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Mini gaming pc/workstation (Actual price ~$1400)

by MrZoraman

17
11 Comments

Details

Date Published

Sept. 9, 2016

Date Built

Sept. 8, 2016

CPU Clock Rate

4.0GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

30.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

61.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.30GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

7.01GHz

GPU Temperature While Idle

50.0° C

GPU Temperature Under Load

80.0° C

Description

First off, I am a college student so I got windows 10 for free. Secondly, I had a gtx 960 floating around, so I used that. It satisfies my not-too-demanding gaming needs just fine, so I saw no need to upgrade. The 6700k is cheaper than if I had bought it from amazon or newegg because I bought it from a reputable seller on ebay who was having a sale. If I had to buy the graphics card and windows 10, the price of this system would probably be around $1400.

Assembly Assembling this system was a breeze! Without any hard drives to deal with, I only needed three power cables coming out of the modular power supply: the cpu cable, the motherboard cable and the gpu cable. The biggest problem was the usb 3.0 header cable, which is close enough to the cpu that plugging it in was a big pain. Even now it is sort of tilted on its side, and I did not know if my front panel usb 3.0 ports would even work or not. Thankfully, they do! Just be extra careful that you plan out which orientation your cpu cooler will go in when you install it. There is only one orientation that works with this cpu cooler and motherboard that allows you to have RAM and use the usb 3.0 header.

Gripes My only real gripes with the system is that the front panel (the slider cover and the buttons) feel pretty cheap. The feet also don't seem to actually attach to the case, so they slide around sometimes. If I use the front usb ports, I have to hold the case when I remove a usb drive or else I take the entire computer with me because of how little friction there is between the case and the feet. That's my only complaint, and being that that is my only complaint, I feel pretty lucky.

Another slight issue is that the killer ethernet does not work out of the box. The wireless does work, however, so I did not have trouble going online to grab the right drivers to get my ethernet working.

Sound This computer is quiet! When I just built it and left for a moment and came back, I thought my computer had shut down. Instead, it's just that quiet. The computer only has three fans on it: the gpu fan, the psu fan and the cpu fan. Both the gpu and psu fans will completely shut off while under low load. Thus, when the computer is idle, or being used for basic things like... pretty much anything that's not gaming, the computer only has one fan running: the cpu fan. At idle my cpu fan runs an average of 1350 RPM, which is enough to keep the idle temperatures at 30C.

Temperature (read the edit for some important info!) This is a cool running graphics card, and being that it is in a separate compartment in the case, temperature is not an issue. The CPU and m.2 ssd are a little more concerning though. While 89C is pretty toasty for the CPU, it only gets that hot under sustained loads of 100% usage. I've only been able to make the CPU do this with benchmarks. Even when doing something like building the lighting in a complex scene in UE4, the CPU usage only goes up to 80%. In a real world setting, I cannot get this thing to run hotter than the benchmarks. That's not to say it's not possible. I bet if I had enough virtual machines running, and I was compiling a large project and I was playing some CPU intensive game and streaming it with heavy compression I could get this thing to run at 100% usage. At 89 degrees, Intel's official diagnostic tool does not seem concerned, as shown in the image above, where it gave my CPU a clean bill of health, even after running it at 100% for a few minutes. The m.2 SSD is a different story... I can get those advertised read/write speeds as shown in the CrystalDiskMark image, but with a sustained test with the ATTO Disk Benchmark, it became clear that this thing does throttle. However, I sort of have a similar reasoning for the CPU. While there may be some times where I'm moving gigabytes of files around at a sustained rate, for most every day use that will not be the case. For normal things and even playing games, the m.2 does not seem to throttle. Computer boots up lightning fast every time!

EDIT: The fan that came on my cpu cooler died a few months later. Replaced the fan with a noctua one, and my temperatures under max load dropped significantly, from 89C to 61C.

EDIT 2: For whatever reason, my computer's temps under max loaded climbed up again... to 100C! I believe it went beyond this, but all of my sensors seemed to max out at 100C. Flipping the cpu fan around so that it blew air out of the case instead of in dropped my temps by about 20C. However, removing the entire side panel has dropped my max temps by another 20C! So with my side panel off my cpu temps are maxing out at 60C. I am not happy that I have to leave my computer case open though. I've taken a star off its review for trapping heat inside.

Speed I think it goes without saying much that this computer is reasonably fast. With the m.2 drive, I pretty much go straight from the bios to the windows login screen. Windows 10 took maybe 5 minutes to install. The 6700k is fast enough for pretty much anything I throw at it (I do a lot of software compiling), and with the faster ram, I definitely noticed a speedup when doing database stuff versus my prior ram, which was half the frequency (1600 MHz).

Size This build could have been even cheaper had I just gone with a mid tower case. However, I live in a small dorm room, and space is at a bit of a premium. All the components in this computer surprised me with their size. I knew they would be small, but I was not expecting them to be super small. The motherboard and power supply really impressed me. The case is probably not too much bigger than an xbox one or ps4, though it is a bit longer to fit full sized graphics cards. I thought my 960 would be a snug fit, but I actually had plenty of room left for a much longer card if I had one.

Part Reviews

CPU

This is an amazing cpu! I'm not sure why one would give a CPU anything less than 5 stars. I paid for good performance, and I got good performance.

CPU Cooler

When stress testing my i7 6700k, the average temperature was 89C. Moments after I finished stress testing, the temperature dropped down to 40C. It did not take long to go back to 30C, my cpu's idle temperature. Overall, for such a small cooler, I'm pretty pleased with it.

Thermal Compound

I'm not sure who is more of the hero here, the Silverstone AR06 or this thermal paste. Either way, its doing an excellent job!

Motherboard

A good little motherboard! The bios was relatively intuitive. Though I did have boot problems when I tweaked too many bios settings and it would not tell me why. I eventually figured out it was because there's a "fast boot" option under the RAM settings, that for whatever reason prevented the motherboard from booting. Keeping the RAM fast boot setting turned off fixed the issue.

Memory

Nice and fast DDR4 ram! My system is nice and snappy, and the speed of the ram really makes a difference when I am toying around with my databases.

Storage

Very fast! Windows 10 installed super fast, the computer boots up super fast. I rarely see a progress bar last longer than a second or two. This thing will throttle in my silverstone ML08B case if subjected to extended benchmark tests, such as the ATTO Benchmark, but for everyday use I enjoy its full speeds.

Video Card

I love this thing! It plays most games in 1080p at max settings. It does struggle with some of the newer titles at full settings in 1080p, however. One of the great things about this is that when not under load, it totally shuts off its fans to be passively cooled, and even when under full load, it is very quiet, and runs rather cool.

Case

This is a nice case! However, the front panel plastic slider feels cheap, and the buttons feel extremely cheap. The feet don't actually attach, so they just slide around, which can be a little annoying. The panel covers can be a bit of a hassle to take on and off. Other than that, it's amazing how they made such a small form factor case feel so spacious! It's also nice that they give you the choice of putting on the silverstone sticker or not, which is actually made of metal, which I thought was neat.

One important thing to note is that the right side panel traps heat inside. Leaving the panel off reduces my cpu temps by about 20C. I would definitely not recommend this case for any sort of computer that does heavy lifting (gaming PC, etc).

Power Supply

This is a great power supply, and I do not imagine I will ever need to buy another again. At least, not until I build an entirely new PC. It is extremely quiet, and the fan even turns off completely when it is not under heavy load. While the flat cables were great to work with, they were pretty stiff. The cables are also extremely short. This PSU is definitely meant for smaller builds, but even with my ML08B case, my cable management options were minimal.

Operating System

Windows 10 is definitely a step up from 8. Some of the privacy settings are a little sketchy, but it's definitely the best OS out there for getting stuff done (unless you're in the neckbeard crowd, or as I've recently taken to calling it, GNU plus neckbeard).

Comments Sorted by:

Xerokine 4 Builds 1 point 15 months ago

I've always wanted a build in a PC case of about this size, but holy cow that CPU temp. It's probably fine for gaming but anything over 80C gets me a bit worried.

Cruzaz 3 Builds 1 point 15 months ago

You shouldn't 80 C is fine its just not a good temp but in a build like this it's expected

MrZoraman submitter 1 Build 1 point 15 months ago

I doubt there are many games out there that will push a 6700k to 100% usage for a long period of time. For most gaming an i5 is perfectly fine, which I think would run cooler.

tbhpcbuilder 2 Builds 1 point 15 months ago

Nice productivity ITX build, those temps remind me of my AMD days.

SilverWolf149 1 point 15 months ago

Oh yeah... +1.

crazyjat 1 point 15 months ago

The 6700k has a fairly low T case (max recommended temp) at 69C. Anything over 80C would certainly worry me. You may want to try to re-apply your cpu heatsink and thermal compound.

I was thinking about getting the cooler in your build, but with those temps, maybe not.

MrZoraman submitter 1 Build 1 point 15 months ago

The processor does seem a bit toasty. However, I ran intel's diagnostic tool, which did a bit of stress testing on the CPU to test the temperatures, and the tool seemed pretty satisfied with the temperatures (I attached a pic of the final result). If anything over 69C were outside the test's acceptable range, the test would have failed, right?

chrles12 1 point 12 months ago

Hello, nice build man! I'm considering using this case and I just had a quick question. I noticed that your 2.5" drive bays are unoccupied, yet they are still on the case. Is there any way to remove them from the case if you are not currently using them? I've watched many videos and looked at many builds, but no one has explicitly stated whether or not they are removable. Thank you for your time.

omarmasri 1 point 9 months ago

yes you can remove them but 4 metal spokes that hold them will still be there. You can flatten them if you want.

17jwong 1 point 8 months ago

What fan did you replace the stock one with? This one? http://pcpartpicker.com/product/PfXfrH/noctua-case-fan-nfa9x14

MrZoraman submitter 1 Build 1 point 5 months ago
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