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Building a mini PC for high end gaming

By Obzoleet · 95 replies
Oct 10, 2013
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  1. Hello

    I have been looking to build a PC for about 2 months, First I was sure id want to build a full tower desktop but lately I have been interested in the idea of a mini PC,

    I want to use it for gaming on ultra graphics ( BF4 and Elder scrolls online when it releases) and watching movies.

    What Im most worried about is the temperatures, but ive read around and it seems it shouldn't really be an issue with a good case with proper fans and a good cooling GPU,

    any recommendations on parts?

    I have been looking on Thermaltake Armor A30 SECC case and im waiting for nvidias price cut in November kinda, else I will probably go with one of the new AMD cards,
  2. Spykezxp

    Spykezxp TS Addict Posts: 296   +73

    What is your budget for the project? Helps to have a reference point of what you'd like to spend and max you can spend.
  3. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    Hey, I was thinking around 1000£, can raise to 1100

    I basically want a lot of power in a small package, that doesn't overheat,

    I am quite often on the move and would like to bring it with me in a bag basically.
  4. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,151   +588

    At 1100, I think I can make something that will work for you, ill go off the UK site and see what I can put together.

    i7 4770k
    Gigabyte MITX Z87N Wifi
    Bitfenix Prodigy
    Gskill Sniper 8gb DDR3 1866
    Corsair GS600
    HD 7970 Gigabyte
    LG DVD Drive
    Corsair H80i
    Samsung 840 250gb SSD
    Seagate Barracuda 1tb 7200RPM

    The total for this build minus shipping is 1081£. What you are getting then will run things on Ultra for quite some time and you can swap GPU's later on without worrying. If the price is too high, swap to a smaller SSD or remove it all together. Using the Bitfenix prodigy and a long GPU like a R80X, 7970, 780, or whatever will require removing the upper HDD bays (But that's just a snap to do) and will leave you 2 HDD bays. This whole build will work together quite nicely unless I misread something as it is well within the dimensions of the case and will give you what you desire.

    This should at least give you a good idea of what to expect and a place to get started!
    misor and slh28 like this.
  5. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    I was thinking of not clocking, since I have never done that before and im afraid that might cause a lot of heat in my pc right?

    would it be enough with an i5 4570? , and what about the case I linked, would it work with watercooling?

    Oh and one more thing, ive never had watercooling, what do the actual watercooling holes in the case do? ^^

  6. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,151   +588

    An i5 would also be fine, however with your budget as it is, just go for the 4770 instead and get those extra threads. The only reason I would see you dropping an i7 for the i5 in this case would be because you want to get a higher GPU (Like an R90X or 780) but you should be fine with an r80x.

    As for clocking them higher, on liquid, unless you go extreme levels you would be fine (4.0 - 4.2 is a snap on an i5 or i7). It really wont make your PC hotter as long as the cooler is set to exhaust the heat.

    What cooling holes, are something I highly doubt you or most people in this day and age would use. They normally (Excluding cases that have them on the inside areas) are for an external cooling system which are not seen much anymore except by extreme overclockers. So I would not worry, if you get a sealed system, its almost just as easy as putting a stock cooler on, the H80i for instance is purely automated by itself so you really dont have to worry much.

    Last, every chip you can purchase can be watercooled, there is not restriction and most sealed units are completely universal.
  7. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,703   +171

    I don't think you need a H80i for a non-K CPU, Haswell runs really cool .You can try the stock Intel fan first and get an aftermarket cooler later if you're not happy with the temps.

    Given that this is a small factor build I'd recommend a modular PSU.

    7970 prices are all over the place at the moment with AMD's recent (re)releases, you can get this Asus DCUII for £220 which has by far the best cooler. However it is triple slot so make sure the case can accommodate it.
  8. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    Well I would probably go with an R9 290x if that meant dropping down to an i5 :)

    So , I had a look around and made some slight changes, what you think of this?

    Bitfenix Prodigy
    i5 4570 ( I dont think I need more too be honest)
    Gigabyte MITX Z87N Wifi ( only supports 1600, therefore I went with 1600 ram aswell.)
    Kingston xmp beast 8gb 1600
    Corsair GS600
    LG DVD Drive
    Corsair H80i
    Samsung 840 120gb SSD
    Seagate Barracuda 1tb 7200RPM

    Then I aim to go with a GTX 780 or AMD 290x depending on the prices, I might just settle with an 280x since they are so cheap , but...ill see :)

    Should I look into a cooler for the GPU? I noticed there are loads for amd which seems to work great, any thoughts?
  9. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,703   +171

    Both the CPU and GPU coolers are a waste of money with no real world performance benefits, put that towards a bigger 256GB 840 Pro or a 780/290X.

    Not a fan of Kingston RAM either, go with Corsair/Crucial/GSkill.
    misor and GhostRyder like this.
  10. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,151   +588

    You should be just fine doing this, I would also suggest going corsair or Gskill over kingston, but its just a personal preference. If you are going with and i5 over i7, I would say try to get the higher GPUs because they will benefit you very well for years to come.

    You dont need aftermarket GPU coolers, I rarely suggest those because most of the aftermarket ones already on the cards do just as good as you will get without liquid cooling. Plus even reference designs are more than fine in a MITX build because the blowers are designed to shove air out the case better than some aftermarkets even are. Though thinking back now, since you dont have a reason to overclock your CPU, drop the H80i as its unecessary.

    I would actually suggest to get this: Corsair H55

    Why, for silent operation, pushes heat out of the case, and its going to give your CPU long lastability because it will keep it chilled. Its a pretty low end one not for high overclocking more for silent operation. It will be beneficial for your MITX build and save your a couple bucks for your GPU.
    misor likes this.
  11. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,887   +626

    Did everyone miss something?

    As small as a desktop PC can get, it's no laptop. If you shove this in a bag and then throw it around planes/cars/buses, things will break.
  12. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    I am extremely careful with my components when I travel, I would not be throwing this around, its more that I would put it in a bag and have it with me all the time, meaning id put it down on a seat next to me and hold it and say some comforting words while we travel,

    perhaps I took it too far, im not really travelling that much, the thought was more, im moving to a new place soon, and in a few months to another country, and meanwhile I might want to bring it for a lan party,

    im sorry if I was unclear :) but I am always extremely careful
    St1ckM4n and misor like this.
  13. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    What about this corsair ram? http://www.amazon.co.uk/Corsair-CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9-Vengeance-Performance-Desktop/dp/B004CRSM4I/ref=sr_1_1?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1381475655&sr=1-1&keywords=corsair vengeance 8 gb

    And I will follow your suggestion and go with the Corsair H55 instead, it was cheaper , hopefully it does the cooling alright then :)

    OH and I was wondering, is there a big difference between 1600mhz ram and 2400?
  14. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    I see, I have looked into some corsair ram instead, :) will put money into the GPU instead, maybe a bigger SSD
  15. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

  16. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,887   +626

    Get the WD black. EVO is a nice SSD.
  17. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    Ok thanks, I will look into it but , how much better is the black? its 15 pounds more and according to reviews its a bit noisy,

    Would the blue be sufficient you think?
  18. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,703   +171

    If your HDD is just for storage then you don't really need a WD black.

    Any aftermarket CPU cooler is a bit of waste of money, I doubt you would see above 65C under load with the stock cooler.
  19. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    I see, I will stick to my blue one then,

    Regarding the CPU cooler I was told earlier in the thread that it would help push heat out of the case as well as keep my CPU chilled,

    This sounds like it would benefit my build a lot since I do fear that there will be an issue with temperatures, and a Corsair H55 is really cheap,

    Also I have kinda decided to aim for an AMD R9 290 instead of 290X,

    I reckon it will be cheaper and I do believe it would be sufficient, however, do you think it would fit in my Bitfenix case?

    Thanks! :)
  20. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,151   +588

    To answer your questions, ill try to go in order and to the best of my knowledge:

    1: I would still do at least an H55 since like you said its cheap and will be good for a silent machine and pushing air out of the machine. This is more a personal opinion, but it will transfer the heat from the CPU out of the case.
    2: It will fit, like I said before you just need to undo the top HDD cage and only use the bottom ones (Its a snap to remove), the 290/290X will fit easily, Ive seen people putting Titans inside and 7990's or 690s inside the bitfenix, so you don't have to worry.
    3: The 290 should be more that sufficient
    4: The ram is good, I have a set of that in another machine right now.
    5: The HDD and SSD are good choices and should be more than enough.
  21. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    I stated earlier that I am waiting for the R290X to see if I want to go with that, But I noticed that the radeon 7990 is fairly cheap these days as well.

    it was down on 465£ last week,

    Could it be worth going for it instead?
  22. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,151   +588

    Yes it could, however with every plus you get a down side with it, heres a couple advantages to either choice.

    HD 7990:
    Pros: Most powerful single card, Essentially HD 7970 CFX, Good stock cooler, 6gb GDDR5, 8 Games Free!
    Cons: Relies on CFX for good profiles, Not very overclockable Exept on the Powercolor 3 Slot Version, requires decent airflow.

    Pros: Most powerful Single GPU, Battlefield 4 Free, 4gb GDDR5 on ONE GPU, support for all new AMD Technology.
    Cons: Reference Blower cooler will be only choice for awhile, not as powerful as 2 7970s in CFX (or 7990).

    Its really going to come down to one thing for you in this choice. The 7990 will be an excellent choice and you will like it, however you need CFX profiles or else the game will run on a single GPU which ruins the point of the dual GPU card. Most Mainstream games have CFX support so you really don't have to worry about it, in fact running 4 GPU's, the only game so far ive come across with no CFX support was Sims 3. Overall, if will give you the highest chance to run all games on ultra, though I don't think you will have to even worry about that with an R90X.
  23. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    Alright, I see.

    However I think I will go for the standard R9 290 instead of the X version,

    If the price for the R9 290 is in the same range as the 7990, then I don't see why not? Whats your personal opinion on this?

    I would play kinda mainstream games, such as Battlefield, Elder scrolls ( Online, Skyrim etc ) and whatever else that the future might hold.

    Lets say I would go with the 7990,

    Do you think the airflow in the case I bought + the H55 CPU cooler would be enough to keep temperatures down or would I need to do something else to increase the cooling?

    Im sorry for being so whimsy, I just really want too look into most options ( It feels like I have looked into all kinds of options since 2 months ago -.- )

    Thanks! :)
  24. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,151   +588

    Well heres my opinion and based off what I understand about the bitfenix prodigy and the overall flow of the case.

    It would be enough because the prodigy relies on front to back/top airflow like a standard case and has two front 120mm fan mounts (It comes with one 120mm fan). With the 7990 and the liquid cooler H55, you will have plenty of cooling potential and a good airflow setup. If I was going to do this setup like this, here's what I would do just to maximize the cooling potential:

    Remove the middle HDD assembly for more airflow, the bottom two slots are enough for most HDD setups anyway.
    Replace the stock fans (normally stock fans are always designed to be silent more than anything anyways) and grab some fans like these Coolermaster Jetflo Fans 120mm (Newegg link I know, but I believe you can get these anywhere with ease) or equivalent higher airflow fans and mount them to the front spots to add more pushed in air.
    Mount the CPU cooler of course on the back 120mm rear set to exhaust from the case with the fan touching the case (Essentially pulling air through the radiator)
    Add the stock fans to the top 120mm mount spots if you have the room/Fan hookup spots available.

    Since the Motherboard is mounted on the bottom tray of a bitfenix prodigy, the GPU is going to be sitting sideways so the way the HD 7990 vents its hot air, most of it will be pushed out the side angled up and since hot air rises you will be exhausting through the radiator and top of the case. This will run more than cool enough (Processor and GPU) to keep high performance gaming going without the fear of overheating (Though even with stock fans you would be fine) and will bring you the most cooling performance possible.
    Obzoleet likes this.
  25. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    Those are great instructions, I cant wait to get the parts and start building! :)


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