Help on building small foot print gaming PC

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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:03 am

Well, if size was my biggest concern I would opt for a much smaller ITX case like Lian-Li's PC-Q08 or PC-Q11. If I had enough space for the Prodigy and was building a gaming-capable HTPC I would go with an mATX case & mobo for the extra PCI/PCI-E and DIMM slots.

wrt the CPU: did you get an OEM one? It looks like Newegg is only selling boxed (retail) versions, which should come with Intel's limited 3-year warranty.

The EVO cooler works as well as any of the innumerable tower-style heatsinks out there (give or take a few degrees C), and if you go with an Asus board you'll be able to control the fan's behavior to get it where it's comfortable and safe (and you could go really low with it if you underclock). I don't imagine the fan is of particularly great quality, given that it's on a $30 product, but if you don't like it you could just swap it out for a nicer model. The heatsink itself is nice.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Sun Jun 03, 2012 4:08 pm

Okay, I ended up ordering a lot of parts JustanEngineer helpfully suggested. Thanks for that. :wink:

Intel Core i5 3570k
Corsair 8gb memory
Samsung 830 SSD
Win 7 Home Premium 64

I honestly thought a mini-ATX computer would be larger than a micro-ATX. Turns out, its the other way around. Go figure. I will probably go with the micro-ATX case. Deciding between the two Silverstone cases, the Grandia and the Temjin cases.

Still undecided on the motherboard as well, but will probably go with the AsRock one.

Since I am getting the eVGA GTX 670, do I need a 500+ watt PSU? I am deciding between the Rosewill 450W and the 550W. It's just a $10 difference, but the 450W is in stock, while I have no idea when the 550W will be back in stock. Any suggestions?
Last edited by MacUser on Sun Jun 03, 2012 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Sun Jun 03, 2012 4:33 pm

That video card requires a minimum of 500 watts and 30 amps on the 12v rail , so yes.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:20 pm

I have to recommend the Silverstone Grandia GD-05 - It will look good alongside your Marantz receiver since it's black aluminium and the same 18" width as most AV equipment;
I bought mine because the unit I wanted was only 15" deep, mandating a very short HTPC but I was pleasantly surprised how quiet the included fans were.

Image
I found the shuttle cubes too tall (and noisy) and many HTPC cases are too deep to fit furniture that is designed for things like DVD players and surround sound receivers.

Like all small-cased builds, a fully-modular PSU is helpful, as is buying a couple of SATA power extensions; The fewer big, thick bundles of cabling you need, the less restrictive your internal cabling will be and the cooler everything will be.
All my case fans are running at 5V instead of 12V, and I have a 95W processor (yours is 77W) as well as a 150W graphics card. An HD7850 should be more than adequate at only 130W and a few places say that the cooler on the Sapphire HD7850 is one of the quietest available.
MacUser wrote:Since I am getting the eVGA GTX 670

I thought you said you wanted it to be quiet? The GTX670 a great card, and it's definitely quieter than other $400 cards, but that's like saying that a Mazerati is more economical than a Corvette.

At 1080p, the GTX670 is overkill; Look at the Techreport benchmarks and you'll see that they're all run at seven megapixel, ultra quality settings with antialiasing. This is because at ordinary, everyday 1080p resolutions, the numbers are so high, they're irrelevant.

For the record, my '150W' graphics card is an old, harvested 768MB GTX460. Connected to my 46" 1080p screen, it plays Diablo III at the vsync, it runs BF3 on high (not ultra) very fluidly too and it's only a cheap ($149) card from two years ago!
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:44 am

Okay Chrispy_, you sold me on the Grandia case with that pic you included. It looks great, and i think it will fit in well in my home theater, next to my receiver.

Now, I have ordered all the parts except the PSU and graphics card. I will have to look at benchmarks to see how Skyrim plays on the graphics card you mentioned. That is the only graphics intensive game I am interested in playing. And Borderlands 2 when it comes out. Not interested in the military shooters.

I just thought getting the 670GTX would future proof my PC for a couple of years. In case, you know, Half Life 3 comes out :oops:
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:17 am

This PSU is on Shell Shocker at 3PDT/6EDT today. It might be overkill, but it should have what you need if it ends up in your price range.

Also, I have seen several PSUs on Shell Shocker sales in the past week or so. I would keep an eye open, depending on how fast you want everything.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:44 am

Thanks for the heads up on the NewEgg daily deals for the PSU. I ended up ordering this Seasonic model.

Now I need to decide on the graphics card. Hmmm - what to do .... ? More powah for long term flexibility, or quiet performance at a lower price for today's needs.

My wife won't allow me to purchase another graphics card two years from now, so i am leaning on more power right now. But still not decided for sure. Need to do more research.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:23 pm

I'll tell you to stay away from the Antec NSK2480 HTPC case. The amount of profanity required increases with each piece of hardware that I install in this box. :x
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:57 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:I'll tell you to stay away from the Antec NSK2480 HTPC case. The amount of profanity required increases with each piece of hardware that I install in this box. :x

Oh, there'll definitely be some profanity with the GD-05 too then ;)
I have come to the conclusion that less space inside the case = more swearing outside the case.

How stacked up is your NSK2480?

MacUser wrote:My wife won't allow me to purchase another graphics card two years from now, so i am leaning on more power right now.

That's a shame :(

More frequent upgrades of cheaper cards are the most economical way of staying ahead of the performance curve without ever using hot, noisy cards.
I think you'll be okay though; I can't predict the future, but until the new consoles come out in a couple of years, we're probably not going to need better graphics cards for 1080p.
(This is partly why the non-gaming laptop I bought 3 years ago still runs all the latest games to an acceptable standard.)

  • Borderlands 1 ran like butter on my old 8800GTS, and it doesn't look like they're using a new engine for Borderlands 2.
  • Skyrim runs very well on the 7850. 72fps at 1080p with absolutely everything on full.
  • Waiting for Half Life 3 makes me a sad panda. Half-Life was amazing, but it was fifteen years ago.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:54 am

The NSK2480 is large on the outside. The problem is that there are steel walls breaking up the interior space into various compartments. There's not enough room at the front edge of the motherboard to install SATA cables without removing the motherboard from the case, which usually causes more swearing. Only a few of my SATA cables have short enough ends to wedge into the tiny space available. The one good thing about the NSK2480 is that there are plenty of drive mounting locations. The NSK3480 is much easier to work inside but it has fewer locations to mount drives.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:53 am

Will the stock Intel cooler work in the Grandia case? Or do I need one of those Shiruken Scythe SCBSK-2100 cooler dealies? I actually like the looks of the Grandia 04 case over that of the Grandia 05, plus the 04 is all aluminum, versus the 05 having a plastic front and aluminum fascia. But Amazon does not have it in stock right now :cry:

I plan to have the DVD drive installed, if for nothing else then to install Windows 7 itself. Guessing that will affect my CPU cooler choice.

The deal posted by JustanEngineer currently running at Microcenter is too good. So I went ahead and purchased the 3570k with the topline Asus mATX motherboard and saved ~$100 compared to the NewEgg price. Now I just have to go through the hassle of returning the 3570k I ordered from NewEgg.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:23 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:There's not enough room at the front edge of the motherboard to install SATA cables

Urgh, yeah. Those walls would make right-angled SATA ports on the board a builder's hell.
I first built into an NSK2480 so long ago that I had an IDE ribbon cable to the DVD drive. Right-angled SATA ports didn't come along until SLI encouraged long cards in the lower slots, so I dodged that bullet.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:48 am

Here is my final build - all parts have been ordered. Should get all of them delivered next week. Just waiting on the case to be in stock at Amazon.

Intel Core i5 3570K
Asus motherboard
Silverstone Grandia GD4B case
Seasonic 620W modular PSU
EVGA 670GTX FTW
Samsung 830 128gb SSD
Corsair 8gb
Win 7 Home 64
Logitech mouse
Bluetooth USB adatper

I looked up the reviews for the Radeon 7850 that chrispy_ suggested on Anandtech and compared the noise and heat out put to the 670GTX review Anadtech did, and they were in the same or similar range.

Anandtech did state in the GTX670 review that it is a bit noisier than the GTX680. So did some research and saw that the EVGA670 FTW model uses the 680 model's layout and cooling. And the NewEgg reviews said the card was quiet. So I am gonna chance it, and see how it goes.

Plan to reuse the DVD burner and two Hitachi 250gig SATA drives from my old box (about 8 years old, in storage since 2006). Hopefully still working.

Still not sure what I am going to do about the 7.1 surround sound issue and whether I need an aftermarket cooler to fit in the case I ordered. Will find out once I start assembling. I will post pics of the build process.

Thanks to all who made suggestions, especially to JustanEngineer for the headsup on the sale at Microcenter - saved $100.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Wed Jun 06, 2012 3:20 pm

7.1 surround should be covered by two things- either the track you're playing has already been encoded in 7.1, or the software for your soundcard does that encoding for you, usually up to 5.1. 7.1 encoding, as far as I know, doesn't exist, and 7.1 has to be sent over HDMI/DP, as it's too high of a bitrate for the dedicated digital audio interfaces.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:37 am

MacUser wrote:I looked up the reviews for the Radeon 7850 that chrispy_ suggested on Anandtech and compared the noise and heat out put to the 670GTX review Anadtech did, and they were in the same or similar range.


1) Decibels use a logarithmic scale. The difference between, say 45dB and 50dB is tremendous. It represents something like three times as much noise.

2) The cooler of the 670GTX may be the same, but yields for the GK104 are bad at the moment, so cherry-picked cool/quiet/perfect GPU's get made into 680's and hotter/noisier/flawed GPU's get made into 670's. It's a bit of a crapshoot, but that's the general trend.

The thing I'm trying to stress is that the AMD solution uses about 50W less than the Nvidia solution;
More power used = more cooling required. However, I think at idle (such as when you're watching movies and want it to stay quiet) the GTX670 will probably be quiet enough.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:41 am

Here is Anandtech's power and noise data on the GTX 670 and the Radeon 7850.

Noise - 670 GTX / Radeon 7850

Idle noise - 41.7 / 42.7
Metro 2033 - 51.1 / 48.8
Load noise OCCT - 51.1 / 50.4

May be it is a little noisier. And i do not know how the noise profile is. Like the Anandtech review says, the 670 emits some kind of whine, and subjectively sounded noisier than the 680. I honestly do not know, since its been a long while since I have used a desktop.

As for movies, I have a PS3 where i watch DVDs, Bluerays and Netflix movies, so the PC will be primarily for gaming purposes and occasionally for watching movies.

All this is moot anyways. My EVGA 670 GTX FTW (whew, talk about acronyms!) is being delivered today.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Thu Jun 07, 2012 10:21 am

Chrispy_ wrote:1) Decibels use a logarithmic scale. The difference between, say 45dB and 50dB is tremendous. It represents something like three times as much noise.

That's not entirely accurate...yes, decibels are logarithmic in scale, but they use decibels in audio because the human ear does not have a linear response to sound pressure. So while a 3 dB might be double the air pressure, it's not necessarily "twice as loud" to human perception. Also, the frequency response of the human ear is nonlinear. Humans are most sensitive to sound between 2 and 4 kHz.

So yes, 5 dB is definitely significant to audio perception, but to say that it's three times louder or noisier isn't necessarily correct.

Also, as an EE, I don't really care about some general noise measurement as I do SNR. My concerns kick in when you have to increase power in something to overcome noise.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:58 pm

Okay, slight problems. How am I supposed to install a Samsung SSD in to this

Image

Neither the SSD nor the case came with any kind of mount. The case instruction manual (warning, large PDF), has crappy instructions on how to install the SSD. No matter how I attach the SSD, the SATA wire will not attach.

Do I need some kind of SSD 2.5" to 3.5" adapter?

Edit - never mind. The SATA cables provided by Asus with the motherboard are right angled at one end. I need straight cable ends. Off to Microcenter.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Wed Jun 13, 2012 8:34 pm

Okay, all the parts are in and assembled. But the problem is that there is no video signal. there is power, the LAN port has blinking lights showing data activity, the USB keyboard lights up the num lock and caps lock keys, fans spin up, DVD drive works. But no video signal.

Any suggestions?

I do not have another monitor to hook it up to.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:14 pm

Have you connected the PCIe cables to the graphics card?
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Thu Jun 14, 2012 8:32 am

I am embarrassed to admit that the issue was my fault. :oops:

I had plugged in the Wii console via component wires in to the DVD input channel, while simultaneously plugging in the PC in to the DVD channel via HDMI cable. So the receiver refused to output anything - video or sound - from any input channel until the conflict was resolved. I guess it is a self-protection mode. The issue has been resolved.

Windows has been installed and fully updated, and drivers for various components have been installed as well. Only other app I have installed is Steam, but no games yet.

The case gets incredibly crowded, especially once the honking PSU is installed. Glad I went with a modular one. Another issue with the case is on their web site it seems like USB 3.0 for the front panel is included. But that is incorrect. It is USB 2.0. You need to buy a seperate replacement front panel if you want USB 3.0. Not that big a deal since the motherboard has USB 3.0 ports in the back.

Speaking of the motherboard, Asus includes SATA cables with right-angle headers on one end. These are NOT compatible at all with this particular case. I thought it was only an issue with the SSD drive, but the way the drive cage is designed, none of the hard drives installed in the drive cage will accept right-angled SATA headers. There is no space. So off to Microcenter again to get flat SATA cables for the 500 gig HDD I have installed. probably also get SATA power extension cables as well, so I can run all three devices (SSD, HDD and DVD) off one SATA power cable. The modular cables are too short, so I basically need to install three power cables for each, leading to too much wires running every where.

The computer is incredibly fast - real fast! Like 10 seconds from power on to desktop. The computer is also very quiet. I think the nosiest part after the DVD drive (when there is a disk in it) is the CPU cooler. The graphics card is quiet. Although i have not played any games, so too soon to tell. The computer overall is no louder than my slim-PS3 is when watching movies. And the PS3 fans get loud when i play games as well, but I just crank up the 7.1 surround sound and never notice fan noise while gaming on the PS3.

I took some pics as I was building. Will post them over the weekend.

Thanks all for your help.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Thu Jun 14, 2012 9:23 am

Edit: nevermind, glad you've got it working!
Also, right-angled power and sata cables are a solution to a problem that doesn't exist anymore. They annoy me immensely in so many situations where you can't use them properly :(


Hmm, with compact builds it's usually more important to bench-test the hardware before installing it, because it's such a complete pain in the ass to diagnose later.
I'm assuming you don't have a PC speaker since failure to POST would normally give you beeps. If you do, and there's no noise - is the disk activity light doing anything?

Unplug the disks and optical drives, and get their mounting bays/brackets out of your way so that you're just looking at the motherboard, power supply and graphics card.
After checking everything has power and is seated correctly, retry with monitor.
If you get nothing, take RAM out until you have just one stick.
If the thing doesn't boot with just a CPU, 1 stick of RAM and a graphics card, you need to hunt down a PC speaker and see if you get any error beeps.
As a last resort, take the motherboard out of the case and test it on an open bench (the cardboard box it came in will do).
Assuming it's not dead, put it back in very carefully, checking for shorts circuits from stray screws, unnecessary motherboard mounting pins etc.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:53 am

The first and only PC I had self-built was almost 10 years ago, in 2003. Back then, SATA was a brand new interface, the WD Raptor HDDs were what SSDs are today, and the AMD Athlon 64 was the first consumer 64-bit CPU on the market. I paired them up with a ATI Radeon 9800 XT All-in-Wonder, on an Asus motherboard. All installed in a behemoth case that by itself probably weighed 50 pounds (felt like it). I still have it, but its been sitting in the box since 2006 when i switched over to the Mac. I still use a circa 2007 15" Macbook Pro for work stuff, and have a PS3 for gaming. But release of Diablo 3 changed all that. And being out of the PC side of things, I had no idea what was new, what was good, and what was compatible.

Image

So, deepest thanks to those who posted replies in this thread and helped me narrow down the following parts:

Intel Core i5 3570K
Asus Z77 motherboard
Silverstone Grandia GD4B case
Seasonic 620W modular PSU
EVGA 670GTX FTW
Samsung 830 128gb SSD
WD 500gb HDD
Corsair 4x4gb
Win 7 Home 64
Logitech Keyboard

Still deciding on the mouse, but that is not important. I have an old wireless mouse I can use until I decide. So all the parts were ordered. The case is half the size of my old behemoth, and the PC installed in it is probably 10x as powerful. Here is the case disassembled.

Image

With the HDD and DVD drive cages removed, there are three case fans, front USB and audio ports, and power, reset and HDD indicators wiring left.

Image

The DVD drive cage is on top, the HDD cage on the bottom.

Image

Here is the motherboard installed.

Image

The motherboard came with right-angled SATA cables, which created a problem with my SSD and HDD. I could not connect them with those wires. So I went to Microcenter and purchased a straight-end SATA cable, a 2.5" to 3.5" adapter for the SSD, and SATA extension cable so HDDs and DVDs can run off one cable. Here are the storage drives mounted.

Image

And the DVD drive mounted in its cage.

Image

Big honking power supply is installed. Glad I went with modular. Space is extremely tight in the small case, can't imagine a regular power supply in there.

Image

Here is the single most expensive part of the build, comprising about 1/3 of the price.

Image

Here is it installed.

Image

Drive bays installed

Image

Two additional case fans and every thing hooked up.

Image

Build complete.

Image

And here is where the PC resides, next to the receiver, and below the PS3.

Image

Ignore the USB cable. My wireless keyboard is on order from Amazon, so using an old wired Dell keyboard. i could not get the Apple BT keyboard to work properly, so waiting on the logitech keyboard and will decide on the mouse as well.

Image

While I have not gamed much yet on it, been busy with other home projects and work. But at idle, the PC really is whisper quiet. I added couple of Enermax 80mm case fans. And noise is barely noticeable. Only had couple of hours of Diablo 3, but will truly enjoy it once I have wireless keyboard and mouse. May be next week. Certainyl over the July 4 weekend, since i have taken 5 and 6 off.
Last edited by MacUser on Mon Jul 09, 2012 4:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Tue Jun 19, 2012 7:21 am

Looks nice, fits in well with the Marantz and PS3!

I didn't bother with the extra 80mm fans, but then again my system doesn't generate as much heat as yours.

Enjoy D3 anyway, It's a lot of fun, expecially from the sofa ;)
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:39 am

Ah, the old classic Antec steel case. I have that exact case, it is a nice case, although like you said it is very heavy.
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