Description

My goal was to build a half decent gaming rig for my brother under $800. Unfortunately an Intel/Nvidia combo quickly ate up this budget, so I went with AMD. So far, It's a fresh install of Windows with drivers installed for the chipset, Wifi, Bluetooth, and the GPU. I was able to run the Heaven Unigine benchmark on it at 60 fps on Medium and High settings without AA or Tessellation enabled, although at higher settings there is some notable slowdown when it changes scenes. Still tweaking it, and then I'll post some scores. I'm told this card overclocks to be about as good as the baseline of it's big brother the R9 270X. Once I get it where I want it, planning on getting a score from Heaven, 3DMark, and the FFXIV Benchmark.

FYI, kinda cheesed it on the monitor. I got it for free. My girlfriend was using it, I upgraded to a BenQ 24" Monitor, my girlfriend got my old 23" Acer monitor, and the Viewsonic was left so I could use it for this project. But I wanted the pricing to reflect what you would pay for a similar monitor at a secondhand store.

Observations: I went with the Node 304 because it seemed like a well designed chassis for my purposes. I could have gone cheaper, but I think the included fans on this case make it well worth the premium you pay. They are incredibly quiet and efficient, to the point where I took things apart to make sure they were spinning. I hooked them up the fan controller since the mobo I got only had 1 fan header. It's a very cool case.

I've used the Hyper TX3 from Cooler Master before. I highly recommend it because its small, quiet, and cools very well. It also uses the default AMD bracket for mounting, so no backplate. In this case, it also barely clears the ram by a millimeter. Not sure I would recommend anything bigger, given the space needed for wires. I was able to mount it after I installed the PSU, motherboard, and RAM into the case with no obstructions.

I opted to remove all 3 of the drive cages for better airflow and to give me some more room for wires. Some reviews I read said the screws were very poor quality and stripped easily. I think Fractal heard the cries, because I had to manhandle those screws out of there and they look barely touched. I mounted the SSD on the front of the case, behind the panel and below the fans using some Command strips. Just took some work to fit the SATA cables through the tiny hole on the left.

One gripe I have is with the front panel connectors. Don't get me wrong, they work and are of "sufficient" length. This is more of a "it could be better" type of complaint. The way the PSU is mounted leaves about an inch of unused space on the left side when you're looking at the case from the side with the power button. You can only screw it into the bracket on the right side using the 4 supplied screws. My motherboard has almost all of the front panel connectors on the right side of the case. They aren't long enough to tie to the top bar. This leaves me with an ugly bundle of wires going diagonally to the opposite corner of the case. I feel like it would have been easy enough to take the power button and all that, move it back and build it into that inch of space, making the front panel completely removable. This would have also made it so the front panel connectors are on the same side of the case as the connections for the motherboard. All that would be needed to promote airflow for the PSU was a few cable tie downs for zip ties on the top of the PSU bracket.

UPDATE 02/28/14: The GPU overclocks to 1050 MHz easily while still staying cool. CPU not so much, creates this odd fast forward stop/start effect. FFXIV Bench on High/Laptop got a 10499. Still planning on posting screens of that and other scores.

Comments

  • 65 months ago
  • 3 points

Sweet build... I have the same GPU. I love it, but I really wish that I made mine a mini itx build. Oh well, I'll have to wait until next time.

  • 65 months ago
  • 1 point

I was between this and building one into an NZXT Phantom 410 I have lying around. Definitely glad I went with the smaller one. You don't really need much more anymore.

  • 65 months ago
  • 1 point

I wish I had a Phantom lying around... I love NZXT, but my source 210 honestly sucks. I guess that's what you get for a $40 case. :/

  • 65 months ago
  • 2 points

Awesome! It looks like you did a great job keeping the cables out of the path of the airflow. Excellent price too.

  • 65 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks!

  • 65 months ago
  • 2 points

Great cable management considering the case. The parts are sweet too! Great job!

  • 65 months ago
  • 2 points

Sweet build and that graphics card is dead quiet. One of my friends has one

  • 64 months ago
  • 2 points

looks like a microwave.

  • 63 months ago
  • 2 points

How does this game? I only ask because I keep going back and forth between an Intel build and one a lot like yours!

  • 63 months ago
  • 1 point

Playable on most games. usually in the 40-60 FPS range. Tested on WoW, Tomb Raider, Batman Arkham Origins, and Skyrim.

  • 65 months ago
  • 1 point

Love these little budget rigs, well done. Can't do much about them cables, but still looks decent. +1

  • 65 months ago
  • 1 point

Take out the Monitor and keyboard and it's 700 bucks! nice build!

  • 51 months ago
  • 1 point

Cable management is good, allowing for good airflow. Well done fitting all the parts in there