Log 🚀 Neon Rocket 🦝 - A tiny, powerful, and quiet gaming pc build - 5800X3D + Custom A4000 GPU

Runamok81

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Welcome! I spent the past few weekends working on a treat, and thought I would share.

Build Goals - All the S's !!!
-
Small enough to fit in a backpack.
- Speedy enough for gaming.
- Silent enough for living room HTPC duty.
- Stylish enough to blend in with high end kit.



This is a tiny, powerful, and quiet gaming pc. The case is the Densium 4. You can find more info at densium.net



The Densium comes with a beautiful walnut front and vandal switch. For this build, we've added the custom aluminum legs and ...



... a touch of neon rgb. Fresca and banana for scale.



Dusk shot. It's small, fierce and heavily modified.



Let's give it a name. We'll call this build "Neon Rocket"



We're using some top-shelf parts here and some clever software and hardware hacks to keep everything cool and quiet. Keep reading to see how it all came together. And, let's start the build!
 
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Runamok81

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The Densium 4 case ships with this spine or frame as seen below. The top side of the frame is for mounting the motherboard. The underside is for the graphics card.



The motherboard we'll use is the Asus Rog Strix B550-I Gaming.



This motherboard has an "all-black" motif which is featured throughout the build.



Here is the motherboard with an AMD Ryzen 5800X3D installed. This cpu is the first AMD CPU to feature 3D v-cache. This CPU is very hot, so we're going to use special software to undervolt it. More on that later.



We're going to use a Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 cooler (rated for 65W) to cool this 105W cpu. Again, undervolting will help this work.



It's always a joy opening Noctua kit. Premium packaging to match performance.



CPU ready for thermal paste and cooler mounting.



CPU cooler mounted. Black on black on black ... nice!



Next up, RAM. Here we are using is the Kingston Fury DDR4 3600 CL 16 RAM. This RAM is reasonably fast with tight CL 16 timings that AMD CPUs seem to love.



RAM installed. This fury RAM also has an small rgb strip running along the top in white.




On the backside of the motherboard, we have a 2TB SK Hynix Gold P31 NVMe SSD. These drives run very fast and - most importantly for backside install - very cool. They'll handle the heat.



Removed the yellow hynix sticker and readied some thermal pads, just in case.



Mounted the motherboard onto the topside of the Densium frame.



Removed the Asus rog heatsink and installed the primary ssd, a 2TB Samsung 980 Pro. This a very fast PCIe Gen4 nvme ssd.



At this point, we have almost everything in place. We're only missing the GPU. This is where it gets interesting ...
 
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Runamok81

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No, it's not two gpus. On top, we have an aftermarket PNY 3060 heatsink and fan only, no card. On the bottom is a full-sized single slot nvidia A4000 workstation gpu. We're going to marry the short heatsink up top to the much longer gpu on bottom.



Let's start by disassembling the A4000 gpu.



Lots of tiny screws to remove ...



With the top plate off, we can see the A4000's heatsink and blower style cooler. The fan on the right forces air left, across the heatsink and out of the case.



Some detail of the A4000 VRMs



Here, we have the A4000 fully disassembled. Notice the tiny pcb? At bottom, is the underside of the aftermarket pny 3060 cooler.




Here is a close up shot of that A4000 pcb. So tiny! For those unfamiliar with the A4000, it is one of nvidia's workstation cards for professionals. It is a binned down 3070Ti with GDDR6 instead of GDDR6X RAM. These workstation cards are typically locked out from overclocking, but we have a special version of MSI Afterburner that has those options unlocked! Even when OC'd the A4000 won't ever reach 3070Ti speeds, due to it's binning and RAM. But it can be faster than an OC'd 3060Ti. And it does that while drawing much less power (-60W) and running much cooler (-14C).



After cleaning off the older thermal paste with pure alcohol, we can apply some fresh paste and install the 3060 cooler.



Viola! Surgery complete. We've now got a DIY ITX PNY A4000!



A shot from the underside. This pcb is so short, even a 3060 cooler overhangs it by an inch or so.



Next, on to some open-bench testing and benchmarks ...
 
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Runamok81

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Benchmarked with 3DMark Timespy and Cinebench. Measured performance, power draw, thermals, and noise.

When undervolted -30 on all cores, the 5800X3D + Noctua L9A combo got a Cinebench score of 14,565 and held at 85C. It's hot, but within limits.

The OC'd A4000 with modded cooler performed very well. With only a little tinkering, this card made it top 5 A4000's on 3DMark timespy.
Timespy gpu score = 12592.



We even compared the A4000 to a Zotac 3060Ti.



The OC'd A4000 was 8-10% faster than the OC'd 3060Ti.
3DMark Comparison = https://www.3dmark.com/compare/spy/28028424/spy/28025302



What is really interesting that the A4000 outperforms the 3060Ti while drawing ⚡ 60W less (kill-a-watt total system draw 220W vs 280W) and staying ❄️14C cooler (54C vs 68C). But, there was a one small issue, noise. The stock PNY 3060 heatsink fan spins at 2900 and makes 50db of noise. Let's fix that.

On the left is 92mm Noctua A9x14 chromax.black. We're going to make it fit!



I did consider deshrouding and ziptie-ing the fan onto the heatsink, baremetal style. But these shrouds actually help with directing the airflow into the heatsink. So, shroud stays. It takes some snips and sanding down of the internal fan ridge, but the noctua fan and frame can slip under the existing fan shroud, albeit with a bit of bulge.



Out with the old and in with the new. I retested everything again. Because we went from a 100mm PNY fan spinning at 2900 rpms to a 92mm noctua fan spinning at 2400 rpms, temps did increase. But, not by much! Only by a few degrees from 54C to 56C during a single 3DMark run. In a full stress test, temps plateaued at 69C. The important thing is that - with fans at full bore - the noise dropped drastically from 50db to 39db!



And, we're almost done! Let's install get this crazy DIY PNY A4000 with Noctua fan mod into our Densium frame and button everything up!
 
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Runamok81

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A linkup pcie 4.0 riser ribbon is used to reroute the gpu slot from the edge of the motherboard, down, and around to the flip side of the frame.



Flipping the frame over, this double-reversed riser cable is held in place with a small screws on each side.



It's nice that the gpu fan blades are tucked inside the shroud to protect them from case walls.



Because the Densium 4 mounting hardware expects a double slot card, and we've only got a single slot PCIe bracket, we will have to make another small tweak. To hold the bracket in place, we had to install and rotate the Densium mounting block and add this black key to help pin the gpu down and keep it from springing up. If anyone knows where to find a double-slot all display port PCIe bracket, please share. I'd like to prevent any more nicks to that heatsink.



Here is the case with everything installed, except the psu. It seems a bit undignified just to sit it on the ground like this. So, we added some improvements.



These are 30mm aluminum finish speaker isolation feet. These should help with ventilation and aesthetics.



The legs can't be installed with screws and nuts as anything above a few millimeters would block the psu from sliding in. Our old friends gorilla tape and zip ties to the rescue! Gorilla tape on the backside and daisy-chained zip ties threaded through and pulled snug.



The zip ties are wrapped in black vinyl and pressed tightly to the psu bay floor, allowing the PSU to slide in nicely.



One last touch is some Airgoo NEON Addressable RGB light Strips. Below, we've sliced them open and located the cut points in gold. We'll cut these to size and install them along the top of the psu bay.



These neon strips give us a nice glow.



I'm very pleased with how Neon Rocket came along! We took some risks along the way, and we ended up with a solid build that prioritized size, speed, sound, and style! Thanks for following along! 😄
 
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morj

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Feb 11, 2020
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These workstation cards are typically locked out from overclocking, but we have a special version of MSI Afterburner that has those options unlocked! Even when OC'd the A4000 won't ever reach 3070Ti speeds, due to it's binning and RAM. But it can be faster than an OC'd 3060Ti. And it does that while drawing much less power (-60W) and running much cooler (-14C).

Hi, @Runamok81! Wonderful build and great photo quality. Would you mind sharing where did you get this special Afterburner version with A-series GPU support? Thanks.
 

Runamok81

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@morj - Give this a read. It has the Afterburner version numbers. Update: I was able to OC the A4000 on the latest 4.6.4 version too! So, that unlock still stands as of today.


Also, follow along in @REVOCCASES DIY 3060 Aero thread for more info. And thank him blazing the trail on this amazing DIY solution.

 
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Goatee

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@morj - Give this a read. It has the Afterburner version numbers.


Also, follow along in @REVOCCASES DIY 3060 Aero thread for more info. And thank him blazing the trail on this amazing DIY solution.

Is it just the 4.6.3 beta 3 that can be used on the A cards? I can only see 4.6.4 available.

I have a waterblocked A2000 I want to try it on
 

Runamok81

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@Goatee - For testing, I just downloaded the latest 4.6.4 version of MSI Afterburner and I was able to OC the A4000. So - at least with my A4000 tester - this OC unlock is still available on latest version. YMMV with the A2000? There are some members here that own some. @REVOCCASES and his A2000 work here comes to mind. Thanks.
 

morj

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Feb 11, 2020
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Is it just the 4.6.3 beta 3 that can be used on the A cards? I can only see 4.6.4 available.

I have a waterblocked A2000 I want to try it on

Yeah, seems that there is no actual advantage in using the beta since the 4.6.4 release (from March) has the necessary feature updates for Ampere
 

Bakaban

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Nov 13, 2020
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Hi. Could you shed some extra light on your choice of the SK hynix m.2 drive: so far i've not seen a lot of temperature tests in ssd reviews, so i'm wondering what resource helped you pick this one. Also curious how you used the thermal pads instead of the copper sticker. Does it press against the frame and use that metal as a heatsink?

Second question for further optimalisation of your build: rumour has it the thermalright axp90 - x36 (with a noctua fan) does a slightly better job at cooling due to the fin orientation. L9a pushes hot air against the ram and motherboard rear io shield, wheras the thermalright pushes air out of the fins in the direction of the pcie slot and opposite end, where there are no such "walls". Any chance you'd give it a try?
 

Runamok81

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Here is an example review for P31 gold discussing temperatures. It's low power draw keeps it cool ...


I did not end up adding thermal pads. So, far it has been fine. But, it might be well to check for thermal throttling under full load. Traveling now, but I test that later!

I have not tried the thermalright, that does sound like a better air flow arrangement! If they make a black version, I could give that a shot!
 

REVOCCASES

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I have not tried the thermalright, that does sound like a better air flow arrangement! If they make a black version, I could give that a shot!

Thermalright released a black and a white version of the X36 some time ago - I had the silver and black one and they perform indeed very well.

Here is a comparison (in German) against the Noctua:

 

vlad1966

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Sep 21, 2017
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Run Amok - how is the modified PSU with Noctua fan? Is it pretty quiet, even when gaming? How would you rate it 1-10, 1 = very loud, 10 = whisper quiet, under "Normal" use like web surfing & also when gaming? Thanks