I've always wanted to get into the mini-ITX business - and boy, it was well worth it.
Building and cable management
Building in the case can be considered rather difficult. I had issues accessing some areas with my average size hands. Since I'm all for an occasional challenge, this has not bothered me at all. If you look closely, you can see that the SATA cables are routed in the middle of the case - between the frame and PCI-E riser card, along with the front IO for audio.
The GPU power cable and the AUX power cables are routed between the two drives, within the drive cage, along with the USB3 front IO, to tidy up the mess just a little bit. Since the board has two M.2 slots, I'll probably replace the 2.5 drives eventually, getting rid of three more cables - as soon as SSD prices go down enough for it to be worthwhile.
It is a bit crammed up and kind was kind of a PITA to do (and undo), but the result speaks for itself.
Unexpected issues with the motherboard and CPU cooler
At the back of the motherboard, there are a couple of small chips that stand out - and they happened to block the mounting plate of the CPU cooler. So as a solution, I had to "mod" the plastic mounting plate a little bit around those parts. I also had to do some cutting around the AM platform's mount holes, just so it fits between the metal frame of the case, and the motherboard.
Initially, my i7-6700 was so hot, it reached more than a 100 degrees celsius in synthetic tests, and averaged around 75 degrees during gaming. After the relid through, the max temp it reaches is 86 degrees, and it averages around 65 degrees in games. The fan remains almost inaudible during gaming sessions.
As for the GPU - leaving the settings untouched, the card will try to remain around 80+ degrees, which usually means a fan speed of 50-60%, which is audible, some would say noisy. Not a deal breaker at all.
I found that the additional case fans does not help when turned on (the temp drops with 1-2 degrees, however they make the GPU fans spin faster too - so it's no surprise). I have removed them and have been using the computer this way for more than a year now - no issues whatsoever.
All-in-all temps are mostly fine - I have added a couple of pictures showing them off, please do check them.
Screencaps, in order:
- p95 running for about 40 minutes, temps on the left.
- Afterburner graphs of an extended GTA5 gaming session (with the GTX 970)
- AIDA64 Stress test (CPU AND GPU)
- Unigine Heaven running for 20 minutes (with the 3D parts added, now with the GTX 1070)
These temps were observed in a room with an ambient temperature of around 28 degrees celsius. In a cooler environment, they should be better.
Edit on 06/11/2018
Removed case fans (a week after the build being completed) and replaced video card (970 > 1070). Small changes to the description.
Edit on 12/12/2018
Swapped my older DELL screen to an 29" ultra-wide LG monitor.
Edit on 05/02/2019
Added a 512 GB NVMe drive and removed the 1 TB 2.5 HDD, to use it for other purposes. Also had a couple of items 3D printed for my graphics card. Quite a simple solution really - two "walls" to block out hot air from being circulated into the airflow. This has cut GPU temps with about 10 degrees of Celsius under load. See images. Also removed old FurMark images.
Performs as one would expect. I wanted to have a future proof-ish CPU that I won't need to upgrade for years. Initially I was a bit worried, as it was kind of hot. During gaming sessions temps ranged between 70 and 76 degrees Celsius. Synthetic tests (such as p95) quickly raised these temps to 100<. A relid was in order. After it has been done, the maximum temps during synthetic tests dropped to 86 degrees of Celsius, while under gaming load it usually stays around 65 degrees.
Performs very well and surprisingly quiet. My choice was between this and a similarly prices Noctua, but I went with the looks. No regrets. Installation is a breeze. The only downside is that the access to this product is a bit limited in my country, there's only one vendor who's actively selling it.
One of the best thermal compounds on the market. Had it laying around since 2009-ish...
Looks rad and has everything a casual user needs - near perfection. The package is quite nice - they've included small cable ties, and a stylish receiver for the on-board Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is very stable and delivers around ~250mbits on better days. RGB is nice, but I'm not sold on lit up computers, so I've turned them off.
Has issues with the Cryorig C7's mounting plate, but the cooler's plate can be modded to work with it. My issue appears to be a combination of three things - the board, the mounting plate and the case.
Bought it second hand, well under the current prices. I am missing out on dual channel, but all-in-all, it does not provide that much of a gain. A single stick is not that pleasing aesthetically though.
Bought this best second-hand recently, but I have no complaints. Boosts high, keeps quiet and last but not least - it fits my case.
One of the best looking slim cases on the market. Could be a bit slimmer though - I feel like they let on a bit too much space with the plastic parts. Also, the hinges holding the plastic casing to the metal frame are unpleasing to unhinge. I'm always worried they'll break during config changes. Cable management is a challenge.
Best power supply I ever had. The cables could be nicer, ribbon cables should be past imho. Nevertheless, they can be worked with and the power supply itself is completely silent, even under load.
Got it about 2 years ago, still love it.