Before the Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I had decided that it was time to create a new PC. I recently moved into a new place and the build that I had was too big for my room and I needed as much space. The problem is that it was an Ultra case, NZXT H630 Matte black. Here is a link to the old build for those that are interested.
After researching more into the possible options, I opted to create a small form factor PC. The best information about SFF PC was in r/sffpc and there is Google Sheets document for Recommended Components for common SFF cases
There were a couple of hiccups along the way of building the PC but was able to overcome it eventually.
1. Parts List
Processor - AMD Ryzen 3700x Watching a lot of videos and looking up websites on the best price to performance builds out there. Compared to the high premium you had to pay for Intel processors, it didn't make sense to choose them at all. All the benchmarks out there showed that AMD was beating Intel with their new Zen 2 processors. With saying that, I have chosen the 3700x. With 8c/16t, this should be enough for gaming and any work that I need to get done.
Motherboard - Gigabyte X570 I AORUS PRO WIFI Mini ITX I opted for this decent motherboard with a nice fan cooler for the NVMe slot. The reason I got this as it was the cheapest during my search for a motherboard. Although it is the cheapest, I have done due diligence in checking out reviews for this motherboard and it is decent for its price! Buildzoid review on this sold me on getting this board as well.
GPU - Sapphire Nitro+ 5700 XT I originally wanted to get a 2070 Super, after checking more reviews and benchmarks. I felt like 5700 XT was the bang for your buck. The Sapphire Nitro+ 5700 XT was the best overall for me after looking at the possibilities. Also, I wanted to keep in mind that the GPU should fit in the case that I have chosen. Sapphire is a great brand and they are a known quantity in producing good quality GPU.
RAM - Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 32 GB This was my first AMD build and I have read that Micron E-die is decent for overclocking and got this in the end. It has a nice red colour which fits the theme, that I am going for. Black and Red with a hint of RGB. I was able to overclock this to 3733MHz CL16 with help of the DRAM calculator.
PC Case - Cougar QBX I was first interested in the NCase M1, it didn't seem like the GPU I want will fit in it. I found a Reddit thread that it was possible to fit my GPU in a Cougar QBX. There were just a few things that needed to be done to fit it in. Also, the case looks clean with a cheap price tag on it helped with my decision in getting it. Most of the reviews I have seen have a good view of it and is recommended.
PSU - Corsair SF 750 In my old PC build, I had a Corsair RM1000x PSU which was probably more than I needed. I ended up sticking with Corsair as they are a tried and tested brand. All though Seasonic was a close one as well that I was looking at to buy.
Cooler - Noctua NH-U9S I have had Noctua in my previous build before and I was keen on getting one for this build rather than an AIO water cooler. With following the recommended parts guide, I chose Noctua in the end because they are one of the best air coolers.
Storage - Corsair MP600 500GB, Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB and QVO 1TB SSD For my boot drive, I have chosen Corsair MP600 GEN 4 NVMe SSD. This was done to take advantage of the speeds it can give as it is 4th generation NVMe SSD. I will use the QVO 1tb SSD to store my games and the 970 EVO Plus NVMe for other applications that can take advantage of the NVMe speeds.
Fan Controller - DEEPCOOL FH-10 I got a cheap fan controller which allows me to set a fan curve via the CPU fan to try and keep the fan noise as quiet as possible.
USB Hub - TP-Link UH720 The number of USB ports in any mini ITX motherboards is not enough for the number of USB devices that I need to connect to. I have bought this and it is working good so far. It has a decent look and can be easily put anywhere.
Gaming Monitor - Gigabyte AORUS CV27Q-SA This will be my first gaming monitor and experiencing 165Hz is simply amazing. Being a VA panel, the colour was pretty good for viewing and I have had no problems with it so far. I have read multiple reviews on this and it was a bit of a mixed bag which is understandable, I ended up getting this because it was on sale and it was way cheaper than LG-GL850B which is what I originally wanted. Maybe in 2020 Black Friday or Cyber Monday, I will get that monitor!
2. Building the PC Building the PC was a bit stressful as I had originally thought that I messed up and bought a GPU that didn't fit in the Cougar QBX. No problems faced in installing the CPU, RAM and the cooler.
As I mentioned earlier there were a few issues I faced, one of them was that the motherboard backplate cover got in the way of fitting it into the case. The solution for this was to remove the backplate and it fit with no issues after that.
I didn't face issues installing the fans and the PSU. The next main problem was sliding in this big GPU. It was a tricky task and I was able to overcome this by bending the metal bit above where the GPU fits and it was slid in. After this, I spent a good minute or two trying to fit it in once inside but after getting it in the slot in. After that, I have bent the metal bit back down so that I can close the case cover.
In terms of cable management, I originally wanted to put the fan controller at the left side of the case. But the fan controller was too thick so I ended up choosing to put it on the top side. It ended up helping make the build look clean as the wires for the fans where hidden at the top side.
Overall, I am really happy with the build. I had a theme in mind which was red, black and a bit of RGB which was achieved. When I have time, I will post temps and benchmark scores in a week or two.
Happy Holidays everyone! As promised I am doing a quick update on the following things:
A sneaky update on why I chose SF750 PSU
Benchmarking & Temps
I had a few issues with the airflow in my case which I thought can be improved. There were 3 outtake fans, top case, back and the fan in the cooler to help push out air from the case. However, I only had one intake fan. This was the small 80mm fan in the front. This seems to be not as good as I expected it to be. Trying to think of an idea to improve this, I saw that before the SF PSU was a grill with holes on them to allow air to flow through. I had an idea to use small L-brackets to mount my other ML120 fan to help push in air. As you can see in the latest pictures that I have attached, I was able to mount them fine with machine screws and bolts. This as able to pull in more air to the case and I was able to reduce the noise levels due to this. I was able to achieve 37-40c idle temps (doing nothing) which jump around 37-44c while I am browsing. After this, I have also improved my fan curve and it much quieter than stock settings. I was able to choose an ideal fan curve after looking up SFF PC fan curves from other users with similar builds. I am now thinking of slightly angling the fan so that it can point to the RAM and the air cooler to see if it can improve the temperature.
One of the reasons that I have decided to do this is that the temps I was experiencing initially before overclocking were ridiculous in my point of view. The idle temps were 50-55c with this increasing to the 60-70c range when I was browsing and doing random stuff on the PC. And after seeing people overclocking their CPU and yielding idle temps of 36-45c I was interested in attempting this at least.
This is my first time manually overclocking and I am not in any way knowledgeable in this area. I have read a few information online on how to and try to understand it the best I can. One thing that particularly stood out to me was the following thread: Max safe all core voltage for Zen 2 It was listing that 1.325V as the safest all core voltage. After reviewing the problems that may cause this in the future of high all core voltage, I decided to stick with 1.325V and work around that at the highest OC I can achieve for my 3700x. After a few runs with this, I was able to stick with 4.35GHz all cores with 1.325V. I have not tested any higher but it was stable. I may look into this again in the future if I want to overclock it higher.
I had also decided to disable Core Performance Boost (CPB) and Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO) after understanding that this will affect my manual overclocking values. Please correct me if I am wrong on this!
I have not gotten into looking at overclocking the GPU The only thing I did was move the BIOS switch of the GPU to the rightmost side which is performance mode. I am currently reading up on other users overclocking their 5700 XT Nitro+ and other brands in how they got along with their OC. GPU idle temp was 52c which increased to 55-62c avg when gaming and watching a stream.
Originally I was able to OC the RAM to 3733MHz. However, after playing around with the CPU OC, it was not stable at all, I ended up sticking with the XMP profile of the RAM with 3200MHz 16-18-18-36-72-1.35V
Benchmarking & Temps
Cinebench R20 & Temp
I was originally thinking of sticking with 4.4GHz with 1.3625V that yielded 5195 points in Cinebench R20, but after reading about the post above, I decided to lower it to that voltage and work with it. With a Cinebench R20 score of 5149 points on 4.35GHz with 1.325V, there was only a 50 point difference for that extra 500MHz. I am quite happy with this as I thought it would have been lower.
When I was running the Cinebench I kept track of the temps via Aida64, I had started from an idle temp of 38c and the max temp on 100% load was around 76c.
Time Spy & Temps
The scores were within my expectations after checking the results on this for similar builds. The only thing I am not sure on was the graphics score. I have shared a screenshot of my score which was 9809. If anybody has any recommendations let me know, I would like to reach 1000 points in Time Spy if possible :)
As you can see on the Time Spy result graphs, it started at idle on 46c and the GPU hit a peak temp of approximately 73c which is pretty good. The average ended up being 53c. But let me know if there is a way I can improve this.
UserBenchmarks: Game 111%, Desk 145%, Work 135%
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X - 98.5%
GPU: AMD RX 5700-XT - 109.3%
SSD: Force MP600 500GB - 309.8%
SSD: Samsung 970 Evo Plus NVMe PCIe M.2 500GB - 319.1%
SSD: Samsung 860 QVO 1TB - 108.2%
RAM: Crucial BLS16G4D32AESE.M16FE 2x16GB - 92.2%
MBD: Gigabyte GA-X570 I AORUS PRO WIFI
Out of curiosity, I wanted to see how the 5700 XT would do in the performance benchmark for Superposition in 4k optimised. Performance test with 4k Optimized preset options and DirectX.
As you can see the GPU Hotspot temp reached 103c which was crazy. However, the max GPU temp was only around 73c which was surprising. Pretty cool how this card can run 4k with an average FPS of 54!
The Outer Worlds gameplay + emulating usual gameplay and browsing/watching
Display Settings for The Outer Worlds
Window Mode Windowed Fullscreen
Resolution 2560 x 1440
Frame Rate Limit 60
Vertical Sync Not Checked
3D Resolution 100%
Motion Blur 0%
Field of View 74
Graphics Quality Custom
Screen Effects High
View Distance High
Visual Effects High
Show Chromatic Aberration Not Checked
Watching a twitch stream on 1080p 60 frames on one screen and browsing, while playing The Outer Worlds on the other yielded the following temps:
I was trying to do my usual gaming, browsing and watching a stream. It seems that the temps are fine and the noise was not like a jet engine like it was before since the fans were always going 100%.
I am still looking to improve this PC and will probably update again in another week or two depending on if I have time. There is a probability that I will look to improve GPU airflow by removing the base stands. After all these changes, I am pretty happy with the additional fan I was able to install. If you guys have any feedback or questions please let me know and I will do my best to answer it. Thanks for reading!