Log Cool & Quiet Rocket Lake Mini-STX: Asrock H470M-STX + Core i5-11500 + Black Rock + Noctua in Akasa Cypher ST V2


SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Apr 6, 2019
[posting under construction]

Years ago I got so annoyed by the noisy fans and the bulky size of my unspectacular windows pc tower that I was looking for some alternatives. In 2017 I somehow stumbled over the Mini-STX format of the DeskMini H110M-STX. Since then I changed cases, mainboards and coolers but mostly stuck with this form factor.

I do gaming on phablets and tablets but not on pc , so the desktop pc should be good for office, surfing, media consuming and editing.
I always considered fanless builds but found them more expensive and more constrained than actively cooled builds, also taking into account that some components might lack necessary cooling (like in the Turing cases for NUCs by Akasa. If you close them some parts heat up inside). I want my components to have a long lifetime.

So I accept essentially one quiet fan for the system, and what heat source can stay outside the case should stay out, like the power source. I prefer fanless external power bricks to internal ones with some lousy fan to get their heat out of the case.

So Mini-STX, Thin Mini ITX and NUC are viable form factors for me.

A year ago I made this NUC10i5FNH but sold it half a year later after I got a warranty replacement unit. The (known weakspot) LSPCON chip had been corrupted by a firmware update.

Last November I bought my first Asrock DeskMini H470M-STX unit (made in August 2020) as a replacement for the NUC and my old Asus H110S1/CSM Mini- STX build with a Core i3-7100.

I put the mainboard into an older DeskMini case together with a Comet Lake Core i3-10320, my old Noctua NH-L9i, 32GB HyperX 2666 SO-DIMMs, an ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro out of the NUC, and an Intel AX201 CNVIo M.2 WiFi 6 card.
My plan was from the beginning to upgrade it with a Rocket Lake CPU, when they would become available in 2021

This first H470 unit had a major flaw from start: the M.2 NVMe Gen3 x4 slot could never exceed this throughput, whichever M.2 drive I tried, :

This got never rectified by a BIOS update. Later, when I got my Rocket Lake CPU, I also found that this H470 would not boot with it despite of the latest firmware 😡

Also, this February in preparation I bought a discounted Samsung PM9A1 OEM Gen4 x4 drive for the second M.2 NVMe slot on the underside (bellow the RAM slots) of the H470 board, which is Gen4 x4 (called Hyper M.2). But in Q1/2021 it became publicly known that the PM9A1 has major problem with a conflict between power management and TRIM execution. For OEMs there is no firmware update to correct hat and I sold the drive again before I used it.

In March 2021 Amazon had a rare great price for the DeskMini H470, and, since I had enough components for two mini-pcs anyway, i bought my second H470 unit , manufactured at the end of November 2020. This unit has none of the flaws of the earlier unit. So the first, slower H470unit will keep my still fairly new Comet Lake CPU, the Noctua NH-L9i, the 2666 RAM and a 160W brick.

After I purchased the Rocket Lake Core i5-11500, I initially placed it together with the Noctua L9i into the a DeskMini, combinded with 32GB HyperX 3200 SO-DIMMs, which I already owned for some time. Of course, the H470 only allows DDR4-2996 for RAM.

The hexa-core i5-11500 produces more heat than the Noctua L9i cooler can handle so I limited the Rocket Lake CPU to quad-core until I made this new build. The whole DeskMini unit got still very warm, warmer than with the Comet Lake quad-core.

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SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Apr 6, 2019
Before I continue the build stuff some clarification regarding my system choice:

Why would I want to upgrade from a new Comet Lake Core i3-10320, which is a little more powerful and refined than a i7-7700? I have a 4K-Monitor (non HDR), and the old UHD 630 iGPU struggles with output, especially badly with Youtube 4K, where frame drops or stuttering are annoying.
There are no quad-core Rocket Lakes and the i5-11400 has only 24-EU-graphics, while the 11500 has 32 EUs. The other, higher RLs consume more energy than I want in a small M-STX box.

Why Intel H470? Because I tried three A300 units in the winter 2019/20, one was DOA, the others had HDMI-4K output problems and coil whine. I complained about that in the A300 thread, mentioning the previous quality problems with Asrock H110M-STXs. Here with the H470, the first unit is also sub-standard, as I mentioned in the first post.

Now back to the build.
(as an info: I like my builds to be reversible, so I can sell the components again without damage. That NUC in posting one was rebuilt to original form before I sent it back for warranty exchange)

Knowing the size constraints of a DeskMini case, I had to look for some other case to accommodate a larger cooler. An I was also looking for a larger but not very high cooler.

The only possible choice for a case was the Akasa Cypher ST V2, which is a "top loader", where you can modify or leave away the top lid, so the sky is the limit for a cooler. That case has also two additional USB 2.0 ports on the rear side which connect to the typical Asrock USB header - or so I thought.

Here is a link to the Akasa case for details

I also wanted to try the Alpenföhn Black Rock, because of its low height, six heat pipes and two possible fan mounting options. The Black Rock actually fits under the lid of the Akasa Cypher ST if one can mount a fan under the cooler fins. But the latter is not possible on a H470M-STX because some rear panel sockets stand in the way of underside fans. But a 120 mm fan on top is possible with an open lid, so the fan choice is free.

Below you can see the Akasa Cypher ST V2 with the plastic front lid removed. Since the Black Rock is wide and low, to be able to place the mainboard with mounted cooler into the case, some metal parts on the front had to be cut off. I've marked the blank metal with black lines where I had to make cuts. (little 76mm disc angle grinder did the job).

You can also see the plug of the twin USB 2.0 cables leading to the rear. This made for a bad surprise during final assembly, when I realized that plug is one size too small for a regular USB header! WTF, Akasa? 😡 I had to use another cable for the header while cannot use the rear USB cut-outs until I find a solution.

The Akasa has a factory assembled 50mm case fan on the left side which I removed. I repurposed the screw holes later for the antenna mounts, since the original antenna holes on the rear are covered by the Black Rock, and my first alternative antenna holes I made on the rear above the USB cut-outs became too wide.

Of course, I won't be able to sell the mutilated Akasa case again.
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SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Apr 6, 2019

My components and materials of this build are:

  • Asrock H470M-STX mainboard
  • Intel Rocket Lake Core i5-11500 with UHD 750 iGPU, 65W TDP
  • Alpenföhn Black Rock cooler
  • Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM
  • Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut thermal grease
  • 32GB HyperX Impact HX432S20IBK2/32 (2x16GB kit) DDR4-3200MHz, limited to 2996 MHz in this mainboard
  • Intel AX201 M.2 CNVIo WiFi 6 card
  • Delock 88815 coax antenna cables, 0,2 m MHF IV (I-PEX) RP-SMA
  • ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 512 GB in the upper slot - second slot on the underside and the two special SATA connectors there are not in use atm.
  • Delta Electronics 19.5V 9.23A 180W external power brick
  • running with Windows 11 Pro beta

As you can see, the Black Rock covers much of the board surface. This makes it necessary to populate all sockets and headers before one attaches the cooler to the CPU. One has to mount a completed computer into the case and attach the wires afterwards. That mounting is made difficult by the unnecessarily tight build of the Akasa. One has to press the mainboard really hard against the backplate to uncover the screw holes on the bottom of the case.

As you can see, the Noctua is essentially ventilating the whole upper side of the mainboard.

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