NFC S4 Mini : Enthousiast version (Core i7 6700K + R9 Nano)

MarcParis

Spatial Philosopher
Original poster
Apr 1, 2016
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Hi all,

It's alive! It's ALIVE!!!


As some people may know, I've started a new setup based on marvellous NFC S4 Mini.
My target is not to transfer existing setup into NFC S4 Mini, but to create a really powerful and compact setup. My ultimate goal is to replace my current enthousiast gaming setup, that is using watercooling (see signature).

To meet that purpose, thanks to Josh and Michael, I've planned to use dual power brick+pico psu setup. However it lead to a failure as HD plex was coil whining, and even my voodoo 350W didn't manage to handle R9 Nano power peak. Thus I adapt myself and went to ATX extension, and ATX external power supply (this last one could be improved..:))

Here is the BOM :
  • MB : gigabyte ga z170n Gaming 5
  • RAM : 2x8Go Corsair LPX vengeance 3200Mhz
  • CPU : Intel core i7 6700K
  • CPU cooler : ID cooling ID-VC45 (vapor chamber) + Noctua NF-A9x14 PWM
  • Thermal Paste : Artic Cooling MX-4
  • Storage : SSD M.2 nvme Samsung 950 Pro 512go
  • GPU : VisionTek R9 Nano
  • Case : NFC S4 Mini
Everything powered by :
  • Bifenix ATX 24pins, CPU 8 pins, PCI express 8 pins extensions
  • Seasonic S12II (non modular PSU that I have in stock..:))

NFC S4 MINI
As stated the main difficulty relies on powering all the demanding components. R9 Nano is requesting up to 500W in peak directly through its pci express connector..that's clearly too much for notebook power brick, even the strongest on the market.

Then, I used ATX extension cables through I/O shield of my motherboard, as it's quite open (a very good point indeed).
The main KEY idea to rout harness in this case was to split 24pins cable extension in 2 smaller bundles : one joining PCI-e bundle above the cpu, and the second merging with 8pins cpu extension.
Pretty effective, and keeping anough space for airflow...:)




To maintain cable properly at external I used Phoby Twist lock, easy to put and to remove.

The real downside, currently, is that I need to use my fairly old Seasonic S12II (even if it saved this setup). ATX power, located externally are quite big and disgraceful. I've several option to remove this issue (sfx, 1u, shuttle, etc)


Let's have a look at the other side on the case :


As you can see, I've put a very simple airduct or hot air bumper, to eject maximum hot air the other side of the R9 Nano. That's leaving the freshest air on the side on the intake fan of R9 Nano..effective!

Now let see some picture on the case closed :



Now on my desktop.
I've made a global picture to compare my previous gaming setup (link in my signature) :

Difference is enormous : 26L vs 4L. The only point where he was the best were temperature...of course...but not that far away. In terms of noise, storage, speed, processing power, NFC S4 mini is better and smaller!!

On desktop, I've decided to put NFC S4 mini vertically simply to keep the main hottest part (R9 Nano) on the top, in order to avoid heating all the others components meanwhile.

And here it the final result!


Update of 23/07/2016 : This small NFC S4 Mini just became my main gaming computer...here it is alone on desktop :


The free space will be used by my cats..:)


I'll post more about testing, but I can already say that I can play for long period. Fan noise is acceptable, Temperatures are OK (77°C on R9 Nano, 50°C on CPU during games).

Next step in my S4 mini testing...CPU benchmark...:)

I've already shared with you some trials, (based on OCCT, 10mins), now I can complete with final installation setup (closed case, located behind a TV that is heating it) :

  • Outside the case, stock core i7 6700k :
    • VC Core Voltage : 1,285v
    • Max temperature (in peak ) : 88°C
    • Average temperature : 80°C
  • Outside the case, stock core i7 6700k, undervolt -0,15v (worked on OCCT, but shows instability in real world multitasking)
    • VC Core Voltage : 1,135v
    • Max temperature (in peak ) : 71°C
    • Average temperature : 67°C
  • Inside the case (but case not closed, with no ATX extension), stock core i7 6700k, undervolt -0,10v
    • VC Core Voltage : 1,185v
    • Max temperature (in peak ) : 79°C
    • Average temperature : 74°C
  • Inside the case (Case closed, ATX extension around cpu cooler), case loacted just behind TV that is heating also, stock core i7 6700k, undervolt -0,10v
    • VC Core Voltage : 1,185v
    • Max temperature (in peak ) : 86°C
    • Average temperature : 80°C



So undervolting CPU is compensating closed case (closing the case is decreasing its cooling capacity).

Even if case is closed, CPU cooling capacity remains pretty good...look at those grahs showing how fast cpu is cooled after load :


As a conclusion, NFC S4 mini can handle core i7 6700k, but you need to have a very good cpu cooler, and also undervolt it a little bit.


More to come soon for sure!


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I'll leave all preparation photos at the end, as archives.

SETUP


Clearly using a Z4-ATX-200 is helping a lot for cable management. Installation is pretty clean.
Please also note orientation of cpu cooler (parallel to RAM and I/O shield). With this orientation and clearance (no heatsink to block exit of air flow), cooling capacity of ID-VC45 has impressed me (see below benchmark section)


Thanks to Michael and Frank (from Pico Box), now all Z4-ATX-200 are sold with a 7.4*5.0mm converter, allowing to use Dell 240W/330W or Voodoo 350W. (and it's working fine!) Very useful


There is a tiny coil whining coming from z4-atx-200. I insist it's tiny as above 30cm from it, I cannot hear it..:)

BENCHMARKS

CrystalDisk Mark
Ok it's a very easy one with a M.2 Samsung 950Pro on board..:)

I've checked temperature of my SSD M.2 950 pro in my NFC S4 mini, in vertical stand.
After OS boot : 48°C (room @20°C)
After checking Evil with in (60Go) + Pillars of eternity (19go) folder in steam : 59°C
After 1 hour gaming session (Armored warfare, default R9 Nano) : 64°C
After benchmark in magician : 62°C
After 5 min cooling down : 57°C

We are still far away from throttling limit of 70°C.

So, in vertical stand, NFC S4 mini is M.2 SSD friendly, in vertical stand..:)

It's worth to highlight that as others SFF could struggle on cooling M.2 SSD

OCCT
My Intel Core i7 6700K is not underclock or even undervolt, but my CPU cooler (id cooling ID-VC45) is able to handle the load without too many troubles. No thermal throttle, CPU temperature are around 80°C.
It's worth to look at temperature variation. There is like a cooling cycle. It could be logicial due to vapor chamber nature of ID-VC45.
Also note that I'm using Noctua NF-A9x14 PWM fan instead of stock id cooling fan. I made this choice because noctua is very quiet, but less powerful than id cooling one. For sure I will have better temperatures with Id cooling fan, but it will be less quiet..:)



Now, same test with UNDERVOLTING VC Core (no underclock). i must admit that Gigabyte (first board ever for me) is quite unfriendly in order to change power voltage...but at he end, result is terrific!

With an offset of -0.15v, I managed to reduce DRAMATICALLY temperature :

  • VC Core Voltage :
    • Was : 1.285V
    • Becomes : 1.135V
    • Offset mode : -0.15V
  • Max temperature (in peak )
    • Was : 88°C
    • Becomes : 71°C
    • Gap : -17°C!!!
  • Average temperature :
    • Was : around 80°C
    • Becomes : around 67°C
    • Gap : -13°C!!
So, at simple question : Can I put a Intel Core i7 6700K in a NFC S4 Mini?? Answer is simple : YES..:)

GAMING EXPERIENCE
I would like to share my gaming experience on my NFC S4 mini as I'm using it as my main gaming PC for a couple of months now.
Finally, gaming experience depends on screen resolution

Please note NFC S4 mini is connected to an 4K screen, with Freesync enable (40-60fps synchro).
Please note that V-sync is activated

@1080p gaming :
  • Overdrive/wattman has power limit set to -25%
  • R9 Nano frequency : 1000Mhz with all games I launched (no thermal throttle)
  • R9 Nano Coil whine : depends on game, but globally very, very low due to -25% on power limit
  • R9 Nano Fan noise : 40-45% maximum...so noise level is perfectly acceptable
  • GamingExperience @1080p : Really good! Max details in optimal conditions!

@1440p gaming :
  • Overdrive/wattman has power limit set to -0%
  • R9 Nano frequency : around 900Mhz with all games I launched (no thermal throttle, but power throttle)
  • R9 Nano Coil whine : depends on game, but as we are @1440p (load is real), it's largely acceptable. (example : armored warfare is the loudest, whereas Doom has none..:))
  • R9 Nano Fan noise : 55-65% maximum...so noise level is high and too high on several games
  • GamingExperience @1440p : All games I've launched (from the witcher 3, doom vulkan, armored warfare) provide really smooth experience, even @max settings. I've experienced a framerate from 45-90 depending on game (Doom vulkan is incredibly smooth!!). Freesync is a life sayer speaking of smoothness. The only drawback @1440p is fan noise
@2160p gaming :
  • Overdrive/wattman has power limit set to -0%
  • R9 Nano frequency : around 800Mhz with all games I launched (no thermal throttle, but power throttle)
  • R9 Nano Coil whine : depends on game, but as we are @2160p (load is real), it's completely OK
  • R9 Nano Fan noise : 50-55% maximum...so noise level is high but still acceptable (fan noise is lower than @1440p because I'm testing less demanding games)
  • GamingExperience @2160p : Well, well, except for several less demanding games (world of warships, pillars of eternity), gaming experience @2160p is not satisfying. I don't want to reduce details, so I prefer playing @1440p on most demanding games.
To sum up, this NFC S4 mini with R9 Nano is a damn good PC while playing @1080p and truly capable (but a bit too noisy) @1440p. 4K gaming is only achievable on less demanding games.

What is the future of this setup?
@short terms : I want to experience a more quiet @1440p gaming experience. Thus, I'll transfer my setup into my Bitfenix Phenom (watercooling the CPU, and provide really good airflow globally). Comparison with NFC S4 mini will be very instructive...comparing a 4L case vs 28L..:D
In NFC S4 mini, I'll put my former gaming setup (4770K with 2x2.5" SSDs, no discrete GPU). And NFC S4 mini will come back to living room.

@mid terms : In Phenom, I'm planning to build a true 4K gaming machine, based on AMD vega. Final setup will depend on videocard (watercooling?aircooling, all options are possible)
In NFC S4 mini, I'll put again R9 Nano. But, I'll need to remove one SSD, and put some carton shield/backplate to optimize heat dissipation


That's all for today.
Don't hesitate to ask any question..:)
 
Last edited:

MarcParis

Spatial Philosopher
Original poster
Apr 1, 2016
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Thx Frank. I've added also comment about z4-atx-200 is a pico psu that accepts input voltage from 12 to 24v (19v recommended)...because I guess it's the only one pico psu that isndoing that..:)
 

MarcParis

Spatial Philosopher
Original poster
Apr 1, 2016
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Ah ok, sorry for confusion, in europe, I can find only mini box 12v pico psu..:)(mainly 80w and 160w)..:)
 

MarcParis

Spatial Philosopher
Original poster
Apr 1, 2016
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I've just detected a tiny coil whining from z4-atx-200...but I insist, it's tiny. Above 30cm away, It's unhearable..:)
 

FrankTang

Cable Smoosher
PICO-BOX
May 7, 2016
10
11
Z4 is an upgrade version of our Z3. The main purpose is to increate the DC-DC converting efficiency (larger than 90%) so that less heat is generated. More comments are needed from customers so that we can continue doing optimisation on Z4.
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
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Looking forward to seeing how this goes. I'm getting a Z4 power supply myself, but to run my entire system, GPU included.
 

MarcParis

Spatial Philosopher
Original poster
Apr 1, 2016
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Please note that my z4 didn't come with gpu pci express connector. I guess it exists some wire kit suited to gpu.
 

Josh | NFC

Not From Concentrate
NFC Systems
Jun 12, 2015
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www.nfc-systems.com
Bumping up your resolution might get rid of the coil whine. All the R9s I've owned, particularly the Fury X, Fury Tri-X, and the Fury Nitro scream like BANSHEES at 1080p but shut the heck up at 2560x1440. The Nano is also noisy until you boost the res.

Try increasing your AA output too and see if that quiets it down a bit.
 

Phuncz

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May 9, 2015
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Additionally you could use Vsync, frame rate control/limit or FreeSync (if possible) if you need 1080p. Rendering at >60fps doesn't do anything unless your screen has a high refresh rate, most people are using 60Hz monitors anyway. And it helps in power consumption and also temperature as a result.
 

MarcParis

Spatial Philosopher
Original poster
Apr 1, 2016
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Even at 1080p, to inçrease resolution, you can jsut apply super resolution mode on radeon crimson driver. That simply increase rendering resoltuion and scale it down to 1080p with a better image quality.
Also, my computer setup is linked to a 4k, freesync monitor, so it could help also..:)

We will see, thanks for tips.
 

MarcParis

Spatial Philosopher
Original poster
Apr 1, 2016
3,435
2,466
Well, well, how can I introduce that news...
I've just finished undervolting (not underclocking) my core i7 6700K, and results are just crazy insane :



  • VC Core Voltage :
    • Was : 1.285V
    • Becomes : 1.135V
    • Offset mode : -0.15V
  • Max temperature (in peak )
    • Was : 88°C
    • Becomes : 71°C
    • Gap : -17°C!!!
  • Average temperature :
    • Was : around 80°C
    • Becomes : around 67°C
    • Gap : -13°C!!
So, at simple question : Can I put a Intel Core i7 6700K in a NFC S4 Mini?? Answer is simple : YES..:)

PS : first post updated accordingly..:)
 

Phuncz

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May 9, 2015
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That's like a 12% decrease in voltage but a larger decrease in temperatures, nice !
 

michaelmitchell

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Mar 12, 2016
117
73
Well, well, how can I introduce that news...
I've just finished undervolting (not underclocking) my core i7 6700K, and results are just crazy insane :



  • VC Core Voltage :
    • Was : 1.285V
    • Becomes : 1.135V
    • Offset mode : -0.15V
  • Max temperature (in peak )
    • Was : 88°C
    • Becomes : 71°C
    • Gap : -17°C!!!
  • Average temperature :
    • Was : around 80°C
    • Becomes : around 67°C
    • Gap : -13°C!!
So, at simple question : Can I put a Intel Core i7 6700K in a NFC S4 Mini?? Answer is simple : YES..:)

PS : first post updated accordingly..:)

What did you do to test stability with the lower vcore?