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BitFenix Colossus Micro Build

Posted Aug. 20, 2014 by philip

The BitFenix Colossus Micro is a perfectly practical case. However, the components we chose to put in it are not what you'd expect to see in a Micro ATX form factor. It was the perfect storm - we had both an Intel i7-4790K CPU and a Sapphire Radeon R9 295X2 video card on hand. That's right - the dual R9 290X video card with the attached closed loop cooler. The question was - can it fit? Yes! Barely.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Type Item Price
CPU Intel Core i7-4790K 4.0GHz Quad-Core Processor $338.99 @ NCIX US
CPU Cooler Corsair H80i 77.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler $89.99 @ Newegg
Motherboard Asus MAXIMUS VII GENE Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard $199.99 @ NCIX US
Memory Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory $79.99 @ Newegg
Memory Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory $79.99 @ Newegg
Storage Plextor M6S 256GB 2.5" Solid State Drive $135.98 @ Newegg
Video Card Sapphire Radeon R9 295X2 8GB Video Card $1499.99 @ Newegg
Case BitFenix Colossus Micro MicroATX Mid Tower Case $109.00 @ Amazon
Power Supply Corsair 860W 80+ Platinum Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply $199.99 @ Amazon
Total
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available $2733.91
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-08-20 15:09 EDT-0400

 

We knew from the start we'd likely run into some fit issues. Putting two CLC radiators in such a small case was going to be problematic. Just fitting the 295X2 in the case when it also used a vertical mount power supply was tricky. Most power supplies that have enough wattage for the 295X2 are too long. Fortunately the Corsair AX860i had sufficient wattage and left roughly 1/2" of clearance for the video card. Like I mentioned - this build was not about being practical. It was all about what we could manage to squeeze into the case. I had the 295X2 on hand, so it begged to be used. For science!

BitFenix had warned me beforehand that the cable management on the Micro ATX version of the Colossus would be trickier than the mini-ITX version due to the more compact internal layout. I took that as a challenge. With custom cables it would certainly be possible to make it look cleaner, but all in all I'm happy with how it turned out.

Before anyone comments that we should have used part X instead of Y, or Q instead of Z, know that this part selection was not aimed at practicality. Different use cases prefer different part selections. Maybe you don't need an i7. Maybe you don't need 16GB of RAM. Or maybe the 295X2 is a tad more horsepower than you need to play Minecraft. I chose these parts for a couple reasons:

  • I enjoy smaller form factor builds and the associated cable management challenges.
  • The i7-4790K and Radeon R9 295X2 were already on hand (for benchmarking, the results of which hopefully everyone will see soon).
  • Because we could.

That being said, it was a challenging, but very fun build. When I have a chance to benchmark it and check the thermal performance, I'll be sure to provide a follow-up post.

More Than Building Computers

Posted July 23, 2014 by philip

Water project in Malawi

Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the daily tasks running this site and lose focus on the bigger picture. When I started PCPartPicker, I wanted it to be about more than just building computers, and to have an impact beyond myself, my family, and the visitors of the site. My desire was, and still is, to help people with fundamental needs that we often take for granted, such as access to clean water and sanitation.

Last week the first Charity:Water completion report arrived for a water project PCPartPicker sponsored in Malawi, Africa. Because of this project (the actual well is in the picture above), 373 people in the Chasembe community now have access to clean and safe drinking water. My heart is filled with joy hearing this news, and I wanted to share it with you because you're a part of it too.

As many of you know, PCPartPicker is supported through affiliate commissions from retailers we partner with. From the beginning we committed to donate part of our monthly earnings to charity. When you purchase components through retailer links on PCPartPicker, you're not only supporting this site - you're also supporting people like you see in the picture above. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being a part of this and helping us make this happen.

Water project in Malawi

The water project in Malawi is the first of many we have sponsored through Charity:Water. Above is a map showing the GPS coordinates of the well pictured (-13.27416667, 34.0163). As the completion reports arrive, we'll keep you updated. In the meantime, you have my deepest and sincerest thanks for supporting PCPartPicker and our vision. It would not be possible without you.

$970 Gaming Build

Posted June 27, 2014 by philip

The mission? A gaming build under $1000. At $970, we hit the price point with a bit of room to spare. And this build doesn't sacrifice performance - with the new Intel Devil's Canyon Core i5-4690K and an R9 280X, it has plenty of horsepower.

As an added bonus, Newegg has even created a combo using this exact set of parts!

For the color conscious, all the parts also match a black/red color scheme. (Yes, I know the power supply has a green logo - but it gets covered up by the side-walls of the PSU bay.)

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Type Item Price
CPU Intel Core i5-4690K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor $239.99 @ Newegg
CPU Cooler Corsair H80i 77.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler $74.99 @ Newegg
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z97MX-Gaming 5 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard $120.98 @ SuperBiiz
Memory A-Data XPG V1.0 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory $79.99 @ Newegg
Storage Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive $49.99 @ Amazon
Video Card XFX Radeon R9 280X 3GB Double Dissipation Video Card $259.99 @ Newegg
Case Silverstone TJ08B-E MicroATX Mini Tower Case $93.50 @ NCIX US
Power Supply Corsair CX 600W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply $49.99 @ NCIX US
Total
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available $969.42

 

Side View

MicroATX with just enough room to hold an R9 280X and a push-pull configured H80i. By building in a careful order, reaching into tight spots was minimized.

Front View

Dust Filter

The front intake fan has an easily removable dust filter. The top intake for the power supply also has a magnetically attached dust filter.

While Running

The AMP-Up family of Gigabyte motherboards have an LED-lit line on the back. This motherboard comes in red to match the red heatsinks. Our previous AMP-Up build came in green.

 

QuakeCon 2014

QuakeCon 2014 is less than a month away! With the largest Bring-Your-Own-Computer (BYOC) LAN party in North America, it is an event you don't want to miss. As part of our QUAKE LIVE CTF sponsorship we are giving away BYOC seats to eight lucky people. Keep in mind - while QuakeCon admission is free and open to general attendees, the BYOC area is SOLD OUT!

To enter the giveaway, head on over to our Facebook page.

Parametric Part Lists

Posted June 10, 2014 by philip

Last year we rolled out parametric price alerts which let you receive email notifications when any part in a user-defined set drops below a price threshold. Today we're significantly expanding that capability to part lists.

With parametric part lists, you can filter a part category and add it to your part list. Every time the part list is viewed, our pricing engine automatically identifies the lowest price compatible part from your criteria, while using your merchant preferences and tax settings. Since prices can change several times a day, parametric part lists allow you to always view the lowest price part matching the filter criteria you set.

Take choosing RAM for example. If you only want DDR3-1600 1.5V RAM from Corsair or G.Skill, just select those filters on the RAM category page, then click the "Add From Filter" button in the Parametric box (in the filters, top-right part of the page). Your part list will then automatically pick the lowest price RAM matching that filter criteria.

Alternatively, if you want to add a case to your build, but do not want to pick from filter criteria, you can select models on a part by part basis. In the category views are checkboxes that let you select which parts you want to evaluate. On selecting parts, the parametric add button switches to "Add From Selection". If you add the selection to your part list, it will evaluate the lowest price part from that set of parts. (We also threw in the ability to compare parts with the selection as well!)

Here is an example part list that uses both parametric filter and selection criteria.

We hope you enjoy this feature and find it useful! It's been a long time in the making, and we're excited to finally roll it out for everyone to use. Let us know what you think!

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