Why are you interested in SFF?

CountNoctua

(no relation)
Jul 11, 2019
214
263
For us who dabbled in the [SUP]SMALL[/SUP] way before it was cool, the bitfenix prodigy when it first came was just meh.

BUT, like yourself, the case propels many, many others into converts, discovering new world that is sff.

So I still hold that one dear, fwiw.

You gotta admit, the design makes it looks small on photo. Irl, idk, kinda the same size as two inkjet printer stacked together.

Yeah, and I think it's good to not start off on too small a case, because that might be a turn-off, particularly for people not used to cable management or compatibility issues. But a properly planned and executed build (with some luck) is a thing of beauty. ?
 

Valantar

Shrink Way Wielder
Jan 20, 2018
1,806
1,718
Hm, I can't really believe I've missed this thread. Not that I've been here that long, but there is significant overlap between this thread being active and me being on these forums. Oh well. My induction into the SFF ... cult? Ideology? Let's go with "way of thinking" - came through a rather simple process: too much PC in too little apartment. More or less. But let's rewind a bit.

The first PC I took part in building was in the late 90s or possibly early 2000s, when my older brother moved his parts into his own PC and the rest of the family then had to fill in the blanks, so to speak. This was in a classic beige full tower case similar to this (just without the vents and door handle). Stood on the desk it was significantly taller than me at the time. I believe it had an Abit motherboard, and an 800MHz AMD Duron. No idea about the rest of the specs.


When I got old enough to buy my own PC I - as the befits a 15-year-old - moved to the flashiest case I could find (mind you there were definitely fuglier alternatives out there at the time): the Thermaltake Xaser III

Mine didn't have a window, other than that the picture is identical to mine. IIRC it housed a 3GHz Pentium 4 (non-HT - I was dumb enough to not buy the HT version despite it being out and costing only marginally more) and an ATI Radeon 9500 All-In-Wonder that (thanks to the blessing of Omega drivers) easily flashed to some sort of 9700. I was really fond of that PC, but unfortunately it broke on me when moving to a LAN somewhere around 2006. It just refused to turn on, and at the time i didn't have the know-how to disassemble and reassemble everything for troubleshooting. Looking back I feel kind of stupid about this. Oh well. Went a couple of years without a desktop after that, using an ahead-of-its-time (read: terrible) HP Pavillion TX1000-series convertible laptop, until I got a job in a computer retail store and thanks to saving up + some decent employee discounts I moved to this monstrosity:

That is the Cooler Master Stacker 830 Nvidia edition. Ironically it housed my CrossFire Radeon HD 4850 setup - I mainly bought it for the color scheme (and ventilation/easy multi-GPU fitment). Still hadn't learned my lesson on minimalism, I guess. Beyond that it held a C2Q 9450 in an Asus Rampage Formula X48, 2x2GB Corsair Dominator DDR2-1066 (doubled to 4x2GB after a year or so), and a whole bunch of 3.5" HDDs - at most I think I had 5, four of which were 750GB Samsung 7200rpm drives in a RAID 5. Learned my lesson on not using chipset RAID there when I had to rebuild the RAID every 5-10 reboots. Not fun. This is kind of my haunted PC, though: in addition to the RAID troubles, I first struggled a lot finding a triple-slot CrossFire bridge for my GPUs, I had my first brush with watercooling (using a preconfigured DIY kit) which I abandoned when it leaked (I hadn't tightened the fill port stopper enough ...) and when I finally got CF running I couldn't live with the damn noise of the terrible stock coolers on the 4850s.

This is not a quiet cooler design. And I had two in an open-air case. So I bought two Arctic Accelero S1 coolers, wanting to try semi-passive cooling out - the triple-spaced GPU slots meant they would fit, and the case had four fans in a bracket inside the side door. Of course I didn't factor in that the S1s extended quite far above the PCB of the GPU, meaning the fan bracket in the side door didn't fit ... Yeah, this was a clusterf**k. I don't quite remember how I dealt with this, but in the end the 512MB of RAM in the 4850s wasn't enough for gaming at 1920x1200 at the time, so I ditched them for a Radeon HD 6950 in 2011. Never looked back. I then moved into a tiny apartment with my partner a year or so later, and the PC went in storage as there was nowhere to fit it at the time. Moved to a slightly bigger one (though still small at ~45m2/about 480ft2) half a year or so later, where we are still living.

In the meantime I had gone back to school, and being a poor student even with a part-time job I couldn't afford to upgrade the PC much. Added an SSD and some small stuff, but the first major change was getting rid of that gigantic case which had become ever more of a nuisance in the apartment. It was nearly as tall as the desk, but vented and not flat on top, so it the space was very poorly utilized. As I couldn't afford to replace any components in the PC at the time I got a Fractal Define R4. Initially I was happy with this, but ... that didn't last. I think this is where SFF really started intriguing me. Then came the time for a GPU upgrade, I had some more money, and the Fury X appeared. Tiny, water cooled, and very powerful - it was pretty much perfect. I bought it with a half-formed plan of getting an ITX motherboard and case the next year.

Of course my Fury X had a whiny pump (too whiny for me; not whiny enough for the store to RMA), which annoyed me no end until I found an EK full-cover block for it on clearance for about $30. Coupled with continuing lack of funds and the lack of good ITX cases where the AIO radiator for the Fury X would fit, this made me postpone a full system upgrade until I could a) find a case, b) water cool everything, and c) afford it. This came to pass just as Ryzen launched. Unfortunately finding a case I could afford that could fit everything I needed continued being an issue - so I built my water cooled ITX Ryzen system in the Define R4. Think I posted a picture of that in the space inefficiency thread - if not, I should. A year or so later the best compromise of price, size, and fitting everything (so far!) arrived: the NZXT H200i. No, it's not technically SFF (the shame!), as it's around 25l. But it's a heck of a lot smaller than the Define R4, and it could fit my ATX PSU. I could also move it on top of a shelving unit and thus clear some floor space. And unlike the Cerberus - my dream case at the time - I didn't have to sell a kidney to afford it (importing a Cerberus to Norway would bring the price to about $400).

I'm still looking to downsize. Not done yet, not by a long shot. But I'm not quite willing to abandon water cooling (how could I when I can run a ~400-450W PC damn near silently at 50cm from my head in a case with relatively poor airflow?). As such I guess I can't claim to be all about size when it comes to PC building - noise is equally important. Noisy but tiny is a no-go. But I will be looking at smaller PSU options next time around, at the very least. And a smaller case - maybe one where I can ditch my tube reservoir?
 

ThatGuy333333

Caliper Novice
Aug 5, 2019
24
11
I just got into PCs like 3 years ago now, but my atx machine is just too big to fit under my small desk. So I’m probably gonna downsize soon, I’ll probably put up a build log on the forum once I start though.
 
  • Like
Reactions: CountNoctua

nycalex

Average Stuffer
Nov 6, 2018
74
34
been building PCs since the 90s, started with a 486 dx2. was using pre-builts before that.
Basicaly i love planning, part selection, modding and finally building a PC and admiring how everything just comes together.
but up to 10 years ago, i did not have enough disposable income to buy good components. from the 90s till 2010 i was building "best budget build under $500" type of builds. I remember that athlon thunderbird overclock, E-5200 wolfdale overclock, basically budget CPUs that gave you more for the money.
Then i started getting a good amount of disposable income, and since then been building all out systems, watercooling, multiple gpus, you name it, i bought it.

i work in a very very stressful environment and i need something to calm my nerves when i get home. Building systems is quite relaxing. i can do the same with Legos as well (i love legos!).

i have a main full tower that i use daily. i build SFF just to look at them in my cabinet. I have yet to use a SFF system i built for more than 2-3 hours. i just take it apart after a couple of months, sell everything and start over.

Currently pre-ordered a velka 3. last build was a S4 mini, before that was ncase, geeek a50, and on and on.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Choidebu and ignsvn