in Hardware-Ed

Mini-ITX Gaming HTPC: building the ultimate powerhouse

Introduction

What’s good about a gaming rig is that it usually functions as a HTPC pretty much perfectly. The downside is the size, heat production and possibly noise issues of a gaming rig in comparison to an HTPC; so I set out on a journey to bring the best of both worlds together!

Today we’re going to take a look at a great mini-ITX HTPC-gaming build. It took quite a while to find the right components, activate sponsors and get all the parts shipped and put together, but the end result is one of the finest mini PC’s you’ve ever seen!

System specifications

Case: Silverstone Sugo SG08

PSU: Enermax Modu82+ 625W

Mobo: ASRock Z77E-ITX

CPU: Intel Core i5 3570K

CPU cooling:

  • Cool Laboratory Liquid Ultra
  • Indigo Xtreme
  • CoolIT ECO II ALC
  • Noctua NF-P14 FLX

RAM: 2x4GB Samsung DDR3-1333 CL9 (M378B5273DH0-CH9)

RAM cooling: Xilence Heat Pipe Duo

GPU: Sapphire HD7870 2GB GHz Edition

SSD: Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB

HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F4 ECOGreen 2TB

 

On the following pages I’ll explain the choice of components in detail and list possible alternatives.

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  • Lemming

    Why oh why did you ruin the cooling on this case? Having the psu pull air in from outside is half the point of it, because with the drives installed there is basically no room for the fan to do anything!

    Also the 180mm AP fan is awesome, I have the SG07 which is practically identical apart from cosmetic differences, and the 180mm fan keeps the entire system cool on the hottest of days under HIGH load.

    I understand you got given a lot of the bits for this for free, but you’ve basically destroyed the cooling flow of this case, and probably ended up with a noisier system if anything!

    • Albert Vogd

      Hi Lemming,

      Thank you for your feedback, and please allow me to clarify:

      The case on itself barely has cooling, except for the 180mm fan which, indeed, can deliver great cooling.

      Now, with regard to my choice of cooling: The CPU and GPU are basically the only parts that run hot.
      The CPU cooler is therefore my main priority, as other parts will survive on their own.

      For example, the hard drives and RAM barely heat up; the RAM is getting a bit of cooling from the fan, but this is practically useless anyway, due to the overall irrelevance of RAM cooling.

      So that leaves the motherboard and CPU, and the GPU.
      The GPU has no large gain from the 180mm fan, I daresay, and its positioning allows it to get all the needed fresh air from the outside.

      For me, that only leaves the CPU and the motherboard. Motherboards, these days, barely run hot anymore. Plus, the relatively small size of the CPU cooler allows what airflow the 140mm fan generates to hit the motherboard. The 140mm fan is on the other half of the case, not where the HDD-bay is, so I don’t see a problem there for motherboard cooling, as it’s right on top of the motherboard.

      So the CPU is optimally cooled, which is my main concern with a system like this, regarding its overclock and durability.

      I’ve ran this system over the course of the summer, on 30-35c days, without any trouble whatsoever, with the overclock in place, running a reasonably high system load; plus it passed multiple benchmarks without significant heat development.

      I’m running the PWM of the 140mm fan through the BIOS, and I believe (not posting from home) that the fan is actually running around 60% speed; inaudible.

      So, my goal with the PSU was to get rid of the stock cabling that comes with the case, in which I reasonably succeeded by using a modular PSU, despite its unusual placement.
      I wanted better performing cooling for the CPU than a low-profile heatsink plus the 180mm fan, which I think succeeded too (even though I have no direct tests to back this up).

      I hope this sort of answers your concern. If you think otherwise, I’m very curious as to hearing why that is so..!

      Thanks again for your response :)

      Best regards