Description

This is my first computer build since the early 2000s. Since the mid-2000's I've been using a myriad of gasp Macs, and a beastly MSI Gt780r which I hacked a GTX 970m into. That's been swell, but despite the GPU bump, she's feeling old, getting temperamental, and it's been nearing time to replace her, so the endless days of PCPartPicker surfing began.

I had set myself up with a (soft) budget of about $2000 CAD (< $1600 USD) not including a much needed monitor upgrade for both the wife and I. Quite happily I seem to have stuck to that thanks to catching various sales and MIRs, but it was close/doubtful for a while, especially as my desire for more interesting parts grew. What started as a really small mini ITX mid-range rig (i.e. i5 6500, GTX 970/980/R9 Nano, in something like a Raven RVZ02) morphed into a raging dual AIO cooled bigger (but still pretty small) micro ATX beast. The main culprit: the Fury X.

GPU: Why the Fury X? Well, growing up in Toronto, ATI was always the home-town preference. I've spent countless dollars on ATI cards throughout the 90s, and surely still have at least one All-In-Wonder card in a computer somewhere. There's also a part of me rooting for them to succeed. Nvidia is no slough though, and they've been my mobile GPU for 5+ years now. I was eyeing a GTX 970, then a 980, then briefly considered a 980 Ti, but the price was a but much. Then I caught this Fury X on Amazon for mid-tier 980 money; about $700 CAD ($520 USD). With Amazon's return policy, I had to at least give it a chance. 980 Ti level performance for pretty cheap 980 price? Yes please. Built-in AIO cooler, HBM, and that adorable little GPU tach all just added to the fun. That AIO will later prove challenging...

CASE: I knew from the outset that any computer I was going to build was going to have to pass the wife-approval test, so pretty much any massive tower case was out of the question. That's one reason why I started with mini ITX in mind, with cases like the RVX02, Node 202, and Phanteks Evolv ITX. The Fury X eliminated the super slim cases immediately, so I was left looking at small mini towers and cubes. Interestingly, the cases she approved were the Ncase M1 (which would take me way too long to get, and also would blow the budget), the Phanteks, and the Corsair Air 240. I really liked the versatility of the Corsair; micro ATX or mini ITX, dual chamber design for clean cable management, positionable in different orientations, and available in a wife-approving white!

CPU: In retrospect, considering I came in under budget, I could have gone with the i7 6700k and still been at or near my budget figure. I do use Photoshop, Lightroom, and Premiere, though not super regularly. The i5 6600k is still a damn capable processor, and for most uses and general gaming, it's more than enough. Figured I could live with a longer render time to save $200. I'll consider upgrading in a year or two to whatever i7 the 1151 socket supports at that time. Overclocking to 4.4 was a breeze; haven't tried pushing any higher but I'm confident it could get to 4.5 or 4.6 easily.

CPU COOLER: Knowing the case and the CPU, I knew what I needed to cool and the limitations of space I had to work within (or so I thought). I figured I could try and get away with a 120mm radiator that was 25mm thick to pair beside the Fury X's much thicker radiator. Quality choices were down to the NZXT Kraken X31, and Corsair H75. Figuring that the only way this would maybe fit is to make the Fury X radiator push-pull I knew I'd need a second static pressure fan anyway, so with the better availability and cheaper price of the H75 it ultimately won out over the NZXT.

MOTHERBOARD: I had some basic requirements: M.2 NVMe support, Z170, good quality components and BIOS, good OC support, and not costing a fortune. This went back and forth with case compatibility for both ITX and mATX. This ultimately came down to price (mATX was considerably cheaper than the ITX version), and upgradability/expandability. I like the look of the Gigabyte board, and it has its connectors generally where I want/expect them to be (unlike the USB 3.0 header on the ITX Gaming 5; has 5 total fan headers spread around the board). The only thing that's a little weird is the sideway orientation of the SATA connectors.

STORAGE: Samsung 950 PRO is pretty awesomely fast. The other drives are upgrades from my laptop that I've harvested out.

PSU: Slight overkill, but I wanted to have headroom in case I went Crossfire instead of having to replace this PSU with another purchase to support it. Also, the general load on the system means the PSU fan basically never runs (I can't even tell if it's running while gaming). Still, it's a solid PSU and I'm pleased with it so far. It was strangely cheaper than both the G2 and Corsair RM850i while being more efficient.

BUILD NOTES: So the Air 240 is a much smaller case than I've ever really worked in. I've never worked with water cooling (was a very very niche thing way back when I built my last tower); was great in theory, but was still a very DIY, nascent segment. AIO coolers seem great; all the benefits with none of the fuss. Dealing with more than one of them in a small case however was challenging. Everything else installed fine and without issue; the Air 240 is pretty well laid out for a clean and tidy build.

I have seen a few Air 240 builds try having dual 120mm radiators up front; some went great, some didn't. Naively I thought where Ra_2 struggled was in the thickness of his two radiators (Fury X is 38mm, H80 is even thicker at like 49mm), and that the Corsair blog solution worked was in stacking a single rad+fan on top of a push-pull configured radiator setup. The 120mm radiator+fan beside the GPU's pull fan fits fine, but then the Fury X radiator block is about 3-4mm too tall to get up against the push fan on the H75. I think the fan might also not line up properly to the radiator mounting holes. Really just need a few more mm of space in the case for this to fit! I considered modding the case frame to give me some more room since there is room between the frame and the outside panels, but that seemed excessive and just forcing this to work. I also considered Ra_2 and the Corsair option of routing the CPU radiator to the rear, but wasn't quite sure how best to get the cooling block through the grommets. I might try this in the future. For now, I just needed/wanted to get the system up and running so went to plan C: try to mount the CPU rad anywhere it would fit.

Thankfully, it fits in single fan configuration at the top right to the front with the radiator against the the frame. Barely. I'm pretty sure a fan mounting screw is either resting on, or a hair above the OC Turbo jumper on the top right of the motherboard, so to be safe, I wrapped that screw in electrical tape. The Fury X radiator is mounted bottom front and as close to the recommended AMD instructions as I could: it's vertical, above the GPU (barely), and has the hoses at the bottom. I decided to leave it in push-pull for hopefully better cooling since these are now the only active exhausting fans in the system.

Right now I am intaking from the top (one included AF120 near the CPU/RAM/VRMs, H75 with single fan in pull) and exhausting out the front via the Fury X fans+radiator in push-pull. There is also an AF120 in the back compartment set to intake (maybe keep the drives cool, hope some air trickles in through the grommets). I might flip the case over to the top becomes the bottom and to orient the window to where I'm sitting.

So far, temperatures seem quite reasonable. I have not run Prime95 or anything, but under normal use and normal gaming load, temperatures seem fine. The GPU temperatures running Heaven for half an hour on Ultra barely broke 60C, and didn't even seem to get back there after I tweaked the fan profile on the pull SP120 to more match what I say the stock Gentle Typhoon doing. Overall it seems OK from a temperature perspective, but I'm still not happy with the general airflow pattern.

If I can move the H75 to the back, I can fit an extra exhaust fan up front plus two at the top, though I'm not sure how well the H75 will do for air in the trunk. Will have to cable manage that area better!

All said and done, it's a nice looking machine, and seems to perform really well. I do hear some whine, though I haven't yet figured if it's coil whine from the Fury X or pump whine from the H75. I think it's pump whine since it's kind of a constant pitchy drone even at idle.

More tests and some reconfigurations to come!

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Comments

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice, that's a great price you nabbed that Fury X for.

Build is a small little powerhouse, nice work. +1

A little tip or thing I found with FIJI chips. You can under volt them pretty heavily while maintaining the same speeds. It does however result in a drop in power and temps for same performance which is a nice bonus.

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the tip! What are you using to undervolt? Sapphire TriXX? Will have to give that a try.

  • 45 months ago
  • 2 points

I use MSI afterburner but the Trixx should have the ability to undervolt also.

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

+1 for fury x

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

Got any pics of the entire thing from the exterior with the case? Most are pretty close up or interior.

+1, nice parts, loving that Fury X

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

Not on hand. Think I was too excited once I had it all together and just wanted to see it boot up. I still haven't even removed the outer plastic on the window!

I'll post external shots soon.

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice, I would be excited too :D it's a great build! I'm planning on going a smaller form factor like you did and might be using that case in white. Actually overall, my build may be quite similar to yours besides like motherboard or GPU :) how do you like the Gigabyte board? Your thoughts in the description mostly just listed the tech requirements, but how has in been in the BIOS and functionally for you?

  • 45 months ago
  • 2 points

Coming from someone who hasn't really seen a modern, enthusiast BIOS screen in a decade, it's been quite a nice change from the old days of AMI BIOS and the like.

The tweaking options seem VERY plentiful, to the point of being able to configure very minute details such as RAM timings and specific core frequencies. TBH, that's currently above my comfort level having just gotten back into custom building.

That said, the less advanced options are very accessible and easy to understand. Applying an XMP profile is just a couple clicks. Applying one of the preset CPU overclock options (4.2-4.4 for the i5 6600k, 4.5-4.7 for the i7 6700k) was just a couple clicks. There seem to be more options as well for other speed increases (wasn't positive, but I think one impacts the base clock). Easy to play around with default fan profile configurations, drives, etc. It's pretty much what I figured a good modern enthusiast BIOS would be like.

Gigabyte's Windows applications overall seem useful. The System Information Viewer gives me GUI access to fan curves. They have a system overlay app that you can pick and choose what information you want overlayed on a game (not pretty, but has a lot more granularity that some other utilities I've seen). There's a Windows-based system overclocking tool as well, but I haven't tried that as of yet.

Overall I've got very little to complain about. Probably the only startling thing to realize is that the VRM heatsinks aren't really attached by anything other than thermal tape, so do NOT pick it up from the VRM heatsink. Lesson learned very quickly there when I felt it give a little. Whoops! :)

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

Sounds nice :) thanks for your thoughts, enjoy ur system

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

Why get a 950 pro to take up PCI lanes from the CPU? You just restricted yourself to x8 on the Fury X, Other than that, nice build.

  • 45 months ago
  • 2 points

X8 does not impact gpu performance. Also depends how the M.2 slot is wired. Z170 boards have an additional 20 PCIe gen 3.0 lanes used to manage other pcie devices aside from the gpus

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

You mean an extra 4? maybe 20 lanes inn total but Z170 doesn't have 40 lanes

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

As far as I am aware, that is no longer the case on Skylake and the Z170. The chipset itself is providing the extra PCIe lanes for I/O (including the M.2 slot) and does not consume the 16 lanes from the CPU for the PCIe slots. This is a marked change from prior platform generations. That's what my research has told me anyway.

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

you could try to get the Intel Stock cooler from the PC shop near your home.

install the cooler in place of the Corsair cooler and see if the noise persist

it might prob be the GPU with coil whine.

the air flow inside your case isnt great IMO

try to change the top fans to exhaust instead of intake, same goes for the GPU cooler as well

you should be able to change the direction of the fan to become intake as well,

and personally adding another fan to the GPU wont help much in terms of temp. It only like 1 to 3 degree cooler for more noise. and if the fans used is different from the OEM gentle typhoon it will affect the air flow as well.

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

I agree the airflow isn't ideal. It's the one thing I'm not pleased about on the build, and I keep ruminating on how to change.

First thing I might try this weekend is relocating the H75 radiator to the back chamber, if I can get the CPU cooler block through the grommet without much difficulty (other people seemed to have managed it, but unclear if they had to widen the opening to do so). I might also try an air cooler for the CPU, which would clear up a lot of the available spots for fans to improve air flow (and eliminate pump whine as a potential reason for the sound). Interesting tip about getting a stock Intel cooler.

The only reason I think it's pump whine from the H75 instead of coil whine from the Fury X is that the noise doesn't get any more pronounced under GPU load. On one reboot I heard a much louder/higher pitched whine when the GPU tach shot up and figured that was the coil whine, but I've never heard that noise again even while gaming. Fingers crossed.

The push-pull on the Fury X rad was really done for spacing in trying to get another radiator or fan beside it, which wouldn't fit if the radiator alone was mounted. I might remove it, but it doesn't appear to be hindering performance (with some fan profile tweaking, it is running cooler) or increasing noise appreciably. Will try it without in this weekend's reconfiguration.

Thanks!

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

no problem mate.

although i running old rigs here for a long time.

I do plan to pamper myself by getting the Fury X or go for the Dual GPU Radeon Pro Duo and add another Fury X for Hybrid Tri-Fire. Of course I will be running the upcoming Intel i7 6950X with the MSI X99 Godlike Gaming Carbon.

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

Only reason why I'm not saying get a 980ti even though they're better is because you got it on sale...