It's one thing to throw the Asrock X99E-ITX/ac on our test bed for a round of benchmarks, but that doesn't tell us how practical this high-end Mini-ITX board really is for an enthusiast build. We're curious to see how well the X99E-ITX/ac works in a cramped Mini-ITX case and more importantly, how loud is the supplied cooler?
Over the past few years we have reviewed many great Mini-ITX cases with the Silverstone Raven RVZ01 being a personal favorite for its internal design, which is similar to the Asrock M8 series except the RVZ01 isn't a barebones box.
The Raven RVZ01 impressed us by providing excellent cooling performance for both the CPU and GPU, making it possible to not only install high-end CPUs but also full-length graphics cards.
As a member of the Raven series, the RVZ01 is an aggressive looking chassis that's meant to impress gamers. Not everyone likes the aggressive looks and therefore Silverstone took the same internal design but gave it a more subtle exterior creating the Fortress FTZ01.
This sleek looking case ditches the plastic exterior of the RVZ01 and replaces it with an all-aluminum shell.
Initially we installed the Asrock X99E-ITX/ac in the Silverstone Fortress FTZ01 using the bundled box cooler. It makes for a neat little package that works well though by default the fan is quite loud. Fortunately we were able to lower the fan speed with a quick trip to the BIOS by enabling the silent profile and this made a considerable difference.
However, the Core i7-5960X never dropped below 37 degrees at idle, which is quite warm, and under full load the processor would quickly peak at 94 degrees then begin to throttle down.
Overall, the supplied cooler gets the job done, especially if you are willing to crank up the RPMs a bit. Closed-loop liquid cooling is a more attractive option but we don't have the Cooler Master Seidon 120V Plus or 120V closed-loop systems so the bundled water cooling mounting plate wasn't much use.
Thankfully Silverstone had just supplied us with its new TD03-E and while it isn't compatible with the bundled mount, we managed to fit it by bending the AMD mounting arms slightly using a pair of multigrips. Each arm needed to be bent outwards by a few degrees in order to suit the narrow socket.
Obviously this isn't ideal but it worked and the effects were immediately apparent. The idle temperature was reduced from 37 degrees to just 22 degrees, while the full load temp dropped dramatically from 94 degrees to just 55 degrees.
If we wanted to, the Core i7-5960X could easily be overclocked to 4GHz and beyond in our tiny Mini-ITX system.
For our build we were also able to install the Samsung SM951 512GB M.2 SSD onto the X99E-ITX/ac which provided convenient and extremely high-end storage.
Overall, the build was a huge success and this is without question the most powerful mini PC we have ever built. Hell, it's the most powerful mini PC we've ever seen.