Build It Yourself: A Mini-ITX Gaming System For Just Over $500

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FormatC

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@xkm1948:
I have a "Zero dB PC" as one of the next projects, complete based on a AMD APU (A10 5700). We should stay a little parity, all last Mini-PCs were AMDs ;)

@zooted:
The performance of a HD 7750 is wellknown and this little card is in the most cases the slower part. This is from the other project:
 

sempifi99

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If I did not already have more desktops than I am currently using I would definitely consider building something like this...
 

Hando567

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Wish you would have done a bitfenix Prodigy build with an i7 and GTX690, mini ITX machine that can play anything? Yes please!

I would like to know why there is no real SFF love in the AMD camp for non APU's, I really want a new mATX mobo with 3 PCI-e slots, so I can do a tri-fire setup with LC in my mini P180, 2x7970's just are not enough. I also want to replace my aging 890gxm-g65 so I can OC my FX8350, this board has known issues with its power circuitry beyond stock (I would know, I have cooked 3 of them, 2 from trying to OC, and one from a long gaming session)
 

itzsnypah

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It always seems like Toms put's out recommendation builds right after new hardware comes out. Also I think you failed to research enough, mITX H77 boards have been cheaper than mITX B75 boards for months while having better features.
 
Laptop instead?

At the $500 price range, I've seen many laptops that perform similarly to builds like this.

The laptops also have the advantage of:
- screen (don't have to use)
- battery (for power outage)
- size

One disadvantage with gaming laptops is that under load the little fan tends to be annoying. It would be really cool if you could easily plug in an external cooling unit that bypasses that fan.

INTERESTING BUILD, though I would strongly disagree with the "good enough for an HDTV" comment about the graphics card. It's a gaming PC. Just because it's hooked up to an HDTV instead of a monitor doesn't make it "good enough"; Far Cry 3 still won't run great.

I'd like to see a little more CPU and GPU processing power while keeping noise in check. Let's see what can be done with $700?
 

bak0n

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That was my basic setup until recently when I upgraded the cpu from a i3 2100 to an i5 3570k. The GPU from the 7750 to a 7870 and the case to a prodigy which supports larger cooling fans and dual slot GPU's. The lower frame rates or settings turned down wasn't cutting it for games like borderlands 2. But if you are into games like LoL the recommend build will be more than enough.
 

jestersage

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I also found this bit thought provoking -

Overall, you should see good performance right up until the platform reaches its limit. Then performance will fall apart completely.
Something to keep us readers grounded on reality.
 

palladin9479

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[citation][nom]DjEaZy[/nom]... my first idea too...[/citation]

The A10-5800K would be slower then a 7750 GDDR5 even with DDR3-2133 memory, though it would definitely be cheaper.

What Toms was doing was combining SB/IB's better performance at single player timed games with a very specific dGPU. The dGPU is doing most of the heavy lifting which lets them get away with a weak CPU in single threaded environments. Since the purpose was to create a pseudo "console" then it'll work.
 

grumbledook

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These tfx psus are typically noisy so I seriously doubt you'd hear the stock cooler over it. I sure haven't with my g850 in a similar itx chassis (In-Win bp655) with 2 different ones (got a 300w bequiet tfx psu to replace the overtly noisy one that came with the case. Much better but still audible).
Why no mention of how loud the gpu is under load?
Also, "no gaming pc is really complete without an optical drive"..... just no.
 

ta152h

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The case looks like crap. Cheap crap. It doesn't look great.

You should have gone with the train case, or something that didn't look like such chinsy garbage.
 

seanpull

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There should have been no optical drive, and the stock CPU cooler. Take that saved money to buy a 7770 GHz Edition instead of that not even gaming graphics card.
 

crisan_tiberiu

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[citation][nom]photonboy[/nom]Laptop instead??[/citation]
i was thinking on building a htpc /gaming PC and i was thinking to get a laptop aswell...but lets see, the only thing that you win with a laptop is mobility. In a htpc you can upgrade the video card with newer solution, you can upgrade the CPU (you can alwas insert an i3 there when prices are lower), the htpc is silenter, you can add SSD +HDD ... so the HTPC wins by far. The laptop is doomed, you will trow it away in 4 years (@ 500$, you will trow it away in 2 :))), and @ 500$ your best deal in a laptopis the intel HD graphics orthe nvidia gt 610 witchboth are crap...
 

Onus

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Bravo! This was a good article, needing only a few benchmarks (definitely including heat and noise) to be GREAT. As much interest as I have in small systems, and encounter in the forums, I think this has been a very neglected topic. There seems to be a perception that "enthusiast" focus needs to be on multi-GPU, monster rigs able to play every game on "UltraMaxOhWOW" settings, without regard to space or budget.
I'd like to toss out some questions, and request some alternatives that may answer them.
You've addressed the "slim" case; can we see a "shoebox" build? While also limited to a single slot, can they fit a graphics card wider than just one slot, or do the coolers hit the case sides? Without going to something big like a Prodigy, can a more powerful graphics card be readily fitted into such a build, or is the HD7750 the best we can expect for now? How about an APU+HD6670 in Crossfire, or does the APU get too hot? What's the smallest case that will fit one of those little GTX650Ti cards?
Given the lack of a fan other than the PSU, what's the beefiest build that can be done in a Lian Li PC-Q07 without encountering thermal issues?
STORAGE OPTIONS! How about a laptop HDD + 2.5" SSD mounted in one of those 3.5" frames? Or, mount multiple 3.5" drives where a 5.25" optical drive would go, and make the optical drive external (when/if needed).
I've got an ASRock Z77E-ITX mobo just waiting for a brain. It has a mSATA slot on its underside, really opening up storage possibilities.
Finally, I hope you can really dig into mini-ITX builds. With at least two form factors available (three if you count big cases like the Prodigy), there are a lot of variables I'd like to see explored. Even if a HD7750 turns out to be a frequent limit, isn't that actually quite good when you look at average or typical hardware configurations on Steam?
 

GazP172

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I built more or less the same machine over a year ago.

I used a Jou Jye 568i case which is the same as the case used here with a different front/badge.
Zotac z68 itx board
Intel 620t CPU
8gb Ram
AMD 6670LP graphics card.

With the above setup the system was functional for everyday processes but chuck a game in there and the graphics card would all but set on fire. The hi temp results in the graphics card fan running at full and the PSU fan buzzing away but the CPU was fine.

As soon as the AMD 7750 came out I replaced the 6670 with one (sapphire) but this didnt help the temp problems. In my tried and tested opinion this case cannot house any serious graphics card and would be no good for a AMD APU as the optical drive seriously limits clearance for CPU heatsink. A much better option is the Antec ISK 150 which I have now.

Spec now

Antec ISK 150
Zotac z68 itx board
Intel 2500k CPU
8gb Ram 1600
AMD Saphire 7750LP graphics card.

Temperatures are fine on the card now aswell as noise (not silent thougth).
 

jeffgedgaud

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I would really be interested in seeing some results of heat and any potential probelms with overheating, how about a few charts on temperatures?
 
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