Brickless S4M -- i3 + 1060 6gb

matogl0396

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Feb 13, 2018
19
16
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**NOTE TO READERS** After some further testing, I can confirm this build has issues with random shutdowns during gaming sessions due to power limitations. The internal brick also gets EXTREMELY hot under full load (can't hold a finger to it). That being said, I have had some success with undervolting the CPU and reducing GPU power level to compensate (see my posts below for specific details).

Bottom line: A 1060 + 65W CPU is just a little too heavy for the current brickless solutions. You may consider a 1050 Ti, a T processor, or some other kind of minor downgrade to compensate.

I hope this info is helpful to anyone considering a similar setup!

--------------------

Hi all,

Wanted to post some pics and comments on the "brickless" S4M I've been working on. Would love to hear any feedback you guys have, and also hope writing about some of the challenges/specifications may be helpful to others. Thanks to @Kmpkt for advice and @Josh | NFC for like half my parts, including the modded HDPLEX 160w with the C8 jack. :)

PCPartPicker link: https://pcpartpicker.com/b/nLpG3C

CPU: Intel - Core i3-8100 3.6GHz Quad-Core Processor
CPU Cooler: Noctua - NH-L9i 33.8 CFM CPU Cooler
Motherboard: Gigabyte - Z370N WIFI Mini ITX LGA1151 Motherboard
Memory: Kingston - FURY 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR4-2666 Memory
Storage: Western Digital - Black 1TB 2.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive
Video Card: Gigabyte - GeForce GTX 1060 6GB 6GB Mini ITX OC Video Card
Other: Edimax EW-7611ULB 2-In-1 Wi-Fi & Bluetooth 4.0 Nano USB Adapter
Other: GeChic 1303i 13.3" IPS 1080p Portable Touchscreen Monitor with HDMI
Other: Intel Optane Memory Module 32 GB PCIe M.2 80mm MEMPEK1W032GAXT
Other: iClever Portable Tri-folding Bluetooth keyboard with Touchpad, (Snyc Up to 3 Devices), Ultra Slim Wireless Keyboard with Carry Pouch, Aluminum Alloy, Dark Grey
Other: RiteAV - 10 Feet 18 AWG 2-Slot Polarized Power Cord IEC320C7 to NEMA 1-15P
Other: Machined ON/OFF Switch
Other: MINI Feet
Other: NFC Skyreach 4 Mini
Other: HDPLEX 160W AC-DC
Other: Dynamo Mini 160 DC-ATX

This case was surprisingly easy to work in... at least at first. I initially put all the parts together EXCEPT the HDPLEX 160W AC-DC unit. Josh was going to be sending this to me after modifying it with a C8 jack to work in the case. I thought that once it arrived all I would have to do is remove the front plate, stick the PSU in, plug it in and close things up. Unfortunately, it turned out that thing is a lot bigger than I anticipated and it didn't fit into that opening behind the front panel.


Next I tried putting in the PSU first then mounting the GPU. Uh oh. Ohhh no. I'm going to KILL Kmpkt, I thought he said this would fit!? :)


Ok I had one last idea. I took everything out, put in the GPU first, then stuck the PSU in the motherboard chamber first and started sliding it over into place. It doesn't REALLY fit. You have to really cram it in there, like it obstructs the GPU shroud and they make strong contact. If there's a positive I guess it's that absolutely no tape was needed to mount the PSU. The fit is so tight that thing isn't going anywhere.

This does lead to my one question for the group: Does anyone think I should be concerned about the heat of the PSU melting the (plastic?) GPU shroud? I'm not really sure and haven't been running the system yet due to this particular concern. If it could be an issue, this build actually may not work. Possibly if I remove the plastic from the end of the card there, although I think that is part of the airflow design of the card (funnels air to exhaust out the back).


Next up was to mount the motherboard and connect the PCIe riser. This was tough to do, especially since the GPU didn't have a lot of give. In the 1st picture you can see I was able to push the GPU back (towards the C8 cutout) as far as it can go in the slot, which gave me just enough room to work with the riser.


Those of you who have built in this case may notice something funky about that 2nd picture above... Yep, I forgot the drive mount. Ugh!! Take out the motherboard & I/O shield, stick in the drive mount, push it over above the GPU... Uh oh. Ohhh no. See the way the back of the bracket sort of hangs down (where you would line up the back of a 2.5" drive)? I've got this in backwards since in this orientation I'd have to run the SATA cables around the far end unnecessarily. Note also that the PSU's height means I would *not* be able to mount both 2.5" drives in the build. I ALSO can't flip the mount and push it back into place, again because it doesn't clear the PSU.


So I had to take EVERYTHING apart again. I'm back to ground zero and loaded in the GPU, *immediately followed by the drive mount*, THEN the PSU. I also took this opportunity to run the 6+2 pin under the GPU. The PSU completely impedes wiring at the front of the case, and I thought this looked cleaner than sitting on top of the GPU backplate (this happens to be the only wire running on the bottom of the case).

I also went ahead and connected the C8 jack at this point. Interesting note, with the drive mount screwed in the C8 jack can't be secured. Similarly, with the C8 jack screwed in, the drive mount can't be either (pictured). That said, in this 2nd configuration the C8 screw holds the drive mount up sturdily enough and it isn't able to move around.


Eventually, I was able to complete the GPU chamber, remount/reconnect the motherboard components, clean up the cabling, and screw everything back in!

In the end I had to follow this EXACT order to get everything to fit properly: GPU -> drive mount -> AC-DC unit -> connect 6+2 PCIe and C8 cables -> I/O shield (this opening is the only way to insert the drive mount!) -> mobo -> PCIe riser. The rest doesn't really matter, although I will say with so many cables shoved together near the 24-pin (front of the case), I found it helpful to connect the front-panel power/LED before hooking up the CPU power, SATA, etc. Although I had already mounted the CPU cooler a few days prior, note that both sides of the case are removable, which would have made this easy to do at any point in the build.


Just a couple final shots. The 1st shows me installing Windows with the portable monitor & keyboard in use. Those with a discerning eye will notice the case configuration is different: yes, I took this picture before receiving the HDPLEX unit today. The last picture shows the whole set up packed up and ready to stick in my suitcase. The size of the case is comparable to my PS4 Pro. It even fits in my laptop bag if needed (will probably use this option to avoid gate checks). The 13" monitor is in a sleeve there sitting perfectly on top of the case (dimensions are almost identical), and you also see my Dualshock 4 in a Steam controller case on top of the pile, which may be a good reference for scale.


Thanks for reading and let me know any questions or comments!
 
Last edited:

keidi

Case Bender
Mar 16, 2018
2
1
Just created an account to thank you!

I have been doing circles trying to figure out if this was possible as I have similar specs with the thirstier Ryzen 7 instead of the i3.

After much thought and advice from NFC and KMPKT, I will go the brick method and try for brickless in future builds!

Very cool though and how does the system hold up?
 
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Naavjames

Trash Compacter
Mar 17, 2018
37
34
Love the build, and step by step photos! Planning my own and this helps greatly.

Question for you, as I am a total noob. Why does the HDPLEX 160w need to be modded with a C8 jack?
Also, if Josh is sold out on his site, where else should I be looking?

Thanks
 
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matogl0396

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Feb 13, 2018
19
16
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Just created an account to thank you!

I have been doing circles trying to figure out if this was possible as I have similar specs with the thirstier Ryzen 7 instead of the i3.

After much thought and advice from NFC and KMPKT, I will go the brick method and try for brickless in future builds!

Very cool though and how does the system hold up?

So far, so good. I have been playing Prey lately, and that is doing around 180w according to my Kill-A-Watt. Benchmarking (3d Mark, Heaven) was as high as 200 ~ 215w. Both of those figures include using the USB-powered monitor off the same AC-DC unit. The unit gets very hot to the touch, which worries me a little since it makes hard contact with the plastic GPU shroud. That being said though everything has been fine so far.

Unfortunately, I did have 1 hard reset while gaming so far, which I can't help but think may have been due to power constraints. Since then I've been alternating testing it with the monitor plugged into the wall instead. Haven't had any more issues yet, 1 way or the other. I guess it still hasn't been through enough testing to really be sure. Hope this helps a little though.

What's the display that you're using?

Sorry for the delayed response, apparently I wasn't getting email notifications regarding my thread.

It's a Gechic 1303i. That is the 13" touchscreen model. So far it has worked out pretty well for me. Pulls ~ 10w, depending on brightness. The bezel is HUGE, and mine came with a fair amount of backlight bleed, both of which are frustrating especially given the high cost (> $300), but overall it delivers on the promise: Thin, light, portable, 1080p.

Embed yo images, dawg.

Hell yeah for brickless everything.

Dude I feel like an idiot saying this, but honestly don't know how to. Please let me know and I can update asap...

Love the build, and step by step photos! Planning my own and this helps greatly.

Question for you, as I am a total noob. Why does the HDPLEX 160w need to be modded with a C8 jack?
Also, if Josh is sold out on his site, where else should I be looking?

Thanks

Hey buddy sorry for the delayed response. The HDPLEX 160w AC-DC by default has an AC outlet on the end (like a wall power outlet). There is no cut-out for that on the S4M case, but Josh does include one for C8, thus the required mod. Alternately, you could mod the case to accommodate, but I think you'll agree that may be even more complicated. :)

As for getting the mod done, I ordered the unit, shipped it directly to Josh, and he modded it for me for a fee. I assume he'd be willing to do more of those if you reach out.

Let me know if this helps?
 
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SilveredEdge

Minimal Tinkerer
Apr 14, 2018
4
1
Interesting. i was thinking of doing something similar. Any modifications to your video card or pretty much stock settings? What kinds of settings are you playing on your games? Any thoughts on using a T processor instead?
 

matogl0396

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Feb 13, 2018
19
16
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Interesting. i was thinking of doing something similar. Any modifications to your video card or pretty much stock settings? What kinds of settings are you playing on your games? Any thoughts on using a T processor instead?

Hey man, sorry for the delayed response, but here it is:

I'm just running the videocard at stock settings. There is definitely not any extra power for overclocking. The 1060 6gb games quite well though, AAAs on high settings at 1080@60.

I don't have a T processor, but that being said, I do think some kind of additional concession would be required to make this build more viable. Unfortunately, I have now tested it enough to say that there are definitely issues with shutdowns. I can't be positive whether they are related to power overload or too much heat on the motherboard (which gets extremely hot per temp sensors), since there is no active cooling whatsoever (no space for any fan mounts other than CPU cooler). Either way, the "root cause" is surely the internal power brick which gets EXTREMELY hot under full load.

So, a bit of a failed experiment at this point, unless I can find some kind of mitigating solution. :( I am considering buying the standard Dell 330w external brick at this point and reworking my setup.

Hope this info is helpful for you.
 

Bphornett

Case Bender
Apr 10, 2018
2
0
So far, so good. I have been playing Prey lately, and that is doing around 180w according to my Kill-A-Watt. Benchmarking (3d Mark, Heaven) was as high as 200 ~ 215w. Both of those figures include using the USB-powered monitor off the same AC-DC unit. The unit gets very hot to the touch, which worries me a little since it makes hard contact with the plastic GPU shroud. That being said though everything has been fine so far.

Unfortunately, I did have 1 hard reset while gaming so far, which I can't help but think may have been due to power constraints. Since then I've been alternating testing it with the monitor plugged into the wall instead. Haven't had any more issues yet, 1 way or the other. I guess it still hasn't been through enough testing to really be sure. Hope this helps a little though.



Sorry for the delayed response, apparently I wasn't getting email notifications regarding my thread.

It's a Gechic 1303i. That is the 13" touchscreen model. So far it has worked out pretty well for me. Pulls ~ 10w, depending on brightness. The bezel is HUGE, and mine came with a fair amount of backlight bleed, both of which are frustrating especially given the high cost (> $300), but overall it delivers on the promise: Thin, light, portable, 1080p.



Dude I feel like an idiot saying this, but honestly don't know how to. Please let me know and I can update asap...



Hey buddy sorry for the delayed response. The HDPLEX 160w AC-DC by default has an AC outlet on the end (like a wall power outlet). There is no cut-out for that on the S4M case, but Josh does include one for C8, thus the required mod. Alternately, you could mod the case to accommodate, but I think you'll agree that may be even more complicated. :)

As for getting the mod done, I ordered the unit, shipped it directly to Josh, and he modded it for me for a fee. I assume he'd be willing to do more of those if you reach out.

Let me know if this helps?

Has anyone determined if there are any issues with leaving out the EMI filter that is part of the C14 connector that comes with the HDPLEX 160w AC-DC?
 

Thirumal Kumaran

Cable-Tie Ninja
Jan 22, 2018
146
67
So far, so good.
......
...
.
Let me know if this helps?

Really sad to hear about the temperature issues mate. My suggestion, DO NOT GIVE UP....
(It was expected as we can max get 170w out of 200PSU @ 85% efficiency, you can remember the PM)
I have few queries based on the info we have now.
If the Mobo temps are high, how you are sure the PSU accounts for it?
Have you tried moving the PSU to the "intended" position (Far from motherboard)? I know the space constrain might arise.
I can suggest lowering power envelope for the graphics card and try to check if the issue still persists.

As you know I'm in the same boat (May be worse, as I have a 8700, same board), I have deceived to downgrade my card to 1050ti.
Still haven't received my S4Mini & HD160 combo to check the scenario...
 
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bichael

Average Stuffer
Dec 17, 2017
58
49
Thoughts...
Have you undervolted your cpu? And for your gpu you can overclock it but reduce the power limit so you get similar performance at lower power. I found even at 75% I was getting pretty good performance.
To test for power I find running valley plus a cpu stress test like xtu will give a reset in under a minute if I'm at the limit (I'm using the dynamo mini but with a dell 330w).
As you say though it could be more a heat thing in which case not sure if a small fan for the ac-dc would help at all. Or can slide over the ac-dc so not getting blasted with heat from the gpu?
 
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matogl0396

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Feb 13, 2018
19
16
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Really sad to hear about the temperature issues mate. My suggestion, DO NOT GIVE UP....
(It was expected as we can max get 170w out of 200PSU @ 85% efficiency, you can remember the PM)
I have few queries based on the info we have now.
If the Mobo temps are high, how you are sure the PSU accounts for it?
Have you tried moving the PSU to the "intended" position (Far from motherboard)? I know the space constrain might arise.
I can suggest lowering power envelope for the graphics card and try to check if the issue still persists.

As you know I'm in the same boat (May be worse, as I have a 8700, same board), I have deceived to downgrade my card to 1050ti.
Still haven't received my S4Mini & HD160 combo to check the scenario...

Thanks for the suggestions. Yea I think undervolting is the next step for me. I wouldn't mind shelling out for a Dell 330w external brick at this point either, but I guess I'd also need to pick up the bigger DC-ATX unit too anyway, so not the cheapest solution huh?

In general it feels to me like going past the 1050 Ti on a "brickless" build is really pushing it. If I had a 1050 Ti lying around I'd actually be happy to switch that up as performance is pretty good anyway. Less hassle that way probably. Feels like an appropriate "console killer" type pairing with my i3-8100. Prices are close to normal on these now too! If anyone is reading this in future, that would be my suggestion for going "brickless" with the current available PSU options. No need to push it too far...

P.S. The internal brick won't fit in the "intended" position, unfortunately. You need shorter cards for that. Something like this:

https://www.newegg.com/global/il/Pr...3rRR_Lc2rM4RO-WS6YxoCpLQQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

Thoughts...
Have you undervolted your cpu? And for your gpu you can overclock it but reduce the power limit so you get similar performance at lower power. I found even at 75% I was getting pretty good performance.
To test for power I find running valley plus a cpu stress test like xtu will give a reset in under a minute if I'm at the limit (I'm using the dynamo mini but with a dell 330w).
As you say though it could be more a heat thing in which case not sure if a small fan for the ac-dc would help at all. Or can slide over the ac-dc so not getting blasted with heat from the gpu?

Thanks for the suggestions as well. I definitely agree that undervolting is a good next step.

I'm interesting in your testing. Can you share your full build specs, maybe you have a log to link to?

Thanks!
 

BrotherStein

Cable-Tie Ninja
Nov 11, 2017
168
136
P.S. The internal brick won't fit in the "intended" position, unfortunately. You need shorter cards for that. Something like this:

I just purchased this Meanwell internal brick and it's working very nicely. I have a 12V g-unique that I hooked up to it, but they have 24V versions as well. I don't know much about the hdplex and dynamo PSUs, but mine has been working well with a mini 970. The Mean well fits perfectly in the S4M and S4M-C (with some modification). Just a thought to get some more watts.
 
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bichael

Average Stuffer
Dec 17, 2017
58
49
Thanks for the suggestions as well. I definitely agree that undervolting is a good next step.

I'm interesting in your testing. Can you share your full build specs, maybe you have a log to link to?

Hi

Quick summary below on my experience. All using a dynamo mini plus a dell 330W and with an EVGA 1060 SC. The GPU overclocks were tested in firestrike but I had to dial them back a little for more stability in games.

Originally I was using an i7 4790 (with an undervolt). To avoid power resets (as tested using valley plus a cpu bench at the same time) I was running the 1060 at about 75% power limit and +210 core clock +330 mem. Comparison firestrike graphics scores at different power limits as mentioned in below thread;
75% power = 13430
80% power = 13636
85% power = 13918
https://smallformfactor.net/forum/threads/hdplex-160w-ac-dc-news.6423/page-3#post-91761

Due to other compatibility issues I switched to an i5 6500 (which should be pretty similar to your i3 8100). Post and pics as below.
https://smallformfactor.net/forum/threads/skyreach-4-mini-s4m.5715/page-77#post-95808

I was surprised how much lower the power consumption was and was able to run with gpu at 100% power limit with around +170 core clock +330 mem (due to the way the boost works it seems less overclock is possible at higher power limit which I guess makes sense). I've since undervolted the cpu by 75mV and can run with gpu at 110% power and +150 core clock +330 mem (not sure if the undervolt was necessary for that, just the order I did things). So now firestrike graphics score as below, you can see what I mean though about it working well at reduced power limit;
100% power = 14206
110% power = 14353

If you do a similar valley + cpu test do you get a relatively quick (ie 1min or so) power reset? If not I guess that would point to overheating of the ac-dc unit as the issue. Another test you could do is to take the ac-dc out of the case (hassle I know) and see how it works. I would still suggest trying to put it in front of the motherboard rather than the gpu if possible so it gets less heat blown at it. A small 40 or 50mm fan may also help.

Good luck!
 

matogl0396

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Feb 13, 2018
19
16
www.facebook.com
Hi

Quick summary below on my experience. All using a dynamo mini plus a dell 330W and with an EVGA 1060 SC. The GPU overclocks were tested in firestrike but I had to dial them back a little for more stability in games.

Originally I was using an i7 4790 (with an undervolt). To avoid power resets (as tested using valley plus a cpu bench at the same time) I was running the 1060 at about 75% power limit and +210 core clock +330 mem. Comparison firestrike graphics scores at different power limits as mentioned in below thread;
75% power = 13430
80% power = 13636
85% power = 13918
https://smallformfactor.net/forum/threads/hdplex-160w-ac-dc-news.6423/page-3#post-91761

Due to other compatibility issues I switched to an i5 6500 (which should be pretty similar to your i3 8100). Post and pics as below.
https://smallformfactor.net/forum/threads/skyreach-4-mini-s4m.5715/page-77#post-95808

I was surprised how much lower the power consumption was and was able to run with gpu at 100% power limit with around +170 core clock +330 mem (due to the way the boost works it seems less overclock is possible at higher power limit which I guess makes sense). I've since undervolted the cpu by 75mV and can run with gpu at 110% power and +150 core clock +330 mem (not sure if the undervolt was necessary for that, just the order I did things). So now firestrike graphics score as below, you can see what I mean though about it working well at reduced power limit;
100% power = 14206
110% power = 14353

If you do a similar valley + cpu test do you get a relatively quick (ie 1min or so) power reset? If not I guess that would point to overheating of the ac-dc unit as the issue. Another test you could do is to take the ac-dc out of the case (hassle I know) and see how it works. I would still suggest trying to put it in front of the motherboard rather than the gpu if possible so it gets less heat blown at it. A small 40 or 50mm fan may also help.

Good luck!

Hey dude this is fantastic info, super helpful, thank you very much. I'm slammed with work right now, but I'll get around to some additional testing asap and will share back.

Thanks again!
 

matogl0396

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Feb 13, 2018
19
16
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Really sad to hear about the temperature issues mate. My suggestion, DO NOT GIVE UP....

Thoughts...
Have you undervolted your cpu?

Hey guys, finally got around to some preliminary testing, and wanted to provide an update:

First, I did some quick undervolting with Intel XTU. I was getting crashes/freezes at -100mV, but everything seems stable at -50mV instead. So maybe not the BEST result I could hope for, but still not too bad! I also used MSI Afterburner to reduce the GPU to various lower power levels, similar to bichael's suggestion (see below for details).

So then, going back to some testing (again, preliminary and somewhat limited). My wife and I have been playing WoW lately, of all things. :) So running that at max settings, 1080p, no Vsync (unfortunately, I did not have a Kill-A-Watt connected for this though). Note that for these tests I was powering my USB monitor from another source, unless otherwise noted:

*Just with the -50mV CPU undervolt: Still experienced resets in-game, so not enough of a change.

*-50mV CPU, 90% GPU power: Lasted longer, but still experienced resets eventually. :( PSU was still extremely hot to the touch.

*-50mV CPU, 80% GPU power: Didn't experience any crashes in a few multi-hour gaming sessions! Perhaps just as importantly, I noticed the PSU was not heating up so intensely, in fact I could hold a finger on it indefinitely now.

*-50mV CPU, 80% GPU power, USB monitor plugged in: Instead of trying to increase GPU power from this point, I decided to just see if I could get away with plugging my USB monitor into the PC while remaining at 80% power. This thing draws like 8 ~ 12 watts according to the Kill-A-Watt, depending on brightness, etc. For me, an important aspect of the portability of this build is having a self-contained setup, which includes powering the display! I would actually rather sacrifice even more GPU power to make this work. That being said, so far it seems like I *may* not have to. This is the setup I'm currently running, no crashes yet, but needs more testing before I can definitely say it's stable. That PSU does heat up pretty good again with the monitor plugged in though, so we'll see...

So in conclusion, I hope it helps someone reading this to know that with current hardware, a 1060 + 65W CPU is a little too much for a brickless build. That being said, it does appear that with some careful undervolting we can make this work. Still, if you're going to have to underpower it anyway, a 1050 Ti or a T processor or some other kind of minor downgrade may just make more sense in the first place.

Hope this helps someone!
 
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