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Build

Budget Skylake mini-ITX (first build)

by mbrown64

24
20 Comments

Details

Date Published

June 14, 2016

Date Built

June 13, 2016

CPU Clock Rate

3.7 GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

20.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

48.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.203 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

7 GHz

GPU Temperature While Idle

29.0° C

GPU Temperature Under Load

57.0° C

Description

So I've been signed off work for a while (with a broken neck as it happens) and whilst waiting for a date for the removal of my Halo Brace (go on Google it) I'd though I'd have a go at building a pc. Tried it once before about 10 years ago and it as an unmitigated disaster. Not to be deterred - I have A LOT of spare time and some new found patience. ..

Wanted something reasonably fast, reliable and quiet for home/office use and possibly light gaming. Initially a budget of £600 but this shifted to £800 when I, err, started choosing better parts! Also, when I realised I wanted good aesthetics too.

Overall, I'm quite pleased. Its been a challenging learning curve for sure - made more so by choosing mini-ITX and the fact that I cant actually bend/turn my neck/head to peer inside stuff, which has required some inventive and downright odd handling techniques. Glad I choose the Inwin 901 - its a beautiful case. I did a lot of research to ensure a good combination of compatibility, quality, budget and looks. That's where sites like this one (and for example, tomshardware) have proved invaluable. I've borrowed heavily from the ideas and experience of others. Thanks pcpartpicker - its a simply great functional site.

Tinkering I'm going to look into to:

  • The X31 cooler placement - I'd like to mount it inside the case rather than having the radiator hang outside the case as Inwin seem to recommend. I'm waiting on a plethora of right-angled cables for the rear IO as the fan would prevent access otherwise.

  • The Corsair AF120 is loud - nothing too bad, just a irritating background rumble. Will use either another be quiet! fan (the front intake one is virtually silent) or something like a LEPA LP-BOL12P-BL. {Update: Put the NZXT stock fan back in. The Corsair is a 3-pin unit and the X31 was making it run at near 1500 rpm regardless of configuration in either CAM or BIOS.]

  • Cable management has been interesting. I've tried to be tidy without going overboard but the clearance behind the mobo is very tight - a couple of more mm would be welcome, even with a fully modular PSU. Going to try some right-angled SATA cables to tidy up the mobo cabling at the front.

  • Update: Fitted a Noctua NF-B9 92mm fan in the rear exhaust slot, just to improve air flow. Runs silent.

  • Update: I've replaced the Deepcool RGB LED strip with a Nanoxia rigid LED white strip. I couldn't keep the Deepcool in place as it got quite hot and softened any double-sided tape so that it ended up sagging. Shame as its a nice lighting kit - I'll repurpose this somehow. The Nanoxia strip is very neat - small and bright. It stays cool and stays in place.

I've really enjoyed doing this - its been very absorbing and a very welcome distraction. Feel like doing another one now....

Update: New photos showing recent changes and with new Corsair Strafe keyboard.

Part Reviews

CPU

I've relied heavily on reputable reviewers and the great reviews the 6100 has received have not let me down. Cheapest Skylake available. Early days regarding performance at the moment but it seems fast and it runs cool. I'm going to properly stress test it later so I'll put those results up when I have them. Great CPU. Highly recommended.

CPU Cooler

Its keeping the CPU cool enough (although I'm yet to push it really hard, so we'll see). The pump itself is quiet most of the time but does rattle occasionally. Replaced the fan with the Corsair AF120 White for looks. Probably mistake as its a tad noisy. CAM software is pretty but not amazingly functional.

[EDIT: Put the stock fan back in. CAM software now able to regulate fan speed properly - much quieter. The Corsair was running at ~ 1500 rpm regardless of configuration in either CAM or BIOS Also bit of a noob mistake as the Corsair is AF not SP.]

Motherboard

Good solid unit. Well made with good quality components. Excellent BIOS. Great number of ports for a mini-ITX board, wifi was a doddle and is surprisingly fast. Support for M.2 a major factor for me. Minor grumble is the USB 2.0 ports could be positioned lower in the IO panel so they are more accessible with the Inwin case. But that's a fault of the case not the board. Excellent value for money.

Memory

Its RAM. Its DDR4. Its cheap. Tick. Wish it came in different colours (gold would be nice).

Storage

Ah now then. OMG this thing is stunningly quick. Installed Windows 10 on this as a single volume and its simply flies. I have a couple of extremely powerful work laptops for development in VM environments- all 1TB+ SSDs and this little M.2 card is more than a match. Only wish I got a bigger one!

Storage

Used as an extra volume to keep high value files and some software on but away from C:\ drive. Good value for money.

Storage

Used for low value and/or bulky files. Runs quietly so far. Cheap.

Video Card

I agonised over this one. After many hours of research I chose a GTX 970 but then I sat on the decision overnight. Come the following morning I came across a review of the 950 Gaming Xtreme on Tom's Hardware. For approx. half the money it seems you get more than half the performance of a 970. Especially true if gaming is not your priority. And more so if you are tight for space in the case. The 970 would fit in the Inwin 901 but would cover the intake fan. Not a massive problem in itself, but I felt the 950 was overall a better balance for my build and purpose. Call me shallow, but I also liked having a back plate to improve looks. Performs much better than I expected using some basic Heaven tests. Have yet to actually play any games on the machine, so I'll keep things under review.

Case

Well I went around in circles choosing a case. Until I saw this. Stunning. Its got the quality and looks that demand a clean build as both sides are entirely glass. Nowhere to hide. Finger-print magnets too - I used rubber gloves when finally placing the sides on. This is the first time I've successfully build a PC, let alone in the mini-ITX form factor. Even so I was prepared to take on the extra (anticipated) headaches as I wanted the elegant minimalism and clean looks over ease of build of a conventional ATX. Mine arrived without a full complement of screws and accessories which I'm still chasing. That was a pain but not a show stopper. Everything goes in fairly easily. I did an external POST test with PSU, CPU, mobo, GPU and then planned what cables I needed and where to route them. The back was a mess until the final stages when I tidied things up and re-routed some cables. Still not great as the back just goes on and presses hard against the centre where cables cross. There could be a just a few more mm between the back of the case frame and the back panel. Maybe my bad cable management. Air flow seems ok. I would be slightly uncomfortable placing a powerful gaming build in this case. For my purposes however, its near perfect.

Power Supply

Good reviews and fully modular to cut down on cable clutter in the inwin 901. Looks and feels very high quality. Cables feel very solid. Very quiet - virtually silent.

Case Fan

Used this to replace the stock fan that came with the Kraken X31. Purely for looks as I wanted a white led to light up from the rear. In retrospect this was a mistake - its easily the loudest part of the rig.

EDIT: The X31 was pushing this at 1500 RPM constantly as its a 3-pin unit. My mistake. Not suited as a replacement on the X31. To be fair, reasonably quiet when not running at max.

Case Fan

Really quiet. Very well made. Expensive but it oozes quality. Even when on a full blast test, its very quiet.

Case Fan

Expecting lower noise from this than it gives. I compared it to a Gelid Silent 9 which I have and its noticeably louder at the same RPM. However, I used it over the Gelid as its PWM and can control it easier via Fan Xpert2. Call me lazy. In 'silent' or 'standard' mode its dead silent.

Comments Sorted by:

DisneysBlam 3 Builds 2 points 29 months ago

Beautiful! What did you use to take these photos? They're crispy!

mbrown64 submitter 1 Build 1 point 29 months ago

On my iPhone. Just made sure the lens was clean!

CleverJimmy 2 Builds 2 points 29 months ago

Amazing looking build! You usually don't see such great looking builds with low tier parts like a 6100 and a 950 (no hate) but you did it! It looks amazing

mbrown64 submitter 1 Build 1 point 29 months ago

Thanks! Means a lot. That has been one of the main aims: to have a good looking practical machine without going silly on specs. For my modest needs I think the 6100 and 950 are a good balance. Also why I put the word "budget" in the title despite being a £800 build (probable mistake).

JayRuss 1 Build 2 points 29 months ago

Great Choice in case i have a build which uses the same one :), one question in terms of noise i find my rig to be silent except the hard drive, it seems to make the case vibrate anytime it spins up do you notice the same ?

mbrown64 submitter 1 Build 1 point 29 months ago

Yes it is lovely isn't? Well I haven't used the HHD much yet as most software and files are on the SSDs. I'll take a look later though and get back to you. You've got me intrigued! What is quite loud on mine is the fan on the X31 and I just cant seem to regulate it. I see you went down the air cooled route. Sensible choice! How is the NH-9US for noise?

mbrown64 submitter 1 Build 1 point 29 months ago

Just took the HDD for a spin and it seems pretty silent - just a slight wrr as its spins up. Have you got the brackets firmly pressed into the hot swap bays and the drive itself firmly screwed onto the bracket? Sounds obvious but I can't really thinks of anything beyond that, except trying a different drive to see if its that...

nakaman 3 Builds 2 points 28 months ago

Man remember when the intel 333 and 6.4 gb of hard drive was like a supercomputer?

Stereotypical_Whale 1 Build 1 point 29 months ago

Budget? LOL

mbrown64 submitter 1 Build 1 point 29 months ago

Yeah the financials have proved fairly elastic! However, I don't think I would do much differently if I started over. Maybe scratch the X31 and 2nd SSD and get a bigger M.2 :)

Stereotypical_Whale 1 Build 2 points 29 months ago

You definitely have an eye for beauty rather than the receipt. I can't blame you though, I spent 30 on some led fans for the front of my case https://ca.pcpartpicker.com/b/b4r7YJ which weren't important really, maybe making the airflow positive. Also, that's why enthusiast parts exist.

mbrown64 submitter 1 Build 1 point 29 months ago

Thanks! Yeah I think for most of us its not just purely about function. This will be on my desk all day every day so its got to look reasonable.

Stereotypical_Whale 1 Build 2 points 29 months ago

Yeah for sure.

EngageDynamo 1 point 29 months ago

Why spend so much on low tier parts when you are deciding to upgrade either way?

mbrown64 submitter 1 Build 1 point 29 months ago

Upgrading was not part of the original motivation of this build. Now its (almost) complete, I may upgrade some things, at some point in future I may not. Its not a gaming machine, so the parts are sufficient for my needs. I decided to buy good quality components because reliability was a key objective.

gamingnoah 2 Builds 1 point 29 months ago

Actually I think the Pentium g4400 is the cheapest skylake available. Anyway, very nice build :)

mbrown64 submitter 1 Build 2 points 29 months ago

I defer to your greater knowledge - I'm new to this game! Thanks - its v nice to get feedback :)

Kevo05s 6 Builds 1 point 24 months ago

Awesome build, currently finishing mine which has the same case (black version), the same ram and about the same PSU (we think alike ;-) ) and I just ordered the same AiO hoping it would look good, glad to see it will look great!

Edit You could always mount the rad inside and the fan outside if you want to protect your fins more than your fan

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mbrown64 submitter 1 Build 1 point 29 months ago

Many thanks! Glad you like the look. I'm interested in what you would do upgrade wise?

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mbrown64 submitter 1 Build 1 point 29 months ago

Thanks for the ideas. I like the Intel i5-6600K suggestion. Also RAM. In retrospect I wish I'd bought 16GB as the additional cost is minimal - and bought a 1 x8 module instead of 2 x 4. Doh!

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