What this computer is for
I'm on the move a lot. So I wanted something small yet powerful, and didn't cost me a fortune.
This is a nice, compact, mobile, reliable and powerful machine that I use everyday for work. I run Capture One Pro, Lightroom, and Photoshop for photos. FCPX for video. Ableton Live for music. The system is dense (like 20lbs.) and wastes very little space. I'm a big fan of efficiency.
Why I choose the components used
The objective was to get great performance, but not shell out loot for top tier parts. Many components were purchased used on CL or eBay. I saved a couple bucks by going with an i5-8600k. This gives me a good excuse to upgrade to the i9-9900k sometime down the road. I also held back on getting 32GB of RAM. I just didn't want to spend $300 on memory, so we got 16GB of RAM for now. I had a Vega 56 in my previous Hackintosh and the fan always ran at full speed (not sure if they fixed the issue). Since I work with the computer next to me, the fan noise would drive me nuts. So I am using an OEM RX 580 in this system which does the job sufficiently. It fits with just a few millimeters to spare. I tried using both a Sapphire and XFX RX 580 GPUs and they did not fit unless I removed the front USB ports. Be careful with your GPU choice in this small case. 970 Evo NVMe drive for storing the OS, 850 Evo SSD for the backup OS and storing large media files. Overall the core hardware isn't the best, but also it isn't far behind in performance from spending twice as much on the latest top of the line gear.
If you've ever tried to build a small system, you'll know one of the biggest challenges is cooling. AIOs are a great solution, however I have a friend that recently had problems with his AIO.....and being this is a computer that will be mobile and used for time sensitive work, I just didn't want to take any risks so I went with air cooling. And this brings me to why I choose the Raijintek Metis Plus case to house my awesome system. This small ITX case fits a Noctua D15! It's crazy. It fits. It really does. And it allows me to run the CPU at 5.2ghz on all cores (zero AVX offset) with 100% stability. 5.2GHz is badass for a system that is only about 14 liters in volume.
How it runs and works
So I'll just tell you right away that the system can be loud and hot. Basically there isn't many ways of getting around 100W TDP in a tiny space. When I'm rendering or exporting large amounts of data, the system is cranking out a ton of power with the CPU at 5.2GHz. With my right mouse hand next to the system, it feels like someone is breathing on my hand constantly. The small case size means that there isn't many places for the heat to go. The fans need to be blowing in order to pull heat out of the system otherwise you're at 90C in short time. I have high quality 4 fans in there; 2 NF-A15 and 2 be quiet! SW3 120mm. They run at 50% most of the time unless I am rendering or exporting. And even at idle the case feels warm when you touch the outside of it.
Overall the system is rock solid and runs without hiccups in MacOS Mojave or Windows10.
In regards to performance, it is fast. Everything gets done lightyears faster than work done on the laptop. That said, things don't happen instantly like I wish it would. Full resolution 24MP photos still take 1-2 seconds to load in the editor. Rendering, exporting and stabilizing motion in video still takes quite a bit of time. All that said, the system is using the CPU, iGPU and dGPU to their potential and I don't think I can ask for too much more out of the system. Games run at 4K around 60fps. GeekBench score can be seen in last photo.
I carry the system in a grocery brown bag when I need to transport it to gigs. The ability to use this on-site vs. a MacBookPro is night and day. Only power and video output needs to be connected. WiFi, BT and 2.4GHz takes care of everything else. It is really nice.
Notes on cooling
It probably can't get much smaller than this if you want to use a big air cooler on ITX. The only extra space inside the case is above the PSU and honestly it is welcomed space. It gives some room for a wires, as well as allows airflow in to the backside of the GPU's blower fan.
The fans draw in air from the top and back of case and pushes it through the D-15 cooler, then out the bottom and side of the case. It isn't a great path but it is better than going the other direction.
The CPU has been delided. Used the Rockit88 tool. Worked great.
The D-15 will not fit if you use an ASRock Z370 motherboard. The CPU mounting location they use puts the CPU more towards the bottom edge of the PCB. This pushes the heatsink lower in the case and cause clearance issues.
If you work in a hot office/room, this box will make your room hotter. It kinda sucks.
Awesome value oriented CPU. I chose this over the 8700 to save some money and also hopeful for more ovevclocking headroom since it isn't as stressed without Hyperthreading.
Best air cooler on the market. That said it is huge. If you can fit this heatsink in your case, get it. You won't need to think about getting a better one. You can just move on to worry about something else because for air cooling, this is as good as it gets. No water = no worries.
For me this little motherboard was not worth the hype. It applies high voltages to my CPU without me asking. Can't figure it out in the BIOS without losing some other optimizations like adaptive voltage. Also, my M.2 drive seems to run really hot on this MB vs my ASRock or Gigabyte. Lastly, at ~$180 I feel this board is overpriced.
I do like the 8 USB 3.0 ports on the back I/O.
Reliable and compatible. Small and runs cool. No issues ever. CL14 timings are good.
At the time of purchase this was one of the fastest drives. The Pro version is faster, but I notice the savings in my wallet more than the speed difference.
I only have one gripe about this case, and that is the build quality isn't top notch. The aluminum panels are sharp and a bit rough. They scratch easily. The side window is a bit of an afterthought. But all that is OK, because the case is less than $60. BUT, I'd be willing to pay $100 for nicer materials and some more thoughtful design.
Everything else about this case is wonderful. I love the configuration & layout which allows for an ITX board and video card without the use of a riser, AND most of all, the case fits a 160mm tall heatsink. I love that I can fit a full size GPU in here. It doesn't fit all big GPUs, so one still must be careful when making a selection.
I have this case stuffed, and it feels great that there isn't much wasted space in this box.
Great 4K monitor. Runs @ 60Hz. Can be found used for less than $300. 4 USB3.0 ports on the back.
Great for hackintosh use. Keys are like the ones on the older MacBook Pros. Super lightweight and slim chassis. Kinda pricey.