UPDATE - Removed H100i liquid cooling and installed stock Intel cooler as I didn't really need to OC. Fans are now a front intake 110mm and three 80mm rear exhaust. Simple, quiet. plenty of room.
There are many cheaper ways to build this but this is my way. I rarely throw out hardware (witness my nvidia GPUs pic) and I don't mind spending on components that will last.
This is a replacement for my rusty old Shuttle XPC SP35P2 Pro SFF flight simulator box. My goal was to put together a nice baseline for a series of planned upgrades that will hopefully end with something quiet and capable of 2160p (UHD) @ 60 fps.
Core Decision Points
- Case - The Corsair 250D has the same look as my old Monolith a Shuttle XPC SFF. The 250D has good build quality and is capable of plenty of quiet airflow when properly configured. The Corsair Graphite 380T came in a close second. I really dig the yellow 380T and all I could think was my son asking to play with "Bumblebee". Might be a 380T build for me in the future. I also have to say that I like the totally impractical Inwin D-frame Mini but it was never really in the running.
- Airflow - The only installed fans are the two stock H100i radiator fans (exhaust) and a front panel 200mm fan (intake). The PSU is mounted "upside down" so that it intakes air from bottom (w/ filter) and exhausts out back without interacting with air inside the 250D. Side filter on radiator side of case is removed as this vent is an exhaust. I removed the 5.25 drive cage to improve airflow. I ran for a while with all stock fans found that a 200mm front intake fan is absolutely essential for maintaining positive pressure and maintaining a cooler GPU under load. Shame that Corsair does not supply a 200mm fan instead of the 140mm with this case.
- Motherboard - The ASUS Maximus Impact Mini-ITX boards are of excellent quality and include everything one could possibly need from a performance and feature perspective. No decision here.
- Storage - Removed included SSD trays and installed Icy Dock 2.5 adapters that allow two SSDs per adapter which is very useful for small case builds and more than your average number of SSDs. I am not a fan of standard hard drives in a SFF build due to heat considerations. Samsung EVO 850 currently gives you the best performance bang for the buck. No decision here.
- PSU - The 850W PSU is serious overkill but not sure what GPU upgrade possibilities will exist in the future. Also I wanted a minimum of at least 80+ Gold. Seasonic has always built the highest quality PSUs out there and they are an OEM for many other vendors. No decision here. I do need to source or build some shorter modular PSU cables so that cable management is no longer an issue. The 24-pin cable in particular is hard to route in Mini-ITX cases.
Benchmark Corsair vs Shuttle