mITX sanity check

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mITX sanity check

Postposted on Mon Nov 04, 2013 10:28 pm

Alright everyone, I'm finally getting a system put together (it's only been 7 years) and could use a sanity check. Objectives of this build is to high on value, relatively quiet, and run steam on Ubuntu with 3 monitors when I'm not working on school stuff. I'm pretty much set on that GPU (280x or 79xx) and I think I can find a better deal on the HIS IceQ. The memory is just a place holder for what is on sale.

So, what do you all think?

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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Mon Nov 04, 2013 11:36 pm

I just built one. After much debate I went AMD with the ASRock FM2A88X-ITX+, I love the mobo so far. I'm using an A6-6400K as a Kaveri placeholder.

I looked at that case but read a few things about build quality that turned me off--stuff like screws stripping really easily--I know that would send me into a rage so I didn't risk it. I went with a trusted ITX case, the Cooler Master Elite 130. It is bigger than what I was hoping for but it has room for long video cards and liquid coolers.

Don't know on my vid card yet, was thinking the non-X version of the R9 290 but where the heck is it? I'm actually a bit shocked at how well the A6 plays games by itself.

Ummm, 16GB Corsair Vengeance Pro 2133 and two drives I already had. One Samsung 840 SSD and an older Seagate that will soon be replaced.

Oh, and I made a TL build video just for kicks... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iR_-ew_c-8

I have a Qnix Evolution II that is on the way from Korea as we speak. Vid card is next.
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 1:49 am

I prefer micro-ATX for the 4 PCIe slots (vs. just one with mini-ITX). However, you might check out similar mini-ITX gaming PC builds in these threads:
viewtopic.php?f=33&t=89213
viewtopic.php?f=33&t=89855

If you do consider micro-ATX, check out the information in this thread:
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=89932
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 7:36 am

MethylONE wrote:I looked at that case but read a few things about build quality that turned me off--stuff like screws stripping really easily--I know that would send me into a rage so I didn't risk it. I went with a trusted ITX case, the Cooler Master Elite 130. It is bigger than what I was hoping for but it has room for long video cards and liquid coolers.

Don't know on my vid card yet, was thinking the non-X version of the R9 290 but where the heck is it? I'm actually a bit shocked at how well the A6 plays games by itself.


I thought about that case, too, but I wanted something a little more quiet and subdued. I did have a hard time finding an mITX case that would fit the cards I was looking at, though.

And speak of the devil, the R9 290 was just reviewed by TR :) Spoiler alert, get something that isn't the reference cooler if you have functioning ears.

JAE, I did think about the uATX builds. And you are probably right about the expansion, but the heart wants what the heart wants. In this case it would be something small and quiet.

So, there shouldn't be any clearance issues with the heat pipes or the CPU cooler or... [insert other possible issue here]?
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 9:10 am

Losergamer04 wrote:So, there shouldn't be any clearance issues with the heat pipes or the CPU cooler or...

The product page and official reviews are always a good place to look for questions like this.
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 9:55 am

Do you plan to use this thing for another 7 years? If so I'd jump on 16GB of RAM right now. You're only going to get 2 slots so you might as well put as much as you can reasonably afford into them. And if you really don't have the budget for it, maybe consider a Gigabyte Z87N-Wifi here (and save around $40 that you can put into the RAM): http://www.amazon.com/Gigabyte-Intel-6G ... 00D94X7WW/
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 10:52 am

@derFunk: Thanks for the suggestion. You're probably right. I should jump to 16GB, even if it means saving up a little longer. The reason I chose the motherboard I did was because of the ACL 1150 chip. I thought there was another board out there with it but I couldn't find it again. I plan on eventually buying a stand-alone DAC (Objective DAC) and was thinking this codec/chip might hold me over a little longer. It's better but is it $40 better? What do you think?

@DPete27: I did look at the specs, but I don't buy/build much any more these days. I'm just worried I'm overlooking something so I thought another look from some people with a lot less "building rust" would be a wise idea. I've read and followed a few of these mITX builds and noticed they can be picky.
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 12:44 pm

Losergamer04 wrote:I've read and followed a few of these mITX builds and noticed they can be picky.

I gave you those links because of this very reason.
From the product page:
•Graphics cards, up to 310mm in length, when 2 HDD slots (1 HDD hanging bracket total) are removed (Graphics cards longer than 170 mm will conflict with PSUs longer than 160mm)
•Tower CPU coolers, up to 165 mm tall

Also, have a look at the build pictures in the review I linked. Based on that, I think you'll be ok with the components you chose. The case gives a reasonable amount of room above the expansion slots for the PCI-e power connectors to the GPU.

PS. Try the build without purchasing the aftermarket CPU cooler first and see what you think. The stock Intel HSF is relatively quiet (see here for a comparison). IF you still want it after you've heard the system running on the stock HSF, go ahead and purchase an aftermarket one.

RAM - That 1333Mhz kit isn't the greatest. Grab 1-2 of these 8GB DIMMs for $55.25 EA (through 11/7). They're low profile, 1.35V, 1600MHz, CAS 8. Better in every sense.
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 1:17 pm

Losergamer04 wrote:@derFunk: Thanks for the suggestion. You're probably right. I should jump to 16GB, even if it means saving up a little longer. The reason I chose the motherboard I did was because of the ACL 1150 chip. I thought there was another board out there with it but I couldn't find it again. I plan on eventually buying a stand-alone DAC (Objective DAC) and was thinking this codec/chip might hold me over a little longer. It's better but is it $40 better? What do you think?

I couldn't tell you about the 1150 vs an 892, other than the other components in the audio chain probably matter more than the codec itself. I don't have experience with either board (or anything current, really), as I do optical out to a pair of monitors for OS/game audio. Since the speakers probably (hopefully? I haven't really tested) better DAC than the motherboard, I figured that was the better way to go.
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 1:43 pm

@DPete27: Wow, that's a useful link. I've got an S line processor spec'ed, so the stock should be more than enough. I can use that extra money to get better RAM. The RAM I had chosen was just a place holder. Now, that stuff you chose, that's a good idea. I should snap those up before prices go up any more! And thanks for the sanity check on the case.

@DerFunk: Yeah, I've read it's a lot better codec. I actually found the other motherboard in the TR reviews, the ASRock Z87E-ITX. It, too, has the same chip. I think they both have Intel NIC's too, so Ubuntu shouldn't have an issue with the driver (I'm not worried about wireless at the moment). What ever board is cheaper when I go to buy will likely the one I'll get.
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 1:54 pm

Losergamer04 wrote: I chose the motherboard I did was because of the ACL 1150 chip. I thought there was another board out there with it but I couldn't find it again.

I think you're referring to the AsRock Z87E-ITX. That IMO, that Asus Z87 Deluxe is only really necessary for overclocking builds (hence the VRM riser). Since you obviously wont be doing any overclocking with your "S" model CPU, the AsRock basically offers everything the Asus board does for $50 less. It also has an open mSATA port if you'd like to save some space inside your case and get an mSATA SSD instead.

BTW, why the 2.5" hdd?
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Two things

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 2:44 pm

1) Do you live near a microcenter? The cpu+board bundle pricing there might mean a nice step up with the same budget. (4670k for example) You can still buy anything more expensive at amazon if needed.

2) Take a look at the cooler master 130 elite, its a bargain in the ITX world.
Probably has the best volume/powerful component ratio choices in any mainstream case. You can go with an AIO 120mm water cooler and use full size components everywhere else: PSU, 2 slot GPU, optical if desried and a decent HDD count regardless.

I own the NH-L9i and it is a great cooler, but I would not limit myself to a 65W cpu for the main system of a power user.
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 2:52 pm

Good point, DePete. I'm so glad I made this thread. I'll swap for that board when I get a chance. I don't see the mSATA on images, though. But I'll try to find a 120GB mSATA SSD when I get a chace, too. And I'm running 60GB drive right now and I've got just enough space for what little I have on it, so I don't think I'll need a bigger drive for a while. And by then they will be cheaper (I hope).

The reason why I had a 2.5 drive speced was because one of the eariler cases I was looking at either had a single 3.5 drive or 2 2.5 drives. I left it there for noise and heat reasons.
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I priced it for giggles

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 3:23 pm

You have in your list this core config:
$200 4570S
$190 Asus Z87 ITX
$94 Fractal ITX
$43 Noctua Cooler
=
~$527

If you are near microcenter:
$200 4670K (4570S is $170 but this is $30 bundle eligible and that is not so same final price)
$150 Asrock Z87 ITX
-$30 bundle
$42 Elite 130 ITX
$61 CM AIO cooler that fits their case (there may be other models that work, also not sure if microcenter has it)
=
~$423

This saves you a hundred bucks, gives you a faster unlocked cpu and a beefier cooler.
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 3:32 pm

If you're going to get a beefier cooler like that, you might as well get a board that can overclock!
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 3:33 pm

Bauxite, I do not live close to a Micro center, unfortunately.

I did look at the Cooler Master. I couldn't find many reviews comparing the two, though. The Node seemed it would be a little quieter. And I'm done with liquid cooling, at least for now. The 65W CPU is to keep the noise and heat down. I'm not doing much of anything too powerful these days. This CPU is a nearly 2X jump in CPU compared to the Q6600 I'm using now and it's just now getting to be a little slow.

Edit: Bauxite, that is tempting. Thank goodness I don't live close to a micro center or I'd actually have to worry about choosing!
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usually ignore a blanket statement mill, but I'll bite

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 4:24 pm

Airmantharp wrote:If you're going to get a beefier cooler like that, you might as well get a board that can overclock!


The asrock board will overclock, motherboards are not a boolean choice.

Losergamer04 wrote:And I'm done with liquid cooling, at least for now.


If you want to stick with air, a $70 AXP 100 or $65 NH-L12 with the top fan removed can fit in CM 120/130 cases and you can mount the fans to tunnel out the PSU exhaust.
Either one of those can be quieter than the tiny L9i given the same heat load, especially at the top end of the curve.

Building a nice ITX system is an excellent example of a fun and challenging "faster/better/smaller/cheaper" design study :)
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 4:43 pm

Losergamer04 wrote:Good point, DePete. I'm so glad I made this thread. I'll swap for that board when I get a chance. I don't see the mSATA on images, though. But I'll try to find a 120GB mSATA SSD when I get a chace, too.

It's on the back of the board. Like I said, not necessary but it does get rid of 1 component w/ wires in the case. Makes things a little cleaner looking overall.

Losergamer04 wrote:The reason why I had a 2.5 drive speced was because one of the eariler cases I was looking at either had a single 3.5 drive or 2 2.5 drives. I left it there for noise and heat reasons.

That's what I figured. I don't think you have to worry about heat or noise with a 3.5" 5400rpm drive. Both of mine are quiet enough, and they're in cases that don't have those nice hdd dampeners like the Node 304. Just keep an eye on cost/GB when you're deciding. >1TB 3.5" hdds are about $45-$50/TB ....if you need that much space.
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:06 pm

Well, this bites. I ordered that HIS card a little while ago and I got the wrong card in the mail! WTF? (Note, Amazon "other" retailers are not so great). So, now I'm just going to keep the reference-cooler AMD 7950 they sent me. Still, disappointing. Grrr. I guess it won't make TOO much noise since the most demanding thing I'll play will probably be TF2.
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:33 pm

Losergamer04 wrote:Well, this bites. I ordered that HIS card a little while ago and I got the wrong card in the mail! WTF? (Note, Amazon "other" retailers are not so great). So, now I'm just going to keep the reference-cooler AMD 7950 they sent me. Still, disappointing. Grrr. I guess it won't make TOO much noise since the most demanding thing I'll play will probably be TF2.


You got a blower on an HD7950? I'd probably be running two of those if I'd been able to find them upon release (though in hindsight, I'm glad I didn't...).

Hopefully Amazon will take care of you, though- they've been pretty good for me. Even got an immediate refund on something I never received from one of those not-so-great 'other' retailers :).
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:54 pm

Don't bother with the S low TDP CPU, just get a non-K or K to match up with an H or Z chipset, depending on which motherboard you get.
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 8:58 pm

The one I received was not a blower. The one I got in the mail is a single fan in the center design. The one I had ordered was an HIS IceQ. It was only $200. I'm just miffed because all of the deals I saw on the IceQ are now gone. They are all $260 again, which, at that point, I might as well get the R9 280X. First world problems, right?

MadMan, I'm going with the AsRock Z87E-ITX. I like the mSATA and the price. And I suppose going for a K model might not be so bad. I'm guessing losing VT-d doesn't really matter much for home VM usage, does it.
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 9:54 pm

Wow, what a tight fit! This is going to be a PITA to get into the ITX case! Suprisingly, I didn't have any issues just swapping my HD 5450 for this beast other than Steam crashing. I suppose I should update the drivers. I can't hear it over my water pump so we'll see how it does when it comes time to put it in a less noisy rig. Now, off to buy some cheap RAM!
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 10:05 pm

Losergamer04 wrote: I'm guessing losing VT-d doesn't really matter much for home VM usage, does it.

I use a 3570K with VMWare Workstation running 64-bit Windows 7 and 32-bit Windows XP (for IE8 testing, *shudder*) and I don't miss VT-d at all.
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 10:24 pm

You generally need to be running VMWare ESX or Xen to take advantage of VT-d. Looks like VirtualBox can do it, but it only supports network cards. This tech often has hidden surprises.

Dropping the 4570S model for the 4670K will cost you more as there is no 4570K, you'll have to step up to the 4670K. The 4670K also loses you the lower TDP and TSX-NI. The former can have a real value - especially in a SFF - the latter is still a big unknown in value.
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inception check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:24 pm

VT-d has nothing to do with 99.9% of non-dedicated host machine VM use, honestly if you don't already know what it is and did the research(beware: 5000 caveats including vendors that lie) already you don't need it. To be honest SR-IOV support in expansion cards is more important for the big vm clusters and MR-IOV is showing up...
(intentionally ignoring the like 5 people that have full gpu passthrough working correctly)

Unfortunately a lot of people confuse VT-d with VT-x and/or VT-x w/EPT both of which will speed up performance noticeably. VT-d literally has jack squat to do with them.
The good news is everything but the most neutered x86 cpu has the latter two now, we're talking either several generations back or worse than current gen celeron.

Going down to 65W TDP in a gpu-friendly ITX case is overrated, I ran a 3770k+P8z77i with whatever base boost it is that asus boards like to do (4 bins?) using the stock cooler in the CM 120 for months, it had a 7970 to keep it warm and cuddly and it really didn't care.
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:39 pm

Yeah, I wasn't even thinking of the CPU feature set, just that the low TDP CPUs are not worthwhile except in quite severe thermally-limited situations. The Node 304 and most other shoebox-style mITX cases are not quite extreme. non-K versus K just comes down to CPU feature set and whether one intends to overclock, I don't see a problem 'mismatching' a non-K with a Z series motherboard if the motherboard has certain desired features, or vice versa.
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Wed Nov 06, 2013 5:07 am

The $58 or $58 Silverstone NT06-Pro is designed for compact mini-ITX enclosures. It is only 82mm tall when the fan is mounted to the underside of the cooler (presumably making it 102mm with the included 120x20mm fan on top or 107mm with a standard 120x25mm fan). At 105.4mm tall, the $42 or $33 CoolerMaster GeminII S524 also works in some small cases.
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Wed Nov 06, 2013 7:48 am

Right, I'm not going to be addressing hardware in Xen/KVM/ESX so the VT-d isn't needed (even though in my twisted head, setting up a Xen or KVM setup sounds like fun). TSX-NI is more interest to programmers and not likely something I'll use (free/open soruce Linux programs typically don't get locked into a vendor's hardware). It's only 19W and $20-$40, no biggie with the money I'm saving on the board now. And, if I'm getting a K chip I might as well go for a better HSF.

Thanks for all the advice.
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Re: mITX sanity check

Postposted on Wed Nov 06, 2013 9:28 am

Losergamer04 wrote:And, if I'm getting a K chip I might as well go for a better HSF.

If you're not overclocking, the stock Intel cooler will still work. If you do want to get an aftermarket HSF, get the CPU in the case first. Then if you can (you should be able to with the Node 304), get a tower style HSF. TAKE MEASUREMENTS INSIDE THE CASE. A 120mm tower-style HSF would be ideal unless there's clearance issues with the GPU, then go 92mm. With the HSF fan on the front, and that nice big case exhaust fan immediately behind the heatsink, it's the perfect setup. You'll have no problems with the higher TDP.

[Edit:] The CPU socket on the AsRock Z87 ITX is closer to the top of the board than the PCI slot.
Last edited by DPete27 on Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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