Tuesday, March 25, 2014

[Rant] My “realistic” dream PC

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I’m sure everyone of you knows by now what my favourite form factor is, right? Mini-ITX. (If you didn’t know, you should follow my blog! Seriously!) Even though it seems that I can use my Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme cooler in the Fractal Design Node 304 mini-ITX case, I might have to buy a new PSU because my current PSU is non-modular and I definitely will have to buy a new RAM kit because I currently have 16GB in 4 sticks. So I cannot say for sure how long this transition to mini-ITX will take, but I really want to build one.

But if I was starting from the scratch, I know what I would be building. Want to know what it is?

Here goes.

Chassis: Fractal Design Node 304

The other contender is Corsair Obsidian 250D. I would have chosen that but it about 50% more taller than the Node 304.

Motherboard: Asus ROG Maximus VI Impact

This is the best mini-ITX board out there, for one particular reason. Audio! Asus says the audio on it is as good as Xonar DG level, which is pretty sweet for integrated audio. But at the same time, it lacks one important feature some of the other boards carry. A dual-link DVI port. Why would I want it? Because the display I use – the Qnix QX2710 – only supports dual DVI inputs. Yes, of course I would be connecting it to the video card, but I would like the board to have a dual DVI port just as a backup. But you know what? Even my current ATX board, Maximus VI Hero doesn’t have a dual DVI port either. So, maybe I shouldn’t worry about it too much.

PSU: Silverstone Strider Plus SST-ST60F-PS (600W)

Even though Silverstone sells this PSU as having a 80PLUS Silver certification, it has actually got 80PLUS Gold certification. Since the efficiencies are marginal, they are selling it as Silver. That’s not the reason for selecting this PSU though. This PSU is short – only 140mm – and is modular. You might want to replace the cables with the short cables that Silverstone seems to sell separately. At 600W, it is more than enough for any rig with a single GPU these days.

CPU Cooler: Corsair H75 Closed Loop water cooler

H75? Doesn’t sound like a lot, does it? Actually it performs much better than what the name suggests according to this review posted at PC Perspective. It seems to perform even better than a H90. I was originally going to put a H90 in there, but it would be almost touching the graphics card. I don’t feel comfortable with just a 1mm clearance.

However, if you are going for the Obsidian 250D, you can go for the H100i.

CPU: Intel Core i7 4770K

It’s no brainer. This is the current fastest CPU that would fit in a mini-ITX board.

Video Card: MSI N780GTX Twin Frozr 4S OC

Ideally I would go for a cooler with a blower style cooler which r.is the cooler style used by all these reference coolers. So why am I going with this GPU? One reason. It is cheaper than the reference cards at the time of writing this post.

SSD: Samsung 840 EVO MZ-7TE250B/IT 250GB

This is one of the fastest SSDs out there and also one of the cheapest, all thanks to the TLC flash used in it. But one might think 250GB is not enough anymore, with games like Titanfall taking up 50GB of drive space! If that is the case, going for the 500GB model is advised.

Hard Drive(1): Toshiba DT01ACA300 3TB 7200RPM

Hard Drive(2): Toshiba DT01ACA300 3TB 7200RPM

I will buy two of these bad boys and run them in RAID-0. Yes, you read it right. RAID-0. That’s 6TB of “dangerous” storage. I would definitely have to build a NAS to backup data. Want to see how current HDDs perform when they are setup in RAID-0? Check this review posted at Hardware Canucks.

That's pretty much it. It's a decent rig, right? Yes, it lacks the versatility of a ATX build - or even a Micro ATX build where you can easily install more than half a dozen hard drives, multiple graphics cards, more than 16GB RAM, Intel's HEDT CPUs, large coolers or even custom water coolers. A mini-ITX build is like having a slightly modifiable iMac. Your upgrade path is limited. But a mini-ITX build is so space efficient for someone like me who lives in a small apartment and who doesn't want more than two hard drives, want only a single graphics card, cannot afford an Intel HEDT CPU and doesn't want more than 16GB RAM for a foreseeable future.

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