Description

PRICE FYI: I added all the prices manually, as I wanted to track what I ended up paying out of pocket, after sales, mail-in rebates, delivery, and sales tax. For clarity, before taxes, my rig cost me about $1,900.00 CAD (or about $1,450.00 USD at the time of completion). So you can figure out on your own if this was a good deal or not. Keep in mind I was coming from no PC at all, and so had to buy the peripherals as well.

THE BEGINNING:

Well.....this all started when I pulled the trigger on a pre-order of the NCase M1 V6 a few months back...there was no turning back at that point. I spent a lot of time here on PCPARTPICKER, along with youtube reviews of components (shout out to HardwareUnboxed). I bounced between Intel and AMD, NVIDIA and AMD, air cooled vs water cooled.

It was actually a blessing that the Ncase was so long until delivery, as I'm 99% happy with what I eventually settle on. I originally wanted a 1440P setup, but the cost of monitors that I was looking at had me come to the conclusion that 1440P could be an upgrade in a couple years. Having settled on 1080P and knowing it wasn't going to be my setup in 5 years, I went bargain hunting and landed on a well reviewed 75hz LG IPS.

Deciding on 1080P as the resolution made the GPU decision a lot easier. I looked at everything from the RTX family, to used NVIDIA 10 series' to end-of-cycle Vega 56 to the new 5700/5700xt. What drove the decision to go with 1660ti was a number of considerations (price, historical driver support/market share). But the biggest factor for me was building in a compact ITX case. I liked the low power/heat/noise that the 16 series' offered. When I came across a cheap model, on sale even cheaper, and with a mail-in rebate on top of that, the decision was made.

For the CPU, I started my search before the Zen2 processors were out, and had an initial preference for Intel. However, when the Zen2 reviews came out, the 3600 was the obvious choice, giving both the required performance and a significant price savings over Intel. The motherboard then followed, and the ASRock B-450 ITX was priced right, and included a number of features I wanted (Zen2 support, M.2, wifi, optical audio out, and USB-C).

The last real decision to make was cooling. Water cooling was quickly ruled out as not appropriate for a first time builder, and I also didn't like that even a completed system or cooler can have possible maintenance issues down the road, so air cooled it was going to be. I initially gave AMD a bonus point for the included box cooler...however that was squashed after watching youtube videos of the sound they make. I wasn't going to spend all this money and time on a sleek PC, only to have it produce the ugliest sound ever. Noctua seemed to be the air cooled champion in every regard, so I picked up their cooler that fit the Ncase M1, along with a couple case fans. Of note, the CPU fan was more low profile than I needed, so I re-purposed the included 120x15mm fan as a case fan, together with an identical 120x15mm. I bought a 120x25mm for the CPU cooler.

Side note - the only reason I have such an overkill power supply is that it was a good sale, and at the time the Vega 56 was in the hunt, so there was need for at least 600 watts. However, because this model has a zero noise mode, and on idle the system is well below that level, it's a nice consolation that I haven't yet heard any fan noise from the power supply. It's also barely warm to the touch, which helps when cooling a compact ITX.

THE MIDDLE:

On a grey and rainy Saturday morning in September, a delivery arrived. I wasn't expecting the case for another week or two, so when I saw the size of the package, and shipping label from China, I was ecstatic. Initial reaction to the NCASE M1 V6 was impressed. It is more compact in person than it appears online. The build quality does not come through in online photos or videos. The quality of materials and overall design eschewed any doubts on why I would have spent this much of my budget on a case.

I quickly gathered up all the components I had stashed over the last few months, and got to work. Ten long hours later, I booted into Windows 10.

This next portion is geared at other new builders. Here's a list of challengers I came across:

-Your motherboard user manual is your best friend. If you're ever in doubt about a connection, read the relevant sections again. -My power supply is fully modular, which actually made things more difficult for a new builder, as the types of cables and how they were labeled were not in line with what I was expecting (their are two different types of 8 pin connectors....don't mix them up). -I initially had the DP cable hooked up when I booted. It took a few trial and error attempts before finding out you should just start with the HDMI cable. -I was extremely relieved to get into the BIOS after the display issue, however that's where the real problems started. After a number of failed attempts to boot to a Windows 10 USB, I reformatted the USB from another computer (a Macbook ,which didn't make things easy) to the most basic DOS (FAT) format, then copied the boot info over. However, since that format doesn't support large files, not all files were copied. I tried to boot anyway and...it worked! Or at least it got me to the Windows install screen. Since the files weren't all copied over, I now had to re-format the USB again, but in the Mac labeled EX-FAT format. The PC was still on the Windows install screen, I put the USB back in, and installation began! Or at least it continued until it asked to select a drive to install to, and my M.2 (my only drive) wasn't listed. I was sure either the drive was junk, or the motherboard had a short. But I carried on, and decided to see if the BIOS was up to date (I figured since it recognized Zen2 that it was up to date enough). Anyway, I flashed the BIOS, and it then recognized my M.2. I then went through that two part USB boot install, and finally booted into Windows 10! -This entire process was full of trial and error, and a lot of crossed fingers. Building a PC from scratch is not for the faint of heart, or those whom are easily frustrated. It is not as simple as youtube makes it look.

THE END:

I built this system for casual gaming, with maybe a 10% need for productivity. I haven't overclocked anything (except RAM to 3600 with built-in XMP profile), nor do I plan to....yet. My overall impressions are that the NCASE is a spectacular design, and I'm happy I spent the money on it. I'm also blown away (excuse the pun) by the Noctua products. The whisper those fans let out screams quality.

Please ignore my cable management...I had no patience for it at the end of this build.

Cheers.

Part Reviews

CPU

Best bang for the buck.

CPU Cooler

There’s no hum that sounds more premium than the Noctua hum.

I won’t buy fans from any other manufacturer.

I don’t OC, so I can’t give a hard technical review, but this thing keeps the stock 3600 running without issue.

Motherboard

Love the features and price. USB-C, optical audio out, and Zen2 recognized on first boot. Note that there is only one M.2 drive.

Memory

Great price for 3600 CAS16. B450 overclocked to advertised speed without blinking.

Storage

It booted. Mark off because I thought it was NVME when I purchased (or rather, I didn’t know there was different M.2 types).

Video Card

I mean, it’s an OC 1660ti for a good price. I’ll take off a mark because the shroud is about as cheap as it gets. But if you don’t have a window to your PC, then this doesn’t matter. Fans are quiet enough.

Power Supply

If you need SFX, then you can also justify the cost of platinum rating, as it does have the added benefit of less heat and noise in your small form factor PC. Overkill for my needs, but I do appreciate the zero noise mode that it’s in almost always.

Case Fan

There’s no hum that sounds more premium than the Noctua hum.

I won’t buy fans from any other manufacturer.

Case Fan

There’s no hum that sounds more premium than the Noctua hum.

I won’t buy fans from any other manufacturer.

Monitor

For the price, I can’t give this thing any less than 4 stars. It’s certainly not perfect. My panel had noticeable IPS glow from the top left corner, but not enough for me to return it.

The colour is fantastic, a real standout feature (I did calibrate). Adaptive Sync seems to work with my NVIDIA card with no issues.

I bought this because the feature set I wanted pretty much don’t exist yet. It was a known compromise with the expectation to upgrade the display in 2-3 years. I would recommend this to anyone in the same situation, but if you’re expecting a display that wows, you’ll need to spend a bit more.

Keyboard

Love those cherry mx switches. Nice clean keyboard design. Wish it was backlit, but the price was right.

Mouse

Good feeling clicks and scroll wheel. Can’t beat the price.

Comments

  • 2 months ago
  • 3 points

Nice build, just built almost the same rig but using an gtx1070 to I already had. Loving it so far. Built in the new Lian Li Tu150 case I had to pre-order as well. Check out my build

  • 2 months ago
  • 2 points

Just took a look - it actually is near identical.

Great minds......!

  • 2 months ago
  • 2 points

Nice to both of you, im gonna be building my rig in the A4 n case is slightly too large for me haha

  • 2 months ago
  • 2 points

Hello maybe you will see this, but how did you update the bios for the new ryzen processor? Did you have an older cpu to update it?

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

Luckily for me, the MB came Zen 2 ready - it just needed another update before my M.2 drive was recognized. Because it was Zen 2 ready, I just updated like any standard bios update (download from manufacturer website to USB, boot into BIOS, update).

  • 24 days ago
  • 2 points

Are you able to achieve 3600MHz with this RAM?

  • 16 days ago
  • 1 point

My Bios says yes. I did run a memory test in the days following the build, and there were no issues.

As far as is my system fully taking advantage of 3600 - I’m not sure. I thought B450 was capped at 3466, and I’m no expert, so figuring out anything more is over my head.

[comment deleted]
  • 15 days ago
  • 1 point

Zero problems for my build - but I did mount the cooler fan on the outside blowing towards the MB, rather than on the inside blowing out. I think it still would have cleared the memory in that layout, but as I didn’t try it, i don’t want to guarantee anything.

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