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Build

Project White Lightning v.1.2 - Mini-ITX Gaming PC

by ThinkWithPortals

44
33 Comments

Details

Date Published

Aug. 20, 2016

Date Built

Aug. 15, 2016

CPU Clock Rate

3.5GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

34.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

64.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.27GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

8.0GHz

GPU Temperature While Idle

43.0° C

GPU Temperature Under Load

77.0° C

Description

Greetings all! It is my pleasure to introduce you to White Lightning, my custom-built compact gaming PC. The original White Lightning was completed back in August of 2015, but since then many parts have been replaced to bring the system to it's current iteration, White Lightning v.1.2.

The whole project began as a pipe dream in early 2015, as I became more and more frustrated with the underwhelming speed and lethargic gaming performance of my 2010 15" MacBook Pro, with it's dual-core i5, 4GB of RAM and NVIDIA GT330M. I planned initially to buy a gaming laptop, but upon reading around I learned that the best value-for-money was a custom-built gaming desktop. Given that I already harboured a passion for technology and an affinity for building things, assembling my very own computer was the way to go. I proceeded to binge-watch tech YouTube channels and scour forums for about four months, and this was the result.

My needs for this system were quite straight forward. First and foremost, it had to pack some serious power. More specifically, I wanted to be able to crank up the graphical settings in games whilst still maintaining a framerate between 60 and 75fps on my 2560x1080 Freesync display. Also, it had to be compact and WiFi-capable, as I'm limited on desk space and running an Ethernet cable to my desk is near-impossible. It had to be capable of moderate multitasking, and it had to look the part.

I'm in no way disappointed. Gaming performance is amazing. Every game I've tried stays north of 60fps at 2560x1080, with graphical quality dialled up to eleven and some anti-aliasing thrown in to boot. Favourites of mine include Skyrim, Dishonored 2, Elite Dangerous, DOOM, Shadow of Mordor, DiRT Rally and Fallout 4, and this machines runs them effortlessly.

Additionally, Freesync is awesome. I'm glad I picked an AMD card over an NVIDIA one because of it. Multitasking is a dream thanks to the 16GB of RAM and strong CPU, and everything loads super-fast thanks to the SSD. Temperatures are warm but not unsafe, the CPU doesn't top 70 degrees and the GPU tends to hover in the mid 70s. As for noise, it's very quiet at idle and tolerable under full load, I wear headphones whilst gaming anyway so load noise levels aren't a massive issue for me. I think it looks awesome too, really sleek white/black/red theme going on.

So that's it, that's my rig. Read on for my opinions on the individual parts, feel free to offer opinions, questions or constructive criticism in the comments. Otherwise, thank you for reading :)

Part Reviews

CPU

Can't fault it. Even though it's a generation old as I write this, it's still a fantastic CPU for those who want to game and do some multitasking on the side. Four strong cores, lots of cache, unlocked multiplier, runs cool, affordable - what's not to love?

CPU Cooler

Severely underrated cooler IMO. For it's price, it cools very well, keeping my 4690K under 65 degrees under gaming load. Fan is inaudible over other case fans, and it looks really sleek. CRYORIG really deserves more attention.

Motherboard

Expensive? Yes. Worth it? Yes. The most premium Z97 ITX board there is, with features galore. The QCode display has been worth it's weight in diamond, and the UEFI is among the best I've ever used.

Memory

There's not really much to say here. It's RAM, it's fast and there's lots of it. Very pretty heatspreader.

Storage

Among the fastest and cheapest SSDs on the market. 250GB is enough for my OS and most-used applications, and my PC boots in less than ten seconds now. SSDs really do totally transform the user experience, everything feels snappier.

Storage

Excellent drive. Blisteringly fast, even by HDD standards, and a terabyte is plenty for my Steam library, photos, videos and documents. Only caveats are the price and the fact that it's definitely not the quitest HDD around.

Video Card

The crowning jewel of this PC. I went back and forth between a 1060 and a 480, but the 480 won out because of NVIDIA's stupid decision to restrict their adaptive frame sync technology to high-end monitors. The RX 480 performs admirably at 2560x1080 at 75fps with Freesync, and this Sapphire NITRO+ model is among the best AIB 480s around. Strong factory OC, quiet cooler, doesn't get too hot and swappable fans. One of the best GPUs on the market today IMO, and with the rise of next-gen APIs like DX12 and Vulkan things can only get better for Team Red.

Case

Much better than the Corsair 380T I used to have. Lots of metal construction, unusual on such an inexpensive case. It feels really premium and solid. While it's definitely not the smallest ITX case out there, it makes up for it's larger size with increase cooling capacity, full-sized hardware support and aesthetics. Would recommend to anyone planning an ITX rig.

Power Supply

Overkill power supply, no doubt about it, but I don't really care. It's silent because the fan never has to spin up, it's got enough wattage to last me years and it's built like a nuclear bunker. One of the highest-quality units around.

Operating System

Windows 8.1 is my favourite Windows and I'm sticking to it.

Monitor

29 inches of IPS, 2560x1080, 75Hz, Freesync loveliness. A great pair with the RX 480, which can take full advantage of it's refresh rate and adaptive sync technology. Colours are on point, and trust me: once you go ultrawide, you will never go back.

Keyboard

Simple, inexpensive mechanical keyboard. Built like a tank, weighs about as much as one too. MX Blues are my personal favourite switch, and LED backlighting is useful for typing in the dark and for matching my setup.

Mouse

Excellent build quality with a reassuring weight and heft to it. Accurate sensor, no tracking issues to speak of. Lots of buttons, all fully reprogrammable and in good places on the mouse. Nice lighting and easy-to-use, aesthetically pleasing software. Supremely comfortable for my palm/fingertip grip. An exemplary mouse in every regard.

Headphones

Gaming headsets tend to have too much bass and terrible sound. This is the exception to that rule. For it's price, and it's type, it sounds exceptional. They're comfortable and very solidly built. 7.1 surround sound is nice for playing shooters.

Speakers

Not audiophile-grade by any means, but they're good enough for me. Highs and mids are pretty clear, and bass is strong thanks to the included sub.

Comments Sorted by:

Eltech 16 Builds 3 points 15 months ago

A great description, great photos and awesome parts. You have my one for this lovely build.

ThinkWithPortals submitter 2 Builds 2 points 15 months ago

Thank you :)

InvaderGir 3 points 15 months ago

You should enter this on Setup Wars on TechSource, you could definitely win.

bmbhomie 1 Build 2 points 15 months ago

Great build! What desk is that?

MrSpidave 1 Build 2 points 14 months ago

Hello. Superb build. Great case choice. Really clean and mavelous with that screen ! And good work on the description too ;-)

Edit : hey... with have the same mouse... ok mine is black... and hell, not RGB !!!

Iceman320 1 Build 2 points 11 months ago

Really nice build with great part selection and construction. +1

i will definitely go Mini-ITX for my next build, All the power in a smaller package :D

Also you gave some very helpful and solid reviews on your parts which is extra fantastic!

toastythomas 4 Builds 1 point 15 months ago

your entire setup is awesome +1

ThinkWithPortals submitter 2 Builds 1 point 15 months ago

<3

SmartWolf 1 point 15 months ago

Very nice build indeed.

+1 480 and white phanteks evolv

ThinkWithPortals submitter 2 Builds 1 point 15 months ago

Thank you :D

jsoutherland89 4 Builds 1 point 15 months ago

Awesome clean build. Great job!

ThinkWithPortals submitter 2 Builds 1 point 15 months ago

Thanks :)

esquimo 1 Build 1 point 15 months ago

Nice build, kind of jealous I didn't also go for a ITX after seeing this, it makes mine look kind of noobish which am willing to admit.

My CPU with atx build, 4690 (non K) and a ref 480 gets to 57°C so guess the payoff is there but still would go with your build for sure.

Cheers for the kick to try harder next time and kudos again.

ThinkWithPortals submitter 2 Builds 1 point 15 months ago

Thanks :)

Jhobbster 1 Build 1 point 15 months ago

Would you mind if I like copied your entire part list and built the same thing?

ThinkWithPortals submitter 2 Builds 1 point 15 months ago

I mean, you can if you want, but there were a lot of unwise decisions made when building this thing so I would recommend copying it exactly...

Jhobbster 1 Build 1 point 15 months ago

Lol im pretty sure the motherboard was a bad idea how expensive it is and you have a non k cpu

ThinkWithPortals submitter 2 Builds 1 point 15 months ago

Lolwut? I have a 4690K

Jhobbster 1 Build 1 point 15 months ago

Oh LOL im blind

OccamAsylum 10 Builds 1 point 15 months ago

Feckin Eejit

ThinkWithPortals submitter 2 Builds 1 point 15 months ago

Indeed. I like being reminded that I'm a feckin' eejit every time I look up :)

bmbhomie 1 Build 1 point 15 months ago
TourelIe 1 point 15 months ago

I know this is old but can I see load temps? Im going to be building a very similar build.

Now im concerned if the h5 will fit my Evga stinger...

ThinkWithPortals submitter 2 Builds 1 point 14 months ago

Hey there, I'm sorry for the late reply but here we go. All measurements in celcius btw :)

For the GPU, I haven't done any in-depth burn tests or anything but after an hour or so of DIRT: Rally on the Ultra preset at 2560x1080, the max temp was 71 degrees with the temps generally hovering around 67-68 degrees while in game, fan speed around 50%. This is with a custom fan curve set in Sapphire TriXX, where the fans are off until 50 degrees then ramp up steadily until they hit 100% at 85 degrees celcius.

As for the CPU, again, no in-depth tests run but I've yet to see anything over 65 degrees celcius in any game, even CPU-intensive ones like Cities Skylines and Euro Truck Simulator 2. This is on the standard fan curve.

Finally, I wouldn't be worried about the H5 fitting an EVGA Stinger. The only reason I struggled to get my H5 onto my Maximus VII Impact was because of the "daughterboard" - basically a really tall VRM/power delivery assembly. The EVGA Stinger doesn't have a daughterboard, so I think you'll be fine :)

TourelIe 2 points 14 months ago

This is a perfect reply, exactly what I was looking for, thanks.

rowanhirst_82 1 Build 1 point 14 months ago

You should definitely enter a setup competition/showcase on youtube such as setup wars (TechSource) or room tour project (RandomFrankP) because your current setup has tons of potential. Good cable management with cable box, added personality (feckin eejit no. plate, ikea plants and other little things) , you even have your headset mounted. This setup is awesome. If you do admit this setup in a competition, I recommend Setup Wars, you've got all the little nitty gritty things Ed (TechSource) criticizes on right and done well at that. You have a good chance of winning.

Two questions: 1. Why replace the stock 200mm fan? and why not two static pressure 140mm instead of another 200mm? 2. How was building inside this? Did you ever need extra stuff like fan headers? Was the radiator bracket a big issue?

Great build though, The grey components compliment the white and your setup brings everything together, I'll definitely remember this build when I build my own after Christmas, definitely gonna use the same case and possibly GPU. Just a shame the i5 4690k is weirdly high priced in the UK right now and the fact all Cryorigs stuff is out of stock here.

ThinkWithPortals submitter 2 Builds 1 point 14 months ago

I'll consider entering Setup Wars, thanks for your encouragement :)

Both of the Bitfenix Spectre Pro LED fans are from a previous build of mine. I wanted some lighting inside the case without going all the way with an RGB LED strip, and since the white LEDs matched the white, red and black theme of the build I decided I'd throw them in.

Building was easy enough, there were plenty of fan headers but two of them are kind of blocked by the CPU cooler, so unplugging/plugging those headers with the cooler mounted would be challenging. The radiator bracket was no hassle since it's removable. and it actually provided a rather good spot to tie down the cable from the CPU fan. I'd definitely recommend building in this case :D

rowanhirst_82 1 Build 1 point 14 months ago

Awesome. Hopefully see you on setup wars in the future...

macz 1 Build 1 point 14 months ago

The build I'm working on will be using the same case and (maybe) graphics card. How has the Sapphire card handled the smaller space? What temps is it running at?

ThinkWithPortals submitter 2 Builds 1 point 14 months ago

Running 3DMark Firestrike sees a max temp of 81 degrees at around 75% fan speed. SteamVR Performance Test sees around 80 degrees with fan at the same speed. Ordinary gaming load sees 76-78 degrees at around 60% speed.

Scott_Pilgirm. 1 point 13 months ago

Nerdgasm

One question though in your opinion if I were to copy that and put it on a linnmon would it look great on the grey color if not which color should I pick and would all of THAT fit?

Only difference is mine is white or black / blue themed

BradJones0 1 point 11 months ago

How was the case? I'm thinking of doing a similar build but with the i5 6600, aslo do you reccomend the GPU?