Yes. You read right. Take a deep breath as a precaution and hold on to your horses; a HUGE Sapphire R9 Nitro 390 Tri-X 8GB GPU is inside this beast. Read on to learn how I built the possibly best console killer that is out there.
Why hello! First of all, let me clearly express myself, when I say that this build took me a lot of patience and attention to get it right. This is no child's play, and when you build something like this, you're crossing the line from the amateur side over to the pro side. At least that is what I would like to think :P This is my second PC build that I did all by myself. First one was an awesome mini-itx build as well, however that being my first I did a TON of mistakes building it. This time, the mistakes were not so lucky ;)
I am a gamer at heart, and I almost always spend 2/3rd of my time gaming, every single day. Being so, I always liked the idea of a portable but powerful gaming PC that I could take anywhere. My hometown, my relatives' houses where we could just play and slip away while forgetting all our troubles... Hence, I was always all ears when you talk about portable gaming. That is why I built my former Bitfenix Prodigy mini-itx PC, thinking it would be portable enough. However it proved to be just as much tower as the other PC you would come across.
Laptops? Please. One, they're too mainstream :) Two, they are bound by more limits than you would admit; upgradeability, warranty, customizability, versatility, screen size, refresh rate, performance... Ugh. Don't let me hear you say laptops again! >:D
My family is living abroad here in the UK, and when I came to stay with them here, I realized I have no jurisdiction here since I had to leave my powerful but not-so-much-portable Bitfenix Prodigy, so I knew it was time for a PC build like this.
Enter the Node 202 videos on Youtube.
I fell in love with this case. A case that is almost the size of an XBOX ONE?!?!?! IT ACCEPTS A FULL GRAPHICS CARD AND 2 FANS?!?!?! WAAAAAAAAAT. I knew, knew, knew that I had to build in this case. And being the mad person that I am, I could not be limited by the builds of HardwareCanucks or JayzTwoCents (which are probably the two most popular reviews of this case on Youtube) which would not do mine justice. A puny 3,5GB, hah! And I'm telling this as a NVIDIA person.
So, I started by gathering the parts for the PC. At first I was in no rush to get a GPU, as I knew even the intel integrated graphics would save me from the horrific FPS of my old Samsung laptop and the Surface Pro 3 here. I was right; initially the GPU wasn't in there and this PC would still perform very well, at 100+ FPS on games such as League of Legends, which I play often. I was not in a hurry to buy a GPU because I wanted to justify the cost of the whole thing to my parents, and I was also in doubt about the GPU selection, as I knew the 970's would not be future-proof with the whole 3,5GB scandal. So I went with something that is the same price, but had the potential of so much more: the mighty R9 Nitro 390! So far it is perfect.
Some might argue that the Intel i5 6500 Locked CPU does not blend in with the otherwise brave part selection. I disagree. First of all, I did not go through the trouble of finding a cooler that could reliably fit in there, therefore I had to go with the stock cooler; hence it is really apparent when you use a stock cooler, you will not be overclocking a lot. So why get a K chip? And if you are a PC guy, you probably checked videos where they pit i5's against i7's with no considerable performance difference when it comes to gaming and FPS. Therefore, I thought why not a locked Skylake i5 and cut some cost? Even if the CPU performance would not be enough for me, I have the option to overclock a locked chip with this new Z170i motherboard! If you don't believe me, go to Youtube and check.
Here are the things I would suggest people mind, if making a similar build:
CHECK THE RAM TYPE. One of my biggest mistakes was buying a regular 240 pin 8GB DDR3 Corsair Vengeance for this, and frowning in utter disappointment as obviously it would not fit in the new 288 pin DDR4 slot. I made the assumption of this new Skylake CPU motherboard still using the standard old RAM type; I was wrong. I had to order a new pair of 288 pin RAMS. Trust me, you do not want to to everything and wait for a couple more days for more stuff to arrive; it is so frustrating.
PSU. If you're not as mad as I am, buy the version of the case that comes with a 450W Integra SFX PSU. As far as I could tell, it leaves a lot of room and it is MUCH easier to do the overall build with one of those. Thinking I would find a lot of PSU's later on I didn't, and I initially regretted it. The Silverstone 500W PSU is much longer than the Integra that comes with the case, and it is modular, meaning there literally have to be cables that come out of the PSU completely perpendicular. At first I did not even think I would be able to fit the SSD bay in there because of the huge PSU and its cables, however with incredibly detailed planning and force I was able to do so. I do not know if I will be able to remove it and then install other drives though... Not to mention the 24 pin motherboard connector. I had to bend the poor thing so much, I am kinda worried about it. Oh, if you do go ahead and buy the case which already has the 450W PSU installed, bear in mind that you might not be able to run a beast GPU such as mine; even if you do, it probably will not be as stable. So I recommend you buy something such as a 970, as JayzTwoCents and HardwareCanucks did.
Dimensions and the overall building process. My GPU was so big, I could not install it directly and had to remove the metal part where the GPU screws on, screw it while it is off the case, and lower the entire GPU-Riser card assembly as a whole onto the motherboard. I think HardwareCanucks did the same thing in his video. Also, really take care when putting the whole thing together, and think twice before doing something. I almost broke the front panel USB connectors when I forced the middle tab of the case (where everything installs on) to the bottom panel, where the little tabs pop on-off. On another note, today (which marks the 7th day since I completed the full build with the GPU) I opened my PC again and realized that I did not install the CPU cooler properly. What a dummy I am! I pressed the plastic columns properly to install it correctly.
Other important notes: Since I had to remove the GPU support bracket to install both fans, I am a little bit concerned about the GPU since the only things holding it there are the metal I/O panel which it is screwed on, and the riser card. Otherwise it is kind of leaning on the two SP120 Corsair fans I have put in there. Hence, sometimes when I change the orientation of the case or disturb it by moving it in another way, the third fan of the GPU sometimes touches to the fan below it a little bit and making a noise before it spins up.
I also would like to add the fact that I am using this PC with my old 1280x800 ViewSonic PJD5523w projector, which to my amazement is rocking an awesome 120Hz over HDMI!!! WAT!?!?!? Yessir. Since it is a 3D projector, it would have to carry two different 60Hz signals when using 3D. Since we're not doing that, technically it supports 120Hz right? Well, with a 1.4 HDMI cable that came with the GPU (thanks Sapphire!), I was amazed to behold the glorious 120FPS. There you go, the mouse ebbing and flowing on desktop...
My overall suggestion to the builders would be this: Buy the case that has an internal PSU, buy a 970 and buy only one fan to keep the GPU bracket. This is the most stable you could ever go, and this way you would not be troubled by moving the case a lot. However I am satisfied with how my build turned up; the temps are really solid and not worrying at all, especially for a small case like this, the performance is impeccable, and... IT FITS IN MY BACKPACK. ;) Couple that with a 1080p projector and a good mouse and keyboard (or an Xbox One controller with a wireless adapter), and you have a killer portable game station that could fit into a carry-on luggage.
Hope you enjoyed, and bai!