Description

Introduction

Tasked with trying to build "the smallest, fastest computer" I put together this build as a follow-up to the tiny NCASE VR rig I built a few copies of last year.

This build started with this post on the SFF forums, and from there I updated the components to what's big in 2019.

The main goal was just to pack the most power into the smallest case possible, with no big consideration for how loud the case was. The biggest constraint was that the case obviously shouldn't melt when anything intensive ran. More tangibly, the computer was meant to be really great at processing large photogrammetry scans, running high-end VR experiences without hitching, and rapidly develop and iterate on high end VR applications (minimize light baking times, etc.).

The hardest part of the build came from the photogrammetry need, which benefits mainly from having a ton of RAM. Cramming a lot of RAM into an ITX board is not normally done, and most ITX boards only have 2 DIMM slots so you're looking at either having to compromise on total RAM or spend an incredible amount of money for single 32GB sticks.

Luckily the ASRock X299-E ITX exists, which crams an incredible amount of ports onto a board and allows the build to push into the 64GB territory. It's also one of one two boards I found in the ITX form factor that have 4 DIMM slots and a 64GB capacity, so the rest of the computer was built around its limitations.

VS. NCASE

I was really amazed by how well designed the Loque case is, and found building this PC MUCH EASIER than building with the NCASE M1. Because of the underslung PCIe port, being able to mostly "fit it and forget it" the 2080 made working with the rest of the case easier. The NCASE's PCIe slot falls right below the bottom of the PSU, which makes cable management on the NCASE with a full length GPU be a nightmare. I found myself having to trying installing parts in different orders over and over until I found a sequence that worked.

On the Louqe, this is far less of an issue, with the only strangeness coming for the fact the motherboard power cord is jammed against the PSU and needs to be routed down the middle of the case.

Challenges

As is the case with ITX boards, finding an orientation for the CPU cooler was difficult. The main issue with this Cooler/Board combo is that the heatsink pipes kind of bow out pretty far from the base of the cooler where the CPU is to the actual heatsink, which means the clearance for the base of the cooler is about as wide as the heatsink itself.

Additionally, the way the X299-E-ITX crams a lot of its stated functionality onto the board is through small connections of the board that small cards connect to to provide an additional M.2 slot, SATA ports, etc. However, with these cards installed, it was hard to properly place the HSF. Luckily, these cards are removable! I didn't need either of them (M.2 installed on the back of the Mobo, no additional Sata requirement), so I just unscrewed them at their mounting points and removed them from the board.

I had wanted to slot in the bigger fan (pictured in the part picture) into the heatsink, but even with the expansion boards removed, the fan was too low to the mobo and collided with the top of the installed RAM, making it impossible to attach the HSF to the mobo.

For the GPU, because the case is so small I knew that the heat dissipation strategy would basically be "get all the heat directly out of the case as fast as possible". With that in mind, I knew I needed a blower card. Unfortunately, blower cards seem to be falling out of fashion, so the only real option I had for a 2080ti was the Asus card. This is actually a bit of trend with this build — based on the requirements, it felt like I didn't have a ton of choices and so most of the parts were picked because they were the only ones that satisfied the requirements.

Benchmarks

So all this would be bunk if the computer didn't actually perform, but I'm happy to say it's doing well and exceeding my expectations in terms of performance and temps! The CPU idles at around 35ºC, and the GPU at 33ºC.

Additionally, I'm pleased to say that the case runs relatively quiet, and even during the following benchmarks wasn't too loud. I've heard it really rear up a few times, and when it does it is definitely loud (think small vacuum), but that seems to be a rarity for now.

Here's the 3D Mark scores, with the images of the benchmarks attached to the build above.

Port Royal (Raytracing): 7424 Fire Strike: 24547

I'll update once we run a big photogrammetry process with images/processing time.

Conclusion

Overall, really happy with how this build is turning out and happy to really put it through its paces soon! I also can't emphasize enough how great the Loque case is, and as I type this am looking into buying a few more while the next batch is in stock!

Comments

  • 1 month ago
  • 6 points

Considering just how ludicrous this build is, I believe it deserves a feature. I'm not sure if everyone can appreciate the research, time, and effort put into this little beast. Have fun, we know you will.

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

Thanks! I have to give credit to the SFF Forum post for sure as it put me onto the idea initially, but I'm glad you're also enjoying how insane this tiny thing is.

  • 1 month ago
  • 4 points

love the case! :D

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

how long from Louqe.com did you wait for your order? i heard one person waited 4 months.

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

Yeah it was probably 2-3 months because they were in production. They are currently in stock for the US though so if you're interested definitely buy now.

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

i heard 2 other guys had to wait for 3-4 months for theirs. i guess they were in the production too. How did you find out that they are in stock for US?

  • 1 month ago
  • 3 points

yeah I got an order in today. Yours inspired me to get one _^

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Got an email from them that updated everyone on the shipping status and also mentioned they were in stock. Glad you picked one up :)

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

*+1+ for using the Loque GHOST over the NCASE or similar. Challenge and variety are what keep enthusiasts from quitting the PC building space. Also, it’s a dead meme but “it just works” :D Ray-Tracing, in my opinion, isn’t really a love it or hate it. Rather, it’s a new technology that needs a lot of improvement before the mainstream audience will consider it worth the investment.

I’d I could, I’d definitely pick up an RTX card and be an early adopter. :D

Tangent aside, I love this SFF build!!

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

Yeah it's definitely the sort of thing where I was interested in the 2080 ti not because it was good at raytracing, but mainly because it's just a good card. I imagine one or two gens from now we'll really see better raytracing cards + raytracing applications, so as long as they are PCIe I can just slot one of those in when they come :)

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

I love the small factor. +1

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

Wow I never thought I'd see an X299 system in one of these cases. Blows my mind that people are still pushing the limits of what the Ghost S1 is capable of. Definitely deserves a feature and PCPP staff really need to add this to their list of cases.

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

Nice build! Never realized how much smaller the Louqe Ghost was in comparison to the NCase until I saw your pictures.

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

I couldn't believe it myself! The interesting thing to me is that the case is actually about as wide as the NCASE, the the parallel GPU doesn't actually save in width — the loque is about the same wide as the NCASE, just much lower.

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

I know this might be defeating the "smallest case" concept, but did you consider adding the small tophat with slim fans to the case during the build? Not sure how helpful it would be for cooling - just curious.

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

I actually bought a tophat! Given the shipping issues like I mentioned above I picked one up because I wasn't sure if I would have a chance to otherwise. I thought about adding additional fans to it via that but don't yet have a huge thermal issue that necessitates that. But I've got it in case I need it!

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

wow. I love the case!

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

how did you know the motherboard would fit the case?

  • 1 month ago
  • 2 points

mini ITX boards my good sir

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

oh yeah that is right. and it says on their website too :D

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

What @amat17 said — mITX form factor in combination with the SFF post I was basing the build around.

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

how well is the motherboard working for you? there is a issue where if you remove the back m.2 adapter, the io on the back stops working.

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

I do actually have an issue right now that I haven't checked again to see what was working where the back USB slots weren't detecting connections. I ended up needing to use an USB-C to USB 3 adapter to a USB hub to plug in the boot drive, mouse, and keyboard.

Actually, drivers for this in general have been a surprising pain. I needed to bus the Wifi driver back and forth between two computers to install it onto this machine to get wifi working, and then needed to download the LAN driver from the site to make the Ethernet port work (though not working yet last I checked).

So if this is all a symptom of having removed the m.2 adapter, thanks for putting me onto that as the potential solve that I don't know if I would have ever figured out. I can test again and see if anything has changed without it, and install it and see if it fixes my issues.

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

this was what i was having issue wise. that explains my downfall. i ended up having to return the motherboard and now im not sure of what im going to do (i have all the parts just no motherboard). as i might switch to amd once there are some decent mini itx boards. as this was a serious let down. however i was using unraid but did have windows 10. i even tried updating the bios to no effect. have a look at my build guide here for more info

https://uk.pcpartpicker.com/b/NGw6Mp

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for this — I'll definitely plug the m.2 port back in and see what happens. I think, because I'm using the small fan, the m.2 slot should fit and if needed I can offset the fan in the opposite direction to make room for the board.

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

please let me know how you get on with this board. it seams to me like its a common problem

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Asus - ROG Strix B450-I Gaming Mini ITX AM4 Motherboard is a good motherboard that I would recommend.

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

im fairness i hope we do get some good motherboards for ryzen 3000, as the current line are ok but io and ram support are sub par when compared to x299 right now. the max ram support as of now is 32gb vs 64gb and the fact there's little io such as dual Ethernet and full audio support. its what made me try the x299 mini itx in the 1st place as i can get more power out of the same space. oh and there's 3 m.2 slots compared to just 2 although its common to find just 1.

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

what is the full name of the x299? I can't find it on pcpartpicker.com

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

nice

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Nice build. Are you using the 7900x or the 7940x?

What are your temps like with a CPU load like P95 small FFT?

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Ah, I see, I think I'm piecing together the story between here and your SFF Forum thread. Not many AsRock X299 mITX builds around so it's always an event seeing one in the wild. Would you ever consider going with the larger tophat for liquid cooling? I'm also a bit astounded that the 2080Ti has a blower variant. Asus seems to have done a surprisingly good job at designing it since the temps look fine to me and the clock speeds are reasonable.

When I first clicked on this build (and saw the thumbnail pic) I thought I was looking at something like an 8700K + 2060 or 2070 with a reasonable 16GB RAM in a Dan A4. Nope. Gobsmacking 64GB RAM with an HEDT platform and 2080Ti in an mITX build. Really blown away.