I don't build many computers - this was my seventh build ever, and my second using a mini-ITX motherboard and case. My first ITX build used a Corsair 250D, and compared to that, building inside of this Fractal Design Nano S is a absolute breeze. This has everything the 250D did not: - adequate cable-management routing with plenty of tie-down points - great air-flow with plenty of areas to install fans - easy-to-work with layout that made installing components a breeze - fantastic dust filters that cover EVERY intake (unlike the 250D, which still managed to get dust inside) - quiet operation, with noise dampeners in the front, top, and cable-routing side-panel
The reason why this build started was because of a motherboard and liquid cooling failure on my previous build (Asus Maximus IV Impact). I decided that due to the age of the unit (it had a 780ti, DDR3 memory, core i7 Haswell) it was better to simply start fresh and cannibalize what components I could.
I sent off the failed liquid cooler (H100i v1) to Corsair, and they were kind enough to replace it with a brand-new H100i v2 (!!!) for no cost except shipping. I took that unit, the SSD components, and the power supply to the new build. Needless to say, installation was a breeze, and I got the whole thing done in a couple of hours. Unlike the build with Corsair 250D, my OCD did not kick in, as I was pretty happy with the end-result right after I completed it.
Here are the relevant stats for my build: Noise levels, > 1 meter away: 25 - 30 dBm (idle), 35 - 40 dBm (gaming) Temperatures (idle): 23c- 28c (CPU), 33c- 40c (GPU - fans not spinning) Temperatures (gaming): 35c - 55c (CPU), 75c (GPU - 30-40% fan speed)
I don't have it overclocked, because my QWHD monitor is capped at 60FPS, and my rig easily reaches that for Doom, Titanfall 2. Maybe I will in the future, but I'm happy as-is for now.
Now for a couple of tips for folks out there looking to work in this type of case or emulate closely my build:
- when picking out a motherboard, look at the component layout. I picked this z170i in large part due to how the CPU, FAN_HEADER, Power Supply Connector, and other component connections line up with the cutouts in the Define Nano S. I see some other motherboards where you would have to route stuff like the SATA connector or audio connector over components like the RAM, and if I had that it would drive me crazy, for aesthetic reasons. I like this motherboard because the layout is logical for my tastes.
- if you have two drives, use the SATA splitter cables. The sata daisy-chained sata connectors that come with most power supplies are extremely hard to bend, and when I attempted to connect them directly to the two drives, I had a lot of issues with the cables almost bending and breaking, in addition to making it harder to close the back panel due to them sticking out. The SATA splitters are flat, making easier to route and tuck the sata cables away. Well worth the $3, IMO.
- PLEASE USE A ESD STRAP. Want to know what happens when you don't? Look here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmeLPz0pxnQ - The first thing you should do after you complete your build and see a successful POST is not to install Windows, but instead to update your motherboard drivers. It is incredibly easy and painless to do, and it'll mean you have a motherboard with all the latest fixes and patches. Look at your motherboard manufacturer for details, but essentially most of them have easy-to-follow instructions, and in-case of failure, most of them have a "backup" Bios for that.
- There is more than enough clearance to install the H100i v2 in the front for this case. Not sure about the top (I wouldn't recommend it, as it'll increase your computers noise level and open up an area for dust to get int. Just make sure you look at your GPU's length. Don't go for those Strix GPUs with 3 fans if you're going to use front-mounted radiators.
- Three fans is enough for this case. I started off with an extra bottom-mounted fan, and noticed no difference in temps.
That's all I have for now.