micro-ATX build advice

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micro-ATX build advice

Postposted on Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:13 am

I had been planning to do a new build at the end of this year, and now that I haven't won the "Dear Diary" giveaway I actually have to pick out parts like a pleb. I was thinking I'd go micro-ATX because there is little to no chance I will SLI/CF and I only ever run 1-2 storage drives. I could probably get away with mini-ITX, but I'm a little scared to take that much of a plunge (I'm no expert builder). I use my PC primarily for gaming, but also for a little Windows and web development. I never do any encoding, rendering, or compute, and I never run a billion VMs. Will probably experiment with some mild CPU overclocking. Currently gaming at 1920x1200, but will hopefully pick up a 2560x1440 or better (with G-sync, perhaps?) sometime in the next year.

I'm located in the U.S. and will be shopping primarily at Amazon (have Prime) and Newegg.

Anyhow, here are the parts I've more or less settled on:

Case - Silverstone TJ08B-E (will be removing the drive cage)
Mobo - Gigabyte GA-Z87MX-D3H
CPU - Intel Core i7-4770K
SSD - Samsung 840 EVO 500GB (might go down to a 250 GB)
Audio - Asus Xonar DSX

I'm open to suggestions or criticism on the above, but I'm primarily looking for advice on the rest. I'm not confident enough to have strong choices for the other parts, but here are my preferences and concerns:

PSU - Probably don't need more than 450-500W. Needs to fit within Silverstone's 160mm recommendation, be at least semi-modular, and not have any audible coil whine. And in the TJ08 I should mount the PSU upside down? Still haven't fully grasped the nuances of cooling, airflow, and the positive/negative pressure debate.

GPU - Willing to spend $300-ish. Leaning towards a 770 (the NVIDIA bundle has games I'd actually play, I'm not a BF person), but which one? Do I want an ACX cooler or a blower-style cooler?

CPU cooler - Maybe a Hyper 212 EVO? I have no experience with water coolers.

Additional case fans - Do I need them?

RAM - An 8x2 kit would be ideal if there's a decent sale. Otherwise 4x2 would probably be enough for my needs. Would it be wise to go with low-profile modules, or is that unnecessary?

I'm still combing through previous threads that people have made about micro-ATX builds and the TJ08 in particular, so I might answer a few of my own questions over time. But in the meantime, any help would be greatly appreciated!
weaktoss
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Re: micro-ATX build advice

Postposted on Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:21 am

As I currently own both a Xonar and a Creative sound card (separate machines) I prefer the creative solution myself.

Normally I wouldn't mention it but the Soundblaster Z is on sale at amazon for just a bit more than the DSX you picked out. http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Blaster- ... creative+z

In my opinion I would get the Soundblaster over the Xonar.
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Re: micro-ATX build advice

Postposted on Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:39 am

I picked the Xonar purely on the basis of its frequent inclusion in TR system guides. Thanks for the input, I'll definitely consider the Soundblaster Z!
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Re: micro-ATX build advice

Postposted on Tue Nov 19, 2013 11:08 am

My thoughts.

mATX vs. mITX: If you want a sound card, you can't go with mITX since your only PCI slot will be used for a video card, but mATX is a fine size.

Do you need extra case fans? No. They're nice to have and can improve cooling, but as long as you aren't blocking intake/exhaust or overclocking, you don't need them. If you want to improve cooling, however, it's a nice addition. Consider it with your...

CPU Cooler: Stock Intel coolers should be fine, but you can imrpove with an aftermarket solution. Keep two things in mind here. First, case cooling should generally push air in the same direction, so make sure you position your CPU fan to work with the case fan(s) as opposed to against them. Second (and I don't have a perfect way to analyze this without components on hand), think about how the cooler will interact with or interfere with other components. My Thermaltake Frio's fan blocks one of my DIMMs, which is fine since I just moved the RAM over, but it limits what I can do inside my system.

On water cooling, the big benefit is being able to relocated the CPU cooling to avoid the interference I describe. The cooling and noise of self-contained units are pretty comparable to air solutions.

PSU Capacity: Use this calculator to determine capacity. Your estimates are probably good, but it's a good sanity check before you buy components :wink:

RAM: Watch Newegg. I was able to knock off a fair amount when I bought my RAM a couple months ago with a promo code. I am sure that deals will be rolling in as the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear around Friday of next week...

SSD: Up to you. I went with a 240GB SSD and just installed my Steam games to a 1TB mechanical drive. I like having WoW on my SSD since loading is super snappy, but it's really not necessary, IMO, and having the SSD makes everything faster.
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Re: micro-ATX build advice

Postposted on Tue Nov 19, 2013 12:04 pm

Save on the SSD and invest in a better GPU if you plan to pick up a high resolution monitor in a year or so. The 770 won't be enough if you plan to play latest games at full detail at that resolution. If you don't care to loose some of the eye candy, I suggest at least to search for a 4Gb version of the 770.
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Re: micro-ATX build advice

Postposted on Tue Nov 19, 2013 12:29 pm

Thanks for the input, guys. Yeah, the 500 GB might be a little overkill, I'll probably go down to 240/250 and divert that money into something else. I guess I'll hold off on case fans until later. If I start getting into heavy overclocking I can always add them at that point.
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Re: micro-ATX build advice

Postposted on Tue Nov 19, 2013 12:42 pm

I recently did a mATX build for my father using the Fractal Design Define Mini, and I have to recommend at least looking at it.
It's slightly larger than the TJ08 so you might not like that, and you might as well throw away the included controller. That said, it is one of the easiest cases to work in that I've used, and it is dang quiet.
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Re: micro-ATX build advice

Postposted on Tue Nov 19, 2013 12:45 pm

Jon1984 does make a good point about monitor resolutions if you're going to get more pixels. If you are aiming for G-Sync, it's probably best to stick with Nvidia cards for the immediate future. I am fairly confident that it will eventually be possible to use G-Sync on AMD cards, but Nvidia is obviously more prepared, and the technology will need some time to mature (specifically out of FPGA and into ASIC).

As for how much power to get, that opens up options. You could invest in a 780 or higher now, aim lower (760?) and upgrade when the 8xx series releases (selling the card you get now-ish), or even stick with a 770 and go for SLI shortly after you get your monitor (although this option is out on a mATX board). Each option has pros and cons...I think it all depends on how willing you are to upgrade your GPU later.
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Re: micro-ATX build advice

Postposted on Tue Nov 19, 2013 1:23 pm

The Define Mini is pretty nice looking and ten bucks cheaper! But as you said, I do like the smaller size of the TJ08. I'll have to think hard about that one.

The 780 is currently a bit beyond what I am willing to spend, I think. If the 770 might not cut it at higher resolutions, I could get by on the 460 I'm currently using or the 4870 I have lying around. Then when I do finally splurge on a better monitor, I can choose from among the latest and greatest GPUs.

It'll depend on how good the 760/770 deals are during holiday sales--I might not be able to resist.
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Re: micro-ATX build advice

Postposted on Tue Nov 19, 2013 5:08 pm

weaktoss wrote: Case - Silverstone TJ08B-E (will be removing the drive cage)
Why will you be removing the drive cage? I'm running an R9-290 graphics card in mine with the drive cage in place.

weaktoss wrote: In the TJ08 I should mount the PSU upside down?
Yes, you should. This accomplishes, in much less space, what those cases with the separate compartment for the PSU are attempting to do. A $93 80+ Gold unit with modular cables might be a good choice. This $65 -20MIR 80+ Bronze unit with modular cables is relatively inexpensive.

weaktoss wrote: Additional case fans - Do I need them?
Not really. Just be certain to plug in the front 180mm "Air Penetrator" fan to your motherboard's fan speed controller.
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Re: micro-ATX build advice

Postposted on Tue Nov 19, 2013 5:23 pm

Why will you be removing the drive cage? I'm running an R9-290 graphics card in mine with the drive cage in place.

No particular reason, I just wasn't planning on using it so I figured I might as well remove it. I'm only going to be running a single SSD, and as I understand it there's a dedicated place for a 2.5" drive at the bottom of the case. Is that place a pain to utilize?

That said, if the drive cage doesn't get in the way of anything, I'll forgo the hassle and just leave it alone.

And thanks for the PSU suggestions, I like the look of that SeaSonic.
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Re: micro-ATX build advice

Postposted on Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:23 pm

I've settled on pretty much every component except the GPU. I'm still waffling over whether to get a card with a blower or open air cooler. From what I have read, open air generally beats blower, but blowers are better for SLI/CF setups or in enclosures with limited or sub-par airflow. Sound about right? Should I stick to open air since I'm only running one graphics card and the TJ08 has pretty good airflow?

JAE, are you satisfied with your 290's stock blower? If there had been open air OEM variants available, would you have opted for one of those instead?
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Re: micro-ATX build advice

Postposted on Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:44 pm

weaktoss wrote:Should I stick to open air since I'm only running one graphics card and the TJ08-E has pretty good airflow?
Yes.
JAE, are you satisfied with your 290's stock blower? If there had been open air OEM variants available, would you have opted for one of those instead?
If you can hold off until the inevitable Vapor-X version arrives, you'd probably be happier with it. The stock cooler is quiet up to 40% fan output. It's noticeably noisy above about 44% output. At the "uber" 55% setting, it's somewhat annoying. As of today, only the reference coolers are available at Newegg.
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Re: micro-ATX build advice

Postposted on Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:17 pm

Got it. Thanks for the input and advice, everyone!
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