No Expense Spared: The ridiculously powerful MicroATX PC

By Steve
Apr 22, 2015
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  1. microatx amd intel nvidia enthusiast radeon r9 295x2 core i7 5960x budgetless high-end

    Every enthusiast dreams of building a budgetless rig with nothing but the best hardware. That fantasy becomes reality for a lucky few, but we generally aim to spend around $1,000 to $1,500 on a gaming system. That's a realistic target for most of our readers and it's enough cash to cover the essentials.

    This time, however, we're throwing caution to the wind by cramming the upper echelon of gaming gear into a 32L chassis. Along with the priciest desktop Haswell CPU money can buy, Intel's Core i7-5960X, we'll stuff Silverstone's KL06 with a high-end X99 motherboard, 32GB of RAM, a 500GB SSD, a dual-radiator closed-loop cooling system and the Radeon R9 295X2.

    When we're done, there will still be room for eight more 2.5" SSDs and a 3.5" hard drive. The end result should be a ridiculously powerful mATX system ready for any and all tasks. With the hardware cost coming in at around $2,750 without a keyboard/mouse or monitor, this is an affair with no expenses spared.

    Read the complete review.

  2. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,100   +526

    You guys are missing the PCIe SSD. That would add another $600 to the build but I can only image how fast it would be.
  3. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,186   +1,217

    Directly from the article...

    "There are a number of better storage options and you could say we cheaped out here going with Samsung's SSD Evo 850 M.2 500GB. While a good drive on its own right, certainly not the most complementary SSD for this build but we were still in the process of reviewing the kings of the hill in the SSD world.

    A much better choice would have been the new Intel SSD 750 Series 1.2TB which costs a cool $1,100 and would push the build's total to $3,600 as the single most expensive component. Or for less money, Samsung's own (supposedly OEM only) SM951 PCIe 512GB SSD which we like even better. There is also room for a few hard drives if some larger secondary storage is required."
    Darth Shiv and hahahanoobs like this.
  4. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,336   +1,938

    It's nice but doesn't tickle my fancy much, give me a proper full sized ATX rig anyday of the week. Big is always better when it comes to desktop PC's as far as I'm concerned.
  5. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,617   +494

    Nice system you got there, but my SG10 build had more in less space, and it cost me far less than $2750, fine it was all spare/re-purposed parts, except the case was new. Front View, Rear View. Fine it's a first gen i7 960, but it still overclocks to 4.25Ghz nicely and handled everything I threw at it. Mobo was an Asus Rampage Gene First Gen, the rest is pretty obvious.
  6. CaptainTom

    CaptainTom TS Booster Posts: 153   +61

    Yeah full ATX is completely pointless. You can take up half the room for the same performance with Matx.

    And why stop at one 295X2? :p
  7. slamscaper

    slamscaper TS Booster Posts: 159   +26

    Full ATX sized cases are great for LC'ing, but other than that these small mATX cases are very intriguing to me. Love the system guys. I'd sport it any day of the week!
    hahahanoobs and Steve like this.
  8. amstech

    amstech TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 1,436   +592

    Cool writeup, but here comes my honesty.
    This type of thing would have been impressive 5 years ago but considering how much components/chips have shrunk they can pack a lot of heat on a Micro sized motherboard now.
    So having a small mobo or case with high-end components is not an impressive feat IMO.
    Even more un-impressive is the performance, $2800-$3600 for 60FPS @ 4K?

    X99 is a great platform but todays GPU's are slow, I will wait for them to catch up.
  9. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,322   +263

    Sounds like the kind of things I do but with mITX cases... Though I've been trying to talk myself into moving back up into mATX/Full ATX cases, I am still fascinated with the Lian-Li PC05s and other new mITX cases that have come out recently. I am constantly coming up with different builds to put in it and cases like it. One thing is for sure, I'll get my hands on that Samsung SM951 when it comes time to actually build a new computer, regardless of form factor.
    Peter Farkas and Steve like this.
  10. Tempus

    Tempus TS Rookie

    You build a 'no expense spared' mATX system and didn't built it into a Case Labs Mercury S5 with REAL water cooling? Looks like you DID spare some expense.
  11. SuperVeloce

    SuperVeloce TS Booster Posts: 132   +34

    "This type of thing would have been impressive 5 years ago but considering how much components/chips have shrunk they can pack a lot of heat on a Micro sized motherboard now."
    That's why those closed-loop coolers that directs most of the heat directly out of the case are a good thing. And the case is not without airflow anyway
  12. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,108   +1,376

    I wouldn't consider it a good PC for just one reason - the video card, the noisiest heat monster you can find. It deserves Titan X, which is just as powerful, but also very quiet.
  13. Vaibhav Sharma

    Vaibhav Sharma TS Rookie Posts: 19

    That was a great build, can we now move to a mini itx monster :p
    Titan X is calling.
    Steve likes this.
  14. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Posts: 7,025   +612

    Except we water-cooled it, so a non-issue there.
    snowcrashedx, hahahanoobs and Steve like this.
  15. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,186   +1,217

    Yeah the GTX Titan X is only a little bit slower at 4K, like 20% slower and runs considerably hotter than the 295X2 so point taken.

    If anything like CaptainTom said we should have added a second 295X2 for good measure :)

    As we said in the article the cool thing about this system as there is almost no fan noise when gaming.

    5 years ago the most powerful desktop CPU pumped out less heat than the Core i7-5960X and GPU's consumed considerably less power (300w vs. 500w) so I am not entirely sure how you came to that conclusion.

    Lastly you obviously don’t go with the X99 platform to get an impressive performance vs. price ratio for gaming. For that you build an Z97 system using a Core i5 processor, but we have done that.

    That is a 56L case so I think you missed the point of our build.

    More over the idea was to create a system that anyone with basic building experience could achieve. In short this system can be put together in well under an hour.

    You can stick with Mini-ITX, we have an upcoming review that will show you why ;)
  16. amstech

    amstech TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 1,436   +592

    X58 (45NM vs 22NM) and Fermi (GTX 480).
    My timeline may be a little off. :)
    Now that I look at it the TDP of the 5960X is only 140W or so, thought I saw it somewhere around 180W. Thats still within 10 TDP of the 990X's 130W TDP, in a year about $2 difference in cost.

    The 990X also has higher stock and turbo clock speeds.

    Still, from a technical standpoint its a costly build, but still straight forward.
    Sorry for the edit's had to get my story straight.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
  17. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 1,600   +411

    I love this build.
    I have a 600T, but I want my next case to be mATX, and after that possibly mini ITX.

    As for using an M.2 or PCIe SSD in this form factor, only a handful (PCIe SSD) of motherboards officially support the ability to boot an OS. Also, the NAND gets hot (M.2) and could possibly start throttling, especially in such a tight space with insufficient airflow.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015
  18. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,186   +1,217

    I have never come across a motherboard with an M.2 slot that doesn’t support booting. Likewise I have found boot support for PCIe SSDs to be very broad.

    As for the thermal throttling issues of M.2 SSDs such as the SM951 we believe this to be a bit of a none issue. It is very very rare that you would encounter any throttling under normal usage. More over if this was a concern moving air over the M.2 slot is much easier in a build such as ours as the 120mm fans are virtually on top of the M.2 card.

    Anyway glad you enjoyed the build.
  19. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 1,600   +411

    You must have caught my post mid-edit. I edit a lot. The PCIe SSD solutions are limited by what motherboards support the ability to boot an OS.

    You're welcome! It is a great build.
  20. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,601   +370

    Nice build and article. SM951 still looking very decent and would be a great addition. Not a fan of the EVO m.2. I can't understand why it exists at all if the SM951 exists.
  21. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,322   +263

    Because the SM951 not only came out after the EVO m.2, but is also considered an OEM part and not a retail consumer part?

    I can't wait to see what's in the pipeline. <3
    I do not actually need a reason to stay in the form factor, but I do need a really good, compelling reason if I am to get out of it ha ha ha.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
  22. I'm a bit disappointed that this system is saddled with a single 295x2. Just look at those wasted PCI-E slots!
  23. This is system isn't anywhere near top 100. you guys are confusing Firestrike Extreme scores with regular Firestrike scores. There is no way a single 295x2 (basically a dual 290x system) would score those numbers. The score are inline with regular firestrike scores.
  24. Peter Farkas

    Peter Farkas TS Addict Posts: 214   +67

    Nice build! I also have a mATX build now. Hopefully we are going to have more and more high-end mITX cases for enthusiast builds in the near future.
  25. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,601   +370

    m.2 was only released 31st March 2015 so you are incorrect there. SM951 was available from approximately July 2014. Also SM951 only released as OEM part is odd. There's no reason they couldn't release it as a retail part.

    Hence my question...

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