Description

This was my first gaming build. I was looking for something small and inexpensive that I could build iteratively and upgrade as needed. I went with Intel because the CPU had on-board video that I could use to test the system before investing in a dedicated graphics card (though I've done that now), and because the single core performance is quite good. I went with the Z97 chipset to have some room to upgrade in the future, and for ease of overclocking.

I'm delighted to say that I just finished the final touches this weekend, including an R9 280 video card (manually overclocked), faster RAM, and a non-stock CPU cooler. Overall it was a success, and everything fits just fine on the micro-ATX motherboard. I was worried the CPU cooler wasn't going to fit, but it just barely makes it between the north bridge heatsink and the video card. The attached parts list represents the final build.

Pros:

  • Everything fits and stays relatively cool on the small, micro-ATX form factor board.
  • The case is cheap and small, but feel surprisingly spacious inside and allows for plenty of air flow. I like that it doesn't come with a lot of embarrassing "bling" common to gaming cases.
  • The MSI R9 280 (not the X version) gets regular, steep discounts on Newegg and makes for a solid card. A lot of thought went into this, and I'm happy with the choice; it's been able to handle just about anything I throw at it so far with ease. I was also able to overclock it to above the speeds the "X" version ships with, without paying extra for the factory to do it for me, and the temps stay relatively cool.

Cons:

  • As many have commented about the MSI R9 280, it can get fairly loud when the fans spin up. Not a huge concern for me as the machine sits in a closet behind my TV (which I use as a monitor).
  • The large cooler makes it impossible to install a 3rd or 4th case fan. So far it hasn't proved necessary, however.
  • If I wanted to add a 2nd video card (I sized the power supply to allow for this), I'd have to move the 2.5in HDD I have mounted on the bottom of the case to an adapter in a 3.5in slot, because the only 2.5in "slot" in the case consists of 4 screw holes on the bottom of the case. If you go with the suggested 3.5in HDD, however, this won't be a problem (I just had a spare 2.5in drive sitting around).

Future plans:

  • Add an M.2 SSD (mounted on the motherboard) so I can get rid of the hard drive + associated cables altogether. My main drive for installed programs is mounted over iSCSI from a FreeNAS server, so I only need to put the bare essentials on the boot drive.

Comments

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice use of your budget my friend

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

Money VERY well spent, here. Good work!

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

only 60 degrees for your GPU under load and it is overclocked??? you sure that is right :)

  • 58 months ago
  • 2 points

good question... although video card overclocking worked fine I'm not running this way, so those #s are for stock speeds. The CPU however is running at 4.5GHz.

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

Very nice build, shame there's no window on the case because overall, cable managment and looks are phenomenal. Really nice to see people still take time to neaten things up. Keep it up, man.

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

seems well thought out +1

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks everyone! I was a little bummed about no window too. Next case.

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

If you want a case with a window and enough space for everything, take a look at the fractal design node 804. So far, I've done research only for my own build. But my components will be almost identical to yours.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Or try the Corsair Air 240!

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, Air 240 would be ideal for this build OP.

  • 53 months ago
  • 1 point

That is a pretty case! More pricey and no DVD, but I might very well have gone that way if I knew about it at the time.

  • 56 months ago
  • 1 point

Great bang for buck, +1.

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice build - how do you like the 212 EVO - is it considerably better than stock cooler ? Also your GPU cooling is awesome - are you running stock fan speed ?

  • 53 months ago
  • 1 point

The 212 EVO is great. I didn't actually compare temps between the two coolers, but you can tell it's doing its job and I was pretty happy with the overclock to 4.5GHz.

For the GPU - I used MSI's Afterburner app to set the fan speed to 75% at 60 degrees and 100% at 70% (mostly linear below that). Seemed to do the trick, though as I said in the original review it is loud under load.

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

Right on - response much appreciated - will check the EVO out for sure !

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

That's some nice cable management for that type of case, good job. As others have said, great build for the $$. I chose that MOBO for the m.2 as well but the USB 3 header was a royal pain. On paper, thought it was a smart placement but not in practice for my case anyway. Also, was a little disappointed in my OC but this may be the CPU (g3258) being a bit of a dud, rather that the MOBO.

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

How is the 212 evo?

Is it good for mid-overclocking?