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Build

The SNES - Super Nice Entertainment System

by madpossum

139
50 Comments

Details

Date Published

Jan. 18, 2015

Date Built

Jan. 11, 2015

CPU Clock Rate

3.8GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

31.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

60.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

925MHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

1.25GHz

GPU Temperature While Idle

32.0° C

GPU Temperature Under Load

70.0° C

Description

The purpose of this build is to be used in the living room as an HTPC, first and foremost, but also be able to play PC games and emulators, so basically a full family entertainment device. My main priorities when picking the parts for this build was to balance performance with cost and temperature / noise. I didn't want a loud gaming powerhouse (I have a 780 SLI rig in my office for that, LOL). I have the whole thing set up to boot directly into Kodi (XBMC) and from there can go into Netflix, Steam Big Picture, IHeart Radio, stream movies, TV shows, and music from my server, or into emulators. The whole thing is entirely controlled using a wireless Xbox 360 controller, no mouse or keyboard (had to be 100% wife compatible). Setting all of that up took waaaay longer than actually building the system, LOL.

CASE - Very happy with the ML07. It has the same internal set up as the Raven RVZ01 but I chose the ML07 because I thought the looks of it go better in a home theater type set up. It was also $50 cheaper than the RVZ01. It doesn't come with any fans or dust filters like the RVZ01 does but I was planning on using different fans any way and dust filters can choke the fans making them run faster and louder (plus I clean my electronics frequently).
Building in it was easier than I thought it would be, but everything has to be assembled in the correct order or you will have difficulties. I forgot to plug in some of the front panel connections until everything was almost in and it was a pain trying to do it afterwards. Also test everthing before putting it in, because you can't swap out anything without it being a major hassle once the build is completed. But overall for the amount of stuff that goes into such a small, nice looking case it was reletively easy to build in.

  • Also want to point out, the graphics card I had for this build is much larger than the recommended specs for this case but it fit just fine, only problem was that the bracket used to hold the card in place wouldn't entirely fit, but I helped hold the bracket in place using a couple of twist ties and that worked fine. FYI for those looking at this case or the RVZ01.

CPU - Since I was going M-ITX that pretty much meant Intel since AMD has very little to offer for M-ITX. Intel would have been the way to go regardless since I was concerned with heat/noise and wanted strong single core performance for emulators. With what I needed in mind (and with what was on sale at Microcenter, HaHa) I was choosing between the Pentium G3258, i3-4370, and the i5 4690K. Chose the i3 over the Pentuim mainly because of wanting to be able to play my controller friendly Steam games on this system and with some new games not even booting up (and ones that do stuttering badly) with a dual core I felt the i3 was a better choice (yes, I know an i3 is a dual core, but Hyper Threading does make a difference in new games coming out). Plus the Pentium needs to be overclocked quite a bit to be relevent and that brings in the heat/noise issue.
I chose it over the i5 because I felt the i5 wasn't worth the extra money (around $70) and extra heat/noise. I wasn't going to be overclocking in this build so the K chip didn't bring anything to the table. I felt the i3-4370 at 3.8 GHz would be perfect for running emulators (and it is, works fantastic) and wouldn't bottleneck my mid range graphics card running on a 60hz 1080p TV. So far I'm very happy with it and feel it is a good fit for this system.

CPU COOLER - Cools well and is very quiet, very happy with it. You have to use low profile ram and set it a certain way on the motherboard to keep it from interfering with one of the RAM slots (see picture) but it works well and is very quiet.

MOTHERBOARD - Microcenter didn't have much selection of M-ITX boards, I didn't need an expensive "gaming" or a Z97 overclocking board but didn't want something dangerously cheap either. The Asrock board was a good value and they make good boards so chose it. I didn't need the built in wireless but it's there just in case. I got it so cheap due to a Microcenter bundle with the i3-4370. So far so good.

MEMORY - I just chose the cheapest 2 x 4GB, low profile RAM from a reputable company I could find at the time.

STORAGE - No question I was going for an SSD in this build, you want an HTPC to boot up and be ready to use ASAP. Also SSDs are quiet. The MX100 isn't the fastest but it's a great performer for the money and I trust Crucial SSDs. The system boots up about as fast as my TV does. The WD 500G HDD is where I put Steam and my Steam games (I had it lying around the house, hence the no cost) while everything else went on the SSD. The system is very fast and snappy. May swap out the HDD for another SSD in future, but for now it isn't as noisy as I thought so it may stay.

VIDEO CARD - I was looking for something midrange since the system was going to be hooked up to my 1080p 60hz Plasma so it didn't need to push high rez or lots of frames (I have already a main gaming rig (http://pcpartpicker.com/b/GBkLrH) and I was watching cost). I was looking in the R9 280 or GTX 760 range when I found the HIS 7950 on EBay (7950 = R9 280) for $93. It was from an OEM dealer who was selling them new, so wasn't a used mining card. I read that this card was one of the quitest and coolest running 7950's so I pulled the trigger. I also felt that the blower style cooler would work well in the small case. I am very happy, it IS very, very quiet for a mid range card (much quiter than either of my 780's), you can only hear it if you put your ear up to the case, even when gaming. And it stays fairly cool, especially considering the small case sitting inside an entertainment center.

POWER SUPPLY - Not much choice when you have to get an SFF power supply, it's almost Silverstone or nothing. I went cheap and didn't get the modular version and I feared I would regret it went it came time to build but I ended up using every available cord anyway and didn't have any problem with it in the build. Cable management kinda is what is in this case anyway.

FANS - I wanted quiet but I also didn't want to spend as much on fans as I did on my processor or graphics card. The Be Quiet! Pure Wings fit the bill. Basically the same fans as the more expensive Silent Wings just that they don't come with the rubber mounting system. They work well, they do make very little noise and the sound they do make, even when ramped up, is a pleasent one, not annoying at all. I would recommend them in any HTPC or quiet build.

Thanks for reading all that (those that did, LOL) but wanted to give my impressions to help those considering a similar build or choosing between different parts (I know looking around here helped me). Overall the entire family is enjoying the system whether we are watching movies, I'm teaching the kids about old school on the Atari or NES emulator, or playing Shadow of Mordor, etc.

Comments Sorted by:

Shanevslife 5 points 45 months ago

Great build! +1 from me!

rikku 2 Builds 2 points 45 months ago

Could have used a modular power supply thinking of the case, but overall nice parts. The cooler on that 7950 is quite cool. +1

ACVoong 2 Builds 2 points 45 months ago

Great build and great description. Always nice to see small but powerful builds like this one. +1

Eschaton 6 Builds 2 points 45 months ago

Dude, well done. Reminds me of when I wrote up my HTPC XBMCBuntu/Steam installation procedure here a few months ago. Very good job, and excellent decision on the CPU in my opinion. Make sure you're not using the Gallium drivers for your video!

mdmola 2 points 45 months ago

I'm planning currently buying parts for a build just like yours using the same case that's first and foremost going to be used as a HTPC (and capable of being a strong gaming PC). I might look into XMBC if I want to do a set up similar similar to yours (except I want the option to launch windows 8.1 too).

The biggest pain in looking for parts for me was figuring out which CPU cooler to go with, but I think I'm just going to settle with the Noctua NH-L12, remove the top 120mm fan and mount that on the wall next to the heatsink. I'm a first time builder so I don't think I'm going to try to deal with watercooling in this case because of the difficulty people have had.

Here's what I got so far: http://pcpartpicker.com/user/mdmola/saved/QhdgXL

Nice job on this!

madpossum submitter 5 Builds 2 points 45 months ago

Thanks. If you're getting a 4690K and planning on overclocking then the NH-12 is about the best cooler you're going to get into this case other than water cooling, good choice. I chose the Zalman mainly for it being quiet while still performing well but I don't think I'd recommend it for a K chip. This is a nice case but might be tough for a first time build, make sure you follow the recommended build order in the instructions that come with the case, it will help a lot.

I thought about using Windows 8.1's Start screen as the main screen and using a program called XBStart to use the Start screen as a sort of front end and launch things from there using a 360 controller. Decided to go with launching directly into XBMC and launching the few 8.1 apps I used (Netflix, IHeartRadio) from there. I'd say doing it from XBMC looks "cleaner" and more Home Theater like but just using the Start screen is much easier to set up. I had the "wife factor" to consider and wanted it to look and control more like something bought of the shelf.

You could always just pin XBMC or Plex to the Start Screen or Taskbar for using media, I use Plex on my gaming rig in my office and it's much more user friendly for just Movies/TV/Music.

Toothless_Snake 1 point 40 months ago

so dude how did you get more than 2 fans on that htpc build?

madpossum submitter 5 Builds 1 point 40 months ago

The case has 3 fan mounts, one on top of the case (above the CPU and the motherboard) and two on the bottom of the case (which bring air into the graphics card chamber).

JustAnotherGamer 1 point 45 months ago

I see this getting a lot of upvotes in the near future...

stevengibsonXD 1 point 45 months ago

How did you get all those emulators on the system?

ajac09 2 points 39 months ago

Probably by putting them on the hard drive maybe?

andrewbeck 1 Build 1 point 45 months ago

badass setup dude would love to have something similar in the future.

PyroFuzion 1 Build 1 point 45 months ago

Awesome build. Nice description!

nigerianjones 1 point 45 months ago

good price on that 9590

Dubben 1 Build 1 point 45 months ago

How did you get the Microcenter bundle with a ITX board? I have only ever seen ATX boards bundled with those chips.

madpossum submitter 5 Builds 4 points 45 months ago

They had a special that weekend for $40 off any board, but only with the G3258, i3-4370, i5-4690K, and i7-4790K. The Asrock board also had a $10 instant savings.

icedt33 1 Build 1 point 45 months ago

+1 for having the patience to get everything configured! Lol :P

PaterasAxios 1 Build 1 point 45 months ago

What software is that for the menu? Is it a custom interface? Also, +1

madpossum submitter 5 Builds 1 point 45 months ago

A front end called Kodi (formerly known as XBMC).

pieperson52 1 point 45 months ago

Ya its Kodi/XMBC its free and fantastic for movie games etc.

pieperson52 1 point 45 months ago

I may need one of these myself now. It looks fantastic!!!!

viven44 1 Build 1 point 45 months ago

smart move in getting the 7950.. a lot cheaper than the rebranded r9 280

bloodroses75 1 Build 1 point 45 months ago

I see you're running Advanced Launcher on your system. You'll definitely want to keep the database it uses backed up as more than on one occasion I've had it accidentally 'lose' all the information upon an update; forcing a complete re-setup. And if you have collections like I have, that's like weeks worth of work... lol. It actually pissed me off so much last time, I'm starting to look at alternative front-ends that aren't XBMC based; with lukewarm success so far.

madpossum submitter 5 Builds 1 point 45 months ago

I've already had it lose all my customizations once, which caused a re-set up and had it "lose" a couple of my emulators once which made me set them up again. Are you using the latest build? I'm wondering if it's just having problems with the newest Kodi release and I'm thinking of rolling back to XBMC Gotham. Only problem is I think only the latest release supports the H.265 codec.

bloodroses75 1 Build 1 point 45 months ago

The problems were the same with Gotham and Frodo. I haven't really checked into Kodi much yet.

DavisTheWalrus 1 Build 1 point 45 months ago

21 degrees where you live?

antonhunter 1 point 43 months ago

That's a really sweet build. Well done! But, I notice you haven't mentioned a sound system...so, I was curious as to what you're using for your audio system. _^

madpossum submitter 5 Builds 1 point 43 months ago

The PC just connects to the TV via HDMI, I have a sound bar and sub woofer that connects to the TV from the TV's optical audio out. The sound bar was a compromise, the wife wouldn't let me set up a full 5.1 or 7.1 surround set up in the living room, LOL.

antonhunter 1 point 43 months ago

O well...I'm sure it all sounds good. Ever check out any wireless systems?

antonhunter 1 point 42 months ago

Oh well! Of course, if you have the money, a simple Bose system will mimic surround and keep the wife happy at the same time. _^ Still, I really like your build, good job all around.

Superbad120 3 Builds 1 point 43 months ago

Ha good one and nice build 1+

huff9121 1 point 42 months ago

I'm interested in doing a build like this. How do you stream movies, TV shows, and music from your server?

LordJeans 1 point 41 months ago

Do you think there's enough room to fit a 25mm thick case cooler on top of your Zalman cpu cooler?

LordJeans 1 point 41 months ago

How's the room between the case fan and the zalman cpu cooler? I didn't even think you could actually fit the Zalman CNPS8900 Quiet with a 25mm case cooler on top.

madpossum submitter 5 Builds 1 point 41 months ago

They are practically on top of each other but they do both fit. I'm not sure how much good the case fan is doing with them being that close, though. One of these days I'll do some temp tests with the fan in and with the fan out.

millerjd0315 2 Builds 1 point 40 months ago

Great build. I have a similar build but it's in a big nMedia 6000b case. It's huge and just doesn't fit in my TV stand like a HTPC should. but I'm looking at you build and I want that case.

the graphics card I had for this build is much larger than the recommended specs for this case but it fit just fine

Can you help me decide if a GTX 550 Ti will work in that case? The 550Ti is smaller that your 7950 in all dimensions expect height, being 22.16mm (0.87in) taller off the board. Do you think that you could squeeze 22 more mm worth of GPU in there?

Its kind of hard to judge it with your pictures, OR if you do have a good clear picture of GPU clearance that I can see and judge for myself

Thanks!

madpossum submitter 5 Builds 2 points 40 months ago

The only part of the 7950 that caused issues is those giant heat pipes that stick out (you can see them in the picture), if your card is taller (wider?) than that card with it's giant heat pipes than it probably won't fit. I had to use twist ties to hold the card in place because the clamp wouldn't fit with those pipes in the way. There is plenty of room in every other direction, though (especially length, this case will fit extra long cards just fine).

One of these days I'll take some more internal pictures but it's a pain to take this thing apart and then put it back once it's all together.

millerjd0315 2 Builds 1 point 40 months ago

thank for the reply. It sounds like it will be fine. I may have gotten the dimensions a little mixed up, I think height, I thing the height is sticks off of the board.

Thickness wise, my 550Ti is thinner, length wise its shorter, but width wise (measuring from PCIe connectors to the SLI connector) its 22mm wider.

Thanks again

SoundFX09 1 Build 1 point 37 months ago

Excellent ITX Build. Quick Question: How does the i3-4370 perform? I am considering any i3, i5, or a Xeon for a Gaming/Video Editing/Streaming Build.

madpossum submitter 5 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

It has performed great so far, though this build is only used for gaming and media. I'm not sure how well the i3 would do with video editing or streaming.

JheyoDELperu 1 point 36 months ago

where did you get that emulator from all consoles, i mean, where could i download that stuff like nes, snes, n64 or ps2 for my dad's pc. ( yeah i'am 24 and i miss that sh*t) - thanks man.. your setup look awesomee!!! :D Mega+1

SpecificAlduin 2 Builds 1 point 36 months ago

I LOL'd at the "wife compatible" part. Great build! How do you like the PSU? I am looking at it for a client build.

madpossum submitter 5 Builds 1 point 35 months ago

No problems with it so far, I was worried it would have trouble powering a 7950 but it doesn't.

SpecificAlduin 2 Builds 1 point 35 months ago

Great! Thanks.

madpossum submitter 5 Builds 1 point 32 months ago

Updated my set up and my emulator front end

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=af42GsGD2eg

ol 1 point 24 months ago

A very nice build and description. Intelligent parts and approach. Well done.

Sphyloid 1 Build 0 points 45 months ago

LOVE all of your choices, do not really like Intel though, BUT their i3 lineup is not as overpriced as i5 and i7 so you still get a +1 from me. :)

MrUnknownPerson -3 points 45 months ago

You could've made this build roughly $75 cheaper if you had gone the AMD route, and youd've gotten slightly more performance.

madpossum submitter 5 Builds 2 points 45 months ago

I'm also a fan of AMD's price/performance ratio, I have an 8350 in my main rig (and a 6300 in my server). There are no AM3+ M-ITX boards but I considered an X4 750K or 860K but the i3 was the better choice due to better performance in emulators and running on much less power and giving off a lot less heat, both pluses for a small build like this. Plus the Microcenter I was at didn't have either AMD processor in stock, and with the bundle I got it was actually cheaper than getting a 750K and similiar motherboard somewhere else. I do agree, though, AMD makes a good choice for a budget concience build.

MrUnknownPerson 1 point 45 months ago

True, I suppose the i3 does give off less heat and use slightly less power.

There are a few (by that I mean 1 or 2) M-ITX AM3+ motherboards, but they can't handle much power running through them, and they're not listed on this site.

For the price, you made a good build with what you could get.