SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

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SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:22 pm

After seeing the TR Dorm PC 2.0 I knew I wanted to build something similar. I recently moved to Germany so it's almost time to start my new build. I would really appreciate some opinions from the TR forums.

* The PC will primarily be used for web browsing, watching videos (SD & HD), and single-player gaming at 1080p (e.g. The Witcher 2, Dishonored, Skyrim, Deus Ex Human Revolution, etc).
* I will probably invest in either a 24" 16:10 or 27" 16:9 monitor for this system.
* I'm not interested in overclocking -> luckily this is probably a good thing as I would like the PC to be small and easy to transport.
* I don't have a set budget. However I don't want something way too powerful for my needs or too expensive.
* Priorities are small size build and good performance to cost ratio.

Components I already have:
storage #1: Intel X25-M 160GB SSD
Storage #2: Samsung 1.5TB F2 Eco Green 32MB S300

All components below sourced from a reputable German site (hardwareversand) with the exception of the Case/PSU (amazon).

Build #1 - 438.74 EUR
Case/PSU: SilverStone SG05-300 101.98
Motherboard: ASUS P8H77-I, Sockel 1155 Mini ITX 87.97
Processor: Intel Core i3 3220 55W 104.02
Graphics: MSI R7770-PMD1GD5, 1024MB DDR5, PCI-Express 80W 100.79
Memory: 8GB-Kit Corsair Vengeance Low Profile schwarz PC3-12800U CL9 43.98

Build #2 - 518.36 EUR
Case/PSU: SilverStone SG05-450 127.00
Motherboard: ASUS P8H77-I, Sockel 1155 Mini ITX 87.97
Processor: Intel Core i3 3220 55W 104.02
Graphics: XFX Radeon HD 7850 Core Edition, 1GB GDDR5 130W 155.39
Memory: 8GB-Kit Corsair Vengeance Low Profile schwarz PC3-12800U CL9 43.98

A. Is it unreasonable for me to think the 300W PSU would be enough for Build #1?
B. Is the same i3 from Build #1 a good match for the GPU In Build #2? Or would I need an i5? If I upgraded the CPU would I need more than 450W?
C. I assumed I would need Low Profile RAM for the SGO5 case - am I right or wrong?
D. I really like the look and size of the SG05 but would be open to other suggestions?

Thanks.
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:40 pm

Use a power supply calculator to determine your PSU needs. I would be comfortable with that Silverstone 300W PSU and a 7850. Speaking of which, if you have some money laying around, I'd go for a 7850 2GB instead of the 1GB variant. Other than that, looks good.
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:43 pm

300W is enough for a 7770, if not by much.

If you're going to build SFF, though I strongly encourage you to go with a modular PSU to cut down on clutter and improve airflow. Silverstone has a short cable kit for their Strider modular PSUs (google PP05).

Have you had a look at Silverstone's own SG09 and (upcoming) SG10 cases? A bit bigger than the SG05 as they support microATX. If you decide to stick to mini-ITX, the lian-li Q07 is another option.
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:46 pm

DPete27 wrote:UI would be comfortable with that Silverstone 300W PSU and a 7850. Speaking of which, if you have some money laying around, I'd go for a 7850 2GB instead of the 1GB variant. Other than that, looks good.


Anand's test rig with a 7850 drew 289W in Metro2033. Granted, that's power draw at the wall, so real DC power draw at the PSU is more like 230W, but I'd still be more comfortable with more than 300W for a 7850, especially if you're going to factor in capacitor ageing. That said, the OP's 7850 rig was configured with a 450W PSU, which should be plenty.
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:59 pm

First off, 1080p + high settings or 1080p and willing to make concessions? Both cards will do 1080p, but the 7850 will be a solid step up. Generally speaking, your GPU will determine your performance more than the CPU, especially at this level.

When it comes to RAM profiles, you'd probably be fine with taller kits like the "proper" Vengeance models suggested in the system guides. Your only real concern in an ATX build vs SFF build would be the heat sink on the CPU, but only if you get a beefy aftermarket cooler. A standard Intel HSF will probably still sit taller or about as tall as the Vengeace RAM. Unless you want an even smaller footprint for your system, I think you'll be fine.

As Voldenuit mentioned, try to use a modular power supply so that you can route things easier inside the case, and if you go with the 7850, a 450 W PSU is probably a safer bet, assuming that it's not extravegantly more expensive.
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:54 pm

Voldenuit wrote:Anand's test rig with a 7850 drew 289W in Metro2033

Let's nip that in the butt right away. You should look at the test bench config they used. The OP will not be using a i7-3960X at 4.3 GHz in this build. That's a 130W, 12-threaded beast of a CPU that they use to eliminate CPU bottlenecks in game testing. TR's rig with an i5-750 pulled 185W at load which is in the butter zone of efficiency for a 300W PSU.
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:39 pm

Are you set on mini-ITX rather than Micro-ATX?
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:00 pm

Thank you all for the very quick responses! :-)

Voldenuit wrote:Have you had a look at Silverstone's own SG09 and (upcoming) SG10 cases? A bit bigger than the SG05 as they support microATX. If you decide to stick to mini-ITX, the lian-li Q07 is another option.

I've been looking at the other SIlverstone's as well but the SG05 (and maybe the SG06) are the only ones that stood out for me to be honest. So far I haven't found a MITX case that interests me more than those two.

DPete27 wrote:Use a power supply calculator to determine your PSU needs. I would be comfortable with that Silverstone 300W PSU and a 7850. Speaking of which, if you have some money laying around, I'd go for a 7850 2GB instead of the 1GB variant. Other than that, looks good.

Nice. That calculator is very handy... much better than the one I had found previously.

Voldenuit wrote:the OP's 7850 rig was configured with a 450W PSU, which should be plenty.

superjawes wrote:First off, 1080p + high settings or 1080p and willing to make concessions? Both cards will do 1080p, but the 7850 will be a solid step up. Generally speaking, your GPU will determine your performance more than the CPU, especially at this level.

At this point I'm edging more towards that MITX build (#2) at the moment. I'm pleasantly surprised nobody has suggested a better CPU for my needs - means more money towards GPU. The 7850 is becoming more tempting - seems to be regarded as great performance to cost ratio! Would you consider it worth 50 euro more than the 7770?

JustAnEngineer wrote:Are you set on mini-ITX rather than Micro-ATX?

Not fully. I'd definitely consider a MicroATX case if it was quite portable and space conscious. A lot of the MicroATX cases I've seen looked quite big and heavy. And it's not clear to me whether a bigger than MITX case would necessarily mean less noise or better cooling (especially considering the components I'm considering don't seem to be very heavy on power). Had you any particular MicroATX suggestions in mind?
One case that struck me as very interesting so far was the Antec NSK3480. I like the design - in the past I was drawn towards big cases but these days I appreciate minimalism a lot more e.g. I find any more than 2 external 5.25" drive bays totally unnecessary personally. Also the Antec seems quite small and comes with a decent PSU it seems.
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:26 pm

Really, the biggest thing you get from mATX over mITX is ability to expand (well, at least IMO). Going mITX means you will only ever have the one expansion slot, and if you're gaming, that's occupied by your video card. That's not an issue if your concern is size, and you can still get potent performance from something like this.

On the other hand, mATX should have at least a couple slots handy so you have the option of adding a sound card, and you can easily find boards wil four memory slots (compared to two on mITX). Actually, I'm beginning to agree with JAE that there is little reason to use full-size ATX boards anymore because they have room for expansion without being needlessly excessive. mATX probably should be considered a "normal" size, mITX is your small, and full-size ATX is for exta powerful workstations.

But I digress...for your purposes, I think you should figure out if you want that expandability. If you're good without it, then mITX will give you extra portability and a smaller footprint.

Oh, and I don't know the current conversion rate, but I would probably spend an extra $50 for a 7850 over a 7770 if my budget could swing it. More power and longevity.
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:00 am

macaonghusa wrote:I'd definitely consider a MicroATX case if it was quite portable and space conscious.... Had you any particular MicroATX suggestions in mind? One case that struck me as very interesting so far was the Antec NSK3480. I like the design.
I liked the Antec NSK3480 when I had it, other than it really needing a revised internal drive bay arrangement to accommodate more hard-drives. Take a look at the Silverstone Temjin TJ08-e as another nicely-sized mini-tower. If you like the compact SFF boxes, you might consider the Silverstone SG02F.

As superjawes explained, if you're sure that you can live with just one PCIe slot, mini-ITX is smaller than micro-ATX, but if you want to add a discrete sound card and a TV tuner card along with your graphics card, Micro-ATX's 4 PCIe slots allow for that expansion.
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:29 pm

Thanks for the follow up responses.

JustAnEngineer wrote:I liked the Antec NSK3480 when I had it, other than it really needing a revised internal drive bay arrangement to accommodate more hard-drives. Take a look at the Silverstone Temjin TJ08-e as another nicely-sized mini-tower. If you like the compact SFF boxes, you might consider the Silverstone SG02F.

Seeing as you had the NSK3480 I'm curious if you would recommend it? Do you think the Earthwatt 380W PSU would be sufficient for a 7850?
I also really like the look of the TJ08-e so will research that a bit more. I saw another case I liked - Fractal Design Mini - but it seems quite heavy.
I hadn't considered the SG02F... looking up some reviews now. :)
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:28 am

You will be fine with a earth watt 380 psu.
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:35 pm

After much consideration over the weekend I've decided to go for a BitFenix Prodigy case. It's a bit bigger than I initially thought I'd go for but I really like the design and it seems quite easy to transport if necessary. It also simplifies my component selection a bit (e.g. can get normal PSU) and allows me to use a spare DVD-RW drive I have lying about (not essential but definitely handy) and install more than one standard hard drive.

The Silverstone Temjin TJ08-E also looks like a great similar sized (yet MicroATX!) option but I don't think it's worth the higher price.

The Corsair CX430 PSU looks like a good match for the build so I think I may opt for that. The Antec EarthWatts 380 is priced very close to the CX430 but I'm guessing it's better to opt for slightly more wattage in the CX430 to be safe.

Otherwise the components will remain as they were in Build #2. Just not 100% on the exact 7850 GPU yet. AMD are running some great deals where you get free game/s with new GPU purchases so I'm trying to see if I can avail of any of those offers.

Probably going to make order in next 48 hours so would appreciate any feedback/recommendations.
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:06 am

The Bitfenix Prodigy doesn't appeal to me. It's tiny on the inside but large and heavy on the outside; not at all like the TARDIS.
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:48 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:The Bitfenix Prodigy doesn't appeal to me. It's tiny on the inside but large and heavy on the outside; not at all like the TARDIS.

At present my top choices are: the Prodigy, followed very closely by the NSK3480, then the SG05.
Surprisinly the MicroATX Antec NSK3480 is actually smaller than the MITX BitFenix Prodigy!

macaonghusa wrote:storage #1: Intel X25-M 160GB SSD
Storage #2: Samsung 1.5TB F2 Eco Green 32MB S300

My biggest concern is hard drive space in the NSK3480. Ideally I want my above storage to fit comfortably.
As a previous owner of this case would you be able to comment on whether my proposed components would easily fit within the NSK3480?
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:28 am

The NSK3480 can handle two 3.5" drives and a 5.25" drive easily. It was when I installed the 3rd hard-drive in mine that I started grumbling about the way that the drive bays and mounting points were designed.
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:46 am

Don't discount the Shuttles, they are still a nice solid small box. The R5 series can even take mATX motherboards. Amazon de is listing the following.

SZ77r5 $360
SZ68r5 $293 has 500w PSU, z68 motherboard (not much difference to z77)
SH67h7 $263 smaller unit with 300w PSU
SH67h3 $245 same as h7, but different face plate
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:44 am

Not to throw a wrench in this, but the Silverstone PS07B is the exact same case as the Tremjin, but with a different front panel. The PS07 trades the 180mm AP fan for two 120mm fans and a plastic fascia. (review here) Just something to consider.
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:59 am

Unfortunately I was too busy to make the order during week so weekend looks more likely. Still undecided on case but getting closer to a decision I think.

JustAnEngineer wrote:The NSK3480 can handle two 3.5" drives and a 5.25" drive easily.

I'd be happy if I could just fit in two drives (1x 2.5" and 1x 3.5") and one 5.25" drive.
However you mention it can handle two 3.5" drives easily.
Would I need to buy some sort of storage bay adapter in order to fit my SSD in this case?
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:18 pm

macaonghusa wrote:Unfortunately I was too busy to make the order during week so weekend looks more likely. Still undecided on case but getting closer to a decision I think.

JustAnEngineer wrote:The NSK3480 can handle two 3.5" drives and a 5.25" drive easily.

I'd be happy if I could just fit in two drives (1x 2.5" and 1x 3.5") and one 5.25" drive.
However you mention it can handle two 3.5" drives easily.
Would I need to buy some sort of storage bay adapter in order to fit my SSD in this case?

My X25-M G2 is a "retail kit" where it includes the 2.5"->3.5" bracket. If you have one then you don't have to buy yourself. Of course, since SSD has no moving parts (read: vibration), some people just go the cheap route and just duct tape the drive to some wall inside the case (some even just leave it hanging somewhere).
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:34 pm

Stick-on velcro tape or tacky blue putty can work acceptably for mounting SSDs, too.
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Re: SFF build opinions - inspired by Dorm PC 2.0

Postposted on Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:59 pm

Thanks for all the advice. I made the order today. Antec NSK3480 should arrive in a few days adn then the building will begin :-)
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