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NZXT Compatibility Checker

Posted March 11, 2014 by philip

One of the most challenging aspects of building a new computer is understanding compatibility restrictions. Will a given motherboard fit in a case? Is the video card too long? Does the power supply have sufficient wattage? PCPartPicker provides these compatibility checks to ensure your components will work together. Over the past few months we have incorporated even more checks to help guide builders during the planning process.

I'm very pleased to announce cooperation with NZXT to integrate the PCPartPicker compatibility checker into NZXT.com. On NZXT product pages, such as the NZXT H440, you can now quickly evaluate compatibility versus any other part in the PCPartPicker database!

NZXT Compatibility Checker

I have wanted to build a mini-ITX system for quite some time. The original plan was to keep the budget of this build around $700, but after looking closer at the case I couldn't resist bumping up to a more powerful system. The 240mm radiator mount along with full length video card and power supply support make it ideal for a small form factor powerhouse.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Type Item Price
CPU Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor $229.96 @ OutletPC
CPU Cooler Corsair H100i 77.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler $97.16 @ Amazon
Motherboard ASRock Z87E-ITX Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard $124.99 @ Newegg
Memory Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory $86.99 @ Newegg
Storage Samsung 840 EVO 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk $89.89 @ Amazon
Storage Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive $59.98 @ OutletPC
Video Card EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB Video Card $679.99 @ NCIX US
Case Corsair 250D Mini ITX Tower Case $89.99 @ Microcenter
Power Supply Corsair CSM 550W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply $69.99 @ Newegg
Total
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available. $1528.94
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-03-03 15:07 EST-0500

Front View

Side View

Side View

Personally I think the 250D is a great looking case. The side mesh windows not only provide ventilation, but do a good job of showing off the radiator and video card.

Power button

The power button is nicely disguised but easily pushed.

Scratches

The brushed metal face is a nice touch, but we managed to scratch ours just placing it on our desk surface. You'll want to be extremely careful with it - it scratches easily.

H100i

The H100i mounted without too much difficulty. It was depth constrained, however. We wanted to fit an H105, but after measuring it was clear it wouldn't fit. Here's the amount of clearance we had with the H100i:

Radiator Clearance

As you can see, we had just a fraction of an inch of clearance remaining. It was fortunately enough that we could route cables from the CPU block through.

!780Ti

The 780Ti fits easily in the 250D, and will provide ample performance for gaming. I absolutely love the NVidia stock cooler design. It looks great, and it feels great (for that too brief moment you have it in your hands during installation).

Top View

Cable management was surprisingly easy for an ITX build. The space behind the front panel provides plenty of room to work with the cables. Clearly we could do better with the cable management, but for now this should suffice. It does seem to cry out for custom length sleeved cables though.

Window

The grey-tinted top window provides a view of the case internals.

I've had the opportunity to build with quite a few ITX cases, and the 250D has been the best experience to date. There's plenty of room to work with (when there isn't a radiator mounted). It supports full length power supplies and video cards. And last but not least it looks great. What more could you ask for?

The goal for this build was a gaming build that wouldn't break the bank. Since our last couple builds have been on the more expensive end ($3600 and $10000), we decided to keep things a bit more practical this time around. Our budget limit for this build was $1200, but due to the timing of purchases it ended up just under $1100.

NZXT kindly sent us the new H440 to test out, and we found it to be an outstanding case. More on that, and the rest of the build below...

The part list and pricing at the time of this post:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Type Item Price
CPU Intel Core i5-4570 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor $199.99 @ Newegg
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-H81.Amp-UP ATX LGA1150 Motherboard $75.66 @ Newegg
Memory Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory $89.99 @ Amazon
Storage Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive $78.94 @ Amazon
Video Card MSI GeForce GTX 770 2GB Video Card $359.99 @ SuperBiiz
Case NZXT H440 ATX Mid Tower Case $119.99 @ NCIX US
Power Supply SeaSonic S12II 620W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply $71.30 @ Newegg
Operating System Microsoft Windows 8.1 - OEM (64-bit) $89.99 @ NCIX US
Total
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available. $1070.85
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-02-04 15:42 EST-0500

NZXT provided the H440. We already had the CPU, RAM, HDD, and video card on hand.

We made the conscious decision not to overclock the CPU on this build. Our goal was to keep it simple and clean, yet still plenty powerful. By spending just $100 more, you can replace the motherboard with a Z87 variant, the CPU with an unlocked K version, and an aftermarket cooler.

We also wanted to ensure the build had plenty of storage space - which is why we opted for a platter-based drive instead of an SSD. It's possible to find less expensive 1TB drives right now, but we chose this particular drive as we had it on hand from previous benchmark runs.

Full build

The NZXT H440 deviates from traditional cases by eschewing the 5.25" external bay. We'll be installing the OS by either using an an external drive or via a USB flash drive.

Front Open

The power supply is covered by a shroud which significantly cleans up the cable management. As you'll see later, the NZXT logo lights up when the rear panel lighting is turned on.

Fans

With the front panel and dust filter removed, you can see that the case has three 120-mm fans in front and one 140-mm fan in rear - plenty of positive pressure cooling for our components.

Top Cable Management

Middle Cable Management

Bottom Cable Management

Cable management has never been easier than with this case. Motherboard cutouts on the bottom of the power supply shroud provide convenient routing options for USB, HD-Audio, and front panel connections. I love the fact that the HD-audio connector does not include a dongle for AC97 - further keeping things simple and tidy.

Angled Tray

An interesting design element is the angled motherboard tray. Does it improve cable management? Hard to say, but I think it is a nice touch.

Back

Here's the back view showing the cable management. The space under the power supply shroud provides plenty of space for routing unruly cables. The 8-pin CPU power connector from the power supply was a bit shorter than I would have liked, but it was still possible to route it somewhat cleanly.

Rear Panel Lighting

With the flip of a switch on the rear of the case, the rear I/O panel and the NZXT logo will light up.

Motherboard Lighting Full Lighting At Night

Not to be left out, the Gigabyte H81-Amp UP motherboard also lights up green - something I must admit caught me by surprise the first time I powered it up.

We'll be following up this build by documenting the OS installation (without using a 5.25" bay), as well as recording application and game benchmarks using our thermal benchmarking. Stay tuned!

Thermal Imaging Benchmark

Posted Jan. 20, 2014 by philip

We recently took one of our builds and ran it through its paces. This was no ordinary benchmark run, however. We used a thermal imaging camera to record the system - showing the critical areas that need heat dissipation. We captured the video output using a frame capture device and combined the resulting images with system data such as temperatures, utilization, and system power consumption. Here is the result:

This is a format we're still experimenting with, so we'd love to get your feedback on this before we spend more time refining our tooling and benchmark infrastructure. Would you like to see more videos and content like this? Let us know what you think!

Breaking things down further, we plot out all the measurements over time:

System Power Consumption

FPS

CPU Usage

CPU Core Temperatures

GPU Usage

GPU Core Temperatures

GPU Fan Tachometer

GPU Memory Usage

System Memory Usage

iFixit Steam Machine Teardown

Posted Dec. 19, 2013 by philip

iFixit Steam Machine Teardown
(Image courtesy iFixit)

iFixit recently disassembled a Steam Machine beta kit and analyzed the contents - here's what they found! Their analysis led to this part list if you wanted to try and reproduce it yourself.

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