Description

Low profile case mounted to monitor for portability, cable management. Built for basic gaming and secondary computer. Will be used for LAN parties if it performs well enough--technically, it should be better than my (old) main machine.

Currently running SteamOS as a test with plans to install Windows 7.

Chose the Gigabyte for larger potential RAM capacity and included wifi and bluetooth (which SteamOS found and used without a hitch). I had a donated AMD A8-6600K but I wanted to try out the top end A10 for the slightly better GPU and very slightly lower power usage. RAM is currently old 2x4 1600Mhz DDR3...waiting on RMA for the 2133MHz I had initially tried to order. Noctua low profile fan works brilliantly. I have space to spare between the case grill and the fan. It's not rated for 95W TDP but so far, no smoke rolling out. Picked up the SSD for quick loads and the WD Red for extra capacity. So far, so good. Samsung Pro 850 is downright zippy.

The Antec case is perfect for the job. I spent hours looking at other cases, specifically ones without included power supply but still VESA mounted. Those are astonishingly rare. I picked up the Antec case from Fry's originally but the PSU was drastically underpowered so I took it back. After an exhaustive search, or at least an exhausting search, I turned right around and picked up the same case from Newegg and replaced the built-in with the picoPSU combo.

Update (10/14/2014): Loaded machine up with Windows 7 Pro. Much better performance on my favorite games than the SteamOS. I did finally get my 2133MHz RAM installed. I'd previously stepped clock and voltages down on the processor to keep heat down but with the new RAM running at rated speed, I blue screened heavily. I did a restore defaults in the BIOS and stepped the RAM back up to 2133 (defaults to 1600 on that board). Processor is back to running native speed (no OC) and with the CPU fan just running at full (still quiet), I have no heat issues. I did add an annoying little 40mm fan to the side of the case which somehow seems to help a bit. I've been playing the new Gauntlet at max settings with no issues which wouldn't seem noteworthy but I found it does beat up some other machines I've tried it on. Surprisingly, the new game, Alien Isolation, plays really well on it. Not a silky 60 FPS but a very playable 30+. It's no i7 with a GTX 980 but it chews up the things I run on it without a hitch. Other than being a little toasty, I'm really impressed with what the A10-7850K can handle. There are probably about 5 other people on the planet that would have the same build goals, but if you want a tiny powerhouse, this build gets it done. I'm thinking the recommendation of the A10-7800K would be a pretty sound swap however. If I were to build another, I'd go that route...might even be able to use the stock power supply that way.

In hindsight (2/4/2015) If I were to approach this type of build again, I'd definitely change a few things around, mainly to save some money. Case - The VESA mount feature is very cool but I find that the portability is my favorite feature. I'm not sure there's much variety in this size but for just a few more millimeters of CPU fan clearance, I'd be willing to forgo the VESA bracket. I'm partial to the InWin H-frame mini. It's bigger and spendy but I'd come out about the same since its power supply is adequate at 180W. CPU - That's still a keeper. I love the onboard video capabilities. CPU Fan - I'd keep the stock one if at all possible, mainly just to save a few bucks. According to most comparisons I've found so far, most low profile fans don't out perform stock. Memory - works just fine. I might grab the 2400 instead but since the build can't really OC, only if the memory is cheap Mobo - Had a CPU fan header quit on the Gigabyte. Didn't RMA, just swapped CPU with Case fan header. PWM is the part that failed and the Noctua is quiet enough to run at full speed. I really like the rapid boot options on the ASRock and that's probably what I'd choose, although the CPU offset is annoying. Drives - Samsung 850 Pro is great but way overkill. The rapid boot is a far greater speed convenience. For a secondary system, I don't use any where near a terabyte. I'd swap the 128G and the 1T with a single 256Gig. Any SATA III SSD is awesomely fast. picoPSU - works great. Case isn't very accommodating of the new connector though.

Part Reviews

CPU

Great little chip. Runs hot just like any other AMD. GPU is squarely in the "not bad" category and still some of the best you can get onboard without spending a small fortune on top end Core i7 with IrisPro. The onboard GPU is its big sell so don't mess with the APU series unless you are specifically avoiding discrete video or don't have room for it...or you got one for free ;-) Would probably not purchase one again, opting instead for a bigger box with discrete GPU. Very niche.

CPU Cooler

Love it. Wish it was rated for higher TDP. Reasonably quiet. If you have to use low profile air coolers, this should be among this list of top contenders. Would buy again if the scenario called for it.

Motherboard

Not my favorite motherboard but awesome set of built in goodies. Better than most on the wireless card card placement, connections, reliability. Had trouble with CPU cooler header and some odd issues with USB not working--I'm not sure that wasn't a USB3 extensible driver issue so I'm not knocking off a star for it. Would probably not buy again, opting for ASRock or Asus.

Memory

It's RAM. It works. 'nuff said.

Storage

Some strangeness with boot after suspend or hibernate but always starts up. Unless you have an application that can actually use the kind of performance increase this has over other lower IOP rated drives, I'd skip it. Grab an 840/850 Evo or Crucial. Big differences in benchmarks don't seem to translate to anything perceptible when firing up your favorite FPS. Great drive...just didn't seem to be worth the extra $$$ for what I was doing. Would not buy again but if it was free...absolutely!

Storage

Opted for this over the Green for extra storage on a standard rig--I liked that it didn't spin down. Works just fine but for standard, non-NAS situations, go for the black or blue. Otherwise, in a normal box build, it's pretty interchangeable with the green. Avoid use as a boot/OS drive. Would not buy again unless used for a software NAS box.

Case

Great box for the size restrictions and mounting I was looking for. The power supply was much too small for what I was doing...ended up spending more for the replacement picoPSU kit than I did for the case. The 2.5" drive mounts under the motherboard are genius. For small form factor systems that use standard CPUs and 2.5 drives AND VESA mounts, there are few options. This is a great way to go. If you are on passive cooled SoC boards and mSATA drives, you've got more options. Kocking off a star for small-ish PSU and some fragile vents on the back. Would definitely purchase again if the board/CPU could run on the included PSU.

Comments

  • 58 months ago
  • 3 points

Nice to see another 7850K with the GA-F2A88XN-WIFI. Any issues with the BIOS? Did it boot up straight away?

  • 58 months ago
  • 2 points

by now all places that sell it should have the rev. 3 which comes with F3 bios, so there shouldn't be any problem.

  • 58 months ago
  • 2 points

No issues with the BIOS but still waiting for the proper RAM, I fought with the 1333's I've got in there when paired with the A10. The older A8 did okay but the A10 froze with a graphics glitch within minutes. Currently using 1600's and they are holding up okay.

Initial builds with the Gigabyte+A8-6600 in the Antec w/supplied power...much difficulty. I had to hook up an external PSU to turn down some BIOS settings.

I'm really happy with the Gigabyte board itself. Plenty of ports for what I'm using it for and no issues that weren't caused by bad part choices.

  • 58 months ago
  • 2 points

Cute little build you have there; nice to see the APUs getting a little love. Might I ask, though, why get a high-end Samsung SSD when something like the Crucial MX100 is notably cheaper and has double the capacity?

  • 58 months ago
  • 3 points

I blame project madness. I did get a reasonable price on the 850 but yes, it's definitely overkill. I'll probably swap it for the smaller SSD in my main rig.

  • 58 months ago
  • 2 points

Put on some other distro of linux and forget about windows and SteamOS.

  • 58 months ago
  • 2 points

SteamOS has been an interesting experiment. It seems to work well enough and the price is right but...yeah... Time to try out something else.

  • 58 months ago
  • 2 points

I love this tiny build! Didn't even need to read the details to know you went with Noctua! Unique color scheme.

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

200mm "free" case fan has arrived. I've been pondering how to install it externally. "Elegant", "structurally stable", and "removable" make for strange bedfellows. Clever idea brewing. Will post if I ever see it through. All parts acquired, all that remains is to commit to sabotaging warranties.

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

love this, nice case, +1

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

Great build, I am thinking of making a build in that case pretty soon. I just wanted to know how to use the picoPSU instead of the default PSU? Do you just replace it?

  • 58 months ago
  • 3 points

Yep, the supplied PSU pops right out very easily. The after market picoPSU's don't come with any special mounting hardware for the connection between the power brick and the DC-DC converter so that will be hanging loose until you find workable parts. The new pico's connection is smaller than the square opening on the case. I picked up some washers of various sizes matching the new barrel connector but I haven't tried it yet. Best of luck on the build. My specific setup was able to do justice to Alien Isolation so I'm pretty happy with it.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

how's the cpu in adobe premiere ?

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Funny :D No idea. Assume not so great.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Quick question, how did you go about installing the psu? and did you set the 7850k to attempt to run at a lower tdp than stock? I want to shrink my current build saving only the ram and ssd but cant find a guide for this case on installing a new psu

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Basically, you just pull the existing dc-dc converter out. Just a few screws and it's clear plus it gives you some breathing room for wires. The replacement dc-dc part is smaller than the original and plugs right into the 20pin. The inbound barrel connection from the ac-dc brick is the goofy part. The pico PSU doesn't mount in the hole that the original leaves. The new connection is too shallow so either it will dangle or you can glue it. I've not glued mine but I put a washer on the outside to keep it from retreating into the case at least. On the AMD, I originally cranked down the speed to get it to run with the Antec supplied PSU and it still ran quite well but it disturbed me to tune down AMD's best APU. That's where the picopsu came in. Running at stock speed, the AMD easily takes out the Antec supplied one and rides close to max even at 3.0 GHz or less.

At any rate, you'll find the pico PSU install quite easy but your connections will hang out the back without some cleverness. The threads on the female connector (dc-dc part inside the case) are just too short. I also didn't find much in the way of alternatives to the picoPSU.

Minor warning to anyone using this Antec case, be very careful with the power switch leads. They aren't protected well like the other front panel connections and are easily fatigued by wire management attempts. I managed to knock mine completely loose.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

aww man, that sucks im looking to part out my current build (fx-6300,ga-78lmt-usb3,550W xfx TS psu, 6770 gpu) and come out close to even with a 7850k and a mobo, doesnt look like its going to happen, Thanks for the info, and the quick response, really helped me. thats making me wanna do a hadron build. but i love the size so much :/(yes thats what she said)

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

That's the downfall of the Antec case, small power supply. 90W brick and i think the converter is only 80. With the A10 7800 you could almost make it work but the system max wattage would probably settle around 100W with fan, memory, drive and motherboard.

I had really specific goals for my case though and the Antec was really the only one that fit. If you don't need VESA mountable, there are a few low profile cases with bigger PSUs included. I picked up a cooler master case (also called the 110 I think) that will take a standard supply plus you have room for video if you wanted to add it later.

Anyhow, check out Habey, Wesena, and Silvertone mini ITX cases. Inwin make$ $ome intere$ting ca$e$ too. There's an H frame that's alittle spendy but it comes with a much better power supply.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

yea its a neiche thing, I got to friends houses allot, so if i wanted something as small as possible, to replace my 350D and except for cpu power, i think the gpu will perform better . ive looked into all of them, i either dont trust the psu or its too much for me, I'm hoping to find this case for about 35$ if so that would help allot

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I gotchya. The smallest one I found although probably too low clearance for the A10 is the Minibox M350. Fairly cheap but still needing the picoPSU supply kit. If you are willing to go up a notch in volume (still VERY portable), check out the Cooler Master Elite 110 https://pcpartpicker.com/part/cooler-master-case-rc110kkn2. It hovers around $40 and uses standard PSU. The design is very space efficient making it probably one of the smallest boxes that can hold a discrete card. Still cramped but WAY easier to work with than the Antec. Very light weight and actually a bit flimsy when you have it gutted to install drives and boards. With the crossbrace back in and cover on, it's solid though. Actually holds 4-2.5 drives or can take 3-3.5 drives. You'll likely have a 3.5 drive and a spare PSU making this a pretty cheap option. Stick a handle on the top and you are golden. My friend and I both bought one that came as a kit with the AMD 5350, case, motherboard combo and we love it.

  • 54 months ago
  • 1 point

could you oc with that psu?

  • 54 months ago
  • 1 point

I doubt it but it would be tempting to try to push it a little if my fan could keep up.

The max usage of the set of components is 165W according to the part picker. While the brick could handle it, the picoPSU, probably not. I believe it's rated for 160W. With my fan only rated for 65W TDP processors, I've never attempted to overclock and I have no idea how stable the power supply would be at those nice 4.5GHz speeds I hear of.

I should add some "hindsight" notes to this. I love this little box but I'd definitely do it differently if starting fresh.

  • 48 months ago
  • 1 point

I know this build is a bit on the older side, but I have to ask, did that HDD actually fit INSIDE the case?

I ask because I'm building a Vesa-mountable machine for my girlfriend and I'd like to package her existing HDD inside of it with an SSD for the boot drive.

  • 48 months ago
  • 1 point

That case actually fits two drives but they've got to be 2.5 hdd's (or ssd). The SATA cables are bit of a pain to run but not terrible. The case is pretty clever with mounting the drives under the mobo. Several of the other vesa mount or low profile cases throw the drives on top of the CPU fan calling for an even lower profile cooler.

  • 48 months ago
  • 1 point

Update: now that I'm at a full keyboard. Wanted to mention that this case does have a weak spot on the underside that will crack with excessive handling. If you keep it mounted all the time, it's fine but the vents on the underside of the case are pretty fragile. I've squished a couple while picking up the case.

  • 48 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks!

  • 29 months ago
  • 1 point

Hi. I'm going to build a Render node with a I7 6700, 16 gb and ssd Samsung 830. I'll use it for Render node only so at full load! Can be some sort of instability due to antec 90w max?? I7 is 65w. Thank

  • 29 months ago
  • 1 point

I'm a little rusty on this one but as I recall, while the power brick was 90W max, the picoPSU piece was only 80W. With the power the motherboard draws and the tiny extra bit the SSD and RAM pull, it's probably just over what the PSU can handle when the CPU is at full load and you are definite well past keeping the power draw under the magic 80% rule. Based on max specs, I wouldn't recommend.

  • 58 months ago
  • 0 points

In that case..... the 7850k will get hot with a cooler only rated for 65 watts! You could have gone with the A10 7800 which is 65 watts or the A8 7600 (65 or 45 watts). BOth chips will work with 2133 ram. Also remember this section is for completed builds, and yours seems to be...

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

Wise words, much appreciated info. I wasn't sure if I'd stick with the build, mostly an experiment gone way overboard, so I went for the top end APU. Build is completed actually. I need to toss up a couple more pics. I'll keep an eye out for the 7800. So far no overheating that I've detected but I don't have a way to monitor at load with the SteamOS, not that I'm aware of anyway.

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

Oh, yes, I see...it isn't running with the RAM as spec'd. My bad.

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

yep, just tried to have a lot of ventilation as this case doesn't have any fans, just the cpu cooler, I have seen some mods with fans on the outside but.... maybe thats too much

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

I spotted a free-after-rebate deal on a 200mm. I'm pretty sure the biggest fan you can mount on the outside is 180mm or less but for the price, I figured I'd give it a shot. Hasn't arrived yet nor do I have a clue as to how to mount it. Again, I blame project madness.

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

http://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=83983&sid=e645ad3b0ab7c18868aaf3460eb027c6

the guy used a 180mm fan on his mod, you might want to check, if 2 cm more would be ok...

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