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Overly Ambitious SFF Gaming PC

by Aoiree


Part List View full price breakdown


Date Published

Aug. 2, 2018

Date Built

Aug. 1, 2018

CPU Clock Rate

3.7 GHz

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.721 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

10 GHz


Edit 8-5-2018

Picked up an 8400 and a Gigabyte H370N and successfully posted and installed windows. Didn't further test to see if the 8700k or the MSI z370i was the problem child.

With the $200 savings in Mobo/CPU I'll probably upgrade to a 1080TI and sell/return the DH15 and pick up a node 202 and throw everything in the Node 202 with a big shuriken rev.b

Debated hard on keeping the 8700k or moving towards a Ryzen build but went for cheap, pure gaming performance without a lot of overclocking/ram tweaking from the Ryzen.

The build is less cool now but I'll be happy to get some Monster Hunter World up and running!

Edit 8-4-2018

After troubleshooting with MSI the result is to return and replace the CPU and Mobo. Tech suspects more probable the CPU was DOA but replacing both during return window is safer and quicker. Waffling on going less ambitious with a 8400 and an h370 since the parts are going back as returns and not replacements. More to come.

If I do I may need to go with a 202 to retain my "overly Ambitious" title. Will be traveling near a microcenter this weekend so unless a great deal pops up elsewhere I'll likely be purchasing from microcenter.

Edit 8-3-2018

Whelp I've prematurely celebrated. On 8-2 evening I connected the screen and am failing to post. EZDebug Light says CPU issue.

Took everything apart, put everything back together 3 times. Booted with& without CPU, various ram configs, rest the cmos. Checked for bent pins (none. Also sent picture to MSI tech support, they said looks ok). Trying to debug what the weak link is right now.

Still need to rip the PSU out of my old PC to test out to see if it might be a PSU issue. More to come!

Unrelated sidenote those GPU prices keep dropping! Wow. My great deal on the GPU 2 weeks ago doesn't feel so grand anymore :)

Imgur Gallery of build with notes

This was my first solo build ever and my first build in 10+ years! Casually thought about it for a long time. Finally pulled the trigger. Sourced all the parts in under 3 weeks starting with Prime day, figured MiniITX parts don't come on sale that often so bit the bullet on some items, usually wait exclusively for good sales.

Wanted to put together a gaming/media streaming + VR machine that can sit in our media center. Wanted it to be presentable and smaller so didn't a ton of LEDs and SFF was enticing.

It'll be hooked up to a projector most of the time (not 4k). 4k TV at other times (when I travel to family.) Plan to get higher rez projector at some point since prices are coming down.

First two parts I got were the CPU and GPU during some of the Amazon/Ebay/Amex promotions on prime day. Picked these up without a through build plan made out. If I did it again I'd probably have gone with a cheaper CPU that throws less heat.


After research and seeking advice for keeping the CPU/GPU cool in a SFF case I settled on the FD Core 500 as a good intersection of price, build quality & clean look. Ended up getting the case used off Mercari (first time I've ever heard of Mercari) and saved a bit.

If I got less powerful (read: heat generating parts) I would have gone with a Node 202 for a ridiculously tiny build. Alas.


As mentioned above saw a good price the 8700K and grabbed it knowing it was a high end CPU that would cover me for a while. Debating returning it and grabbing a less heat generating card.

CPU Cooler:

Really waffled hard on the CPU cooler, was thinking of a Scythe Mugen Max with a second fan as it was cheaper and some benchmarks suggested adding the 2nd fan made it better than a DH15 (but louder). In the end conflicting benchmarks and not wanting to gamble on cooling in the small form factor made me want to go DH15 as the universally agreed upon great cooler. I knew it could fit as others have used it in a core 500 build.


Grabbed this using the Google Express 25% off deal which brought it roughly in line with good sale prices on 2x8 GB ram prices. The fact that it was low-ish profile really helped. I didn't do a TON of research on ram.


Expected to buy a 1070 but got a good price on this during prime day and grabbed it. If GPU prices keep dropping EVGA's step up program might be worth looking into if Nvidia announces the next series soon. Not sure if the next series will be even close to a good price to warrant stepping up or if 1080Ti prices drop if the PSU/case can handle a 1080Ti.

Need to make sure the SF600 can even handle the 1080Ti...


I went ahead and bought the SF600 before I fully decided on the Core 500. Figured no matter what the SF600 would be a benefit to a small form factor build even if the case wanted an ATX PSU. As soon as I decided on the Core 500 I ordered the mounting bracket.

Motherboard: Got this as an OpenBox -Like new from amazon warehouse. It was indeed new, but box was a bit beat up. no damage to pins that I could see. Waffled on this one for a while, figured if I got the 8700k I really SHOULD get a z370. It appeared to me that the MSI z370i had the best thermal performance/energy consumption based off benchmarks while still being very competitive in terms of performance.


I didn't want to harvest my 2.5" SSD from my PC or my M.2 from my laptop so I a new M.2 storage. The MSI z370i only has 1 M.2 slot, figured 500GB would be good enough for the OS and have some space left over. Historically I've never had more than 750GB of storage on a PC and I typically use about half of that so lets see how long 500GB keeps me covered.

Closing Thoughts:

Patting myself on the back early. Haven't confirmed it boots up properly yet but it appears to be in working order and it powers on.

Really Really curious to see the thermal info under stress.

Really curious to see how the case fan intake on the top works out with the drive-bay in there. Hopefully they were the right choices... suspect I may need to remove the drive bay to give better airflow to the GPU.

Not looking forward to dis-assembling to add in a thinner rear fan and a second 2.5" storage item.

Hoping everything is peachy on the first go.

Up next:

1) Need to install the OS and test thermals/etc. Will update when I have more info.

2) Need to upload photos and build notes directly into PCPartsPicker instead of just linking the Imgur gallery.

3) Troubleshoot issues! And update this post.

4) Play lots of Monster Hunter World when it comes out.

5) Get a HTC Vive or similar!

Comments Sorted by:

WaterTriber 1 point 7 months ago

cool build. love the pictures with the notes!

Leleedler 2 Builds 1 point 7 months ago

Was going to comment that you should've considered the 2700x but, you got a smashing deal on an 8700k which voided any complaint! +1

LatiosGaming 2 Builds 1 point 7 months ago

He did say it was for gaming though. The extra 4 threads the 2700X would provide aren't necessary for that.

Leleedler 2 Builds 1 point 7 months ago

That's fair... more threads are more threads though, they should help if he decides to edit, or stream. Also Zen 3...

LatiosGaming 2 Builds 1 point 7 months ago

Zen 3 is a long way off and he primarily games. Even if he got into editing and such, all it takes is a 5 GHz OC to bite at the heels of the 2700X (stock) in editing. 6 blazing fast cores is plenty.

Leleedler 2 Builds 1 point 7 months ago

All fair points, especially with optimization for Zen still being poor over a year later... Zen has the biggest potential, this why I love it but, I get your point. In this current time and space, the 8700k makes good sense for someone just gaming and not looking towards upgradeability.

Obamas.mama 3 Builds 1 point 7 months ago

Very cool, reminds me of my build!

Attier 1 Build 1 point 7 months ago

Awesome build!!! Inspired me enough that I'll upload my SFF build. Sadly its not quite as glorious.

Simulint 4 Builds 1 point 7 months ago

We have the same taste in cases. What do you think about the case lid?

Aoiree submitter 1 Build 2 points 7 months ago

I've heard people complain it's hard to get on, I haven't had too many issues with it. So far I've liked it.

I think I would have preferred ability to add a front intake fan.

Simulint 4 Builds 1 point 7 months ago

Short of modifying it. More Builds with the same case. Regardless I have been eyeballing other SFF cases ever since I bought this one in March. I have 1 intake fan, 1 exhaust fan. Thermals are great actually. Am going to replace thermal paste on CPU/GPU with Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut and Conductonaut to help improve temps anyway.

Simulint 4 Builds 1 point 7 months ago

Hey, I updated my build and punched a hole in the front for a fan. Inspired after I saw this Custom Watercooled Fractal Design Core 500.

Bronstet 4 Builds 1 point 7 months ago

Great photography for your build! You sure you want to give up a Core 500 for a Node 202? It looks pretty compact to me and has a great look and design. The Node 202 is more of a console shape, though, so I understand if you want to slot it in as an HTPC inside of a furniture console. Great job on the build and writeup.

Aoiree submitter 1 Build 1 point 7 months ago

Went for the core 500 for cooling the 8700k, now that it's a 8400 instead I can go smaller. And yeah smaller is for slotting into the media center.

But the PC is up and running as pictured with an 8400 and a gigabyte h370n instead for now, grabbed the combo at a microcenter and got the h370n open box. I'll update the parts list.

annasoh323 3 Builds 1 point 7 months ago

Went through a roller coaster reading up through the 8/5 update. Too bad to hear about the 8700K not working out. I've had some bad luck with Amazon Warehouse too lately so I feel your pain. I've gotten my system worked out for dropping off my return packages at my nearest UPS dropoff. I've no reason to rag on you for deciding to go with the 8400 vs Ryzen: it's an excellent value proposition. I'm a few years and evolving use case away from needing a new CPU so we'll see where things are when I'm back in the market. I'm a big fan of the small Node 202 and I agree that it would probably be much more efficient as a traveler. Hope it serves you well while you slay monsters! I'll also have to check back in for any additional updates.

Aoiree submitter 1 Build 1 point 7 months ago

Will have more updates soon haha, working and traveling too much this week. Returning my 1080 and picked up a new one today from the eBay sale to recoup $60 (minus $8 return shipping to Amazon). Also restarts the step up program timeline and gets me destiny 2 bundle, yay. I guess people can be on the lookout for an open box 1080 ftw on Amazon that is confirmed working but otherwise unused.

In talks with someone to buy a like new node 202 case this weekend near by.

annasoh323 3 Builds 1 point 7 months ago

FTW, you say? I might just have to go check it out. I have the Gaming blower card so my temps and noise would get much better. The only thing is the loss of money since mine is much older...

jeffpro18 1 Build 1 point 5 months ago

Nice build and it's my favorite kind of small form factor case! With a case that small and gpu like GTX 1080 thats very powerful, does that card and the case get really hot while gaming?

pentahu 1 Build 1 point 3 months ago

Any updates on the build?