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Castle Black, a Mini ITX Gaming/Media Center/Photo-Editing Build

by mikeyil

117
76 Comments

Details

CPU Clock Rate

3.4GHz

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.05Ghz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

7.01Ghz

Description

I hadn't built a PC from the ground up maybe...ever. I have an old history of doing some light maintenance on computers, cleaning out dust, swapping HDDs/RAM/cards but never a build from scratch. This is compounded by the fact that I haven't even really used a PC at home for almost five years. I decided to ramp the challenge up to eleven and sought a build to function as a general purpose machine capable of playing current games at high/ultra, editing photos (Lightroom), being a capable media server (Plex). On top of that, I wanted an aesthetically-pleasing tiny (mITX) case that was as quiet as possible.

Two huge mistakes with this build: I bought a power supply that was way too big at first (OCZ ZT Series 650W). I had measured my parts obsessively but made the fatal error of not really paying attention to the size of the PSU I had spontaneously picked up while in Micro Center. It looked great (it is) and was going for a great price.

The other mistake: I had no idea what I was doing with the Corsair H90. I had never put any kind of CPU Cooler on any processor, ever. I did have the help of an experienced friend but he'd never done any kind of liquid cooling. The instructions from Corsair were also pretty bad. The LGA 1150 isn't explicitly listed though it is compatible. I ended up putting the wrong screws on the right bracket and then the right screws on the wrong bracket until I finally figured it out.

Aside from that, my ultimate PSU choice could be better but they really don't make too many good power supplies under 150mm in length. Shopping for PSUs (and cases) also kind of sucks because there is no standard on how dimensions are ordered/listed (LxWxH vs HxWxD).

This build is as complete as it's going to be for the time being. I already have the Silverstone PP05 Short Cable Set on the way because the cables that came with the Corsair RM650 are kind of horrible and inflexible. I did also run out of HDD space quickly (thanks to Plex) so I also picked up a Seagate Barracuda 3TB 7200RPM HDD and may give the WD Digital Caviar Blue 1TB to a friend.

Ideally, I wish I could have gone for SilverStone Strider Plus ST60F-PS power supply since it's only 140mm in length and supposedly (per SilverStone) the shortest high wattage PSU there is. Aside from the cables, I'm happy with the Corsair RM650 though. It just causes my graphics card to kind of...bend. When I go in to put those in, I'm also going to attach a molex connector to power the front case fans which I accidentally left unpowered.

All in all, I'm very happy with this computer. All the fans that came with the case were rated at <20 dBA so I was a little apprehensive about the fan for the CPU cooler which is rated at 35 dBA but it's still whisper quiet. I also wish I had been a little more patient to wait for Black Friday and Cyber Monday but I couldn't wait any longer! I probably could have saved $60 between my SSD, the 1TB SSD and case. Though, I do have about $50 in rebates from my Corsair PSU and CPU Cooler on the way, so that's nice.

Comments Sorted by:

LeMonarque 3 Builds 11 points

+1 for the i5 with Lightroom. You've done your homework sir. Most people would just randomly say "graphical work? get an i7" without actually knowing Lightroom's CPU usage. :)

You can probably expect some comments like that here actually... >_<

Permalink 15 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 3 points

Thanks!!! I figured I could truly never tap into an i7's full potential. I'm likely to spend more time playing games than editing photos (hopefully) and I figured since the 4670K is the successor to the 3570K that it was my best option. I'm not about throwing money into a build but finding the sweet spot for getting a good value on the money I'm spending.

Permalink 15 months ago
LeMonarque 3 Builds 2 points

Well you were absolutely right. LR4 only uses 4/8 threads on an i7, which is pretty much the same as 4 cores on an i5. Saved a hundred bucks and lost zero performance! Doesn't get much better than that.

Your photos look great by the way.

Permalink 15 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 1 point

Well that's awesome. And thank you! :)

Permalink 15 months ago
panzergrenadier -9 points

Wrong the 3570k- has no successor it is still one of the best cpu's

Permalink 14 months ago
manirelli staff 2 Builds 4 points

erm, the 4670k...

Permalink 14 months ago
JakeyU72 3 Builds 2 points

There are so many things wrong in one fragment of a sentence.

Permalink 14 months ago
LeMonarque 3 Builds 2 points

But it has to be called the 4570K to be a successor! Joking. But that's probably what he's thinking. >_<

Permalink 14 months ago
panzergrenadier 0 points

nope

Permalink 14 months ago
RustyBaker 5 Builds 3 points

Great build, great parts, great pictures. +1 all around. My only question involves that heating duct behind your desk. What's up with that? I bet you never lack for heat, it just looks odd.

Permalink 15 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 3 points

I live in a weird loft apartment, that's pretty much the long and short of it. It's actually pretty cool, exposed beams between the floors. My "room" is just the large loft area above my first floor.

Permalink 14 months ago
zodiac2999 1 Build 3 points

I was gonna say, it looks like you live in an open loft with your desk overlooking the bottom floor. I really like those floorplans. City apartment?

Permalink 14 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 2 points

Yup, city apartment. My building is actually old adjoining ones gutted and rehabbed so it has some interesting and unique floorplans.

Permalink 14 months ago
18hockey 1 Build 2 points

Very clean cable work for such a small case. I'm amazed you managed to fit liquid cooling in there too! Great build, +1.

Permalink 15 months ago
Arit911 2 points

Really good parts i like it

Permalink 15 months ago
MLPortal 2 points

Just by the way, the motherboard shown in the build pictures is not the one in the list.

From list

From pictures

It looks like a great build though, and great pictures too.

Permalink 14 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 1 point

Good catch, I fixed it.

Permalink 14 months ago
juheebus 1 Build 2 points

Good build. I've heard of people heating up the cables to provide more flexibility (Not melting them just loosening them up a bit). I have the same psu but I have a sleeve kit.

Permalink 14 months ago
xSachira 2 points

Incredibly nice build. Very nice choice of parts and looks really good.+1

Permalink 14 months ago
Bajubom 1 point

Wow, that's all the nice components you put in there.

sooooo, i would like to ask you about the OCZ PSU, i'm going to buy one. Did you manage to use it? Which one do you suggest, corsair or ocz on mid tower case?

Permalink 15 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 2 points

Nope, I couldn't use it. It wouldn't fit. It was too big by about 15mm. If space were a non-issue, I'd go with the OCZ. The Corsair is nice, gold certified and quiet but I think the OCZ was just of better quality. The cables it came with were also MUCH nicer. If I wasn't anxious to get something that same day, I would have not bought the Corsair PSU. The OCZ was also cheaper.

Permalink 15 months ago
Zeus 1 Build 1 point

I also had a couple of troubles mounting my CPU cooler, I couldn't manage to attach both of the spring screws simultaneously. +1 for the well written description and awesome photos!

Permalink 15 months ago

Amazing build, great job, and yes, amazing pictures. If only I could give 2 more points........ -_-

Permalink 14 months ago

that headset SUCKS, but nice build

Permalink 14 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 1 point

Really? It's the Siberian v2 basically, I like it. What would you recommend?

Permalink 14 months ago

for me the headset is tight and the padding is well not really there, i prefer turtle beaches to them but i like astro

Permalink 14 months ago
DanielRS 1 Build 1 point

Sweet, small and beautiful +1

Permalink 14 months ago
Jack_Burton 1 point

Great build. I want to use this case in the future, but I just wish Fractal would make some custom cables to fit this case

Permalink 14 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 1 point

Seriously, I really need good cables.

Permalink 14 months ago
Jack_Burton 2 points

please post pictures with the short cables when you get them in there. I'm curious to see how it looks

Permalink 14 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 1 point

Definitely.

Permalink 14 months ago
Javanode 1 Build 1 point

Great build and nice table setup!
But, I've noticed you put the wrong SSD and GPU in the parts list. The SSD is the evo version and the GPU is GTX 770 not 760

Permalink 14 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 1 point

Good catch, posted the wrong (older) build. Fixed it.

Permalink 14 months ago
[comment deleted]
mac13 1 point

Did you install the H90 as an intake or exhaust? I just bought one to put in my new Node build and Corsair says to install as an intake but that would mess up the airflow in the case since the front fans are intakes. I didn't know if you swapped any of those around. Great build!

Permalink 14 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 1 point

I played around with various things but I just finalized on having the H90 set up with an intake and I switched the fans around on the front to be the exhaust. In fact, I have a push/pull on the H90 radiator, it's sandwiched between two 140mm fans now.

Permalink 14 months ago

i see you picked the acx version of the graphics card. i heard people say that in a small case it's better to use the reference cooler. how are your temps on the graphics card?

Permalink 14 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 1 point

All depends on the case. My case has a grill that lines up with the ACX version fans quite nicely.

Permalink 14 months ago

what i've heard is that the acx cooler cools better, but it dumps all the heat inside the case. the reference cooler on the other hand, exhausts hot air out the back.

Permalink 14 months ago
Daedalus02 1 point

The way this card mounts in this case it actually pushes exhausts out of a vent built into the side of the case.

Permalink 14 months ago
Daedalus02 1 point

Did your Silverstone short cable set come in yet? I've been trying to figure out if they are directly compatible with the power supply you're using as I'd like to use the same for my build.

Permalink 14 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 1 point

Nope, not compatible at all. I was able to get a few cables to work with it, but just not worth it.

Permalink 14 months ago
Daedalus02 1 point

Well that's a bummer. It's surprising that short cable kits aren't more common than they are. So I'm guessing you still haven't had any heat issues with your current build even with the excess cable floating around the box?

Permalink 13 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 1 point

Tied down everything best I could, so it's neat. CPU is liquid cooled as you can see... no heating issues that I'm aware of and I keep this thing running pretty much all the time.

Permalink 13 months ago
bepari220 1 point

I think you ran into some problems when fitting the GPU along with the PSU, I am also considering build one myself, but worried whether my current PSU (ST-75FP) will fit with my XFX R9 280x BE or not :/

Permalink 12 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 1 point

Yup, I totally ran into some problems with my GPU and PSU. And no, that PSU probably won't fit with that GPU at all. I'd look into one of SilverStone's 140mm-length PSUs. Those are your surest bet.

Permalink 12 months ago
bepari220 1 point

sh*t ! do you think ST65F-G will be overkill for my build ? another one I'm keeping eye on is EarthWatts EA-650-PLATINUM. 4670k @4.4Ghz, 1TB Barracuda. I am a light gamer, 1-2 hours of gaming per session @1080p

Permalink 12 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 1 point

Sorry for the late response, I think that's an appropriate PSU, depends on your GPU but that PSU length is perfect for this case and any reasonable GPU you wanna use.

Permalink 11 months ago
[comment deleted]
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 1 point

Thank you!

Permalink 11 months ago
gcoyle1992 1 point

I spy IKEA furniture. lol. Nice build. looks like you took some good time with part placement and clearance

Permalink 11 months ago
jmit6 1 point

Have you run into any problems with your MOBO?

Permalink 10 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 1 point

Sorry for the super late response. Haven't had a problem at all.

Permalink 3 months ago
KVNG 1 point

Should I get an RM550w or Seasonic G550w? I prefer the Corsair RM550w due to its silent fan operation, but is it a pain for cable management?

Permalink 7 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 1 point

Don't know anything about the Seasonic but Corsair RM are fine and very great for the silent operation.

Permalink 3 months ago
bubbyj13 -3 points

The only thing I would've done different is got the 760 from Gigabyte. EVGA are known to overheat, in my past experiences too.

Permalink 14 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 1 point

GPU is actually a EVGA GTX 770, fixed my build list here. Hopefully it doesn't give me overheating issues.

Permalink 14 months ago
ravagex -6 points

Major picture overload

Permalink 14 months ago
Electrospeed 2 points

BLASPHEME!

Permalink 14 months ago
mikeyil submitter 2 Builds 1 point

It's true, I'm a wreckless shutterbug heh.

Permalink 14 months ago