NFC S4 Mini #178 - Dusk

mtl171

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Nov 22, 2016
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First off, thanks so much to @Josh | NFC, @1461748123, and so many others for answering many (if not all) of my stupid questions. Now without further break, I give you my build log (rather attempt)!

Hello everyone! This is my first build log for my first SFF PC. My main goal was to create a super tiny console sized PC which could hold and utilize modern hardware with little compromises. I ultimately settled on the S4 mini due to aesthetics and community support.

Parts list:
-Case: S4 Mini black + custom vandal switch
-CPU: Intel 7700K
-Heatsink/Thermal Compound: Noctua L9i + Noctua HT-H1
-Motherboard: MSI Z270I Gaming Pro Carbon AC
-Ram: Corsair Vengeance LPX 3200 Mhz
-GPU: Zotac 1070 Mini (no backplate version)
-GPU fan adapter cable: Gelid CA-PWM-02
-PCI-E ribbon: NFC HDPlex PCIe
-SSD: Samsung 960 Evo
-Fan: Rosewill Ultraslim 120mm PWM (RASF141213)
-PSU: HDPlex 300W DC-DC nano atx + Dell DA330PM111 B
-Miscellaneous: 91% isopropyl alcohol, coffee filters, 1/4" nut driver, screw driver, KillAWatt, lots of coffee and good music
Overall the cost was around $~2200 for everything

Now for the pictures!







Overall, the assembly was not super complicated especially after watching Josh's full build video on Youtube. However, I did make some stupid mistakes like not figuring out which direction the fan blew or forgetting to remove studs from the front bezel to accomodate the bezel.

Parts critique:
-S4 mini: Was definitely tricky to build in at times (looking at you bezel studs) but ultimately worth it.
-MSI Z270i: the closeness of the 24 pin to the front bezel made HDplex locating a PITA. additionally the fan headers are hard to get to. otherwise it has a decent feature set and nice color scheme
-Noctua L9i: super easy to install. gets the job done when paired with a mild undervolt.
-Intel 7700k: probably shouldve just gone with a 7700 for heat output reasons
-Samsung 960 evo: super fast with a price to match. a intel 600p likely wouldve been a better choice from a cost perspective.
-Corsair vengeance lpx: does ram things? looks nice and not too expensive either.
-zotac 1070 mini: a bit of a pain to fit in but the extra graphics i/o, larger heatsink and no need to mod makes it worth it to me.
-HDPlex 300W dc-dc atx: handles all my needs. did start to whine a bit but HDplex is advanced RMAing me another :D
-Rosewill ultraslim: hate how it looks but it works

EDIT: removed some personal info from pics. Thanks to those who pointed it out >.<
 
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mtl171

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Original poster
Nov 22, 2016
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How to fit a Zotac 1070 mini into a S4 mini (with lots of steps and not nearly enough pictures)
-remove the shroud from the 1070 mini by unfastening 6 screws on the back of the PCB. separate fan from heatsink by removing another 4 screws. repaste and reassemble with heat sink only. it also wouldnt be a terrible idea to cover the SLI connector bits with some electrical tape
-add fan adapter cable to GPU PCB
-remove S4 mini front panel and back panel
-install slim fan. connect to GPU
-remove nuts from S4 mini bezel using 1/4" stud driver
-remove studs from front of S4 mini bezel (the 3 furthest away from where the power button lives). this is mainly done by wiggling the studs and unscrewing them or using pliers (Josh has a good video on how to do this)
-remove screws from back of S4 mini near power connector (both)
-remove bezel by pulling the bezel away from the front of the case and down
-assemble PCIE ribbon
-stick 4 pin PSU ribbon cable in 1070 mini. Pull down along the PCB side
-stick 1070 mini through S4 mini (via the hole created by removing the bezel). Pull PSU ribbon taught while pushing card toward the button of the case (to ensure most room possible)
-attach PCIe ribbon
-secure I/O size of 1070
-take HDPlex PSU connector and push it through the heatsink side of the 1070
-push torward the bottom of the case and over the GPU into position (cant really be more specific hopefully the pics help)
-screw down securely
-route power cable over the heatsink side (theres more room). once you pass the ribbon cable, pull it through to the PCB side
-replace bezel (power connector portion first then the front)
-anddd thats it

Once your done, it should look like this:




Temps and power draw measurements to come soon!
 

mtl171

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Nov 22, 2016
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Temps, power draw, loudness and all that jazz. These numbers actually took quite a while to get as it also served to test my super quick and not very validated undervolt (ended up bumping things up 15 mV from what I thought was stable).

Methodology: All numbers were not very scientifically read by me through afterburner or by staring at a Killawatt. Everything is running at settings recommended by GeForce experience (pretty much everything cranked up) unless otherwise noted. Only hardware tweaks is a -85mV undervolt via XTU

Numbers are average CPU temp (celsius), average GPU temp (celsius) and average power draw from wall (watts)
-Overwatch: 63C, 68C, 150W
-Battlefront: 75C, 80C, 245W
-Witcher 3: 75C, 80C, 245W
-GTA5: 72C, 82C, 235W
-Cities Skyline: 65C, 70C, 170W
-Unigine Valley (extreme HD): 65C, 80C, 230W
-Unigine Heaven (extreme): 60C, 80C, 220W
I can't say I'm too surprised by my rough measurements. When I was running my components outside of the case, Overwatch was averaging in the low-mid 50s for CPU and low 60s for GPU. So the jump in temps isn't too extreme. Either way, I definitely plan on getting a Noctua slim fan to replace the rosewill (eventually when it comes out) and probably will repaste the GPU just to be safe.

I also conducted some quick sound tests using my phone (place 6" from front bezel of the S4 mini)
-At load: 69dB
-At idle: 42dB
For real life reference, its barely noticeable at idle unless you actively search for it while sounding like a jet engine taking off at load.

And just a couple benchmark pictures:


 

Phuncz

Lord of the Boards
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May 9, 2015
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Excellent, well-balanced build with high-end performance, well done !
 

zovc

King of Cable Management
Jan 5, 2017
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I'm excited to hear how your thermals do after you switch to the Noctua fan on your GPU.
 

Kmpkt

Innovation through Miniaturization
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Feb 1, 2016
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Out of curiosity, if you were to chop a hole in the front bezel and mesh it, could you fit the card with the shroud in the S4 mini or would it protrude beyond the front of the case?
 

mtl171

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Nov 22, 2016
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Very nice! I never get tired of S4 builds.
Nice choice for the wallpaper too. I cannot wait to see the official 919 LMP1 livery.
Thanks! Knowing Porsche its going to look awesoeme
Excellent, well-balanced build with high-end performance, well done !
Thank you! Its a little louder and hotter than I would've liked but definitely acceptable for the size.
I'm excited to hear how your thermals do after you switch to the Noctua fan on your GPU.
When it comes out :/
Out of curiosity, if you were to chop a hole in the front bezel and mesh it, could you fit the card with the shroud in the S4 mini or would it protrude beyond the front of the case?
I have it feeling it would portude. I didn't try before hand as I read a post by @1461748123 who noted that it wouldn't fit in with the shroud on. However, I did check Zotacs' website which stated that the card is 210mm long. According to Josh, theres about 203mm of interior space + 5mm of bezel :(
 

zovc

King of Cable Management
Jan 5, 2017
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FWIW, I've underclocked my i7-4790K to 3.6GHz (locked for now) from the stock 4.0GHz, it runs stably (so far as I can tell) at 1.070v with really nice, almost-always below 60C thermals.

This is even with the iGPU running at 16x (from x14.5) and I think 1.170v (not sure what stock is), I can stably run Resident Evil 5 at 720p locked to 30fps and my Noctua cooler doesn't spin up to an audible level.

I'm considering, out of curiosity, underclocking and undervolting to the speeds of a 4790T to see if I end up at a similar TDP--I don't think I've seen my system draw more than 70W at the current settings. (Can't fit a GPU in my current case.)
 
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mtl171

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Nov 22, 2016
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FWIW, I've underclocked my i7-4790K to 3.6GHz (locked for now) from the stock 4.0GHz, it runs stably (so far as I can tell) at 1.070v with really nice, almost-always below 60C thermals.

This is even with the iGPU running at 16x (from x14.5) and I think 1.170v (not sure what stock is), I can stably run Resident Evil 5 at 720p locked to 30fps and my Noctua cooler doesn't spin up to an audible level.

I'm considering, out of curiosity, underclocking and undervolting to the speeds of a 4790T to see if I end up at a similar TDP--I don't think I've seen my system draw more than 70W at the current settings. (Can't fit a GPU in my current case.)
That is something that I'm definitely considering. How did you disable turbo boost (the XTU setting is currently greyed out for me)? Also was underclocking simply a matter of dialing down the core and cache ratios then undervolting?
 
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zovc

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Jan 5, 2017
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That is something that I'm definitely considering. How did you disable turbo boost (the XTU setting is currently greyed out for me)? Also was underclocking simply a matter of dialing down the core and cache ratios then undervolting?

I'm not sure I had to disable turbo boost--I think it was off in my BIOS by default. (Which I thought was strange for Z-series board.) If I had to guess, XTU can't adjust that and it needs to be changed in the BIOS.

I'd have to look at my board's BIOS, but I did all the tuning in the BIOS until I got to the iGPU, from there I used XTU. For me it was as simple as setting ALL CORES (or whatever) to the multiplier I wanted (I worked my way down from x40 to x36), then lowering the voltage until things got unstable... then bumping it back up. I have been meaning to fool with PER CORE overclocking but don't feel like having to tune my voltage again... There's obviously other stuff you can try to push once you're happy with your over/underclock but I couldn't touch ANY of my RAM's settings without preventing the system from even showing a picture through the onboard video. My poor iGPU is stuck with 1600MHz RAM.
 
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mtl171

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Nov 22, 2016
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I'm not sure I had to disable turbo boost--I think it was off in my BIOS by default. (Which I thought was strange for Z-series board.) If I had to guess, XTU can't adjust that and it needs to be changed in the BIOS.

I'd have to look at my board's BIOS, but I did all the tuning in the BIOS until I got to the iGPU, from there I used XTU. For me it was as simple as setting ALL CORES (or whatever) to the multiplier I wanted (I worked my way down from x40 to x36), then lowering the voltage until things got unstable... then bumping it back up. I have been meaning to fool with PER CORE overclocking but don't feel like having to tune my voltage again... There's obviously other stuff you can try to push once you're happy with your over/underclock but I couldn't touch ANY of my RAM's settings without preventing the system from even showing a picture through the onboard video. My poor iGPU is stuck with 1600MHz RAM.
That definitely is strange. I'm probably going to set everything to stock 7700 voltage/frequency while leaving turbo boost on and undervolt my way to unstability.

The idea of per core overclocking gives me a headache. Especially needing to validate every core. I've only overclocked my ram with XMP settings. Random unexpected errors a little too much for me. At least with undervolting, the BSOD is a pretty obvious indicator that more voltage is needed.
 
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CubanLegend

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Dec 23, 2016
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Nice build. Thanks for trying out some new things, like that 1070 mini without the original fans. Thank you for posting your temps.

My system will be similar with a 7700K and the sam NH-l9i cooler but I'll also end up delidding for the temperature drop. I'm probably going to have to do the same thing with my 1080mini once it returns from it's time at Josh's, I'll probably have to remove the fans and the metal shroud and leave a single Rosewill in it's place, I have that GELID miniGPU fan to 4-pin normal fan adapter though, so I can at least hook it directly into the GPU so it can hopefully control that fan with a custom CPU curve in MSI afterburner.
 
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mtl171

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Nov 22, 2016
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Quick update #1
So I've decided to underclock my CPU to 3.6 Ghz (at the recommendation of @zobc) with a health -145mV underclock and power limited my GPU to 85% for the sake of temperatures. So far it seems to greatly improve my CPU temps, keeping it in mid to low 50s, while my GPU temps now sit in low 70s. I'm assuming there is a minor hit in performance but it doesn't affect my Overwatch frame rates :D

However, my Rosewill fan is still super duper loud so might look for a interim replacement until the long awaited Noctua fan comes to market. I do have a custom GPU fan curve though it only seems to really tame fan noise at low temps (otherwise the fan needs to rev up to work).

Currently considering a Prolimatech Ultrasleek Vortex 120 or a Cooler Master Xtraflow thin 120. The rosewill fan is mysteriously missing static pressure measurements on its website so I have a feeling that it might be a airflow fan :( Either of the forementioned fans should also be capable of pushing as much air as it Rosewill so performance shouldn't get worse... (hopefully)
 
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mtl171

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Nov 22, 2016
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Nice build. Thanks for trying out some new things, like that 1070 mini without the original fans. Thank you for posting your temps.

My system will be similar with a 7700K and the sam NH-l9i cooler but I'll also end up delidding for the temperature drop. I'm probably going to have to do the same thing with my 1080mini once it returns from it's time at Josh's, I'll probably have to remove the fans and the metal shroud and leave a single Rosewill in it's place, I have that GELID miniGPU fan to 4-pin normal fan adapter though, so I can at least hook it directly into the GPU so it can hopefully control that fan with a custom CPU curve in MSI afterburner.
The mini fan adapter really is super handy if only for making a custom fan curve in afterburner. The Rosewill gets the job done at least for a bit though I do see some very minor dips in power delivery after running Valley for an hour.
 
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mtl171

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Nov 22, 2016
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Quick update #2:
So one unintended side effect about having a relatively open frame case like the S4 mini is that you can hear everything. While fan noise was a given, I didn't think about the possibility of coil whine >.< After switching out 3 HDPlexs' (many thanks to Larry for his help), I've isolated the culprit down to my 1070 mini -_-" Fortunately, its a constant frequency and is inaudible over fan noise/headphones but just another thing to keep in mind.
 

CubanLegend

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Dec 23, 2016
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Quick update #2:
So one unintended side effect about having a relatively open frame case like the S4 mini is that you can hear everything. While fan noise was a given, I didn't think about the possibility of coil whine >.< After switching out 3 HDPlexs' (many thanks to Larry for his help), I've isolated the culprit down to my 1070 mini -_-" Fortunately, its a constant frequency and is inaudible over fan noise/headphones but just another thing to keep in mind.
dang bro that sucks, at least you figured out the coil whine, that must've been satisfying to figure out.
 

mtl171

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Nov 22, 2016
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dang bro that sucks, at least you figured out the coil whine, that must've been satisfying to figure out.
I definitely was relieved and a bit happy that I figured it out. Though those feeling vanished once I realized that it wasn't fixable without replacement XD Thankfully, I cant hear it while wearing headphones
 
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Smallform Gaming

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Aug 10, 2016
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Nice build. Thanks for trying out some new things, like that 1070 mini without the original fans. Thank you for posting your temps.
I have that GELID miniGPU fan to 4-pin normal fan adapter though, so I can at least hook it directly into the GPU.

Thanks for hinting at this little adapter, it made my build with the 120mm Gelid fans possible. It is a bit pricy but totally worth it.
 
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mtl171

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Nov 22, 2016
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Thanks for hinting at this little adapter, it made my build with the 120mm Gelid fans possible. It is a bit pricy but totally worth it.
No problem. It definitely is easier than trying to route the fan cable to a mobo header. Though if you need to bend it at a sharp angle, you may have to cut away some of the heatshrink on the GPU side of the cable.