Description

This is my first build, primarily used for gaming and some light streaming/content creation. Coming from a Digital Storm Eclipse (Silverstone RVZ-01) that I got on sale many years ago and has been treating me well ever since. That computer had a 4690k overclocked to a stable 4.1Ghz, with memory overclocked to 2133Mhz. Originally had a GTX 970, but upgraded that to a GTX 1080 two years ago. That card is still going strong, so I decided it was time to build a new home for it. After what seemed like years of planning and waiting for product releases (Crosshair Impact, I'm looking at you), it finally all came together last weekend. The new rig is multiples better in nearly every way: CPU: from 4 cores/threads to 8 cores/16 threads; Memory: from DDR3 1866Mhz (O.C. 2133Mhz) to DDR4 3600Mhz; Storage: from 500GB SSD+1TB HDD (total 1.5TB) to 1TB M.2 SSD + 2TB SSD (Total 3TB). After being stuck in Devil's Canyon for years, I decided I wanted this new rig to be upgrade-able as much as possible. I expect over time to upgrade the CPU, GPU, cooling and storage (PCIE Gen4 M.2). For now, the stock cooling and old GPU seem to work fine.

Here's the improved results of going from my old computer to my new computer (with the same GPU):

Userbenchmarks: Gaming 93 to 109 Desktop 88 to 149 Workstation 52 to 131

Time spy: 6024 to 7503 GPU 6895 to 7273 Avg FPS: 44.4fps-39.96fps to 47.03-41.99fps CPU 3512 to 10363 Avg FPS: 11.8fps to 34.82fps

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Load time: 28:28 to 26:89 Highest setting Rendered 7589 frames to 7697 frames Avg FPS: 48 to 49 GPU Bound: 7% to 100%

Watch Dogs 2 Load time: 1:16:85 to 48:65 Avg FPS (Ultra): 42-46 to 60-70

Assassins Creed Odyssey Ultra 3440x1440 Load time: 1:04:37 to 52:84 Avg FPS (Ultra): 41fps (25min 72max) to 40 (26min 62max) Total 2591 to 2586

Obviously I was very disappointed by Assassins Creed results, but encouraged by Watch Dogs results (amazed, really). It also looks like I'm getting about 10-15 fps better in Battlefield V.

Part Reviews

CPU

Thought I would get a 9700k originally, but when Zen 2 hit and 9000 series seems to be end of road for LGA1151 socket I turned to team red. I really wanted to join the 5ghz club, but with Mini-ITX form factor and limited cooling options, I decided Zen 2 was the way to go. I can also upgrade to a 3900x, 3950x or 4000 series in the future. I was able to overclock to all-core 4.225Ghz with stock cooler but it wasn't really stable. Pulled it back to 4.175Ghz, but then realized performance was actually worse than just letting PBO do its thing (since it will hit clocks of 4.4Ghz).

Motherboard

What can I say? This drool worthy motherboard is overkill but I love it. As soon as I confirmed A1 could fit the Mini-DTX (maybe even before) I knew I had to have it. I love the M.2 solution that allows me to swap out both sticks without pulling out the MB from the case. I also knew how important memory overclock would be so I didn't want to skimp on that side of things. Through overclocking trials, having the reset buttons on the I/O shield was also a godsend. Overall, the only thing to complain about is the price. However, in my view the MB is the one thing that doesn't tend to get upgraded in a rig and stretching on quality is probably money well spent.

Memory

I knew AMD infinity fabric required good memory and optimal speed is 3600. Given I has spent up for the motherboard, I thought I could save a bit of money to get the CL18 timing Dominators. This seems to be a good bet, as I was able to tighten my timings and achieve a CL15 on these sticks. This made a HUGE difference with gaming fps and smoothness.

Storage

Best bang for buck M.2 on the market, but was disappointed when my MB didn't recognize it at first and I stupidly loaded Windows onto WD Blue drive. I later tried to correct this, but the MB just doesn't want to load on the M.2 stick and constantly looks for the WD drive to boot. After much trial and error I gave up and my boot drive is still the WD drive. Real word difference is not noticeable so I can live with this for now.

Storage

Great SSD for a great price. Very happy so far.

Video Card

I picked this card up for $500 two years ago and it's still going strong. I could upgrade to a 1080 Ti or a 2080 Super, but really not sure it's worth the cost. I'll likely wait for the next gen to think about upgrading. Considering putting NZXT G12 and AIO cooler combo onto GPU to help with overclocking, but not sure it's worth the $100 or if it would even fit in the case.

Case

Beautiful case with a lot of great features. I wanted a window on my Mini-ITX, but wanted to keep size to minimal. Wireless phone charging feature is "cherry" on top. Included fans are a bit loud (comparing them to Noctua), but look good in the case and serve their function. Would prefer modular PSU, but cable management wasn't too bad considering. I ended up flipping the rear fan to an intake to blow cooler air on the CPU. Side fan serves as primary exhaust (other than blower cooler on GPU going out the back). This seems to improve CPU temps and help with positive pressure.

Case Fan

Simply the best (especially when you can't really see them) and you want a ton of airflow without much noise.

Monitor

My old monitor from many years ago is still looking great. Only issues are no G/Free Sync and lower refresh rate for gaming. Considering the resolution and my preference to play in High/Ultra settings, going above 60 fps was never really a consideration. I am eyeing the new ROG PG35VQ, but $2500 is a bit crazy. We'll see how nice Santa is this Christmas...

Keyboard

Such glorious RGB.

Much clickity-clack.

Mouse

No better mouse at this price point. Glorious indeed.

Headphones

Best wireless gaming features but not the best sound quality (though certainly not bad at this price point).

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Comments

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

This is a great minimalistic and very clean build. Also there is a lego Thanos!? +1

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you! On Thanos, TBH I borrowed the legos from my son (hands in pic 8) as they were the only figures that would fit inside the case. He was bummed because he lost Star Lord and didn't have all the right infinity stones for Thanos, but I figured they would work well for the pics with the massive amounts of RGB in the case.

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

That motherboard is stunning

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

Surprised it took this long for Mini-DTX to become a thing, but I guess it limits the number of ITX cases it can fit into. It sure is pretty though, too bad it's mostly hidden in the tiny A1.

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

Very Pretty.

  • 3 months ago
  • 1 point

what CPU cooler are you using. I dont see it in the parts list

  • 3 months ago
  • 1 point

nevermind, just noticed that it was the default AMD cooler

  • 3 months ago
  • 1 point

Just stock Wraith Prism cooler so far.

  • 3 months ago
  • 1 point

ahh, i see

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

I have a million questions since I am trying this for the first time. I'm sorry if this question is obvious somewhere on the website, I just go for human help first always!

How many USB slots are on the tower? I have many peripherals.

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

The case (A1) only has two USB slots on the top, but the motherboard you choose will determine how many more slots are available on the back (my MB has 7 more USB's on the back).

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Hi, I wanted to ask where did you got that in win headset holder for the case? I'm doing a similiar setup buy I reaally loved that headset holder. Nice build :) By the Way!

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

Thank you! I got the A1 and the headset holder through the InWin US-online store (its under Accessories - Headset Hanger). They have a few different designs, but this was the cheapest and I ended up getting it free (along with a hat) when they had an online sale. Good luck with the build!

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Thanks I love ur build hope to get it done soon. Hopefully this pandemic ends soon! Thanks!

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

I just wanted to throw out there after seeing your GPU temps under load that you might want to use the bottom fans as intakes and your rear and side as exhaust. Your GPU is a blower style card that sucks IN the fan and blows OUT the back of the case. In other words you have 2x AMAZING noctua fans sucking air AWAY from your GPU that is currently trying to suck AWAY from 2x AMAZING fans. LoL Tug of war when it comes to pc case air is a super super negative, especially when the 2x noctuas are SOOO close to the tiny GPU fan I'm shocked theyre not causing that tiny fan to just stop. Heat rising dictates that the coolest air your tower can possibly get is from underneath the tower and since the GPU is a blower style it's not like the air entering from underneath is going to grab a ton of heat off that card and send it right into your CPU. Test my theory and maybe plummet the temps of the GPU and maybe even drop the CPU temp as well. /wink Lemme know how it goes, I've been dying to grab a couple of those Inwins. =)

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the suggestion! I might have been unclear in my airflow description. I do have the bottom two fans as intakes to blow air up into the case and the GPU. I had switched the rear fan in the back to an intake to blow cool air onto the CPU, but after some time I switched this back to an exhaust. I've had my setup just as you suggest for a few months now. GPU still runs hot, but I think that's because it's now over 2 years old so paste is probably dry and it's blower-cooler style to begin with. Thought about taking off the plastic blower case to let air from noctua fans hit directly and re-doing GPU paste, but not sure it's worth it. Also strongly considered NZXT G12 + water cooler on the GPU but also not sure it's worth it. For now, just looking at getting new next gen GPU when they come out in next 12 months.

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Yo, hey man don't take the case off the blower style. Theyre built for an exact science of blowin out the back so youll end up with a fireball due to needing a whole new fan setup.

No way man... instead of going from a 1080 to a next gen and paying like 2k for a gpu to play the same games you've been playing but with more fps..... You should do what I'm doing and just wait for the sellers of 2080ti 1100-1250 dollar cards to sell them for 600 bucks when the bottom falls out. 2080ti will play anything at respectable frames on ultra ultra ultra. What more could you get aside from frames? lol

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

PS::: You got less than 12 months till the new cards drop. lol Just hold onto the warm card, DONT take it apart unless you have to. Simple simple minor accidents of hand holding the card etc could make the card not post, especially older model cards. Trust me I just re pasted a GTX 560 ti lol wasnt really worth doing. Just run it warm and then sell it for down payment money on wtvr card you want. Sell it and tell them it could use re-pasting just from being a 2 year old card. I didn't re paste the 560 ti for 5 years!!!! Bahahaaaa

  • 29 days ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the advice to leave it be. That's been my general take since I know I'm only likely to screw something up and the card still works fine. I should note I'm OC'ing the card a bit too, up 150mhz from stock. At stock it stays under 83 degrees, but OC brings this up to 86 which I think is fine. If latest leaks are to be believed, 3080 will have more CUDA, RT, and tensor cores than 2080ti. Also new offerings coming up from AMD and Intel. Should be very interesting year on GPU front. Hoping for generational tech bump and price wars. We'll see!

  • 28 days ago
  • 1 point

You def know your stuff man. =) Yeah, I used to think gpu load temps in the 80s was like hitting critical mass but now days it's pretty accepted as commonplace. lol In my dreams my cpu OC will have a max load temp of 60c and the gpu at less than 70c. I see these hyrbid gpu aio coolers doing the less than 70 dance all day long so I'm like "OK it CAN be done!"

I'm changing my pcpartpicker build to keep the nzxt aios out of the picture due to the issues with CAM software and I'm really lookin hard at the Arctic Liquid Freezer 2 in 280mm flavor for my upcoming ITX build. I've already got my nzxt H210 non-i ready for pieces to go inside and I KNOW I'm gonna do at least 1 build with that InWin A1 Plus that you've got but I'm still leaning towards using a 120mm AIO for it. Usually the thermals in the tiny ITXs are so sketchy or at least "sensitive" that my ocd wont just let me run a non-blower style gpu AND an air cpu cooler.

I'm a car guy at heart and cars just like gpus....lol.....or most things.. the first batch of any new tech (or vehicles) has so many manufacturing defects, bugs, or just issues that I ALWAYS hang back and watch the moans, groans, screams, and public tirades until the fixes show up year after year to perfect it and also let capitalism have its effect with competition putting out cooler and cooler overclocked version...longest run on sentence in history.... LMAO

Even with all the RT, tracer rounds, and cooder cores in the new 3k series do you think a side by side screen to screen match up of Shadows of the Tomb Raider at 1440 or 4k is gonna look different? In my head I can only imagine it looking 99.5% identical but the 3k series is pushing 110 fps at 4k while the 2080ti is only pushing 65-90. I can't justify spending the $800 for the base 3070 with the specs being given. I think it's the same "almost" across the board to the 2080 in the same manner as the 1070s position to the 2080. Theyre just rinse and repeating the same strategy. lol A good friend of mine is about to sell me his evga 2070 non reference for 350 bucks. <--- Using that as a reference point for value to dollars I wouldnt spend more than 500 for a 2080ti (used) at this point and I wouldnt spend the 800 for the base 3070 when next year I could use my tax money and get an aftermarket Sapphire or Powercolor non reference non blower style 3080 Super for probably 875 that would straight murder anything weve ever seen graphics wise. lmfao I'm praying to god in heaven that well actually see those cards pushing 4k upwards of 160-240 fps on maxed ULTRA settings...

The 350 I spend on the 2070 and the 875 maybe I'd cough up for a 3080 Super tax time or black friday next year still only round off to 1,225 which is actually less than a 2080ti when they were new at least, to play at maximum settings with very decent fps until I can go full god mode with the 3080 Super.

There.....just like a stereotype villain in a james bond movie I've told you all my secret plans when you didn't even ask for them.... Thoughts?? Bahahahaaaaa

  • 23 days ago
  • 1 point

I don't know what kind of monitor you use, but I prefer utrawide which is a lot of pixels to push. Games keep pushing the limits (RDR2 for example), so I look at GPU purchases in terms of future-proofing. I bought my 2080 for just $500 retail now almost 3 years ago. GPU prices have gone up, but I'm hoping the slew of new GPUs coming out this year from AMD, Nvidia and Intel will cause price war to bring GPU prices back down. A 2080ti is beast, and should handle almost anything you can throw at it. However it doesn't do ray tracing which is the new "thing", and I am always weary of spending big bucks on used cards without a warranty. I guess it all depends on where the prices all shake out to...should be interesting!

  • 7 months ago
  • -1 points

The unicorn barf though, please, just pick a color scheme.

  • 7 months ago
  • 2 points

Lol, fair. I was avoiding downloading the RGB software since it's bloatware that just slows down my benchmarks, but I'll pick a color and post a photo.

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

At least you have reason in the rainbow.

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  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks. I've been eyeing it since it was announced, but was really expecting price to be $300-$350. The $430 price tag made me balk a bit, but I don't regret a thing, especially after getting my RAM to CL15.