Description

Hello there

This is my second build, which I named after my cat Austin, who behaves like he's the king of the house. I've been wanting to build a mini ITX PC since the release of the Thermaltake Core V1 case back in 2014. After quite a bit of time, I finally decided to build myself a new PC, even though I didn't really need one. My brother in law was willing to bring me some components when returning from a trip abroad, so I seized that opportunity and bought the mobo, CPU and case fans. The case, GPU, PSU and memory modules were bought from different brazilian online stores, and the storage drives, CPU cooler, SO and periferals were reused from my previous build. The build process went smooth as the case has removable panels (which help a lot) but cable management was very difficult. It was like fighting Medusa with nothing but zipties. And since I used an adapter to lower the case fans voltage to down to 5v I couldn't just do some half baked job, as that could disturb the airflow inside the case. So then I spent about 3 hours between coffee mugs, zipties and cables, and finally managed to fit everything where I wanted. After everything was on place, I decided to test the PC and everything worked fine since the 1st attempt. There was no need to reinstall the OS or anything. All I did was install the new drivers for the mobo, no issues so far.

Now, let's get to the performance part: this CPU, while a budget one, is up to 35% faster than my previous one. Add to that the DDR4 memories and maybe some newer technologies from the mobo and chipset and I guess that the final performance gain was up to 42~45%. While not groundbreaking, this is a pretty nice increase in performance, especially because I'm on the (very) cheap side of things. Web browsing is a bit faster, multitasking is smoother, video conversion seems a lot faster. I use this PC to watch videos from Youtube and Crunchyroll, edit some photos and videos, fool around with MMD and do some office tasks when I'm working from home. I can say it handles all these tasks pretty well, especially if you factor in the cost.

Lastly, the aesthetics: I wanted to go with this case especifically because I thought it looked beautiful and discrete, with that small form factor and top plexi window. After seeing some builds here in PCPP I decided to go with a black/green themed build, so I went with a black mobo, black case fans, black GPU and chose a PSU that had black cables. The only thing I wanted green were the extension cables, to add some nice detail. I tried painting the top of the CPU cooler matte black with a spray paint, but screwed up some times and screwed up again trying to fix what I screwed up, so I decided to leave it there and use it as is. I can barely see the imperfections through the top window of the case and the cooler now has a "unique" look, so everything is fine I guess LOL

Some small tweaks I made: although the case fan and the 80mm Be Quiet fans weren't loud, they weren't silent either. I was used to my previous PC, which had the case fans running at 7v, so they were barely audible. Since I needed to use an adapter to plug all the fans, I decided to run them at 5v instead of 12v (7v wasn't possible due to the adapter design). Now the case is dead silent. Also, I flashed a custom BIOS into my GTX 750 Ti, since EVGA used a non PWM fan that ran at 40% minimum all the time. Some will say the noise was tolerable, but it wasn't for me, so I flashed in new BIOS and made it "fanless" up to 55º C, and then onwards the fan runs at 35% up until 70º C. The GPU runs very cool and the case provides good ventilation, so there's no need to worry about the card getting fried, I guess.

A note about the price list: those values were obtained through conversion from BRL and EUR to USD, hence why some parts seem too expensive.

Part Reviews

CPU

Man, this is one awesome CPU. It's one of the best CPUs you can find under USD 60.00, if not the best. Although clock speeds aren't very high, its single thread performance is more than enough to satisfy office and domestic users, and the cores are strong enough to push an entry level GPU such as the GTX 750 Ti/R7 360 or even the GTX 950/RX 460 with little to no bottlenecks. Is also runs very cool, even with my cooler poorly mounted the CPU barely reached 70º C, and with the cooler properly installed it never surpassed 40º C, all this with the CPU cooler fan locked at 20%. Bottomline: amazing cost/benefit ratio, if you're in for something cheap and good, pick this one.

Motherboard

Starting with the aesthetics, this card is very beautiful. It's all black, and is very discrete. It also has some blue and red leds next to the memory slots that can help you identify errors or failures, in case they happen. Performance wise, this card is a basic one, and only packs 2 DDR4 slots with speeds up to 2133 Mhz (there's something called Memory try it! that supposedly can overclock your memories past that limit, but I haven't tried that feature yet), has two PWM fan connectors - one for the CPU and one for a case fan. It also has one M.2 socket on the back side, which usually faces the mobo tray. BIOS is pretty simple to use and everything looks OK, the only con I could find is some sensors don't seem to work as they should: the CPU fan speeds are shown as 65K and the System Temperature as 112º C, both very strange and almost impossible values.

Memory

Nice looking, almost low profile memory modules. Work as they should, and come with lifetime warranty.

Video Card

This is one awesome GPU, especially if you factor in the price. It's small and compact, which means it will fit in almost any case without issues. The black PCB, dark gray shroud and black fan/heatsink kind of give it a premium look, making the card beautiful and discrete. It runs very cool too, since there's a copper slug at the bottom of the heatsink, making heat transfer very efficient. The only let down of this card is the fact that the minimum fan speed you can set is 40%. Thal will make the card ultra cool, but I found it was too noisy for me. The way I found to deal with it was flashing in a custom BIOS and making the card "fanless" until it reaches a certain temperature, and then onwards the fan runs at 35%. If you're on a budget and want something that performs nicely, this is a pretty good card, especially if you don't care much about noise levels.

Case

This is a pretty nice case, has a small form factor and includes a 200mm fan preinstalled. Almost all screws are thumb screws, except the ones used to install the motherboard and PSU. The storage drive 'cages' have some rubber rings to help reducing vibrations. Also, there's enough space in the bottom and sides of the case for cable management but it can be a bit difficult, so be prepared to spend some time dealing with your cables. Note: the back side of the storage cages has some pointy edges that can damage your cables if you're not careful. Overall, I think I can rate this case 9/10, as I found that the plexiglass window scratches easily and the fan isn't as quiet as I expected (at 12v).

Power Supply

Mine is the 450w version, but since I couldn't find it here, I chose the 430w to illustrate. The PSU seems very well made, and from my research, this PSU and others from the same line are based on the older Pro series, which were awesome PSUs. Add to that that the cables are all black (except the 24 pin one) and that the PSU looks pretty nice, and you've got an awesome piece of hardware.

Case Fan

Just as the name suggests, this things are quiet. Very quiet, actually. At 12v I can only hear a faint hum coming from the fans, and at 7v and lower, I can't hear them at all. The cables are all black too, making the fans very discrete.

Comments

  • 36 months ago
  • 2 points

Nice .... nicccceeee! Very clean, very compact but still has some decent hardware. +1

  • 36 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks :) I wanted it to looks as clean as possible. Except from the CPU cooler that has a messy appearance, the rest seems pretty discrete and clean I guess

  • 36 months ago
  • 2 points

Looks really good to me, did a good job of hiding the cable for it, and it looks like its right at home, kind of like a little jet engine.

  • 36 months ago
  • 2 points

Thx, the cooler does look better in reality than it does on the photos. Gotta say I'm pretty satisfied with its looks and performance now. Guess I'll review the components I used sometime later.

  • 36 months ago
  • 2 points

Nice, I got the same case wrapped in carbon fiber vinyl and leds!

  • 36 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice, I thought about wrapping the cooler top in carbon fiber vinil, but thought that would require tools and skills I didn't have, so I went with the spray paint. Now I'm thiking I should have gone with the vinyl LOL

  • 36 months ago
  • 2 points

I'd have preferred something like this instead of my ugly i5+gtx 960 pc. I prefer aesthetics, an ssd, unique form factor, good PSU, great quality case and good cooling instead of a crappy looking pc which is more powerful :'(

  • 36 months ago
  • 2 points

I get what you're saying. For this build I already knew I didn't need something very powerful as my previous build was enough for my needs, so I decided to invest in the aesthetics a bit. I was lucky to find the PSU at a good price, and the mobo was at an OK price since I bought it overseas, and after looking through many shops I found a guy that makes custom sleeved cables, so in the end the aesthetics added a bit to the cost but not as much as needed to buy a higher tier CPU/GPU.

  • 33 months ago
  • 2 points

I like the King. And nice reviews of the hardware. I recently purchased a TX3 and it is great for a machine like this. But I really want to know more about the custom bios flash on the GPU. I have the same 750ti SC and I think the noise is intolerable, especially for idle. Please direct me and tell me more about how you made the fan stay off. Everything works fine? Are there any downsides?

  • 33 months ago
  • 1 point

Hi there

To flash a custom bios into the card I used a software named Maxwell Bios Tweaker to change the minimum rpm to 0, and then used Nvflash to load the bios into the GPU. Then, I created a custom curve in MSI Afterburner to make the fan spin at 35% as soon as the card reached 55º C - until it reached that temperature, the card would remain "fanless". You can read this post for more info. I didn't had any serious problems with that config, except the limit I set to make the fan start spinning was kinda high for this build. I had driver crashes a couple times, probably due to the VRMs or other components getting hotter than they should. I thought of 3 ways of solving this issue:

1 - Improve the airflow within the case, and for me that would mean getting the case fans running at 7v or 12v. To make them run at 7v I'd have to buy a newer 3-pin to molex adapter, since the one I'm currently using is crappy, and cable management is kinda hard on this case, so... nah.

2 - Buy an aluminum GPU backplate, as it has some thermal pads to help cool the memory modules and maybe some other components. Although it would make the card cooler and give it an even nicer look, I wasn't sure that would really solve the overheating issue, not to mention the cost.

3 - The simpler and cheaper alternative: instead of making the card "fanless" up until 55º, I set the fan speed at 35%. That way it stays considerably quieter than it was at 40%, and is cool enough not to crash or overheat. That way the GPU temps never go higher than 61ºC even if I overclock +50 on the GPU clocks and +250 on the memory clocks.

TL;DR - I used Maxwell Bios Tweaker and Nvflash to customize the bios. See the following link for more info: http://forums.evga.com/Problem-when-flashing-GTX-750-Ti-SC-m2542868.aspx#2543269 (read from the 1st post). To make sure you won't run into issues, consider using the solution #3 I mentioned above.

  • 33 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the reply. When I saw that you did it I searched for all the info I could find. I think I feel comfortable doing it, as long as I back-up the original bios. I gather that 35% is the lowest setting before the fan wont start. I think that your method should be fine. I was not planning on gaming or OCing it, just general use. But I installed Linux Mint and I want to install Steam and try some of the games, so I cannot use Afterburner. I wonder if I use a windows system to flash, like #3, would it still work in Linux. Still has an official Nvidia driver. Or use a resistor on the fan. Or sell it and get a used 950 or something comparable. Thanks again.

  • 33 months ago
  • 1 point

Hmm, if you intend to play more demanding games or feel like the 950 is a worthy, then I'd suggest an upgrade. Actually, I'd recommend the GTX 1050, which is a bit more powerful and is costs about the same as the 950. But if you want to try modding the BIOS first, be sure to make a save copy just in case. Regardless of software, the thing with #3 is that you need some software to control the fan speeds. I guess I didn't make myself very clear, but what I did was:

  • Mod the original bios so that the minimum fan speed is 0 (fanless)
  • Set up a fan curve on MSI Afterburner (EVGA Precision also works, but I found the 1st more user friendly). Now the curve starts at 35% and keeps on that until the card reaches 65ºC, then the speed goes up to 40% and keeps increasing up to 50% as the temps continue to rise).

Important: If you don't use any kind of software to control the fan speed, I don't know at which temperature the fan will start running.

As I'm using Windows, I don't know if there's a software that controls fan speeds on Linux, but I guess there are many out there. But if you want to go the resistor route and knows how to do that, then why not, lol

I saw in your completed builds that you used some Noctua fans, maybe you could try using those "noise reduction" cables that comes with some of their fans/coolers?

  • 36 months ago
  • 1 point

How much did you buy the 750ti for?

  • 36 months ago
  • 1 point

I bought the 750 Ti for about BRL 570.00.

  • 36 months ago
  • 1 point

Is that how much they go for? Here in the United States they are like 350 brl

  • 36 months ago
  • 1 point

Yes sir, that's how much they go for. Now it's possible to find them cheaper, but that was the price (including shipping) when I bought the card 2 months ago. Import taxes are very expensive here -_-

[comment deleted by staff]
  • 22 months ago
  • 1 point

Hi there

Thank you. The G4400 does not need an aftermarket cooler to work properly, the stock one is more than enough. I only used the Cooler Master Hyper TX3 because that's what I was using in my previous build and the mounting holes were the same.

About the motherboard, I had some issues with random freezes recently, doing a clean install of Windows 10 seem to have fixed it, but the causes remain unknown. Since I'm not sure if the mobo could be the problem, I'd probably choose a more reputable brand just to be safe.

Also, congrats on your build. I kinda miss the simplicity of the G4400, probably would have stick with it if I chose the GTX 1050 instead of the RX 460.

[comment deleted by staff]