This is my first PC build since 2005 when I went laptop-only. I wanted to build my own and get back to some of the PC games I hadn’t played in years as well as a bit of video editing since the most powerful machine I have is my iMac with its Intel 3470 and GTX 660M. I’ve been planning this build for about a year and with the graphics card and RAM prices being so high, I spread my purchases throughout the last 9 months or so.
I was operating under the impression I’d be using an Intel 8th gen processor for most of the time that I was building a parts list, but I also didn’t know how long it would be until I bought enough parts to put it all together. I bought them in this order so I could make the CPU+Mobo+RAM+GPU purchases as late as possible.
Case: The one stipulation from the good doctor her indoors was that the case must be as small and simple as possible with no over-the-top LEDs, so I aimed for mini-ITX and compromised with the Nano S. It’s quite a minimalist design, but still big enough for good ventilation and expansion. A good deal popped up on eBay, so I snapped up a windowed version.
Power Supply: I bought a Corsair SFX power supply and adaptor to give the graphics card as much of a ventilation gap as possible. I went for the 600W model for a bit of headroom and had to pick up some longer cables as others have mentioned that the ones that come in the box just aren’t long enough for some of the parts of this case. I picked up the red and black ones simply because at the time they were the cheapest set on Amazon by a sizeable margin, not because of any particular look.
Storage: I didn’t need a lot of storage, but I wanted it to be fast, so I went with an NVME drive. The differences might be negligible over SATA, but I can always take it with me to another build. Plus it fits right into the back of the motherboard. Quick boot and read/write so far. No problems.
CPU: By the start of October 2018, the Intel CPUs had got so expensive that I decided I might as well go Ryzen for the best value. I went for the 2700 because the reviews have been solid and didn’t suggest there was any need to spend more on the 2700X.
Motherboard: I went with a middle of the range motherboard that came with USB 3.1 Type-C for a little future-proofing and an NVMe drive. Those were my only requirements and the reviews were solid. It picked up the XMP settings immediately and showed my RAM at 3200MHz, so that’s me happy! I’ve not tried any overclocking, so I can’t comment on that, but I’m happy with the purchase.
RAM: I picked up the Corsair Vengeance LPX because it was only £10 more to get the 3200MHz up from 3000MHz, and I thought low profile might be a good idea just in case I ever consider buying some sort of expensive cooler down the line. There are some lovely LED RAM sticks out there, but the height and risking my partner’s wrath didn’t seem worth the extra cost.
GPU: Since I was planning to pick up an Intel 8th gen CPU, I had also intended to leave a graphics card purchase until later in the year and use their integrated graphics to get by while I find a great deal. However, I needed a graphics card to make this build work. In the end, I went to eBay looking for a 1070 and found the EVGA blower-style 1070Ti for just a little bit more. I’d have loved it if the PCB was covered with a backplate, but for the price, I’m not gonna complain.
Keyboard and Mouse: I have a pair of WASD V2s with Cherry MX Clear switches and some lovely custom keycaps. The full size is set up for Windows and is a little more understated so I could take it to work, the Ten-Keyless has been used with my iMac for the last few years.
The mouse I have is the venerable Logitech MX1000 from 2004. I will replace it with something similar when it stops working, but it continues to work, so that’s it. I might pick up a wired USB mouse for some fast-twitch gaming in the future, but for now, I’m more than happy.
Challenges: The most difficult part of the build for me was the cable management. I spent a good bit of time on the prep for it because I just assumed it matters so much more in a little case. I also found that the cables, while longer than the ones included with the power supply, they are probably sized for bigger cases. This meant that I had more cable than I would have prefered to manage. Overall I’m really happy with it. I’m sure I could turn off the CPU cooler and the GPU LEDs, but I’m not too concerned at the moment.
Edit Added a HF14 140mm case fan from Fractal Design. That's now below the stock intake case fan and fires pretty much directly at the GPU. Currently using it with the voltage reducer, to keep the noise down a little, but I'm happy with it so far.
Temps: I ran the free Unigen Superposition benchmark at 1080p extreme settings to get the GPU temps. I ran a 4K Handbrake video conversion with the Ryzen Master software open and picked the highest it got to.
Comes with a decent cooler in the box
Great value vs current Intel 8th gen offerings at the time of purchase
None that I've found so far
USB 3.1 Type-C for future-proofing
Recognized XMP settings immediately.
Some slightly more difficult placement of cables to route around the motherboard.
Does the job.
Glad the prices have gone down a bit!
Good performance, but I've not tried overclocking
Neutral colour LED
Blower-style ejects heat out of the back of the case
Naked PCB could do with a back plate
Blower-style makes for a warmer, louder card
Lots of space for a Mini-ITX case.
Space enough for a full-length graphics card.
Plenty of space around the back for cable management
Plenty of rubber grommets around the motherboard for easy cable management.
Would have loved a case with new Type-C I/O and a fully tempered glass side panel, but that would have pushed the price way up. Maybe in version 2.
Cables click into place nicely
Fits nicely with SilverStone SST-PP08 in the ATX slot.
SFX is expensive, but that's my own choice.
Does exactly what it needs to and comes with more than enough accessories to work
Metal looks and feels a bit cheap compared to the rear of the Nano S case I'm building in
Very well packaged
Feel lovely to work with
Connectors click nicely into place
Have text on the side of the connectors that aren't necessary and look annoying on an otherwise clean build