Description

Hello PCPartPicker users!

UPDATE: I did upgrade to an A10-7700K. I avoided the A10-7850K due to cost and poor performance benefit. Matching my A10-5800K's power consumption, I'm able to run the CPU 300mhz faster (3.3 vs 3 Ghz) and it gets slightly better iGPU performance.

Edit: Revised description to have more details and less rambling.

INTRO:

I thought I'd share my recently completed project with you all. This is a super compact build with gaming capabilities. Performance target was 720p recent/demanding games and 1080p for older/less demanding games. Compactness was prioritized over value. For the longest time I've wanted to do a build that was smaller than an xbox 360 and still capable of gaming, and here it is!


PARTS:

CPU: AMD A10-5800K (Quad-Core Piledriver, IGP: 384 VLIW4 cores)
I went with an AMD APU over an Intel CPU because I wanted the most powerful Integrated GPU that I could get, and AMD happened to be better in that department. I went for the Trinity series over Richland because quite simply Richland is little more than a rebrand and Trinity was cheaper. I decided to go with an A10 because I wanted the full 384 IGP cores (A8 only has 256), and I ended up with the A10-5800K because I found one used for a better price. I negated the 100W TDP by underclocking/undervolting. Even with undervolting, Trinity/Richland are hot, power hungry chips.

Cooler: Noctua NH-L9a
Low profile, high quality, quiet. Not great at handling high heat loads, and it is in fact only recommended for 65W TDP. Doesn't do a good job of cooling motherboard components (Due to small 90mm fan and heatsink layout).

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-F2A88XN-WIFI Mini ITX FM2+
There was only one competitor to the Gigabyte FM2+ mini itx board, the Asrock FM2A88X-ITX+. The Asrock lacked VRM heatsinks, which ultimately was the dealbreaker that lead me to choose Gigabyte. I had my other components before this board was released, so I ended up pre-ordering it. I went FM2+ for Kaveri compatibility.

RAM: Team Vulcan 8GB (2x4GB) 2400mhz
I purchased this memory at a fantastic price, and that is ultimately what took this build from an idea in my head to a working PC. Had I not found this kit on newegg at the price it was at I probably wouldn't have done this build.

Storage: WD 500GB 2.5" 5400RPM
It's slow, a bit noisy, and cheap. Advice for others looking to use the Antec ISK 110: Use some logic when installing your HDD/SSD. Don't install it directly under the CPU. I've seen reviewers say that the case is too hot for HDDs, and those same reviewers placed it directly under the CPU. My HDD is placed further away and heat has not been an issue.

Case: Antec ISK 110
Extremely compact and pretty well made. Installing the motherboard can be pretty tricky. The included internal PSU + power adapter are lightweights, 80W & 90W respectively. I removed them after a BIOS mishap with my A10 5800K resulted in a reset to factory settings, at which power draw is 110W at boot which simply doesn't work.

PSU: picoPSU-160-XT + 192w AC-DC adapter
I've installed this picoPSU and fit the power connector through the existing hole. It is not secured, but works well enough. This set up gives me a lot more head room for my APU and leaves room for error should I screw up with BIOS settings again. It also allowed me to remove a significant amount of unnecessary cables the stock PSU used. Only downside is that the powerbrick is fairly large.


PERFORMANCE, HEAT, & POWER DRAW:

I've settled on my 24/7 settings for this little guy.
(Part: My settings - Stock settings)

CPU: 3 Ghz, 1.01875v - 3.8Ghz, 1.475v
iGPU: 850mhz, 1.2v - 800mhz, 1.275v
RAM: 2400mhz, 1.66v

My CPU & iGPU are currently set to balance performance between the two and keep power draw down. The CPU is heavily underclocked & undervolted, while the GPU has a slight overclock and undervolt.

Memory is running happily at 2400mhz. I've tried to push it higher using the base clock, but it won't go much further. The highest I reached was 2454mhz with questionable stability.

The whole PC draws about 87-93w while playing Skyrim.

Here is an older 3DMark 11 run I did. iGPU was 900mhz, and NB at 1900mhz. http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/7862624


FUTURE PLANS:

I'll likely purchase a Kaveri A10 APU when I see one at a price I like. I want to get the full 512 GCN cores and currently the A10-7850K is too expensive in my opinion. If I find a used Kaveri for cheap or if the A10-7800 releases at a good price then I'll update this build with it. The power efficiency improvements in Kaveri should be hugely beneficial for performance in this little guy, not to mention lower heat output.

Oh yes! last picture demonstrated why I don't use AMD Overdrive: Good for giggles, not for overclocking. CPU-Z is showing actual clockspeed, compared to what Overdrive on the left thinks it doing lol. (I've realized the text is small, so this is what it says - Overdrive: 5.4Ghz, CPU-Z: 2.8Ghz.)

Comments

  • 71 months ago
  • 2 points

Going to +1 this because when I looked at the desk shot, I thought the PC was a router. Well done, sir.

  • 71 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! I suppose I could stash it next to my router and no one would know the difference ;)

  • 71 months ago
  • 1 point

I would suggest finding a better power supply for that.

  • 71 months ago
  • 1 point

The current power supply is adequate. It is very difficult to find a picoPSU higher than this anyway, but if you know of one send me the link please.

Currently my power draw from the wall is peaking around 110w. I have not dialed in the voltages yet, so that is quite a bit higher than I'd like, but it is still within the capabilities of the 160-XT.

  • 71 months ago
  • 1 point

Alright. I've thought about using that case in parts lists before, but the 90w just doesn't seem like it's enough.

  • 71 months ago
  • 1 point

It's enough for most Intel CPUs, but not for an APU. That's why I'm not using the 90w power supply.

  • 71 months ago
  • 1 point

AH. I just read that. I see now.

  • 71 months ago
  • 1 point

Hi, I've been wanting to use this case for a build of mine but always found the power supply to be way too little at 90W.

How would I be able to do what you did to yours to get more power? Thanks.

  • 71 months ago
  • 1 point

Did you happen use this?

http://www.mini-box.com/picoPSU-160-XT-192W-Adapter-Power-Kit

I really would like to know thanks!

  • 71 months ago
  • 1 point

That is exactly what I used.

The stock power supply is 2 parts - the 90 watt power brick, and an internal power board that is actually only rated for 80 watts, and of that only 60w +12v, which is the power your CPU/GPU uses.

My CPU is 100w TDP and can't even boot on stock settings. I removed the 80w power board from the case and installed the 160-XT picopsu - which, by the way, is rated for 90 watts +12v continous, so you do still need to be careful of how power hungry your CPU/GPU is.

BTW, the case does not have the proper holes to secure the power connector for any picopsu. You kinda have to figure that part out yourself. I may just glue mine in place. Take a close look at my build pics focused on the power connector to see what I mean.

  • 71 months ago
  • 2 points

Thank you very much, the only thing keeping me away all this time was the PSU. I would have to say this is my favorite build I've come across, small and powerful.

  • 71 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you :)

I love compact builds. If you need any advice or info on this case and what works or doesn't work in it, let me know.

  • 71 months ago
  • 1 point

Would A8-7600 work with the stock psu? Since it is only 65W so it should be safe?

  • 71 months ago
  • 1 point

TDP are often not accurate when it comes to the power draw of a CPU/APU. TDP is meant to refer to the heat output of the processor, so that you have an idea how beefy of a heatsink you would need.

I would take a look at reviews of the A8-7600 and see what the power consumption is like. Based on a couple I've read like this one: http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/cpus/2014/01/14/amd-a8-7600-kaveri-review/12

I'd say:

A8-7600 in 45W mode: Yes

A8-7600 in 65W mode: Probably. Its cutting it close but I would be confident enough to use this one if that means anything.

  • 69 months ago
  • 1 point

what were your temps at idle running at stock speeds without undervolting?

  • 69 months ago
  • 1 point

Much too high. The A10-5800K & A10-6800K aren't very efficient, and at stock clocks & voltages will get hot even at idle with this CPU cooler. FM2 boards also seem to have an issue with the APU running full tilt while in the BIOS, so it'll get hot there too.

I don't have this PC set up right now to be able to check temperatures. Honestly, if you are thinking of doing something similar get a Kaveri chip. They are more expensive but so worth it on the heat/power efficiency side of things.

I probably will not be upgrading mine to Kaveri though simply because I don't feel these APUs have enough GPU horsepower to satisfy me. I'm still going to keep the PC around though... It's very useful to have a portable PC when trying to fix a different one.

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

Hello I have a couple questions, mostly about installing the pico psu, is there a certain guide? like rmeoving the old power board or whatever you need to do. Is there enough space to secure that power connector given you had the drill bit to drill it? and couldnt you set the 7850k to run in a lower tdp mode? or would that affeect performance, im looking into turning mine into a mini lan rig as i go to buddies houses allot. and would love to put a 7850k in here with some 2400mhz ram

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

There are no guides to this so I'll give you my experience as best as I can.

Pico PSU installation: The power board can simply be unscrewed and removed from the case. I kept mine as a backup. Securing the large connector will require drilling the hole in the case slightly larger, which I was unwilling to do. In hindsight I would have preferred to switch to a 120-150w power brick (and kept the 160w pico as it has the best 12v specifications) in order to use the smaller barrel-type power connector which could have been secured/glued in place without modding the case.

CPU/TDP: Just FYI, I upgraded to a A10-7700k. I don't remember if the A10s have configurable TDP. I basically did all my settings manually, I settled at 3.3 Ghz and a slight GPU overclock on my new Kaveri. I connected it to a Kill-a-watt and aimed to keep peak gaming power consumption under 90w (due to heat & pico-psu 12v specifcation).

Kaveri/2400mhz ram: My ram is rated for 2400mhz, but unlike my 5800k my kaveri 7700k refuses to run at those speeds. 2133mhz is the maximum I can run, but overall games are slightly faster with the 7700k. From what I've seen others say 2133mhz is typically the best you'll get out of kaveri. I would not recommend a 7850K because of memory bottlnecks. Check out the reviews - the 7850k is only barely ahead of the other Kaveri APUs. Basically the extra graphics power is being choked by memory speeds, so I would recommend buying the a8-7600 or a10-7700k.

Additionally, if you haven't committed any purchases to this yet I would recommend waiting for the Carrizo APU that should be out very late this year/early next year. Carrizo will upgrade the GPU to GCN 1.2, which reduces memory speed requirements by roughly 40%, so speculation is that APUs will get a fairly big boost is graphics power.

good luck.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks a bunch for the info, will the new apus use fn2+ platform? because i came across a steal where i can get the 7850k and the ga-fxa88xn-wifi board for 170$ all together 185 after i pay to have it shipped, also will they use DDR4 or 3? I have 2400mhz ddr3 memory that i was hoping to use in this build. would 180W be enough for a 7850k ,ssd,hdd and 2 sticks of ram?

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

That sounds like a good deal, I think I'd go for it. You will need to do some tweaking in the bios though, to cut back power consumption and get memory running at proper speeds.

There is no picoPSU that can give 180w to the system. The 160-XT (the one I used, and I believe it is still the largest) should only be used for up to 90w of 12v (CPU/GPU power) continously (eg, like when gaming). It'll supply the SSD, HDD, and memory no problem, but if you are using a 7850K you'll need to underclock and undervolt it to keep it within safe range of the PicoPSU. That's why I would prefer a A8-7600, similar speed but much easier to set up due to lower stock power consumption.

Keep in mind that the PicoPSU is way more important than the power brick. It doesn't matter if you find a 200-250w brick, because the PicoPSU has limits to how much power it can pass through it.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Oh, and about Carrizo - not much is confirmed by AMD yet, but rumors/speculation is FM2+ socket, DDR3 and DDR4 compatible (DDR4 requires a new motherboard though), 65w TDP, Same number of CPU and GPU cores as Kaveri, improved CPU performance, and GPU cores are GCN 1.2 which is a big improvement for memory bottlenecks. I think desktop APUs are expected 1st half of next year.

Here's some reading on GCN 1.2 in a working product, the R9 285 video card. http://www.anandtech.com/show/8460/amd-radeon-r9-285-review/3

It sounds promising, so I'm hoping it delivers. Honestly I rarely use my Kaveri PC since it struggles to keep 60 fps @ 1080p in newer games at low settings. If I'm doing a LAN party and we are playing older games then I'll use it, but I'm a framerate snob so I miss the smoothness of my primary desktop in demanding games.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Well if my deal falls through allowing me to get this case for 65 shipped, then I'm going to build in the thermaltake core v1, if not hello tiny lan rig. thanks for all the info!

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  • 71 months ago
  • 1 point

Haha, I agree with you. It is slow.

I wish I would've thought about those at the time I purchased the hard drive. It is adequate though, and at least it isn't noticeable once any game gets loaded into memory.

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  • 71 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, I have a little 80GB SSD in the system I use regularly, and its a huge difference.

I just can't justify going SSD in a single drive system that I expect to be putting games on. I'd either have to spend more than I'd be willing to get a 250+GB SSD or I'd have a 120GB and be in a cycle of uninstalling and reinstalling games every time it fills up. Although since I won't be using this PC frequently, I probably could've gotten away with a 120GB.

  • 71 months ago
  • 1 point

You might wanna get the WD Black2, a single 2.5" that has a 120GB SSD and a 1TB HDD.