After a recent video card upgrade, and a few good purchases on sale I had more than half the parts to build a functioning computer for my girlfriend.
So, I started with an ATX PSU, 2.5" HDD, SSD, 1080p monitor, and the MSI GTX 980ti Armour Edition.
The main parameters for this build were - Ability to reuse the owned parts (because 980ti, and miners affecting stock) - Small, portable form factor (easier to bring home during university breaks) - Quiet (Compared to my X99, 1080ti, and 4k gaming rig) - Games shall run on ultra quality - Something of some use for her M.Eng workloads
AFTERTHOUGHTS AND TROUBLESHOOTING
The graphics cards would have fit in this case with the included 140mm fan, however it was 5mm or 1/4” too long with the Phanteks 200mm fan. I ended up trimming out a bit from the fan frame to allow clearance, this is pictured above.
The Graphics card was also a bit high, and the PSU cables needed to be squat down to allow the top panel to be placed on. Thankfully, the PSU wires were fairly flexible.
I haven’t tweaked the overclock or fan curve, as well as the memory speeds. That’s on my to do list when I have the time.
I was mulling over CPU+Mobo combos for a while waiting for the new AM4 options. I had originally anticipated the iTX B350 boards were going to be over 200$ with the NCIX pre-order release for the ASRock Fatal|ty ITX/AC. Price to performance was a big factor, and I was aiming at 425$ CAD for the two, from a performance and price baseline of R5 1400+B350 combo, for 225$+200$.
For the R5 1600+B350, when I had realized it was 182.99 I was relieved. I opted to allocate 10% more the combo to get the then on sale R5 1600 for better performance per dollar than the baseline R5 1400.
For a 7600k+Z270 combo, It was 50-100$ more expensive for a CPU that wasn't going to keep up in future non-gaming workloads. I felt that 4C/4T wasn't a viable option for expected workloads
7700k+Z270 combo was much too expensive, and with upcoming Coffee Lake and recent competition it seemed like buyer's regret was possible come autumn.
KabyLake-S Non-K+H270 was much cheaper, but nonetheless a laugh compared to what performance per dollar AMD could offer at marginally higher prices.
I was going for iTX, with onboard wifi. With a computer designed to be moved around, in a small form factor I wouldn't consider anything else. Also on the list is at least 3 fan headers. All other AM4 options just didn't have these requirements. Also with Intel, the motherboards were equally expensive for comparably priced CPU's, and much more expensive for the Z series.
Team Dark is literally the cheapest 3000MHz option available at the time of purchase. However, more work is needed to reach 3000MHz with CL16 timings. It is currently running at 2133MHz after a bios update, and I haven't tweaked it at all yet, just tried the 3000MHx XMP profile once.
Edit: Memory ran at 2933 MHz after a very short while, confirmed with CPU-Z.
Samsung 850 Evo 250GB, purchased on sale a while back for another build, ended up going with M.2 format. This is currently being used as the boot drive, and I've had goo experience with this product line in the past.
Also not included is a 750GB 7200RPM 2.5" Seagate Barracuda from a dead Asus G75 Ivy Bridge, circa 2012, with about 13 months of use on it. (Thus began my personal vow to never buy a laptop worth more than 400$ CAD.) This drive is going to be used for mass storage, and perhaps some less intensive games.
From a previous build after a monitor upgrade. This trooper mustered all it could to reach 45 fps on 4k Ultra. So it will easily run games on 1080p60 on ultra. Also, any replacement that wouldn't be side-grading was at minimum 800$ CAD.
I saw a spreadsheet on r/SFFPC (It was a while ago) by u/DntMessWitRohan. I browsed through it for to obtain a shortlist on GPU length, ATX PSU, iTX. Then I went through PCPartPicker and looked more closely. It was this one, or the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv iTX. Phanteks had poorer air flow compared to this cube with the monster 200mm fan. Also, room for a 5.25" drive to boot! Because you'll never know when she'll need to use a CD for university or older games.
This was a refurbished unit on sale at Newegg, I had this from awhile back, but it didn't suit that build requirements at the time, so I just kept it for the future.
Windows 10 is pretty well the only supported OS for this build, plus its the easiest to install without a product key.
I went with a colour neutral fan, maximizing on the available mounting positions, minus the 80mm positions in the case. PWM, and low decibel rating were the main considerations. I also tried to have a balanced, or positive pressure.
I left mouse and keyboard choices to the girlfriend, since they’re highly personal preferences in regards to size, colours, etc.
The Ryzen processors have finally brough competition back to the market. Their mere existence has the Intel planning stuff we would have not seen in this decade.
But that speaks nothing of its performance. With 6C/12T on a sub 300$ CAD price point, PC enthusiasts have a new mid-range performance champion, performing remarkably well.
The heat spreader is a thin metal, and can bend quite easily. When ran with the ASRock AB350 Gaming ITX/ac motherboard, it didn't reach advertised speeds right out of the box. However, for the price I cant complain.
Edit: Quick bios update, few windows updates, and the ram hit 2933MHz
I've had a few samsung SSDs, and I can say that they're an excellent choice for performance without breaking the bank.
While not quite up to 4k60 Ultra standards, this card has performed exceptional at lower resolutions. The fans are loud, and stock fan curves had this card thermal throttling.
I enjoy the inclusion for a 200mm fan, as well as 2x120mm. This allows for excellent air flow in an otherwise suffucated form factor. While not quite as small as other ITX cases, it sacrifices size for extra fans and drive options.
Keep in mind that any graphics card above 270mm / 10.75" will interfere with 200mm fans of 25mm thickness. I had a card 277mm conflict with a 200x200x30mm fan. A 140x140x30 fan however had no physical conflicts.