Description

This build has been a year since concept, and 4 months in the making, but I've finally done it, and am glad to share my experience with all of you here on PCPP. In May of 2018 I helped a close friend build his first gaming machine, and immediately decided I needed an upgrade from my 2015 Acer Aspire V17 Nitro laptop. At the time, I worked a warehouse job and had plenty of time to browse, so I started browsing newegg and discovered PCPP, and decided on an all-white mATX build. I am a full-time employee working at minimum wage with some extra income from freelancing on the side, so budget was a consideration here, but I did not want to simply settle for the cheapest parts I could find. I found the ~$1200 price range to be very good at a price to performance standpoint, with very strong offerings from both Intel and AMD. The plan was to plan a white Corsair air 240 with a 1070 DUAL in white, but I'm very happy with the system I ended up with, despite the compromises I made in part selection.

The Parts ======

I started planning for this build right at the end of the GPU market inflation, and around the time RTX cards launched. I actually purchased the 1070Ti AMP for sale just a week or so before the RTX 20 series officially came to market. This was a split-second buy, as 10 series cards were drying up and the performance of RTX cards was still under NDA, so I was not willing to make that leap. (Never pre-order, kids.) Due to an installment plan I only had to pay about $70 for the card up front. Unfortunately, AMP cards are big. This is a pretty chunky card, and without modifications would not fit in an Air240. Luckily the 280X that had been shown off at Computex in June was available, so I got that next. The Corsair Crystal 280X is hardly a small form factor case. It's mATX, sure, but oh man is this thing FAT. When I first got it in the mail, I was surprised by the size of the box. More than once, I grabbed my card and held it roughly in place in the main compartment and got pretty giggly at my new project. I like the proportions of the cube-style case and the design speaks to me. It looks clean and has plenty of room for clean cable runs and other extras. My next part was the PSU, which I also got on sale. I had originally bought a Corsair 450W PSU but found it lacked the connectors I needed for my GPU. The AMP comes with some cable converters, but the only spare cables I had on by PSU were Molex. Something tells me 4xMolex>2x6-pin>1x8-pin would have ended... Fiery. I shopped around some more (Big thanks to r/BuildAPCSales on Reddit!) and found this 850W PSU for $99. Not bad. The Mortar Titanium was more or less my only option for a white motherboard at this price point, but I'm really satisfied with what it brings to the table. Good amount of rear I/O (Including USB-C 3.1) and pretty easy to work with. I bought all the remaining parts in one whole $400 batch after receiving my tax return. I had been deciding between a LP cooler or AIO, and I'm still questioning that decision. For general purposes, I would always recommend an air cooler. They're generally quieter and more reliable in the long run, and this Noctua Cooler is VERY good. I would absolutely recommend it for small builds like this, with one very important consideration: RAM clearance. I'll get back to that in a bit.

Notes/Considerations ==============

With any custom project, problems can arise from simple oversight, and I definitely encountered some minor issues with this build.

First off, CPU compatibility. This motherboard is designed for 8th-generation processors, but there is support for 9th-gen one's with a firmware update. To be honest, this had me quite scared. I was pretty worried about flashing the BIOS/board firmware, but it was relatively painless. I spent some time looking for a spare 8th gen cpu to get into BIOS to update, but as it turns out, you can boot into BIOS using the "incompatible" 9th-gen CPU. In all my research this was not mentioned anywhere, so I figure I'd put it down here. Firmware update took ~10 minutes and came out just fine. Another note on the motherboard, don't bother with RAM over 2666MHz. I thought I could overclock the board to 3000, but it maxes at 2666. (And on that note, be sure to go into BIOS and enable XMP. The board clocks your ram at 2133MHz by default.) As I mentioned before, the cooler also gave me some trouble. It's really designed for the fan to sit on the bottom side of the heatsink, directly over the CPU, but the extra height of the RGB in my Corsair RAM made this a few millimeters too short, and I had to place the fan on top instead. My CPU temps don't get that high in games, but in higher CPU workloads like rendering, you may experience some thermal issues as the fan gets choked out by the glass side panel. For any build similar to this, I would try your very best to get your measurements first. If possible, use a 3D program like Sketchup to visually confirm any height conflicts. For me, this wasn't an absolute dealbreaker. My temps so far haven't exceeded 60C (in comparison to the 85-90C i got from my laptop.)

I also have a compiled slideshow Here. I think that's about it. Let me know what you think! :)

Part Reviews

CPU

Wonderful option for a mid-range gaming PC. Great price to performance at stock, and decent OC overhead.

CPU Cooler

Noctua does one thing, and they do it well. I've fit this cooler with a 140mm Corsair fan instead of the stock, but it still works well. Price is a little steep compared to other air coolers, but it does a great job.

Since this cooler is oriented to the side, take special consideration for your case's cooler clearance. With the fan on top of the heatsink, having your side panel too close will choke it out. The fan will not fit on the bottom with some taller ram, like Corsair's RGB ram. Get some less flashy low profile RAM for optimal cooling.

Motherboard

Looking for a white mATX board? This is kind of your only option. Don't worry, though! It's a good one. The pictures make it look metallic, but it's quite white with silver accents. You get a decent amount of I/O and the BIOS (unlike some people leaving reviews who don't know how to turn on advanced mode) is competent, though RAM only clocks in at 2666MHz, so don't go buying 3000MHz RAM like I did. You'll just be wasting $20.

If you're looking to build with a 9th gen intel processor, this board will work. You will need to flash your motherboard's firmware using the latest BIOS but it isn't a complicated process. You can get into BIOS with the 9th gen CPU installed, so you don't need to worry about having a spare 8th gen lying around.

Memory

Corsair's RGB ecosystem is pretty decent, and being able to sync my entire case with iQUE is nice. The RAM works too.

Storage

Performs as expected out the box, read/write speeds are as good as any other SATA SSD.

Video Card

A big *** card with big *** power. I got this one at a really decent price for the time, though they're not readily available anymore.

Case

Clean and shiny, with plenty of room for cable runs and storage.

Both the HDD and SSD cages are removable so you can clean up the rear compartment. The HDD cage makes the top of the motherboard a bit hard to access for things like fan and RGB headers, but if you take it out you should be able to make your runs and put stuff back in. Airflow is good enough, could probably be improved if the front glass panel were removable.

Only con I can think of is the size. It's mATX in spirit, but the case itself is hefty. I wouldn't count on carrying this around for LAN parties or trying to fit it on a small shelf. Also, you cannot lay this model on it's side like you could with the Air 240. Unfortunate as that provided an interesting look and relieves the stress of component sag.

Power Supply

No complaints. Got it on the cheap, too.

The stock cables are pretty clean looking, no exposed ketchup/mustard, and plenty of cables for extra drives, even some molex thrown in.

Comments

  • 6 months ago
  • 2 points

Nice job looks amazing.

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks!

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

How are the thermals with the side panel on? It looks really close to the cpu cooler fan.

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

i think it won't be good. My friend had dark rock Tf with this case. As the hot air rises from the gpu, the cpu cooler will get the hot air directly.

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

This happens to a lot of ITX builds as the case is so small (stating the obvious). But I agree with @Otterman366 that the side panel is very close to the CPU fan and will most likely choke the airflow.

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

I addressed this in my description. In game loads it usually gets around 55C, haven't tested any heavier CPU loads but compared to my 95C laptop I'm not particularly worried for the time being, but I plan on finding something more compatible with my RAM.

This CPU cooler is meant to house the fan under the heatsink, not over it, but the corsair RAM is a bit too tall for that config. I'll be searching around for something more compatible but for now it works fine.

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

It is close to the fan. I mentioned so in the description. I haven't ran any benchmarks that pinned the CPU but in games, it chills around 52C under load, like it says in the sidebar. Those temperatures are from Heaven benchmarks (I'll add the results into the pics.)

When the GPU is under full load case temps rise, the highest I've seen it is 65C.