New to PC building, and finding traditionally sized PCs are. . .antiquated.

Hello all,

Years ago (2005ish?), I bought my first desktop from cyberpowerpc. I had a friend update it in '09. Now, I'm looking at doing my first build myself. The technology has changed. I am more confident in my abilities, and there seems to be a much larger presence online for help. As I started brushing up on what all the pieces-parts do, and how they spec out, I've found that the only reason people go large is because they either need multiple PCIe slots, or they hold a ton of data and need 3.5s. I don't need either. With cards like the 1060 6g, I have no need to SLI. I am not an audiophile. And with mobos having wifi built in, there is no reason I can foresee that I need any more than PCIe slots. With the 270 chipsets, m.2s killing SATA ports isn't as much an issue.

My search started at reddit's buildapc. Which sent me to pcpartpicker. Reviewing cases, I found that the most mainstream cases for mITX had flaws in size. Well, maybe not as much flaws, but inefficient layouts or ones that I didn't like. Then I found the M1. Which seemed to be the best, but I still mentally thought a mITX could get smaller.

After encountering these, I sought to spec out a PC in this form factor. But from what I was finding, noise could be an issue. This drove me to the nVidia Shield. (I want a modern, "decent" power gaming system, and I want it on my mantle.)

So I started to investigate more and more. I didn't like the way a Shield would require more equipment, and obviously lowered my PC budget. So I went back to the drawing board. Back to mITX cases, and trying to find a desirable solution. I guess the way I was searching pcpartpicker didn't show me the M1. When I started, the A4 wasn't there yet. After finding the M1 and, I found the Dan A4 and the Ghost S1.

None of these cases are exactly "Prime" for me, because I have concerns about fan noise. When going small and wanting nearly silent computing, I started to learn more about heat, fan noise, and performance. I see their designs as having slight thermal inefficiencies

EDIT- I realized I didn't highlight what I meant. The M1 is amazing. It just has room for more amenities than what I was looking for. I'm not a fan of the CPU cooler height restriction in the A4. The Ghost is still being tweaked, but is close to going to kickstarter. Its current design is similar to the A4, but the PSU can go up or down, and it has 3 different sized expansion that can sit on top. These expansions can house a 280mm AIO, but as hot air rises, it will be sucking in hot PSU exhaust. If he can incorporate these expansions to the bottom, it would be the perfect case for me. /EDIT

I have found the "core" on what I want to build, with a couple backup alternatives. Unfortunately, I'm not certain the exact case I desire exists, or will exist. The slightest combo between the Ghost and Dan would be my ideal solution.

Fortunately, I still have time. I budget about $75 every two weeks for this build. But my core plan goes something like this-
i5-7600 undervolted. I plan on experimenting and finding the lowest possible with its stability, and setting it at a 75% reduction from there. Good computing, easy to cool, and gives the opportunity to create the greatest delta between its TDP and whichever CPU cooler I select.

CPU cooler is the biggest thing I have to consider. Because of the desire for near silent, good computing, I’d like to go with an AIO, 280mm cooler. Obviously, to get into the smallest of form factors, this will likely be a concession all the way down to the quietest LP cooler that will fit in the case I select. What I’m hoping is that the designer of the Ghost successfully incorporates his “top hat” idea into both the top and bottom of his design, which will allow for at least a 240mm AIO to be under what is roughly the same layout as the more known Dan A4.

MSI GTX 1060 6gb Gaming X – GTX 1060 6gb blows away any game I intend on initially playing with this system. Nothing modern. Assassins Creed 3 and all the ones that came after that and a heavily modded Skyrim. As this will be the last component I purchase, the Volta series may be out, and I’ll opt for the newest equivalent. The MSI Gaming X shows it has the best thermals and lowest noise by far in a Tom’s Hardware comparison. Its fans are regarded as nearly silent, and they don’t kick on until 60C.

Mobo is still up for debate. The core of what I am looking for is 2x m.2, onboard wifi and Bluetooth. The best for this seems to be boards with the Z270 chipset instead of the cheaper H270. Hopefully this may change by the time I get to that point so I can get a cheaper board. Currently, no H270 has 2x m.2s.

Corsair SF450 – Won’t need more than 450W in this build – pcpartpicker is indicating about 250W total for this build. With underclocking the cpu, and operating the Gaming X in silent mode, I’m certain it will actually fall below 225W. Most people indicate that the “sweet spot” for PSU efficiency is when it is running at about 50% load. Going bigger would mean more inefficiency. I don’t like inefficiency. I don’t think most people who prefer SFFs do.

Obviously, I will be going with the Samsung 960 Evo m.2. Gonna start with only 1 of the 250Gb version. I will bide my time until I can get an equivalent 1Tb m.2 for under $150 (I know, years away. But there it is). Depending on case selection, and how it serves me, I may decide differently in the future. I want 2x m.2 mobo, but only for 1 drive initially.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. I welcome – well, really desire feedback on what I’ve said. If anything is wrong, or if something in my goals seems unreasonable, I’d love to know and be steered in a better direction.

Thanks,

-Zarch
 
Last edited:

jtd871

SFF Guru
Jun 22, 2015
1,165
847
You basically have my new build (A4). See my thread here.

I don't know how obsessive you are about silence, but I went with a dual-fan 1060 and the Cryorig C7 on a i5-7500, and while I notice the C7, I'm still running the stock fan curve from the motherboard. I really haven't had it cranked up yet, but since the 1060's fans don't spin at idle, and the PSU fans don't spin at idle, it's reasonably quiet (quieter during gaming than my GT70-based iBuyPower gaming laptop).
 
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Necere

Shrink Way Wielder
NCASE
Feb 22, 2015
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The M1 is amazing. It just has room for more amenities than what I was looking for.
The dimensions of the M1 are mostly dictated by the sizes of the primary components, i.e. the motherboard, PSU, and GPU. Depth is motherboard + SFX PSU, width is GPU height. The only dimension that can reasonably be reduced is height, but I had good reason for it. Support for a 240mm radiator, 3.5" HDDs, and slim optical drive are all possible within the limits imposed by the core components, and no dimensions were increased to support any of these options. Not trying to influence your decision, but I did want to clarify those things.

The Ghost and A4 are smaller, with the major sacrifice (if you don't need much in the way of drives) being CPU cooler height, and perhaps dust filtration (the Ghost is supposed to have filters, but I'm still skeptical that they will work well with GPU fans). I should also point out that the Ghost is only 133mm wide, and consequently 280mm AIOs (which are 140mm+ wide) won't fit at all. A 240mm AIO is more than enough for just the CPU though, anyway.
 
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zarch

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Mar 29, 2017
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The dimensions of the M1 are mostly dictated by the sizes of the primary components, i.e. the motherboard, PSU, and GPU. Depth is motherboard + SFX PSU, width is GPU height. The only dimension that can reasonably be reduced is height, but I had good reason for it. Support for a 240mm radiator, 3.5" HDDs, and slim optical drive are all possible within the limits imposed by the core components, and no dimensions were increased to support any of these options. Not trying to influence your decision, but I did want to clarify those things.

The Ghost and A4 are smaller, with the major sacrifice (if you don't need much in the way of drives) being CPU cooler height, and perhaps dust filtration (the Ghost is supposed to have filters, but I'm still skeptical that they will work well with GPU fans). I should also point out that the Ghost is only 133mm wide, and consequently 280mm AIOs (which are 140mm+ wide) won't fit at all. A 240mm AIO is more than enough for just the CPU though, anyway.

As I am reviewing the available cases, yours is starting to sway me. As I want the absolute quietest build I can manage, I really would like to go with an 240 AIO. Unfortunately, the quietest 1060 6gb GPU that I can find (The MSI Gaming X) is showing it is incompatible on the Google doc file. Their descriptions of why leave something to be desired, but I'm glad I know in advamce.

I know things obviously get "finicky" when getting down this small. The quietest equipment needs the largest surface area to remove heat, which bucks against the SFF. I don't think I'm going to find a case where I can fit both a 240 AIO and that GPU. So now I'm going to have to figure out what is gonna give - the AIO, or the GPU. As the M1 is much more easily attained, and a little cheaper that the others, and the fact that the 'relatively' expensive Gaming X 1060 6G doesn't fit, my budget might allow for a different model 1070, which I can undervolt/underclock to try to keep it cooler. I am only looking to play slightly older games at 1080p, so this can give me some headroom for a few years.

I have a few months to make this decision, so I might end up getting a Volta GPU instead.

Thanks for the feedback
 

TheHig

King of Cable Management
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Oct 13, 2016
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the fact that the 'relatively' expensive Gaming X 1060 6G doesn't fit, my budget might allow for a different model 1070, which I can undervolt/underclock to try to keep it cooler. I am only looking to play slightly older games at 1080p, so this can give me some headroom for a few years.

Just chiming in. I ran the EVGA 1070sc for a whle and found with a custom fan curve with msi afterburner that it was very quiet. It too will run zero rpm fans up to 60C so under general PC use it is passive and dead silent. It also is very svelt compared to the MSI 1060/70 gaming and should fit in the M1 if you want to run the AIO for the cpu. The EVGA 1060 with ACX 3 cooler is the same dimensions as well.

Good luck building!
 
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zarch

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Mar 29, 2017
16
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Just chiming in. I ran the EVGA 1070sc for a whle and found with a custom fan curve with msi afterburner that it was very quiet. It too will run zero rpm fans up to 60C so under general PC use it is passive and dead silent. It also is very svelt compared to the MSI 1060/70 gaming and should fit in the M1 if you want to run the AIO for the cpu. The EVGA 1060 with ACX 3 cooler is the same dimensions as well.

Good luck building!

I'll take a look. Thanks for the info!
 

zarch

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Mar 29, 2017
16
13
Welcome to our humble forum and I'm glad that we could help you in some way. Looks like the M1 is your best bet for the case you want.

Yea, I'm leaning that way. Don't need a disc drive or the extra hard drives, but if I go that way, I'll add more.
 
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zarch

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Mar 29, 2017
16
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Just chiming in. I ran the EVGA 1070sc for a whle and found with a custom fan curve with msi afterburner that it was very quiet. It too will run zero rpm fans up to 60C so under general PC use it is passive and dead silent. It also is very svelt compared to the MSI 1060/70 gaming and should fit in the M1 if you want to run the AIO for the cpu. The EVGA 1060 with ACX 3 cooler is the same dimensions as well.

Good luck building!

I've been heavily debating on making the concession to the EVGA 1060 SC. However, I'm a bit curious to know if the larger heatsink of the Gaming X means that reaching 60C would be less frequent. I get that both fans don't kick on till then, but if I'm concerned that I'll get over 60C more easily with the SC.


Most of this I've learned since I first posted, but it still had nuggets I wasn't aware of. As I've still got quite a few months before I pull the trigger on the full build, I am anxiously waiting to see the Ryzen mITX mobos. I am looking to the R5 1600 now, as well as the i5 7600.