Mini ITX. Big Air. KabyLake.

After almost 7 years of service the Leo has been retired. It has served me well but lately it has been playing up a bit too much.

This is the Phoenix: born from Leo, renewed with a long life ahead... Built on a Mini-ITX KabyLake platform it promises lower power, less bulk and better performance than it's predecessor.

Finding the right parts were not easy. I knew this build was going to be ITX, it was either Ryzen of Kabylake, but timing and the lack of ITX boards previewed meant Kabylake won out.

Narrowing down the which Kabylake was not too difficult. The i5 7500 offers solid performance and appears to be the sweet spot in the Australian market. Cooling it was always going to be Noctua air, whether it would be my Noctua NH-U9 from Leo, or the Noctua NH-D14 I have had sitting around for a few years.

RAM was a simple choice of what was faster than 2400, low profile and cheap. Corsair Vengeance LPX fits that bill nicely, and ironically the 3200 was cheaper than the 2400 when I purchased. (NOTE that I have not had any luck getting XMP to work yet..but soon™ I will get around to investigating that further). UPDATE - I have been able to slowly overclock the RAM from 2133 > 2400 > 2800 > 3200 so I am now a very happy, Memtest86 ran nicely overnight without errors, and I have had Prime95 running without error for over an hour.

The motherboard was a toss up between the H270 and Z270 from AsRock, I built Prodigy around a H97 and it has proven to be a great little machine, easy to build, great lay out. However both these boards were hard to find. The small price difference, meant I ended up with the Z270 in the end.

Drives were taken from Leo, I will eventually add a M.2 drive to replace the Samsung 830.

The GPU was purchased a few months back, to replace the original XFX HD5850 Black Edition I had in Leo from day one. The GTX 1060 G1 Gaming has been great so far and I expect to be better on the newer motherboard and paired with the newer CPU.

The PSU, monitors and peripherals have been recycled from Leo. Nothing wrong with a Corsair HX850 other than the squeeze it took to get it into the case.

The case was a nightmare to decide on. I knew I didn't want another Bitfenix Prodigy, although I loved design, the Soft-Touch™ finish is a deal breaker, and the handles were not my favourite. This lead me to a search for something similar. For the longest time I was considering the Thermaltake F1 Suppressor, but this would not fit the D14, and there are some questions over the quality of finish. Making a compromise to have a vertical motherboard opened up a few other choices. The NZXT Manta was tossed in as an option, but it is very pricey, large and I am not sold on the bulges. Finally, I found the Phanteks Evolv ITX...this was the one. Sorry PCCG, I managed to find a lightly used one for significantly cheaper.

The build was uneventful, the board and the case are both easy to build with. The only problem was the big D14, even in a generous case like the Evolv ITX it still covers everything and is a tight squeeze on the top.

Coming up? I am still tempted to:

  • add some LED lighting, I am looking at the DeepCool RGB 360 kit
  • replace the Samsung 830 with a M.2 NVMe SSD as a boot drive.

Other than this I am expecting a few years out of this build, with little other than drive swaps as I grow out of my current storage. I am sure this will do the office, gaming, and photo editing duties that Leo tackled without any difficulty. Being smaller, and quieter is a big bonus.

Change log

1 March 2017

  • Deepcool RGB 360 LED kit installed
  • Samsung 960 EVO NVMe SSD installed
  • CableMod Modflex SATA 3 cables (30cm Red/White/Blue/Green) added
  • Phanteks 3.5" bracket added to move one HDD into the main compartment, improving HDD temperatures and cable management.

29 September 2017

  • Corsair SF450 installed to replace the Corsair HX850 in order to free up the HX850 for another build and to allow the GPU to breathe a little better.
  • CableMod Extension kit also used to clean up cable management and allow the SFX PSU cables to reach

17 April 2018

  • CableMod Extension kit replaced with CUSTOM CableMod Pro cables
  • EK M.2 Heatsink installed

31 March 2019

  • Seagate FireCuda 2TB 2.5" installed using Phanteks dual SSD caddy main compartment, replacing Seagate Barracuda 1TB as a storage upgrade. The older drive was approaching 80% capacity and the smaller form factor drive allows for better air flow. Drive positions shuffled to move 3.5" drive from main compartment.

Part Reviews

CPU Cooler

It's big, but strangely easy to install. Cools well, no wonder this was the benchmark air cooler for Tom's for so long.


Well thought out board with a good mix of features and well laid out. This board was easy to build with and even with a massive Noctua NH-D14 placed over the top, nothing got in the way. The clencher was the 6x USB3.0 and 2x USB2.0 on the back panel. Definitely worth the AUD 20-25 premium over the AsRock H270M-ITX/ac for me as it keeps the door open for a K-series CPU and overclocking.


I had issues with XMP on a KabyLake build, but managed to manually OC to 3200MHz in steps. Nice and low profile to get until a big air cooler, and pricing is competitive.


Oversized ITX, but at the same time it makes for an easy build and is very good looking. I love the removable front panel + filter. It will make cleaning easy, and if I need the extra airflow I can run it without the front panel. I would have liked to see some more top vents to make that top compartment a little more usable for exhaust fans though. So far tempretures are looking good.

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  • 38 months ago
  • 2 points

Very nice build you got there! +1

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks. Still not sure what to do with the RAM situation.... Starting to suspect in going to have to do a mild RAM OC, 3200 may be asking for too much from a non-K i5.

  • 38 months ago
  • 2 points

awesome mate! the Evolv Itx is sure a nice case to work with for mini itx builds! +1

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

Very easy to build with! Almost as easy as the Bitfenix Prodigy (and almost as oversized as well).

  • 36 months ago
  • 2 points

bery nice build loorks good

  • 36 months ago
  • 2 points

Thank you

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

Quite a massive upgrade from your old build.


  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

It was well and truly overdue. Leo had been going for almost 7yrs with touch ups to stretch out its life. The longest I have ever kept a computer to tell you the truth.

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

Carry on my wayward son...

What will you do with the old system?

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

Certain parts have been used in this build....I am not too sure if it was the Motherboard of CPU that was becoming a bit sketchy. The RAM is good....not sure what I am going to do with that yet, and the case/optical drive I will hang onto incase anyone needs a computer (or I decide to build another). That Antec 900 is a good case and I have had it for so long. It deserves a clean, maybe a 5.25" bay device to bring in USB3.0 or 3.1 compatibility.

  • 31 months ago
  • 1 point

Just a quick looks like I may have just done something I shouldn't PSU has been ordered...a long with some FM2+ bits...Leo may come back to life, or may donate more parts to another build yet....