too impatient.. This set of trusty Samsung RAM has served me well but there are times where I'm hitting 6-7 GB of RAM when I'm heavily multitasking so I thought I'd just grab another 8GB on the safe side. These RAM sticks only use 1.35V so they run cool to the touch, no need for heatsinks. They're also low profile so they won't interfere with anything and they're barely higher than the memory clips themselves - again leading to a minimalistic look.



    A shot of the i5 4570. CPUs aren't very interesting.. They've looked the same for years now but I guess if it's working fine why change it I'm not sure what the HWL stands for, I've googled it but didn't find anything related to CPUs. It did come off with a quick rub from a towel dipped in alcohol though but I forgot to take a picture, d'oh.



    2 sticks of RAM and CPU installed. I do love the low profile Samsung RAM.



    It's been a while since I used a tower cooler. First time I used one that came in red too! The cooler itself is actually pretty slim and only has 4x 6mm heatpipes, but it should be enough to keep an i5 cool.



    Here's the cooler installed. Wasn't too difficult to install the cooler. Wish I could say the same about the fans though - the fan clips were a bit of a nightmare to hook through but once I got the hang with one, I managed to do it with the other three without too much trouble. The top plate on the cooler to hide the heatpipes is pretty neat.



    Woo, the rest of the RAM arrived.



    The GTX 750 Ti came to join the party. A little bit dusty as I've already had it for several months. That cooler is really overkill for the GTX 750 Ti though - it barely produces any heat in the first place. The nicely overclocked version by MSI manages to actually do better slightly than my MSI HD7850 1GB in most games. I can't wait to see how the GTX 960 performs. The GTX 970 is tempting but I don't need that much graphics power, even if I do game on 1440p.

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    Re: [Build log] Back to basics - NZXT Source 340 (ft. Thermaltake Smart SE)

    As the Thermaltake Smart SE PSU is only aimed at countries that use 230V, I'll post a few more pictures of it as there aren't really any reviews for the PSU as it's new and most well respected PSU reviewers like JG are based in the US so this PSU most likely won't be reviewed. I chose the PSU primarily due to the flat black cables. I've had my fun with sleeved cables and I feel they're actually too bulky now. The PSU has 41A on the 12V rail, meaning it can deliver up to 492W there.



    Upon opening the box for the 530W version, you can see a bag containing the cables, a kettle lead for us Brits along with some manuals. If you scroll back to the box shot, you may have noticed it isn't 80 Plus certified and it has it's own 87% Efficiency sticker - this is because to become 80 Plus certified, a PSU has to support both 115V and 230V, which this PSU doesn't support. However, assuming the claims of it being 87% efficient on certain loads are true, this PSU would gain a 80 Plus Bronze certification if it supported 115V. The fact that the PSU only comes with a 3 year warranty implies that it probably uses Chinese capacitors for the secondary ones but you could probably guess that as it's a £40 modular PSU. They probably wouldn't be making any profit if the PSU was using all Japanese capacitors, was modular and came with a 5 year warranty.

    I do need to point out that this PSU is probably one of the loudest ATX units that I've owned in the past years. I don't have a way of measuring the temperature of the PSU, but it seems to run very cool but the fan is on a higher than needed speed. I guess Thermaltake chose to design the fan curve like this to ensure the PSU can last as long as possible as heat most likely shortens a PSU's lifespan. For me, the fan is actually the loudest component in the PC - the case fans on 700 RPM and CPU fans on 900 RPM, along with the GPU fan on 900 RPM are almost inaudible though and they never spin up. Thankfully the PSU's fan never spins up too under a load of 130W. Unfortunately I do not have any power hungry hardware to test if the PSU fan gets louder with a higher load but I wouldn't be surprised if it did.



    After taking everything out of the box, it's nice to see that Thermaltake have provided some cable ties too and oddly enough, a European cable was also included. I guess someone figured it wasn't worth the time to take out the European cable out and just shoved a kettle lead into the box.



    The PSU comes with a nice selection of cables, which should be enough to power most systems. You can see the 24pin and 8pin ATX cables are hardwired and then 5 cables are provided - 2 of which are 6+2 pin PCI-E cables, 2 cables with 3x SATA power on each, along with 1 that has 3x molex connectors on it.

    Well time to get building!



    The NZXT accessories pack seems pretty empty. Not sure if there was a printing error or if my pack was a dud but the leaflet said there were 10x cable ties included, but I only received 4. Not a problem for me as I have a massive pack of cable ties but for those without any, that would probably leave them disappointed. Included are a nut for the motherboard standoffs, motherboard screws and 2.5" drive screws.





    Once the motherboard is in, there's not much space around it. The motherboard, cooler, RAM and GPU housed in the case looks to be right at home.



    Here you can see that I've moved the fan from the top to the front to act as an intake. I'm more into low noise rather than low temps so for someone like me, the top fan exhausts are actually useless and only increase how much noise I can hear from the case. I know most people like to have a back and top exhaust though. One thing to point out is that the top exhaust does not have enough clearance for an AIO watercooler.

    One thing that's nice about the case is that it comes with a removable fan filter for the front fans which is magnetic. The bottom of the case also comes with a fan filter for the PSU fan, but unfortunately this is a fiddly one where it slides into hinges. I guess NZXT again had to cut costs there.



    Although some of the high end motherboards feature right angle USB 3.0 headers, unfortunately this board doesn't. Luckily I've got an adapter cable allowing me to hide the original bulky USB 3.0 header.



    Here's the PSU and all of the cabling routed. Doesn't look like I actually put much effort in and looks rather messy but...



    Sorry? What mess? This is the cleanest build I have ever done. You can see how well the cable management bar hides the cables. Props to NZXT designers for making the case very clean. You can barely see any cables at all!



    Closer look, if anyone is still doubting. I've plugged all the cables in, I haven't left anything out! The 2x Samsung 830 SSDs look lovely sitting at the bottom with their brushed aluminium plate.



    Side panel with the plastic film off now. It's tinted so without any lights from inside you can't really see much details.



    Gah reflections. I wish NZXT could make the window out of something scratch resistant. I wouldn't mind paying £10 more for a window that was scratch resistant. These plastic windows scratch far too easily.



    The motherboard comes with a nice black backplate, giving a premium feel to it. One thing that I haven't mentioned is that the side panels have thumb screws that stay attached to the side panel even when you've taken it off, that was a nice little bonus that I haven't seen before in any of the budget cases that I've owned.



    Just a shot to show a view of the top. It has a power switch with a white LED ring, along with 2x USB 3.0 headers and the standard mic/audio out 3.5mm jacks along with a HDD activity LED (not sure what colour it is as it doesn't light up with my SSDs). Some people may hate the black but I feel it breaks up the ocean of white nicely. It probably helps saves NZXT money as they can have the same internal chassis with only the front, back, sides and cable management bar being in white.

    Well thanks for reading, hope the mini review of the NZXT Source 340 and Thermaltake Smart SE 530W has helped.

    I might go back and take the PSU out and put my trusty Silverstone ST30F in as it has more than enough power for my system and the fan never spins up on my loads. The noise from the PSU isn't so loud that it bothers me though but it's definitely something that you can hear when it's silent. Without the PSU I'm sure I wouldn't be able to hear that my PC was on without being next to it. I even bought some cable extensions for the ST30F as it's a SFX PSU so the cables are short and they're not even sleeved all the way.



    All in all, I'm very happy with my purchases but slightly disappointed that the Thermaltake Smart SE 530W PSU produces a bit more noise than I had hoped for.

    Oh, before I wrap things up, just a bit of info about power draw and temperatures. I've configured the fan profiles such that none of my fans (whether it be case, CPU cooler or GPU) spin up, they're set to spin at a constant rate and they're almost inaudible - this of course excludes the PSU.

    The CPU idles at around 25C and loads up to around 55C. The GPU is the most silent GPU I've ever had the pleasure of using - MSI's Twin Frozr IV Gaming cooler is simply overkill for the little 60W baby. It idles at around 25C again and also loads up to around 55C.

    In games, both the CPU and GPU reach around 50C.

    The system idles on around 20-40W and in gaming it hovers around 100-120W and 130W in benchmarks. I love how Nvidia and Intel have made such power efficient parts which, in effect, brings down both the temperature and noise. I'm looking forward to the GTX 960!

    Well, that's all for now, thanks for reading.
    Last edited by Ulti; 15-10-2014 at 06:31 PM.

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    Bonebreaker777 (15-10-2014),SUMMONER (16-10-2014)

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    Re: [Build log] Back to basics - NZXT Source 340 (ft. Thermaltake Smart SE)

    Good read! Question: how did you measure consumption? If with power meter, any particular model you wouldn't mind to share?

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    Re: [Build log] Back to basics - NZXT Source 340 (ft. Thermaltake Smart SE)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bonebreaker777 View Post
    Good read! Question: how did you measure consumption? If with power meter, any particular model you wouldn't mind to share?
    Yep, I've got the rig plugged into a power meter. It was a cheap one off eBay, an older energenie model.

    Here's the exact one:


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    Re: [Build log] Back to basics - NZXT Source 340 (ft. Thermaltake Smart SE)

    Nice little build there

    NZXT keeps an eye on the modding scene, always on the look out for trends and ideas to pinch, such as dropping the 5.25" bay and the shrouds to hide the cables and psu, also the general clean look and window position.
    But all told that's a good thing, so many of the other case manufactures seem to have little idea as what's going on atm and are slow to catch up.

    I love the way they've extended the side panels to cover the plastic front bezel (the bezel is plastic, just got a steel cover over the front) they also extended the side panels upward to cover the lip you normally get from the top panel.
    Gives it a really clean look with very few visible seems.
    Also a cleaver job on the marketing front claiming 90% steel

    The matte black internal paint finish is really nice and goes well with the outside glossy white

    What's the rear panel like for flex? I personally never like it when the rear IO and pci slots are flush like that as it tends to make the rear a bit flexy, folding the metal over to make that area inset adds a lot of rigidity to the rear panel.

    I'd love to see an mATX version of this case.

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    Re: [Build log] Back to basics - NZXT Source 340 (ft. Thermaltake Smart SE)

    Quote Originally Posted by Pob255 View Post
    Nice little build there

    NZXT keeps an eye on the modding scene, always on the look out for trends and ideas to pinch, such as dropping the 5.25" bay and the shrouds to hide the cables and psu, also the general clean look and window position.
    But all told that's a good thing, so many of the other case manufactures seem to have little idea as what's going on atm and are slow to catch up.
    Yep, NZXT doesn't always get things right, but they do welcome change and produce products that modders and PC builders like.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pob255 View Post
    I love the way they've extended the side panels to cover the plastic front bezel (the bezel is plastic, just got a steel cover over the front) they also extended the side panels upward to cover the lip you normally get from the top panel.
    Gives it a really clean look with very few visible seems.
    Also a cleaver job on the marketing front claiming 90% steel

    The matte black internal paint finish is really nice and goes well with the outside glossy white

    What's the rear panel like for flex? I personally never like it when the rear IO and pci slots are flush like that as it tends to make the rear a bit flexy, folding the metal over to make that area inset adds a lot of rigidity to the rear panel.

    I'd love to see an mATX version of this case.
    Yep, they've done pretty well in marketing this budget case IMO. Most cases probably aren't far off being 90% steel, I mean it's pretty standard for most cases to be all steel apart from the front panel AFAIK but they've screwed on a metal front panel to the plastic and extended the side panels as you've pointed it out and gone "hey! look at our premium case that is almost all metal at a budget price!".

    I feel everything has just been designed very well and it's been put together well, which results in a nice clean case and allows for users to build a very clean system without much effort.

    Surprisingly, the back panel actually feels very sturdy - I can't seem to get it to flex at all. I've just tried to flex each panel and to me, they all feel sturdy apart from the top. I can push down on it and it bends a little, especially where the fan meshing is. I'm not sure why the top panel flexes more than the others; I can only imagine that they're using thinner steel there.

    If they managed to create a mATX version with only one fan intake and lowered the height but kept everything else the same, I imagine they can just reduce the height of the case by 60mm, putting it at 200mm x 385mm x 432mm. That's still 33L in size though so it isn't much smaller.

    What would be interesting is if they build a mini ITX version of this but with the PSU relocated to sit in front of the cable management bar and to have a smaller cable management bar along with support for only SFX PSUs in a vertical orientation with the fan intake pointing towards the front of the case. The case dimensions would probably be around 200mm x 215mm x 358mm (WxHxD) by subtracting the difference of the PSU height and difference between the ATX and ITX form factors. Unfortunately that works out at 15L so it's still pretty big for a mini ITX case but I would still love to see someone do that though.

    EDIT: Wait a second, what I just described is basically the Ncase M1..
    Last edited by Ulti; 16-10-2014 at 07:19 PM.

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    Re: [Build log] Back to basics - NZXT S340 (ft. Thermaltake Smart SE PSU)

    Great looking build. Good log too, helped me out when looking into the case before buying it for my new i7-5930k.
    Those SSDs look sick in the S340.
    Sorry to bump the thread, but I'm new to the forum and couldn't find where to send a PM to you.
    I'm wanting to know where you got the USB 3.0 20pin extension. Looks way better than the stock cable.

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    Re: [Build log] Back to basics - NZXT S340 (ft. Thermaltake Smart SE PSU)

    I do love that VLP memory - there's absolutely no reason for memory to be any bigger than that, or use any more voltage. Great stuff (my ballistix tactical VLP went, along with the rest of my desktop, to a friend in need a few months ago!). Lovely clean looking build that (although the white case isn't entirely to my taste, I have to admit).

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    Re: [Build log] Back to basics - NZXT S340 (ft. Thermaltake Smart SE PSU)

    Quote Originally Posted by IDprofile View Post
    Great looking build. Good log too, helped me out when looking into the case before buying it for my new i7-5930k.
    Those SSDs look sick in the S340.
    Sorry to bump the thread, but I'm new to the forum and couldn't find where to send a PM to you.
    I'm wanting to know where you got the USB 3.0 20pin extension. Looks way better than the stock cable.
    Sorry for the late reply, I hadn't checked this section.

    I bought it here at ModDIY and requested for all black cables.

    Tried to PM you but as you're a new user unfortunately I can't.

    Quote Originally Posted by scaryjim View Post
    I do love that VLP memory - there's absolutely no reason for memory to be any bigger than that, or use any more voltage. Great stuff (my ballistix tactical VLP went, along with the rest of my desktop, to a friend in need a few months ago!). Lovely clean looking build that (although the white case isn't entirely to my taste, I have to admit).
    Yeah, I don't understand why other manufacturers don't follow suit. I prefer it over the ridiculous heatsinks. I can understand if it's for overclocked memory though.

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