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Vladimir R9 - An Air-Cooled Budget Gaming PC

by garethccc



Date Published

July 4, 2015

Date Built

Aug. 22, 2014

CPU Clock Rate

3.2 GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

33.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

75.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.05 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

5.8 GHz

GPU Temperature While Idle

28.0° C

GPU Temperature Under Load

70.0° C


03/12/15 - UPDATE:

I've just 'decommissioned' my Elite 130 build and transferred all parts to a new Thermaltake Core V1 case. I'll post a new build report on that when I have the chance :-)

I built this as an affordable gaming PC last year and just reconfigured a few things inside - so why not post some pics and info now?

This was my first ITX build so I was a little nervous about everything fitting and other possible incompatibilities. The only real hiccup was the fact that I originally bought a CS450M power supply which would have been cutting it close for power requirements, so I returned the 450 and got a 550 instead. Would have been nice to go fully modular but... budget constraints!


As you can see, nothing too fancy here, just good solid bits and pieces. Not going to overclock, so the 4570 is a great CPU at this price-point. Love the Sapphire Vapor-X graphics card - exceptionally quiet and runs nice and cool, I've never managed to get it over 70C (3DMark + CPU stress test). As for the Elite 130 case itself - it's quite basic but just large enough to enable powerful builds. If it were any smaller I think users would have to start compromising on their choice of graphics card. It looks quite nice as long as you don't have an ugly optical drive poking out the front of it! If my budget had been $50 more, I would have opted for a Corsair Air 240 - what an amazing case! But alas, it was not...


I was worried about heat issues with a such a small case and a Haswell CPU but I needn't have been. With the stock Intel cooler (which are actually pretty decent coolers for their size and the paste is good quality, just the push pin mounting system fails them a bit ~ not enough even pressure ~), the hottest the chip gets under stress testing using Intel Extreme Tuning Utility is 68C, which is pretty damn good for a Haswell chip. Prime95 blend mode is pretty punishing but still only gets it to 83C.

The Build:

...was a challenge, at least in terms of cable management with a semi modular PSU. But hey, with enough zip ties and cables neatly doubled back on themselves (like the 750mm PCIe cable [!] that came with the PSU) anything is possible! I originally had an optical drive in there, which forced me to squeeze alot of cabling between the PSU and optical drive so as not to obstruct airflow. SSD was mounted directly underneath the optical drive bay, and HDD on drive cage at side of case. Everything worked out okay, but it wasn't as clean-looking inside as I would have hoped for.

The Re-build (04/07/15):

I needed an excuse to reconfigure ol' Vladimir, so why not swap out the stock 120mm fan for a Noctua? There are sillier things one could do, and I thought the increased airflow (~10CFM more than stock fan at same noise levels) couldn't hurt. Plus I could run a PWM fan now, which is also nice (if unnecessary).

The Noctua S12B-REDUX-1200-PWM installed smoothly and runs a little quieter than the stock fan. Given an excuse to dig back in to the build, I decided to remove the optical drive (didn't really need it) and move the HDD to the optical bay. Would have liked to mount the SSD on the side cage, but it mounts so close to the cage that once you squeeze in the power cable it's putting too much pressure on the PCB (pushing it off to one side). I also removed the 80mm fan which had developed a bit of a whine which was getting on my nerves, and that allowed me to remove the extra 4-pin peripheral --> molex cable I was using to run it. Simplicity! I also reworked the cabling to make it all a bit neater. See pictures for details.

It's a nice little gaming system I can comfortably run Crysis 3 on at 1080p and High settings, and I didn't have to spend a fortune to build it. Fun stuff! :-)

Total cost: $1050 (I'm sure in the U.S. I could have built it for under $600! Bloody hell...)

Part Reviews

Video Card

Fantastic card for the price! Not for 4K gamers (obviously), but will run most demanding games (i.e. Crysis 3) at High settings @ 1080p with good frame rates while staying cool and quiet. If maximum performance is what you're looking for, go for the Toxic editions of Sapphire's cards. But for small form factor builds and other applications where cool and quiet operation are important, Vapor-X cards are simply awesome.

Very amenable to overclocking. I had no problems running the card with a GPU clock of 1200MHz and memory clock of 1500MHz, which surprised me. Maybe I won the silicon lottery? Who knows. Many other OCers have reported similar successes with this card. Card still ran cool - around 64C max at these clocks. I'm just a casual gamer though so I'm happy running the card at stock clocks.


Reasonably roomy Mini-ITX case that doesn't break the bank. Very simple design (just one big chamber) so good cable management is quite important with these, especially if air-cooling. Luckily there are lots of tie down points along the bottom and sides of the case, so if you plan your cable routing well you'll be left with a relatively unobstructed airflow path from front fan intake straight back to the motherboard in the rear.

Unfortunately the PSU sits quite low over the motherboard and limits air flow to that area. Also, the way the motherboard is oriented places RAM and ATX cable right in the path of air flow from front fan, which I guess is good for the RAM but not so much the CPU. Good reason to use low-profile RAM like G.Skill Ares in these builds! Best to reverse the 80mm fan next to CPU in order to suck warm air out of the area and lower (slightly) the air pressure over the motherboard to enhance cool air penetration from front of case. Would have been great if CM had designed these around a 140mm front fan and used a decent 92mm fan in place of the crappy 80x15mm side fan (80mm fans are almost always noisy, and 15mm width versions are so hard to find!)

Good value case for a guaranteed fun build!

Case Fan

One of the quieter high airflow fans available: 60cfm @18db. Not for applications where high static pressure is needed (radiators, highly obstructed airflow paths) - this is a case fan! PWM is nice; gives you a nice gradual RPM curve that will mirror that of the CPU if you have a 4-pin chassis fan header. Not necessary of course, but kind of cool all the same.


A big FullHD monitor with HDMI and DisplayPort inputs. Does the job; mine's been reliable so far but had a single vertical blue line pixel defect from the beginning... But that's what eBay bargain hunting will get you.


More boom for your room. It's a brutish system that focuses on everything but the midrange, but who are we kidding? If we wanted true-to-source, uncoloured reproduction we would have bought some reference speakers. But we don't want that, oh no. We want to be clubbed over the head with tight, powerful bass until we can no longer think straight. That is what we want, and that is exactly what the Z623 will give us.

Comments Sorted by:

.nayef 1 Build 2 points 44 months ago

I love seeing how others built their Elite 130, like you I did similar things, I removed the 80mm fan and swapped the stock one, side cage, HDD in the 5.25" bay and SSD under it. Very clean cable management by the way, you make me wanna go back and tackle those cables. Gotta agree that Sapphire GPUs are fantastic for the price. Good build!

garethccc submitter 3 Builds 2 points 44 months ago

Yes, always interesting to see how other people build their Elite 130's, I agree. So many different configurations and cabling solutions!

Newobc 2 Builds 1 point 44 months ago

Really nice build bro, great part selection! Good temps as well for such a teeny tiny build, I badly wish I could do an ITX build.


garethccc submitter 3 Builds 1 point 44 months ago

Thanks mate! It would look nicer if I coordinated cable colours and only used black cable ties! But yeah, it's a nice little machine for the budget. Your R5 build looks wicked by the way, it must put up some serious numbers

Newobc 2 Builds 1 point 44 months ago

Well not having a window makes that a little pedantic! Plus you've already done a sick job cable managing...

Aye, she does... not exactly a portable machine like yours, weighing in at about 12kgs. She h e a v y.

garethccc submitter 3 Builds 1 point 44 months ago

I am a pedant. I was even looking into replacing the super long/stiff PCIe cable I'm using with a shorter sleeved version, and there's just no reason to do that (obviously)... But I was still obsessing over the idea for a couple of days. Sad really.

I'd like to do a monster build at some point, but I don't think it'll be anytime soon

Newobc 2 Builds 2 points 44 months ago

Well it you enjoy it then its all relative!

Nope, neither... We've definitely picked one of the most expensive hobbies out there.

garethccc submitter 3 Builds 1 point 44 months ago

Damn right!

hanzei 1 Build 1 point 43 months ago

tell me about that z623 Logitech speaker please. Im thinking to buy that one. should I buy it or no?

garethccc submitter 3 Builds 1 point 43 months ago

They're powerful, let's just say that. The most powerful 2.1 system that I know of for the price. Don't buy them if you want multi-channel sound (5.1, 7.1 etc). Sounds pretty good for a computer speaker system. I'm running them through an external DAC (FiiO E10) with some sound processing software in order to tweak the frequency response though.

Feliks 1 point 41 months ago

How loud is the stock cooler for the CPU?

garethccc submitter 3 Builds 1 point 41 months ago

Not too bad, just a bit louder than the Noctua intake fan. I'm not too bothered by it. BIOS fan profiles help - I just set it to 'quiet' mode, so it's typically running at around 1160RPM.

Feliks 1 point 41 months ago

thank you. :) If I want my build to be quiet (I have an i5 4590 and I plan to game 1080p on ultra) do you think it's worth dishing out money on a non-stock cooler or is it really just not that loud?

garethccc submitter 3 Builds 1 point 41 months ago

'Loudness' is subjective. I personally don't find it to be loud, but you may. If you want a silent computing solution, I'd suggest water cooling :-) But even water coolers make some noise. It all depends on whether they're set up for silent running or maximum performance, just like fans.

Bigbadaje 1 point 41 months ago

I have a question what overclocking software did you use to overclock your graphics card on because i might be getting that exact graphics card?

garethccc submitter 3 Builds 1 point 41 months ago

Sapphire TRIXX. You can also use AMD Overdrive through the Catalyst Control Center.

Turbo83 1 Build 1 point 39 months ago

How's the wireless adapter? I looking to get it but heard that the 5ghZ doesn't work with Win 10 (without downloading a separate driver)

garethccc submitter 3 Builds 1 point 39 months ago

Haven't had any issues using 5GHz under Windows 10, not sure why others have been having issues.

Nater650 1 point 17 months ago

5 Ghz used to work for me before it took a dump

Nater650 1 point 14 months ago

My 5 Ghz actually works (parents changed the password and never told me)

Nater650 1 point 17 months ago

You do realize the Intel i5-4570 and all the other 4xxxx CPUs are discontinued

Nater650 1 point 17 months ago

Intel just got rid of it several months ago so if you need a replacement it might be a bit difficult to find one