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SAPPHIRE - $800 HTPC [Black & Blue]

by OiCCaboose



Date Published

Sept. 10, 2016

Date Built

Aug. 30, 2016

CPU Clock Rate

3.7 GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

32.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

63.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.143 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

7 GHz

GPU Temperature While Idle

25.0° C

GPU Temperature Under Load

68.0° C


NOTES --- I originally had a Sapphire Nitro+ RX470 4GB in this build but quickly switched to the 4GB RX480 for the performance boost at only an additional $20USD. --- Since then, the case has been flipped around (still vertical). Thanks to the heads up from tadashi.

CASE (Fractal Design Node 202) *Note - The removable fan filter that sits over the GPU had to be moved from the inside of the case to the outside due to the very limited clearance. The problem was that the high air-pressure from the 120mm AF120 fans was ever-so-slightly pulling some of the mesh into the blades causing a very slight-yet-bothersome clicking sound. I actually prefer having it on the outside though. It's easier to clean out and it doesn't look bad (to me). Even better, when the case is placed vertically with the stand, the filter slides perfectly into its position between the case and the stand; it looks natural. (The pictures don't show this as I did it after.)

I've always wanted to work inside of a case that really pushed me to the limits of what was spatially possible, i.e. the Fractal Design Node 202. It's sleek, keeps both the motherboard/CPU and GPU away from one another in their own compartments, is fitted with dust filters and doesn't look or feel cheap. As far as cable management goes, it was a nightmare but a welcoming challenge. There is a small middle section but it gets quickly bombarded by SATA cables and other misc wires needing to cross through. To accomplish a clean system, I had to also use tiny little slots on the very left and right side middle-edges...and a lot of zip ties, especially near the GPU fans, (I had a cable touching) since the clearance around the card gets quite tight. After unwiring and rewiring things a few times, I believe I finally got it about as clean as physically possible/to where I felt comfortable. This case also comes with the 450w Integra PSU built in with cables of appropriate length.

CPU (i3 6100) At ~$110, this CPU is a steal. It's a dual core with hyper-threading, so it can fool a lot of games into thinking its a quad core. In addition, it runs at a cool 3.7GHz flat rate. So far, it's been speedy and hasn't held me back at all in any gaming I've done, whether it be indie or AAA. (1080p High/Ultra)

CPU COOLER (ARCTIC Freezer 11 LP) This little bugger was only $17 and damn has it performed. It's dropped the temps down a comfortable amount and it installed with ease. A couple push pins and a few screws. After just recently installing a Hyper 212 EVO...this was a piece of cake comparing. Thankfully. I also wanted something (anything) better than the stock cooler since the CPU would be operating in a semi-cramped space with less than great airflow (compared to a standard case).

MOBA (MSI H110I PRO AC Mini ITX LGA1151) I like MSI and I didn't need anything too flashy here and since I was working with a locked processor, the H110 did just fine. Also, seeing as I built this for mobility, having built in wifi was a great addition. Also, on-board USB 3.0 is pretty nice to have. In short, it's a nice little board with everything I need and nothing I don't for a good price.

MEMORY (G.Skill Aegis 8GB [2x4] DDR4-2133Hz) 8GB of ram is really all I need for a build of this caliber. Didn't care for the look (since I can't see it anyway) and 2133Hz is the max speed the mobo supports. Nothing really to say here. I'm familiar with and have purchased parts from G.Skill before. Was a simple buy. I could have went with a single 8GB stick but I wanted to use up both DIMM slots.

STORAGE I went with an A-Data 120gb SSD for the OS. Could have left this out and saved ~$40 but these days, it's almost silly to make a built without one in some variety and the boot up time is near instant. As for the 500gb HHD, I could have easily went with 1TB for very little more but for the sake of keeping near $650, I went with the 500. Also to note, the Node 202 only fits 2.5" drives so I had to go with a laptop HDD. Luckily I found the one I did with a 64mb cache and 7200rpm disk speed for a reasonable price.

GPU (Sapphire RX 480 Nitro+ 4GB) This is the bread and butter of my build. This card is undeniably amazing performance for the dollar. Sitting just over $200, it's a 1080p killer at High/Ultra and even performs admirably aim many titles at 1440p. It pushes a 1342MHz boost clock with a simple flick of a bios switch on the card. It also stays quiet and when not under load, doesn't use the fans to keep noise levels down. As a side note, it comes with rgb lighting (and though it can't really be seen) if you look down through the top vents of the case, you can see the Sapphire logo lit up. Kinda neat. Like an easter egg of the build.

FANS (x2 Corsair AF120) - I had these from a previous build Two of these sitting snugly (and I mean snugly) up against the GPU keep it nice and cool. I used the cards as a support as opposed to the little dongle-corner-thingy that comes with the case. I believe I noticed a 10°C difference in card temperature which is insane and at idle, the card sits ~5°C lower than room temperature.

SUMMARY this build accomplished what I wanted it to; it didn't cost a fortune, outplays a PS4/XBOX ONE by a long shot and does so while sustaining 60+ FPS at High to Ultra settings in all games, including AAA. It's slim and easy to take from place to place and doesn't weigh a ton and finally it stays quiet and cool even under 100% GPU load (~60°C). Can't complain. :)

Hope you all enjoy this build. I had a ton of fun putting it together

Comments Sorted by:

LonghornAlamo2040 2 points 31 months ago

Clean build. Hope it serves you faithfully :)

Gooberdad 10 Builds 2 points 31 months ago

Nice slim gamer.

Thumbs up.

tadashi 2 points 31 months ago

CPU side is supposed to be up, you are chocking the exhaust for your CPU and PSU air. GPU exhaust wont be blocked due to the design of the case when you flip it.

OiCCaboose submitter 5 Builds 1 point 31 months ago

Hmmm...the CPU is running really cool though, even while under heavy load. Just wanted the GPU to be able to easily exhaust up. I'll take a look. Thanks for the heads up. :)

Wolfemane 7 Builds 1 point 31 months ago

I love node 202 builds. Excellent! +1

krazymonkey227 1 Build 1 point 31 months ago

Nice build im building a 202 build ill link it when im finished

FACUNDO 13 Builds 1 point 31 months ago

That backplate gave an awesome look to your build

Catarino. 1 Build 1 point 31 months ago

Did you use a fan splitter so you could utilize those case fans or did the Mobo have 2 fan headers?

OiCCaboose submitter 5 Builds 1 point 31 months ago

I had to use a fan splitter. MOBO only had 1 cpu and 1 case fan slot.

Catarino. 1 Build 1 point 31 months ago

As I thought, what type of fan splitter did you use? Was it one of those skimp $0.99

BattleDor 1 Build 1 point 31 months ago

Does the mobo have Bluetooth?

Tallerguy 1 point 31 months ago

Great build.

Does the PCI express right angle connection from the mother board to the graphics card come with the mother board or did you source this elsewhere?

OiCCaboose submitter 5 Builds 3 points 31 months ago

It came with the Node 202 case.

LastSecondClutch 1 point 26 months ago

Are you running those 120 MM fans as intake or exhaust?

OiCCaboose submitter 5 Builds 1 point 26 months ago

Seeing as the GPU pulls air in, im running them as intake otherwise I would be trapping air. I have the card set to only spin the fans starting at 50/55°C (for noise) so it's nice to just have a constant supply of cool air regardless and at more spicy temps, it makes a slight difference. :)

LastSecondClutch 1 point 26 months ago

Even though you dont have a blower card?

OiCCaboose submitter 5 Builds 1 point 26 months ago

If I had a blower card I would be running the case fans as exhaust.

LastSecondClutch 2 points 26 months ago

I have a build in this case I made today! I decided not to install any exhaust fans because my gtx 750 is running under 30 degrees idle, according to hwmonitor. But thanks for the input and would you like me to post it and do a full build review? It's my lan party rig from now on :D

OiCCaboose submitter 5 Builds 1 point 26 months ago

Sure! Would love to see.

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OiCCaboose submitter 5 Builds 1 point 31 months ago

What're your questions? And thanks!

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OiCCaboose submitter 5 Builds 1 point 31 months ago

The card fits really nicely. There's plenty of room to plug in the 8pin VGA with some breathing room. The case comes with a little angled wedge that you can slide up and down with the loosening of a screw but if you do use two 120mm fans, they sit REALLY snuggly with maybe a few mm of clearance, therefore acting as a support if the card were to sag (which it shouldn't). Temps sit really nice though, and using Sapphire's overclocking/fan speed program, I have the card's fans actually set to only spin above 40°C and kick up when needed. When I stress tested it using FireStrike, I only saw the card hit mid 60°s (I think 67°C at max). It was running a bit over 70°C without the two AF120 fans constantly blowing on it though. (Sorry for the long response).

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OiCCaboose submitter 5 Builds 1 point 31 months ago

They've never hit near 100% (which is loud). But again, the dual 120mm fans really help (especially since they're literally right up against the card acting as almost another set of GPU fans). Also to note, my house is cold as balls. Usually 65°F. So...that helps. Haha