Mini ITX gaming build

jctazzy

Limp Gawd
Joined
Nov 22, 2008
Messages
150
I've got the itch to build small and move my gaming options into the living room.

My current build was given the fine-toothed comb review here back in 2009 and has been absolutely rock solid.

I've read a few mini-ITX discussions here already, but many seem to be alternative suggestions or intended for HTPC or general PC use.
I figure I'll have to work much harder this time around due to the smaller size/restricted airflow and would sincerely appreciate your feedback.


1) What will you be doing with this PC? Gaming? Photoshop? Web browsing? etc

- Gaming, along with general household use (web, Office, Netflix/Hulu)

2) What's your budget? Are tax and shipping included?

- $700 (I already have some parts... see below)

3) Which country do you live in? If the U.S, please tell us the state and city if possible.

- US, North Carolina, near Raleigh

4) What exact parts do you need for that budget? CPU, RAM, case, etc. The word "Everything" is not a valid answer. Please list out all the parts you'll need.

- CPU & cooler (I prefer Intel), GPU, motherboard, RAM, power supply, maybe another SSD if budget allows

5) If reusing any parts, what parts will you be reusing? Please be especially specific about the power supply. List make and model.

- Not reusing, but I have some parts on hand already
- Case: Cooler Master Elite 130
- SSD: Toshiba HDTS225XZSTA 256GB
- HDD: Western Digital Blue WD10EZEX 1TB

6) Will you be overclocking?

- Yes, please :D

7) What is the max resolution of your monitor? What size is it?

- 1920 x 1080, 50" TV via HDMI

8) When do you plan on building/buying the PC?

- Right after Black Friday/Monday

9) What features do you need in a motherboard? RAID? Firewire? Crossfire or SLI support? USB 3.0? SATA 6Gb/s? eSATA? Onboard video (as a backup or main GPU)? UEFI? etc.

- Nothing special, no room to do anything fancy.

10) Do you already have a legit and reusable/transferable OS key/license? If yes, what OS? Is it 32bit or 64bit?

- Yes, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
------------------------------------------------------------

My thoughts so far to meet the above requirements:

- CPU: i5-3570k - I don't really need HT and Ivy Bridge seems to strike a better balance than Haswell between overclocking and power/heat

- Cooler: Cooler Master Seidon 120M (definitely open for other options, but space is tight)

- Motherboard: Interested in the ASUS P8Z77-I DELUXE for the power and OC stability and since the ASRock Z77E-ITX was discontinued I'm seeking good alternatives. Perhaps the MSI Z77IA-E53?

- GPU: HD 7870 seems to hit a good price/performance point. May have to drop to a 7850 for price. (Prefer a reference design that vents out the back due to my case, but open for options)

- Power Supply: Prefer modular due to space constraints, leaning toward Corsair CX600M

- RAM: 8GB of whatever reputable brand pops up on Black Friday


All that is roughly $750 at "normal" prices, so I will need some good fortune on deals or some good substitutions to come in under budget and squeeze in another SSD.

Thanks for your help!
 
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tiraides

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jan 8, 2004
Messages
11,066
IMO, you chose a bad case for overclocking. While you can fit a 120mm radiator into the case, the limited space and even less airflow going through the case will cause temperatures to be higher than you expect.

What games do you want to play? At what level of visual quality?

Do you have the $750 now? You aren't going to find any true "deals" on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
 

jctazzy

Limp Gawd
Joined
Nov 22, 2008
Messages
150
Hi tiraides. Case selection was based more on available space in/around my living room and matching general decor. The wife has spoken... :D

Fortunately my overclocking goals this time around are fairly modest. If I'm stuck at stock then I'll need to target hardware beefy enough to support. Chances are this hardware will see a second life in a future iteration that's more overclocking friendly, thus my opting for a -K CPU.

I'm hoping to skip a traditional HDD if possible to get as much airflow as I can. Same with the modular power supply and self-contained water cooling. Airflow gains from those options are still fairly small, however.

Current games are Civ V, Skyrim and Dishonored played at High settings. I'll also likely pick up Dragon Age:Inquisition when it's released. Granted, I'm playing at 1680x1050 now.

I do have $750 now and was looking to identify my best options, then pick them up at any applicable sales between now and post-Thanksgiving.

Thanks!
 
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tiraides

[H]F Junkie
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Jan 8, 2004
Messages
11,066
Honestly, for mini ITX gaming, you would benefit more from a better video card than an overclockable processor and motherboard.

Regardless, get these now:

$60 - Crucial Ballistix Sport 2x4GB DDR3 1600 RAM (included $5 discount promo code EMCWWWV229, ends 11/18)
$67 - Rosewill CAPSTONE-550-M 550W semi-modular PSU (included $18 discount promo code EMCYTZT4842, ends 11/17)

Hey look, this video card's on sale....

$240 - MSI R7950-3GD5/OC BE HD 7950 3GB

Oops, I ate over half of your budget. I guess we'll have to "compromise" now.... :D

$180 - Intel Core i5-3550P
$85 - ASRock B75M-ITX

Well look at that... I got it under $650...

What? You still want to focus this build around the i5-3570K? :eek:

Fine.... :rolleyes:

$210 - Intel Core i5-3570K
$129 - MSI Z77IA-E53
$58 - Cooler Master Seidon 120M
$175 - Sapphire 100354OC-2L HD 7870 2GB
$60 - Crucial Ballistix Sport 2x4GB DDR3 1600 RAM (included $5 discount promo code EMCWWWV229, ends 11/18)
$67 - Rosewill CAPSTONE-550-M 550W semi-modular PSU (included $18 discount promo code EMCYTZT4842, ends 11/17)
=====
$699 - Total before taxes and shipping

I kept things under your original $700 limit, but I believe that you're better off with the HD 7950 over the HD 7870.
 

jctazzy

Limp Gawd
Joined
Nov 22, 2008
Messages
150
Honestly, for mini ITX gaming, you would benefit more from a better video card than an overclockable processor and motherboard.

Regardless, get these now:

$60 - Crucial Ballistix Sport 2x4GB DDR3 1600 RAM (included $5 discount promo code EMCWWWV229, ends 11/18)

Done! It'll be here Wednesday...

$67 - Rosewill CAPSTONE-550-M 550W semi-modular PSU (included $18 discount promo code EMCYTZT4842, ends 11/17)

Would there be a reason to prefer the Rosewill 550W over this Corsair 600W for 2 bucks cheaper? Gold vs Bronze rating?

$65 - Corsair CX600M 600W Modular with promo code EMCWWWR46, ends 11/21



Hey look, this video card's on sale....

$240 - MSI R7950-3GD5/OC BE HD 7950 3GB

Oops, I ate over half of your budget. I guess we'll have to "compromise" now.... :D

$180 - Intel Core i5-3550P
$85 - ASRock B75M-ITX

Well look at that... I got it under $650...

CPU cooling is missing from the list, but assuming the Seidon 120M fits the bill for both builds, it's ~$700 either way.

Wow, that's a whole new direction. I never even looked "up" to price a 7950 while making my original list.

Checking out Anand and others, there's a pretty big performance gap between a 7870 and a 7950. However, as I go through benchmarks at 1920x1080, High or Very High settings, both cards are close. Switching to 2560x1440 or Ultra High or cranking up AA seems to be where the 7870 starts stumbling. I'm cheap at heart so I'm curious if there's any additional concerns you might have, 'cause now I'm debating on this CPU/mobo, a 7870 and pocketing $65. :D

I'll have to do some reading on the B75 chipset.

What? You still want to focus this build around the i5-3570K? :eek:

Fine.... :rolleyes:

$210 - Intel Core i5-3570K
$129 - MSI Z77IA-E53
$58 - Cooler Master Seidon 120M
$175 - Sapphire 100354OC-2L HD 7870 2GB
$60 - Crucial Ballistix Sport 2x4GB DDR3 1600 RAM (included $5 discount promo code EMCWWWV229, ends 11/18)
$67 - Rosewill CAPSTONE-550-M 550W semi-modular PSU (included $18 discount promo code EMCYTZT4842, ends 11/17)
=====
$699 - Total before taxes and shipping

I kept things under your original $700 limit, but I believe that you're better off with the HD 7950 over the HD 7870.


So about $700 each way, with one leaning toward GPU and another toward CPU. Hopefully I'm not over-simplifying that... I still have some reading to do on the B75 chipset to see what makes it tick.

Thank you!
 
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Dangman

Ninja Editor SuperMod
Joined
Dec 15, 2005
Messages
46,062
Would there be a reason to prefer the Rosewill 550W over this Corsair 600W for 2 bucks cheaper? Gold vs Bronze rating?

$65 - Corsair CX600M 600W Modular with promo code EMCWWWR46, ends 11/21
That particular Corsair PSU is inferior to the Rosewill Capstone in performance and quality. However, you'll get far bettter customer support from Corsair.

Checking out Anand and others, there's a pretty big performance gap between a 7870 and a 7950. However, as I go through benchmarks at 1920x1080, High or Very High settings, both cards are close. Switching to 2560x1440 or Ultra High or cranking up AA seems to be where the 7870 starts stumbling. I'm cheap at heart so I'm curious if there's any additional concerns you might have, 'cause now I'm debating on this CPU/mobo, a 7870 and pocketing $65. :D
Get the 7950. It'll last a bit longer than the 7870 and the performance difference will be pretty apparent with later/newer games.

So about $700 each way, with one leaning toward GPU and another toward CPU.
Yes. Theoritically the 3570K build would have longer lifetime if you overclock it. It means that you can go a bit longer between CPU, mobo, and RAM upgrades. However, the above 3570K build also means that you'll have to upgrade the GPU sooner rather than later.
I'll have to do some reading on the B75 chipset.
......
I still have some reading to do on the B75 chipset to see what makes it tick.
Pretty much.
It's pretty much like the Z77 chipset except it can't overclock and does not have onboard RAID.
 

jctazzy

Limp Gawd
Joined
Nov 22, 2008
Messages
150
That particular Corsair PSU is inferior to the Rosewill Capstone in performance and quality. However, you'll get far bettter customer support from Corsair.

I've never used Rosewill before except for a cheap USB hub, but then again I've never had to call customer service on a power supply, either. Lucky? Maybe, but either way it's got good reviews and the efficiency boost should help me keep the heat down in my little shoebox of a case.

Back-of-the-napkin math shows power consumption shouldn't exceed 400 watts. I'll give them a go...


Get the 7950. It'll last a bit longer than the 7870 and the performance difference will be pretty apparent with later/newer games.

Oh, all right... :) time to pull out the wallet and stop being so cheap. Combining the two builds is still less than a 10% difference. My current build kept me covered for almost 5 years... hopefully this one will as well.

$60 - Crucial Ballistix Sport 2x4GB DDR3 1600 RAM (included $5 discount promo code EMCWWWV229, ends 11/18)
$67 - Rosewill CAPSTONE-550-M 550W semi-modular PSU (included $18 discount promo code EMCYTZT4842, ends 11/17)
$240 - MSI R7950-3GD5/OC BE HD 7950 3GB
$210 - Intel Core i5-3570K
$129 - MSI Z77IA-E53
$58 - Cooler Master Seidon 120M
========================
$764 before taxes, shipping, rebates

As the CPU socket is a bit lower on the MSI Z77IA-E53 when compared to the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe, that just might buy me a few degrees less bending of the Seidon 120M's tubing to route under the power supply and down the far side of the case.

I was hopeful I might be able to work in a spare slim 120mm fan I have laying around to have 2 fans in push/pull on the Seidon 120m. The MSI motherboard doesn't have a tall riser like the Asus that would block the Cooler Master 130's side 80mm fan. I'll have to tinker with each option to identify whether 2x120mm on the Seidon or 1x120mm and 1x80mm in the side gives better temps as either motherboard only has 2 fan headers.

Thank you!
 
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tiraides

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jan 8, 2004
Messages
11,066
I was hopeful I might be able to work in a spare slim 120mm fan I have laying around to have 2 fans in push/pull on the Seidon 120m. The MSI motherboard doesn't have a tall riser like the Asus that would block the Cooler Master 130's side 80mm fan. I'll have to tinker with each option to identify whether 2x120mm on the Seidon or 1x120mm and 1x80mm in the side gives better temps as either motherboard only has 2 fan headers.

Thank you!

No problem.

Tell us how everything works out!
 

jctazzy

Limp Gawd
Joined
Nov 22, 2008
Messages
150
Update on parts purchased so far. I stumbled across a $10 price drop on the 3570k that is reflected in the list below.

Only real change was to the HIS 7950 IceQ for same price as the original MSI card ($240) in an attempt to shuttle as much heat as possible directly out the back of my case.

All prices are pre-tax/rebate/shipping...


[PURCHASED] $60 - Crucial Ballistix Sport 2x4GB DDR3 1600 RAM (included $5 discount promo code EMCWWWV229, ended 11/18)
[PURCHASED] $67 - Rosewill CAPSTONE-550-M 550W semi-modular PSU (included $18 discount promo code EMCYTZT4842, ended 11/17)
[PURCHASED] $240 - HIS 7950 IceQ H795QC3G2M
[PURCHASED] $200 - Intel Core i5-3570K

$129 - MSI Z77IA-E53
$58 - Cooler Master Seidon 120M


Any opinions on the Corsair H60 for CPU cooling vs. the Seidon 120M? Prices are the same on NewEgg right now, so figured I'd ask before purchasing either tonight.

Thanks!
 
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Dangman

Ninja Editor SuperMod
Joined
Dec 15, 2005
Messages
46,062
Only real change was to the HIS 7950 IceQ for same price as the original MSI card ($240) in an attempt to shuttle as much heat as possible directly out the back of my case.!
Not a good idea considering HIS isn't as good as MSI in terms of quality, customer support, and warranty.
Any opinions on the Corsair H60 for CPU cooling vs. the Seidon 120M? Prices are the same on NewEgg right now, so figured I'd ask before purchasing either tonight.
The 120M apparently edges out the H60 slightly in terms of cooling. However in terms of looks, I'd go with the H60 due to its "cleaner" look.
 

jctazzy

Limp Gawd
Joined
Nov 22, 2008
Messages
150
Not a good idea considering HIS isn't as good as MSI in terms of quality, customer support, and warranty.

Go figure... the only horrendous quality/service issue I've experienced to date where I literally couldn't find a solution was with an MSI Radeon 9800 PRO, so I skipped them when an opportunity presented itself. Hopefully I'll skate under the wire with HIS.

The 120M apparently edges out the H60 slightly in terms of cooling. However in terms of looks, I'd go with the H60 due to its "cleaner" look.

I'm hoping the reviews/data at hardwareinfo are reliable. Fortunately both coolers are still the same price this morning so I have a little more time to decide.

Thanks!
 
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jctazzy

Limp Gawd
Joined
Nov 22, 2008
Messages
150
A little later than planned as I had to RMA my motherboard due to a defective inboard RAM slot. Go figure...

I came across good deals for the motherboard and cooler during my buying sessions and wound up with the following:

Case: Cooler Master Elite 130
Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe
RAM: Crucial Ballistix Sport 2x4GB DDR3 1600 RAM (same as listed above)
Power Supply: Rosewill CAPSTONE-550-M 550W semi-mod (same as listed above)
GPU: HIS 7950 IceQ H795QC3G2M (same as listed above mid-way through thread)
CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K
Cooler: Seidon 120XL
SSD: Toshiba 256GB
HDD: Western Digital 1TB WD10EZEX


I had it put together Wednesday night but today was my first real chance to work with it.

Currently I have the CPU running at 4.5GHz at 1.215v (BIOS setting) after several 20 minute runs in Prime95 on Small FFTs and Blends.
It can go higher (I had it at 4.6GHz running 1.24v before dialing back the voltage), but I want to stick at 70ºC max or lower.

Obviously I still have some tweaking to do, and plan a 24 hour burn-in before declaring it 100% stable, but wanted to thank you for your help!

Ambient for the testing below was about 69ºF/21ºC.


30cr9rm.jpg
 
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