Description

What started as a simple upgrade over my previous system got out of hand rather quickly and now I am rocking a much more powerful pc than I will ever need.

Well, here's how it all began. I was using an i7 2600(non-k) for the past 6-ish years and as my main use-case is gaming I had to endure very frequent and unbearable frame drops, especially in Insurgency: Sandstorm which ultimately led me to consider upgrading…

My previous system:

  • CPU: i7 2600

  • Motherboard: Gigabyte G1.Sniper3

  • RAM: 8GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1600

  • GPU: EVGA GTX 970 SSC

Components

Knowing all too well that the CPU was in dire need to be replaced I was looking around, watching a ton of Youtube recommendations and reading a lot of reviews. Ever since AMD launched their first Ryzen processors I was keen on getting one myself although Intel offers better gaming performance due to increased single-threaded performance I decided to give them a shot. One CPU that gets praised a lot is the Ryzen 5 2600 and I was thinking about getting one myself as it would’ve offered everything I needed and at a very affordable price, but I ultimately decided to get the Ryzen 7 2700x instead. This might not have been a reasonable choice, but I somehow told myself that it will stay with me for as long as my i7 did and with its 8 cores it should be future-proof so I won’t need to upgrade in the next couple of years (hopefully).

Next up the motherboard: At the time I was watching so much of Optimum Tech’s videos that he sparked my interest for ITX systems, so I went ahead and got the X470-I from Asus. Not much thought went into that decision, I just liked the look of it, and it offered everything I could ever need. The RAM was somehow a no-brainer for me. I wanted to get 16GB at first but having only dual-channel support I went ahead and bought 32GB instead. Corsair’s LPX kit was the best choice as I don’t really like the RGB modules all that much.

For the case, I first wanted to get an NCase M1 but getting one in Germany would’ve required an import so its price and the possibility of having to pay additional import taxes deterred me from doing so. Additionally, I would have needed to get an SFX PSU and as they are too expensive for my liking so I eventually went with the Phanteks Evolv ITX but it got lost during shipping so I ordered the H200 from NZXT and in the end, it was the better choice for me. I think it looks cleaner with its boxy design and being smaller and cheaper than the Evolv is a bonus as well.

Storage wise I really wanted to get one of these fancy M.2 drives and well that is exactly what I did and the 970 Evo Plus came at the exact time as it offered Pro level performance at a lower cost. Compared to the HDD I was using to store my games it is significantly faster but I probably would get the same result with a SATA SSD. I might think about switching my boot drive with the M.2 when I eventually have to do a clean install of Windows.

The cooling was initially handled by a Corsair H100 and yeah it did a reasonable job taking its age into account. I wasn't going to replace it but I was able to strike a deal from HardwareSwapEU over at Reddit and got the H100i GTX alongside an EVGA G3 PSU for 100€ combined. It is performing a lot better than its predecessor but it came with a little drawback. The pump only works in a certain orientation and thus has to be mounted exactly the way it is shown in the pictures. It is not a dealbreaker for me though and at that price, I won't complain.

Finally, the PSU. Well, the most important thing is power, right? So why not get a 1200W power supply? I know it is really overkill but it was already part of my inventory. I initially got it due to the 7-year warranty as I've had problems with PSUs in the past and I wanted to be covered in case anything unexpected happened.

Build

That were all the planned upgrades to my system, and I was super happy at first. The last time I was building a pc has been quite some time and I was enjoying every bit of it. I ran into a few issues though… The GPU was having a really hard time staying cool in that case as it only had about 1 cm of clearance from the PSU shroud all while being slightly overclocked. To counter that I was running the fans at 80% while gaming and it was so annoying, I had to use my ANC headphones to zone it out. But the worst was the constant vibrations coming from one of the GPU fans. They did not really like the high rpm they were running at but alas I was trying to fix it by dismissing the fans I was using and going for Noctua’s new A12x25 instead for the entirety of the case which was abnormally expensive for my liking. The last fans I bought were around 10€ but when they arrived, I couldn’t believe how well they are built! Sturdy and nice to look at even though it took a while to get used to the overall theme. In the end it was the right choice as they were significantly quieter than the ones before and even improved the overall airflow. I saw temps drop about 5°C from 80°C to 75°C while gaming. With the fans running at 1500 RPM and the GPU fans at 70%.

At this point, I was sure that I would hold on to this configuration for as long as my EVGA card was within the 5-year extended warranty but nonetheless, I was already looking around for a new card. Nothing wrong in looking right? I was especially interested in EVGA’s 2080 or 2070 XC cards which would fit in quite nicely due to their two-slot design, but they are still so expensive in Germany. I decided to wait for the Navi announcement to get one of those or to hopefully see a price drop for the RTX cards. In the meantime, I was browsing the used market almost daily and was having a laugh at how expensive the 1080 and 1080 Ti still were. There have been models for 800€ which is just crazy in my opinion. I am sure they were able to sell those cards but that was not something I was looking for, so I waited and waited but nothing came around. At this point, I was almost going to buy a new 2070 when someone offered their 1080 Ti hybrid! I contacted the seller and offered him 550€ for it which he accepted thankfully, and I am still glowing with joy. This card is the perfect fit for my case. It has about 1 cm of clearance to the front intake fans and the blower style fan helps with getting the hot air out of the case.

Overall, the temps have improved across the board. I am looking at sub 50°C for both the Ryzen 7 and the MSI 1080 Ti while gaming and the noise level at 1500 RPM is low enough to be able to use open-back headphones. Additionally, I can overclock the CPU to 4.175 GHz at 1.4 V and the GPU’s memory to 6000 MHz and its core boosts to around 2050 MHz.

The only thing I would change at this point is sleeving the cables. I am leaning towards Noctua themed ones and I might eventually decide to do just that but for now, I am happy with how it is.

So that’s basically it. I really enjoyed writing about my build and I hope you had fun reading my little story.

Part Reviews

Motherboard

Overall, I am satisfied with it but there are a few flaws that one should be aware of.

For example, the fan and led connectors are at the very top of the motherboard which, in my case, made me bend the fan splitters to a point where one got damage a few weeks afterward. At the moment it is sitting inside an NZXT H200 which places the top fan pretty close to the connectors so there was no way of getting around it. For now, I use extension cables which are less bulky than the splitters and bending them a bit further off the board. Fortunately, they are hidden behind a radiator so that is not a big issue.

The next issue I have with this board is the software. Although, Asus is offering quite many different features with this board it comes at a cost. The Asus Ai Suite which is the main component which allows you to see all the different sensor readouts and control fans and what not sometimes displays the wrong sensor data. I've read about potential issues when you use the suite alongside other software like Aida64 which has access to the same sensor chip on the motherboard. So be aware of that and avoid Ai Suite if it bothers you.

Even though, the board is still great as it offers good build quality, overclocking support despite being mini ITX and very minimal lighting mumbo-jumbo which is always a plus in my books.

Storage

I replaced my media storage HDD with this drive and obviously, the increase in speed is astonishing. Loading times in games are barely existent anymore but that comes at a pretty high price. I probably wouldn't recommend this drive for games only but if you do a lot of video editing and more demanding workloads, in general, the speed will make up for the price eventually.

Storage

Pretty decent SSD speed wise but the price and storage capacity make up for it easily. The casing of the drive is made of some kind of plastic I believe so it does not look as pretty as other more expensive alternatives but most of the time it is hidden anyway.

Case Fan

The first Noctua fans I've ever bought and I am really impressed! I use three of them on radiators and one for airflow and they push a lot of air even at lower RPM all while remaining pretty quiet. The noise they produce is a mixture of a low-frequency hum and the sound of moving air. Depending on the RPM of course but I am not bothered by it like I was with previous fans I used. The build quality is stellar but that should be expected at that price point. Overall very satisfied and from now on I will probably stick with the brand.

Monitor

Pretty much everything I could wish for from a 1080p high refresh rate monitor. It has great picture and build quality alongside G-Sync support. The menu is easy to navigate and overall pretty to look at. The included stand is massive so either consider getting a wall or table mount or make room on your desk. Despite its small size at 25 inches, it looks a lot bigger right next to an older 24-inch monitor due to its very small bezels. I am really happy with it and even though it is only 1080p it is going to stay with me for a long time.

Comments

  • 8 months ago
  • 3 points

Can i have your old system ? XD

  • 8 months ago
  • 2 points

Sure, if I weren't using it as a secondary and LAN party machine :)

  • 8 months ago
  • 2 points

(Looking at the pictures) You put liquids on the same surface as that beast of a machine? XD Nice build.

  • 8 months ago
  • 3 points

Thank you! My liquids are always within reach :D

  • 8 months ago
  • 2 points

This is such a unique looking Hybrid ITX build! I absolutely love those Noctua fans; the brown gives it such an industrial sort of look that doesn't give the impression of what a lot of people would consider these fans to be: 'ugly'. Their performance is very exceptional, and I'm sure that your component temperatures are in check and will remain to be for a long time.

I know it isn't related to this particular build, but I hope you have fun at those LAN parties with that i7 2600 and GTX 970; honestly that sounds like a phenomenal 1080p gaming PC for on-the-go purposes.

Best luck to you! :D

By the way, the H200/H200I are just such beauties. I think the white version is adorable :)

  • 8 months ago
  • 2 points

Thank you! I got used to the Noctua design pretty quickly and now I think it looks better than ever. Furthermore, the performance is exceptional but it came at a steep price but the warranty alone is worth what they are asking if you ask me.

I am so looking forward to using my old system at LAN parties! Initially, I was planning on using a GTX 580 I had laying around but as you said, the GTX 970 will do such a phenomenal job for the type of games I tend to play at LANs.

Oh I love this case so much, NZXT really put thought into the design. I was worried about cable management at first but I did not have any issues whatsoever. The only gripe I am having with it is the placement of the top fan in combination with the x470-I motherboard. The fan connectors are at the very top of it and the fan almost leaves no room for them. I already damaged one fan splitter by bending it too much so I'll just hide the cables behind the GPU radiator going forward.

  • 8 months ago
  • 2 points

Oh the lovely GTX 580 :) That brings back memories. I’m pretty young, but I’ve had graphics cards dating back to the GTX 275 and even that performs decent in older titles. You made a good choice going with the 970 for that LAN PC.

Perhaps post it as it’s own build with photos and description? Just a suggestion :D

Fan splitters can be such garbage when it comes to quality. It depends on the manufacturer, but I haven’t had many splitters come my way that weren’t really fragile or already broken physically.

Here’s to many LANs to come!

  • 7 months ago
  • 2 points

It was and still is a pretty decent GPU. A good friend of mine uses my Lightning Edition 580 mostly for Counter-Strike and it is working great. It always amazes me how potent these cards can be even after all these years.

I thought about posting my second PC but at the moment it is just a big mess. I have to clean it up but first, it desperately needs an SSD as it is currently running on a very slow HDD I had laying around. I would not recommend doing that at all if you can avoid it. :D

The fan splitter in question was from Noctua so quality wise they were great but I had to bend them at an unfortunate angle and the pins got loose and as I am not currently in the possession of crimping tools I couldn't repair them. Fortunately, every single fan comes with its own splitter cable so I can just swap them out real quick. So not an issue at all. :)

  • 7 months ago
  • 2 points

That's unfortunate :( SSD's are a must in my opinion as Hybrid HDD's seem to be too expensive and are quite a hassle compared to even sub-par NAND Flash. Still, when the necessary steps are taken I'd love to see that LAN system on PCPP for everyone to admire :D

Also a shame about that Noctua splitter ;( Thank goodness the fans all come with their own under the assumption that you have other fans from companies not as nice as the good folks over at Noctua. I don't know what that other LAN PC Build would look like as of yet, but I'd definitely recommend Noctua and their CHROMAX lineup of fans/accessories. No promises on the other build, but I can't wait!

  • 7 months ago
  • 2 points

Love these op itx builds

  • 7 months ago
  • 2 points

Nice setup and computer! May I ask, where did you get that desk from? I'm looking for a new one and yours seems to be the perfect width.

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you! The desk is from Ikea. They have a lot of different table tops and legs for you to choose from.

  • 7 months ago
  • 2 points

How did you connect all the fans?

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

I am using a fan splitter for each of the fan connectors. Luckily, the Noctua fans include one each.

[comment deleted by staff]
  • 8 months ago
  • 1 point

I am sorry to disappoint you but I am still using it :D Still, I remember the times when I wanted to play Crysis but had only a very poor performing workstation from my parents. Those were the times!