Building a mini PC for high end gaming

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

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    Cool, hope it helps out, I did help a friend recently build a portable computer for his needs in one of these (Specifically, an APU machine) and it turned out quite nice.

    The other guy I spoke of who had removed the HDD assembly said you can keep it in place if you want, he removed it strictly because of something he did with a custom liquid loop he built. So you can make the choice when your ready to build if you want a little more clean airflow going straight in, but the difference will not be to extreme.
  2. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    All your info has helped me loads, as far as I recall you have been helping me out in all my threads since I started this profile about 2 months ago :)

    If I do not need the HDD assembly I will probably remove it just to get a cleaner look and perhaps provide just a slight better airflow :)

    An update regarding the GPU :

    My choices would be >

    1st > An R9 290

    2nd > AMD 7990 or GTX 780 depending on prices.

    I will most likely wait until mid November with ordering the GPU, however I will order the rest of the PC during late October / early November so that I may get started :)
  3. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    Well heres my recommendation, there has been some new "Leaked" benchmarks on games regarding the 290X (Still have not seen anything on the 290) and it shows to be almost even with a titan and above a 780, based off this, the 290 will be below a 780 but above a 770 (A 280X is above a 770). Since the price has come down, I would say grab a HD 7990 to maximize your money spent since your getting a micro ITX machine. If you looking at brands, I would recommend one of the following:

    VisionTek HD 7990: Lifetime Warranty, only one
    Powercolor/Tul HD 7990: Good price and decent service from what ive experienced
    Sapphire HD 7990: Again Price

    The other brands like gigabyte and MSI are just as good, however in the realm of HD 7990's their price is fluctuating constantly and I have heard issues regarding the never settle bundles and the MSI brand. Those would be the best bang for buck honestly because;

    A: Your getting pretty much the fastest single card money can buy
    B: 8 Free games including titles like tomb raider, far cry 3 and bioshock Infinite
    C: The price is within your range

    In case your worried about drivers, heres the deal, im running a quadfire HD 6990 setup (Powercolor Hd 6990's X2) and I have not had catalyst crash once on my since the 13.X drivers (Had 1 or two in the 12.X drivers when I first got em) and all the games ive played don't have any stuttering or issues in any games on 3 way eyefinity.

    Now if you decide to go single GPU in the end, the 780 or 290x are still excellent choices that I doubt you would be unsatisfied with. I would say get the X variant of the 290 since your looking at a 780 since their prices are pretty much in the same range.

    If I were choosing and making a micro ITX machine, I would definintly go Dual GPU card to maximize performance of the machine because I would want to squeeze the maximum amount of power in the GPU area because im crazy like that. My friend has an i7 3770k in the prodigy and a GTX 690 crammed in with a custom crazy liquid loop (Im still baffled at times how he crammed it all in there lol) with 1 120mm and 1 2x120mm rad inside cooling them both, its a crazy setup. But he originally had it air cooled on the 690 and a enclosed I believe antec Kuhler 920 on the CPU with some fans pushing from the front intake and it cooled just fine. He just built that cooling side because he felt like it and to overclock the 690 beyond its breaking point lol.

    Anyways, Either of those GPU's you pick, you will not be unsatisfied, I would pick the 7990 personally, but if you decide single GPU is the way to go, get a 780 or 290x.
  4. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    I see...

    I have looked around abit more and your advice makes a lot of sense, im really considering going for the 7990,

    Now I just need to find out which brand would be the best!,

    I usually look on amazon and they have

    Sapphire 7990 for 521£
    Asus 7990 for 542£
    HIS 7990 for 586£
    And then MSI and Gigabyte for around 600£

    Which one would be best, if I would not consider the price?

    If any of these go below 500 I will take it instantly, otherwise wait for November :)

    Oh and also,

    Would the 600W PSU be enough for the 7990?

    I was advised to use a 750 and found this on amazon,

    Would it fit and does it seem ok for the build?
  5. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    Yet another question,

    I read around on some reviews for the motherboard, the Z87N-WIFI and many users state that the CPU socket is very close to the PCI socket and that if I use a CPU cooler, it will be hard to use the PCI socket for the GPU since it will be in the way..

    And the 7990 is quite big so I can imagine this could be a potential issue :O

    Should I invest in a different one perhaps? I looked around and the Asus Z87I-Intel Z87 Plus Motherboard caught my eye...

    What you think about it? its abit more expensive...

    If anyone could shed any light to this issue it would be great :)
  6. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    Ok ill go in order;

    For brands, I would say since its price is good and I like the brand, go for the Asus, in my personal opinion, they do a great job with service and their products. Though a sapphire would also be fine for a second choice.

    I know you say not considering the price, but they are all the same exact card for the most part, the only difference would be the warranty and service. Most are the same warranty also, so if you cant get a visiontek, the Asus or Sapphire would be my choice since tul was not an option you listed.

    600Watt would be borderline, yea your going to have to change that to a 750. The one you listed would be just fine and handle your needs easily with a MITX build and the i5, its already going to be low power and the PSU is also Haswell ready to handle the 4570 so you will be good to go.

    Looking at it, no you should not have any problems, they are referring to I believe Air coolers that have Huge Heatsinks on the CPU. The Liquid block, is actually smaller than even the stock Intel Cooler that comes with each processor so you don't have to worry. One of my friends purchased the FM2 AMD Version of this exact same motherboard (They are literally exactly the same! excluding the socket) and he was able to fit a bigger block liquid cooler with ease so I doubt you would have any problems.

    While the 7990 is huge, its in its length, it does not sit far behind the PCI-E slot even with a backplate so you don't have to worry since your going with a liquid cooler. I would still stay with that gigabyte board you got there!
  7. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    Alright, I am glad you could straighten that out for me,

    It would seem my build is finished then!, the finished build looks like this >

    Bitfenix Prodigy,
    Corsair Builder Series CXM 750W Modular,
    Gigabyte z87-Wifi,
    i5 4570,
    Amd 7990
    Corsair Vengeance 8 GB,
    Samsung 840 EVO 250GB
    1 TB Caviar blue
    H55 CPU cooler

    I am very happy with this setup, will include a few fans too btw

    Buying this on amazon lands on about 1249£ but I will wait for prices to drop before making a purchase :)
    GhostRyder likes this.
  8. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    Should be good to go, you will have a pretty beast gaming system for years to come.

    On the fans, I would say just get some 2000RPM 120mm fans (2 should be enough on the front) to get the airflow started up and moving and use the stock fans to be mounted on the top of the case with the H55 also exhausting the air. This will keep fresh air constantly being pumped in and all the hold air being forced up (Hot air of course rises) so it will leave your case without any problems.

    Also, make sure you grab a DvD drive, LG is pretty inexpensive and good.
  9. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    I have started to order a few parts to start building,

    Now I noticed that they are launching a new layout on the Bitfenix Prodigy case,

    This is the new case, check the pictures and you will see that the MB is now sideways instead,

    When looking at the picture the GPU are basically blocking off the whole top section, wouldn't that make it hard for my top fans to exhaust the hot air?

    and this is the old one where it is horizontal,

    I would like to order the new model but will it be suitable for a 7990 , I mean the airflow and such?

    Thanks! :)
  10. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    The old case has these fan cooling slot available >

    - Cooling Front: 120mm x 2 or 140/180/200/230mm x 1
    - Cooling Rear: 120mm x 1 or 140mm
    - Cooling Top: 120mm x 2

    The new case has a bit different >

    - Cooling Top: 120mm x 2
    - Cooling Bottom: 120mm x 2 or 200/230mm x 1
    - Cooling Rear: 120mm x 1 or 140mm x 1
    If I would pick the new case,

    I would use top fans for exhaust, and bottom and rear for intake?
  11. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    2000prm fans are way too loud unless you also get a fan controller to slow them down when your computer is idle. I would suggest leaving the case fans for now, you can always add them if you find you're not getting enough airflow.

    That's not a "new" case, that's a mATX compared to mini ITX. You might as well get a mATX motherboard if you're going for the mATX Prodigy.
  12. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    Oh, I see, I think ill just stick to the regular case then :)
  13. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    So, I just want to confirm something here,

    I found a review regarding the AMD 7990, Its about how it exhaust the heat and im they mentioned using the 7990 in a smallfactor case is not recommended , this is what they wrote >>

    " The waste heat from both GPUs in the 7990 is jettisoned out the top of the card right into your case. Almost assuredly, small form-factor isn’t a viable option. "

    However , the Bitfenix Prodigy has the MB flat horizontal , which should provide a superb airflow for the 7990?

    I have used my extreme paint skills to implement my thought on paper >> COOOOLING.

    And yes, this is the right picture :p

    Im not sure about which fans should be intake or out take but I assume its something like this?

    So have a look at the beautiful picture and tell me everything should be fine please :)

    Oh and also, There should be a CPU cooler H55 as well mounted to the back fan (?) which should help! And the PSU maybe?

    Thanks for any thoughts and opinions
  14. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    You always want to have the top exhaust, its rare to see someone change that up because hot air rises which means it would be pulling the warmer air in. With that drawing you did, that is pretty much what I would do. The H55 you can choose where to mount (Top or back) but I would put it on the rear with the fan touching the case so the fan pulls the air through the radiator to reduce dust build up and make cleaning a bit easier. The top fans I would just use the stock ones you get with the case, if you can fit them both up there.

    As for the PSU, I would mount it with the fan down because there air holes on the bottom of the case, the PSU will then take care of its own air and exhausting on its own.

    As for the 7990, yes that's pretty much what it does, comparing the last dual GPU cards, the fan was mounted in the center and would push half the air out of the case and half inside. The 690 from Nvidia still does that, the 7990 however is a 3 fan cooler that pushes the air down onto the GPU's, the air is then exhausted out the side of the GPU via multiple directions. With the card mounted down in the prodigy, the air will be pulled in from the side, pushed on the GPU's, and then will exhaust out around the card, but since the air is rising up because your airflow is helping with it and the laws of science, the air will move up and out of the case.

    One suggestion I have, is to grab the Bitfenix prodigy case that has the side panel with air holes in it for a little extra air movement, just for a little bit of a boost of cooling.

    However, either way, you should be fine so long as air is moving.
  15. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    Alright, I have however abandoned my 7990 idea ( I know, it was brilliant and I thought I had decided! I REALLY DID :O )

    Instead im back on the R9 290x / 780 track, it will all come down to prices I think :)
  16. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    Cool, remember its your final decision what you do with your gaming rig, we can only offer up advice to you. If you feel like you would enjoy a 780 or a r90x, then grab it, no matter what card you choose im sure you will be satisfied with it.

    Right now, the 290X is considered from prelim's more powerful, however if it comes down to pricing, its going to be a tough cookie because they so far sound neck and neck in that area.
  17. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    I know its up to me in the end but you and several others seem to have a much wider knowledge so I am just happy to take some good advice,

    I am just really worried that if I buy the 7990 there will be coilwhine and stuttering, I read that AMD released a driver to address the micro stuttering but it would seem a lot of people still have issues with playing their games and I would just hate to spend a lot of money on a card and not having it work properly!

    However the 7990 is still in the game, kinda...

    I ordered some parts and the processor is shipped from Taiwan so I wont get it until mid November kinda, so Im hoping that Nvidia has presented some price cuts until then,

    I will then decide for the 290, 780 , or maybe even titan if the drop the prices?
    or just the 7990 :)
  18. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    On the topic of coil whine, I have no idea on that area too much because I have heard mixed reviews. Their are reports that the reference 7990's at least a few tend to have coil whine, but then I hear people say theirs do not whine so im honestly perplexed at times. There are videos on YouTube showing some doing the whine, and then their are some showing no whining so I just shake my head wondering.

    As for stutter, that is still a debatable matter that will lead you down a fight from many perspectives. I am on the side that says its not as big a deal as many people make it out to be an its unnoticeable. I will direct you to a few reviews on this site for more information as they can put in perspective the supposed frame-stuttering issue many people put as the end all for cards.

    GTX 780 Review (Games Sections)

    That should give you a good perspective, now bear in mind that's also on the older drivers (13.5 Beta 2) before the 13.8 Beta drivers came out even addressing the 'issue'.

    The differences can be miniscule unless you go into low end multi-GPU setups which your not even looking at. But overall, the difference is miniscule and from what I read, it seems to be based on who is doing the reviews at times and what programs are being used.

    Like I've said before, I run a quad-CFX setup using 2 HD 6990s, so I should be ripe for this problem, and honestly before that I had 2 GTX 580's (the PNY LC editions) and the difference besides an increase in FPS in multi-monitor setups has been nothing to say the least. I started around catalyst 12.4 or somewhere around there (I cant remember off the top of my head) and I have not seen some horrible stuttering or anything to say the least while even running in 5760x1080p resolution on Ultra.

    Take what I said as just another persons opinion here, but honestly I don't see any of the game breaking horrible stuttering problems and from what I have read, I should be seeing this with my setup. 13.11Beta is what im on at the moment, and honestly, I have not had a crash since 13.4 (I had one crash with catalyst then, and 2 on 12.11) which was along time ago now and its been great.

    My laptop has a GTX 675m and my spare desktop I made out of old parts that I bring to LAN party's for someone who has a machine who cant play games well (Or does not have one) has a pair of GTX 460 SE's inside (Friend gave me his old GTX 460 SE so I could SLI with my old one). Ive tested BF3 with both machines on a 1080p monitor just for fun before and they acted about the same on high settings (On ultra the 460 se setup starts to lose FPS). Don't count this as a legit review btw, just an opinion.

    So that's my opinion on the matter, I hope this at least helps a little. Im not claiming to be an expert at everything computer related, but I feel some people exaggerate things that are not true for their fanboyish rage and it just annoys me.

    If you want to avoid any chance of stutter and your still worried, grab one of the single GPU solutions (290X or 780) over the titan any day because the titan is just going to feel like a waste of money IMHO. A 780 is plenty and can easily overclock (You can buy models that are overclocked to Titan Levels) and having 6gb GDDR5 on one GPU is not beneficial to justify paying 300 bucks more.

    Again, this is all an opinion (Except the review link), so I hope this helps!

    Sorry its a bit long a post, oops :p
  19. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    [quote="GhostRyder, post: [/quote]

    No worries I like long posts! :D

    Well I am really interested in putting a 7990 in it just to max out as much gpu power as possible in a mini case... I guess nothing is really decided until November

    thanks for the input, ill research some more about the stuttering and see if I can find some fresh posts regarding the issue, would def go if it was solved
  20. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    To be honest, its something you have to see for yourself, numbers are numbers and its something you would have to stare at a screen to see (or see if you can see). Thats the real issue right there is being able to show this to someone, I can setup a side by side comparison because I have friends with just about all configurations imaginable it seems (Im in an area and part of a few clubs that get together to game and show off rigs often enough) to show a single Titan or 780 and do side by side comparisons.

    But yea, research the subject and see what you feel confortable with, its honestly going to come down to that in the long run.
  21. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    So the R9 290X has been reviewed here on Techspot and it seems to be a beast indeed,

    So I have tried to narrow down my options and I feel its between the 290x and the 7990.

    However I noticed some crazy high temperatures in the 290x, I could imagine that could be an issue in a mini case?

    I have also read around a lot about the stutter issue on 7990 and im not sure but most users seems to claim that its only an issue if you play on multiple monitors or on very high resolution,

    I would only use it for a single display at 1920x1080.

    It would seem that I can either get more power for a less price with the 7990

    Or less power for more money, and higher temperatures but a single GPU and avoid dual gpu issues with a R9 290X , + the features that comes with the R9 290X.

    I would really like to go single GPU , but if I get more power for less money for a dual GPU that makes it very tempting...

    When I wake up in the morning I am like, 7990 HERE I COME!

    And when the day is over I am like, 290X HERE I COME!

    This is a really hard choice ... :p
  22. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    Well ive been reading up on the reviews and yea, temperatures seem a bit high for the card in all honesty. However, you also have to take into account one major thing: Its a Blower Style Cooler.

    This means that its the basic design, but there is more than just the price as to why blower are so popular. The advantages are:

    1: They are cheap
    2: Easy to manufacture
    3: Good for adequate cooling even under grueling conditions.

    They are designed to where they push all the hot air out the side of the card and out of the case so the air does not stick around, then it does not have to worry about the air recirculating or a user putting a poor airflow setup. In a way, I feel its almost a safer way for card manufacturers to design a card without worry about what the user will do. This is also a reason you see a lot of air cooled Tri-Quad setups with blowers (Well that and price).
  23. Obzoleet

    Obzoleet TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 171   +9

    Do you think it would be an issue for my case and cooling or should I wait for when they release them with better coolers? I would really consider an ASUS DCII in that case!

    As it is now I will most definitely go for the 290x ! :)
  24. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    Now im going off here what I heard, but for now, it does not look like theres going to be aftermarket coolers yet. I don't think putting it in a case like mine (Obsidian 800D) or your prodigy is going to make a difference at least by much. If you want an aftermarket cooler, my suggestion would be to buy the reference and then buy an aftermarket air cooler (I can guarantee there will be some of those) and do that instead. Or you can wait and see if there will be any aftermarket solutions coming soon.
  25. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,922   +630

    IMO 290X performance will just increase, as it is one GPU only with early drivers. 7970 (and hence 7990) drivers are decently mature now.

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