This build is an upgrade from a ~6 year old machine that was loud, could barely run modern games, random BSOD, and inconsistent performance. I decided on a small build because I don't need an insane amount of computing/gaming power, nor do I want the bulk that comes with a mid-tower (even an mATX tower), so naturally I came across the beauty that is the SG13b. I wanted to build a system for 1080p gaming, small form factor, low noise, and one that would last me about the same time as my old build (~5 years), which is why I went Skylake, and I'm confident I can get a long life out of this one. My budget was ~$600 but after deciding that I wanted an M.2 SSD, it ended up ~$700, which isn't bad at all. The system has been up for a few weeks and is running completely silently at idle, and performing flawlessly; I couldn't be more pleased.
I wrote up this build on PCPartpicker to help people with the SG13b since it's a beautiful case, but unfortunately there's a smaller user base, and not a lot of information on it. I hope you find my writeup helpful and interesting!
8GB Corsair DDR3
120GBx2 830 (RAID0)
CPU: i5 6500
Why not 6400, 6600, or even 6600k? I wanted more power than an i3 and an i7 is overkill (and crazy expensive). I wanted to stay in budget but at the same time not limit my performance at 1080p, and still give myself a little future-proofing in this department. The 6600k wasn't worth the price and would only introduce more heat into my system, and with no intention of watercooling, this option was out. The 6400 was simply lacking at 2.7GHz, and in the case that I couldn't overclock it (with a non-k overclocking BIOS), I didn't want to be stuck with a 2.7GHz CPU. Lastly, the 6600 simply isn't worth the price for the negligible performance boost over the 6500. At the 6600 price you might as well get a 6600k. The 6500 sits at a great value and still gives me room to overclock. It runs cool and handles everything I throw at it, great CPU.
Motherbord: Gigabyte z170n-WiFi
There aren't too many Skylake z170 ITX motherboards out there, so this one was relatively easy to hone in on. Reviews of ASUS boards weren't too strong, and I don't trust MSI or ASRock, so that pretty much left Gigabyte. The reason I chose this over the z170n Gaming 5 was that I could find very few reasons to justify the price increase of the gaming 5 over the WiFi. They are almost identical with the exception of the gaming 5 having a slightly improved (some would argue negligible) audio chip, a nice color scheme, and VRM heatsinks. The audio wasn't a big deal, and since I'm not planning on overclocking very much (if any at all), the VRM heatsinks wouldn't benefit me. The gaming 5 also has Killer NIC, that I've consistently read is inferior to the Intel NIC on the z170n-WiFi. Thus, the z170n-WiFi was an easy choice for me, and I couldn't be happier with its performance. Keep in mind there is only one chassic fan header, which was fine for me since there's only one chassic fan in the SG13b. WiFi works fine. BIOS is simple yet has all the features you would expect, and overclocks the 6500 no problem (I'm running BIOS F7c found here). A big plus is that the BIOS boots very quickly into Windows.
GPU: Sapphire 380
This is my third Sapphire card and I couldn't be more pleased. My first card was a Sapphire 4770, then Sapphire 6850, and now Sapphire 380, and never have they let me down. I originally planned on an MSI 970, but realized it was overkill for my needs and a bit too expensive, not to mention too big for comfort for my case (even though I've seen it fit in the SG13b). Naturally I decided on a 960 due to the performance and small power draw, but after reading consistently that the 380 outperforms it, I went with the 380. It has 4GB RAM and a 256-bit wide memory bus to utilize the 4GB RAM, which will significantly help it tackle more intensive games that come out in the future (compared to the 960's 2GB RAM and 128-bit memory bus). The backplate is a nice touch, and I managed to get the card at an amazing price, so it was a no-brainer. It has been running beautifully. Never goes above 71C playing BF4 (sits around high-60s). Idles at no more than 40C.
Case: Silverstone SG13b
This case is a beauty, and king of ITX cube cases. It is elegant, clean, simple, and easy to build in, and TINY. Build quality is solid, but the lid is a bit flimsy, and a pain in the *** to have to unscrew to take off each time. Doesn't come with a fan, nor does it have an fan filters, so keep that in mind. Two USB 3.0 ports on the front, with a mic and headphone jack, all you would ever need. There are subdle blue LEDs at the bottom of the front panel that shine down onto the table, with a small red HDD activity HDD (see photos above) that I found were a great touch, but not annoying. It's cheap too!
- Careful screwing on the front panel, the screw holes are plastic and can crack if screws are screwed in too tightly (see my photo above)
CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS 8900 Quiet Edition
This case offers a maximum of 60mm CPU cooler clearance, which didn't leave many options for CPU coolers. I decided against water cooling since it's expensive and I didn't have a lot of space for an AIO water cooler next to a full size PSU. After researching between the Zalman and the Noctua NH-L9i, I found consistently positive reviews about performance and noise from the Zalman, while (to my surprise) I found some reviews stating the Noctua could get loud and also didn't perform much better than the stock cooler. The Zalman was also cheaper, so I went with it. It performs fantastic and JUST barely fits under my PSU (see photos above), which dropping my CPU temps in Prime95 from the high 80s to a max of 73. When playing BF4 my temps don't go above 60C. The cooler is silent if I'm not playing games, and even at 100% it's hardly audible, great cooler. Idles in high 20s
Case Fan: Noctua NF-P12 PWM
There are literally hundreds possible thousands of 120mm case fans out there so I went to a reputable brand. The NF-P12 PWM is an extremely popular and fan and supposedly extremely quiet and great performer, which is what I wanted. I originally decided on a Corsair SP120 but after seeing the Noctua only $1 more, I went with the Noctua. It is QUIET. I cannot hear it at all during idle PC use, and at 100% I almost cannot hear it in a silent room. It dropped my temps 10-15C compared to my old stock Cooler Master fan along with a stock CPU cooler (I had used it without the aftermarket Zalman since it hadn't come in yet). Very happy with its performance.
WHO SAYS A FULL SIZE 180mm PSU CAN'T FIT INSIDE AN SG13b?! Silverstone's website warns against using a 150mm PSU, and even recommends 140mm due to the small size of the case. Wanting to save as much money as possible and wanting to re-use my HX750, I stumbled across tyman4444's build who managed to fit an HX750 into his SG13b. He is the only person I could find who has proof that an 180mm PSU can fit into an SG13b. Every other SG13b build I found had either an SFX PSU in it, or some smaller 140/150mm PSU. After examining tyman4444's photos, I was confident I could make it work! Thank you tyman444!!!
- WARNING - after installing my aftermarket Zalman CNPS8900 cooler, I noticed that my temperatures actually INCREASED, and that I could hear a whirling sound coming from the CPU fan. It sounded like the Zalamn was revving for a second, then turning off, then revving, then turning off, etc. After going into the BIOS, I noticed the CPU fan RPM was alternating between 1300RPM and 0RPM, which explained the sound I was hearing and the higher temps. After some troubleshooting, I found that since the CPU cooler was so close to the PSU (1-2mm away), that there must have been so much pressure between the bottom of the PSU and the top of the cooler that the CPU cooler fan was forced to turned off and on every second for some reason. To fix this I flipped my PSU so the intake fan was facing downward. This allowed the CPU cooler to pull air from inside the grate of the PSU, preventing an pressure build up. I noticed my temps dropped drastically and the strange noise went away. I ran Prime95 and played games and have had no problems with this setup.
SSD: Samsung 850 EVO 250GB m.2
I went with an m.2 for a few reasons. First, it would prevent me from having to re-use my RAID0 setup from my prior build. If I set up RAID in the SG13b, it would have been a total wiring mess, since I would need power and SATA cables for both SSDs, and I would also need to mount the SSDs on the top of the case, which would make building a pain in the ***. Second, I didn't want to deal with setting up RAID! The EVO is amazing, it's small and sits on the underside of the motherboard. It's very fast and I have had no problems with it so far. 250GB is more than enough for me since I don't store media on my computer (I use an external drive), and only have a few games installed at a time.
RAM: Corsair LPX 2x4GB 3000MHz
Cheap RAM with a nice 3000MHz speed. XMP picks up correct timings in BIOS and RAM has been working great, no problems.